Rapidly cooling buttered death

I’m in mourning. James Russell (Hot Buttered Death) has chucked it in and moved on to the Old Bloggers Eventide Home . James was one of the relatively early entrants to the ozplogosphere, although his blog soon developed into an eclectic mix of posts about the bizarre and unusual; and film and music reviews (James ran the movie review program on a Sydnet community radio station, and possibly still does); with only occasional political posts.

However, like many of us, after a while James began to get progressively more and more disillusioned with blogging and its intractable ill-tempered, ideologically divided pseudo-debates. His disillusion was starkly evident in James’ recent reflective evaluative “world famous blogging essay“:

See, I don’t really like political blogging, it’s not what I want to do with my blog. It’s something I’ve realised only relatively recently, i.e. that I don’t have to have an opinion about everything that happens in the world and don’t have to write about it. Obviously every now and then a world event occurs and you can’t help but write about it (e.g. war in Iraq, bomb attack in Bali), but I don’t want to spend my whole blog doing that. And I don’t want to spend my whole time even reading that sort of thing. There’s only a few political blogs I get much enjoyment out of reading any more. …

Still, it’s probably too early even at this stage to tell exactly how the world of blogging will develop over the next few years. I suspect that the political junkies will always exist and will always have political blogs to turn to. Meanwhile the rest of us will be trying to see what else we can do with the format, and more pop culture-based blogs may follow as a result¢â¬âor at least blogs with more diverse content than the strictly political. I kind of hope that’s what’ll happen, anyway; it’s happening now to some extent, just a matter of how far will it continue.

Will blogging one day acquire more power than I’ve ascribed to it? Probably not. Some people will no doubt get into blogging in the misguided belief they’ll be able to change the world with it. I can’t see it working. Which is, of course, no reason to not get involved in it. It’s fun, after all, to be able to shout your opinions into the void, and even better if you can somehow attract an audience. As long as it remains fun for us, the political bloggers will keep doing their stuff and I’ll keep ploughing my own furrow of barnyard oddities and acts of human strangeness.

It stopped being fun for James. My own feelings about blogging have described a similar trajectory, and continue to oscillate between ennui, irritation and fitful obsessively opinionated verbosity. My personal response has been to accommodate those feelings by developing Troppo as a group blog, so that readers still have a diversity of (hopefully) stimulating fresh material to read even when I’m too busy or in a a seriously depressive phase. It isn’t a perfect solution, but overall I think it works reasonably satisfactorily.

I guess James will be ploughing the furrow of barnyard oddities and human strangeness somewhere other than the blogosphere from now on. That will be that place’s gain and our loss. Good luck James. We should have a beer next time I’m in Sydney.

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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2024 years ago

Wish James had left comments enabled on HBD so we could farewell him there.

David Tiley
2024 years ago

Agreed. He was terrific.

Nic White
2024 years ago

Yeah, it does get depressing and demoralising sometimes. More often than Id like.

2024 years ago

Terrific as was his blog name – one of the coolest.

Mr Lefty – go back one post – comments still on there although one doesn’t know of James will read them.

Happy sailing James.

2024 years ago

God. All this angst. Am I the only one who has a blog because its *fun*?

2024 years ago

It was fun, Amanda, when I started; it’s now a chore.

I have found more enjoyment in blog-reading by avoiding purely political blogs.

First we had newsgroups, then email lists, followed by forums and now blogs …. wonder what the next ‘Net fad will be?

2024 years ago

One thought that I have had recently, since Mark left TA, is that community blogs, with a variety of opinions in the posts and comments, are much more interesting and stimulating than one-person blogs with a few exceptions such as Barista.

Once you have a spent a few months in the blogosphere you tend to know just what each blogger and commenter is going to write and that is why it’s boring. Without the death of a pope or something similar, the Australian blogosphere is essentially tedious and that’s why I think quite a few blogs are closing or not being as regulary updated.

I have gone back to reading books again and find that ultimately more satisfying than spending hours reading blogs.

2024 years ago

People go in an out of interests all the time, they pick them up and abandon them without it becoming a massive nazel gazing exercise or huge burden. I guess there have just been quite a few heavy duty discussions about the Great Meaning of Blogging recently that I don’t relate to at all. You’re not going to be able to change the world with blogging, but then what activity could an ordinary person undertake to change the world? Become Pope? Invent a time machine?

We’ve been though the infancy of blogging, the awesome wonder at the world phase of blogging, the brash confidence phase of blogging, maybe this is just bloggings teenage angst years.

I’m sorry to see HBD go too.

2024 years ago

I think blogging is a very selfish activity in the world of discussion when you compare it to the once-popular forums. At least any member of those could initiate a topic. There were also side benefits of forums such as email notification of posts, automatically taken to the first new post since your last visit etc.

I closed my blog down a week or two ago and re-opened it a few days later. I did a lot of thinking prior to the closing and since. I have come to the conclusion that blogging is, for many if not most, a form of group therapy (I’ve had enough of that to be able to judge it), having some kind of particular therapeutic value for the blogger. Like many medications, though, you need to keep increasing the dose – however, if your time or means of expression or interest or whatever is limited, you then can introduce psychological problems from NOT blogging. Perhaps blogging or participating in blogs is an addiction like any other: I see that as the case until someone proves blogging achieves anything more worthwhile.

I think TA came close to probably the best form for blogging: a co-operative venture with different points of view. Which takes me back to forums which worked in a similar way but have not really survived blogging. Perhaps blogging is a neo-con activity practised for self-gratification whereas forums were communes – a reflection of the increasing individualisation of selfish Western society.

The biggest problem with blogging is it’s follow-the-leader style where, as I said above, there is only a lot head nodding because everyone is on the ‘same side’.

In the end blogging is like pub-talk: lots words, ideas, emotions etc but once you sober up its wasn’t worth anything (unless you pashed your best friend’s partner and got caught).

2024 years ago

Depends on the blogs you read.

There’s more on offer than the favoured genre of forum/discussion/chat blogs.
eg Link bloggers just keep doing their stuff year after year sans angst or mission statements – I salute them.

HBD managed to combine good links with the short ironic take on things, and always found good stuff from a variety of sources. Will be missed.
Good luck, James.

2024 years ago

I think this is an inevitable phase experienced by any genuinely new medium.

I’m sure that once the printing press became relatively affordable, everyone and his dog wanted to run a newspaper.

But eventually, people would have run out of new things to say or the smaller newspapers wouldn’t be popular enough to justify their existance, so there had to be an inevitable period of consolidation.

Why have 20 blogs all expressing the same point of view? The echo chamber effect overwhelms the dialogue. Much better just to have one blog speak for all and then have a good discussion.

(Of course, if you use blogging as a form of public diary, the rules are completely different.)

Although I’m relatively new to TA, I think you have a good mix of authors and consistently entertaining writing. Something that’s well worth persevering with for a while in my opinion!

2024 years ago

If love hurts, you ain’t doing it right.

A big dose of sunshine and vitamins your way.