it's certainly true that the vast majority of bloggers are bad 14-year-old poets, schoolgirls in Singapore telling the world how dreamy Ashton Kutcher is, and Christian American newlyweds posting baby pictures and reports of last night's church meeting.
Yet still, the small proportion who write well about interesting stuff are actually a large number.
Once a year, some British politically and culturally aware blogger compiles a book of fine examples. Last year's was called 2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere.
This year's is called The Blog Digest 2007, which is a tad baffling for a book digesting blogs from January-September 2006.
Whatever, it is a corker, no doubt about it. By cherry-picking they get to more blogs than you and your mates could get round to reading.
I got sent a freebie cos they've used a post of mine, Carbon Offsets Are A Fraud.
There's all you want from decent blogging; unbridled personal opinions expressed with eloquence and verve, ignored angles on big stories, entirely ignored but important stories, poignancy, stridently defended partisanship and scalp-tinglingly good swearing.
John Band's questioning of banning guns, It’s morally right that people should die for my amusement
If something provides sufficient net quantities of fun, it is easy to see that we do rate it as worth the death of one or several innocent people. How’s that? Easy. Such beneficial-only-because-fun activities that kill the innocent and non-consenting as funfairs, fast cars, aviation, skateboarding, allowing men out at night, swimming pools and serving margarine to kids are both legal and socially acceptable.
Hence, society (here meaning “everyone who is capable of even the most basic level of moral debate”) agrees that if enough fun is provided, the deaths for fun trade-off is acceptable. The only moral question left is over the necessary fun-to-killing ratio.
Harry Hutton, the funniest blogger I know of, rightly crops up more than once. His IN DEFENCE OF JOHN PRESCOTT is hilarious just from the title.
If I were his lawyer, I would point out that using a government office for having sex with his secretary was far less ruinous for Britain than how he might otherwise have been using it. While Prescott was harmlessly fucking his secretary, the rest of the cabinet were probably hatching schemes to make us all line up and be fingerprinted...
"I’m the one who acted stupidly," he said. What was stupid about it? It was normal and human, and one of the few things he has done recently of which sane people might approve. You vote to abolish Habeas Corpus and the Magna Carta, then you apologise for screwing your secretary? Seriously, what’s wrong with everyone on that island? Besides which, to describe it as "stupid" is insulting to the woman, you great oaf.
A Big Stick And A Small Carrot's piece on the War on Terror's pre-emptive action says all you need to say
He'd got to within five paces when he started reaching for an inside pocket. I was absolutely convinced that he had a knife. So I shot him. In the head, as it happens. He became an ex-knife murderer in a very short space of time. Surprisingly fragile thing, a human head.
We searched him, of course, and it turns out he didn't have a knife after all (not much in his wallet either which just added to the sense of anti-climax). But, he did have in his possession a fishing magazine and in this fishing magazine were several advertisements for knives. It is clear to me that this man had been saving up for a knife. It was only my timely intervention which prevented him from aquiring enough money to buy a knife, ordering that knife, waiting twenty eight days for delivery of the knife, getting a little card through the door from the postman saying "I called today to deliver your knife but you weren't in", getting up early on a Sarturday morning to collect the knifel from the Post Office, unwrapping the knife, taking the knife out with him, walking down a back lane with the knife in an inside pocket, and using that same knife to stab an innocent bystander. Viciously.
As you can see, it's just as well I intervened the way I did. I take full responsibility and am absolutely confident that I made the right decision. I really was sure he had a knife. And he definitely was a nasty piece of work.
I laughed out loud at the great insight of Daniel Davies
In the world of football, I suppose, Zinedine Zidane's legacy will always be controversial, forever tainted by his moment of madness in the world cup final. In the world of headbutting, however, he has secured a place in the gallery of immortals.
Half an hour browsing the book and the lifelessness of much of the mainstream media is painfully obvious to the point where I find it difficult to be arsed with it. You can almost see the corporate-logoed shackles on the newsreaders, the columnists adding clauses to sentences to hit their word limit.
It once more makes me see how blogs have taken the ball of zinery and run with it. When I was writing zines with the Godhaven Coolective, we explained our methods
We did it collectively under pseudonyms so there could be no ego glory; we put them out at 7p, 8p and 9p so there was no money to be made; we had no advertisers or paid employees so there was no commercial tempering; no deadlines so that we didn't rush anything or put in filler if there wasn't enough. We wanted it to be absolutely clear that the only reason the zines existed was because we thought they should.
Blogs tick these boxes, but also manage to respond immediately so they become part of thinking on current issues rather than photocopied treatises months later; they can be linked to so a great or important piece really takes off.
One example in the Blog Digest is Rachel North's. She's been blogging since she survived the 7/7 attacks, pushing for lessons to be learned and a full proper inquiry. The survivors were badgering the Home Secretary about it, who by weird coincidence is Rachel's dad's MP who, by weirder coincidence, addressed a small meeting her dad was at.
Rachel's post about what happened at the meeting got Clarke running back tail between his legs.
But foof, there's several long quotes already, so I'll just leave you to follow the link to Rachel's post, and also to Tim Worstall's fabulously fiery demonstration of what's great about blog writing in his attack on cutting compensation to victims of miscarriages of justice; Tokyo Times' reporting of the combned toilet/MP3 player; and Do You Come Here Often's great overapplication of intelligence to the claims of Surf washing powder