libdemblogsAs three of my fellow Liberal Democrat bloggers (Mark Valladares, Alex Marsh and Jonathan Calder) have tackled this subject without using the most obvious of headlines for it, I decided to wait no longer and throw my tuppence of opinion in before someone else realised it was available.

Despite the headline, I think a lot of the decline in political blogging isn’t just limited to the Liberal Democrats. Sure, there’s now a smaller pool to draw from, and previously high-profile names like James Graham aren’t Liberal Democrats anymore, but to me, there don’t seem to be as many political bloggers as there used to be, or if there are they’re now much more congregated into sites with multiple authors rather than individual blogs.

There also doesn’t feel to me that there’s the same level of networking being political bloggers that there used to be. Again, this is personal perception, but I rarely see (or write) posts like this one, where they’re written as a response to something another blogger posted. Back in the Good Old Days of blogging, many posts seemed to be ‘in response to X, who was enraged by Y’s post about Z’s statement’ but now that kind of post is rare, and the self-contained post more common.

I think there are two main reasons for this change. First, there’s been a decline in blog aggregators and readers, the most notable of which to disappear was Google Reader, though I still lament the disappearance of the UK Political Blog Feeds page most of all. It feels to me that what tools of this sort that do exist generally tend to favour aggregating content from a single site or platform. WordPress will aggregate content from WordPress blogs, Blogger from its users and Tumblr from its, but people are less likely to range across platforms than they were. (For those of you who miss Google Reader, I do recommend The Old Reader, though) It’s much harder for a new blog to get noticed and find readers than it used to be, especially if you don’t have access to large number of social media contacts to promote yourself to. (One thing I have just realised – Lib Dem Voice doesn’t appear to have done a ‘welcome to the new bloggers’ post in a while)

Perhaps more importantly, though, the rise of social media has changed the way people use the web and stolen a lot of the niches that were previously only filled by blogs. Short points, sharing links and conversations are much better done on Twitter than blogs, and it’s much easier for a councillor to keep in touch with residents through a Facebook page than a blog – primarily because much more of the population use Facebook regularly than read blogs. It used to be that the answer to a lot of ‘how do I do X online?’ questions was ‘set up a blog’, but now it’s the answer to a much smaller set of questions. Even if you just want to expound your opinion on things, there are enough group blogs looking for content that you don’t need to set your own up and post regularly.

I don’t think blogging – even Liberal Democrat blogging – is dying, just evolving as the web and political ecosystems it sits within change. I would like to see more blogs and bloggers, especially from people who like discussing ideas in depth, but who knows how things might change after May?

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Quiet

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working on some long posts that will start to appear next week and also reading and thinking about Drew Westen’s The Political Brain which will hopefully serve as the springboard for series of posts in the near future. Stay tuned!

Worth Reading 89: When the walls came tumbling down

Here’s 2013’s first set of links:

In an EU referendum, what does NO mean? – Jon Worth looks at Cameron’s latest European strategy and wonders where it might lead.
Behaving in politics as if we were normal people – “prefigurative action” – Jon Worth again, this time on the disconnect between politics and real life.
20 obsolete English words that should make a comeback – It might jargogle at first, and using them could make you seem ludibrious, but ignore those who brabble about the perissology and think how illecebrous it could make you. You might kench at least.
Happy New Year – Jim Bliss explains the lifecycle of a typical blog in a few paragraphs.
Crazy Cat Person – Just a nice story of adopting rescued cats. See? I can share non-cynical heart-warming stuff too.

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Everyone else is doing it, so why not me? These are the ten posts from 2012 on the blog that got the most individual hits during the last twelve months.

10) Tour de France 2012: Ring my bell – I wrote a daily post about this year’s Tour de France, following Bradley Wiggin’s pursuit of the yellow jersey. For some reason, this was the most popular of them.
9) When is a Lib Dem not a Lib Dem? – An account of a twitter spat with non-Lib Dem Mark Littlewood.
8) You are free to do as we tell you – This one’s still rising up the charts. From Saturday, my reaction to the party’s attempts at a ‘message script’ for campaigners.
7) UKIP may well be beyond satire – Where Nigel Farage appears to believe that ‘modern and serious’ means ‘Christine and Neil Hamilton’.
6) Is there gender bias on Have I Got News For You? – This post, and it’s follow-ups, have been persistently popular, and the work in collecting the figures is one of the things I’m most proud of this year.
5) Boris is wrong. Again. – Boris gets his basic facts on how much power the Shard uses wrongs, and then uses false data as an argument for fracking. For this, he gets paid £250,000 a year by the Telegraph.
4) 2012 Colchester local election results – Pro Tip: Get lots of hits for your blog by putting up local election results as soon as possible. Lots of people will be searching for them.
3) It’s all in the game – On the disconnect between the people and the political class.
2) Monty Python fans block women directors – After the Church of England General Synod blocked women bishops, this piece of satire leapt into my mind.
1) It’s time to end the Coalition – Unsurprisingly, this got a lot of attention. Can’t imagine why.

So, mostly politics, with a bit of TV and a tiny bit of cycling sneaking in at the end. Not a bad summary of my year, really.

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New look

I got bored with the old theme, so decided to try a new one. I’ve been checking it in different browsers, but please let me know if you find any problems with it, or just if something’s missing that used to be there. For those of you interested in such things, the new theme is RedLine, and the old one was Librio.

Blast from the past: Alarm Clock Britain

I was thinking about Alarm Clock Britain today. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t remind you of an idea that’s hopefully long dead (though I have visions of people in the DPM’s office doing the occasional head-desk interface when Clegg decides he wants to try and push it again) but something prompted me to look up a couple of my old posts on it. Those, of course, reminded me of what’s probably the most vapid, soulless and content-free article ever published on Liberal Democrat Voice, but if anything, that’s got even funnier with the benefit of hindsight.

I know it’s not really fair to pick out old predictions and mock them, but it’s an article by a Nathan Barley-wannabe, and it’s amusing. But which of these two is your favourite?

Unfortunately and eventually, Labour is going wake up to this reality itself and will inevitability ditch Ed Miliband and for a David Miliband who, during the labour leadership election, was proved by various polls and focus grouping to emotionally connect.

Becoming closer with News Corp should be key to this as they are the gatekeepers and have a direct phone line to ‘Alarm Clock Britain’.

I like the first, partly for the fact it sounds like a random word generator attempting to sound like a human being, but the second – advising the party to get closer to News Corp and its ‘direct phone line’ surely wins.

Sadly, Mr LeVan-Gilroy has not shared any more of his thoughts with us through Lib Dem Voice since then, but maybe he’ll return in the future.

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