Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Vote for the Goats

Goats butting heads, by Marius Kallhardt via Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence This blog has now been going for just over nine months, and before its first anniversary I'd like to collect some reader views on its strong points, its failings, and its future.

There will certainly be a future. Both as a pressure valve and as a discipline in writing articles rather than stories, it has done me stout service. Also, it amuses me. The main point on which I'm in doubt is this: from my readers' standpoint, will it be more amusing to keep the blog whole, or to split it?

There are two things I mainly blog about, if we don't count all the singing pickled eggs and musings on whether Steeleye Span could have beaten Steely Dan in a Watney's-hurling contest, and stuff like that. The blithe purveying of much total toot is, after all, a pretty fundamental feature of my style. As to the rest, the major division is between writing and politics.

I know that some people like the one, and would be glad to do wholly without the other. I presume that some of my readers are more like me, and enjoy the combination. But I don't know how the split falls - which means that I don't know whether I'm adding or subtracting value by combining them.

For what it's worth, my chief reason for keeping them together by default is because of the kind of Big Ideas I care most about. The importance of free agency; the reality and proper treatment of abstract creatures; the great labour and romance of carrying through purely personal quests in a gloriously various and unplanned world (or freely leaving them be, and turning aside to join forces with companions who are better than Holy Grails) - all these lie at the root of both my politics and my writing. I am bringing the same things to both tables, and setting the tables by each other is one good way of showing a unity I can't always clearly tell. Often it is a unity that even I don't know until I show it.

But if the nearness of rival tables is annoying my guests and distracting them from their good goat-cheesy dishes, then as a good host I'd do much better to move them apart. Should I, then? I don't know, but I'd like to.

Your sentiments on this matter, or indeed any other aspects of the blog you might specially wish to see kept or changed, would be very much appreciated.


  1. I'd vote for keeping a combined blog in which you talk about whatever takes your fancy. I'm actually reading Goat in the Machine via an RSS feed into my LiveJournal Friends page and (as with all the blogs and LJs I read), if I'm not interested in the topic of that particular post, I just scroll on down.

    But ultimately, of course, it's up to you...

  2. Please, OpenID, do as I say!

    As I tried to say about three times before, I like the writing, the pickled eggs (well, not actual pickled eggs, of course), the politics and the rambling, and if you split it I'm likely to hunt down any and all parts of it.

  3. Gah, I had to use google after all. Bad OpenID.

  4. But how can you separate writing and politics when there's so much overlap? Unity, exactly. Whatever you choose to do, I'll read it. Whether or not I'm interested in what you say, I enjoy how you say it.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  5. Well, this is all quite encouraging and flattering! I'm glad I seem not to be selling myself a bill of goods on this one. Thanks to all of you for confirming my intuitions - as well, of course, as to anyone who now wishes to chime in on the other side of the controversy...

    Irina: it's not just my Very Little Brain, then - OpenID really is all the way from heck? Whew, I may not have to turn in my International Brotherhood of Geeks and Siliconbashers' union card after all!

    Seriously, all three of you: I'm distinctly chuffed and honoured - not by the way the votes fell in themselves, but surely by the terms in which you cast them. However things develop from here, I'll do my best to keep the waters fresh and babbling.


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