Category Archives: Blogging

Gordon Brown’s Uncool Blog

I have had my head in WordPress themes recently and was amused to find that the company that provided the blog for No. 10, New Media Maze, incorporated part of a freely available WordPress theme into the blog they sold to No. 10 for a non-trivial sum.  Everyone agrees that the theme they delivered bears little relationship to the original, but the CSS file still credits the original and the directories used to hold the theme are named after the original.

If you go to the No. 10 blog, view the source, and look at the CSS link, you will see:

and if you inspect this file you will see:

Theme Name: NetWorker
Theme URI:
Description: An adsense ready theme from
Version: 1.0
Author: Anthony Baggett
Author URI:

Bearing in mind that the fees that NMM are likely to have charged No. 10 for developing this blog, it is not surprising that the original designer of the theme, Anthony Baggett, is none too happy about receiving no credit, and nothing at all except grief; as you can imagine there has been a back and forth between Anthony and NMM.

Now I have worked in the IP business, and you take extra special care not to get contaminated by IP if you want to sell it on, and NMM look soooooooo contaminated—it is being screamed to the whole internet—and would surely have a really hard time establishing that their work is in no way derivative of Anthony’s.  What really astonishes me is that the agency has no awareness of the first law of holes and is continuing to dig, talking about libelous claims and demanding an apology from Anthony.

Given the horrible mess they have made of this they would really do much better to stop being defensive and think about coming to some agreement with Anthony.  Looking over the email correspondence as listed on the NMM website I am horrified at the way they have handled it.  The fact that the stakes are so high should make them less prickly but they are coming across as more prickly than a prickly thing.  I have not read anything anywhere that is wildly out of line with what all the parties are saying.  NMM started with Anthony’s theme and have produced something which is now quite different.  The minutiae of the exact relationship between the two is hardly the issue; everyone agrees they are substantially different, but it looks so much like a derivative work, and the credit remains in the CSS file, so why no compensation and all these damands for apologies, especially as Anthony appears to have taken great care to stick to the facts of the case on his blog?

Yglesias on Blogging

Matthew Yglesias, in response to a gripe about blogging and him in particular wrote a ludicrously self-efacing response where he horribly insults his main benefactors in his readers and employers at the Atlantic, and followed it up with another article expressing his regret that he doesn’t have a greater mastery of Middle eastern languages to add depth to his opinions on the matter.

Part of the reason that so many of us like reading Yglesias is that he comes up with this kind of stuff that might not be always comfortable to read but it sure makes you think—the mark of a philosopher, and the real reason for reading good bloggers.

Clearly if you are going to comment on an area, some mastery of it is required, but anyone who seriously believes that a mastery of Persian, Arabic and Hebrew is necessary to comment on US foreign policy in the Middle East is exhibiting worrying signs of narrowness.  Yglesias finishes his second missive on the subject with a beautiful observation about the Pakistani understanding of US culture and language will make them much more effective in manipulating US policy makers than the reverse.  It is this kind of awareness that makes Yglesias’s commentary so valuable.

Just yesterday Yglesias observed that many commentator’s advocacy of bombing Iran show signs of people with a solution in search of a problem.  I used to work in the tech sector and we learned to recognise this kind of thinking, and Yglesisas is of course dead right.  It is this ability to condense into a short article a critical insight  that makes them so valuable.  Yglesias says that thanks to his shortcommings ‘the overwhelming majority of Americans have never read this blog and never will’ but this is exactly wrong.  It is the chalenging (i.e., worthwhile) aspects of his blog that will act as the barier.  I wish perhaps more of the pundits that populate the mainstream media would read, and, more importantly, understand what he says in his blog.  We would not be in half the mess we are if they did.

Of Museums and Blogs

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Jane Austen’s World) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

As I said in Kiss of Death, yesterday was disapointed by the national maritime museum in Greenwich, the highlight being a talk given at the start on the Death of Nelson, which could have been given anywhere. This I don’t think is much if at all the fault of the museum. One of the most important functions of museums seems to be to preserve artifacts and facilitate scholarly research but my concern is with public education, or perhaps my own use of museums to educate myself. I have long been an admirer of Jane Austen’s world, coming away from many articles feeling as if I had visited a museum (see, for example, From Classic to Romantic: Changes in the Silhouette of the Regency Gown and London’s Lost Rivers).

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The Blogging Treadmill and The Alternative

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Jeffrey Goldberg) on my blog-roll; see the about page. This is actually the second time I have featured Goldberg, which I have to do: one for the sublime Goldberg and the other for the reactive one. ]

I never cease to be surprised at how apologetic bloggers are at a slight disruption to their flow, such as Paul Krugman (!) last week when posting an article later in the afternoon than normal.

Now I know should probably have put up a warning article when I stopped last week, so I am guilty of being too lax, but I think it is a good idea to break things up a bit sometimes, and not be apologetic about it (though a warning would be helpful and wise). What do other bloggers think?

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Yglesias Responds (and Nails It)

Matt Yglesias has responded to my request for his take on the Goldberg/Walt disagreement over Ahmadinejad’s unpleasant rhetoric over Israel and produces a beautifully concise explanation of why it is a bad idea to exaggerate it (here is mine for comparison). While I can’t seem to stop being impressed by his articles, the way he has dispatched this has confirmed and amplified my sense of respect. This kind of thing is really not that easy to do.

I am disappointed by the absence of a link but I know I haven’t earned one either.

My Google Reader Shared Page

While on my travels I decided to experiment with the Google Reader shared page and have concluded that this is a powerful blogging aide.  As I read blog articles I can place them into a stream for sharing and you can pick up the blog articles that I think are especially interesting.  I can also add annotations.

This makes particular sense if you read you uses RSS feed readers (see this previous article on the advantages of RSS), in which case you can subscribe to pages RSS feed.

My Google Reader shared page is here.

Comment is Free

[A series of articles reviewing blogs and websites on my blog-roll.]

In the recent Webby awards the Guardian Comment is Free political blog got beaten by the Huffington Post. This I think shouldn’t surprise anyone with any knowledge of the relative traffic of the two sites, the awards being based on a poll of readers. I read both sites heavily and they are completely different, and offer an interesting contrast between two media cultures.

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