The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Asking the unasked question

I'm going to put it out there:

Is Public Address a blog?

It's a topic us lowly NZ Pol 'Sphere bloggers seem to often muse about amongst ourselves, but generally off-blog. No one wants to offend the mighty at PA, even though those of us out here in the shallows very very rarely gets any links from them anyway. But the massive hit increase when you do get a link is well worth maintaining a friendly visage, and linking to PA even though they don't link back to you.

But now to the question itself...

Factors tending towards yes:
- a blog can really be any kind of online website where the author posts regularly
- widespread recognition of PA as a blog
- widespread recognition of PA founder Russell Brown as Blogfather of the Nation (the Judy Bailey of blogging, if you will)
- PA has won various blogging awards

The above list all tends towards the self-labelling argument - if you think you have a blog then you have a blog, regardless of any external standards. If you are recognised by others as having a blog then this belief is further validated. And maybe that's really all that is needed - I think I have a blog, therefore I do indeed have a blog.

Factors tending towards no:
- no comments
- little interaction in the NZ blogosphere (or at least the political one) by the writers

Both of these factors seem to offend a lot of bloggers I've discussed this with over the last few years while Spanblather has been operational. There is often muttering that "PA isn't a real blog". I think I've observed in the past that it is kind of more like a group of columnists (but then that doesn't necessarily mean it can't claim to also be a blog).

But are public comment threads, and copious links within our small pool, necessary to be a blog? After all you can turn off comments on a blogspot blog (and no doubt on other ones too), and PA does have a good facility for sending private comments to the authors, which are sometimes reproduced in future posts. Is a website that has no comment threads somehow less of a blog than one that does allow comments but doesn't get any?

As for the linky love, there are certainly other bloggers in our 'sphere who are lazy about linking to others, which may be frustrating at times but is certainly within each blogger's rights as author of their own content.

Perhaps the real question here should not be is PA a blog, but why do we lowly minnows care?


Make Tea Not War said...

>Perhaps the real question here should not be is PA a blog, but why do we lowly minnows care?

Well the short answer for me is that I really don't. But I'm not a NZ political blogging scenester apart from commenting now and again on few peoples blogs.

However I do read PA from time to time and I think it is a blog in the sense that it uses blogging software. Other than that I don't think the term blog actually connotes anything very specific anymore. Just to be all internet pedant here, as I recall, back in the olden days blog was short for weblog and they comprised of mostly links thus being a log of the person's web use. There was often no facility for comments and there was a very clear distinction between on-line journals and blogs with a certain amount of mutual disdain on both sides at least in some circles. Nowadays blog is the dominant term & it encompasses quite a wide variety of forms of on-line writing which is reflected on PA.

Probably the question is really more whether PA are part of the NZ political blogging scene. I'd say Russell Brown is. He obviously reads them and comments quite frequently. Others not so much. Jolissa Gracewood is more a columnist writing about her life and observations as a non NZ resident mother and literature specialist.

Apathy Jack said...

Public Address links to me. Well, David Slack does. Nice man.

Yeah, I'd have to rest firmly on the "who cares" side of the fence, but if I had to think about it, I'd say that blog is short for weblog, which PA is. The fact that they don't have comments and don't link to many other blogs just means that they're a blog run by people with sense and taste.

Anonymous said...

There has been the attempt by the Sir Humphrey folk to add comments to PA, and I do note that Russell often appears in the comments threads over there, and at kiwiblog.

Blog = Web Log = running comentary on views held by the author (one supposes) so I think PA gets there.

JamesP said...

From a practical standpoint it doesn't matter what you'd class it as. PA is what it is and you read it (or not) because of what you think about its content.

Having said that I tend to agree with the statement that it isn't real blog. Lack of comments is part of it but is not the critical factor since other far more popular blogs also have no comments policies. What really clinches it for me is that Russell only posts once every day or two and that instead of compartmentalising topics into separate posts he combines them all into a single post even when there is no linkage between the ideas. Combined with the lack of reader feedback this makes PA more of an online column that a blog IMHO.

Asher said...

I reckon it's an online column, but that doesn't make a difference. It is what it is, it isn't what it isn't, and if you enjoy it you'll read it anyway.

An online column by any other name would still be just as good a read...

On the other hand, I've never linked to PA, and they've linked to me on a couple of occassions ;)

George Darroch said...

I like the fact that PA doesn't have comments - they really don't do much for me! Sometimes they work (NoRightTurn) sometimes they don't (DPF)

Idiot/Savant said...

If lack of comments means you're not a blog, then No Right Turn wasn't a blog for more than half its existence - despite being universally recognised as such.

The chief difference between Public Address and other group blogs is that its authors are literate enough to write decent seques between their posts. That's about it, really. Its still the usually commentary on the news, with added linky goodness, but stuck together in one post a day rather than three or four seperate ones. This level of literacy may eliminate them from blogdom in the sewer's eyes, but it certainly doesn't in mine.

(So, odds on being linked to today, then?)

Ghet said...

Yeah, I love the fact that PA doesn't have public comments. That doesn't mean it doesn't have comments, you can comment on anything. And I think from memory I've had a response, either in the column or via email, every time I've done that. The exchanges I've had with Che Tibby, David Slack, Russell Brown, and guest writer David Heywood have all been very positive, constructive, and not in the least snobby. Eh, I don't mean to sound like a horrible name-dropper, I'm just trying to make the point that I've always found them easy to approach and willing to respond.

Now, deciding whether something is a blog on the grounds of whether or not they link to the 'right' blogs, that's snobby.

JamesP said...

Just to clarify my point. Not being a "real blog" is not intended as an insult. Neither is the observation that Russell doesn't follow the common blog format / style. The fact is that the vast majority of blogs are crap and only a few deserve to be read with regularity. So calling it an online column is, in fact, a recognition of its superiority to regular blogs.

backin15 said...

The consensus is that not having posts doesn't disqualify you from being a "blog" which I completely agree with. PA is always a good read, topical and coherent which distinguishes it from 90%+ of the other blogs.

I'd like to comment on some articles on PA, and realise private comments are invited, but I think I'd regret it if it became open slather like at least one other blog mentioned here where the debate degenerates within (literally) minutes on most issues.

Cactus Kate said...

It is still a blog. If you bother to comment in on their facility they answer personally. Usually the responses are ok for a bunch of lefties. Russell is particularly pesonable and witty.

I think though they should publish feedback and answers. But it's their choice.

Krimsonlake said...

I too err on the side of not caring. But I'd definitely consider PA a blog, just a with a more professional feel and a more well written blog than most.

span said...

Well speculations that this post might be noticed by the PAers were most certainly off the mark. But I'm not bitter!!! Ok need sugar. Did I say that already tonight?

che tibby said...

nah, just a little late coming to the party.

i used to read spanblather all the time, but what with this thing called "work" taking over my life, i hardly get the change to read the DomPost...

i heard a rumour that russell has something in thinking stage that may well put all this "no comment" speculation to bed once and for all.

failing that, just head over to public reply. god knows someone has to!