Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Eighty-four days

I am going abroad until 13 February, and shall probably not be able to post much while I am away.

Since Greater Surbiton was launched on 7 November, the site has had over seventeen thousand views. The largest number of views in a single day was 1,452, at the time of this post.

Several people have asked me why I don’t have comments on my blog. There are several reasons. Firstly, as it is, the blog is just about as time-consuming as I can manage. If I were to moderate and post comments as well, it would just be too much. Secondly, I am often depressed by the quality of comments on the blogs that I visit – the abuse, vulgarity, flippancy and repetitiveness. I have a low tolerance for these things and am not interested in dealing with them, but I don’t want to be in the position of having to censor comments. It’s better when people write considered responses on their own blogs than off-the-cuff remarks on someone else’s. I was pleased, for example, when Backword Dave wrote a thoughtful response to my first posted item. Of course, it’s different for blogs with multiple authors and lots of readers, like Harry’s Place or Crooked Timber, where the discussion is much of the point. But for me, the real pleasure has been to write about things I wouldn’t otherwise get to write about; I don’t necessarily want to have a public debate every time. All private comments sent to me are welcome, however.

I have a somewhat more positive view of blogging than Oliver Kamm, who maintains one of the most consistently high-quality blogs on the ‘net and therefore has every right to deplore the poor quality of a lot of what is out there. In general, despite such undeniably widespread poor quality, I favour something that facilitates global communication and the exchange of information. The democratic nature of blogging, whereby anyone can post or comment, is of course a double-edged sword. The amount of abuse and vulgarity in the blogosphere is lamentable. I make no apology for being rude to people with thoroughly obnoxious views – chauvinists, genocide-deniers, etc. – sometimes politeness would not be warranted. But I’m not proud of having sometimes exchanged actual insults. All credit to those who manage to be more consistently restrained than I am. Over here, I have at least tried to follow the advice of my friend Modernity, a much more experienced blogger than I am, who recommended to me when I began that I avoid fighting blog-wars.

Even worse than the vulgarity and abusiveness is the sheer mediocrity of a lot of what passes for discussion online. In the unlikely event that anyone reading this hasn’t already experienced it, the absolute lowest quality of debate that I know of can be found at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ site. Reading the endless string of totally mindless off-the-cuff remarks that regularly appear there, one sometimes feels that democratisation of the means of communication has gone too far…

For all that, blogs provide a forum for political discussion that might not otherwise take place, and for investigative writing that might not otherwise appear. Readers will no doubt be aware of the excellent Harry’s Place, and its unique role in keeping track of Islamism’s followers and accommodators in the West and enabling issues relating to them to be debated publicly. This is one of the key topics of our day and what Harry’s Place is doing is absolutely crucial. Particularly so given the prevalence of what might humorously be called the ‘left errors’ and ‘right errors’ vis a vis Islamism: on the one hand, the view that Islamic extremists are the authentic voice of the oppressed, and that to condemn them is ‘Islamophobic’; on the other, the view that all Muslims are equivalent to the extremists. Both errors involve conflating moderate, conservative and extremist Islam. Harry’s Place does an excellent job in showing why this is not the case; a lesson that needs to be taken on board if the struggle against Islamofascism is to be won, and the Islamic world freed from the threat it poses.

I would also like to draw readers’ attention to the consistently excellent Srebrenica Genocide Blog, which meticulously keeps track of events, stories and research related to the Srebrenica massacre, and refutes the arguments of the deniers point by point. This blog exemplies what can be achieved by an informed blogger carefully investigating a particular, important subject, one that deserves careful attention but would probably not receive it anywhere else; certainly nowhere so accessible.

The explosion of blogs is part of the process of globalisation. Even a blog like mine, with a modest number of readers, is looked at all over the world. Judging by the ‘Clustermaps’ on many blogs, this is entirely common. I am happy to be participating.

PS I liked this when I discovered it by accident.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008 - Posted by | Marko Attila Hoare, Uncategorized

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