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Americans and Australians (Warning: metablogging ahead!)

October 28th, 2002

The human brain is a classifying machine, and its favorite type of classification is a dichotomy, as in, “there are two sorts of people in the world, those who divide the world into two sorts of people and those who dont”. The runner-up is a spectrum. The Left-Right division can either be seen as a dichotomy, as in left-handed vs right-handed or as a spectrum.

In relation to Australian ploggers (this term for political bloggers is due to Ken Parish), there’s been plenty of discussion of the standardleft-right dichotomy/spectrum and the Political BlogMap also distinguishes authoritarian from libertarian. I’ve observed a significant shift on the first dimension in the few months since I’ve been blogging. Whereas ‘Ozplogistan’ was clearly right-wing when I joined it, it’s now much more reflective of the Australian political spectrum as a whole. The pronounced libertarian bias observable on the blogmap remains however.

Another distinction that had a good run was left brain (rational/analytical/verbal) vs right-brain (emotional/figurative). Again I think there’s been a clear shift to the left over time. In Ozplogistan, though not in the ‘real world’, there’s a strong correlation between left-wing and left-brain, so the parallel shifts aren’t surprising.

The gun debate and reactions to Bali made me realise that Ozploggers are divided on a third dimension, which I’ll call “American vs Australian”. ‘Americans’ are basically participants in the American blogosphere (mostly right-wing and right-brain) who happen to live in Australia and may add occasional local Australian color to their posts. James Morrow, who is an American expatriate recently arrived here, naturally falls into this category. So, to a very large extent does Tim Blair – as Tim Dunlop notes all his links are to US blogs. At the other extreme, Ken Parish is very much focused on events in Australia and comments on Australian blogs/plogs. Tim Dunlop is the mirror image of James Morrow: an American resident, but with a major focus on Australian events.

The gun debate was very revealing. Virtually all those I would regard as ‘Australian’ were pro-gun control and virtually all those I would regard as ‘American’ were anti. Of course, nearly all the ‘Americans’ are on the right, but ‘Australians’ with broadly similar views on most issues, like Gareth Parker and Scott Wickstein were strongly pro-control.

In writing this post, I thought about my own classification. I’m very interested in US economic developments, but otherwise would class myself as Australian in orientation. This led me to the further observation that whereas my ‘Australian’ posts get heaps of great comments, nobody much seems to be interested in my observations on the US economy. So I’ve decided to cut coverage of this topic to a minimum. If I get really energetic, I may start up a separate blog on it, just to record things that interest me.

Update: Possibly because I was trolling for compliments, lots of people have said they like the commentary on the US economy. So I’ll keep it up, but I’ll try and give it more of an ‘Australian/international’ angle, explaining why these issues matter to us and the world, and not worrying so much about keeping up with the American economic blogworld.

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