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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 8, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

    First Anniversary Reflections

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    It nearly slipped past. Today is the first anniversary of this blog. As it happens, a young graduate student has interviewed both of us separately on the experience.

      lisbonmattkavanagh.jpg

    Aargh, no, not another referendum campaign (Photograph by Matt Kavanagh)

    And an experience it has been. I am trying to remember what I thought it would be like and why I wanted to do it in the first place. The technical side was a bit of a mystery – and remains so to some extent!

    I was initially surprised at how aggressive some comments and responses were. Someone pointed out that it was like nice, ordinary people getting behind the wheel of a car. They suddenly take on a new persona. Yet it seems to me that the comments have become more polite in recent months.

    On  a more positive note, many of the comments make you think and force you to re-examine and justify long-held positions and assumptions.

    Perhaps the main value of a blog like this is that it can convey the atmosphere, feel, texture and colour of events in a way that a standard news report would not normally do.

    There’s an informality about blogging that would never wash in print. There’s also an immediacy in terms of response that is quite stimulating.

    That first post, way back on 8 July 2008, conveyed some of the things middle-level Fianna Fáil people in particular were saying about the prospects of a second referendum on Lisbon. Clearly they were very reluctant to face into another vote on the Treaty.

    But looking back on it now, it was inevitable. Today, in fact, the date of the new referendum was announced – October 2nd, as we all expected. And Micheál Martin launched a second White Paper on the Treaty.

    When I put it to the Minister that his opponents on this issue felt the White Paper and other aspects of the Government’s Information Campaign constituted propaganda rather than neutral fact, he responded that there was no advocacy involved. In other words, the Government isn’t calling for a Yes vote in its information material.

    The referendum won’t really get going until early September, when the holidays are over and the schools are back. Without Declan Ganley of  Libertas it may be a rather dull contest. Sinn Féin is indicating that it will again campaign against the Treaty but one wonders how much resources they will put into it. The last referendum didn’t have much spinoff for the party in the European and local elections.

    I put it to a colleague that, with the current balance of forces, for the Yes side to lose would be the equivalent of Antrim beating Kilkenny at hurling (or Kilkenny beating Antrim at Gaelic Football).

    I covered the two Nice referendums and goodness knows how many on abortion and divorce, way back when. They were never dull and, who knows, this one might generate a bit of excitement yet.

    • Elaine says:

      Happy Anniversary Deaglán!

    • Bryan says:

      I hope this blog celebrates many more anniversaries Deaglán. It’s a fantastic read, and a place were I’ve learnt a lot about Irish politics. Thanks. (I realise this comment is a little ‘incestuous’ so if you don’t post it, I completely understand.)

    • Eoin says:

      Happy anniversary Deaglán and Harry! (That sounds a little odd.)

    • robespierre says:

      Brilliant Blog Deaglán – first thing I look out for every morning.

      You do yourself an injustice by the way – you are quite the Agent Provocateur and that is why the reaction to your blog engages, informs and incites in equal measure.

    • Deaglán says:

      Aw, shucks, that’ s mighty nice of y’all. Harry’s away at the moment, so thanks on behalf of us both. The posts are normally written in spare half-hours prior to rolling into work for a press conference or at the end of a day chronicling the deeds/misdeeds of our political masters. Anyway it is good to know that some people appreciate them. And if anyone out there has any ideas how newspapers could make money out of their online editions, including blogs, etc., please do let us know!

    • robespierre says:

      If you are serious about making money out of your blog (never easy but you can get to cost neutral quite easily) I would be happy to give you a few suggestions.

    • Deaglán says:

      Well I was thinking more of the industry in general rather than my own case: totally selfless as always. But lay it on me!

    • Hermione says:

      Happy anniversary to you both! I find this blog a great read – it’s a great insight into the world of politics and political reporting. I check it daily :)

    • Zara says:

      Happy blog birthday Deaglán! Dip in every now and then and enjoy it.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I too must say Happy Anniversary to Deaglán and Harry! I came here from Harry’s blog (sort of like a tick or parrot) and have enjoyed it immensely.

      Deaglán, I suspect that in the not too distant future (Google might be working on this right now as part what the Chrome OS will be) the operating system will track what you have displayed and for how long and will remit some micro payment to the content provider at the end of the month. It could take the form of a card that had unique characteristics that the user places in front of the webcam on the machine. While you’re viewing then your ID is viewed too. There are of course privacy issues with any payment method. One of the reasons cash has survived is its anonymity. It is odd that we pay for the content to travel over the pipe but not the content provider.

    • Mark says:

      There are a few young journalists out there with bags of ideas about monetising online media – the problem is we’re young and the print media is dying quicker than we’re, eh, growing…

      Anyway, that’s off-topic. Happy… umm, Blirthday? Blog-birthday?

      Either way, congratulations. Thanks to both yourself and Harry for your insight over the last year and many happy returns.

      Incidentally, will the graduate student be publishing the study? Put him in touch with me if you have a minute – I’m working on something similar.

    • Deaglán says:

      Thanks again folks. Dan, I suspect the era of pay-per-view is on its way for the internet. The current freewheeling atmosphere is too good to last.

    • Steve Rawson says:

      Happy Birthday Blog Deaglán to you and young ‘Arry.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      It’s given at least one politician an outlet for her thoughts. I have very much enjoyed reading and contributing to the debates on this blog and rethought some things too as a result.

      Joanna

    • Betterworld Now says:

      Don’t count on it Deaglán – “pay-per-view” blogging hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried. But there is no doubt that in the new media paradigm blogging is absolutely required to keep in touch with the readership.

      As I read this page there is just a small static stringer advert for the GAA at the top of the page (you’ll have to look for it – so don’t bother). Google do a “pay per hit” advertisement placement service which is likely to deliver more revenue for your employer – especially as I suspect your readership is global.

      Your international competitors seem to have a more intrusive format which facilitates advertising revenue – some are positively annoying. But, hey, if “free-view” is not sustainable, then I’ll put up with advertising – I’m entirely immune from its consumerist message anyway.

      Your blog experiment is working – but, as with all new ventures, the crunch will come in year two when revenues either show the business plan works or that it’s all been an expensive waste of time. Let’s hope there is going to be a second birthday!

      As for the civility issue I think there has been a settling down of both comment and response – you have adjusted well to the format. The loss of the pulpit (one-way lecturing) is always a wrench, but I trust you feel the benefit of dialogue is worth the loss of status it implies.

      And just in case you doubt if it is a new paradigm, there are a couple of very good videoed talks on this phenomena on http://www.ted.com:

      How social media can make history http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html

      and

      Institutions vs. collaboration http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_on_institutions_versus_collaboration.html

      Happy blogday!

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      Happy Anniversary Deaglán and Harry.

      It falls on a momentous day, as the Government and Oireachtas put the final nail in the coffin of this country’s parliamentary democracy.

      I know blog comments are a breeding-ground for hyperbole and high dudgeon, but I have to say I am enraged at what is going on this week and last in the Oireachtas. First they ruined our economy; now they’ve come for our society.

      When is the media going to face down the blithe ignorance of the political classes? Last night on Prime Time Defence Minister Willie O’Dea again demonstrated his arrogant, supercilious ignorance by representing gossip and his supposed “inside knowledge” of Limerick as justification for the Criminal Justice bill.

      How is it that all sides of the legal profession, human rights NGOs, opposition, etc., etc., think this is a bad idea – and their opinions count for nothing? They weren’t even consulted! And for all the ‘hang-em-and-flog-em’ brigade, when are they going to learn that this piece of paper that will slip through the Dáil today won’t change anything, won’t save one life, won’t bring one more accused to court.

      It is time for the opposition to formally protest what is happening in some manner – either by not attending the Oireachtas at all until the Government properly engages with the business of legislating or, REVOLUTIONARY IDEA, actuually ATTEND the Dáil (i.e. all TDs) to highlight the absence of so many gov. TDs (GREEN PARTY THAT MEANS YOU).

      Sad, sad times for Irish politics.


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