Some New Bermuda Blogs – A ‘blogexplosion’?

Despite my recent concerns about an apparent decline of local blogs, since I initially touched on this there’s been what Bermuda Independent has called a ‘blogexplosion’.

A 'blogexplosion' for Bermuda's blog scene?

A ‘blogexplosion’ for Bermuda’s blog scene?

In the last few months or so I’ve come to learn of a handful of new Bermuda blog, from Bermuda Blue and Bermuda Independent, to what appears to be a rather extremely conservative Christian blog to now ‘workforcebda’ a blog focused on business and construction issues in Bermuda and the ‘Adventures of Skippy & Bologna’ – of which it’s too early to really comment on so far.

One concern is that I’ve seen far too often new blogs start up, have a burst of activity, and then a general decline, with longer and longer periods of inactivity until, ultimately, the blogs are abandoned.

Quite frankly, it’s hard to maintain a blog, in terms of regularly posting a certain level of quality posts, and it’s very easy to become disillusioned and simply pack it in.

The advice I will give to these new blogs is that they should seek to persevere.  It takes time to grow a following – so just make sure you try and post something on a regular basis, say once a week or so.

The key is regularity I think, and to not focus on how many views you’re getting – if you keep it up, they will come.

And it doesn’t hurt to link to other local blogs, either in a friendly way (like I’ve done above) or for the sake of a blog ‘conversation’ – even if it’s more of an ‘argument’ than a ‘conversation’ proper.

Also, I think that when it comes to blogs, they do, in some way, support each other.  The more Bermuda blogs there are, the more active they are, the more they’ll boost each other in the long-term – a rising tide lifts all boats in other words.

Having said that, Bermuda’s blogs continue to be, it seems, overly dominated by White males, far out of all proportion to our islands actual racial demographics.  And with this limited diversity, racially and gender-wise, there also seems to be limited diversity as regards political perspectives.

At this very moment I don’t think there are any blogs which would be considered pro-PLP, while there are many which I think could be considered representative of liberal and conservative tendencies, with the obvious exception of this rather leftist blog.

I continue to hope that, especially with the OBA in power, this will change, with greater diversity coming to the local blogs – provided the blogs do recover from their recent decline and do adapt to the new online reality.

New Bermuda Blog – ‘Bermuda Independent’

A New Blog?

While the Bermudian blogosphere has been a bit unstable since the election last year, with many blogs going dormant or semi-dormant, and the ‘action’ largely moving to social media like Facebook, or the interactive online news media, it’s nice to see a new blog on the scene.

New Blog

‘Bermuda Independent’ launched just a couple of days ago, on the anniversary of the OBA’s elevation to power in the 2012 election.

It’s only had a few posts up so far, as one would expect from a brand new blog, and it’s not clear who’s behind it or what political perspective they’re taking yet, I welcome them to the local blog scene, and I thank Beachlime for bringing it to mine – and others – attention.

I look forward to engaging with them in the future!

Blog Renaissance or Blog End Times?

I’m still not sure if the time of the blogs is over or not.

Am I and the other active bloggers just lumbering dinosaurs, relics of a bygone online era?

Or are we still important aspects of online discussions, providing a different function than social media platforms like Facebook, or the interactive online news media platforms like Bernews and the RG Online?

Rather optimistically, I’m hoping for the latter…

And I’m hoping that the emergence of this new blog heralds a return to active blogging, of diverse perspectives, on local issues.

I don’t think people are going to flock back to traditional blog formats from things like Facebook, but I do think they can complement each other – and I’m still trying to use both in this way.

While the PLP were in power, the online blogs were largely hostile to the PLP, and by default appeared pro-UBP/OBA.

And in most parts it is those blogs, which were seen to align with the then Opposition, which have gone dormant or semi-dormant since the election, leaving the OBA largely free from online criticism, at least outside of Facebook.

It will be interesting to see if pro-PLP blogs form now, along with new, diverse and independent (non-aligned with either the PLP or the OBA) will form to fill the vacuum of online blogs.

Anyway, just musings on a Thursday night…

Updated Blogroll – The End of Bermuda’s Golden Age of Blogging?

I’ve decided to take some ‘executive decisions’ regarding my blogroll, on categorising various Bermudian blogs as dormant or active.

Most of the blogs in the ‘dormant’ category have been dormant for a year or more, although some have sputtered on infrequently, with long periods of dormancy intermixed with occasional bursts of activity.  However, even for these intermittent blogs their spurts of activity are becoming rarer, with a general trend, it appears, towards general dormancy.

In particular, I’m referring to 21 Square, New Onion, Politics, and A Bermudian’s View.  The last posts for all of these blogs were in early 2013, and I understand at least some of them are, quite frankly, exhausted from blogging, burnt out and unlikely to post regularly, if at all, going forward.

There are, however, a few new additions to the active blogroll, and some of the blogs that had been long dormant are now back to activity.

Nonetheless, I still feel that the ‘golden age’ of Bermuda’s blog scene has come and gone, rapidly being eclipsed by the news threads and social media.

These aren’t blogging, per se.  It’s a lot easier to lob in a comment than to do some research and take care (and pride) in writing an actual article/blog-post.

And it’s of course possible that there’s a whole world of Bermudian blogs out there that I’m either not aware of or not including.  I generally only include as ‘blogs’ those sites that feature social, cultural, economic and political commentary related to Bermuda, or by Bermudians.  That excludes blogs such as photo-blogs, while also includes forums, which are not, really, blogs in the pedantic sense.

It’s also possible that blogs operate in cycles of activity.  They’re a relatively new social phenomenon, and the exact dynamics of blogging is perhaps not fully understood.

I’ve mused before that each country (or municipality) only has so much ‘online-energy’ which can only support so many ‘ecological niches’ or online expressions.  Perhaps our island only has the carrying capacity (to co-opt another ecological term), and so there’s a general turn-over along with a constant ‘population’ at any one moment in time?  And the new media, such as Bernews and FB, have diverted such online-energy, leaving less to sustain proper blogs?

Equally, just as litter begets litter (litter generally creates an environment conducive to more litter), blog inactivity may beget blog inactivity.

My blog has had much more reduced activity, partly due to off-line reasons, partly due to a general malaise of the other blogs (in a competitive sense.  And I know that off-line reasons have been responsible for some of the other ‘main’ blogs to also become inactive (be it due to new births, new careers, or other significant life-changes).

Blog inactivity leads to a loss of readers, of regular viewing.  And it can be hard to return to active blogging, to recapture that ‘online energy’ once it has gone away.  People just forget about your blog and are otherwise beholden to the new media which have developed, and are active, at the same time as the traditional blogs reduced their activity.

If the blogs go in cycles, then maybe there will be a resurgence of Bermudian blogs, an explosion of new blogs, a whole new Bermudian blogging ecology, where only a handful of the ‘older’ blogs continue, like living fossils from another age.

Who knows?

If there’s any blogs out there I’ve missed, please let me know and I will add them.

And to be clear, my providing links to these other blogs is not an endorsement of them or their content.  There is at least one which I regard with a large degree of contempt, and another which I feel is often deserving of contempt.

Two New Blogs!

Following my recent focus on the blog-scene locally, and the shift away from blogs/forums and to new media, such as Facebook, I’d like to highlight two new Bermuda blogs!

Bermuda Blue

The first blog is by Jeremy Deacon, the recently former editor of the Royal Gazette.

It is called ‘Bermuda Blue’.

He seems to have started the blog quite recently, and it seems to have a pretty wide focus, but with a particular focus on local media and local news and politics – as one would no doubt expect from his history with the RG.

Bermy Girl Living in the Motherland

The second blog is by Joanne Ball-Burgess, a Bermudian who moved to Kenya in 2011 with her family.  Her blog details her, and her families, life there.  Africana, sustainable living (particularly agronomy) and culture.

Her blog has actually been going since 2011, so I’m a *bit* delayed in highlighting the blog…

 

The long, slow, suicide of BIAW? A Follow-up

The local ‘blog’ scene hit the headlines this week, and not in a good way.  And in the process I was quoted in both of the articles in question.

What I hope to do in this post is to clear up some things about the whole issue.

Why the title ‘The long, slow suicide of BIAW?’

Well, BIAW is one of two forums that I know off dedicated, at least nominally, to Bermuda related topics.

One is Bermuda Sucks, which has largely ceased to function as a dynamic forum, although it limps on, zombie-like.  The other is BIAW, which originated as a schism within the Bda Sucks forum, and largely eclipsed that forum over time.

Now, BIAW has been in the news on and off since its inception, and not usually for good reasons.

It got into the headlines this week for first accepting Dr Brown as a member, then expelling him for no good reason, and then readmitting him, partly due to internal forum protest and partly due to the bad press the forum received for expelling him in the first place.

The message from BIAW Admin announcing the expulsion of Dr Brown.

The message from BIAW Admin announcing the expulsion of Dr Brown.

Now, whether Dr Brown chose to join the BIAW forum with a particular agenda or not, I do not know.

Nonetheless, the action of the site, in first admitting him, and then expelling him, was, I feel, one of those pivotal moments in a blog/forum which, years from now, will be looked back and used as a useful reference point.

For a long time the BIAW site, and the Sucks site before it – indeed, online blogging in general in Bermuda – has had a bit of a PR problem.  It has been seen, quite frankly, as the domain of conservative White males, be they Bermudian or ex-patriate or PRCers.

Sure, there’s been some non-conservative, non-White and non-male voices both on those forums and the blogs in general.  However these voices have always been in the minority, and the dominant voices (conservative, White, male) have tended to squeeze out and, arguably, hound those alternative voices to the point of eliminating them, in a practical sense, from online discourse.

To be frank, there is a very large chunk of the populace who views the forums as racist, chauvinist and politically biased.

Despite this, there have been some alternative voices who have persisted.  I was one of them – am one of them, as per this site.

From time to time some of these diverse voices have essentially gone on strike from the forums, and gradually migrated away from the forums and blogging in general and to new online media.

The rise of comment-enabled news media (principally Bernews, but also the RG) and, particularly, Facebook (especially in 2012, with the catalyst of the General Election), have largely become ‘the place’ for online discourse.

Of the blogs, only a handful soldier on, and none of them with regular consistency – which facilitates readers drifting away from the blogs and to the new media, becoming a bit of a self-reinforcing circle.  Bloggers burn-out, or see the new media eclipsing them; they reduce postings; people increasingly go tot he new media; bloggers see viewership stats go down and eventually bloggers just give up.

However, I digress.

As said, the forums are dominated, in my perception, by conservative White male voices.  In many ways it becomes, as another poster has called them, a ‘circle jerk’ – not really a discussion but a bunch of people slapping each other on the back in mutual agreement.

That’s pretty boring.  Not just for readers, but for posters themselves.  One can only self-congratulate so much before running out of things to say.

I’m not sure how to measure it, but I do get the impression that much of the dynamism, of interesting discussion, on the forums is generated not by the dominant voices, but by the minority voices challenging the dominant discourse there.

Without diversity, even represented by an extreme minority, of alternative voices, the forum becomes stunted.  It loses its dynamism, its vitalism, its interest.  it can continue, but more as a ‘zombie’ forum, a ‘living dead’ forum which limps on, alive, but barely.

Now, Dr Brown’s joining BIAW provided an opportunity, a pivotal one at that, for BIAW to become perhaps the most dynamic and diverse forums, rivalling even the FB threads.  It could have encouraged more and more diverse voices to that site, stimulating some really constructive discourse and frank exchanges.

That potential was, however, aborted by the forum expelling Dr Brown without reason.

That single action cause protest by most core posters there, but it particularly led some of the more established alternative voices to question the forum at a very fundamental level.  And the result of that questioning is that those alternative voices have now essentially left the forum (I myself have essentially left through boycott – I’m ‘on strike’ from it).

What that means is that the forum is now even more unbalanced than it was before.  And as such it runs a very real risk of a long slow death, hence my calling it a ‘suicide’.

It doesn’t have to be.  It’s always risky to make such predictions (cue Mark Twain’s ‘the report of my death was an exaggeration’).

I think that IF BIAW can, somehow, encourage its alternative voices to return, and encourage new alternative voices to join, develop a clearer moderating policy (particularly one which minimises personal attacks) that fosters constructive conversations, and somehow improves its public perception, THEN it may not simply survive, but thrive.

Introducing Kulcha!

I am happy to introduce to the local web-scene a new website/blog ‘Kulcha’!

I’ll leave Kulcha itself to describe what they’re about and what they hope to achieve, but I for one welcome them to the online community, and I look forward to reading them regularly.

I think it’s great that local artists (visual, performance, oral, written, etc.) are becoming more visible and active in Bermuda, and I hope Kulcha all the best in their role in further facilitating them!

On blogs and blogging in Bermuda

I’ve noticed that a few blogs, which had gone dormant over the last few years, sprung back to life in the run up to the election.  Unfortunately, all of them seem to have sunk back into dormancy since the election, with the exception of one, Politics.bm, which seems more active since the election than before, although the postings remain sporadic.

New Onion and Vexedbermoothes seem to be having an extended holiday break though.  And 21 Square has been dormant since the summer, and I believe the blogger generally got fed up blogging.  It can take a lot of energy and thinking to craft a blog post – it is a lot easier to simply comment and critique someone else’s post.

With the OBA having won power, it will be interesting to see how the political-leaning blogs in Bermuda will react.

The majority of blogs in Bermuda were ant-PLP and thus de facto pro-OBA.  Whether they will begin critiquing the OBA government or just shut up shop will be interesting to see.

It will also be interesting to see if pro-PLP blogs will set-up now that the PLP is no longer in power.  There was an impression that the PLP and its supporters were wary of blogs due to concerns about maintaining control over the party-line.  I don’t think that was any definite policy, but I do think many PLP supporters who may otherwise have set-up blogs chose not to do so for various reasons.  I would encourage and welcome a more diversified political blogging scene here now that the PLP are back into the Opposition.

My own blog will remain, albeit as an Independent blog, in political terms.

However, for the next few months, due to various reasons, I will not be blogging necessarily on direct political events in Bermuda.  I’m thinking instead of focusing on some more abstract or theoretical works.  I hope to deepen my understanding of some issues in this way, as well as give myself some time to analyse the OBA as a government. I also would like to flesh out some of the ideas which I ran on as a platform for the election.

New Bermuda Blog – Onion Law Blog

Reading in the paper today I see that there is a new Bermudian Blog, this one focusing on Bermudian legal matters.

I have an interest in law, and especially Bermudian law, and seriously considered pursuing a law degree a few years ago (but instead went down the academic route of ecological economics, urban planning and urban studies). All the same, I continue to have an interest in legal matters, and so will enjoy reading this blog – and hopefully learning a thing or two from it at that!

I commend Mr. Sanderson for his initiative in this matter, and I hope that his blog has a happy and productive online presence from now on!

New Bermuda Blog – Focus on Planning & Design Issues

I meant to post this earlier but somehow it got dropped by the wayside, so my apologies for the late announcement!

While many blogs in Bermuda have either fallen dormant or have become sporadic in their activity – with much of the current discourses, political or other, now occurring on Facebook, Bernews and the RG online – it brings me great pleasure to announce the formation of a new blog – Planning & Design Bermuda!

This new blog focuses, as one may guess by it’s name, on issues of planning and design in Bermuda. It’s creator, Aideen Ratteray Pryse, is a former planner and a consultant for planning matters in Bermuda, and so she brings a wealth of experience in these areas. As matters of planning have moved increasingly into the public focus, with various SDOs and upcoming issues like the National Infrastructure Plan, the redevelopment of the Hamilton waterfront, the new City of Hamilton plan and the start of the new Bermuda Plan, I expect this blog to make an important contribution to the public discourse, and I welcome it’s arrival on the scene!

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.