Broken bloggers

The big blogger story of the weekend isn’t interesting because it shows that online communications are crucial to UK politics (obviously they are), or because it shows a freakishly self-destructive willingness in Labour staffers to experiment with badly-handled smear tactics (although it’s astonishing that this was done so badly), or because it showed how itchy the media are for a good story to stick it to Labour (that’s four days now that the news has been preoccupied with not just a smear but a meta-smear).

Anyway, the thing that’s interesting about the story, which is actually a pretty petty, depressing and self-involved bit of Westminster toss – and anyway, was anyone actually thinking of voting Labour even before this came out? I’m considering moving into Vince Cable’s constituency as I can’t think of anyone else I could bear to stick an X on. The thing, anyway, that stops this stupid story from being totally, irredeemably nothingish is that between themselves, Draper and Guido have pretty much consummated what Adam Curtis said about blogging in this interview with The Register:

First of all, the people who do blogging, for example, are self-selecting. Quite frankly it’s quite clear that what bloggers are is bullies. The internet has removed a lot of constraints on them. You know what they’re like: they’re deeply emotional, they’re bullies, and they often don’t get out enough. And they are parasitic upon already existing sources of information – they do little research of their own.

What then happens is this idea of the ‘hive mind’, instead of leading to a new plurality or a new richness, leads to a growing simplicity. The bloggers from one side act to try to force mainstream media one way, the others try to force it the other way. So what the mainstream media ends up doing is it nervously tries to steer a course between these polarised extremes.

So you end up with a rigid, simplified view of the world, which is negotiated by mainstream media in response to the bullying extremities. Far from being “the wisdom of crowds”, it’s the stupidity of crowds. Collectively what we are doing is creating a more simplified world.

Discrediting Nadine Dorries shouldn’t require unsubstantiated slurs. It should be sufficient to say that she’s incompetent with evidence, ideologially driven and weirdly prickly about democracy. But that’s the opportunity cost of this sort of politics: there’s no place to discuss ideas or policy or capability, only insult and counter-insult. Fucking blogosphere.

Think Of The Children

Last night, MPs voted down amendments to the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill seeking to reduce legal access to abortion to the first 24, 22, 20, 16 or even 12 weeks of pregnancy. In line with the scientific evidence on the subject (as picked over by the Select Committee on Science and Technology in their report of October 2007), the Commons decided that there was no case for changing the current 24 week limit. The evidence on foetal development and viability presents no case for changing the laws on abortion, and MPs voted accordingly. Continue reading