Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings - more on blogs and blogging with passing reference to Australia the film

During the week I managed to find the time to do a few things beyond posting on this blog.

In Rugby League's confusions over Green I looked at the confusions that had arisen over the naming of the new George Green Medal. This will be awarded each year to a rising star of indigenous background playing his rookie year in the NRL or the Toyota Cup.

My interest in this was attracted not so much by the confusion itself, but by the hints the story provided about elements of New England's history.

The original newspaper article by Andrew Moore contains a reference to the Bundjalung people at Emmaville. Now the Bundjalung Aboriginal peoples were a coastal group, while Emmaville is inland on the western side of the Tablelands, so my attention was caught.

I won't go into details at this point, but the New England Tablelands are an interesting case study into the relationships between various Aboriginal peoples at the time the Europeans arrived. Here my focus is on the relationships between Aboriginal groups themselves, Aboriginal history if you like, not Aboriginal-European interactions.

The Tablelands are interesting because their size - over 400k north-south, over 270k east west - and geographic structure means that you can see the interaction between the powerful coastal language groups, the inland Kamilaroi, with smaller Tablelands groups squeezed in the middle.

As part of checking I used the new widgets just added to Google. Once signed in, these allow you to delete search references, to move them up or down, and to add notes.

I think this will be useful, but there does appear to be a catch. The widgets are only on Since I use as my default, I often search only on Australian pages, I kept finding myself on minus the widgets.

New England Story - Stockton Beach was another post during the week, this time trying to tell the story of a beach. I am still learning how to tell this type of story, one that knits together an area and its history. I think that it is an interesting piece, although it relies too heavily on Wikipedia articles.

One frustration in writing is the apparent absence on-line of decent material on Australian physical geography, both past and present. There is material there, but it is generally fragmented or too localised.

Take a small thing like the sea level:

  • 125,000 years ago, it was apparently 25 feet higher than now, so a fair bit of present Sydney would have been under water.
  • About 100,000 years ago, it began to fall, creating new coastal plains stretching out six to ten miles from what is now the coast line.
  • About 20,000 years ago, the sea level began to rise, submerging the plains. This rise continued until 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, creating what we now see as the natural coastline.
  • Now of course, the sea level appears to be rising again.

I am a naturally curious person. I am also a pattern or framework person, so I do try to fill gaps in as I go along. However, there is another evolving issue here.

With some 890 posts on this blog alone, I am more and more reliant on the blog search facility to find past things that I have written. This is not always effective. I find it quite frustrating to know that I have written something and not to be able to find it.

Then there is the problem of decayed links. When I first started blogging, I often included posts that were in some ways access points to links. I did not fully realise just how ephemeral the web is. Now with thousands of links, I know that there are a lot of dead ones.

I fix them when I find them, but I really don't want to go back through and find out just how bad the problem has become!

As we discussed in Joshua Gans and our Internet community, I say we because I am including comments, we all blog for different reasons. There is no such thing as a right approach to blogging, simply the right approach for each blogger given their needs and objectives.

I sometimes worry that blogs like this one may put new bloggers off. I think it important to realise that blogs like mine or Neil Whitfield's suite of blogs belong to a small group, the obsessive blogger whose blogs have become their main form of intellectual expression and who are also prepared to invest a lot of time in writing.

Our problem is that we want to order and present our material so that we can access it for our own purposes, but also so that it will be useful to others.

In a break from writing this somewhat material ponderous material I notice that Thomas has hoed into Australia. Do read the post and then go to see the film. After all, you have to see the film before you can really make a judgement as to whether Thomas is right! There, Thomas, almost anything can be used for marketing purposes. Smile.

More seriously, since I wrote Problems with Australian Films, I have been watching reactions to the film. I also saw the trailer plus one of the tourism ads this week when we sent to see the latest James Bond movie.

On what I have seen, the movie is visually stunning. I have also found the range of reactions interesting because they say a lot about the confusions within modern Australia. But that's another post.

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