Happy birthday blogosphere!

I had no idea, perhaps because as suz observed in a recent post, we in Australia were mostly just discovering the intertubes for the first time a decade ago, but apparently the blogosphere turns ten today. Via Crooks and Liars, Jane Hamsher has written a cracker of a piece for the Wall Street Journal. Of course, the Australian political blogosphere is a much younger beast, but recent conniptions and collisions with the Government Gazette suggest that online media – particularly Crikey but also the blogosphere’s psephological wonks – have ruffled some feathers.

In my analysis, linked in the previous para, I’ve been concentrating on the ability of blogs and new media to disrupt the cosy loop between pundits in the Press Gallery, government spinsters and the dynamic of political opinion and affect in Canberra – I continue to regard the near admissions by Mitchell and Shanahan that they see their interpretation of polling as giving them a crucial lever to affect leadership decisions and morale within parliamentary parties as most extraordinary, and I think deserving of more coverage and analysis than the obvious angle about the thin skinned exclusivity and sense of proprietorship over political debate The Australian has demonstrated in spades over the last week. It just isn’t a good look for democracy, but it is a good look for democracy that the breaking of the magic circle exposes these machinations. The bollocking that the GG’s punditariat continued to get on their own “blogs” was an important circuit breaker for the paper’s meltdown last week, and to that end, I’m reproducing (with permission) over the fold an interesting piece of analysis from Margaret Simons.

While I think there was only a tendentious relationship between the GG’s hissy fit and their desire to influence readers and public opinion (I think rather that they’re much more interested in being political power players within the Canberra nexus), there is no doubt that one of the lessons of this sorry saga is that you treat your readership with contempt at your own very great risk. At Catallaxy, Jason Soon displays a good sense of timing in noting research that shows citizens engaged online with news and political commentary to be better informed than those reliant on more traditional media. Although this year’s election is increasingly looking like a lay down misere for Labor, and thus political activity on the margins is probably of less significance than in a close race, the implications for political media and the power of the mainstream media of the dynamics of this campaign are going to be very important for years to come.

4. Blogs, truth … The Oz just doesn’t get it

Margaret Simons writes:

They really don’t get it. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from The Australian’s extraordinary display of glass jaw over the blogosphere’s critique of Dennis Shanahan’s reporting of poll results. This culminated in News Limited censoring one of its own bloggers, Tim Dunlop, last week.

Today Dunlop told Crikey that he was having “talks” with management about editorial independence after a post was pulled against his will last Thursday. Dunlop expected to be able to post on the result of his talks later this morning – but had not done so in time for Crikey’s deadline.

The whole affair highlights the gap between the larger News Corp – a modern interactive empire – and the sharp but old fashioned conservative newspaper men who run the local incarnation. For powerful and intelligent people they have made themselves look fragile and silly. It is rather sad.

There is no need to trawl over whether Shanahan was right or not. That has been done by others, and I have no strong opinion. The real story here is about how media is changing. This is the first election Australia has ever had in which the mainstream media has lost its monopoly on analysis.

Dunlop, an Adelaide-based academic and former small business owner whose doctoral thesis was about public debate, was the first blogger recruited to mainstream media “from the wild” when he signed with News Limited late last year. At the time he assured his readers that he would remain an independent voice, but it seems he discovered the limits of the mainstream media’s tolerance when he criticised his employer last week.

Thankfully Dunlop’s original censored post, mild compared to what some were saying, has been preserved here – proof, if any were needed, that editing newspapers doesn’t work like it used to. It’s a fair bet that Dunlop’s censored post has now been read by many more people than would otherwise have encountered it.

To recap: the fuss has been brewing for a while with many bloggers (and some Crikey commentators) observing that Shanahan seems over-willing to emphasise anything in Newspoll that can be seen as positive for the Government. Shanahan, on the other hand, protests that his record is its own defense. This all came to a head last week after this piece provoked a flurry of online criticism, and Shanahan responded defensively.

All fair enough, but then it got nasty. First Peter Brent, who runs the psephological blog Mumble, reported that Oz editor Chris Mitchell had rung to say The Australian would “go” him for criticising Shanahan. This was followed by an Australian editorial that did indeed “go” Brent, other bloggers, and Crikey. The editorial included this breathtakingly arrogant paragraph.

On almost every issue it is difficult not to conclude that most of the electronic offerings that feed off the work of The Australian to create their own content are a waste of time. They contribute only defamatory comments and politically coloured analysis. Unlike Crikey, we understand Newspoll because we own it. (Emphasis added).

News Limited, it seems, sees itself as uniquely qualified to detect bias, and uniquely free from “political colour”. It would be laughable were it not so obviously the product of tunnel vision.

Then to cap it off Dunlop got censored for making very similar points to the bloggers under attack.

Contrast the behaviour of News Limited with some words of wisdom from a well-known newspaper man a couple of years ago:

What is happening is, in short, a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. They don’t want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. They don’t want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don’t want news presented as gospel…They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle…We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented.

That’s right: these words are from the landmark speech by Rupert Murdoch in which he signalled his conversion to the digital world.

Murdoch worried about whether his editors were capable of making the cultural change. He said that too many saw their readers as stupid and less able than they to discuss the news.

In any business, such an attitude toward one’s customers would not be healthy. But in the newspaper business, where we rely on people to come back to us each day, it will be disastrous if not addressed.

It seems Rupert was right to worry.

Update: More birthday wishes to the ‘sphere from Phil.

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Posted in culture, elections, Federal Elections, media, sociology
40 comments on “Happy birthday blogosphere!
  1. Lyn says:

    You have to wonder whether they really don’t get it, or whether they really do get it, but thinking about it arouses such fear that important bits of their bodies start vacating the premises.

    Politics, media and the relationship between them will never be the same.

    There is also a noticeable movement of commentary from the News site to other opinion spaces, which makes me wonder whether the Ozblogosphere is undergoing some changes of its own.

    It will be interesting to watch what happens.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday.

  2. Daniel says:

    “…government spinsters…”

    Mark, why you’re picking on spinsters who work for the government I don’t know! The feminist lobby will have your goolies for this!

  3. BearCave says:

    Possum Comitatus writes:

    “Now these polls haven’t changed in 6 months, why suddenly have the usual suspects started pointing at the naked emperor, and why weren’t they for the last 12 polling cycles?

    Last weeks fairly widespread blog assault on the reality of the may well have thrown a big bucket of cold water over the collective orthodoxy of the Canberra press gallery.�

    Dare we say it was caused by the actions of mere bloggers?

    After all, the editor of The Australian last week assured us that:

    “They (the bloggers) should not kid themselves they are engaged in proper journalism and real reporting.â€?

    Yet we’re all starting to understand how Ed exposes himself to misunderstanding bloggers by (i) what he said (declaring blogging to be an inferior form of reporting) and (ii) how he said it (the irony is that if bloggers are so inferior, they wouldn’t have struck such a responsive chord. Put what Ed says and how he says it together and you’ve got quite a paradox.

    Marketing authors Jack Trout and Al Ries, in their book titled Bottom-Up Marketing provide a few words to help our newspaper editors with their resistance to change that’s being brought about by bloggers:

    “It’s not the size of the success that matters; it’s the direction that counts. As long as things are moving in the right direction, you are creating a momentum that will be hard for your competition to stop.â€?

    My only concern with the current direction of blogs is that people need to be careful not to simply replace one orthodoxy with another. Consider Robert Greene’s advice in his book: The 48 Laws of Power:

    “In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning.â€?

    For example, long before the “Government Gazetteâ€? rhetoric spread across the Blogosphere, I had been critical of a “Mainstream Mediaâ€? approach rather than directing my criticism to just the one media organisation. This criticism began with concern that the dumping of Kim Beazley as Opposition Leader in December last year was at odds with Labor’s average 2006 performance, which ultimately put it ahead of the Coalition in the polls.

    As Christine from Hobart wrote on Matt Price’s blog on 1 December 2006:

    “Labor was down in the polls a fortnight ago, and suddenly Beazley has to go. The fact that Labor is ahead, and has been for three quarters of recent polls doesn’t count.

    So get ready for a character assassination of whomever is elected on Monday as Labor leader. Not immediately, but when something goes wrong for the Government.�

    Well, that’s exactly what we’ve since seen from the Mainstream Media in general, thinking it could control the deadline for Kevin Rudd’s “honeymoon periodâ€?, but consequently misreading the public concern for “hip pocket issuesâ€? while also exaggerating the importance of Labor’s internal matters.

    Author Richard Sloma writes about honeymoon periods in his 1977 book: No-Nonsense Management:

    “Generally, the poorer the previous performance, the shorter the honeymoon periodâ€?.

    It’s very easy to point out that Kevin Rudd has enjoyed greater popularity than Kim Beazley, but more difficult for the Mainstream Media – both its Left and Right wings – to admit that Beazley’s performance preceding Rudd’s tenure was nowhere near as bad as was being portrayed.

    It is precisely because “bothâ€? The Age and The Australian focused so heavily on Beazley’s struggle in personal standing that the Mainstream Media “generallyâ€? has miscalculated (i) the expected length of Rudd’s honeymoon, and (ii) Rudd’s “subsequent abilityâ€? to beat the honeymoon deadline rather than have it beat him.

    History should be kinder to Kim Beazley because of the 80/20 Principle that 20% of effort leads to 80% of results.

    Author Richard Koch writes in his 1997 book: The 80/20 Principle:

    “A great deal of what happens is unimportant and can be disregarded. Yet there are always a few forces that have an influence way beyond their numbers.â€?

    I am of the quite firm view that party standings in the polls are having greater influence on the eventual election outcome than the personal standings of either Mr. Rudd or Mr. Howard.

    While Kevin Rudd’s arrival proved to be “the tipping pointâ€? for Labor’s prospects for success, the forces he needed to “tipâ€? so that little more effort reaps big results (rather than the result being other way around) were already in propulsion, but ignored by the Mainstream Media during the times they’ve overstated their influence.

    Let us bloggers be careful that we do make the same mistake.

    I have one other important point I’d like to raise about the theme of this thread, regarding the Mainstream Media handling of Paul Keating’s public address to the Sydney Film School last week.

    I’ll be researching it in my spare time this week because it deserves quite some consideration. I promise it intends to be thought-provoking reading and will respond to the important points raised here by Margaret Simons.

    Mr. Keating’s “Hitler” comment caused one of my favorite pollies, Joe Hockey, to say in response:

    “Paul Keating is an unguided missile. There are some people in this life that suffer attention deficit disorder when they leave politics, he’s one of them.”

    However, I have read this highly condemned speech and again making reference to the 80/20 Principle, I will bravely assert that it is in fact the majority-held media opinion that’s not paying attention due to a mix of misinterpretation and political correctness that subsequently silences debate.

    …From Justin

  4. I think Mark is spot on to point at this being about The Australian’s influence in Canberra circles, or as the infamous editorial puts it, the ‘real world’. The Australian‘s problem is that this influence is having less value to its readership.

    Until now, there has been less of a conflict between its political ties and the demands of its readership, as those contacts could give its opinion authority. The trouble is that its contacts, especially on the government side, are becoming more detached from the electorate and less in touch with what they are thinking. That is has had a knock-on effect on The Australian’s commentary and why Dennis Shanahan has been so woeful at calling the resilience of Rudd this year.

    In Denis’s defence, though, he is hardly alone. Media commentators have consistently been discounting Labor’s lead all year, and it should be added, as have some in the blogosphere. How many commentators have we heard claim that obviously Labor’s lead will narrow as we approach the election, on no other evidence than it has before?

  5. The only ‘innocent’ explanation for the NewsCorp ‘interpretations’ of the polling is that Labor have made a such a hash of it in previous years.

    There’s no doubt that the NewsCorp pundits have become increasingly shrill and ‘out of touch’ – this has been remarked upon on this site before. Nonetheless, this is probably a mirroring of Parliamentarians themselves. When even the Labor leader is taking seriously the ludicrous ‘debates’ about unions running the country, we have a pretty clear-cut example of irrelevance.

    Still, this episode involving Mumble and the other pseph-bloggers reflects very well on the online community, at the Oz’s expense. It shows that some blogs have evolved far beyond anonymous characters merely reiterating online what they had for breakfast.

  6. zebbidies spring says:

    That Margaret Simons link is behind a pay-wall.

  7. zebbidies spring says:

    Urrrrkkkk…forget I ever made the previous post. Jeez, talk about can’t see the forest for the trees.

  8. I believe The Australian has been losing readers. I know my parents cancelled their subscriptions this year (and that’s after 26 years of readership). Their problem is not just bone-headed editors, but a whole armada of hacks through the publication – from Greg Sheridan down.

    I suspect big Rupert worries less about the loss of revenue than the loss of influence. I know there are consistent loss-leaders on his tab – like the neo-con Weekly Standard in the States. Still, it took a couple of decades for the Oz to be profitable. I don’t think he’s happy that legacy is being shat down the toilet.

  9. Mark says:

    How many commentators have we heard claim that obviously Labor’s lead will narrow as we approach the election, on no other evidence than it has before?

    Here’s what I said back in April. I’d qualify the statement less now.

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5684

    A very good case could now be made that we’ve reached a tipping point and the election has already been won by Labor. That’s not to assert definitively that it will be, because it’s still a long way to go, but at this point in the election year cycle, it’s eminently plausible to think that some tectonic plates have shifted mightily.

    If voters have indeed tired of the Howard era, incumbency won’t save them if Rudd continues to present as a viable and trustworthy alternative prime minister. All the sound and fury in the world and a negative advertising campaign to beat all negative campaigns may shave a few points off Labor’s lead. But it’s worth remembering also that when federal governments lose in Australia, they have a tendency to lose big.

  10. zebbidies spring says:

    I’d be lost without the blogs I read. They really have opened my eyes to a whole way of thinking, writing and arguing that, having never attended university, I had never been exposed to.

    The Australian is right in that it is able to point to many, many stupid posts that add nothing to the value of human life. In fact it is very possibly correct to say 98% of the blogosphere is crap. Which of course recalls Sturgeon’s law: 98 per cent of everything is crap.

    Like most people I have found a few sites which are consistently high quality – mostly US sites strangely, but the Australian one’s are beginning to catch up.

    The Australian feels it can ridicule the amateur writers on the web because they don’t write like newspapers and truthfully I can say that is correct – but they are missing the point. Blogs aren’t newspapers. They are full of jostling and barbs, invective and corny jokes, with occasional high points of analysis and writing. Ironically, they most resemble the cafe society of the 18th and 19th century from which newspapers sprang and which the newspapers, full of their self-importance and the pursuit of gravitas, would love us to forget.

  11. Mark says:

    In fact it is very possibly correct to say 98% of the blogosphere is crap.

    It’s one of the common attack lines. But the thing is, it’s more accurate to say that 98% of the blogosphere isn’t about politics and public affairs. All those journos complain that they randomly look at blogs and find people talking about sewing and their cats, or World of Warcraft, or who they hooked up with last night. Fine. Deal. It’s people communicating, and I also think that you’re onto something with the educative power of the blogosphere. It certainly keeps those of us who work in academia on our toes, in terms of sharpening our arguments, and also we learn a hell of a lot. Of course, it’s necessary to accept that you don’t know everything to learn anything and that’s where the MSM pundits fall down (among other areas of course).

  12. Robert says:

    I suspect big Rupert worries less about the loss of revenue than the loss of influence.

    Fair call, though it could be said one begets the other. However, the point is good, in that Rupert is at his core a newspaper man: certainly, he’d not have lost the newspaper/readership sensitivities he loved so much in his formative years. I’d bet he’s aware of what’s been going on since this caught flame, and he’d not like it. It’s one thing to break a story and to do so with controversy, even crook basis. This sells, and is not attackable other than to flame the original line, which can be directed or dumped according to the market. Such a controversy merely gels readers to tomorrow’s page. It’s another to break no story, but brook one, as puff, poorly written, which is open to indefensible ridicule.

    That the paper’s own blog response-base shot this apart is bad enough: as mentioned before, they had to publish these on the day. That no one was sensitive to the air of expectancy into which the story was placed shows people to be relied upon were off the ball – and it was an incendiary space into which it was foolishly given (M Price created). To then attempt the indefensible, for not one day, but two more, just as blindly and then pathetically, and to have this attempt move up into the editorial showed the extent of the damage. That’s masthead damage.

    FWIW, I think a measure of wanting to “go” others in the ‘sphere was in part at least a decoy run, to take away from the readership pain obvious within. That internal pain, through its own blog response, severely damages the brand and its consumability to readership and advertising.

    That is not to take away the pain caused the Govt Gazette through other blog responses, at all.

    And, as some way to explain the ridiculous sausage sizzle script: for muggins to sit down and imagine he could write a puff piece the way he did, and for it to be headlined as it was, must have swiped clear minds with some sort of need to self-destruction, because no one was ever going to believe it, not even them. Enter the sausage and onions as ill- or non-forseeen need to balance that self-disbelief with something poorly decided to be ‘everyday’ and consumable. It was so far ridiculous on the one hand (re the PM), it had by an act of [guessing here] unconscious need to balance and destroy on the other [onions sausages].

    The brand is damaged. Credibility with its own readership is damaged. The stench lingers on. The story, without defense and without the ability to dump it, and with a life of its own, goes on. Impotent, the paper can now only hope the stench and the story dies, and credibility can be slowly regained.

    These guys are now proven laughable. Such damage lasts in some way a long time.

    Rupert, with newsprint etched into his fingertips, and still, no doubt, reading the daily figures as they come through, would know about it, and would hate it.

    Again, a sure way for this shoddy result to be cleansed is for Rudd to win, and for the paper to start with Rudd Labor, again. That may prove deadly to the current Government, and speaks itself of a powerful – but more subtly fulfilled – commercial imperative.

  13. Noocat says:

    Sales and influence are not mutually exclusive. The idea that Murdoch would contemplate having a smaller readership in preference for political influence through The Australian doesn’t make sense. You can only be influential if people are actually LISTENING to you.

    I know a number of people who have cancelled their subscriptions to The Australian in the last six months, myself included. Why? Because it was becoming predictably boring. Due to a lack of proper investigative journalism, the angle that The Australian would take on any subject and the kind of spin that it would put on it was just so predictable that it wasn’t even worth reading anymore. Basically, the message from the paper was that Rudd is bad and unions are bad while Howard is good, and any policy directions he takes are also good, sensible, and right. There is nothing left to say and therefore no reason to keep reading. It had become, and still is, incredibly shallow in both attitude and intelligence. Shanahan’s third rate efforts are the least of it as far as I am concerned.

    But now, of course, I would cancel my subscription simply out of principle. If a newspaper treats its readers with contempt, then why would any fair and reasonable minded reader want to support it, much less give it financial support?

    On a final note, I think one of the biggest problems that The Australian has is that it is too close to the Howard government. As some have already said, as the government lost its way since the 2004 election and progressively lost touch with the public, The Australian has also done the same thing. The government is looking like a joke, The Australian is looking like a joke. The government is looking like it treats the public with contempt, The Australian looks like it treats Australians and its readers with contempt. The government is looking like it is covering up the truth, and the same applies to The Australian. They NEED to unhinge themselves from the government and stop acting as its mouthpiece. It is simply reinforcing the negative impression of the government as its readers dwindle, just as the government’s support also dwindles.

  14. zebbidies spring says:

    Mark

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with stuff written on most blogs being crap. It isn’t easy writing great stuff when you’re not a professional writer and it should be appreciated for what it is. The world is full of crap music, crap TV and crap books that are a delight to consume. Same with blog posts.

    My point was that the staff at the Oz are needlessly applying a strict criteria of professionalism in writing (understandably for professional writers) across all posts on all blogs. This professionalism and the seriousness with which they take it, makes them look like asses when they try and apply it to a rolling, rambunctious, silly and very human endeavour like blogging.

    In other words, they need to loosen up.

  15. Mark says:

    That makes sense, zebbidies spring, but I guess I’m questioning whether it’s crap to those who are writing or reading it.

  16. Get me re-write!

    OK… Post editing, for example:

    The cosy loop of cause and affect between Press Gallery pundits and government spin-meisters drives much political opinion in Canberra. My analysis (linked in the previous para) concentrates on the ability of blogs and new media to disrupt this loop.

    Mitchell and Shanahan seem to believe that their capacity to interpret polling gives them a crucial lever to affect leadership decisions and morale within parliamentary parties. They have all but admitted this. I believe such an extraordinary attitude is deserving of far more coverage and analysis.

    Over the last week, The Australian has repeatedly demonstrated a thin skinned sense of exclusivity and proprietorship over political debate. This just isn’t a good look for democracy.

    On the other hand, breaking this “magic circle”and exposing such machinations most certainly IS a good look for democracy…

    You see?

    How can you mere bloggers ever hope to challenge the enshrined wisdom of the political elite when you cannot even professionally sub-edit your own copy? Back to Year 7 Grammar classes, the lot of you!

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a little war to promote…

  17. zebbidies spring says:

    Mark

    Indeed. As I am typing out my little messages, I like to think that they are not inconsiderable little epistles to the world.

    Then I see them in company and I am once again struck that they are, after all, crap.

    But after 30 years of reading newspapers and only being allowed to talk back on the whim of the letters editor, I’m enjoying it hugely.

  18. mick says:

    What has really interested me about this whole GG saga is the politics of it. I don’t mean the left vs right or Lib vs Labor battle, I mean the incredibly poor tactical decision by Mitchell to take a swipe at the blogosphere.

    One of the theories about how blogs become major players in the media market is that they are given credibility through acknowledgment by the MSM. It doesn’t have to be a postive acknowledgement. Almost always, at least to begin with, newspapers don’t write an article saying “Geez I like that Ozpolitcs blog Brian’s doing a hell of a job there, LP isn’t bad for an argument, and when I want to know what’s going on in DC I read Wonkette before the Wasington Post”. What normally happens is that someone takes a swipe and then there readers go looking for more info on why the MSM took a swipe at a blogger.

    My bet is that the GG’s bad judgement last week does nothing but give credibility to the Australian blogosphere. By taking a swipe they have admitted that there is an alternate source of commentary out there that opposes thier analysis. It also tells us what we’ve already suspected for some time. The MSM has a sharp eye on the Australian blogosphere and is responding to the commentary that can be found within it.

  19. BearCave says:

    zebbidies spring on 16 July 2007 at 9:27 pm wrote:

    “My point was that the staff at the Oz are needlessly applying a strict criteria of professionalism in writing (understandably for professional writers) across all posts on all blogs. This professionalism and the seriousness with which they take it, makes them look like asses when they try and apply it to a rolling, rambunctious, silly and very human endeavour like blogging.”

    I would also make a distinction between “leisure endeavour”, “learning endeavour” and “professional endeavour” blogs. I’d also insist your blog could transcend two or all of these segments. I would classify my own developing blog as being in the learning segment, with some overlap into leisure.

    Furthermore, each single article you write may have one of these three “inquiry objectives”:

    1. I don’t know what what I don’t know (need to value questions more than answers)
    2. I know what I don’t know (need to rise to a known learning challenge)
    3. I know what I know (need to attack problems systematically and associate yourself with ethical industry standards if your work becomes a professional engagement).

    I would assert that both journalists and bloggers may “share similar inquiry objectives”, which is why there probably does exist “a grey area” in between the two definitions of writing and reporting called “journalism” and “blogging”.

    …From Justin

    P.S. – In my first post, I was meant to say:

    “Let us bloggers be careful that we do NOT make the same mistake” (see article further up the list) 😉

  20. Evan says:

    Yes people, happy birthday to the Blogosphere.

    You certainly know you’ve made an impact when the Government Gazette tries to kick you in the nuts. And didn’t that work well? I think a certain editor is nursing broken metatarsals even as we speak.

    Noocat, couldn’t agree more with your comments about the GG.

    I fear that if it doesn’t de-couple itself from the Howard train soon, it’s gonna end-up getting all smashed-up in the coming November wreck.

    Who knows, Dennis and the gang may yet have their own “Dewey Wins” moment.

  21. Mick

    I do think the key to this is to go back to the role this comment plays in the political class. It is that influence that The Australian is battling over, which is why they are more willing to go public on an attack on the blogs (because they are already being read in these circles) than if they were purely writing for the broader readership.

    For example, it could be argued that we see support to Dennis’s argument on the importance within the political class of Howard’s rise in Newspoll’s preferred PM ranking if it was a factor in the timing of Howard’s dare to the Cabinet today to name him as the ‘problem’.

  22. Robert says:

    On this birthday, is it too impertinent to ask of the Australian blogosphere:

    Where are all those so-called ‘right wing’ blogs?

    Where are the ‘bombing Iraq is us’ blogs?

    Where are the RWDB blogs?

    What still lives? What else has fallen? Why?

  23. David says:

    The GG thing is all about a coterie of bruised egos. I was obviously wrong when I said they were laughing… Their tone is increasingly hurt and flustered. They thought the battlers were their useful idiots. Now they are feeling all dejected. So they resort to self-deluding analysis.

    I don’t think it’s much to do with conniving influence, because the tone was so obviously one of spontaneous emotion. In terms of actual political strategy, they played their cards very badly.

  24. nasking says:

    This quote seemed apt:

    “History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of â€?historyâ€? it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.â€?

    – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    ————–
    The Murdochs, Blairs & Shanahans of the World, even WE…may want to reflect on this:

    “He wondered, as he had many times wondered before whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. … But the thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him: the horror was that he might also be wrong.â€?

    – George Orwell, ‘1984′
    ————————-

    From one of the more interesting characters in our past:

    There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. Some men, like bats or owls, have better eyes for the darkness than for the light. We, who have no such optical powers, are better pleased to take our last parting look at the visionary companions of many solitary hours, when the brief sunshine of the world is blazing full upon them.�

    – Charles Dickens (â€?Pickwick Papersâ€?)
    ———–
    (more delicious quotes can be found at: http://www.vandine.biz/quotes-and-excerpts/)

    Well said Mark. A competent & articulate summary of some recent events.

    Jason, you certainly got me thinkin’ about where this is all heading…in some ways I see the eruption & resulting entity that is the Blogosphere as being similar to the ‘awakenings’ & journey & conflict in ‘to your scattered bodies go’ by Philip Jose Farmer…

    cyberworld = riverworld?…

    At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
    Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
    From death, you numberless infinities
    Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go.

    ‘Aspects’ as in Bedford’s ‘Great Sky River’…

    …genetic memory, accumulating the world’s available knowledge in the datasphere for easy access & use…words the tools of a generation…how many sci-fi writers have dived into this very same river…?

    Rather than being worried Mark, I imagine Murdoch is thrilled by the fact he’s hit the rapids again…might be hoping his ticker will hold out. It’s probably some of the shareholders, creditors…& wolves & rodents that do his bidding that are in a state of perpetual panic…& worry.

    As for the Lurkers…Observers…Keen to Have a Go…I yell, “COME ON , JUMP IN!…:)…this river is one wild ride but worth every freakin’ moment…the more join in, the more WE can ensure the blogosphere, cyber-world doesn’t become the preserve of the propaganda-obsessed, the ivory tower lurkers, the con artists, the Zealots, the money lenders, the ‘full of themselves’…& the pedantic…whoosh…:)

  25. Fiasco da Gama, Not So Much Chucking A Wobbly As Discarding It says:

    cyberworld = riverworld?…

    Waterworld = Disneyworld = Wayne’s World = Wobbie’s World = ? …

    As for the Lurkers…Observers…Keen to Have a Go…I yell, “COME ON , JUMP IN!…:)

    That’s right. What’s to fear? You can only ever be more coherent than people like nasking, and you can only ever be patronised by people as self-important and unpleasant as me.

  26. nasking says:

    I rest my case.

  27. Nabakov says:

    When it comes to credibility, the blogosphere does seem less coy and more open to challenge about passing off PR handouts as ‘news’.

    As for how it all shakes out in the long run, well if we could predict it then it wouldn’t be fun.

    I rest my case.

    Yes and do make sure it’s a nice long rest too. The poor thing must be exhausted after all that exertion and exhortation.

  28. Fiasco da Gama, Room 1123, Level 11, Propagandist'Ivory Tower says:

    Sorry, nasking, whose case? Thompson’s, Dickens’, or Orwell’s?

  29. Fiasco, …& the pedantic whoosh? says:

    Hm. I shall have to talk to the Maintenance folk about that missing ‘s’, and smack my palm against my forehead in misspelled shame. Or was it shamefully palm my smack? I can never remember.

  30. nasking says:

    Yes and do make sure it’s a nice long rest too. The poor thing must be exhausted after all that exertion and exhortation.

    On the bed you were hiding under perhaps Nabs?…have a stimulating rest did you, fired up all those finely wired neurons of yers so you can emerge all glossy & new?

  31. nasking says:

    Sorry, nasking, whose case? Thompson’s, Dickens’, or Orwell’s?

    one i’ve making for a long time Fiasco…that no matter how much you aspire to be one of the Ruling Class…the cesspool has a habit of calling home its own…no matter how in vogue & chic yer words, that murky pond will only cough you out again when it realises your unpredictability & guise.

    if it transpires you actually give a sod about the masses, then speak it out or forever hold your infernos in the basement deserved.

  32. Like Many In The Upper Class, Fiasco Loved The Sound Of Breaking Glass says:

    (A line Hilaire Belloc stole with subtle daring, from Wing Commander Maurice Baring).

    the cesspool has a habit of calling home its own…

    Yep. I’ll be back by 7. I’ll get some milk and a loaf of bread on the way.

    if it transpires you actually give a sod about the masses, then speak it out or forever hold your infernos in the basement deserved.

    [sound of crickets]
    How do you hold an inferno, anyway? Tongs?

  33. nasking says:

    How do you hold an inferno, anyway? Tongs?

    Perhaps you could ask Francis Bacon?

    (sound of a sizzling frontal lobe)

    Yep. I’ll be back by 7. I’ll get some milk and a loaf of bread on the way.

    stop by the detention centre on yer way & give it a salute if ya get the chance

  34. Nabakov says:

    the cesspool has a habit of calling home its own

    And a shirt has a tail but does not bark.

    How do you hold an inferno, anyway?

    With unpredictability & guise?

    you actually give a sod about the masses

    And for those of us who don’t, your point is what?

  35. nasking says:

    And a shirt has a tail but does not bark.

    depends on whose shirt tail yer pulling on…some even HOWL.

    And for those of us who don’t, your point is what?

    it’s your point i’m more wondering about…i’ve heard pirranhas aren’t as deadly as we once believed…myths are made for breaking…line ’em up & then stick in the oven…bake & ye shall find.

  36. Myths are made for breaking? Well, I suppose metaphors are made for mixing. Whip into frothy peaks, I say, then bake them in a medium hot oven until golden.

    i’ve heard pirranhas aren’t as deadly as we once believed

    True. All too true.

  37. Nabakov says:

    I’ve heard pirranhas aren’t as deadly as we once believed

    They still remain glassy-eyed though – albeit in a warm cuddly kinda way.

  38. Laura says:

    You can’t shirt-tail a myth without breaking eggs.

  39. nasking says:

    You can’t shirt-tail a myth without breaking eggs.

    indeed Laura…but i always had a penchant for Spanish omelette…& Ken Loach…particulary ‘Kes’ & ‘Land & Freedom’.

  40. Ann O'Dyne says:

    it’s always so nasty over here.
    as nasty as that “breathtakingly arrogant paragraph” referred to above.

    *goes away for Mylanta*

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