One year on

Happy birthday to me! (Belatedly.) Not my real birthday, but my first blogiversary*. Since I launched this blog 1 year and 5 days ago, readers such as yourselves have been sufficiently interested to click on my blog some 8,500 times (plus assorted subscriptions), which I gather is not too shabby for a shiny new blog. So thank you for giving me the time of day, I’m privileged to have you as readers! And double thank yous to all those who have been kind enough to link to me on your blogs or on twitter and bring me new readers.

I could bore you with a whole host of other statistics that WordPress can tell me, but since they are of only the most marginal interest to anyone other than a blog’s author I shall spare you. Instead I thought I’d share some of my own experiences of a year’s blogging.

One perceptive criticism I have received is that of being overly negative. This one I could relate to, because I’ve had the same creeping feeling over one of the blogs that I follow. The author of this blog is also anonymous, and I think we share a similar conundrum; those good news stories we know most about, and would most like to share, we cannot since they would quickly unmask us. Another problem is that as someone who blogs in their spare time, I have to feel motivated enough to want to write. Too often this is because I am angry or incredulous over something and want to share my scorn in a rant**. There is so much in conservation and development to get frustrated at – too many things that it would be so easy for us to do so much better – that it is hard sometimes not to just let rip.

I’ve also been criticised for commenting on stuff I haven’t read through in detail. And fair play to those who have done their homework, but I think this is common in the blogosphere. To those who, from the best of intentions, demand higher standards, I would make the following caution. Today we lament that modern politicians often seem to have no professional experience other than of being a politician, and that this has led to a decline in diversity of political representatives, and to MPs who are out of touch with ordinary people. The same applies to blogging. I don’t have the time to check everything I write, and you should therefore apply the appropriate discount to every opinion that I spout, but too many policies and processes in conservation and development, especially by donors, are put together without enough input from the field. My opinions may not be informed by the latest research or economics analysis, but they are based on a long experience in the field, and I hope that from time to time someone vaguely important might just be paying a smidgeon of attention.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that most of  the comments I receive tend to be from those on the development side of things, which is not surprising because most of the blogs I follow are development blogs. Where are all the good field conservation blogs? And I don’t mean the tediously boring official blogs from various conservation BINGOs. I want personality! I want tendentiousness! But I also want a bit of economic sense (so all those deep green types are out) and I want to hear from other people working on conservation in developing countries in the tropics, not from where conservation action is effected by small but important changes to government agricultural policy which farmers will follow cos they want the subsidies. My blogroll lists a few conservation bloggers, but if anyone has any good suggestions to add please do let me know!

And with that I will bring to an end this brief bout of self-indulgent introspection. It’ll be back to the usual ranting for my next post, with just a bit more positivism if I can manage it.

* Yuck! What a horrible word! There has to be a special kind of hell for people who come up with such lexicological excrescences.

** Although I do, personally, enjoy reading a good rant by someone else as long as it is well and entertainingly written.

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