The Magazine's review of weblogs
By Alan Connor
At Glastonbury this year, one of the realities of weblogging became apparent: it's now easier to photo-blog than it is to post text.
The muddy conditions dominated Glasto blogs
Especially if you're reporting from the field. Or, in the case of Glastonbury, a field. Or, in the case of Glastonbury 2005, a lake.
As it became clear that the start of this year's festival was less about hearing exciting new bands and more about swimming back to your tent, the evidence came in fast into the blogs. And how many thousands of words do these photos tell?
Reagan Blundell left early, reporting that "Half my stuff washed away, and the rest is sodden... I wasn't really going to enjoy myself much" having taken photos of marshals checking the tents "to make sure there wasn't anyone dead in them".
Mike Jewell of Mike's Room lasted longer, having posted similar scenes to Flickr.
Julie of GlastoBlog had a better time of it, eventually.
She'd blogged last year's festival using "GPRS and a stash of mobile phone batteries". But the tone had changed somewhat. Last year: "If it's a hot year, the portaloos become not unlike greenhouses and the fumes rise. At night, if you see portaloos near electrical lighting, look at the mesh at the top, you will see clouds of steam rising into the cold night."
"There are hundreds of people still queueing for wellies as I post..." with some nice pictures accompanying the text.
The photos of those who stayed got less depressing as time went on. Robert Price has a great selection. But what of those who stayed at home?
Well, for a festival that flooded the media over the weekend, blog coverage has been a bit disappointing, dominated by cold schadenfreude from the warmth.
Perhaps some of the most dedicated music bloggers were on Worthy Farm themselves, leaving XRRF to pick up the slack with live coverage while watching the BBC coverage, combining observation:
"Because of the reorganised schedule, the first track on Glasto proper this year was the Undertones doing Teenage Kicks. Peel, is this your doing?"
"There's a fine line between surreal genius and meaningless babbling, and Chris Martin is not even anywhere near that fine line. Indeed, he would have to hire a taxi to even get him anywhere near it."
But to combine long observations with pictures, it seemed you needed access to the swanky press area. Guardian Unlimited's Culture Vulture blog had some interesting choices of guest bloggers, while the BBC's own Ian Youngs has been blogging on Cath Kidston tents, George Galloway, and an unfortunate festival-goer vainly swimming after his car keys.
Coldplay: Genius or babble?
As the technology gets better, perhaps we'll see higher-tech blogging - Bit Torrents? Podcasts? - by the time of the next Glastonbury in 2007.
Meanwhile, in the political end of the blogosphere, the debate continues over the big issues: Labour's credibility, civil liberties, and the meaning of "bruschetta".
We're not talking about bread-based blogs like The Fresh Loaf or Tom's Food Blog: this is serious stuff.
The Big Bruschetta Brouhaha started a while back, when Observer pundit David Aaronovitch lambasted critics of the government, imagining them in "shuttered dining-rooms in Holland Park, Highbury and Kennington, in converted barns in Herefordshire and flagged kitchens in Brittany".
In short, Aaronovitch attacked what he called "the bruschetta orthodoxies": his way of arguing that "the British intelligentsia" is blind to genuine achievements on the part of Blair's party.
The Observer site gets another tip of the hat for taking the interesting step of blogging the article before publication: "we thought we'd serve it up a bit early on the blog, let our most devoted readers get their hands on it first. It's polemic dynamite."
There's been a lot of talk of late about whether papers should do this more often and the experiment was pretty much a success. The debate was free and lively, and the meaning of "bruschetta" was a developing theme, with commenters presuming that the term was synonymous with "chattering classes" or "the Wine And Cheese Party", leading to the splendid coinage "the bruschetarati".
The variant that caught on in the blogosphere, though, was "the Bruschetta Brigade". And this got the goat of blogger Mark Kaplan of Charlotte Street:
"It's likely that anyone who, like Aaronovitch, refers to bruschetta with such casual familiarity is on that account probably one of the people designated by the term 'bruschetta crowd' - a habitué of the dinner party, the bourgeois get-together, or a whole array of media soirees where tapanades aplenty are on offer."
Touché! Or rather, not, said the denizens of Harry's Place, another left-wing blog and a home for Labour supporters who backed Blair on Iraq.
Kaplan's beef with Aaronovitch raised their ire in turn. Being a bit of an intellectual himself, Kaplan had dismissed "Bruschetta Brigade" as "little more than a Barthesian mytheme", leading to such heckles as "By 'eck, we never 'ad those in Bolton when I were a lass" and "Barthesian mythemes are to die for when wrapped in olive leaves and sprinkled with a subliminal drizzle of HP sauce."
It's tempting to see the debate as like that of Monty Python's People's Front Of Judea, but of course, the argument isn't just about the meaning of bruschetta: it's an animated conversation about such old British favourites as the war, the government, the media and, of course, class.
One of the questions behind Weblog Watch was whether bloggers are making their own news or whether they're too reliant on the mainstream media for debate. The Bruschetta Brouhaha certainly falls into the latter camp, but it's a good way of seeing how left and right don't fall into as cosy and easy groupings here as they do in the States.
And we have to mention the - perhaps inevitable - endpoint of all this: a dedicated Aaronovitch Watch weblog.
Would you like a drizzle of olive oil with that?
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