Saturday, 21 June 2008

Freedom of speech

Over the past few months I have come across a number of views about blogs, some positive, some negative. It seems appropriate to write my own views on blogs on my own blog.

Wikipedia's entry on "blog" says that the word blog has become a very loose term, meaning any bit of media wherein the subject expresses his/her opinion or simply talks about something.

When I started this blog, it was purely an experiment; I wanted to know what blogs were all about. Blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies feature significantly in my work environment, so this was done partly on a "need to know" basis. It is happy coincidence, as far as I am concerned, that others read it, and that I can use it to keep in touch with friends in far-flung places. Without it, I wouldn't have the time to do everything I do and still keep in touch. Some enjoy it, and I'm sure some don't, but that isn't my problem.

Fungus: will grow anywhere dark and damp

There have been a number of threads on UK Climbing recently, which have debated the approach of the climbing media in reporting events which might (or might not) be deemed significant or of particular interest to the climbing community. In some cases the reporters have been been criticised for giving less prominent coverage to events which might be regarded as more significant, and vice versa. Freedom of the press inevitably provides scope for media manipulation of public opinion. We live in a world where the global media makes stars in order to destroy them - creating "news" in order to generate more news in the future. On the other side of that, it's also a world where state controlled news agencies exist, and ensure that the great unwashed are told only what they need to know, thereby ensuring a particular reaction, a particular election result etc. It's an endless and vicious cycle.

The rise of the civic journalism movement has begun to challenge the problems associated with the "traditional" media and journalism. We can all be participants in the media machine rather than spectators, passive readers of whatever is piped at us through established channels. Audience participation has been brought to a new level. We are no longer just the audience.

Simple things like blogs offer us all the opportunity to report to the rest of the world what we think is important and to comment on, well, whatever we wish to comment on. Maybe it is only important to the reporter, but maybe there are others out there who find it important or interesting too. There are well-known therapeutic benefits to writing, whether it be about personal experiences or simply expressing a view and feeling that one's voice is heard. It's there for all to read, and if the reader doesn't find it interesting, so what? It's no different in the "traditional" media (BBC, CNN, The Daily Record...). Rather than simply complaining that the media isn't reporting the right stuff, we are now able to report the right stuff ourselves. The technology and the mechanisms exist for all of us to publish what we believe is important.

However, it seems that in making use of these opportunities, personal bloggers have come under fire. I have seen some blogs described variously as "self-promotory", "cringeworthy" and "egotistical". While I don't wish to comment on any particular author or post, I would defend to the hilt the blogger's right to write in their own style and to say whatever it is they wish to say. They may be offering views on others' activites, or documenting their own; they may be raising awareness of particular campaigns or issues, anything from global disease epidemics to the removal of a local playground or development of greenbelt land. It doesn't matter. From the blogger's point of view, there is one simple but blunt way to express it: it's my blog, and I'll write what I like on it.

The Chardonnet: crystal clear in dawn light

Speaking for my own blog, if you don't find it interesting, don't read it. It isn't offensive, it isn't defamatory, and it's purpose is purely for my own enjoyment. If you also enjoy it, I'm glad. Happy reading.


lynwen said...

Blimey! Who peed in your Cornflakes this morning??! Hope you're feeling better now you've got that off your chest! I just like lots of pictures.

alpinedreamer said...

I don't eat cornflakes!