Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BestOfTheRest.org: a call for editors, content curators and non-mainstream authors to participate in a new editorial project on cultural identity


Introduction

Tris has kindly offered my the opportunity to post a piece here at Munguin's Republic on an editorial project called BestOfTheRest.org, which I'm working on at the moment.

Most of you will have never heard of me, so if you want to find out more you can go to21stCenturyFix.org, which is where I blog. In particular, this post which tris kindly and productively engaged with, and which relates to this initial post on the subject of BestOfTheRest.org itself.

Proposal

BestOfTheRest.org is looking to generate interest in the sharpest non-mainstream media writing which is currently produced in England, Scotland, Wales and, if possible, the two Irelands. In order to do so, I am looking for people in each geographical area to take on the responsibility of curating the writing in their area, and producing short (maximum 300 to 900-word) engaging and quirky daily overviews which pull together, link to and quote from non-mainstream authors. This content would then be distributed via an open website with comments facility as well as a single RSS feed, to Kindle and KindleApps to begin with, but hopefully other pay-for-subscription systems in the future.

Any income so generated would be split between the editor/curators. Meanwhile, the project is open to the idea of micro-payments to authors who are linked to and quoted from, and who in any case would benefit from increased visibility and supported with an author-specific intranet/website containing editorial guidance and input. This intranet would also contain information on how to monetise content using parallel channels, for those authors interested in such options.

It's a new untested market, so it's probably quite a tall order - but, even so, the start-up costs are pretty small, so "all" we would be spending (often not negligible, mind) is our own free time.

Ideology

If I am inclined to prescribe the ideology of BestOfTheRest.org - apart from serving to make visible new writing and ideas - then it would be something along the lines of the following: "Cultural dissonance, that frontier between identities and ways of doing, where channelled constructively, is where all progress lies. If we want to progress in remaking our politics for the benefit of all identities, we need to be clear of the importance of understanding that all political DNA is connected; ideas which may attract or repulse have a historical set of links which tie them together. That is what we must remember - and act accordingly."

The Spanish have a saying pertinent to the argument: "Hablando se entiende la gente" ("By speaking we understand people"). From my little contact with Munguin's Republic and its team of editors/writers and commenters, it's easy to see that the blog demonstrates the value of such positions, as well as such editorial approaches.

BestOfTheRest.org can only hope to be equally editorially coherent.

Conclusion

In the meantime, the request for help and support is now out there. From around England, Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands, we need the sharpest writing, sharpest writers and sharpest editors from non-mainstream media to want to collaborate in this proposal and shape its future.

Finally, apologies for the extension of this piece - all I can say in my favour is that I did run it past tris prior to its appearing on the web. Any comments online are most welcome, whatever their nature. And any comments you'd like to send me offline, please do me the favour of emailing to mil@bestoftherest.org, and if possible CC-ing tris into the conversation.

An even longer version of this article will be available shortly at 21stCenturyFix.org!!!

10 comments:

  1. Oh bugger, I was thinking of doing much the same thing!

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  2. Well, seems to me it would be an idea to talk to Mil, John. His email is towards the bottom of the text above.

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  3. So when exactly did Scotland,Ireland,Wales and England stop being nations and become "geographical areas"?

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  4. In fairness to Mil, Anonymous, he has repeatedly referred to the four countries and one province by name, as lands, Scotland, England, Wales and the two Irelands ... and after all, any piece of land is a geographical area, from my back garden to Antarctica. Surely it's the idea that is worth discussing rather than what someone chooses to call the lands covered by the suggested project. I think you are nit-picking a bit here matey. ;¬)

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  5. So this would be a group type blog but with apps for other platforms?

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  6. Yes, as I understand it SR... along with reviews, best of the blogs sort of thing, again as I understand it.

    I'm sure Mil will answer any questions (I guess he may have retired for the evening!!). I've dropped him a line asking him to answer questions on here.

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  7. Hi All - yes, I had retired for the evening. My son's GCSE results were due this morning, so it was an early start - and thank goodness, all his hard work paid off!!!

    First, thanks for your comments. I'll take them one by one.

    @JohnB - well then perhaps we can share notes, either here or offline and chat it over. Ideas are many - implementation is key; the more heads, the merrier - and certainly more comprehensive.

    @Anonymous - I tried hard not to upset sensibilities here, but when you deliberately cross frontiers to find things of interest, you'll find yourself often in a no-man's land which pleases no one. Since I'm doing the former, I'm aware I might end up in the latter. I'm half Croatian, as I explain in the fuller version of this piece over at my place - never been entirely Croatian, nor entirely English, nor entirely Catholic, nor entirely atheist. My patchwork background defines *my* sensibilities. I don't have the luxury of a country or belief I can fully associate with but do understand the importance of identity in making government work for people. Does this help at all to explain where I might be coming from?

    @Subrosa - yes, a group blog where we carry out the curating function much good blogging already does, but with an ideology - or mission if you prefer - to be finally defined by the curators taking part, and with support mechanisms for writers who are looking to improve their visibility and skillsets.

    The function of the content would be to take a subject or theme of the day for each piece, defined by what the non-mainstream media writers in each area were writing about, and pull together that overview piece in an interesting and easily consumible way. Kindle and KindleApps make blogs *very* readable, legible and portable. But if we wish to attract a pay market, we must be much sharper and efficient in our use of the language than for example a blogger like myself ever is.

    There are many portals around which publish all kinds of overviews of news. The difference between them and "us" would be the difference between a personal blog which touches on politics and a political blog with a mission in life. If you want followers, you need them to identify with you. My blog for example is the former. But the Republic is the latter. The latter is what I'd like to do with the four geographical areas/nations I mention in my piece.

    Does that clarify further what I'm proposing?

    Comments, as always, most welcome - either online or offline.

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  8. tris / Mil..

    Has this idea not been tried before and watered down the strength of individual blogs ? A sort of 'Huffington Post' type scenario where lots of writers eventually nuance into a blob of boring contemporary left wing ideology. Rather than having quirky blogs you get a left wing , tree hugging , righteous website.
    There are probably hundreds of good writers on Huffington Post but I'd never find out as they sound too precious for me so I wouldn't visit. The owner eventually sold out to big business I think. Once money is involved that's usually what happens.
    I may have got your plan wrong though.

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  9. @Monty - group blog isn't exactly the word I'm looking for. Group curation. Maybe what Bob does at brockley.blogspot.com, with a different focus and different mission (as well as shorter), when he writes an overview or catch-up in terms of what others are writing on their own blogs.

    I'll post something fuller as a proper post over at my place in a minute, and then post the link here for those of you interested in following this - Blogger's not allowing me to say everything in the comments box I'd like to say.

    :-)

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  10. Here's the link to a separate post at 21stCenturyFix.org, where I've posted Monty's comment and my reply.

    http://www.21stcenturyfix.org/2011/08/more-on-debate-over-at-munguins.html

    Monty raises some very valid points - I've never been in favour of group blogging platforms; much preferring the aggregation approach to bringing people together in their supported individuality rather than long-term subsuming individuals to a corporate image.

    So hopefully, some of the issues you raise, Monty, are answered in my full response at my place.

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