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.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.