It’s almost obligatory at this time of year to reflect on the year that is ending and try to predict what the coming year may bring – so, here goes!
I’ve been musing of late about the fate of blogs in Bermuda.
I’ve noted before that I feel there’s likely some sort of carrying capacity for blogs, that there’s only so much ‘online energy’ in this or that jurisdiction to maintain a certain number of blogs, and that while there may be turnover the overall number of blogs for Bermuda should remain relatively constant.
The diversity of blogs could change, and blogs die and new blogs launch. And with the rise of social media, be it the microblogs of Twitter and tumblr, or Facebook pages, or even online comments on formal news media, there’s been more competition for that ‘online energy’ which fuels the ‘blogosphere’.
To me, this is leading to a new evolutionary stage for what has traditionally been considered ‘blogs’ – stand alone sites like this one.
What I think is going to happen is that there will be fewer blogs, in the traditional sense, but those that continue to exist, or come into existence, will become more professional, with greater attention to analysis. They will become less ‘web-logs’ (hence the name ‘blogs’) and more ‘web-journals’, if that makes sense.
And I think these fewer, more quality blogs/web-journals, will seek to complement the more vibrant social media like the microblogs or Facebook. I can easily see the discussion sections shifting from the website itself to the microblogs or Facebook forums.
The sites will instead provide a source of analysis, and ideological perspective in particular, which would then complement the other social media sites, providing a source of discussion there, while retaining the capacity for discussion here too.
The trick for the existing blogs will be to adapt to this new reality, to become more professional almost, and to provide that insightful and critical commentary that the microblogs and forums don’t necessarily provide, while also learning to use those alternative social media to their advantage.
I also expect to see a rise in multi-authored blogs, or at least one such site.
This was tried with the Bermuda JEWEL site, which had about four or five regular authors, but wasn’t able to sustain itself for various reasons. I think in some ways that was a premature venture, and that it could still become a reality going forward.
Personally, I found it to have a lot of potential. I think in the future it might be useful to model it after a journal, where one has multiple authors all addressing a similar or related issue, but from their different perspectives, thus allowing a more discursive experience.
Overall, I think that if the blogs can successfully transition to this vision of a web-journal approach, they can benefit our general discourse, and also come to influence news media too.
Politics – OBA
I haven’t been all that impressed with the OBA’s first year, and I think they may be going into a rather rocky second year.
I can easily see the fractures within the OBA, between reformers and traditionalists (one might argue between BDA’ers and UBP’ers) becoming more obvious, as well as a growing right-wing oppositional caucus (either within the OBA or its support base; it doesn’t have to be an organised actual caucus) developing.
I’d see this as stemming largely from the White middle-class supporters of the OBA, and taking on two distinct strains – a libertarian ‘anarcho’ capitalist approach (radical free-market extremists) and a social conservative ‘traditional family values’ approach.
It will be interesting to see what influence these tensions (if I’m right) will have on the OBA. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if at some time it manifests itself in a rather bitter leadership challenge, for example.
Politics – PLP
As for the PLP, I think there’s growing tension with its own internal factions.
Marc Bean has been quite blunt in stating his intentions of changing the ideological direction of the party, and he’s also expressed some rather extreme socially conservative views which, while rallying some sections of the party to his side have also exacerbated tensions with other sections.
This coming October will likely see a leadership challenge with perhaps up to three contenders representing different factions – Black and yuppie capitalists, social progressives and social conservatives.
A lot will depend on how much the current leader is able to articulate the new direction for the party and on the balance of forces within the OBA – which in turn will depend to a degree on the balance of forces within the PLP.
Politics – New Forces?The 2012 election seemed to have two contradictory forces or tensions at play.
On the one hand there was great disillusionment with the traditional model of two-party politics in Bermuda – I think this was expressed in the unprecedented number of Independent candidates, as well as a ‘vote with their feet’ by some traditional PLP voters and swing voters.
On the other hand, the political polarisation of Bermuda between two parties appeared entrenched, with those voting for the OBA doing so in desperation of getting the PLP out, while those voting for the PLP did so more out of desperation of keeping the ‘newBP’ out, rather than ‘for’ the PLP itself.
I think the experience of the OBA’s first year have reinforced the first tendency, a desire for a new politics. Those who had hoped the OBA represented something genuinely different have become disappointed, and those who may have once turned to the PLP have in some ways been alienated by some of the language and ideological direction of the current Leader.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this contributes to the development of new political forces, including new third parties. Whether these will be ‘in the open’ this year, or gestating in private circles and popular consciousness awaiting fruition later, I cannot say. But I think there’s definitely the potential for some new political dynamics to evolve.