Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yokel Blogger

I've been getting a tad pissed off recently. Shane Richmond has practically accused me of being a blog yokel in his Telegraph blog because I objected to the use of the word 'filter' in the blogosphere
Blogs have been described as a type of filter too, albeit a human one. Here relevance is simply determined by the affinity you have with the blogger. If your interests are a close match for theirs, they'll be a good filter.

It's that notion of blogs as filters that gives one of the biggest blogs on the internet its name: MetaFilter. It is intended to filter the filters.

None of which changes your point about the accuracy of the word. It's meaning isn't a perfect fit for the purpose intended but it will certainly be understood by close followers of the web and the blogosphere.

Shane Richmond at 12 Jan 2007 15:07

This comes from a quote by Ben Schott (who he?):
A.(Schott) "I tend to write it quite selfishly. I don't think you can write for a particular audience. I tend to look at any news story and say, Well, what do I need to know? Who are these people? Has this happened before? What's increasingly interesting about modern media is its filters: if you actually look at websites, technology from TiVo to iPods to blogs, it's all about filter. What we mean when we say we like a blog or we like a website is that we like somebody's filter. And we have several filters for different things. Of course our friends are filters. Word of mouth is the ultimate filter. So what I try to do is act as a personal filter. When I say personal, I don't mean political or partisan, I mean, What's the Schott's Almanac take on this? It's almost a sort of character."
How can someone be a filter? What a load of bollocks. He takes a very nice, ordinary word which means sifting the good from the bad, relevant from the irrelevant, and tries to make it into a mega word with a sweeping definition far beyond its capacity.

Then this piece of jargon is accepted as is into the blogosphere by all the wannabe hip and with-it Bens and anyone who objects is accused of being a non-hip, with-not yokel. Unfortunately, liberating words from the irritating shackles of new sub-definitions is beyond my capacities, so I will suffer this one, as an insult, but I will never surrender!

St Bloggie de Yokeliere.
Proudly yokel.


  1. Sarah, I agree with you partially. In fact I don’t have a problem with using a nice old word, filter, in a new context. After all language is all about the changing meaning of words and if everybody decides ‘filter’ now has a new meaning, then I don’t have a problem with that per se.

    Where I do have problem is where the geeks think they have invented everything. eg “What's increasingly interesting about modern media is its filters: if you actually look at websites, technology from TiVo to iPods to blogs, it's all about filter. What we mean when we say we like a blog or we like a website is that we like somebody's filter”.

    This is the most juvenile rubbish on earth. It is like saying that the guy has just discovered why certain authors are interesting. No doubt he will soon be saying that Shakespeare was a great filter of characters and the bible is a great filter of the life of Jesus Christ. On the basis that he knows something about the internet, he has decided he is also an authority on literature and philosophy. Bah.

  2. Nice spirited post there, Sarah, and a nice resonance too from that first commentator, which at the risk of sounding officious or patronising may hopefully herald a less single issue, propagandist approach to his blogging in 2007.

    Perhaps I might be the one this time to show signs of ruffled feathers. Your post describes you as taking on Shane Richmond seemingly single-handed. Yet it was I who first took up cudgels, submitting three comments in all, only to be equally tarred (by name) along with your good self in Shane's patronising putdown response. So I'm surprised there's no mention of my participation, especially as I highlighted your name on the today's update on my own blog.

    So I shall now have a little joke at your expense, but then soften it with a (kind of) compliment. I was on the point of describing your blogging style as " à la mode" recently. But not meaning fashionable, because "mode" was intended as an acronym ( Minutiae Of Domestic Existence). That splendid pal (NG) of yours has in the past described it as a valuable archive for future historians. Personally I think they'll be asleep by the second page, with your listing of everything you find in your vacuum cleaner bag etc.

    OK, so that's the brickbat. Here's the quasi-compliment. Looking at today's post, you could be described as one of the blogosphere's oysters. You sit there largely invisible for months, going about your own business. But all it takes is a little irritant grain of sand to come along,like Shane Richmond for example, and hey presto, you start turning out pearls, like today.

    So, how's the weather in Montpellier today ?

    PS My hippo companion helped me write this, needless to say.

  3. Richard, I accept that language is indeed a fluid and metamorphosing entity but there are limits, as you noted.

    Colin. Apologies if I ruffled your feathers. I wrote the post in a one-off moment between preparing sandwiches and 'mode' essentials and did not go beyond a personal reaction. You were left out not out of spite but because my irritation with Shane was personal.

    As for the content of my blog, if the 'mode' doesn't interest you, there's no one holding a gun to your head to read it. Technoranki class me as 9/10 so some one must, however.

    I write it for myself. Always have, always will.

  4. Good, that's cleared the air then Sarah. Can I take we're still friends ?

  5. PS Maybe we could get a mutual friend, NG for example, to act as a kind of er, er, er, I'm trying to think of an alternative to "filter".

  6. Colinb , you always sound 'officious and patronising'. It seems to me that describing my broad based and wide reaching criticism of the Anglo Saxons as 'single issue' is condescending to boot.

  7. My apologies Sarah, I didn't mean to dismiss you as not being a close follower of the web or the blogosphere but, reading my post back, that's what I did.

    What I should have said was: there is a subset of web users - mostly those familiar with Metafilter, its associated blogs and the sites it has inspired, such as sportsfilter, musicfilter etc - for whom the use of the word filter in this context will be perfectly commonplace.

    I agree with you and Colin, however, that the word is not and obvious fit and will confuse anyone who has not come across it in this context.

  8. I don't know if you're still reading this, Shane. If you are, then you need to correct that link you gave to Sarah's blog on your current Telly post. It's given as:,

    You need to take the bracket and comma off the end.

    She's never going to be Technoranki 10/10 if her links don't work !

    Links are everything in the world of solo blogging. Thus my earlier protestations.

    Now about your moderation policies .......

    Click on the hippo, and then the embedded link, or alternatively go to Dreams and Daemons in Sarah's Links, and you'll get an earful !

    Note the cunningly embedded links to my oxn blog. It's the name of the game, unless, that is, one's content with anonymity.

  9. PS

    Splendid Shane. The error was corrected in short order. But what I want to know is this. Assuming you have a life on Sundays, as I'm sure you do, and that you are not returning to this site every 10 minutes, just on the offchance that someone has called you a serial sheepshagger, what I want to know is this: does you have some devilishly clever way of knowing when extra comments have been added to a thread, a method unknown to us common mortals who do not attend all the gee whizz seminars in LA, San Francisco, Mumbai whatever ? Because Technorati only tells me when a new post has been added, not new comments to that post.

    And why is that something I posted to the Telly over 2 hours ago has not appeared, and will probably not do so till midday tomorrow, and only then when Ceri, back from her skiing trip, has worked in reverse through the backlog, whereas anything I post to a thread of current interest, ie OrganGrinder on the Guardian, will appear instantly, because on that site one is treated as a grown up, and moderation or censorship is done retrospectively. How many maiden aunts read Telegraph blogs anyway, apart from Anne Gilbert (who hasn't been heard of since before Christmas anyway)? And why do I always get the chocolate with the hard centre ?

  10. dear Mr. Shane Richmond

    - as a Yokel to the core, and frog to boot, I suggest you read the "Malade Imaginaire" from that fellow Molière (if you even beother to read french litterature)....and little lesson on people using impermeable language and words out of context to sound intelligent and top notch technocrats in their field in order to impress the poor sould with less knowledge.

    Of course you apoligised so we local-yocals will forgive. What is this bumf about using unintelligible language to try and sound as though one is the only person knowing what's going on?

    I feel that the more you know, the more you probably speak about it in a simple manner - in order to share some of the prviledges that you get with very further upper education.....Tut, tut, but you did excuse yourself. And of course you don't know Sarah, do you. If you did, you would feel very messy. Pure intelligence and brightness in e very way. Quite brilliant - and lovely too!

    Her simple homely and pleasant every day blog is a delight for those who read it...and so sorry to say some of us have brains, higher education, thumping degrees and all and all. Ouuuuuups.

    But of course that's why we love her blog. It's intelligent and simple and every day life - and is written for the pleasure of it - and not because she is trying to impress some of the pratts who think they are very bright and the bees knees and blog to be clapped by the down at heal false inteligensia.

    Hello Colin,Nice to see you have not forgotten ng - getting in a real tizz wozz about speaking to Sarah as that she had a IQ of - 12.....and any way she isn't blonde!

    Hello Riachrd d'Orleans - Hell's Bells, you agree with it raining in Orleans? Here it's sunny and warm. Super for froggies to play lizadrs on warm stones in the garden!


  11. Lovely to hear from you again, NG, and as always you go right to the heart of things.

    C'mon, though. I'm not suggesting that Sarah is a dumb blonde. Was that her take on what I've said here ? Nothing could be further from my thoughts. Today's post was superb, scintillating, saying all the things I would have said if I had her gift of succinct expression. All I'm saying is that she goes into long spells of literary hibernation, or so it seems to some of us. Maybe she's channeling most of her creative flair into that novel that's developing quietly out of our sight. Be that as it may, it's lovely to hear from you again.

  12. Colin, I was never anything else...

    Shane, thank you. Were you on duty today?

    NG, will you be my agent? :)

    Colin, thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately I don't always feel sparky enough to be scintillating. Working full time and dealing with young boys does that to one, as you may remember from a former life.

    I'm quietly working on my book. Perhaps I'll get somewhere tomorrow...

  13. I was able to delegate that side of things, Sarah, to a loyal aide. Job title ? Wife.

  14. nNo way should you excuse yoursef as not being"scintillating"....Ithink you are - it's like the story I told you about Le Tour d'Argent...Claude Terrail, the owner, said the hardest things to do with brilliace and brio was always the most simple! Oeufs Coque for a child, par example!No sauces, has to be just simple and absolutely perfect no underdoing it, no overdoing it - just right point barre -


    ps: Of course verything is better Colin when you have a loving partner to brush the dust under the carpet whilst you get on doing what you were born to do. I agree. Of course, fault of which if you are filthy rich a maid or a butler would help! However, I know getting my work, plus the quotidien mundaine off the ground is becoming more and more hard to achieve.


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