As usual for a Sunday, I woke up this morning listening to Julian Worricker’s programme on Radio Five Live. Today, in place of the Five Live Report, was a one-off programme about “Blogging in the UK”.
“Oh, that’ll be interesting,” I thought, so I stayed in bed and waited for it to come on. I was to discover that the programme wasn’t about blogging at all.
Blogging in the UK was originally part of ‘Your Five Live’, which I mentioned in my post about user generated content. Specifically, it was a feature of Five Live’s Breakfast programme.
The idea was to take a day during ‘Your Five Live’ week — the 22nd of January — and encourage as many first time bloggers to write about their day. The results are predictably awful, reinforcing the stereotypes about how bloggers are just people who write about what they had for breakfast.
And it shows just how little whoever came up with the idea actually knows about what blogging is about. For a start, the entries were posted by users in the comments of the Breakfast programme’s blog. This isn’t blogging. This is just a list of people’s mundane day to day activities.
Of course, there are plenty of bloggers out there who write about their day to day life (to good effect or otherwise). The fact that blogging can provide people with such an easy way to express themselves and write down their thoughts is one of blogging’s greatest strengths. But this Five Live stunt is not blogging, and it shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
Blogging is a commitment. You put yourself out there and write posts on something resembling a regular basis and try to find like-minded people to share your experiences with. The people who appeared on the radio this morning were not bloggers doing it for the love of blogging. I get the impression that most of them were just looking for the chance to say how much they love their baby boy on the radio.
In fairness, there were a few interesting soliloquies in this half-hour extravaganza of first-time non-blogging. For instance, I was interested in the post describing a woman’s attempts to cope with her partner’s constant heavy drinking. That was a real window into a world I had never really experienced before.
Also, there did seem to be a few people who had a way with words. But for every one of these interesting posts there were at least three banal entries by people about dropping off their kids at school and breastfeeding the baby — and these were the ones that were selected to appear on the radio!
Furthermore, it completely lacks the interaction of blogging. Blogs are discovered, as I said, by like-minded people. Talented bloggers who put in the effort find themselves with a big audience, and many bloggers receive the odd comment and communities are built. The people who participated in this experiment got none of that. They were hand-picked by an editor to appear on the radio for a one-off.
This is not a celebration of British blogging, and I seriously doubt if anybody who wasn’t interested in blogging before would have been swayed by this morning’s lamentable programme.
I wouldn’t have minded this at all if the programme wasn’t billed as being about “Blogging in the UK”. If they had called it “Bores ranting away about mundane subjects” it would have been a more accurate description. But then Five Live’s Breakfast programme wouldn’t have been able to hop onto the blogging bandwagon.
To add insult to injury, because it was done by Five Live Breakfast, this project involved Nicky Campbell. I could have just deleted this entire post and replaced it with the words “Nicky Campbell” and it would have been just as valid. I’ve never listened to Radio Five Live that early in the morning ever since he started presenting the Breakfast programme. I can hardly think of a less pleasant way to spend the morning.
Radio Five Live can and does understand blogging. In fact, I seem to remember Julian Worricker’s programme profiled a few prominent bloggers a year or two ago. But best of all is the weekly Pods and Blogs segment on the wonderful Up All Night programme. Pods and Blogs is made by people who really get what it’s all about, and their segment serves as a reminder of just how much wonderful stuff is going on in the blogosphere (putting the musings of someone like me somewhat into perspective).
As an aside, am I the only person who gets a bit annoyed whenever somebody (almost always a non-blogger) calls a post a “blog”? (See how many people talk about “writing their first blog” in the Breakfast comments.) The blog is the whole thing, surely? People must think it is like “Captain’s Log” or something. (“Captain’s Log, Date 11/03/2007. Today I had four Weetabix for breakfast.”)
But back in the old days when people had to do truly awful things like write stuff down with a pen and paper, I seriously don’t think that anybody in their right mind said, “I am just writing a log now,” or, “It took me fifteen minutes to write that diary!” Diary entries have their modern equivalents: blog posts.