Friday, January 28, 2011

On blogging

A lazy weekend, Mrs Seabee's gone into the office and I have a couple of hours before we meet for lunch so I thought I'd just post a couple of thoughts that came up on the Dubai Eye Radio blogging programme I was delighted to be involved with on Tuesday, and in conversations since.

It's the business equivalent of talking shop so if you're not a blogger you'll probably want to leave now, but thanks for stopping by anyway. Bloggers, addicts as we are, might stay with me...

One of the things that was touched on during the programme was anonymity when Hussein/Who-sane was asked about it.

I don't think of it as 'anonymous' though. I, and many others, are doing nothing more than using the age-old tradition of a pen name, a nom de plume. Was Eric Blair 'anonymous', or is David Cornwell?*

I've been known in business for years as Seabee, my wife calls me Seabee (among other things that aren't suitable as a pen name) so I use it, my nickname. I've been interviewed on tv and appeared in several documentary films in which I'm not masked or disguised, so I don't think I'm anonymous.

Why not use the name on my birth certificate? I suppose the main reasons are that that I'm just more comfortable using Seabee (I can't explain that), I prefer people to have their own picture of me in their mind (like a radio play where you imagine what the characters look like) and to avoid being harassed at home.

The latter comes up because in the pre-blogging days when I got things off my chest by forever sending letters to newspapers, I got phone calls from people who'd looked me up in the telephone directory. Not all were abusive, in fact they were the minority. But even with people calling to say they agreed with me I didn't want to be disturbed at home by them any more than I want sales people calling to offer deals they insist I'd be stupid to refuse.

Then there was the reason we blog anyway. How we started and why.

There are probably as many different answers as there are bloggers, we're all individual personalities. Some started to keep in touch with family and friends. Some are simply daily diaries, replacing the old paper diary. Some are specialist blogs, promoting a favourite football team, talking fashion, some are travelogues. We have awful  blogs to promote extremist and racist agendas. Political blogs, self-promoting blogs. The list is endless.

For me blogging is an extension of what I've always done, but expanded through the internet. I'm interested on what goes on around me and in the wider world, whether it's a major event or trivia, and I usually have an opinion about it.

I talk about those things with family and friends, and conversations, debates, arguments, ranting, complaining, praising are the result.

That's what I do through this blog too. To me when I post I'm starting a conversation, which you join when you read the blog. Some of you actively join in by leaving a comment, and I thank you for that. The conversation may well go on for a while through the comments section - that happens in particular when I get people foaming at the mouth, purple-faced, when I touch on a sensitive subject. (Passing thought: I haven't done that for ages, I must try to think of a provocative subject to post about).

Then there's the future of blogging, where we think it might it's going.

My thought is that in a very short space of time we've gone from being a new, breakthrough medium to being old hat. We're edging towards being mainstream (traditional even?) media. Hussein and I both recounted instances where our blog posts were picked up by the traditional print media and became big stories, joining us with the mainstream.

Other example of this merging are links to this blog from mainstream media, for example such as *horror* Fox in the US (my post on a Brit facing jail for giving the finger to another motorist) and the New York Times (my response to Johann Hari's infamous 'Dark Side of Dubai' story).

Many people have moved to Twitter - dare I say the less committed, less serious, bloggers? (I really don't understand Twitter and I must do a post on it one day). I suspect that there may well be fewer traditional (that word again) bloggers in the future but that it will be the more serious of us. Again I suppose that nudges blogging even closer to the mainstream.

Another thing that came up was earning money from blogging. I seem to be in the minority (of one?) in saying that I won't have any advertising, any paid-for content, on my blog. I want absolute freedom to say, with no pressure from anyone, exactly what I want to say. Agree with what I say or don't, but what you read are my observations, thoughts and opinions. There's no commercial influence anywhere in them.

But that's me. I respect the others' views that they'd like to earn some money from blogging, as both fellow-Aussie Sarah  and  Micheline said they would.

Fellow guest in the studio Bebhinn has a website dedicated to fashion, at Hellwa Fashion, but to me that's a different thing from blogging. It's a fully commercialised site, much like an online magazine (and very good it is too) designed to make money from a subject dear to the heart of the publisher.

I was asked by co-host of the show Alexander McNabb whether I ever worry about censorship. It's something that's come up in more than once in comments left on this blog over the years. Usually they're from 'anonymous' and are heated claims that we all write as we're told to and are terrified of being thrown in jail if we don't.

As I didn't expect the question I hadn't given it any previous thought, and it's not something I've ever given any concious thought to so I stuttered somewhat in my reply, trying to think it through as I answered.  And I think that's the point - I haven't given it any thought.

I've always believed that the laws of libel apply to anyone saying anything on the internet and I bear that in mind. I try to be reasonably polite even when I'm critical. But beyond that I say what I want to say. I certainly don't sit here thinking that I must be careful what I say in case big men in dark glasses pound on my door at 2am.

And here's Mrs Seabee ready for lunch so I'm off.

Have a great weekend.

* To save you googling, that's George Orwell and John Le Carre.


Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Oh dear, your readers need to resort to "googling"! ;-(

Neil Roberts said...

Keep up the good work - from a fellow blogger....

Mich said...

Hi Seabee!
I still don't believe my luck in finding myself on the Dubai Today program with bloggers like you and the six others. It was truly an honor.
Blogging has become an extension of myself too. It is something I see to be thinking about constantly. Everything I do, see, hear, eat is now all in relation to how I can write about it and share it.
Having been in old media all my life, this has been a very refreshing change. I can write what I want and when I want and share my thoughts and feelings. The most gratifying thing about blogging is the comments. They keep me going and immediately thinking of the next post.
Yes, I would love to earn some money from blogging, but not at the cost of changing the path that Mich Cafe is taking with its readers. I appreciate them too much.
It is certainly an very interesting discussion and I am sure we will talk much more about it.
Thank you for the mention and have a great weekend :-)

Mita said...

I am one of those bloggers that follow your blog and your observations on life around you and quite enjoy it too.

I am an avid social media user specifically Twitter and as a conversationalist, I think you would find it quite amusing and engaging. I have to say though that while I blog sporadically (always did) I have become a lot more prolific (not as much as you and Alexander McNabb)since I went on twitter. I seem to have the freedom to express my opinions more and 140 characters are sometimes just not enough.

Twitter actually stimulates more visits to my blog and widens the conversation. I hope we do see you on Twitter now and then!

LDU said...

On a completely separate note; how difficult is it for a junior australian lawyer to get a commercial/corporate related job in the UAE (or another gulf city). Not much being advertised by recruiters for the 0-2 years PAE rank?

Seabee said...

Rupert, not the more informed such as your good self of course, I was thinking more of the young anons.

Mita, I really don't understand Twitter - I know people like yourself and Alexander are well into it and use it effectively. As I mentioned in the post I need to write a post with my thoughts on it - maybe you can then tell me what I'm doing wrong!

LDU, good to see you back here after a long time. There are jobs in that field and I know a couple of Aussies who've successfully applied. We have independent law firms and also many companies have their own legal departments.

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

This may be the ideal time to dip your toe in the twitter pool:
This should give you a flavour, whilst being on the outside.

coco said...

I just joined your blog and have found it quite interesting reading some of the posts. I am from the US. I'm curious as to what the night life is like over there. Do tourists have to wear the traditional garb? What would an American male, about 48, want to do if he traveled there?

coco said...

I just started following your blog and have found some of the entries interesting. I am from the US. I'm wondering what I should expect when I travel there next month. I will be traveling with another male friend. We plan on playing some golf and hitting the night life there. Just wondering what are some good places for tourists? We are both around 48. What other interesting things should we partake in?

Seabee said...

Coco, I suggest you go to a travel site ( for example) or google 'Dubai' because the answer here will take too long.

Wear your normal clothing, over 80% of the population here is expatriate so it's a true international city.

Night life is centred around the hotels, of which there are many, because only they can sell alcohol. They have pubs, clubs, discos etc.

What an American male would want to do depends on what he wants to do. Golf, water sports, sightseeing, beaches, clubbing, desert safaris, shopping...