It’s time for a bit of reflection.
When I first joined My Telegraph – the blogging platform of The Daily Telegraph (DT) – back in 2008, it was with a view to planning ahead for the impending decline of MySpace. I blogged there – not chatty stuff – just a place to keep online lists and notes… hobby stuff of no interest to anyone but me. The implosion of MySpace was dramatic, resulting in random cuts to functionality. The interface was moving the same way as Facebook – stream of consciousness on a page. As a result of this, nothing stayed fixed in one place. I spent more time flicking through pages and pages of the MySpace interface to find stuff and less actually posting. It didn’t do the job as it couldn’t be organised — it got so bad that my first blog posts on My Telegraph were only done as waypoint links to my MySpace junk. I’d already trialled WordPress and rejected.
By 2009 I began to migrate my blogging activities to My Telegraph. It looked a safer bet. It was a different proposition with a sometimes frustrating WordPress-Disqus interface — early on I muddled through without success (comments but no blog – who remembers that?). Eventually Kate Day helped sort out the initial mess-up in my access rights — blogging is a by-product but when all is said and done, it has to actually work.
Late 2009 I had written a 60,000 word draft (SF). My Telegraph had Groups and I noticed that the Creative Writers Group (CWG) had run into an impasse – they wanted a writing competition but no one wanted to run it. In February 2010 I offered. Early 2012 I stepped back. The DT had a voting widget (via Nick Petrie) in the offing and, even though the competition was much bigger (with the spill-over from the Short Story Club), it was time for others to take the helm. There was no reason it wouldn’t survive. I’d provided a template that worked and still works.
One reason for running CWG was to get feedback on my writing. It seemed a reasonable quid pro quo. If that seems nakedly instrumental – that’s a direct legacy of growing up on nasty, back-street estates, Up North.
RL makes its demands and I can well understand the business imperatives driving DT – or is it now NewT? The New Telegraph is change – it no longer allows comments on articles – it’s possible for members to pitch into the morass of DT’s Facebook presence but that doesn’t commend itself to reasoned debate. More problematical is that the commenting system was, and still is used by the My Telegraph. It’s fundamental to how the blogging platform works… but a reading of the runes suggests that virtually all support has been pulled away – spammers are breaking the groups, it’s only a matter of time before fake blogger ids, spewing out the trash of the net, make the platform unusable. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to conclude that license / support contracts for My Telegraph are being allowed to lapse and the logical conclusion is that My Telegraph will be left to die. My DT contacts aren’t replying. They’ll be caught up in other, new things, breaking any connection they might have had with. The immediacy of the here and now breaks the connection to history. It’s possible that that place will remain relatively stable for some time. I will be taking the precaution of checking my blog posts for stuff I would rather not lose. Maybe I’ll migrate. I have other blogs – in this place for one. It’ll be a shame in a way. In another time and place that would call for a flashy graphic proclaiming:
The body lies still but the spirit lives on.