Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Conversations 9 November

A blessedly short post today because I am busy. Thanks I hear you say!

There have been a lot of parallel discusions in the small immediate blogging network of which I am a part about the extent to which blogging affects our opinions and about blogging manners.

Following other discussions, Lexcen put up a post on blogging and public opinion on Gripes of Wrath that attracted quite a large comment field for that blog, showing the interest in this topic.

One of the problems, though, is the way in which some bloggers post comments that are abusive. And even worse. Over at Seeking Utopia Daniel received so much abuse, even apparently death threats, that he decided to set up a new blog limited to invitation only participants.

Now we all take risks in posting to the ether. Blogging has become the modern equivalent of Hyde Park Corner or the Sydney Domain where we take our soap boxes and stand on them to address whoever wants to listen. And the audience is perfectly entitled to shout "Shut up yah mug!".

But blogs are also about civilised conversation. I do not classify rival streams of opinion that go on independent of each other as conversation, nor do I classify abuse as conversation although it may make me laugh even when addressed at me. Conversation implies a willingness too listen, to stand back to find out what the other person really means, to define areas of agreement and disagreement.

Here I have watched with interest the conversation between Kevin and Neil on Iraq. They have different views, but through discussion they are clarifying similarities and differences. I call that civilised.

I talk a lot about change on this blog. Do not think from this that I think that all change is bad. Much of my personal and professional life has been devoted to bringing about change. David Anderson (the link is to David's main blog, not the comment) said quoting an Italian proverb, things must change to stay the same.

I was reminded of this by a recent conversation with my eldest, Helen.

I have been critical of many aspects of modern education, but there are also pluses. Helen and a friend have decided to mount their own drama showcase. They have been to see SUDS (Sydney University Dramatic Society), gained support, and booked space for February. Helen has a clear picture of what she wants to achieve. I very much doubt that I could have done the same at her age (19). She is just highly comptetent.

Those who read this blog will know that I am very proud of my girls. You can expect me to use this blog, and anybody else I can drag in, to promote the production.

Finally, I do not talk much about my professional life in this blog. But I and my Ndarala colleagues write a lot of stuff., some of which I draw from on this blog.This material is spread all over the place. To make all this more readily accessible, we have set up a new Ndarala Group blog.

This is not an easy blog. It will include comment, but its core role is to act as a site of reference. You will see this if you look at the initial nine posts. Many are very long, full scale articles. They form part of the intellectual base from which I draw.

Why do this? It's not just the number of places in which material is held. It's also a recognition that increasingly people are using blog searches instead of general web searches to find material.

I commend the new blog to you.


Anonymous said...

Jim, I took care of the first abusive blogger I ever had the best way I could, I published his picture and rubbished him. You can check it out in my archives. Look for Andrew.
Of course, I've been lucky so far as the infamous "anonymous" hasn't stalked my blog.

Travel Italy said...

Jim, some people have manners, most do not. I think this is due to the way corps and politicians market to the masses. They feel the only way to get their message accross is to say outlandish things or with a tone that is very aggressive. Think of the news networks, everything is breaking news, the scoop of the century, or placed in the form of a question to create a headline that does not exist, "the world will end today at 4:00 pm?" People adapt and going over the line to get attention becomes more and more "out there."

So, offensive comments, attacks, death threats, etc. mean nothing today, they are part of the world we have allowed to evolve. Yes, I believe it is our fault because if the tactics did not work they would not be used.

Our politicians are not able to debate issues, our corporations are unable to make quality products at a reasonable price, and we the people are unable to turn off the television when CNN says "The world will end today at 4:00?"

Jim Belshaw said...

Lexcen,mmm! I did look at the original post, Andrew's comment and your new post.

I have only had one abusive comment, and that on a post about Bill Hughes, a man who still raises strong emotions because of his opera house role. However, the post was abusive about what I said, not about me. Recognising this, I think that my style means that I would have gone a different route.

David, I agree that the fault rests with all of us. It follows, then, that the solution rests with all of us as well. Easy to say, I know. I feel another post coming on!

Anonymous said...

The conversation with Kevin referred to above has generated a very interesting response from Kevin which may interest you and you readers. See Conversation with Kevin.

Jim Belshaw said...

Neil, you are going to have to watch all this or you will end up an A list blogger!. Probably not because your blog is very serious, but it has been evolving in a fascinating way because of the conversations created.

I had already been thinking about commenting on a couple of aspects on the conversation between you and AV especially relating to language, and Kevin's thoughtful post deserves a response.

At the start of my migration series I tried to make to the point that Australia was different and that we needed to cleave to our own path, not simply import overseas ideas and attitudes. Discussion since on both our blogs has continued to draw out the differences between Australia and the US.

I like the US and as an outsider hesitate to express opinions on things built into US attitudes, culture and society, although I seek to understand. What is suitable for the US may not be suitable for Australia and vice versa.

But by articulating some of the differences through conversation the US people can make their own assessments as to the relevance of the Australian experience to the US, we can do the same in reverse.

On a technical blogging issue, one of the difficulties with comments is that they get lost as posts move into the past. One can handle this by later link backs,but I also suspect that some sets of comments deserve being turned into posts in their own right.