Ask Five: WV11 blogger James Clarke interviews Brownhills Bob

May 14th, 2013 by Jerome Turner in Ask Five Hyperlocal | no comments

Brownhills miner by Sue Hasker, Flickr CC licence

This interview format has already stumbled a little: we asked James Clarke of WV11.co.uk to provide five questions for his nominated interviewee Brownhills Bob, and he gave us four.

1. Do you consider yourself a hyperlocal blogger / creative citizen?

I’m just some bloke, writing. I hate the term Hyperlocal and that’s definitely not what I am – I’m not a news source, but some bloke with an opinion. I don’t pretend to be unbiased. The blog is just about me, my community, and the things that energise me.

2. Why do you choose to blog anonymously and do you the tone of your blog would be different if people knew who you were?

Quite simply I have a job in which contractual agreements mean I can’t self-publish. What I do on the blog could sometimes be classed as a conflict or inappropriate. I also don’t see why those around me should suffer for my opinions. I’m out in my community. I wouldn’t be any different if I was known. Most traditional journalism is so remote it’s anonymous, anyway. Try getting acknowledgement of error for conventional media. There’s a great history of anonymous writing – and sometimes I think the mystery makes it a curiosity.

3. Do you think readers like the fact you’re one person and writing opinion pieces, as opposed to say a blog written by a group of people and from a more unbiased / less opinionated angle?

There’s a whole spectrum of stuff out there, people read what they want. Some are clearly irritated by what I do, but the blog has a little community around it of supportive friends and contributors who comment, etc.You want unbiased, lots of other stuff out there. The YamYam is full of alternative sources. I’m not a fan of anodyne reportage. I, and the blog have an opinion. I post stuff for debate, interest and stimulation. 10K readers a  week seem to like it. I’m sure a sizeable percentage would hang me from the nearest lamp post. However, the blog does get stuff noticed, debated and sorted. I like to think it’s ranty, but reasonable, too.

4. Do you think the future of local history is individuals documenting the places they live online, as opposed to more traditional methods such as local history centres etc.?

The future of local history is a patchwork. What I and other sites like Lichfield Lore do is debate, and this is new. We also let folk tell their own stories. People talk to each other who would never be able to do so. But archives, libraries and oral history are still key, as is formalised, academic stuff.It’s about the conversation. However, some bits bother me. Read this: http://brownhillsbob.com/2012/03/18/echoes-lets-think-for-a-minute/. And also this: http://brownhillsbob.com/2013/03/01/how-to-do-local-history/. The problem in future isn’t going to be preserving or obtaining material, but simply sifting it out of the immense heap of crap that will exist. Try finding specific stuff on Flickr.

 

And for our next interview, Bob has nominated what I’ll tentatively call a hyperlocal history blog, Lichfield Lore

Here are his questions:

1. What or whom inspired you to take the unique approach to local history that you do?
2. What is the most important thing curating Lichfield Lore has taught you?
3. What is the worst thing about doing local history in this way?
4. Have you found any hostility because of your quirky, informal format?
5. Where do you see Lichfield Lore going over the next couple of years?

 

Photo by: Sue Hasker, used under Flickr Creative Commons Licence

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