Sunday, January 31, 2010


 BLOG GP RECORDS 005                                                                                                                                           You could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather when I came across a copy of this double Greenpeace 'Breakthrough' album in a second-hand vinyl stall in Brighton. A rare item indeed and a copy missing from the Archive. And only £3. There's a long story attached; here's the short version.

Whilst working as Editorial Director of Greenpeace Books, I got involved in a couple of major record projects, this one being the most ambitious. GP's chairman at the time David McTaggart had been making numerous trips to Russia for years before, laying the groundwork for the establishment of Greenpeace Russia. Part of that deal involved negotiations with Melodiya records, the state company, for the release of this album on vinyl and tape - 3 million copies in total !!

The record was made up of 27 tracks by Western artists that had never been released in the Soviet Union. I believe all artists/record companies agreed to licence the tracks for free.

The cover of the album was produced by Neville Brody, the wunderkind designer of The Face magazine.

GP record4470GP record5471

Booklet opening spread

Where I came into it was when I suggested that the album should contain a booklet explaining what Greenpeace was all about. I remember sketching it out on a napkin for David McTaggart in a restaurant in Rome, where I'd flown in for the launch of the Italian Edition of the Greenpeace Book of Antarctica.

Next thing I knew, I'm on a British Airways plane flying Business Class to Moscow, in late October 1988,  to attend a trade fair for Eastern bloc record companies, at which we had a stand to promote the record.

The actual production of the booklet was a full-blown nightmare. We  had to conceive, write, translate and design the 16pp booklet, get 1 million plus copies printed and sent (by truck, plane and ship) to Moscow to a tight deadline over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. Designer Andy Gammon and I had some sleepless nights but we made it.

Many of the artists on the album flew to Moscow on a jolly to promote it and, I think, played a concert. The whole trip was filmed.

GP RECORDS 008It was then decided to release the album in the rest of the world and we were involved in the whole redesign of the record package. One of our biggest contributions was to get the involvement of the legendary comic artist Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen fame) to do the inside graphics. Andy and I are credited with Sleeve Concept & Design but, at the last moment, the record company stepped in and 'The Leisure Process' redid the final front sleeve.BLOG GP RECORDS 010


GP RECORD465 Some years later, in the early 1990s, I was involved with the 'Alternative NRG' album project which was organised by Dave Wakeling (formerly of The Beat) and Kate Karam who were, by this time, running Greenpeace Records out of Los Angeles. I wrote the sleevenotes for the album [see Next Post]  and a piece about the project for The Independent [13 Jan 1994], reproduced below:

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It's kiss of death territory. A new benefit album; com­passion fatigue time. But this one's about solar power.

Alternative NRG is a 16-track compilation of live per­formances, all recorded using a solar-powered generator. Dave Wakeling — formerly with The Beat — is the co-ex­ecutive producer and creative director of Greenpeace Records. On the telephone from Los Angeles he claims that this record "walks the walk and talks the talk".

As he and Kate Karam, president of Greenpeace Records, remember it, the idea began in a bar after long hours carrying protest plac­ards during the Gulf war. Sev­eral martinis later the idea of producing a solar-powered record had taken shape. The point was to show that solar energy was not a failed Sev­enties experiment but had real value in a world still fighting over oil resources. Or, as Dave puts it: "We fig­ured that if we could get a bomb down the chimney of a kid's bedroom in Baghdad, you should be able to get from your house to the supermar­ket without ruining the sky."

The starting point was Kate's memory of a picture of a small mobile generator she had seen on someone's wall n 1984. Building the same thing on a large scale was another matter. Wakeling and Karam were worried about having to deal with "real black hats", in Karam's phrase: many of the compa­nies that manufacture solar cells and panels are also heavily involved with the nuclear industry. In the end, they reconciled themselves to this with the thought that they would be helping these corporations to make the transition to environmentally friendly technology.

Then they had to find somebody who knew how to build their dream machine. They came up with Jim Da­vis, who had built solar power systems for the houses of Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. He teamed up with a man who had been involved with customising vehicles for the military to convert a 28ft aluminium trailer into a mo­bile solar power station.

Mounted on its roof is a 1,920 watt, 16sq ft solar panel array, which can be hydraulically tilted to track the sun. The power it produces is stored in two 48V sealed, long-life batteries which use oxygen recombinant technol­ogy and are designed to be maintenance free. These par­ticular batteries had previ­ously been used to power the Greenpeace base in Antarc­tica. The whole rig is pulled by diesel tractor converted to run on a range of biofuels.

The first test for the sys­tem came in Phoenix, Ari­zona, at a Sonic Youth gig. It was 110F inside the generator, everyone was boiling and ner­vous, but the whole system did the business. Not only that, it was so hot that the venue had a brown-out: the Greenpeace solar generator — named Cyrus after the Persian for sun — powered the whole venue for the rest of the night.

GP NRG3468

The album contains REM's only live performance in 1993, a charged version of "Drive" recorded specially for Greenpeace at a small night-club in Athens, Geor­gia, at a party for family and friends. Michael Stipe was in­trigued by the fact that they were using "local sunlight", as he put it, to capture the music.

GP NRG2467

There's also a great version of "Looking Through Patient Eyes" by P M Dawn, a song that was No 1 in America for a couple of months. This was, in Wakeling's words, "where hi-tech ecology met a huge tribal stomp" — at the Aids Danceathon, held in the Los Angeles Sports Arena in front of a crowd of 10,000 people who had been dancing for nine hours.

U2 were recorded live at the Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, playing "Until the End of the World". This was the most challenging situa­tion for the generating truck, because of the huge power re­quirements and the 14 hours it took to set everything up, but Cyrus never missed a beat.

GP NRG4469 Other treats include James with "Ring the Bells", Mid­night Oil's "Tell The Truth", Boo-Yaa Tribe with "Fam Bam", Soundgarden and Brian May on "New Dam-age" and tracks from Annie Lennox, UB40, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, the Soup Dragons, EMF, Yothu Yindi, Jesus and Mary Chain and L7.

The producer, incidentally, is Robert Margouleff, for­merly 50 per cent of Tonto's Expanding Head Band, and now established as a top live recording maestro, with the technical ability to master the gizmos and the psychological skills to bring out the best in a band's performance, to make them believe that their song will make a difference.

Not included is a track re­corded with Pearl Jam at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch, called "Better Man". Originally, it was hoped that Chrissie Hynde would record the vocals, but that never happened. The eventual re­lease date was too close to the date of Pearl Jam's own new album for their label to allow the track to appear.

But in general, over-de­mand is making it harder and harder to get benefit albums made. Some labels now refuse to allow their artists to participate in benefits be­cause they're sick of giving away rights and royalties; Warner Brothers only allows its artists to do a benefit once a year. The Greenpeace al­bum is out on Hollywood Records, owned by Disney, which is keeping a sharp eye on the proceedings and ex­pect it to turn a profit .That's up to you.

'Alternative NRG' was re­leased on Hollywood Records (distributed by BMG) on 31 January 1995.



Here are the sleeve notes for the Greenpeace 'Alternative NRG' album, written on 9th May 1993. People think that discussions of green technology and awareness of  climate change are new developments. Think again.


It was sometime in the late 1980s when climate change
began to take hold. The Cold War was over but the planet
was heating up. The human race was slow to react
because the change was barely noticeable to begin

Smell of burning jungles and scorched grass in the air...images of black oil stains on white sands., of sea otters licking oily clots from their fur...the toxic bouquet of a thousand exhaust pipes... .the cry of a baby trying to breathe in the choking smog of Mexico City....the coal-dusted faces of street kids in Romania... the heat signatures of a million apartment blocks leaking energy into the warm darkness....the frenzied click of geiger counters recording the invisible traces of radiation from crumbling nuclear reactors, held together with cigarettes, alcohol and hefty tax subsidies....bleached, silent forests and clean, dear, beautiful dead acid lakes..

What's a little bit of global warming between friends ? Heat-flows drive the ocean currents, the winds, the waves, the storms, the floods, the droughts; powerful forces not to be messed with. If we can put a man on the moon why are we still grubbing in the ground for dirty energy...nuclear fusion, it's an illusion..nuclear power, can you think you think of a more complicated and dangerous way of boiling water?..coal, oil and gas are not running out but we can't afford to burn it.


GO...We watched on television, in some downtown bar, half of Florida blown was the face of the child, the silent face of the child that became imprinted on my retina...

The first signs of climate change are already measurable and noticeable...there is no reason to delay urgent actions...only if people all across the world become aware of the danger that our planet is exposed to will we have a chance to ward off this global threat...we are about to witness climate change of a magnitude which been unprecedented in past millennia...there is a risk that world food supply will be severely compromised"

(Protecting the Earth's Atmosphere, a report from the Commission of the German Bundestag 1992)


The inspiration for this album came out of the tragedy of the Gulf War, watching the planet burn as people died for the right to have smog....every addiction has its denial...cut to photomontage of oil well stuck in junkie's arm...the sky over Los Angeles is our testimony.

We are looking down from a low-orbital spacecraft at the night lights of the world....patterns of energy draining into the darkness...the ceaseless river of headlights...


Kerouac's dream has become our nightmare...we are all on the, cars, cars, cars, cars...fender to fender, bumper to is a four-letter word...there are two kinds of population explosions going on....for every two babies born there is one car produced...what was once a convenience is now a choking prison....It all connects....Saudi Arabia...the internal combustion engine....the sticky fumes of black tarmac....burning tyre dumps.

Sunscreen sales rise....island nations swamped by rising tides...hurricane warning, sixth this month...the first climate refugees camp outside Vienna..

Our lifestyles waste heat...burning coal to create electricity wastes two-thirds of the energy and generates climate destruction..everyone's responsible but some are more responsible than others...we call them politicians, we call them business leaders....we are driven by an interconnecting network of power-hungry crazies...our electric thirst is insatiable....Please can we change this movie.

You don't need a weatherman, just look out the window...stop some thing... we've got to make a a halt...find a better way....make that transition to the solar age...there's no such thing as a free light bulb....we are moving...moving towards the sunlight.


In less than forty minutes the US receives more energy in the form of sunlight than it does from the fossil fuels it burns in a ton of sand for solar panels generates as much energy as 300,000 tonnes of oil.

There is an opportunity in the world now...for an energy for everyone world...we have the technology...we have an important reason.

Under One Banner - grunge, hip-hop, Hopis, zen gardeners, village people, Detroit inner city mothers, gay mayors, data surfers, travellers, sophisticats, union leaders, grandmothers, Bolivian forest people, rap artists, sign writers, folk singers, infant school teachers, priests, street sweepers, hay makers, rave djs, street kids everywhere.

Spielberg's first Clean Energy commercial, one of a series by major Hollywood directors, attracts record viewing figures... a solar glider soars over the Great Plains where the wheat shimmers in the late afternoon sunlight..fields of whirring silver wind rotors....of clean,green energy crops

There is a bright light in the future...a thermonuclear reactor 93 million miles distant from us....its energy brought you this music.

Clean energy is smaller and smarter, stylish and safer....E4E stands for Energy for Employment....jump-starting the clean energy economy...clean, green technologies for jobs and new economic for growth...the environment, the economy and the unemployed need action now....each day we wait, we lose.

Free your thinking...turn weapons into solar cells....convert aggression into progression...leave coal, oil and gas safely buried money and end pollution....ride the wave of the future....

A stiff breeze blows a line of 400 windsurfers into New York harbour in the first Greenpeace Art Action, their painted sails carrying a message of hope, of inspiration, creative thinking and clean energy, brought to you by the imagineers, the visionary pragmatists, the dream engineers, the Sol mates.

E equals me squared...equals oikos, the Greek root of both ecology and economics...equals energy, enlightenment, electronics, entertainment, evolution, environment.

We can change things....Energy for Life...we can make a difference...turn on, tune in, go for the clean burn...we are moving...moving towards the sunlight..making the transition to the solar will be a long march...but we will make it...the sun will rise...we know so much more now...but we have less time....

John May

(with additional contributions from Andrew Kerr and Steve Kretzmann)


Nick Kent

The Generalist is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication [4th March] of Nick Kent's 70's memoir 'Apathy for the Devil' - a phrase coined by Bob Dylan when referring to the Rolling Stones. On the phone from Paris, Nick tells me there's some major press extracts  and personal appearance sessions lined up in the UK during March. More news as it happens.  Here's the publishers Synopsis to whet your appetite.

Pitched somewhere between Almost Famous and Withnail & I, Apathy for the Devil is a unique document of this most fascinating and troubling of decades - a story of inspiration, success and serious burn out. As a 20-something college dropout Nick Kent’s first five interviews as a young writer were with the MC5, Captain Beefheart, The Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Along with Charles Shaar Murray and Ian MacDonald he would go on to define and establish the NME as the home of serious music writing. And as apprentice to Lester Bangs, boyfriend of Chrissie Hynde, confidant of Iggy Pop, trusted scribe for Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, and early member of the Sex Pistols, he was witness to both the beautiful and the damned of this turbulent decade.


Saturday, January 30, 2010


thunderclap v4 copy This post is a summary of the musical adventures of my band BOHO to date.

After a long gap, we are now back in action with a new line-up: JM w/Louis May (guitar), Matt Geary (bass), Andy Ferguson (sax/flute), Mick Hawksworth (drums).For our first gig, we are opening for Thunderclap Newman.

BOHO began in 1999 when, as if by magic, musicians found each other and the band was born. I suggested we call ourselves The Bohemians but Paul Harrison came right-back-at-me with BOHO. The name stuck. We play beatnik music, inspired by the Beat Poets. Some might call it funked-up folk. To get a sense of the music we play, go the BOHO MySpace site, which we're in the process of upgrading.

I kept an Archive of our musical adventures, including boxes of taped recordings, photos, scribbled set lists, e-mails, video and more. Here is some of it.



First live gig of the original BOHO line-up: JM + Louis May [Guitar], Fran Galpin [bass], Mike Edwards [Drums], Imogen Rogers [Saxophone], Paul Harrison [Percussion]. BOHO10460

Our first promotion, which features Jack Kerouac on the ticket, also featured introductory speech by JM on the History of the Beats, solo spot from the centre of the audience by Andy Spiller and poetry by Joe Lang.


BOHO2451 3 Feb: KOMEDIA Our first 'New Beat Experience' event in Brighton was a great success. People came out of the woodwork and many tribes met. We sold 194 out of 198 tickets. BOHO headlined + poetry from Joe Laing + Jake and Marcus + Hearth ( a folk duo) + DJ + lights by Big Fug.

That week's events at the Komedia were being sponsored by a drinks company. As part of this, they had erected a stage and PA at Brighton Station to showcase a variety of acts. Playing on a station concourse (Jan 26th) at rush hour was a strange and wonderful thing. It sounded great - like making music in a cathedral. But the audience came and went. One minute it was two drinkers and their mangy dogs and a small scattering of onlookers, the next 300 people pouring through the station. We had a group photo taken on Platform 1 which was meant to appear in The Argus but never did.



28 April: METWAY STUDIO, BRIGHTON. We recorded our first EP in one day at the Leveller's studio with Jake at the controls. Alex May had by this time replaced Louis on guitar (although both played on this session).

Tracks: Brighton Boho Beat/Tear Me Up/ Be Bop. Be Beat/Sometimes/ Voice/The Last Years (of the 20th Century)

30 June: ALL SAINT'S The BOHO band headline 'A New Beat Experience' which also featured Louis May & Matt + Hearth. [Missing poster]


18 Aug: KOMEDIA The new BOHO line-up (with Alex on guitar) may have received top billing but the real star of this show was the legendary Billy Childish, who delivered a long set, half poetry (mesmerising) and half music (Delta Blues from Chatham, played on a long rectangular guitar that looked like a car door). Fabulous stuff. Also on the bill, an extraordinary performance by the wonderful Josefina Cupido - One Woman, One Drum + the great Nigel Burch + solo performance by Louis.

The BOHO line-up split up soon after. Mike the drummer left to return to his painting and things just drifted apart.

The graphics for the posters of this period and the great BOHO record player logo were created by the wonderful Foz (known in the music world as the guitarist in David Devant and his Spirit Wife).


In the early months of this year, a new BOHO line-up began to take shape, although we decided to call ourselves 'The Electric Crayon Set'. I remember rehearsing on Sundays at the YMCA with Dean Jones (bass) and Paul Harrison, playing a cardboard box, with Anna on violin. It was cold.

BOHO5454 24 May: KOMEDIA The first and only live gig by the aforementioned ECS [with Paul on drums!] in a psychedelic night out we called 'The New Underground Experience' Star of the show was the legendary Arthur Brown - 'The God of Hellfire' - who was followed by the brilliant Dutch psychedelic band Baron Saturday. Also a set from Audio K.O. + Poets + DJ Chris + Lights.

Sometime between May and December, a new BOHO line-up emerged - a bigger band involving much more complicated arrangements. This featured: JM (Guitar/Vocals), Paul Nieman (Trombone), Hanna (Guitar/Flute/Mandolin), Ben (Keyboards), Steve Wrigley (Guitar), Dan Sheppard (Double bass) Paul Harrison (Percussion), Marcus Ripley (drums). We called it Boho Blue.


29 Dec: KOMEDIA The first live gig by BOHO Blue (New Line Up/Classic Sound) + Josefina Cupido + 3 Girl Rumba + Furry Hopkins + Louis May with Steve (Mojo Fins) [+ Yeb (African saxophonist) ?]




The BOHO BLUE band headline 'A New Beat Experience' which also featured Furry Hopkins + Big Sugah + People Like Funk + Yeb [African saxophonist] + Waypoint (Louis May & Ben Schiltmeijer). [Missing poster/ticket illustrated]


3 May: KOMEDIA One of our greatest events, featuring a stripped-down BOHO BLUE (w/ JM, Paul H (drums), Paul Nieman, Hanna and Steve Wrigley (bass). Also featured: Big Sugah + Makula (Dean Jones' band) + Scattered (4-piece fronted by Emil) + Wireless + Yeb.

BOHO7457The gig also featured a live internet link-up with the beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, live from his City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, projected on a big screen in the club. Thirty minutes of intense poetry by one of the Old Masters. This was produced and engineered by Alex May in collaboration with Bryan Mattheson of iMusicast in San Fran. An extraordinary event. We later produced, with permission, a CD of the reading.

BOHO8458June (?): Solo recording in a flat in Mountfield Road, Lewes by Emil Nitrate, using Apple Powerbook and a MOTU 828. Limited edition of 100 copies. Nine original songs by JM (except * w/Louis May).

Track Listing: My First Satellite/I Know It's True/All My Chances/ *Driving to Nowhere/ Tear Me Up/High/Blues Ain't Going to Treat Me Right/I Keep Waking Up In Your Dreams/ Twin Towers

Arts Club Flyer2 1

24 July: SUSSEX ARTS CLUB A fresh event and a new venue for 'The New Acoustic Experience'. Featured solo performances by JM and Louis May + Juju & Ollie + Bernadette Cremin (performance poet) + Yeb (with kora player) + Ife Tolentino (Brazilian guitarist/singer) w/ Paul Newman.

CONCORDE.FULLTEXT.PROF [Poster: The last psychedelic poster produced by a master of the art - Michael English of Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, who died 25th Sept 2009.]



In association with Ian Grant of Track Records

Sons of Shiva (World Premiere)Featuring Hugh Cornwall (former Stranglers frontman), plus Sex W. Johnston, Chris Goulstone aka Lord G., Steve Lawrence and Windsor McGilvry

Lach & The Secrets: New York-based band featuring Lach (founder of the anti-folk movement) with Billy Ficca (formerly of Television) and Roy Edroso (of The Reverb Motherfuckers)

Baron Saturday: The groovy riff explosion from the Netherlands featuring John (guitar), Rick (vocals), Caspar (bass), Niels (drums) www, baronsaturday. com

Plus a live internet link-up with The Deviants, (Mick Farren/Andy Colquhoun) playing live from a club called Spaceland in Hollywood. [Broadband connection enabled by Moving Image. Produced and engineered by Alex May.]

Featuring lightshow by Neil Rice and the legendary DJ Jeff Dexter

There's a long and weird story connected with this gig. Maybe later.

Beat 4 Poster 30 Dec: KOMEDIA

First and only live appearance of new BOHO line-up: JM + Fran Galpin [Bass], Andy Spiller [Guitar], Mick Hawksworth [Drums]

+ Slipstream - 'Music for Poets to Pikeys'. Part of the Medway Beat Scene, the band often played gigs with Billy Childish and his band. This was their Brighton debut. Their lead singer and songwriter now has a successful solo career.

+ The Makuli - Band led by Dean Jones + Kate from Big Sugah making her solo debut.

DJ Chris/Lights by Big Fug


Copy of BOHO8458 6 Jan 2003: A live one-take recording by Emil Nitrate at the Tin Tabernacle, using Apple Powerbook with MOTU 828. 100 copies pressed. Track listing: One Fine Day/All The Lies/ I Know It's True/ I Believe/ Blues Ain't Going to Treat Me Right/ Poetry and Love/ High/ Sometimes/ Tear Me Up/ Driving to Nowhere.

BEAT Vol 5 April 5 Poster EmailV2

25 April: KOMEDIA

'The New Beat Experience Vol 5' featured 7+7 Is with Slipstream, The Waypoint, a BOHO set from JM w/Steve Williams plus the poet Interference.

Beat 7 New 2

12 Sept: KOMEDIA

'The New Beat Experience Vol 7' featured the first live gig by a brand new BOHO line-up: JM w/Steve Steve Williams [guitar] + Bob Taylor [bass] + Mick Hawksworth [drums].

Also on the bill, The Mutts + Dean Jones (w/Anna) + Louis May. In addition, two fantastic poets - Pete Brown and Spike Hawkins. Lights by Big Fug.

27th Nov: LEWES ARMS:


BOHO-1-1-copy 12th Feb LEWES ARMS:

BOHO play live in the games room.

14th Feb SOUTHOVER GRANGE, LEWES: 'An Evening of Poetry and Music for Peace.'

BOHO94591st March: This was a live one-take recording by Emil Nitrate on an Apple Powerbook/Matu 828, at the Tin Tabernacle in front of an invited audience - with projections. An Extended Demo containing the following tracks: Will You Believe Me/All The Lies/ Time For A Change/ Sunshine Superman [Donovan] + It's A Shame/What A Time It Was/That's Life. Cover: Mick Hawksworth.

[Photos by Flo]



26th March: ROUNDABOUT, Barn Theatre, Field PLace, Worthing

BOHOposter Snowdrop flyer

Posters advertising the following gigs:



'The New Beat Experience 8. Line-up was: Ant Man Bee, The Mojo Fins, BOHO, Tam Dean Burn, Serena & Bob.


Ant Man Bee [Photo: Flo]













First and only gig with new BOHO line-up: JM w/Mick Hawksworth (drums), Matt Geary (bass), Louis May (guitar), Steve Williams (guitar)



One of two semi-acoustic events which both featured a new BOHO line-up of Chris Lewis (guitar) and Simon (violin). Solo sets from Ollie Elmes, Louis May and Hanna.

20 March: LEWES ARMS
The second of these semi-acoustic events featured a BOHO (this time with the addition of Maia on vocals) with sets from Elsa & George, Cameron Mobbs & Finn Cotton and The Cowboy Outfit (Tab& Heather).

Sunday, January 17, 2010




This is one of the great things about the Archive. Unearthing lost treasures. This image is not faithful to the real colours. Just a photo for present. Will replace with a proper scan.

This was a giveaway from the Smithsonian magazine which I was sent (I believe) by the photographer Kjell Sandved, who inscribed it with a personal dedication to me, his signature and the date - August 1981.

There is text underneath. The headline reads: Look - and then look more closely. Text as follows:

'To reproduce the line above from American poet Theodore Rothke's 'The Far Field' required innumerable experiments over eons of time. For each letter has been etched into the wing of a butterfly through a never-ending series of trials and errors known as natural selection. No one knew the letters could be found there in the wings until Kjell Sandved, staff photographer for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, perceived  them. Imagine then, what else there is to be seen in the wing of a moth, or the water above a sunken tree, or in the memory of a single person.'


This was the illustration for the obituary (The Guardian 1 Sept 2005) of Patrick Furse, a master of enamelling and, by all accounts, a wonderful teacher. The caption reads: 'Social conscience'....the design of this piece, with a conservation theme, incorporates molecules of DNA and silicone.



Source: Omnibrain

'A March 2008 study by Universal McCann found that 184 million people worldwide had started a blog, with 26.4 million in the United States—roughly one out of ten of the adult population. Among eighteen-to-thirty-four-year-old Americans, 20 percent pub­lished blogs. And 77 percent of active Internet users worldwide read blogs.

'Technorati's most recent report on the blogosphere, from Septem­ber 2008, reports 133 million total blogs indexed by the service since 2002. Only some fraction of those are still active—7.4 million of those blogs had posts within the four months previous to the survey—but that's still enough bloggers to produce close to a million posts a day. The numbers are controversial for the usual reasons (questions over method­ology, disagreements about definitions, and so on). Even counted conser­vatively, they are staggering—particularly when you consider that, a decade before, the word blog did not exist, and you could count the total number of weblogs on your fingers and toes.'

- Scott Rosenberg.

[See: Technorati's 2009 Report State of the Blogosphere.  A useful summary of some of the key findings can be found on Online Journalism Blog]


'Say Everything' is an engaging history of blogging by a former editor of Salon magazine, which  I have munched my way through during my morning visits to the coffee-shop. Scott Rosenberg has an easy chatty style, has been in the online media business for years and runs his own blog WordYard.

Part One concerns the pioneers and proto-pioneers of the blog. He sketches in some of this in the Introduction but in this section, in three chapters, he profiles Justin Hall of  'Justin's Links', Dave Winer of 'Scripting News' and John Barger of 'Robot Wisdom' (who coined the term 'WebLog').

Part Two, entitled 'Scaling Up' (5 chapters) profiles the story of Blogger, The Rise of Political Blogging, Blogging for Bucks, the story of Boing Boing and in 'The perils of Keeping It Real', various bloggers whose desire to reveal all have got them into trouble.

Part Three is called 'What Have Blogs Wrought'  and contains 3 chapters  - 'Journalism vs Bloggers' (of which more anon),  'When Everyone Has  A Blog' ( the blog explosion and its effects), 'Fragments for the Future' (has blogging peaked, where is it heading) - and an Epilogue entitled 'Twilight of the Cynics' (blogging is great).

From a Brit perspective, the book is very US-centric. There is very little at all about bloggers elsewhere, for instance in Iran and China, where blogging is often a matter of life and death, rather than a hobby or a diversion. It is very centred on 'geek history' and, while I read it all, there was much too much detail in many of these profiles for my taste. Neverthless and overall, I enjoyed the experience and found the book informative and entertaining.


Source: David Maybury

My favourite chapter was Journalism vs Bloggers (hardly surprising). In the beginning, the journalists largely ignored this development and viewed it with, what Rosenberg calls 'detached interest.' But this soon turned, he says, to 'active belittlement'  until, that is, the mainstream media itself  embraced blogging. As newspapers and magazines have declined many journalists are losing their jobs and an increasing number have become bloggers. The tone of the debate has changed, centering on such concerns as  the threat blogs pose to  'objective journalism' to 'investigative journalism' and to 'the single national narrative', which is being replaced by 'millions of disparate narratives.' I love Rosenberg's closing remarks on this:

'Whatever the drawbacks and limitations of blogging, it serves, today, as our culture's indispensable public square.  Rather than one tidy "unifying narrative," it provides a noisy arena, open to everyone, for the collective working out of old conflicts and new ideas. As the profession of journalism tried to rescue itself from the wreckage of print and rethink its digital future, this is where its more knowledgeable practitioners and most creative students are doing their hardest thinking.'

Rosenberg mentions three web sites which follow this debate, which I thought I'd check out.

Recovering Journalist' by Mark Potts has a very interesting latest post on  Apple's Tabula Rasa. He believes it could effect the whole media industry in a major way.

Martin Langeveld's News after Newspapers has a great story about a major investigative website California Watch.  Langeveld is now one of a group of people blogging at The Nieman Journalism Lab, a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age. In one story 'Print is Still King', he reports that

'Surprise. All generally accepted truths notwithstanding, more than 96 percent of newspaper reading is still done in the print editions, and the online share of the newspaper audience attention is only a bit more than 3 percent. That’s my conclusion after I got out my spreadsheets and calculator  again to check the math behind the assumption that the audience for news has shifted from print to the Web in a big way.'

Alan D. Mutter's Reflections of A Newsosaur contains a story How long can print newspapers last? The piece begins 'Actuarially speaking, the population of print newspaper readers will drop by nearly a third within 15 years and probably be less than half the size it is today by the time 2040 rolls around.'


There was an excellent piece I read last year 'The News About The Internet' by Michael Massing in The New York Review of Books,  which is also worth reading. He writes: 'The practice of journalism being reinvented [by the Web], with a variety of fascinating experiments in the gathering, presentation, and delivery of news.'


Paper Cuts is a constantly updated Google Map showing the layoffs in the US newspaper business. Newspapers shed 15,374 jobs in 2008 and 14,845 in 2009.

In 'The State of The News Media' , the 2009 Report from The Pew Institute, they highlight Major Trends, which includes the following:

'Power is shifting to the individual journalist and away, by degrees, from journalistic institutions. The trend is still forming and its potential is uncertain but the signs are clear. Through search,      e-mail, blogs, social media and more, consumers are gravitating to the work of individual writers and voices, and away somewhat from institutional brand.'

THE GENERALIST is taking notes.

SEE PREVIOUS POST: For more on the state of journalism see NICK DAVIES: FLAT EARTH NEWS

[Excellent Xmas present, Al!]