Very recently, a friend & I decided to try seriously blogging. She had previously mused the idea of starting a blog but never took it any further than beyond an idea. I, of course, already had a blog but hardly did anything with it. So after a fleeting conversation, we both agreed that we would challenge ourselves to each write a blog post by the end of January. The punishment, if we didn’t write a post by then, would be to receive a slap in the face from a friend who is known to dish out a particularly ferocious slap. This is my blog post.
Very quickly, I found myself thinking: “What am I going to write about?” I wondered about this on and off for about a fortnight until today when I eventually sat down to write my blog post and it struck me that not having a clue what to write about is exactly what I should write about. Well, not exactly. Rather, I was left wondering why so many people blog.
“I read all the blogs. Because basically I’m an underemployed fat f***ing loser with nothing better to do with my time than sit in my bedroom like a fat space hopper in a tracksuit reading inconsequential, un-spellchecked shit fabricated by other fat farting f***ing losers.”Malcolm Tucker, Episode 3, Series 3, The Thick of It
The conversation with my friend about blogging was actually prompted after I read an article about Boris Johnson’s infamous senior advisor/political operative, Dominic Cummings, in the news and the controversy of his “weirdos and misfits” descriptor for ideal civil service applicants. What I find interesting about his blog is that it meets most of the stereotypes of a blog – it doesn’t have a very glossy appearance and doesn’t feature any images, as far as I can tell – but what’s more interesting is that a senior political figure such as Monsieur Cummings hasn’t opted for a more high-brow blog on the official Number 10 website or even the Conservative Party’s own site. However, when you consider that such an individual apparently relishes being outside the control or limits of an official setting, his blog makes all the more sense.
It would appear that I am not the only person to find his blog particularly idiosyncratic. Jonathan Heawood summed it up by describing it “as a dumping ground for his thoughts. All of his thoughts.“1 His inaugural blog post from November 2013 is only 44 words long, but he wrote a subsequent follow-up to this post that exceeded 2,500 words. It seems that Cummings’ blog is a reflection of who he is himself. That said, I can’t quite tell whether he’s a revolutionary thinker or a clown that’s trying to run the circus. Some think its the latter2.
The Huffington Post (now HuffPost)
Everyone has become very used to seeing various news articles from HuffPost, but whether you realise it or not it started life as an alternative outlet for commentary & opinion; “Huffington and her co-founders…conspired to create a liberal version of the conservative online juggernaut, the Drudge Report.“3 Whilst prima facie having a mostly similar objective to Cummings, Arianna Huffington, the site’s eponymous founder, created a blog with gloss, sheen and (more significantly) more than one writer.
For a rather liberal-leaning site, you’d be forgiven that Huffington is someone who was, for a long time, married to a Republican politician. But it would seem that HuffPost (as it is now known) was created with a much clearer vision of its intended purpose – not to be the archive of a fringe political strategist but a hive of commentary, opinion and ideas that would actually be reasonably well thought through and written by people who actually knew what they were on about. ‘Twould seem this last point is rather crucial if you’re to have some credibility amongst other writers/journalists/bloggers/thinkers “Cummings clearly wants to signal that he knows these fields and thinks them important to the task at hand. But in trying, he reveals that he has not got far enough to realise they are not going to help him do his job.“2
Rather surprisingly, Huffington didn’t use HuffPost as an outlet for her own agenda or views — well, not entirely4 — but rather as a way to generate new kinds of conversation about topics. In fact, much of what is now on HuffPost UK is actually news rather than opinion or commentary (this must be due to the fact that Huffington sold the online venture to AOL/Verizon Media and now no longer edits the site herself).
It seems that if my blogging efforts are to be fairly successful, I try to blog with some focus & intent (à la Huffington), lest my blog posts become the random musings of a clown. However, as I can’t afford to hire a team of writers, I must blog in my own way & style (à la Cummings). The world probably doesn’t need the thoughts of another twenty-something published into the mesosphere, but I think it might just get them anyway.
- 1.Heawood J. Monster or guru? What Dominic Cummings’ blog tells us about him. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/15/dominic-cummings-blog-political-values. Published August 15, 2019. Accessed January 22, 2020.
- 2.Yates T. Dominic Cummings needs to learn a little more about science and blog a little less. New Statesman. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2020/01/dominic-cummings-needs-learn-little-more-about-science-and-blog-little-less. Published January 3, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2020.
- 3.Cohan W. The Inside Story of why Arianna Huffington left the Huffington Post. Vanity Fair. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/why-arianna-huffington-left-the-huffington-post. Published September 8, 2016. Accessed January 22, 2020.
- 4.Arianna Huffington Archive. HuffPost UK. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/arianna-huffington/. Accessed January 22, 2020.