The British are coming

This entry was posted on
Monday, January 19th, 2009
10:59 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Hello all.

A little landmark in British political blogging has just whooshed by, and I thought I might share the lesson in a way that outsiders can enjoy. (This includes our American cousins, but none of those filthy Canadanians, for reasons that will be explained at a later date.)

One of the main books you should read if you’re planning a venture into viral or community marketing is Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

In it, Gladwell shares his theories on The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (and you can read an extract/review of the relevant chapter here).

Recognising that this is less an historical lesson and more a useful allegory, the way Gladwell tells it, on the eve of the American Revolutionary War, two men set out from Boston and took the “Midnight Ride” on which this famous poem is based; Paul Revere and a man named William Dawes.

British soldiers were on the move, arrests were about to be made and weapons seized; Revere and Dawes set out to warn their allies and raise a militia to chew some bubblegum and kick (our) ass.

Paul Revere was, according to Gladwell, better able to do this because he was intimate with many of the towns and settlements on his chosen route;

[Revere] was gregarious and intensely social. He was a fisherman and a hunter, a cardplayer and a theatre-lover, a frequenter of pubs and a successful businessman. He was active in the local Masonic Lodge and was a member of several select social clubs. He was also a doer, a man blessed — as David Hackett Fischer recounts in his brilliant book Paul Revere’s Ride — with “an uncanny genius for being at the center of events.”

Revere’s ability to know which door(s) to knock on and prompt immediate action resulted not only in success immediate to his own efforts, but also the dispatch of dozens of other well-connected riders with the same mission.

Dawes, by comparison, struggled at most if not all towns. The following totally imagined response to a late-night knock on the door might help to explain his predicament:

“Who are you and why should I trust you? Is this a trap? And how do you expect to raise a militia by waking the local seamstress?”

So Revere, having all the connections (and a better posthumous publicist), enjoyed greater success and most of Teh Glory, mainly because he was able to connect with those who could best help him to spread the message and prompt individual action.

Meanwhile, Dawes struggled, because he was not as well-connected as Revere; he was just Some Guy waking people up in the middle of the night.

So if you’ll pardon me for taking liberties (sorry), I’m going to add a further character to the mix; Derek Draper.

(Derek Draper has been in all the papers lately telling everyone that he’s preparing to mobilise a grassroots Labour network. Just in case you missed it.)

Draper arrives on the scene, like Dawes, with little knowledge of the key people he can and cannot rely on along his chosen route… but he has cleverly taken the added precaution of telling *everyone* to go fuck themselves:

“i am building a site for 60 million people, not 60 bloggers.” – Derek Draper (reported here)


“Boy, the British blogosphere! What an introduction I have had. Never have I experienced such a self-important, self-regarding, self-obsessed group in my life. No wonder the British Blogosphere is such a tiny, tiny, tiny ghetto. Don’t any of you realise that I don’t care what you think? Why would I? Why should I?” – Derek Draper (made here and fisked here)

Here endeth the lesson and all that.

[Psst! I’ve found what appears to be a quick master class in the art of projection… Justin McKeating referred to Derek Draper’s project as a “propaganda ghetto” not once but twice at roughly the same time as Draper’s “60 million people” outburst. It looks like it was only after this that Draper started throwing the word ‘ghetto’ around to describe every British blog except his, but do correct me if I’m wrong.]

UPDATE (2pm) – Gaze in wonder at what LabourList have just released on their YouTube channel. As with previous efforts, there’s zero indication of who made the track or the animation (though this smells stinks like another internal production, much like an earlier effort that was passed off as an external submission). Also note that Paul Staines (‘Guido’) rates a mention at 1:09, because every sensible (albeit high-pitched and off-key) debate about money should elevate the status of a bankrupt liar to worthy opponent.

Derek Draper really needs help on the video/animation front especially… but I don’t think he’ll be getting it from any of the towns and settlements that I frequent.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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