Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Blogged: 2005 in The Times Literary Supplement

This week’s TLS (out now etc.) has a review of that Worstall‘s blogging compilation book thing. The reviewer’s name may be somewhat familiar to readers of this blog… *ahem*

It’s not available online, so here you go and stuff:

Blogs have been one of the major internet phenomena of the last year or so, their number growing almost exponentially, yet many people still have no idea what they are. The simplest explanation is that blogs are a form of digital self-publishing – largely text-based websites that can be set up by anyone with an internet connection for a minimum of fuss and often for no cost at all. It is a comparison made many times before, yet still valid, that blogging has brought about a similar increase in new writing as did the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695.

This is where Blogged comes in – as a handy guide to locate, amid the millions of people toiling away over their keyboards producing little of interest to anyone, the few potential Swifts and Addisons of this new publishing boom. The book’s editor, Tim Worstall, has done his best to move beyond the realm of political blogging that he himself inhabits, with entries on everything from vasectomies to morris dancing alongside intelligent satire and detailed deconstructions of government policies. As such, and thanks to its chronological structure, there is little in the way of an overall theme to the book, rather like a “Schott’s Miscellany of good writing”.

Focusing almost exclusively on British or British-based writers, Worstall claims to have trawled through more than 5,000 of the UK’s 300,000 (or more) blogs to select extracts from just over 100 as being representative of the British “blogosphere” over the past twelve months. As Worstall is himself one of the more popular British bloggers, and compiles a weekly roundup of the best UK online writing on his own site, he is certainly a near-ideal guide. It is just a pity that the book’s designers decided to use such an unreadable typeface for his editorial interjections. Nonetheless, the broad array of writing talent on display here is a perfect example of just how much literary potential is currently going untapped and largely ignored on the internet. It is not all pornography and dancing hamsters out there.