Some utterly meaningless milestones

I’m fast reaching the stage where it does actually feel as though I’ve been blogging for A Long Time.

Just passed 200,000 words; 1,000 different people have now left a comment (perhaps doesn’t a lot, but that’s many more than most); 12,000 comments have been left and we’ve just passed 1,500 posts.

(just out of interest)

The Times cricket blog

Jess mentioned The Times have a cricket blog, which is a very significant turn of events. I’m not sure any other daily is blogging about cricket. I wonder how it will turn out? The Corridor suddenly has competition; best keep on my toes!

Patrick, if you’re reading, I’d be very interested to talk.

Why do you read this blog?

All sorts of blogging-related things and projects happening at the moment, which leads me to ask an annoyingly ambiguous question: why do you read this blog? Don’t worry, I’m not seeking praise or anything like that. I’m just trying to make head and tail of my readership, and of those who read blogs.

  • Are you aware that this is a blog, or did you just think it’s a website?
  • Are you a blogger?
  • Did you come here because you knew about blogs, and wanted to find a cricket one?
  • What makes a blog better, worse or different than – for example – just a fan’s cricket site?
  • What other blogs do you read?
  • Do you tend to read “personal” blogs (detailing people’s lives) or blogs focussed on a particular subject?

So, if you can answer things like those, that’d be great. It’s totally open-ended, so chat away. I think blogs have a slight identity crisis, and I’m trying to explain this to someone. On the one hand, essentially they offer nothing more than any other format. But on the other, the “instant” publishing means it’s as easy to blog as it is to email (which leads to its own problems, mainly a stream of incomprehensible waffle as Corridor readers are only too well aware).

Dogs blogging

The recent BBC/Reuters-led discussion was quite interesting. In some ways it was quite damaging to citizen journalism and blogging but, indirectly, it merely emphasised the importance of the new medium. They’re two of the largest and most influential news organisations in the world, and spent rather a long time discussing how they were best able to adapt to the “change” in media reporting. I predicted this (in private; I’m not boasting) shortly before I started blogging, but it took 6 months longer than I anticipated. We’re seeing the first wave of a bridge between established media organisations and bloggers – and I think it’s healthy to see.

In fact, I don’t necessarily do think it’s healthy or unhealthy. But I know it’s here to stay, and any news organisation who doesn’t react to blogs; to Web 2.0; to syndication; to citizen journalism and all that jazz, will perish. Which, on a slightly different topic, is why I’m concerned/fascinated by the future of print media. There have been recent revelations in the decrease of print advertising revenues; where to next for them?

And here endeth the stream of nonsense. Thoughts welcome; I know it’s not strictly cricket related but, nevertheless, you read the blog so you owe me your opinions on the format!o

It’s de-ja-vu all over again.

Brian Lara has been appointed captain of the West Indies, for the third time. West Indies cricket’s blogger-in-Chief, Ryan Patrick, has plenty more.

The importance of being earnest

Tim de Lisle opened up in Cricinfo with an interesting post relating to independence in the media.

Trescothick is much liked, and even after his story changed, most commentators were gentle with him. But one pundit was conspicuously tough: Mike Atherton, cricket columnist for the Sunday Telegraph, who said Trescothick’s virus line was “so utterly implausible” that “ridicule is the only proper response”.

Atherton used to open the batting for England with Trescothick. He was a team-mate for years at Lancashire of Trescothick’s agent, Neil Fairbrother, who also came in for criticism in Atherton’s piece, albeit unnamed. The condemnation possibly went a touch too far, but it came from the right place: a belief in honesty. Atherton can’t stand spin – of the PR variety – and he is right to highlight the way it is spreading through the sports world.

Atherton is one of the best ex-player pundits for three reasons. He wants to get better; after a tentative start, his writing has steadily acquired more scope and flair. He is curious: he asks questions, while some ex-players still wait for the questions to come to them. And he has a clear grasp of the importance of being independent. He knows he is now batting not for England, but for his readers.

In a free press, that distinction is straightforward. In televised sport, it is becoming a grey area. The ultimate producer of cricket in India is now the Indian board. Atherton, who commentated for Sky on the India-England series, says local commentators were “asked not to mention sensitive subjects”. This provoked denials, but it will continue to be an issue. And some ex-players just don’t seem to see that it matters.

I posit that it is not quite so simple as this though. As a general rule of thumb, in whatever field you work in, you do not crap in your own nest. Cricket authorities are different in various places but all of them expect their broadcast partners to be supportive. And the management of the broadcasters themselves would be most displeased if the commentators were to disparage the game, lest they invite viewers to change the channel.

After all Michael Atherton would hardly expect the Sunday Telegraph to be very friendly to him if he bagged the paper in his column.

That is why there will always be a role for newspapers and blogs in cricket and indeed, in many other areas. We can ask the questions that broadcast media can not ask.

Blogs and their role

Right, I need to think about this more but I just want to pen it down before I forget.

Just watched an interview/documentary with Salam Pax who you might know of. Pax is a pseudonymous blogger from Iraq who, since the invasion in 2003, has become notorious with the media. He’s an intelligent, thoughtful person and his blog(s) demonstrated the before-and-after affects of the Saddam regime. It also showed how one man could affect traditional news media. His situation was, and still is, more dramatic and stark than 90% of bloggers so the fact he stood out from the pack isn’t surprising. He was the only Iraqi blogging about the war: what better, what purer insight into life in Iraq during a war than from an Iraqi himself? It was a taste of freedom for him, and for us provided a taste of the regime which had ruled and ruined his life for so long. Not even the BBC could have provided that.
I just find it really interesting. Blogs are evolving so quickly (they’ve certainly changed and matured beyond measure in my short time fiddling around with them). Channels, sets or groups of blog-types are forming. Initially, most people simply used the format to write about their mundane lives. “I went shopping. Shopping sux lol” is about as interesting as they got.
Specific blogs about specific subjects are appearing everywhere. Shiny Media, who sort of employ me indirectly for The Googly, have launched loads of blogs recently: ones about rugby, weddings, technology for girls and others. It is this focus and subject-specific nature which will drive blogs onwards, and I’m not just saying that because I only blog about cricket!

In the dot-com explosion, one of the key phrases which was born – and one of the few which still apply – is “content is king”. This applies to blogs more than any other immediate news form or publication – and yet, suddenly, it the time-sensitive nature of blogs which has caused them to explode. “When was that posted? 2 minutes ago? Christ, that means Salam is actually there“. “Last posted 5 days ago. Shame. Looks like this blog is dead.” The immediacy of the format is quenching people’s thirst for news and comment, and the media have caught on. Just look at the Guardian’s Comment Is Free…
I need to explore this, if only for myself, so expect more ramblings in a few weeks time. I’m urgently seeking sponsorship for this season, as I’m struggling to afford to keep the site running, so need to explain why I’m so passionate about a free/open news medium such as blogs. On that note…

Using statsguru

I wrote a post on using statsguru to analyise gameplans that Sri Lanka might use against Australia in the First final for Cricinfo’s Different Strokes blog.

Alaska, Alaska…this is London calling

I must admit a fascination in knowing who reads this blog. I know of people in the most unlikely of places, companies and countries. I’ve smoked out Iceland and Hawaii and now attention must turn to Alaska. Come out, come out, with your hands up! I know you’re reading, and there’s more than one of you…so do tell us. Are you native and just interested in the great game, or ex-pats or…?

View on the other side

I always like to read the views of fans from both teams when I’m watching a series. For the Pakistani viewpoint, I discovered the excellent Sundries, by Zainub. She provides an excellent session by session wrap and she doesn’t miss much.

Zainub is also fearless, willing to ask the really hard questions that the media don’t ask. Her analysis of Jimmy Anderson’s hair (caution-disturbing images) is harsh but fair.

Welcome to Scott

I’m delighted to announce Scott, from Ubersportingpundit, will be posting his thoughts on this great game here at the CoU. Scott’s been blogging a lot longer than most, and I’m sure everyone here will enjoy hearing his insightful views – with an Australian twang, too, which ought to balance things a little here!

Go for it Scott – knock ‘em flying!