Monday, February 14, 2011

Concerts, comments and content management

Unlike Marcellous or Paul Barratt who love live performances of classical music and often write about them, I have never been a concert person. I enjoy many types of music, but concerts remain something of a personal black spot.

I mention this because last week I watched  Radu Mihaileanu's 2009 film Concert on video. IMDb summarises the story line this way:

Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, the renowned conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. Now a mere cleaning man at the Bolshoi, he learns by accident that the Châtelet Theater in Paris invites the Bolshoi orchestra to play there. He decides to gather together his former musicians and to perform in Paris in the place of the current Bolshoi orchestra. As a solo violin player to accompany his old Jewish or Gypsy musicians he wants Anne-Marie Jacquet, a young virtuoso. If they all overcome the hardships ahead this very special concert will be a triumph.

The film's background music is quite wonderful, the concert scenes at the end absolutely gripping. If you haven't seen it, I really do recommend it.

A comment from Club Troppos' Don Arthur on yesterday's The need for change in blogging was a salutary reminder to a sometimes personal pontificator inclined person like myself not to get too wrapped in nostalgia over the early days of the blogosphere. Don wrote:

Back when I first started blogging I complained about something Tim Blair wrote. Here's how he responded:

"DON ARTHUR, the Mary Whitehouse of Australian bloggers, complains that I'm uncivil. What a butt munch. However, to accommodate Don's desire for polite discourse, the following post is written in an entirely non-insulting Arthurian tone ..."

I found the post Don referred to by scanning down the page. I don't have the full context for this 2002 post, but I leave you to judge the tone for itself. The term Flame Wars or Flaming was coined to describe some forms of behaviour. Wikipedia has a reasonable article on the phenomenon.

Meantime, Neil Whitfield and long term commenter Kevin have parted company in the long comment stream on Inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style revisited, while Winton Bates reflects on What is my purpose in blogging? Winton summarises part of his reason for blogging this way:

However, I don’t think the purpose of my blogging has a great deal to do with my ego. While I am interested to see how many people are visiting my blog and what they are reading, I do my best not to unduly influenced. I would get some satisfaction from having a more popular blog, but I keep telling myself that the main purpose of the blog is to help me to straighten out my own ideas.

I know a good interviewer would not be satisfied with the answers I have given so far. She would probably ask: So, why are you concerned about issues related to liberty and happiness?

My concern arises because I think our liberty is increasingly under threat from people who want us to be happy.

I think that Winton is right to think about a book as a way of consolidating and extending his thinking. Like Winton, I use blogging in part as a device to clarify my own thinking, to educate myself. However, by it's nature the blogging format creates difficulties for sustained, clarified, longer form writing.

After 3,500 posts, over two million words, what I think of as content management has become a very real issue. It's not just that I find it increasingly difficult to find earlier pieces, I also find a problem with issues that I have worked through at some length; the reader can't be expected to share my thinking. Each time I write I need to be conscious that the post will necessarily be read in isolation.

Like most of us, I use links to point readers to other material, as well as a guide to myself. However, time is too short for most readers to actually click through. Over the last 100 visits to this blog, there were only four click-throughs.

The need to explain, to set a context, to provide links, necessarily leads to a fair degree of duplication across posts. This becomes blindingly obvious when, as I do from time to time, material is consolidated for other purposes. You can't just copy posts into a single document. Considerable editing is required to remove duplication and to link and consolidate arguments.

A very special problem arises with past posts where my views have changed or which I now know to contain errors of fact or interpretation. This is a special issue with some of my history posts. I am uncomfortable leaving the posts there, but I want to do so because they are still relevant to me. However, time limitations make it difficult for me to either correct them or to include qualifying comments with links to later work.

I said that this was an especial problem with my history posts. However, it is also a problem with my thematic posts, themes or subjects that I have returned to many times over the years that I have been blogging.

I hadn't actually intended to return to the blogging theme when I began this post, but all these issues remain much on my mind. The difficulty is that there are no easy answers, while I actually don't like some of the choices involved.

We shall see.   


On click-throughs, regular commenter KVD pointed out something that I had not realised. When reading posts, he "right-clicks open in new tab" for later reading if interested. Since he is still on the blog, he doesn't register in out-clicks. As a measure of this, he used my OLO post ( ANZ, IBM & freedom of speech) to check writing on other blogs that he does not normally read. This involved many more visits elsewhere than registered in my outclicks.

Checking around, KVD is not alone. It was just something that I hadn't picked up that means that one statistic I use is simply invalid. This also explains the difference between the in and out traffic between my blogs.

In this post I mentioned Winton Bates' blog review. It was also nice to hear from Winton in comments that he noticed an increase in traffic this morning compared to the normal Monday morning. I know that some of this came from here.

All this has affected my thinking on the use of links, re-emphasising their importance.   


Anonymous said...

Jim just a small comment or two.

I very often go to links you reference in your posts, numerous times in the past week or so on the OLO thing for instance.

HOWEVER I always "right-click open in new tab", to read them later after finishing your own post. Therefore I expect you will never see a stat from me saying "left Belshaw, went to Whitfield" - if that's what you mean about "only four click throughs"?

Secondly - what a terrific sentence you quoted from Mr Bates: "I think our liberty is increasingly under threat from people who want us to be happy."

I will go and read his whole post simply to get the sense of his comment.


Winton Bates said...

I notice more people visiting my blog than is usual for a Monday morning. Thanks Jim.

Thanks also kvd for your comment.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's a very helpful comment KVD re stats because it shows that the stats I have are misleading on a key item. That's always helpful to know.

I thought that Winton's sentence was pretty good too. I am glad that you are going to have a look.He writes some good stuff.

A pleasure, Winton.

Anonymous said...

Way misleading Jim. That post you kept updating, with references elsewhere - you could put just me down for maybe up to forty click-throughs if I did it your way.

It was a very good launch point, particularly because I do not follow the blogs you referenced - as I have mentioned before.


Jim Belshaw said...

That's very important information for me to know, David.