Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

2008 Weblog Awards – the results

Not official yet, but looks like Created in Birminham beat Melanie Phillips to the top spot – result! Congrats to them, and to all involved with the site.

This place – officially supporting CiB since the second day of the vote – came in 3rd to last, beating only CiB founder Pete Ashton (who not only also asked all his readers to vote CiB instead, but actively campaigned for last place) and, erm… Iain Dale’s Diary, supposedly one of the most popular British blogs going, with a professed monthly readership somewhere in the region of 20 times what this place gets.

However, this wasn’t just about stopping Melanie Phillips and her repellent (and often bizarre) worldview from being publicly lauded, though that is eminently satisfying.

As Pete Ashton notes (in a top-notch post worth reading in full for anyone interested in the UK blogging scene), this is also about showing

that community blogs like CiB are a good thing that should be supported… to show that a blog that has a supportive community, that encourages sharing, collaboration, communication and which doesn’t take sides in a partisan way is way better than some single issue, ranting, divisive megaphone in the echo chamber

I may well be a political blogger, but that does not mean I like political blogs. The majority are unreadable, unthinking, partisan dross, dominated by dogmatism and ingrained ideological prejudice.

The idea that any political blog is better, more worthy of an award and the associated praise, than a blog like Created in Birmingham – a positive force for good, encouraging creativity and a sense of community while offering an outlet and source of publicity to nascent artists, and thus a real chance to help boost careers and reputations, as well as for its readers to broaden their perspectives and try out new things – is just silly.

The only other blog genuinely worthy of winning in the shortlist (though others on there like Olly’s Onions and The View From Here are certainly well worth a look) was Baldy’s Blog, neatly summarised here:

Young local journalist/web editor gets ill. Complex leukaemia. Starts Blog to describe and explain the disease and treatment. Bone marrow transplant is successful. Post transplant complications set in. Proposes on Christmas eve to long term girlfriend. She accepts. Wedding plans begin in earnest. Fiancee leaves him. Broken heart. Leukaemia comes screaming back. Terminal prognosis. Campaign begins to teach all 17/18 year olds about how simple it is to be a bone marrow donor. Huge petition presented to Downing Street. Support from Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson, Ed Balls. Many media appearances nationally to push campaign. Dies 20 August aged 27. Campaign continues…..and succeeds.

Let’s face it. This is a Blog which has changed lives and which will save lives.

Baldy’s Blog eventually came in 3rd, beaten only by CiB and Phillips, and pipping last year’s winner Neil Clark to the bronze. It should have been higher.

The fact that the wildly successful Phillips – with her regular columns in national newspapers and magazines – even felt the need to campaign for the win (as she did) when there were such worthy alternatives on the shortlist only confirms my low opinion of her. And the fact that the world of political blogs continues to act as if it is all that matters – far-left maniac Neil Clark also remaining on a futile ego-trip campaign to the last, despite it being obvious to all that he had no chance of succeeding – when there are so many far more worthy, far more actively positive blogs out there? Well, that comes as no surprise, but still saddens.

Blogging is just a publishing medium. To say “blogging should be like this, not like that” is a nonsense, as blogging is about whatever individual bloggers want it to be. But blogs do have a brilliant ability to foster new communities, new relationships. Done right, they can bring people together to achieve great things, positive things. Political blogs are mostly about the negative – Melanie Phillips’ more than most.

Both Created in Birmingham and Baldy’s Blog are about creating something positive from blogging – in the case of the latter, creating something positive in the face of immense pain and hardship for the people who run it. This, for me, is what blogging should be about, if it should be about anything. Congratulations to them both.