The real conversation

Anyone could have predicted it. Make a comment about the state of blogging in South Africa by refering the winner of the SA Blog Awards and you get this:

- insults about my blog and how boring it is;
- reaffirmation about why the blog in question is so incredibly fabulous by its gang of aggro readers;
- reaffirmation of my own worries that this conversation is (again) taking place among a very small demographic of South Africa’s population and with no recognition of that fact.

All (again) diverting us away from what the real conversation should be about – and that’s where the South African blogging community is heading.

Again, this is not a 2oceansvibe bashing. I appreciate that we need diversion; I appreciate that Seth has worked really hard on his blog; it’s not my thing but that’s just me – and that’s the great thing about blogging: we can all have our ‘thing’. What I’m saying, though, is that, if we’re using the measure of happy advertisers, or most loyal readers, or even most readers, then our choices would be different. These awards shouldn’t be about blogs with the most readers. If it was, we wouldn’t be able to notice more innovative sites – that may not be raking in the cash precisely because they’re new and innovative.

I mean, surely just by looking at the awards, the people who attended the event etc, you can’t honestly say that blogging in SA is in a healthy state of diversity and growing among new audiences.

Or maybe I’m just being boring. Maybe I should just get a ‘good shag’ or go back to the ‘beach’.

28 thoughts on “The real conversation

  1. I am one of the Aggro – 2 oceans guys.
    but in all seriousness- you’re definition of what should be regarded as the “best” is slightly off colour, we are talking the Oscars vs Sundance here.
    your blog is insightfull and well thought out, kudos for that- but it’s really nothing else than sociopolitical events and dramas wrapped in your opinion and the way forward in your opinion. which is great. really.
    crap we all deal with all day long, everyday.
    Seth’s is as hollow and pointless as a coconut- but gives people a break from the normal rat race and nonsense.
    Unfortunately if you wanted this blog or any other of it’s sorts to win- you need to solve world hunger, poverty, social unrest, rasicm and corruption in general- a slightly taller order than winning the popularity contest!!

  2. I have read both sides of the story and I am not sure you are on the right track. All I got out your post was “I think we need to distinguish between popular voted blogs and then get the judges together to discuss their choice of winners that best reflects where South Africa is right now and where it is heading ” which I understand as you want the blogs to be about politics? Or what else should I construct from your statement?

    Cheers,

    Pete

  3. Not sure I even get what your problem is with the results of the Blog Awards. There are cooking blogs, human egg donation blogs, popular mechanic blogs, political blogs and blogs like 2OceansVibe. What counts in the voting is what do people really want / enjoy – well if you don’t get it …it is ESCAPE.

    People love the pointless meandering and escapism and really are NOT VOTING for more politics and more investigative journalism.

    Take a break – have that shag and hang at the beach – that may even get you hooked on living the holiday too

  4. your reaction to a few comments that seem pretty harmless smacks of uptight bitterness (I missed the “gangs of aggro 2OV readers). You present yourself as this self-appointed and self-important social/technology/political commentator, cradling the fragile life of innovation and intelligence of web commentary in your protective hands. The sheer arrogance is astounding. There are a plethora of blogs all over the web that handle and present the topics that you attempt to reign over with far more insight, intelligence and interest. Maybe you should take a break from trying to be so ridiculously relevant, and spend more time trying to present better writing. Congratulations on you ever prominently displayed 2 month course at Stanford – perhaps you should ask for a refund. Why not host a “conversation” on the lack of impact of tertiary education on creatively bankrupt people – god know you appear to be well qualified for this soirre

  5. Hi Heather

    I’m not a big follower of online awards but two blogs I read (Urban Sprout and Thought Leader) each won their sections of the SA Blog awards so I guess the awards are perhaps representative of a wider readership than suggested.

    Plus, there are people and projects currently trying to get different voices online in South Africa and maybe it will take a bit of time for these to mature and feature in awards such as this?

    In any case, I’m enjoying the lively debate.

  6. Heather – please don’t get disgruntled by the vocal minority who treat the entire internet as a popularity contest, but only base their measures of popularity on how accepted things are by their own tiny clique.

    You’ve done more for open content and enabling people’s voices to be heard than any of them, and a quick glance through the nominees and winners makes it clear that the in-group self-congratulatory messages are just a reflection of the entire voting process itself. When you can get a tech-blog winner that isn’t even technical, it’s clearly a function of popularity among those who vote (so, not even popularity overall).

    As you’ve stated twice now (although nobody seemed to notice in the blinding red-haze rage that descended when they thought you were bashing 2oceansvibe), there’s nothing wrong with the winner or having this sort of competition, but it should not be held up as “the best of South African blogging” or anything of the sort. Calling it “the most popular South African blog” would be more realistic, but the sorts of people who are lambasting you in the comments have never been able to distinguish between “most popular” and “best” – they seem to consider the two to be synonymous, as is evidenced by how much more stock they put in the number of followers a twitterer has than in the quality of his/her tweets.

    I almost didn’t post this, as nothing is going to change, but I did want to add a small voice to yours and say that you’re by no means the only one who feels this way – but those of us who agree are not the sorts of people who often speak up or blurt their opinions all over the web.

  7. Heather

    I am not going to comment on the issue of raising the question, but rather on asking or answering the question myself. I would class myself as a computer geek who was hacking into the university internet connection back in 1992 using modem dialers and nestcape 1, and to be quite honest I only heard about the blog awards via an old school friend who was a nominee. Is that an indictment on blogging in SA? I suppose not, as I tend to follow technical blogs and newsgroups (generally from our beyond our shores). If I do come across interesting local/other content, I add an RSS.

    Anyway, after this discussion/and from looking at the results, I have added both yours and seth’s blogs as a RSS feed, and in some ways I agree with you. In that period I have received cars/tits/some crude interview and a twit who has parked his bike on the beach. So sure, lots of people like that, and yes it is indicative of a large proportion of our internet user base in this country, but is it really indicative of being represented as SA’s no 1 blog, I really cant agree with that. It would be the same as saying that you or Heat magazine are our flagship printed media products (and they probably also have the largest reader base?). Thats my 2 cents anyway.

    Actually, as I am sitting here, I have just received my weekly email alert of the weeks goings on at Mydigitalife, now there is a blog that provides a nice variety of content from differing authors…I am off to the blog awards webpage to see how they did….nowhere as far as I can see! go figure

  8. Hi Heather,

    I’d like to offer up some thoroughly structured (and sensible) input to this whole “thing”, but unfortunately I’m a bit short of time at the moment, so please excuse my conciseness:

    Having been involved in the Awards from their origin (in fact, I designed the first logo, much respect to the improved versions these days!), I’ve become almost numb to the points you raise about Seth and 2oceansvibe. Numb because you could’ve voiced your concerns back then and the result would be exactly the same as today. Sadly. Looking back at previous years, the underlying factor is simple: Seth doesn’t believe awards should anything but popularity contests. When the format was changed to be less about numbers and more about quality, he boycotted. Now that it’s about simple numbers again, he’s very happy to be involved in something that’s good enough for him again. Good enough not because of any fundamental principles related to representation or such, but good enough because it benefits his marketing model.

    Sure, Will Mellor is a good marketer. He’s brilliant at serving a specific niche, but don’t expect him to listen to any reasoning which doesn’t directly or indirectly serve to benefit him and his business.

    Thanks for raising this issue, like more people should; you have my support implicitly!

  9. I must admit that this whole discussion (as it were) may have been doomed from the start.

    I _can_ see how someone reading your post may have seen it as slagging off 2OV, whilst not seeing the rest of your concerns. It seems that even Seth Rotherham clearly took it as a huge insult. The sarcasm in his post in response is quite clear. He even throws in some bait for his readers: “Maybe I should be covering more about Zuma”, in some kind of weird version of Godwin’s law.

    It’s like he wanted people to see your post and get pissed off too. I really wouldn’t have expected him to care.

    Anyway, everyone wins, I suppose:

    More people have seen your blog. Perhaps some who will keep coming back (for good reasons, I hope), or think a little about the issue you raised.

    2OV has proven that they have a loyal fan base – I hope Seth Rotherham feels less hurt/angry after that show of support. Plus, I’m guessing the more time spent on the issue on 2OV means more time on the site, which hopefully is good for his ad revenue. It can’t be cheap running a site that large as what seems to be a full time gig.

    Anyway… I agree with Johnathan and Andrew.

    Can everyone get back to normal now?

  10. It is not a competition Heather, but, I think you win. My feeling about the SA blog awards was summed up by my tweet http://twitter.com/darb/statuses/1369885219

    The SA blog awards are a sad affair. The people who navel gaze and high five each other and gang comment against genuine, critical, considered thoughts are deserving of each other. There is very little substance in the ‘popular’ blog ring in SA, and while the blog awards did highlight some good, intelligent, contributory blogs, they were lost in the mist of the high-fivers.

    I think someone like you has a unique perspective on the power of blogging, and the genuine liberating force that it was when it started, and still is for many people using it to get their voices heard.

  11. Well, I hear there’s another blog joining the South African blogosphere soon – http://www.ifor1.co.za. Got an email about it last week. Its launching next week some time. May give this and 2OV a run for its (advertisers) money.

  12. Sigh enough enough – one thing is for sure – you have never had this much activity on your blog in a single day – ENJOY the limelight and then PONDER as to why you got so much traffic today – was it based on any of the things associated with the real issue or not? Sadly, NOT (in my humble view).

    So now “Move on” post something else and lets get onto the next subject worthy of the attention.

  13. +1 for heather/jonathan/darb.

    The SA blog awards is sad and I wish it could be less cliquey and do more to promote quality blogging in our country. Instead, they promote trashy little blogs that posts the same trash I get sent to my e-mail by my grandmother every day. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

  14. The difference between the “most popular” and the “best” is as follows: The “most popular” is by definition the most voted for.

    To define “the best” is a bit harder. The best at what exactly? Heather has presumed that her definition of “the best” is the definition that counts. It’s that kind of arrogance that I have a problem with.

    In Blog Awards, “the best” is determined collectively and so yes, in this case it will come down to the “most popular” because inherent in the “most popular” definition is the intrinsic fact that people will collectively support the blog they find to be the best (their own definition).

    I am saddened to find that many people seem to think that only neanderthal anthropoid ape type people support Seth. This is certainly not the case.

    It’s very presumptuous to assume that just because you voice your concerns for the state of the country and the world in a public manner like hblog, that you are the only person with these thoughts, and that this gives you the right to hold your definition of “best” over that of the obviously many people who elected to vote differently.

  15. Ooops, Martin – let’s try not to confuse our democracy with the blog awards. At any rate, aren’t we supposed to vote for party and policy?

  16. I echo Liz’s comments. Heather, you’re a snob. To characterize Seth’s blog as ‘popular’ and imply it is therefore not clever enough to be ‘the best’ is elitism of the worst kind. You seem to be accusing Seth of appealing to a very small (albeit enormous) section of society. Who do you think reads your blog? Seriously?

    Debating socio-political issues or discussing your love of public-speaking does not automatically qualify you for membership of some imagined geek-intelligentsia who alone have the insight to judge worth. If you want to see REALLY clever, look how Seth handled the Idols issue.

  17. @Darb

    I’m a high-fiver and proud of it.

    You see a high five is like a smile. You should give one, or maybe try and be on the other end of one.

    That’s if someone will give you one. Judging by your morbid tweet you linked us all to (why?), you are either far too clever and above all the great writing and content that come from our SA blogs or, oooor….you are a big knob.

    I’m going with the latter.

    I’ll still give you one if you want though.

    High Five!
    I Like!

  18. EXCELLENT point joe! Do you think it takes a thicko who is blurred by tits and ass to pull off what seth did with regards to idols? His video he made for randall has apparently been watched a hundred thousand times or something. But now you are all falling beautifully into another trap of his. Have you noticed how he hasn’t said one comment throughout this whole thing? As he would say ‘it’s too funny’. And all you all continue to run around throwing mud at each other. It is actually very very funny to watch. You have all been violated by seth rotherham.

    Jimmy was probably right above when he said it’s like seth wanted people to see your post and get pissed off too.

    True Jimmy. he probably sent them off and forgot about it. just remember we are dealing with a genius here.

  19. Sorry, can someone explain to me what ‘The Best SA Blog’ should involve? Is good blogging not about regular posts appealing to the target readership, good SEO, making good use of available technology, sustaining a large readersip base, making money (to a certain extent), putting your personality across etc? I’d give all of those a check for 2Oceansvibe. What else should we be looking at? Or is the argument that the content should be politically charged/relevant or ‘deep’? I would contest that, as blogging emerged as an alternatie to mainstream media, an opportunity for people to write what they want to.

  20. Phil V: Saying that that is what good blogging involves is like saying that writing a good book involves churning out a new novel every six months, with a complete table of contents and a pretty cover, available in all libraries and bookstores, and bringing in a lot of royalties. It apparently doesn’t matter what is actually written on the pages any more?

    A Pulitzer can be won by a book scrawled on toilet paper in crayon and hidden at the back of grocery cupboard, even though it wasn’t publicised well, wasn’t recognised by the masses, didn’t make any money, and didn’t look pretty.

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