Publish – and be Damned

I may as well begin how I intend to go on.

Why should anyone blog? After all, even the most innocuous posts can attract vitriol and ridicule. (Worse still, for the paranoid there’s the question of what those readers who don’t comment are thinking!). Why take the risk of what social psychologists call the “social evaluative threat“?

I’m based in New Zealand. That means this blog will often discuss New Zealand politics (that’s what I see around me). But my aim is always to “see a world in a grain of sand” so with any luck there’ll be something of interest for anyone reading my posts. I want to understand political issues by connecting them to what we might think we know about people and the world (i.e., ‘science’). I’ll also blog directly about that (what we think we know).

More generally, this blog will be about politics, science and how they come together in everyday life. What do I mean?

Well, as I’ve already done, take the example of blogging. The answer to the question of why people blog links these three domains. It’s about science – blogging is a behaviour, a social phenomenon and is part of an economic, technological and technical system. There are ‘sciences’ associated with each of these aspects of blogging. (e.g., why write something on the internet and open yourself up to potential ridicule and embarrassment? What’s the psychology, the sociology, the economics, even the physiology of that?

Blogging is political – obviously in a political blog, but that’s not solely what I mean.

It’s happening in a particular economic and political environment – it wouldn’t happen (and wouldn’t have to happen) in other economic and political environments. It expresses and asserts values held by individuals and groups and politics is, amongst other things, the contest over values. Blogging, as with just about everything we do, is political – at least in consequences if not also in intent.

And, blogging is part of everyday life, at least for some. It’s intruded itself into daily experience, into discussions, into media. Bloggers appear in the traditional media. Blogging starts news stories, fashions and urban myths that affect many more people than those who write and read blogs.

I’ll end with a simple question: Is blogging a ‘good’ thing?

As soon as you try to answer that question seriously you’ll find yourself talking about science, politics and everyday life.

You’ll find yourself, I hope, wanting to come back here.

P.S. I’m building this site but will commit to posts first – that’s the point of a blog.

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