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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The future of this blog

The other day I was praising you, my regular commenters - you know who you are - for helping make this a place for reasonable, thoughtful conversation.

There was a reason why I was keen to say that: I've been thinking for some time now about the future of this blog. Whether or not it continues in the longer term, I wanted to thank you for helping it achieve something.

Will it continue? Well, it's in no immediate danger. However, I've been wondering quite a bit this year whether the work that goes in here is really the best use of my time and energy. Arguably I could build up its popularity if I moved to a platform with more functionality than provided by Blogger, or perhaps the thing to do is make some kind of arrangement to share resources and efforts with others who have a presence on the internet. But to be honest, there's also a question whether I should be blogging at all unless I can move to a situation where I: (1) receive some payment for it; and/or (2) at least reach a much bigger audience. Arguably, unless that happens I should be putting the time and energy into writing books or something.

I certainly want to maintain a presence on the internet, but there may be ways that are more time-efficient and more effective in reaching a wide audience. Over the coming months I want to explore/think about that. If anyone wants to make me a good offer, I'll be listening.

Meanwhile, as I said, I'm not planning imminent closure of Metamagician and the Hellfire Club or anything like that. I'll at least see how things go for the rest of this year. But yes, I am considering how best to use my time and energy.

I now have page proofs for Freedom of Religion and the Secular State. Over the next couple of weeks I'll have to give much of my attention to checking and indexing them. Service here may be a bit slower than usual - I don't think I'll be blogging every day as I normally do. But that's not the beginning of the end or anything.

14 comments:

Charles Sullivan said...

For whatever it's worth, I look forward to reading your blog. I particularly enjoy your postings on meta-ethics.

You might look into the new Freethought Blogs, although I can understand why you might not want to. Ed Brayton would be the person to contact in any event.

You could also post less frequently (I guess). You'll at least need to inform us when your published pieces come out.

Rohit said...

I second the comment and would add something to that. I have been a regular reader of your blog for the past year along with a number of skeptic/atheist blogs. This is, in my, opinion the most philosophically sophisticated skeptic/atheist blog out there along with 'Rationally speaking'. For the record, this is despite the fact that I don't particularly care for X-Men..:)

Some of your posts on meta ethics, especially error theory, are as good as any I've read. I hope there is some way you could expand the blog as opposed to shutting it. I've always felt that given the quality of posts, there weren't enough commenters. Maybe there is a better way address that. I would certainly hope that you explore that before deciding to call it a day.

Russell Blackford said...

Well, you're stuck with X-Men commentary, especially on Sundays. As I say, I won't be making any hasty decisions (either in the sense of overly quick or unconsidered). Whatever option I do go with will continue to give me an internet presence and opportunity to interact with whoever here still wants to interact, but I think it'll have to be on a more efficient/effective basis.

Having said all that, it's not a decision that I want to make until next year, so no need to worry yet.

Jesse Parrish said...

I've had an idea knocking around in my head for a while, and I think it might interest you and other folks.

Roughly, I would like to see an open journal for bloggers and commenters in the skeptic/secular humanist/atheist blogosphere. An e-mail account would be set up for submissions, which would be peer-reviewed by members of the community. Instead of only having blog posts which tend to focus on a single article/news story/topic, readers would be able to consult more detailed resources if they are interested in a given topic.

I wish I could be more specific, but a lot of the detail work will depend on how you/others wish to run it.

Russell Blackford said...

It's probably not for me Jesse, but others reading this might be interested.

Jesse Parrish said...

Alright. If someone recognizable is interested, I am happy to help if I can, and I suspect that many better qualified visitors would be happy to help as well.

Russell Blackford said...

Sorry to disappoint, Jesse. But one of the things you don't see is that I already do quite a lot of academic peer reviewing. I seldom turn down a request from a journal, because I think it's very important that we do this stuff to make the peer-review system work. (By contrast, a lot of people do turn down a lot of requests.) That's in addition to editing JET.

So in my case I'm not keen to add more work along those lines. It can become quite a commitment of time and energy.

I'm sure there'd be other people for whom it would be a great idea.

Jesse Parrish said...

I'm not overly disappointed. I know and enjoy your JET contributions and know that you are regularly working on books, so I expected without the help of this post that you would have many other consuming obligations.

If you know of anyone who might be interested, I would appreciate a suggestion. Or you can propose it, either way.

Richard Wein said...

I appreciate that blogging may not be the best use of your time and energy, but I for one would miss this blog. I find your posts the best-considered of any blogger that I read. Or does it just seem that way because I tend to agree with you. ;)

It's also my favourite place for online discussion, as there are not too many comments, and those there are are generally constructive.

Verbose Stoic said...

I like this blog because it does get into more philosophical aspects, which a lot of others don't. But if it isn't really doing anything for you -- in your perception -- then I can see why you might not want to make the effort.

About the only thing I could suggest to reduce the load and keep it updating reasonably would be guest posts, but that might not be feasible or of interest to you.

Anyway, mostly just wanted to chime in on enjoying the blog as well.

Russell Blackford said...

Thanks for the support, folks. I really don't want to lose having a presence on the internet - I'm sure that whatever I do in future will involve continuing to post stuff on the net. But I do think it may have to be in a way that is less time-consuming for me while expanding my audience. We'll see. As I say, there's no imminent change going to happen.

Jared Norman said...

I've never commented here before but this time I must chime in.

I live in a very rural, very religious part of the western U.S. I work at a blue-collar job, and have no advanced education.

Scientific and secular blogs like this one are a bit of a life line for me. I read several daily, but this is far and away my favorite.

Here, more than anywhere else I have found on the internet, issues and ideas are given clear, in depth treatment without vitriol or ax-grinding. For example, your clear, calm, reasoned examination of Sam Harris's 'The Moral Landscape' taught me more about the philosophy of ethics than any other single source ever has, including Harris's book itself.

I am just one person, and of course you have better things to do than educate one guy you'll probably never meet. But for what it's worth, the contribution you have made to my life, and my understanding of the world I live in has been huge. I sincerely hope you continue blogging for many years to come.

And THANK YOU for all the time you have invested here already.

unattributed said...

Well to increase your audience maybe you'd now be welcome to cross-post over at TPM?

Russell Blackford said...

Thank you, everybody - and the comment from Jared was especially meaningful to me.

Again, let me reassure everyone that I'm not planning to disappear, even if I move to another platform of some kind and even if I am a bit less prolific. And I'll certainly tell you where to find me, so please follow Metamagician and the Hellfire Club for the moment.

I'm a bit distracted at the moment, mainly doing some proofing, but also some other things (such as the Myths book and thinking about my forthcoming IQ2 debate), but normal service will resume.