Ten years of Eschaton and all I got were these lousy wankers

Time flies when you’re having fun: Eschaton is ten years old today. I must’ve been one of the first people to put Atrios on the blogroll back then, having barely been blogging for a month myself; no idea how I even found him — probably via Avedon? Back then the closest thing to a liberal (let alone leftwing) voice in the American blogosphere was Andy Sullivan, he who accused the “liberal elites in their coastal enclaves” of treason while the bodies were still falling out of the WTC. The only real progressive bloggers were people like Avedon and other science fiction fans, small voices lost in a wilderness of howling rightwing insanity.

And then came Atrios and he quickly became a focal point for all those people disgusted with these wingnuts and warbloggers, inspiring quite a few others to start blogging while, certainly in these first critical years, he himself was also very good at promoting new, interesting bloggers. For better or worse, he was crucial in the establishment of the liberal blogosphere, in providing pushback against the insanity of both the warbloggers and the wankers in the socalled professional press.

To celebrate, he has put together a list of the Ten Greatest Wankers of the Decade, a veritable treasure trove of assholes and douchecopters:

Some are more active these days than other, many other worthwhile candidates were skipped (where are Glenn Reynolds or Anne Coulter?), but this parade of horrors is still a sadly accurate view of a decade that’s been more bad than good.

The moving finger blogs; and, having blogged, moves on, selfconsciously

Just put a post up at Prog Gold, where I try to explain what I think is now happening in Tunesia in that great blogging tradition of instant expertise on subjects learnt about in five minutes of cribbing from smarter people. You may want to go over there and see if I make any sense.

Or you could read Lenny’s last, three posts and get his, much more self assured, analysis of the situation,as he’s actually quite good at this sort of thing. Mind, there’s a thin line between what Lenny does and the sort of communique put up on the websites of every obscure Trotskyite three man band revolutionary tendency, explaining Tunesia in their own, slightly warped Marxist theory and why only their interpretation of what $INSERT_DEAD_SOCIALIST said about The Revolution can provide a full understanding of the revolt in Tunesia and why this is the True Start of the WorldWide Revolution, or just a Intra-Capitalist Struggle, though not why they never paid attention to the country before.

Because for the most part of course none of us in the English language, political/socialist blogosphere did, but we do now do our level best to become instant experts on it. Just as we did with Honduras last year, or Georgia before that. Nothing wrong with that, but there is a tendency to fit such happenings in whichever schema we’re pushing on our blogs, especially on the more hardcore socialist blogs, without much regards for what’s happening on the ground.

Meme time

Phil has managed to put together an interesting little blog meme together, asking the following five questions:

  1. the blogs you read regularly when you started blogging
  2. the blogs you read regularly now
  3. some blogs you’ve stopped reading (and why)
  4. the blog you’ve started reading most recently
  5. every blog you’ve ever contributed to

He has done a pretty good job answering his own questions, let’s see if I can do as well:

1 the blogs you read regularly when you started blogging: I became aware of blogs in 2000/2001 but was still mostly an Usenet person, as well as being on dailup rather than broadband. So the first blogs I read where by regulars fromt he science fiction newsgroups, like Avedon Carol or the Nielsen Haydens. This was just before the warbloggers took over the medium when it was still mainly nerds ‘n geeks that blogged, to me more a sideline to Usenet than a replacement. It was only a year later, as the great flood of rightwing assholes starting blogs about how we need to kill all the ragheads that I started Wis[s]e Words, as Usenet had become unusable and I needed somewhere to shout, rather than just at the telly. The booklog however had been going for a year already at that point, having been started in 2001 as a way of keeping track of everything I’d read. So it was mainly nerdy and booklogs I read, things like Boing Boing. This is the earliest existing snapshot of blogs I follwoed on the Internet Archive.

2 the blogs you read regularly now: I tried to regularly read all the blogs in the sidebar to the right, as well as those on my other blogs. Usually however I start at Unfogged, where the posts are dull but the threads are as Usenetty as everything you’d be likely to find these days, followed by Jamie, Roy and Aaronvitch Watch. These four I hit up first thing in the morning everyday, as they usually all have something new every day that’s interesting, funny and easy to digest. Phil himself is somebody I regularly check as well, but is one of those bloggers you have patience for, but if there’s something there it’s always a treat. Then there’s James, the various comics bloggers, the more serious political bloggers and depending how dull the day is, I go through the entire blogroll.

3 some blogs you’ve stopped reading (and why): quite a few blogs I’ve stopped following through the years. Some just stopped blogging, like Justin, but with a lot I just lost interest, either because a blog itself became boring, or more that I lost interest in a given category of blogs. Ditched the nerdy blogs, the “readable rightwingers”, the techy blogs, added more socialists, and so on. Since Obama’s election it has been the American socalled liberal blogs that have become utterly dull, either hegemonised into the Democratic Party mainstream, or just so demoralised by the amazing revelation that Barack Obama is not quite the second coming of FDR they’ve become boring in their hatred. Some of the more mainstream political English blogs may go the same way, as the new political realities hit home.

But the blog I miss the most didn’t end because the blogger lost interest or that I lost interest, but because he killed himself. I’m talking about Aaron Hawkins, the self styled Uppity Negro who was geeky, smart, wickedly funny, incredibly good at getting at the not so hidden racist within each warblogger, overall perhaps the best blogger I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t enough. On September 3, 2004 he committed suicide. Almost six years ago now, I still miss him.

4 the blog you’ve started reading most recently: let’s make that three. First, K-Punk, socialist theory made interesting and even a bit cool. Then there’s Indistinguishable from Magic, all about how one particular person thinks about comics and creating comics, which is always been the sort of thing I like. Finally, Gin and Tacos, a sarky and sane look at US politics, one of the few American politics orientated blogs still worth reading.

5 every blog you’ve ever contributed to: quite a few. My Booklog is the oldest, started in 2001. This was followed on March 7 2002 with this one, Wis[s]e Words, as an outlet for political and other frustrations. Prog Gold was set up on November 1, 2002, back when I still thought blogs could change the world and I could harness their power. Intended to be something like what Daily Kos is now, a central clearinghouse for the “progressive blogosphere” it has since mutated into a two person groupblog, though with S. still in hospital even this is not true at the moment. When she was blogging, it always got more hits than Wis[s]e Words ever did.

Inbetween those two I also started Linkse Gedachten, een Dutch language blog and contributed occasionally to American Samizdat. I won’t even mention the Livejournal, mainly kept to be able to comment on other people’s journals…

So…. Your turn?

So I missed my anniversary again

Last year I claimed that I started this blog on 10 March 2002, but I was lying. It was actually March 7 2002, which means I once again missed my anniversary. Not that it’s that important; I only started blogging because I needed some outlet for my frustration at reading the news and Usenet was dying and poisoned and by and large Wis[s]e Words has remained just that, a vehicle for my own thoughts. Anything more ambitious I might have hoped for has not been realised, largely because of my own laziness and reluctance to become a Stan Lee -like self promoter, as well as the usual distractions of Real Life. Over the years I’ve written a lot of reasonable posts, some truly bad ones and slightly more quite good ones, or so I’d like to think. Neilalien, a far better blogger than I, put it best when on his ten year anniversary he said:

It’s a creative outlet that brings me great joy- but I don’t let it take over my life, and I never make it a job. I don’t blog when I don’t feel like blogging. I don’t link to something that doesn’t interest me or that I haven’t read. (Nothing is more obvious and damning than a lack of interest.) I’ve always refused free review copies partly because I never wanted to feel the pressure of having to review a book. Adding ads to the site adds obligation to generate eyeballs, and potential smell-tests. The blog is not toil and trouble, it’s an escape from toil and trouble. So as yet, I never burned out. I kept it fun. If by protecting my joy, that means I haven’t shared or given of myself as much as I could have or as much as people expect from a weblog, or seem aloof, or I haven’t reviewed a comic book in a timely fashion, or I don’t get that book deal or get paid for blogging, or it means the night-sweat horror of a million missed links- so be it. The weblog is what it is. I do stubbornly addictively resist going a week without blogging, but if I do, so be it- you’ve always known what you’re getting, a working guy in his pajamas when he has time to blog about one of his life’s passions. I respect the audience, and try to be the consummate classy professional- like a Broadway actor or the Undertaker, when that curtain goes up, it’s A-Game time, regardless of what’s happening backstage or if the entrance pyrotechnics just gave you second-degree burns- I have never blogged about ennui with comics or blogging- but the moment I think to myself that I *must* blog today, that I owe you anything for visiting a free personal website, it’s over.

When Decents fight…

Say what you like about Marko Attila Hoare and his politics, but he knows nasty little bully boys when he sees them and he sees them at Harry’s Place:

Racism, misogyny, incitement to violence – all can be overlooked when a member of your sad little circle of groupies is the guilty party. But God forbid that anyone should hold you accountable for what appears in the comment boxes of your own website, or that anyone interfere with the right of freaks and psychos to defame and abuse whomever they want while cowering behind anonymity.


They make a cesspool, and they call it ‘freedom of speech’.

In this behaviour Harry’s Place resembles nothing quite as much as the wingnut parts of the American rightwing blogosphere. There’s the same persuction complex, the same need for enemies and the destruction of them, the same inability to understand that other people might disagree with their views other than out of sheer perversity, the same dynamics with which an already extreme worldview is made more and more extreme over time as the in crowd parrots its eternal truths over and over again while anything coming from outside the group is either rejected or seen as a confirmation of this worldview. It’s a very cultish mentality and the nasty attacks even on political allies like Marko fit in perfectly.


this year I want to: 1) write better when I blog 2) pay less attention to the hitcounter 3) write more about things other than politics 4) pay more attention to politics outside of what’s happening in Holland, the UK and US 5) not just try and chase the ourage du jour.

Also, more sex.

Blogs will not revolutionise the world

At least not the way the hypemasters want you to think. Tom Coates is using a small controversy about bloggers trying their hands at viral marketing to spew his gall about the incessentant hype about how the latest New Internet Thing is going to change the world forever:

I’m totally fed up of people standing up and waving a flag for the death of institutions based on sketchy information and a vague belief in the rightness of their cause – and I’m also slightly sick of more moderate voices being drowned out under the revolutionary fervour of people fresh with their first wave of excitement about user-generated content on the web. Weblogs suffer from this enormously. Someone said that every journalist that writes about weblogs thinks that the year they discovered them is the year weblogs went mainstream. I’ve watched this for almost six years now. I now need people to think about what’s more likely to happen – that big media organisations, and governments and businesses will dry up and evaporate, or that some of them will adapt and change to a new ecology, renegotiate their place in the world and have a role in fashioning and supporting whatever it is that’s coming?

Whatever is on the horizon – social software, social media, ubiquitous and pervasive computing, technology everywhere, permanent connectivity, media distribution, mass amateurisation, disintermediation – it’s going to have an enormous impact on our lives. But that impact will probably seem relatively subtle and gradual to those people living through it, and its true effects will probably not be fully recognised for a hell of a long time. So let’s try and be a bit humble about the whole thing, eh? Let’s get excited about possible futures, let’s argue for the changes we think should happen, let’s present ideas and theories and ideas and business models and look to the future and test them and explore them. But please, no more religious wars of us versus them, big versus small, old versus new… We’ve got enough entrenched dogmatic opinions in the world already without creating new ones…

Hear hear. I’ve been on the internet since 1994, not that long compared to some, and I’ve seen so many of these hypes come past. The internet itself, the web, push technology (remember this?) Java, Linux, Open Source, blogs, RSS, etc. etc. None of these things changed the world “forever”, but all of them (except push) changed the world in ways we still barely understand and won’t understand until at
least half a century or more has passed. Just like Zhou Enlai said of the French Revolution, it is still “too early to tell” what the impact of the internet is.

You gotta laugh

This is how the Guardian described Alister Black’s blog in their latest article on political blogs:

A neatly designed blog with extensive photo galleries. Alister Black’s site has many good points, and covers “conspiracy theory” stories the mainstream media doesn’t usually touch.

Conspiracy theories?

The icing on the cake? He was located in the centrist section…