Skip to main content
Weblogs – The New Pirate Radio of the 21st Century

Britain hasn’t yet woken-up to the influence of Blogging to the same degree as the Americans have. In fact Weblogs are claimed to have made a significant contribution to the results of the last US Presidential election in the way in which they influenced local and national public opinion and only a week ago, I was having a conversation with one of our political parties, explaining how Weblogs can be enlisted to help shape ideas and opinions in the run-up to a General Election.

Weblogs are the modern equivalent of Pirate Radio Stations in the sixties and seventies. Visit the site now owned by Google and you’ll probably discover that the great majority of Weblogs offer little more than tedious adolescent emotional graffiti or the personal diaries of many thousands of Bridget Jones clones. Like tuning a radio, among the static, can be found commentaries that draw one’s attention and increasingly compete with mainstream news sites as sources of opinion and information.

What business and even politics in Britain hasn’t yet grasped is the “Samizdat” nature of Weblogging. Samizdat was a grassroots strategy to evade officially imposed censorship in the Soviet-bloc countries wherein people clandestinely printed and distributed government-suppressed literature or other media. The idea was that copies were made a few at a time, and anyone who had a copy and access to any sort of copying equipment was encouraged to make more copies.

A popular Weblog that focuses on an issue or a company can pull the carpet out from underneath the feet or authority and thanks to the power of search engines, such as Google, direct a consumer’s enquiry to the very website that a large company would rather they did not visit.

I’ll offer a small example. I run a modest little Weblog called which focuses on life around my local community in Kent. ThanetLife issues and stories based, not particularly profound but is generating growing traffic because it offers uncensored comment on local matters. In fact, it’s triggered two local radio interviews, an “almost” face-to-face” debate with the Prime Minister and the site log shows it has been “spidered” by the BBC.

Because it’s Web-based, the Weblog is more agile than the local papers and has limitless space. Already and with an election looming, local politicians have noticed its potential but local business and the local council haven’t yet come to terms with how the internet can act as a lens to polarise local issues in a way that local radio and local papers can’t.

Of course, “Dog of the Week” has been a huge success but so has comment on cancelled flights on EUJet, our local budget airline, in alight-hearted piece called “Where are the Fokkers?” The important point however, is that Weblogs offer people a voice and a publishing reach that simply wsn’t possible in the past. A negative review of comment in a popular Weblog can be almost as bad for a business as an opinion-former as any similar piece in a national newspaper.

At a time when democracy and the privileges given to us as a society in Magna Carta, are being steadily whittled away by the arrival of a Presidential-style of government, Weblogging here and even in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia remind us that the Internet, for all its problems, can drive the principles of free-speech and democracy forward in a way that was impossible in the past. The Weblog is the man-in-the-street’s equivalent of an aircraft carrier and while the great majority float aimlessly in a sea comment, some can make a difference and keep big business and politics honest in a world which tends increasingly towards the opposite.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…