Thursday, June 03, 2010

Wet morning musings

It's a cool wet morning here in Eastern Sydney. It's really been wet for several weeks, and I'm sick of it.

The early morning is the time I usually do my web searches, checking and updating. In my present mood, nor even Paul Barratt's post Australian minerals: where is FIRB? could dratraffic May10 2w me. You see, I was on the other side of the fence in Treasury's Foreign Investment Division at the time he writes about, and I don't quite share his view. I wish I had kept my papers.

Bored, that's not a criticism Paul, I turned to do some housekeeping including routine checks on blog performance. Having passed the 150,000 visits a while ago, total visit numbers across my blogs has just passed 180,000 and should hit 200,000 some time in early August.

The graph on the right shows visit numbers plus page views for this blog. While not huge numbers, the trend is in the right direction.

Of all my blogs, New England Australia has been the stellar performer recently. Not so much in terms of absolute numbers - they are still well below the numbers on this blog - but certainly in terms of trends.

The visits/page views graph shows this very clearly, with a marked break in trend from the start of the year. Part of the reason fostats May 10 2r this lies in more regular posting, but part also lies (I think) in the evolving mix on the blog and the links with other things that I am doing including the Express column and some of my historical writing.

It has been a little while since I reported on my other writing.

On the New England history blog I have started bringing up some longer footnoted pieces.

Unrecognised and now almost unknown: explorations through the history of the broader New England is the seminar paper I gave in Armidale in March. Part autobiographical, this paper should be thought of as in one sense clearing the decks of past pre-occupations.  New England's literary tradition 2 - geography continues my thinking on New England culture and thought with a special focus on the twentieth century.

My next major history paper will be the paper I am to give in July to the Armidale and District Historical Society in July on New England's Aboriginal languages. This one will not be published on the blog since it's to appear in next year's ADHS Journal. However, I will be publishing some of the background supporting material.

My major project after that will be a paper on New England's intellectual and cultural tradition with a special focus on the twentieth century, something that has been peeping through for some time now. I am quite excited by this one.

This type of paper would not have been really possible twenty years ago and is only possible now because of some of the work done by my colleagues at UNE. The reason that I am excited is that I think (I stand to be corrected) that it will be the first such broader regional synthesis in Australia.

To write the paper I had to establish first that it was even sensible to think this way. I knew that it was because, as someone from that tradition, I simply don't think in the same way as Australians that I mix with who have grown up in other places. However, I had to gather the evidence that would show that I wasn't simply guilty of personal idiosyncrasy.

Once this paper is done, then I will actually be ready to start writing properly on the main project, my general history of New England. I remain as excited about this as before, although the task remains daunting. it's not just the volume of material, but also my impossible objective of writing a history that people will want to buy because it's a good general read. I struggle with this constantly.

On the main New England blog, my writing has started to settle down into themes.

One theme remains the history of New England. This informs my other writing, including my discussion on the new state movement and on New England self-government. One of the lovely things just at present is that I now have a small number of readers interested, so that writing such as my current new state argument series is informed by feedback.

This also helps me write on a second continuing theme, my discussions on New England development and public policy issues. It is actually bloody hard to write in this area when you are writing about something that in some ways no longer exists!

Geography dictates that New England or the North, call it what you will, will continue as an entity as measured, for example, by the various overlapping boundaries associated with Government service delivery. However, current approaches essentially fragment, making it difficult to see linkages and relationships. Quite a bit of my writing, Stats on university participation in New England is a recent example, involves simply putting down material that might provide building blocks for later analysis by me or others.

The problem can be stated this way.

Because New England does not exist, there are no stats. Each time I want to analyse a broader issue, I have to create the stats. So in examining demographic trends, for example, I have to take LGA or sometimes regional data and then aggregate it in various ways before I can begin my analysis.

This takes a lot of time and is therefore a hard ask for an independent researcher/commentator who has a lot of other things to do. Yet without this, I cannot properly address the issues involved.

I seem to have worked my way through my original gloomy mood. At least it's not raining. Let the main day begin!               

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