Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bloggers of the past

Trevor Butterworth in the FT Magazine on blogging:  
According to the monitoring done by thetruthlaidbear.com, only two blogs get more than 1 million visitors a day and the numbers drop quickly after that: the 10th ranked blog for traffic gets around 120,000 visits; the 50th around 28,000; the 100th around 9,700; the 500th only 1,400 and the 1000th under 600. By contrast, the online edition of The New York Times had an average of 1.7 million visitors per weekday last November, according to the Nielsen ratings, and the physical paper a reach of 5 million people per weekday, according to Scarborough research.

And on some would-have-been bloggers:

“We’re sure Marx and Orwell would have blogged,” said Heather and Jessica of gofugyourself.com. “When it comes right down to it, blogs reach the greatest amount of people in the least amount of time, and they reach the very people Marx and Orwell wanted to speak to most.”

“Orwell, definitely,” said Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds. “Marx would have had to acquire a bit more ‘snap’, I’m afraid, to have made it as a blogger.”

“Orwell maybe,” said Cox. “Orwell was pathologically productive. He never doubted himself, that’s for sure. And maybe he shares that trait with many bloggers.”

The question was, of course, rigged. The great critic and editor Cyril Connolly fell into despair over the prolixity of Orwell’s wartime writing: “Being Orwell, nothing he wrote is quite without value and unexpected gems keep popping up. But O the boredom of argument without action, politics without power.”

Connolly was the constitutional opposite of Orwell - a spry wit given to sloth, a portly bon vivant who masticated away his genius. But he recognised, in effect, how awful Orwell would have been as a blogger, and how he would fall into the kind of dross exemplified by the author’s “In Defence of English Cooking”:

Well, he did keep his war-time journal, which made quite interesting reading 25 years later.
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Noam Chomsky and 'Manufacturing Consent' is tucked away on ITV4 (though the Radio Times helpfully highlights it) at 23:50 tonight.

Manufacturing Consent ? Would that be the same consent that was manufactured for the Iraq war, or for Vietnam, come to think of it ?

Update: if you saw Chomsky's defence of himself in January's Prospect, be sure also to read Oliver Kamm's 3-part response. This is, incidentally, a pretty good illustration of the advantages of blogging.

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