Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rumours of blogging's death...

What a momentous week it has been for political commentary - first Harry Cole killed off his "Tory Bear" alter ego, then Iain Dale stunned his readers by announcing he is giving up his trailblazing Iain Dale's diary.
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Eh? Those who don't follow such things closely will wonder what the fuss is about, but the announcements are important in what they say about the state of what we now call the "blogosphere". The very existence of such a concept owes a great deal to Iain, who started his blog on 16 December 2003, when such things were still largely seen as the preserve of fringe groups and eccentrics. By taking the idea seriously, he helped make blogging an accepted source of news, opinion and commentary.

Tory Bear was a rather different beast - a baby Guido Fawkes, peddling rumours, spouting invective and being unashamedly biased and mischievous. It is therefore fitting that Harry Cole has now been adopted by Guido, and will be "News Editor" over at Order-order.com.

Their decisions to abandon their blogs have a common theme - both are still keen users of Twitter ('Tweeters' if you must), and have said they will continue to use it prolifically. The emergence of Twitter has followed a similar trajectory to that of blogging - firstly seen as a frivolous fringe activity, now a serious channel for news and debate, used not just by celebrities and their fans, but by leading opinion-formers and journalists (Steve Richards has written a very good piece about this).

I've certainly become addicted, and my musings on Twitter have reached more people and involved me in more debates than this blog ever has. For that reason, I've focussed more and more on Twitter, and blogged less and less. I know this has been the pattern for many others - as Harry Cole put it on Tuesday "Twitter killed the blogosphere star".

I think that's overstating it - blogging still has a place, as whatever the immediacy and interactivity of Twitter, you can't develop much of an argument in 140 characters. The best bloggers now use Twitter to direct people to their blogs, and when they break an exclusive story the audience for it can become very large, very quickly.

In Greenwich, and London generally, we are lucky in having some great bloggers and Tweeters who frequently beat the local press to significant local stories, and regularly post interesting commentary. This week's developments, by focussing attention on the blogosphere, have made me appreciate it all the more, and to look at my own rather paltry efforts. In the New Year I will be shaking up my blogging activity, so watch this space...

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