Sun, Dec

Further Thoughts on the Canadian Blogosphere

Sun, Dec 10, 2006

One last post inspired by the Blogstravaganza and then I’ll move on.

I feel that the Canadian political blogosphere is actually quite special, bucking several trends that we’ve seen develop over the years in the American political blogosphere. Where else would Liberals and Conservatives set aside their differences and work together to organize something that celebrated the spectrum as a whole? And this really is important. I met people on Friday that I agreed with, and I met people on Friday that I disagreed with. I even met one or two people with whom I shared a heated word or two, and yet we were able to smile, shake hands, laugh and talk. Despite how we may lean politically, events such as this remind us that we’re all not that different.

A few months ago, a reporter from one of the bigger papers — I forget her name, but I think she was writing for the National Post — called me up to talk about the Blogosphere, and I could tell that she had gone into this story with some preconceived notions in mind. She was even honest enough to tell me the thrust of her story: that with the emergence of the Blogging Tories, the LibLogs and the Blogging NDP, the Canadian blogosphere was polarizing, just like the American political blogosphere.

…except, here I was running the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians — a blogroll association that explicitly crossed political boundaries. And I supplied more examples of blogging cooperation spanning political boundaries: the cooperation between myself and Stephen Taylor and Robert McLelland as I set up the BANPC aggregator page, Conservative bloggers’ participation in the Canadian Blog Awards which were run by a strident New Democrat. Greg Staples work with the multi-partisan Bloggers Hotstove. As the reporter talked to me, could sense a little frustration, from her, since the BANPC, and the anecdotes I supplied ran counter to her concept of the Canadian blogosphere polarizing into various echo chambers, and this was killing her story.

I don’t recall seeing the story make it to print.

Thinking about this now, I think the Canadian political blogosphere has a greater sense of itself as a single unit because it is more diverse than the American blogosphere, ironically. In the United States, the debate is so polarized as to be split in two: left versus right; Democrat versus Republican. In Canada, with our four-party system developing into a five-party system, we have blogroll associations for the Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democrats and the Greens, not to mention associated non-partisan blogrolls for social conservatives, general progressives, libertarians and more. In this instance, it is virtually impossible for individuals between any two blogrolls to disagree on every issue, every time.

Then there is the fact that the Canadian political blogosphere is so much smaller than the American political blogosphere — as befitting the fact that Canada has a population that’s a tenth the size of the United States. As diverse and as opinionated as we are, there is still the sense of the elephant sleeping next to us, and how loud its echo chambers are. So Liberals and Conservatives have that extra incentive to organize on things like the Blogstravaganza; as large as they are individually, they’re dwarfed by what exists south of the border. That drives us together.

That said, I find that there are walls that we still have set up, that we should try to break down. The Canadian political blogosphere sometimes sees itself as the be-all and end-all of the much larger Canadian blogosphere. Witness the surprise when a blogger that none of the major political bloggers had ever heard of won the Canadian Blog Awards.

I’ve heard that there are discussions afoot to establish a Canadian Political Blog Awards contest next year, to complement Robert McClelland’s Canadian Blog Awards, and that these awards would be operated through the cooperation of the organizers of the various partisan political blogrolls — yet another example of the Canadian political blogosphere knowing no real partisan boundaries. And yet, I hope that the Canadian political blog awards aren’t removed from the Canadian Blog Awards entirely. Himself a very political blogger, Robert has worked hard in pushing his Awards outside of the political realm and, this year he succeeded. It would be a shame for the political blogosphere to withdraw from the wider Canadian blogosphere just when the walls were starting to come down.

Worst Carol Ever?

I thought I would share to you an e-mail exchange between myself and Cameron, the Canadian Lemming when he sent me an mp3 file attachment with the following note:

From: Cameron Dixon
To: James Bow
Subject: Worst Carol Ever

O holy crap. Take the Christmas challenge and see whether or not you can make it to the end of this…

So I download the clip and listen in. I hear scratchy Christmas muzak and this (ahem) tenor stumble on the first lines of ‘O Holy Night’. I don’t need this, I figure, and I cut the tape. I write back to Cameron:

From: James Bow
To: Cameron Dixon
Subject: RE: Worst Carol Ever

O holy crap. Take the Christmas challenge and see whether or not you can make it to the end of this…

20 seconds

He writes back asking “You only made it through 20 seconds, or you stopped it with 20 seconds to go?” and I explained that I gave the thing just twenty seconds before I decided my time was better spent elsewhere. This prompted the following e-mail:

From: Cameron Dixon
To: James Bow
Subject: RE: Worst Carol Ever

You only made it through 20 seconds, or you stopped it with 20 seconds to go?

Only made it through 20 seconds.

Oh, you have /no/ idea what you missed. smile

So I pulled up the mp3 again and listened to it all the way through. With Erin. Then I wrote back.

From: James Bow
To: Cameron Dixon
Subject: RE: Worst Carol Ever

Dear Cameron,

You are so dead.

James and Erin

And now that the song is on my mind, my thought is: why should I suffer alone? So, I encourage you all to follow this link and listen to the whole song, and then read up on the story behind it.

Unless you’re all chicken!

On This Day

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