. . . for my kids. . . and good friends

50 blog posts, in 49 days! A personal milestone

First, I have to say thank you to Ammar and Frits -- this would not have happened without them. Second, I have to make clear it's not their fault! I take full personal responsibility for all the out-pourings, across the three blogs that I started in November.

Ammar is a film-maker, a great photographer, our partner in creating web-sites  and a good friend. He comes from Jordan but travels a lot (see his India and Nepal gallery) and I was lucky to catch him in Amman, soon after I'd met Frits, and for long enough to design and unleash the three blogs;

(see our best example, wadirumtours.com and his own site ammarfakhuri.com)

Frits is a motivator, (see my third post on this blog). I was a bit mealy-mouthed then, as it was still early days. The truth is very plain. I spent four or five years saying I was going to start blogging; I encountered Frits and a couple of weeks later I start blogging. More in the next week or two; meanwhile you'll realise this is not the kind of stuff I normally do;  

have a look at kompasta.nl  -- via Google translator if necessary.

Don't worry it's not your maths, if you can't find all 50 posts. There are three private posts in 'The Family Room' here and one very short, introductory one on the Jordan site!

It's all been so much more rewarding than I expected and, from this side of my eye-balls, I see no sign of running out of subjects. Yes it would be good to have a few more comments but, to my surprise, there have been some; and I'm hoping that this post may encourage some more -- in particular about the kind of posts you've been enjoying.

Before I began I read a few bits of background on blogging; and, yes, I am aware that blogging had its heyday quite a few years ago but that suits me fine! It feels right for me now; I have something I want to say and, more important, someone I want to say it to.

We did put forward a fully documented project proposal to the European Union for a ground-breaking "blogging for peace" initiative in Israel/Palestine and Jordan in 2005. We were unsuccessful. I guess no-one in Brussels at that time knew what it meant to blog!

After that I seemed to forget all about it, for a while; other things on my mind, including the move to Amsterdam. But I kept collecting ideas, looking for a bit or reassurance and researching these blog things, but without reading many by anyone else.

Until of course I found that I had been, anyway, without realising it. Nick Robinson, Stephanie Flanders, Mark Mardell, the impressive Mark Easton . . . (all BBC) and I'd replied and commented on some of their blogs too. I'd also joined in discussions on various BB's and in response to news articles; and was a frequent visitor to the BBC's DCFC discussion forum.

I was shocked when they suddenly closed them all down. It took a few weeks for me to understand. These team-based football forums had indeed become totally dysfunctional. Screaming, mindless insults about "red dogs" (forest supporters) and brain-dead, time-wasting forays onto our board from along the A52. The BBC was right; why be part of it; why in any way facilitate it.

Many economic discussion boards have gone the same way. They're not worth the time and effort even to visit any more; though comments on FT articles are usually more considered and interesting; but even here often predictable and well rehearsed.

I retreated for a while to the iii web-site, with separate forums for all the main shares, so I could learn more about my chosen investments. Very educative; the same behaviour, but not all the time. When a share was in the spotlight (perhaps about to strike oil) the trolls and demons would appear yelling and ramping or de-ramping to amplify the latent greed and fear in every investor.

At other times, the atmosphere was far less hysterical, though perhaps just as unreliable. But at least you could ask questions and receive what seemed to be helpful and considered replies, even if you knew you also had to "do your own research"!

All this was foretold, 180 years ago, with grace and style by John Stuart Mill, who warned of "quackery, and especially of puffing" (1836), which he saw as:

"the inevitable fruits of immense competition; of a state of society where any voice not pitched in an exaggerated key is lost in the hubbub. Success in so crowded a field depends not on what a person is, but what he seems; marketable qualities become the object instead of substantial ones; and a man's labour and capital are expended less in doing anything than in persuading other people that he had done it."

This is why no-one should EVER confuse a free media with a free market for the media -- that's where those with the most money make sure they have the loudest voices, arguing and defending their case, at the expense of the rest of us. Sound familiar?

The upshot of all my dissatisfaction with the destruction of our 'forums of access', was a decision to think again about blogging myself. The earlier reading had helped to demystify the process (there is no mystery). I knew that Ammar would help me to dismantle the technical obstacles (even the ones in my head). And I had lots I wanted to write about.

That's not enough. As we've always said to anybody who's ever asked us for marketing advice: "ok, who's it for and what's it for? why are you wasting your time producing it? what do you want them to think and what do you want them to do when they have 'consumed' your video/leaflet/press release/blog?

This was more relevant for me and my plans than for most, as I had so much unrelated stuff I wanted to write. Who on earth might be interested in any of it? And nobody could possibly be interested in all of it!

Paralysed by this indecision, I bumped into Frits, as recorded in the earlier post. And in unlocking my sense of 'stasis' in Amsterdam (or despair about breaking into the 'market' here), he helped me answer my question.

It reminds me of the holiday 'business' in Jordan. We'd been thinking of renting out an apartment in Aqaba for some time and done nothing about it. Only when our bedouin friend Saleh bullied me into creating a web-site for him, did I get round to building one for myself!

And here, the very idea of creating X.amsterdam.nl and the prospect of updating it regularly, gave me no option but to sort out the rest of the blogging. They're all different and need different approaches. The Amsterdam site is kind of campaigning; and aimed at establishing an eventually-respected voice in an important debate.

The Jordan blog is straight commercial; and it also encapsulates our business philosophy, stolen, without a second thought, from Google. Give it away! And keep giving! Then slowly you build up loyalty (and contacts) and develop business ideas for 'products' that people want and will pay for. Plus you establish yourself and your reputation in the market place. It's very early days yet, but with Saleh in Wadi Rum we have achieved that (it took three years) and now we are taken seriously.

And finally there's this blog. This is personal and self-indulgent. And I'm enjoying it; twenty posts here, out of the fifty. Slowly it's finding it's feet; I remain open to requests and suggestions. But even deafening silence will not stop me now. I blog therefore I will continue to be. . . long after I've gone, enshallah. 

PS    and of course, thanks too to Bren, more than anyone. . . 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 17:36  

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