Sheil sheathes sword

Sad day. Christopher Sheil has given up blogging, at least for six months or so while he finishes writing a book. The blogosphere will be a less interesting place without him. Chris and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye (to put it fairly mildly), but he is an unfailingly thoughtful, challenging, provocative writer with a talent for expressing complex ideas in an accessible way. He also has a rare talent for antagonising people, including some (like me) whose ideas on many issues aren’t actually all that different from his own. But that too may well be a positive attribute for a blogger: all that colour and movement avoids reader boredom. Moreover, Chris graciously acknowledges my role in kickstarting his blogging career, a move for which some RWDBs may now forgive me.

Chris’s final post includes a list of hints for aspiring and current bloggers. It’s well worth reading. Come back soon Chris. We’ll miss you, especially this faux centrist.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

Best wishes with the book, Chris. You are of course wrong, again, Charlie rules not Keef.

chico o'farrill
chico o'farrill
2022 years ago

Nicely put Ken.

There were many times when I could question Chris’ views, but his site became a lightning rod for good conversation. And the odd shit-fight.

But I admired most towards the end was his efforts to try & moderate fairly. Under a fair amount of duress towards the end. No wonder he’s off-line for a bit. Good luck to you Chris….

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

CS’s blog was the best during the election.

The main reason was because it was fun, well until a week out when they were told Iron Mark would lose.

I put down Cs’s leftwing attitudes to believing Clapton was a fast guitarist and listening to the Rolling Stones.

I know it is full of left wing wackos but it is still been a decent blog after the election if somewhat deflated.
We do that blog working come the next election.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I too will miss Back Pages. Christopher is a smart fellow, a fine writer, a perceptive observer and a convivial bloke to have a beer with.

I have a distinct feeling that this won’t be the end of his blogosphere presence.

Peter Murphy
2022 years ago

I’m going to miss Back Pages. So few blogs have comments worth reading. (SOP always seems to be a bestiary of flaming, isolated ranting, muttering, and post-the-whole-fucking-article-instead-of-an-url-ing.) So few blogs passed the 100 comments per post so regularly. And even fewer blogs have both qualities at once. Back Pages had them. Good luck, Chris, in what ever you pursue.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’m sad to see Chris go as well – he was always very well worth reading and Backpages had a very comfortable feel about it as a place to hang out. And I am pretty sure his was the first blog I ever posted a comment on.

On Chico and Peter’s points, maybe I’m about to induct myself into the Troppo faux centrist hall of fame as well, but I feel at some point – maybe about halfway through the series of Fear and Loathing posts during the election, the feel and tone changed at Backpages – a bit more of a Latho cheer squad than I’d have liked – and some of the commenters were resistant to any criticism of Latho and Labor. That’s not Chris’ fault, of course, and I’d be the first to acknowledge that having the virtual community at his place to visit in an election campaign which dragged a lot of us into a higher level of emotional commitment than perhaps we’d anticipated was a very good thing. Chico’s point about trying times is a good one as well – the constant RWDB crud that marred the comment threads for the last few weeks, and to be honest, some pretty cruddy LWDB responses from a minority – must have frustrated and annoyed Chris.

I also got the sense a couple of times – picking up on Peter’s point – that Chris wasn’t absolutely happy about the huge commenterariat that BP finally attracted – at times he seemed to look back fondly on the days when it was a fairly small crew who’d post longer analytical posts, knew each other quite well, and I agree that comments threads with 100+ comments on them get fairly hard to follow.

It’s an interesting phenomenon – the ‘feel’ of the virtual group dynamic (and the way it shifts) at BP or any other long term blog would in itself be well worth analysing – I suspect there’s a thesis topic in there for some pioneering social psych postgrad.

I had a bit of a feeling this was coming, but as with all goodbyes, I’m still very sad that the moment has arrived to say farewell.

Chris, if you’re reading, take care, and good luck with the book, mate, and thanks for all the good times.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

One other thing about Backpages which is worth noting is that it was a blog on which a lot of women seemed to feel comfortable posting comments. I’ve always wondered why the blogosphere seems to be a majority male domain, and I wish it were more equal!

Janice
Janice
2022 years ago

I’ve always wondered why the blogosphere seems to be a majority male domain

Well Mark, perhaps that has something to do with male behaviour. Or maybe it’s verhestengesque, however you spell it and whatever it means.

harry
harry
2022 years ago

It’s due to the same reasons why standup comedy is male dominated.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Janice, I’m afraid I have no idea what you are talking about.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Janice, I think, on reflection, you’re referring to dk.dk’s use of a similar term on another thread. dk.dk can no doubt speak for himself. For myself, I’d tend to try to avoid using technical or abstruse terms in blog posts or comments because I doubt that they are reader-friendly or advance the discussion much. I think, though, to be fair to dk.dk, he did recognise that he and I had perhaps got into a bit of a private conversation – a point I also acknowledged.

But if you are seriously interested in the meaning of the German term “verstehen”, as popularised in Max Weber’s sociology, you can find a definition here.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

And I’ve just recognised that I may be making an incorrect assumption about dk.dk’s gender!

mark
2022 years ago

Janice, verstehen basically means grok, except it’s not as geeky. And it’s German. To verstehen is to know utterly, although unlike grok it usually refers to human behaviour rather than the vagaries of technology. Once again we try to invent a word, only to find the perfect example just waiting by in another language… kinda like h

Janice
Janice
2022 years ago

Mark,

I have no idea what “grok” means. Wasn’t that a cartoon strip about a bunch of cavemen? Or maybe it was one of the characters in the strip. And “han” (please just imagine the umlaut) I’ve never come across either.

But now that I’ve read the definition of “verstehen” (thank you for that link) I remember that one of my old high school chums took German and taught me this expression, “Ich bin Auslander. Nicht verstehen.” Its meaning is not very sociological in that context. As for the thread being “verstehen-esque”, maybe it was for sociological insiders. For me it was just too esoteric.

My comment on male behaviour was a reference to your post “Particularly Strident” and the comments thereon. It was a (probably weak) attempt to verarschen.

susoz
2022 years ago

re “One other thing about Backpages which is worth noting is that it was a blog on which a lot of women seemed to feel comfortable posting comments. I’ve always wondered why the blogosphere seems to be a majority male domain, and I wish it were more equal!”
Mark, there is a very large women’s blogosphere. It tends to focus more on the personal, although there are quite a lot of women’s blogs which alos address political issues. So it is not a case of the blogosphere being a majority male domain, rather that there are two domains which only occasionally cross over. When I get my act together to do a proper blogroll on my own blog, it will make visible many women’s blogs.

Zoe
Zoe
2022 years ago

I link to lots of good blogs written by women. (Including susoz)

Peter Murphy
2022 years ago

“H

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Damn,
I get some work so I can hardly comment at BP , I then find out he is closing down ,I eventually get to go to his blog ( the place which I stop working next friday doesn’t let you see his blog) I find out I can’t make any comments.

No more slagging of his appalling musical tastes, no more rabitting on concerning margin of error, no more of him writing about rugby ( well who cars) and whatever happened to Fred?

was this simply the mirror image of CS and came to pass when layla was played?

Graham
2022 years ago

Well the “sphere” was reasonably balanced until you-know-what happened…

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

verstehen-esque yes, but for me the word for Back Pages was gemuetlich. (I can’t do Umlauts either) Anyway it means comfortable, friendly, cosy, homely, which is what BP was, at least for similarly-minded lefties. Chris worked at making people feel welcome. RW commenters were always welcome too, I thought, unless they were vexatious or stirring. For me the tone and mood of BP meant I probably took a few more risks in comments than elsewhere.

Technically and in terms of user-friendly features, I thought BP was the best blog around. And Chris, apart from being learned, sharp and a great writer, must have exceptional time management skills. This was evident to one who doesn’t. So it was not a complete surprise that he was rational and ruthless enough to call a halt when it got too much.

BP did take off with the election, or so it seemed. I’ve had about 50% more work recently and have had trouble keeping up with the long comment threads, having worked in the sun for 32 of the last 33 days. So I’ll always be nostalgic about the earlier BP which I enjoyed muchly.

I think I first became aware of Chris through a reference on Webdiary to the Truth & politics series. I remember writing to Margo and pointing out that the series was written by Chris Sheil, not Ken Parish. The series does, of course, date from his Troppo days. Since then his efforts have enriched my life and I’m sure the lives of many others.

Enough. Best wishes Chris. I’ll say au revoir as I’m sure you’ll pass this way again.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Zoe and suzoz.