Economist – blogs make us yawn

Could the Economist be any more patronising?

“I noticed that the doormat was at a slightly crooked angle. I reached down and moved the mat back into its correct place.” Thus began a recent entry on The dullest blog in the world. Although this publication is something of a satire on the internet’s inane blogs, scientists are finding—to their surprise—that useful information can actually be mined from the tedium of the blogosphere.

Especially when, in the very same issue, it hangs the business end of an article on cloud computing around the work of two bloggers:

Amazon’s “Spot Instances” have also led to an animated debate among the cloud cognoscenti about how computing will evolve. Some argue that it will go the way of power and even financial markets, complete with arbitrage, derivatives and hedging. Reuven Cohen, a blogger and co-founder of Enomaly, a maker of software that allows firms to build public clouds, thinks that such things will come quickly as technology improves. In contrast, James Urquhart, a blogger who works for Cisco, argues that there are barriers that could prevent computing from becoming freely tradable. [etc. etc.]

No links, of course – after all the Economist wouldn’t want to risk diverting precious traffic to other websites. But for those of prepared to risk the boredom, you can find Cohen’s blog here, and Urquhart’s is here. Oh and here’s the Dullest Blog in the World.

Urquhart has an especially good piece on the intersection between the cloud and geopolitics – which I thoroughly recommend. Bet it’s had more hits than the average technology post the Economist puts online.

Death by blog

The blogosphere can be fairly brutal. This weekend, it is busy consuming the political careers of two New Labour apparatchiks – Derek Draper, who runs the Labour website LabourList, and Damian McBride, a special advisor in Number 10.

In January, Draper set up LabourList, which calls itself ‘Labour’s biggest independent grassroots e-network’. It was designed to counter the popularity of Tory networks like Conservativehome and bloggers like Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.

It was part of a Labour drive to harness the power of the net, as Obama’s campaign did last year. As John Prescott put it in comments posted by LabourList on YouTube: “whatever Iain Dale and them are saying, Derek Draper has put up a good network for the Labour Party, ‘LabourListens’ [sic], and we want as many communications as we can get. Iain Dale, Gui Fawkes [sic] – look out baby, coz we’re taking over!’

The Tory blogosphere mocked LabourList for its claim to independence, and suggested it was just a vehicle for the Labour party line.

Meanwhile, Draper was in discussions to set up yet another Labour website, called Red Rag.

The website was registered on November 4 2008, the same day that Draper met with Tim Allan (Alastair Campbell’s former deputy), Benjamin Wegg-Prosser (Peter Mandelson’s former special advisor) and David Prescott in Labour HQ, to discuss “how to take the fight to right-of-centre bloggers”.

Draper says on LabourList:

“I’ve wondered for ages why the right wing have a near monopoly on websites that feature tittle tattle and teasing of their political opponents. But I felt strongly that such gossip wasn´t suitable for LabourList and kicked around the idea of setting up another blog, Red Rag, where such stories might be published.”

The site was registered as being owned by ‘Ollie Cromwell’, which suggests it was intended to be an anonymous site (unlike LabourList) disseminating smears fed by Number 10 and other sources.

As part of this Red Rag project, McBride sent Draper emails in January, from Number 10, with a lot of lurid gossip about the sex lives of front bench Tories, particularly David Cameron and George Osborne, and their wives.

Oops. The emails then found their way to a Tory blogger, Guido Fawkes, and have also been offered to several newspapers. Apparently pages 1 to 3 of the Sunday Times tomorrow will be about the story, including the contents of the emails.

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