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January 12, 2003

An Apolitical Blog

Avedon writes, "I've hesitated to add Alison Scott's Macadamia to the blogroll because it's so apolitical (a requirement of her job, alas)". I thought I should explain a little about this, for those who don't know. I'm in the 'politically restricted' group of civil servants, which mean that I'm prohibited from undertaking various activities, including:

holding, in a party political organisation, office which impinges wholly or mainly on party politics in the field of Parliament or the European Parliament; speaking in public on matters of national political controversy; expressing views on such matters in letters to the Press, or in books, articles or leaflets; being announced publicly as a candidate for Parliament or the European Parliament or on behalf of a political party.

Now, you will notice that this says nothing about the Internet; and it's largely unchanged from when I first started worrying about this sort of thing. I was posting to rec.arts.sf.fandom, back in about 1993 or so. Certainly, the odd chunk of political argument slipped out among the thousands of Usenet posts I made, but archiving was a bit dodgy at the time. I did consider, then, asking about their view of posting to Usenet on political matters, but I thought that if they thought about it, they'd probably decide it was a bad idea.

Blogs feel rather more clear-cut to me; it seems incontrovertible that a blog in my own name is equivalent to 'speaking in public'. So, if I slip and inadvertently express an opinion on a matter of national political controversy, rest assured that it's a mistake. Of course, to some extent this is a front; I have little urge to write about political subjects in any case. On subjects other than my speciality, my intellectual deficiencies are too painfully obvious to me. When the argument moves into my field, I struggle both with the difficulty of making cogent points that can be understood by somebody who's never studied the area, and the need to not talk about things that are not public knowledge, such as proposals under development or not-yet-published research.

So what do I want to write about? Well, clearly short essays on subjects that interest or trouble me, but that aren't political. Mail order, for example. But reading Pepys, I wonder if I should also record the minutiae of my day:

Saturday was fine and cold, and we drove with some difficulty to Croydon. The entirety of South London is covered with roadworks. We gathered up Mike Scott and went to the best Indian restaurant in an undistinguished Croydon suburb. There we met Mark and Claire Fishlifter, and Pat McMurray, who eat there so often that they have a loyalty card. We had a cheerful, rambly conversation. Back to Mike's, who showed me Weather Pop, a menu extra for those of us who are so computer bound we never look out of the window. We watched Princess Mononoke, ate a very small supper, and then drove home while Marianne quizzed us thoroughly on the motivations of characters. "Why does the Great Forest Spirit become the Night Walker?" On arriving home I chatted with Damien Warman, who was resting before going out to a Thai restaurant. We marvelled at Safari, now with an updated beta. And so to bed, though not till about 2am, which was very foolish.

Posted by Alison at January 12, 2003 11:08 AM


I don't talk about politics much, but I'm sure that if it were forbidden to me I'd long to do so!

I like the daily activities, especially if it prompts reflections and such.

Posted by: Anita Rowland at January 12, 2003 04:08 PM

Yes but what you fail to explain is the Avedon Carol quote at the start. Does she mean weblogs are only for political commentary and thus one not on the topic is beyond the pale? Or sinply that whe doesn't want to link to Macadamia in order to keep her own site strictly political?

Posted by: Kim Huett at January 12, 2003 08:27 PM

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