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The self importance of the printed word

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There is a rare opinion column by me in today’s Independent. The comment editor was interested in my blog last Thursday and asked me to do a version for the newspaper. But I find reading the piece in print makes me feel uncomfortable, and it’s not just that the sub-editing has taken away some of the balance of the piece.  As regular readers of this blog know, I only write about party politics occasionally, and while not disguising my own progressive leanings, I try to be pretty even handed in my praise and criticism. I guess the problem today is that to have a prominent piece in a national newspaper seems like I am shouting ‘look at me I’ve got something important to say’. Just transposing words from on-line to print makes them seem more self-important.

There are plenty of criticisms of the blogosphere. As I often remark at RSA events, if people in the Great Room responded to ideas they oppose in the shrill abusive tone of many blog comments I would slap them down. Blogging still tends towards polarisation, and few of the many attempts to create constructive deliberative spaces on the net have so far succeeded. But, as I realised this morning, there is also an informality, discursiveness – even modesty - to communication on the net which gets lost in the black and white of print.

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