The main reason I started blogging was that I was fed-up of the other, more-established, form of political debate on the Internet – mailing lists.
If you have ever subscribed to one of these lists, whether Usenet or Yahoo Groups, you will know what I am talking about. I was on lefty lists so my in-box was packed with barely comprehensible rants over the treachery of this or that Trotskyist faction, a wide and varied collection of conspiracy theorists, accusations of violent harassment by peace activists and claims that this or that leftist was objectively a fascist agent in the pay of the CIA/MI5/The Bosses.
I am sure that if you signed up to a mailing list for any other non-political interest group you would soon find it dominated by the rantings of deranged nutters and/or other obsessives. In fact the odd football mailing list I subscribe to is proof that it is not just politics that appeals to these character types.
What is great about weblogs is, lets be honest, the control. I post my views and link to articles I find of interest. There is a bit of discussion in the comments boxes which is good and healthy and acts as a decent check and balance. But most of the real debate goes on between blogs.
Recently though I have noticed a lot of long responses in the comment boxes here. It is good that people, mostly not nutters, have things to say and feel this is a forum in which it is worth their while expressing themselves. But comments box debates are like mailing lists – its rapid fire, smart arse, point scoring most of the time rather than considered, though-out responses. They are useful for a quick comment or to point out an error but they are not really functional for proper discussion.
And to be frank I can’t be bothered getting drawn into drawn-out debates in the comments. What time I have free for online debate I prefer to spend on blogging.
In fact I would suggest to those who spend so much time and effort on their lengthy comments here (you know who you are) to do the same.
Go to Blogger.com, sign-up as a new user and within half an hour you will have a published weblog of your own at zero cost. Say something interesting and people will respond to you. That is how blogs work.