Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper has its say

An article written in yesterday’s edition of The Sunday Times — Scotland has provoked much foot-stomping, arm-crossing and general huffing amongst Scottish bloggers. I’ve come to expect this from most articles about blogging. Almost all of them have glaring errors of some form in them — it makes you wonder how much we can rely on journalists writing about subjects which we are not so expert on.

For once, the bloggers’ moans are justified. I thought it was a most unfair article. Allan Brown, the writer of the piece, went to the Scottish Blogs directory and went around the wee map which, as much as anything, gave him a good old excuse to indulge in all sorts of geographical prejudice.

…there are at least 10 bloggers in the Highlands and Islands, a surprising number given that most people are still suspiciously sniffing mobile phones up there.

Yes, they’re all a bunch of old sheep-shaggers up there, aren’t they?

There’s very little of interest from Fife (so no change there then)…

Har-har, very funny. The only reason, of course, that there’s little of interest in Fife is because I never got round to registering this blog on Scottish Blogs — so thanks to Mr Brown for reminding me!

Brown calls bloggers a bunch of computer geeks (who, incidentally, prefer “the one-way mirror of their controlled solitude to the messy complexities of real people”), but then he complains about some bloggers’ poor web design. It can’t be both sir.

As with the Google search engine, simplistic page designs are considered to be almost a badge of honour to bloggers: most just feature text, rolling and rambling down the page without interruption from such crowd-pleasing features as pictures.

It’s worth noting that Google’s “simplistic” design is often cited as one of the main reasons it’s so popular. And how many pictures do I see on the online version of Brown’s article?

Anyway, after complaining that bloggers don’t know how to make a pretty website, just a few paragraphs down he says:

“Over the forthcoming months,” [Martin Frost] writes, amazingly, “the site will be radically updated and enlarged.” A one-man Central Office of Information, Frost has clearly devoted his life to blogging, with results that make you wonder nervously what he might have done had the internet never been invented.

Err yeah. So now that he’s gone to all the effort to make his blog prettier for the benefit of people like Allan Brown who dislike “simplistic” designs, he is a geek who has “devoted his life to blogging.” But another contradiction in Brown’s argument! Just a minute ago — about the same blogger aswell — he was complaining about “misplaced capital letters and exclamation marks.” Of course, if all the spelling and punctuation was perfect, this would probably only go to prove just how obsessive bloggers are.

This is actually one of the criticisms of blogs that really confuses me the most. Some people seem to think that it takes up an entire day to write a day’s worth of blogging. Well, if that’s really how long it takes you Mr Brown, perhaps you are in the wrong job (more on that in a minute). A quick wee post takes a matter of seconds. A more in-depth one usually takes up no more than half an hour. I probably spend about twice as much of my life stuck in a train doing absolutely nothing! If I spent half an hour taking a bath, nobody would complain that I was “devoting my life to taking baths.” So how come it’s so different with blogging?

No doubt Allan Brown wouldn’t care what we mere bloggers would have to say about it. Luckily for bloggers, though, Brown’s article is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper — these blog posts are tomorrow’s top results in Google.

Luckily, not all journalists are threatened by blogging as much as Allan Brown is. Guardian Unlimited in particular should be applauded, for their own range of blogs and their ability to — unlike many newspapers’ websites — let people use their site without making them pay through the nose just to read one article.

Ironically, another article about blogging appeared in The Sunday Times — Scotland‘s sister paper, The Times, recently (via Bloggerheads). It was a much fairer account of blogging, and I’d recommend giving it a read.

See also the posts on the same article on Independence and The Highrise, and the posts linked from them.

Now, on to registering with Scottish Blogs


  1. A better article indeed, looking at blogging rather than weblog content, but I still believe that it’s the web as a whole, not just weblogs, which heralds the death of dead tree news. And that’s not a bad thing.