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October 27, 2013



I agree with this.



"The essence of blogging is linkage" but you don't link to Boswell's Life, in which Johnson says the blockhead line. Boswell immediately comments, "Numerous instances to refute this will occur to all who are versed in the history of literature." Boswell thought no one was better versed in the history of literature than Johnson, so we're not supposed to take it at face value.

But now I'm not sure if you really think Johnson was a twat or just offering a different perspective on the lazy consensus that Johnson wasn't a twat.


Yes, there's too much opinion out there, but too little fact. That's the niche open to amateurs to fill.

Evidence, facts, and numbers, dear boy, not evidence-free opinion from thought clones.



I am an avid reader of your blog. I'm a trade union official with a social democratic preference in my politics.

Your blog often make me think "I hadn't thought of it that way." The fact that you use evidence and academic research to back up your positions makes me have to think harder when your blog makes me uncomfortable.

Keep it up.


'I'm mystified by people who claim not to have time to blog. Blogging takes only around an hour a day of my time, and much of that is time I'd spend thinking about the things I blog anyway.'

It looks as if you're suffering from a good old cognitive bias yourself Chris. The fact you're a professional writer, where you have to be able to write on demand as well as the many more hours of practice you've had means you're much more equipped to write quickly without sacrificing quality.

Simon Cooke

It's not just amateur bloggers (guilty as charged m'lud) by amateurs everywhere - we need more of them. I wrote this a couple of years ago:

"Now we’re run by professionals – professional police chiefs, professional hospital managers, professional university leaders, professional marketers, professional educationalists, professional managers of every shape and size – all frothing at the prospect of some letters to adorn the name. Every job seems to require a degree and a chartered institute (or better still a “Royal College”). Look at us. Look at the mess we’re in. Look at the pettifogging, sub-optimal, misguided and down-right stupid decisions being made by so-called “professionals”.

And perched at the top of all this chaos we have professional politicians.

Bring back the “cult of the amateur” before it’s too bloody late."


Jen Kirby

I enjoy your blogging tremendously. It has opened my mind to so many new ideas, and every time I see a new post from you I get so excited because I know I will learn something fresh. I pass on to my friends the ideas I understand properly.
Thank you


Frankly, I like your blog. You present interesting research and have interesting points of view.

It doesn't mean I always agree (which I don't, and I'm not shy about it).

As for Samuel Johnson saying that "none but a blockhead ever wrote except for money", as an amateur blogger myself, I can say I have been called worse. So, meh...

Martin Connelly

Just want to say - I love your blog. Keep it up for as long as your are enjoying it. (From New Zealand)


"The lazy consensus - which extends across both left and right in some important ways - should be challenged."

Yes, quite. It's fascinating (and depressing) how lazy assumptions are hard-wired into so much of main-stream politics. Even when the evidence is there to challenge these assumptions, it is very difficult to get any discussion going (because probably that would lead to examining other lazy assumptions).

Perhaps this blog could try to develop a set of 10 key lazy assumptions, that are part of the mainstream political consensus but are most important to challenge.

Frances Coppola

Stephen Tall's analysis essentially says that amateur bloggers compete directly with paid bloggers, inevitably losing out because they lack the profile and resources of their professional peers. I disagree. I have found professional bloggers to be collaborative rather than competitive, and I am grateful to the press blogs that have promoted my blog for me (free of charge) and helped me to reach a much wider audience than I otherwise would.

Blogging is essentially about dissemination of information and opinion, and there is no limit to either of those. Therefore there is room for all of us. The real discriminator is quality. Rubbish blogs - whether amateur or professional - don't get read.

I suspect the real reason why Sunny is giving up LibCon (which I shall miss) is the pull towards writing for money. I think most amateur bloggers feel this pull - you are clearly an exception, Chris, since your day job is writing for money. The competition is not with professional colleagues, but with the professional self.

Richard Gadsden

It would take me two hours just to fight through the writers' block to start writing.


FWIW, I follow 8 blogs, 5 (maybe 4) of which I would call amateur. (My standards of amateur are strict - no journalist or academic writing on their subject counts. So Chris (narrowly) fails.)

Some, it has to be said, are not frequent posters. But "death of the amateur blogger" seems premature - the prospect of Frances Coppola, for example, keeping quiet is remote.

Roger McCarthy

The biggest blog killer is I think the idea that you have to blog almost every day (or like Andrew Sullivan write more blog posts every day than the rest of us can throw out tweets) - and that if you can't manage that level of activity you shouldn't be blogging.

And twitter really is a better medium for pure 'hey look at this link'posts.

Then there's comments and the time a successful blogger has to spend even just reading never mind moderating them (and I think it no accident that several of the most successful long-running blogs like Sullivan's and the late and genuinely lamented Normblog refused to have any truck with them.

And then there are the delusions of grandeur - the group blogs that never quite gel, the bloggers who think they are a multimedia news and entertainment site and online community (Little Green Footballs for instance).

Anyway you've avoided all these pitfalls and hope you keep on keeping on.


And long may your glorious blog continue!

Many thanks.

zixiutangbeepollen Review

Stumbling and Mumbling: A place for amateurs

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