Bermuda’s Blog Scene

While I took a rather extended break from blogging, pretty much since June, I’ve still been present as a lurker of Bermuda’s blog scene. It seems to me as if I wasn’t alone in taking a general break from blogging.

Many of the newer blogs that set up in the last year or two seem to have generally been abandoned, or the posts have been quite infrequent. This in itself is not all that surprising. Blogging takes a lot more commitment than many people might think. It’s one thing to write a comment on Bernews or on the RG online and quite another to maintain a site, moderate comments (if doing so) and come up with an original piece of writing. I think a lot of individuals who may start blogging are soon deterred from it from a combination of the amount of work and time involved, sheer writers block, and discouragement from poor readership levels. While most bloggers will maintain that they don’t really care about readership stats, and that blogging isn’t a popularity contest, I don’t think one can deny that if you see no one reading what you have to say then you’re going to conclude that there are better uses of your time and energy. Myself, I agree it shouldn’t be about the stats, but I still like to know people are reading what I have to say (even if they strongly oppose what I have to say!). My own readership today is a fraction of what it was at it’s height back in 2007-2008. A lot of that is my fault for not being more regular in posting. If you don’t write for several weeks, well, your readers drift elsewhere. It’s hard to get them to come back.

I consider myself as having a background in biology, particularly evolutionary and ecological theory. As such, I’ve often wondered about how the blogs evolve, both individually and collectively. What contributes to the success of one blog over another? How do blogs respond to other blogs? Is there a carrying capacity to the blogosphere, and if so, what determines it? To what degree does the role of niche-selection play?

I think there is some sort of application of carrying capacity (how many blogs can a particular system sustain) to blogs. I reckon this is determined by various factors, such as per capita home computer ownership, internet penetration, overall population and niche development. I reckon cultural mores also play a role too. Bermuda has quite a high rate of home computer ownership, and internet penetration, factors which I think would encourage blogging. We do have a small population though, and I think that is a key limiting factor. Then there is also cultural mores which I think serve as a limiting factor here. In a colonial society there is a tendency I think to avoid overt political discussion or critique. It’s just not done. This is perhaps magnified by our small size and past history, where those that stood up were often shot down. That the internet offers potential anonymnity though should reduce that though, but it doesn’t seem to have done much there, except in the forums such as BIAW or the comments on Bernews or the RG. Rival ‘online’ niches, such as Facebook and online gaming are potentially an important factor here too. Much easier to spend a day on Facebook than blogging. And perhaps I am being too narrow in my definition of what’s relevant from a blogging perspective, limiting it more to social, economic and political critique. Even still then, within that niche (of social, economic and political critique) does the idea of carrying capacity apply?

There are at the moment I think just two other active blogs that fit in my view of blogging. Those are Christian’s Politics.bm – which I see as generally articulating views in line with the One Bermuda Alliance; Walton’s Respice Finem</a> – which I see as generally articulating views in line with the Progressive Labour Party.

In addition to the above there are four other blogs which I think will be active again, or, rather, have only been dormant or reactivated recently. The first of these are Denis’s 21square which has been dormant since early November. Then there is Vexed Bermoothes – which I generally see as being close to OBA views – which itself last posted in early November, but seemed to drop of regular posting in October. There is also New Onion, which I originally saw as being close to the now defunct UBP youth wing and which had generally been dormant for much of the UBP-BDA schism. It has recently restarted posting, and based on it’s posts and my previous thoughts on it (and the transfer of much of the former UBP’s support to the OBA), I think it is now voicing a general line close to the OBA’s youth wing. The last blog is that of bermyonionpatch, who last posted in early November also. This site is a bit hard to characterise, but I would say it voices the line of thinking of a faction within the PLP broad church, even if it is highly critical (and often with good reason imho) of the PLP itself.

Now, with an election expected in the next twelve months, I’m pretty confident that the blog scene will become much more active again, with at least the above five blogs posting more actively. Whether other dormant blogs reactivate again (even briefly), in particular the bermyonionpatch site, I can’t say, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There may also be a new influx of blogs, but as with past blog attempts I would question the long-term staying power of such new entrants. There are, of course, the forums, of which I believe BIAW is the only one worth mentioning. This serves as a sort of communal blog, where many people can start topics and comment. It’s beauty is that there is always likely going to be a new post, so it maintains an active readership, and has the potential for some unique cross-pollination of thoughts and ideas. I do feel that it is dominated by anti-PLP voices, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it set in stone for that matter. Either way, it provides some unique insights and remains, albeit with recent (my perception, haven’t checked their stats!) drops in activity, the main online ‘blogging’ site. I think Politics.bm is the most read ‘proper’ blog, albeit without comments. Respice Finem is relatively new to the online world, and I don’t think it’s developed an online following to speak of yet, although it’s posts are also carried in the RG on a regular basis, so it no doubt does have widespread readership through that medium. I expect it to develop a more prominent online presence over next year.

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4 thoughts on “Bermuda’s Blog Scene

  1. Pingback: Bermuda: a blog break? · Global Voices

  2. Pingback: Bermuda: a blog break? | Sao-Paulo news

  3. Everyone’s entitled to what they see as relevant when determining which blogs are of importance/interest to them and or the country – and even then, when you mention the political/social blogs above, those appear to be the most-read local blogs, period.

    A shame, because there was potential in TalkSport, for example, for discussing local sports, and it would be interesting to have had blogs devoted to local events, the music scene, etc.

    The Gazette and BerNews (and to a lesser extent, Bda Sun) offer a quicker method for the online community to post their views, and the people posting know that they’ll get more people to read and respond than by setting up an independent blog (or by posting on say BIAW).

    As for any upcoming election, it would be nice to see dormant blogs like Bda Longtail, Imho, Wishful Thinking and others get back on the scene – but I think the most we’re going to get is ‘blogging’ by the political party engines. Perhaps Jewel, with the contributors being at least somewhat known in the community, could revitalise as a reborn, fresh, presence for intelligent discussion and renewed interest.

    One final thought (sorry this is becoming a behemoth of a post, heh) with regards to political-themed blogging: the impression I’ve gotten over the years has been that the ruling party appears to discourage membership from posting in frequency, in the blogs and forums. Bloggers seem to be looked upon with a bit of disdain at times (particularly those extra-critical of the ruling party) by prominent and vocal members of the ruling party. However, without balance, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling statement, that the online community is pro-this and anti-that. All voices should be encouraged to comment and contribute. Anonymous voices may not be ideal, but they shouldn’t be immediately disparaged (with the caveat of personal attacks being discarded).

  4. Hi Tryangle,

    Thank you for your thoughts, and I would like to apologise for overlooking your blog in my above review!

    I am hopeful that JEWEL will make a comeback in the coming year; it’s current dormancy was, I think, a combination of various personal and economic factors affecting it’s contributors. Speaking for myself I know I was busy working and studying full-time, in addition to some personal changes, and then, with the economic crises I was focused on finding work (I had a one-year contract which expired in the spring). I believe my fellow contributors had similar challenges over the past year, but I think we’re all slowly getting back some degree of stability in our lives. If anything else the upcoming election may help focus our collective energies.

    As for the presence, or lack thereof, of pro-PLP voices, there actually have been a few ventures onto the blogs and forums by novel voices. I don’t doubt that they were warned in advance (at least the more politically involved) that participating in certain blogs/forums would be either a waste of time (akin to bashing ones head against the wall) or serve to legitimate some of the more extreme views also articulated there. Those that braved the waters nonetheless were often, I feel, unfairly swarmed by anti-PLPers and faced the full brunt of anti-PLP venom. This is not to say that the criticisms of the PLP that were directed towards these individuals was invalid, only that the sudden deluge of it largely overwhelmed these novices to the blogs, and often they faced rather unfair hostility and suspicion whereas a more ‘we disagree with your position, but we’ll take your presence here in good faith and will engage in constructive dialogue’ would have perhaps encouraged these individuals to post more regularly and over time. Perhaps the past antics of Vanz prejudiced many towards any novel PLP voices, and that is unfortunate, and a possibility I had argued could arise. Ultimately though these new voices were effectively chased out of the blog scene, and Progressive Minds itself (though much of its challenges were self-inflicted) struggled with the new medium of blogging and was overwhelmed with perceived anti-PLP venom.

    Those who may have been interested, on the PLP side, in blogging have since retreated largely to Facebook I believe. Some may post intermittently on Bernews and the RG where, although the ‘usual suspects’, the long-seasoned and experienced actors of the blog scene here are still present, but are more balanced by those who do not generally know of, or engage with, the local blogs. I have long thought though that PLPers may adopt the model presented by Politics.bm, where there are opinion posts but no commenting section. This in itself is subject to criticism (lack of accountability, accusations of cowardice), but it also has lots of advantages (primary of which is reduced headaches in moderating comments!). For PLPers it would allow their views to be put forward without being overwhelmed by fierce anti-PLP hostility and allow them to grow in confidence and presence on the blog scene. I have offered to help facilitate these (just as Limey-in-Bermuda facilitated this blog), but there have been no takers yet. In a way I guess Walton’s blog adopts this model, but I don’t know if that is on purpose or by default (lack of individuals willing to comment).

    An alternative, which I have also offered to help facilitate, would be a rival forum to BIAW, albeit one closed to public view, where every PLP member is automatically registered and able to engage (view and participation being restricted to PLP members). The idea of this is two-fold; (1) It will allow PLP members to gain experience and knowledge in blogging – or at least forums; and (2) it will allow the party policy/strategy creation process to be more democratically expanded, in that members could discuss this or that, without fear of immediate leakeage of ideas or immediate hostility from naysayers. In a way I believe the OBA uses such a model on their Facebook page, and I think it is worthwhile exploring for the PLP.

    I want to stress I am not, in the above, saying the PLP or PLP voices should not be challenged or criticised, online or otherwise. What I am saying though is that so far such voices have been rather violently attacked and prejudged rather than critically welcomed. It’s a fine line to tread, I realise, but if a more diverse blog scene is desired than these voices will need to be more welcomed than immediately attacked.

    Alternatively, should the OBA win the next general election, that in itself could provoke an explosion of PLP voices online, in as much as PLP voices, even critical ones, may wish to provide at least a facade of unity in the face of the Opposition, but this pressure may cease to be relevant under an OBA Government.

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