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Notes from Selsdon

If ‘disposable’ blogging is the new journalism, you can keep it

Your favourite column (after this one, of course), Idle Thoughts, has entered the blogo- sphere. It provides a great platform for regular communication for those interested parties that demand contact more than once a month, which in this 21st century of email, text mes- saging and twittering, seems appropriate. The blogs (found all in one place at www., or on the SB website) have been coming thick and fast since the turn of the year. It’s a chance to vent one’s spleen, make observations and spread the wings in search of a wider audience in a more relaxed and less formal place than is offered by SB’s page three. It’s instant; there are no produc- tion delays because comment is published immediately. It’s the new journalism. But the informality and easy-access-by-all- and-sundry nature of blogging has had mixed success. For a start, the quality of writing isn’t anywhere near as good as that which appears in newspapers, magazines and journals. And, often, what is written about, is meaningless drivel. If that’s the new journalism, you can


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keep it. I tend to agree with the US singer/ songwriter John Mayer (below), who on aban- doning Twitter, where he’d amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, said: “No artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be any- thing other than disposable.

“Those who decide to remain offline will make better work than those online. Why? Because great ideas have to gather. They have to pass the test of withstand- ing 13 different moods, four differ- ent months, and 60 different edits. Anything less is day trading. You can either get a bunch of mentions now or change someone’s life next year.” Of course, not all blogs are

bad; there are some excellent bloggers out there, Mallen Baker and Joel Makower, to name just two – interesting, thoughtful and funny. And it’s these better blogs that Idle Thoughts will


John Alker director of policy, UK Green Building Council Mark Barthel special adviser, WRAP Charlie Browne sustainable development manager, Ikea David Crowhurst BRE Environment Anya Ledwith ESHCon Liz Parkes head of waste, Environment Agency Tim Pollard head of sustainability, Wolesley Amita Vaux head of advisory services, Business in the Community Bruno Zago UK & Ireland environment manager, Hewlett Packard


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attempt to emulate, resisting the urge to blog for blogging’s sake. The offline writing in these pages is, I hope, considered, well-written and possesses judgement, balance and integri- ty – all that stuff learned at journalism school. And there’s no excuse for the offline writing to be any different.

Thanks for the feedback following last month’s NFS that asked for your thoughts on whether print media is dead. Among the responses was that of Andrew Edlin, who said he’d be more than happy to read a digital version of SB on his new Kindle, but he’s not the only one who reads his print copy. “Once I’ve read it, the magazine is passed around a group of five people, and then placed in a breakout area for others to read,” he says. “I think magazines like yours will have to continue with hard copies, otherwise they will lose some of their impact.”


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