Monday, June 14, 2010


One of my peers wandered into my cell the other day and raised the question as to whether he should begin a blog of his own.

As his knowledge of blogs and blogging was essentially zero, I had to explain not only the concept but the practicalities and consequences. In doing so, it made me think about the whole enterprise. And what I told him was:

Blogging is not for introverts. Obviously. But it has the added twist for a blogging prisoner of stripping away anonymity and the possibility of future obscurity. Most Lifers leave prison and essentially vanish, there are very few who ever intrude into the public domain. This is their choice. In blogging, though, that choice is limited. As the Web never forgets, for the rest of my days anyone can Google me and find my background. Even if I wished to retire from the public arena, a shadow of who I am remains scattered across the internet.

And so my strong recommendation to my peer was to think very carefully about what future he was planning for. If he desired obscurity then he shouldn't blog. Even with the strongest efforts at anonymity, there are those who will slowly and persistently piece together disparate fragments of information until the real identity is laid bare. The experience of Erwin James if a reminder of this. And so even attempting to blog anonymously is not a path to be chosen by the reticent.

Not only is identity for ever placed into the public gaze, but one's statements. Already, something I wrote several years ago which ended up on the Web has been used against me in one specific debate. Always remember, the Web never forgets. And an interesting Blog must, by definition, occasionally push the boundaries of thought, politics or morality and so be a source of quotes ready to be recycled by some future opponent.

Consistent output is also expected. A blog, I realise, is a commitment made to the readers and one that must be taken seriously. It was always my intention to produce one post a day with rare exceptions, I am glad to have been able to maintain that output. A mere single piece a day sounds quite simple, a matter of a few moments work. It isn't... As my blog is comprised of my original content, no guests, no posting news, then it means that I have to think of something new each and every day which I feel may be of interest to readers. I notice that I have produced nearly a novel’s worth of wordage by now and not even a year has passed.

And I strongly stressed this commitment to my inquirer. Readers are not sheep to be gathered and dispersed as a whim, there are expectations to be fulfilled and any potential blogger must realise this.

There is also the most important matter - that of having something to say. A blog which restricts itself to a diary format runs a risk of becoming quite dull. The life of the prisoner tends to be quite boring overall. Something more needs to be added, a set of lenses through which to examine both the minutiae of prison life as well as the large moral and political issues that it raises. Not all prisoners have that breadth of view.

And so I explained to my peer that blogging was a commitment both to oneself as well as the readers, was a hostage to future Fortune, and not to be began on a whim.
Having listened to my long explanation of these issues, I can rest assured that I will remain the only blogging British prisoner. At least for this week.


  1. My first time on your blog Ben, its excellent. I'll be back

  2. I do hope you're not getting cold feet Ben! and I thank you for your efforts.

  3. As a blogger and something of an introvert, I have to ask: can't your friend's anonymity problem be solved by assuming a pseudonym, and by referring to places and people pseudonymously?