by Frank Schnittger
Wed Nov 28th, 2007 at 05:04:18 PM EST
I feel like a stranger who has wondered into a new club where everyone else seems to be a long-time member.
There are strange looks, friendly smiles, even a welcome or two, but what am I doing here?
Yes, I am interested in the EU, and, coming from Ireland, I may have a different perspective on things.
But who are the readers? Is it just a few midnight nerds with words to spare? How many are there? Why would I bother writing here?
I am used to contributing to Blogs like Charles Bremner's on Timesonline where you can be sure of a readership of thousands and where you know the terrain - the usual bevy of Brits and Yanks having a go at the Frogs - who get all upset and prattle on about L'exception Française.
And what's all the this HTML stuff? do I really have to learn all that to prepare a presentable story?
Scoop sure does seem to have a lot of useful functionality, and I like the idea of a self regulating on-line community, but it all reminds me a bit of the old folk musicians who went ape-shit when Dylan went electric.
You know the inverted snobbery stuff -it can't be good if it's popular or accessible and easily usable by the masses who don't even know html!
And what are the hidden agendas, the implicit value systems, the no go areas? I get the impression that liberal/social democrat, human rights, environmental ethics and even a bit of anti-capitalism is almost de rigeur - but then I may be doing you all an awful disservice because I haven't been here a wet week (as we say in Ireland) and have read only a tiny sample of diaries and comments.
Are we all frustrated journalists here, failed academics, or seers whose genius the world just plain refuses to recognize?
Or is this just that wonderful human institution, an Irish pub without any beer, but where everybody gabs just for the sheer fun of it?
Every newcomer wonders how and where they will "fit in", and whether they would be better off going elsewhere. Just what is your unique selling point?
The "about us" tab gives very little of the history of this blog - who are the distinguished contributors, who are the editors, what have you all achieved in the past other than allowing people to let off some steam?
I don't expect you all to rush off to justify yourselves, particularly to the new kid on the block, but what exactly are your brand values and why should I spend time here rather than elsewhere?
Is it a mutual admiration society, a community learning experience, an opportunity to brag about how much I know on certain topics, a forum to exercise my debating skills or just a nice friendly place to be?
In other words, what have YOU gotten out of it, being a participant here, and, given the chance, would you do it all over again?