A valuable reception

Lord Norton

I and other bloggers attended a reception this evening – held in the River Room of the House of Lords, courtesy of the Lord Speaker – to mark the third birthday of Lords of the Blog.   We welcomed many of you who comment regularly on the blog and were free to join us.  Apart from hearing various recommendations, there was also a (low-tech) suggestions box.  It will be interesting to see what suggestions were made for developing the blog. 

It was good to see so many faces, even though we did not know what blogging names to put to the faces.  I recognised one or two of those who were present – not least competition winners such as  Jonathan and Dave H  – but otherwise anonymity was maintained.  I was impressed by the relative youth of the audience.   I had to chair another meeting immediately after the reception, so I did not get a piece of the birthday cake.  I am told by one or two of my students, who nobly stayed to get a slice, that it was rather rich.

Since Lords of the Blogs started, we have had over 530,000 page views, with the traffic increasing in recent months.  Over 80% of our audience is UK based, but we also have a good overseas readership, our biggest overseas audience being in the USA, followed by Germany, France, Canada and New Zealand.   There have been more than 1,260 posts and in excess of 15,000 comments.  I gather I have contributed the most posts.   The post attracting the most comments was my recent post on the debate on a Royal Commission on Drugs.

A point I stressed was that the blog is very much a means of two-way communication.  We are keen to keep readers informed of what we are doing and what is happening in the Lords, but we are also keen to get your input.  This can help shape our thoughts and actions.  The blog has been mentioned fifteen times already in the Lords and has been crucial to two of the debates I have initiated, one on public consultations and the other on a Royal Commission on drug use and possession.  Some of the informed comments have also influenced my stance on other issues. 

Obviously, not everyone who comments regularly was able to join us this evening, so do feel free to post suggestions.  And do please keep contributing your comments.  We read what you write and learn from it.

26 comments for “A valuable reception

  1. emilyryall
    16/03/2011 at 10:30 pm

    I really enjoyed the evening. Thank you for the invite – my first experience of the house of lords. Just wish it had gone on for longer. I will definitely try to contribute more now I realise they actually get read!

  2. Dave H
    16/03/2011 at 10:35 pm

    I never got chance to ask you if/when the weekly quiz is going to be reinstated.

    It was a good meeting, and hello to everyone I met there. If I didn’t talk to you, I was wearing the white shirt and no jacket (just as well, it was really hot in there).

    Yes, the cake was good.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/03/2011 at 4:38 pm

      Dave H: Watch this space.

  3. Gareth Howell
    17/03/2011 at 8:10 am

    Belated apologies for absence; there was a really good film in the West end which I just couldn’t miss.

    As soon as I saw the film preview, on the way up, I knew…..!

  4. MilesJSD
    17/03/2011 at 8:52 am

    A principle is a basic truth.

    A blog is fundamentally intended as the individual initiating-poster’s publication of his/her personal views, as from a personal-diary, upon Life or upon Whatever.

    The three principles of honest communication and argumentation are
    1. Clarity
    2. Charity
    3. Self-Correction.
    It is obvious to the mere recent beginner on Lords of the Blog that Lord Norton has long been the DOMINANT initiator of blogs, and by far and away the most numerous;
    therefore his statement, from a somewhat select and partisan little party, “I GATHER that I have contributed most of the posts” is plainly a piece of see-through sheep’s-clothing upon a lording-it ‘wolf’ !

    Two outcomes are a big-problem here:

    first that the Peers intend to continue at least as dominant as hitherto for the foreseeable future;

    second that the “youth” and Lord Norton’s own “noble” students in attendance haven’t spotted, or haven’t dared to make-critique of publicly, their ‘leader’s’ shortcomings augurs ill for the future democracy or other good-governance of every level of the British People (and this must also include the Lord Norton flock in its flawed intent and self-centred posturings).

    That lords and baronesses, and prizewinners and so forth, and all participants in the Lords of the Blog (and most probebly of millions of mere democratic or would-be-democratic readers who can not reply or comment) have at least one outstanding skill or ‘life-ability’, never offsets the daily disaster-syndrome of the last-straw that broke the camel’s back, the lack of the horseshoe nail that caused the whole battle to be lost, and the courtroom plea of “It seemed a good idea at the time, my Lord”.

    There may be 99% honest, good, and democratically-integrated expertises within the reaches of the Lords of the Blog:

    but it only takes a fraction of the false, the bad, and the politically-manipulative 1% to pollute the whole people-and-governance environment, to poison the chalice, or to ‘sink the ship’ (of true-and-improving democracy).

    Therefore the Lords of the Blog, whilst being a positively useful political-conversation e-site, is not nor can adequately become a people’s-democracy e-site; it condemns itself to lumbering along ineffectively, as a merely Peers-downwards oligarchic deception.
    Nonetheless, I wish you enjoyment from your involvement, including in the partaking of our taxpayer-funded over-rich-celebration-cake;
    but I do so with main respect to the workers who provided it for you.
    We still go on needing true people-inclusive, or better still ‘people-upwards’ centrally-democratic e-sites, and ‘Peoplepedia-records’ thereto.


  5. MilesJSD
    17/03/2011 at 8:55 am

    I have just twice logged-in, and submitted a serious comment to this Blog; but twice it is not appearing.

    Will someone please explain ?


    • Dave H
      17/03/2011 at 2:51 pm

      It’s called moderation. You’ll see that they’ve both now appeared.

      I’m not sure the cake was funded by the taxpayer.

      Note that there is historical precedent for the nobility encouraging the peasants to eat cake 🙂

      • MilesJSD
        18/03/2011 at 2:03 pm

        Dave H.
        I used to be able to immediately see my submitted comment on my screen
        which not only set my mind and keyboard-fingers at ease, but enabled me to quickly highlight and copy the whole Blog

        (so that i could if need be print it all out and study or share it);

        But suddenly it no longer appears; and may take more than two days being ‘vetted’.

        When one is having to work all alone, upon a mere £300 per week total income (and assets),
        such obstacles undermine our already quite strongly repressed intention to become better (and more actively and reasonably participative) democratic citizens.


  6. tory boy
    17/03/2011 at 9:29 am

    Perhaps a video profile of peers who do not contribute to the blog, but nether the less who we would like to know more about. When I say video profile I mean an informal interview.

  7. 17/03/2011 at 9:44 am

    An enjoyable event and thank you for the invitation.

    Lord Soley made a fascinating observation about how blogs are the modern day form of the old town hall hustings, with a politician speaking (or writing) and the audience responding.

    There is an entire essay of thought in that single sentence.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/03/2011 at 4:41 pm

      Ian Visits: I agree, though what struck me was the realisation that the advantage of this means of interaction is that it reaches a much wider audience than could be achieved through the traditional town hall meeting. I am quite struck by the fact that we may travel some distance to address an audience of thirty or forty people whereas one post on here and we can reach several hundred (or even more). And we don’t even need to leave our desks!

  8. 17/03/2011 at 12:00 pm

    Many thanks for an enjoyable, thought-provoking and interesting evening.

    My rather long-winded ramblings on the evening can be found at http://walkerramblings.blogspot.com/2011/03/lords-of-blog.html

    Again, many thanks.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/03/2011 at 4:42 pm

      David Cotton: Many thanks. I enjoyed reading your report.

  9. Hansard Society
    Beccy Allen
    17/03/2011 at 12:05 pm

    It was indeed a useful event. I can reveal some of the suggestions from the event here:

    – Providing a way for commentors to suggest possible topics for blog posts.
    – Keeping a list of current bills or a link to the Parliamentary calendar.
    – Individual RSS feeds for authors.
    – Creating a # on Twitter for commonly followed debates.

    Obviously if you have anything else you’d like to see on the site or any improvements made this is the place to post your suggestions!

    We also have a Media Briefing downloadable from the ‘in a nutshell…’ bar on the top right of the site, which gives information about the project from the last 3 years. It has some interesting stats, such as, Lord Norton’s average posting rate over the 3 years is every other day!

    • 17/03/2011 at 12:45 pm

      My appalling handwriting (the curse of too many years using a keyboard) is my excuse for not filling in a paper slip, but one suggestion which would make it easier for me at least would affect how the RSS feeds are delivered.

      As I get the whole site via RSS, it would be a useful aide-memoir if the feed could include the photo of the author in the same way that the website does.

      For all its advantages, RSS without graphics means I don’t always notice who is writing the blog post, and the author photo is a huge help to build up a “personality profile” in the mind.


    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/03/2011 at 4:43 pm

      “It has some interesting stats, such as, Lord Norton’s average posting rate over the 3 years is every other day!”

      Imagine what it would be like now if I did not also have my own blog!

  10. Chris K
    17/03/2011 at 1:16 pm

    Sorry I missed it!

  11. Dave H
    17/03/2011 at 2:54 pm

    Having just commented again, I am reminded of the typo in the approval message that I should have mentioned last night:

    “Only your most rcent comment will be displayed here”

    • Hansard Society
      Beccy Allen
      17/03/2011 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks will change!

  12. Hansard Society
    Beccy Allen
    17/03/2011 at 2:56 pm

    I can confirm that the cake was not tax-payer funded…but good!

  13. Jai
    18/03/2011 at 10:59 am

    Really enjoyed the reception and I hope to visit the palace of westminster again soon.

  14. Dave H
    18/03/2011 at 12:29 pm

    Another suggestion, which runs with the theme of keeping us informed about Lords business so we can comment:

    The blog authors tend to post on topics of interest to them in their area of expertise, which means that some of what gets debated in the chamber is not going to be covered here. Perhaps the team could solicit guest posts from other peers more knowledgeable about these other topics to give an outline of what is proposed and why. If necessary, obtain an opposing viewpoint, although I suspect that in many cases those of us on this side are capable of providing a balance to anything too partisan.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      18/03/2011 at 4:44 pm

      Dave H: Many thanks. That is very much in line with what we would like to do. A very good idea.

      • Hansard Society
        Beccy Allen
        23/03/2011 at 10:48 am

        Dave H and Lord Norton: this is something we are working on with House of Lords officials. It is a bit tricky to manage as the business of the chamber is not always available all that far in advance. If you have any suggestions of specific Peers you’d like to see guest blog or subjects generally that you think are not often covered then we can certainly work on this too…

        • Dave H
          23/03/2011 at 8:23 pm

          Even a list showing what’s reaching the end of its stay in the other place, plus legislation about to be introduced to the Lords would be useful. You can always add a disclaimer about subject to change.

          I’m not looking for an accurate timetable, more a guide to what’s on in case it’s worth a blog post and discussion.

  15. Hansard Society
    Beccy Allen
    23/03/2011 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for all the suggestions I have them logged!

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