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New to weblogs?

Nick Robinson | 15:59 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2005

If you're new to the world of weblogs, allow Alan Connor, resident reviewer for BBC Two's Daily Politics and the BBC News Magazine, to explain.

What on earth is a so-called "blog", and why do I want one in my life?

It's an ugly word, isn't it? But if you tend to find your eyes glazing over when people twitter about technology, then read on.


Because the reason for all the fuss about blogs is that they let you write your thoughts and share them with the rest of the world - and you need know nothing more technical than how to move your mouse.

Taking away that barrier means that more people can take part in the debate - and in the case of politics, having more voices in the conversation shouldn't be a bad thing. Just as importantly, this new space for talking about politics is a bit less formal, a bit more immediate - in short, there's some room for fun.

So who's writing? And is anyone reading?

Let's hear more from the politicians?

If you think of a politician as someone that it's hard to get to shut up, it won't come as a huge surprise to find yet another medium that our honourable friends are using to bang on.

But there's another way of looking at it: in increasingly-paranoid times, it's reassuring to see our representatives willingly and voluntarily putting themselves on the record.

The more, ahem, loquacious of our MPs are present and correct: from Boris Johnson, with his army of fans, to a certain member for Grimsby who's blogging at a site called Austin Powered.

But quieter politicians are also running blogs, using their sites to talk to their constituents about local matters, or enjoying the opportunity to use less parliamentary language.

What's new here is that the voters can talk back. Blogs typically have a space for reader comments under every piece of writing - a an innovation in a part of the world where, for hundreds of years, the politicians have talked and the rest of us have listened.

This means two things. Firstly, everyone can talk now, so it's going to be interesting to see if anyone can listen. And secondly, when an MP sets up something called a "blog" that doesn't allow you to answer back, they're probably just throwing buzzwords around again.

Everyone's an expert

And in the same platform we also find a phalanx of new and lively political commentators, operating in a parallel world to the papers, with a similar mixture of jabber and insight.

We'll always need news organisations to find out what's going on in the world - it takes time, money and a good set of contacts to cover breaking news, and the cameras and microphones help, too.

But comment on that news is a different matter. All you need is a splash of wit, and something to say. Having neither of those things doesn't stop people blogging, of course, but when you locate the writers you like, you might find yourself reading their paid-up counterparts a bit less - with the exception, naturally, of your trusty BBC correspondents.

Finally, the technical whizzery under the hood of most blogs also means that they bring different people and different sites together, often of apparently disparate opinions, which at its best can lead to interesting new takes on what's going on.

The downside, then, is that the "blogosphere" (the world inhabited by those reading and writing blogs) has even less quality control than the world of professional journalism. The upside is that whether you're looking for pernicious tittle-tattle, sustained economic analysis, or the two in the same blog, there's a world of free writing out there. Let's talk!

If you want a guide through the estimated 14m blogs, that's what the BBC News Magazine's Weblog Watch column is for. And if you're thinking of starting one yourself, the Daily Politics will help in its Tips For The Technically Terrified.


Excellent intro. We plan to host a small meet for Press people to explain Blogging and our Instablogs initiative. Your post has given us ideas on how to structure our 'educational' presentation.

  • 2.
  • At 11:16 PM on 18 Apr 2006,
  • Ian Wright wrote:


If you were in charge of increasing voter turnout at forthcoming elections, what would you be saying to the electorate to try and engage them in politics, and avoid embarrassingly low turnouts again.



  • 3.
  • At 06:09 AM on 05 May 2006,
  • katy stansfield wrote:


  • 4.
  • At 01:56 PM on 06 May 2006,
  • Mrs Taylor wrote:


After the poor election results for New Labour Mr Blair has gone full steam ahead trying to bury bad news with his cabinet reshuffle.

Why has Mr Blair demoted Mr Straw it seem extraodinary.

Mr Blair appears to have judged that Mr Prescott is incapable of managing his department and relieved him of the duty. He is still on the ministerial payroll, he still has his grace and favour homes and any other perks. This decision is a slap in the face for the electorate and displays the full arrogrance of Mr Blair.

  • 5.
  • At 05:28 PM on 07 May 2006,
  • John Salkeld wrote:

Blogs are not about people being free to express their opinions when they are moderated, censored and then have to be "approved".

  • 6.
  • At 12:34 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

While war with Afghanistan, Irag, possibly Iran, and potentially with any Mohammed protecting nation, may be regrettable, Blair's performances as a public speaker surely deserve credit. While his policies remain dubious and his arguments specious, it is a testamernt to a man's resolve and talent to make a moving valedictory speech in a time of overwhelming bombast, cynicism and caprice.

  • 7.
  • At 08:09 PM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • Nick Ford wrote:

Problem is all blogs are being monitored by the authorities to find and note those who are dissdent, protesters or who critcise the government then when ID cards are introduced they can be dealt with in the new Police State-Totalitarian Britain.

  • 8.
  • At 02:26 PM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • O.A.P. wrote:


If you earn £10000 over the tax free allowances you pay more tax @ 20%. If you earn £20000 over the allowaces you will pay less!

  • 9.
  • At 02:40 PM on 10 Jul 2007,
  • Phil Worthington wrote:

I am an OAP -SC - OTH member of society. I have sat and listened through an army of 'political' correspondents in my lifetime, from a soap box to the TV box. I have been sceptical of them all. Either they have had a political leaning - which has marred (no pun intended) their report, or they have been flippant, which has degraded their report.

Along came Nick Robinson. He sounded as if he knew his business, treated it with respect and reported honestly. He added humour to his comments and made the subject interesting. I looked forward to his reporting and comments - from whichever media he came.
Well done Mr. Robinson - long may you be with us.

  • 10.
  • At 08:57 AM on 18 Jul 2007,
  • Barry8 wrote:

We should vote - I believe that. But
many do not because the options on menu are totally unhelpful. It is clear that people mean to vote for what they regard as important to them and everyone else. In theory our
democratic system means that we are all able to vote that way. In practice it doesn't seem to work. Why
is it so? Politicians (and would be ones) are too intent on getting power on what they think is right - and it is for them! They say others should train and pass tests with bits of paper to prove it. OK let us have politicians do that also! At least for ethics and integrity.

  • 11.
  • At 05:17 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Eric Owen wrote:

The answer to George Brown's biblical quote from Jesus " suffer all the children to come unto me" rather than " some of the children" ( designed to hit David Cameron's policy on marriage tax benefit) is that Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding.
Rev Eric OWEN

  • 12.
  • At 08:37 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • mes m preston wrote:

1000 soldiers home for christmas! thats only because they are going to afganistan in january! calculated wrong this time gordon, big mistake,we are not that nieve

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