The (last) Irish Blog Awards (in Belfast)

Rick O'Shea kicking off the Irish Blog Award 2011 ceremonyTonight, the Irish Blog Awards travelled north to Belfast and the Europa Hotel. At the same time as Rev Jesse Jackson was addressing victims and survivors of the troubles up in the twelfth floor suite, bloggers filled the ground floor conference hall.

Rick O’Shea guided the gathered crowd through the umpteen categories, handing out the glass trophies and polystyrene objects. Unfortunately, many of the category winners weren’t in the room to receive their awards.

Cedar Lounge Revolution beat Slugger to the Best Political Blog award.

Dylan Haskins triumphed over shortlisted local Minister of Culture, Arts & Leisure Nelson McCausland to win Best Blog of a Politician.

Irish Blog Awards 2011 winnersAlso of local interest:

June Caldwell picked up a very well deserved Best Blog Post award for her piece on depression – Being depressed just means you’re not a moron – dedicating the win to the other writers at the excellent group blog The Anti-Room.

Manuel the Waiter got huge cheers as he picked up the Best Humour Blog award for Well Done Fillet.

Damien Mulley, the driving force behind the six years of awards, explained at the close of the ceremony that this would be the last IBAs he’d be organising.

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  • It need not be the last Blog Awards. Fair play to Damien for taking it this far – he’s done a mighty job but it’s now up to Irish bloggers to take up the challenge and organise the next IBA. I was at it two years ago in Cork and have entered ever since. iGaeilge was lucky enough to win for the past three years. I would like to offer my assistance in whatever efforts are made to get to #iba12.

  • I wonder if the era of the Blog has already passed (just at the point where I treat it almost seriously). I think the world (especially Guardian readers like myself) got too carried away by the concept of Citizen Journalists and the Baghdad Blogger.
    In retrospect Blogging is/was a fad like the hula hoop and punk rock. But I seriously doubt if it can survive.
    For all its many faults the Mainstream Media is……well…..”mainstream” and Blogging is not…indeed despite the hype, its actually a marginal activity and the advances in technology are making it more rather than less so.
    It is essentially people talking to each other, rather than the public. People who appear to be “insiders”……or think they are “insiders”.
    I tend to contribute to several blogs. I prefer journaling to blogging. It keeps me on the right side of the law (or I think it does).
    But during the recent Southern Election it seemed to me that the collective opinion of bloggers was very different from the actual votes. I suspect the Northern Election will confirm this.
    Just when those of us who are barely computer literate think we understand something, a new barrier is created….the # key……Ive only noticed it since the New Year eg ……..#ge. Concubhar will forgive me mentioning that he also uses it…iro #iba12.
    No harm in so doing of course but I think its a contributory factor of how the blog will never really enter public consciousness (although I am convinced many bloggers prefer the marginalisation which they might see as elitism in a good way).
    I tend to see it as elitism in a bad or neutral way.
    Starting a new blog (specifically related to Assembly 2011) I noticed a “northern irish” web ring and thought good idea to submit.
    Turns out I had to submit 1,000 character description of the blog. Which all turned out to be pretty useless anyway as all I got was a copy & paste code whih I was too stupid to understand……so in the end I couldnt be arsed, thus ruling me out of any prize in 2012.
    I refer to the quote from Peter Spencer……Sky Newsweekend political guy that the death of journalist is “self importance”.
    I fear that bloggers are unaware of the danger.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a conversation worth having FJH.

    Damien set the first blog awards up the year after the Guardian ran it’s one and only awards for bloggers. They didn’t run another one.

    Mostly, I suspect, because of the apples and oranges problem. The term ‘blog’ refers primarily to a type of cheap and freely available content management system. Comparisons are tough.

    But the IBA was always a punk project, riffing off a counter culture meme for a good six years. Twenty Major was it’s signature note.

    My only regret was not getting to the Cork gig, which I suspect was the best since it was Damiens hometown and probably when the Awards were taken at their most serious by the MSM.

    Slugger took two gongs in six years. Once I think for being the only Irish political blog any one had heard of, and once, I suspect, for not having won anything for four years.

    It was punk. Built round Damiens own counter culture persona. It was a blast for a while, and a chance for virtual folks to meet and booze the night away.

    And now, like many fun things of the blog era, it’s over.

    Blogs however are not. The reason they will survive is precisely because they are peripheral, and as a genre they no more rely on the survival of single title be it the Dispatch, Daily Ireland or, heaven forfend, the boul Slugger.

    Micro blogging like that offered by Twitter both clarifies and deepens the problem faced by the mainstream press.

    Clarifies it in that Twitter is not in itself a replacement for the MSM, but it also challenges inherited notions of value within the newspaper industry.

    Blogs define theopportunities of the new platforms, but they are not yet in themselves an adequate replacement for what we currently get in print (even if our faith in print continues to fade rapidly).

    If the IBA was a Woodstock for the Irish blog world (for those with whom Damien had not fallen out with), then we are already we into the weird 1970s.

  • I think there are parallels with “counter culture” but possibly misleading to over-state them.
    Im not at my best thinking at 1.30am but I couldnt resist a smile at the notion of “Irish Blog Awards”. It seems too…..conventional……like the Beatles accepting MBEs or Mick Jagger accepting a knighthood. If the awards are not actually from the Establishment, there seems an over-reliance on the opinion of a peer group.
    Until earlier tonight Id never heard of Damien Mulley. To some extent the counter culture of blogging has its own “establishment” and perhaps the real counter culture in 2011 is the amateur blogger who is perhaps skeptical of Blogging itself.
    While logging into a couple of nights ago, I noted a longish quotation from a “reader” (sic) of Slugger O’Toole. From a post by me………as it happens.
    The “reader” had totally misunderstood or chose to misunderstand my post. But it was not attributed to me because Im not a blogging “name” or “brand”. Of course I could have put it right by explaining my post……but it seemed too much like the scene in “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen brings Marshall McLuhan into the cinema lobby to explain his work to the man in the queue.
    Wouldnt it be great if this happened in real life?

    But to cut to the chase, blogging is merely another form of “establishment” if it has its stars, whose work is necessarily thought of as superior to nameless bloggers.
    Yes of course the professionals have a reputation that has been possibly “earned” but the great bulk of actual blogging is done by very anonymous people.

  • Dan Sullivan

    fjh, I don’t want to get too into this at the moment for a variety of reasons but I have long echoed what you say about the blogging opinion offered south of the border compared to the actual views of the regular punter. Much of the political opinioning in the south is of the loosely left US city Democrat type and it is so self regarding that it often times can’t understand how the majority of the engaged electorate is still voting for FG/Lab and even FF. So it simply ignores that fact and pretends that those voters aren’t real and don’t count and instead talks endlessly about those that remain.

    I should really leave my views on the IBA until much later if I value my head and sanity at all. I will say this, it started as a way for people to get some attention onto blogging by saying – come look at this ‘interesting’ thing we’re doing.- and I think ended up being ultimately self limited in that it became -come look at this interesting thing ‘we’re’ doing- that and the complete lack of transparency in an era when more transparency is being hail as one of the great movements enabled by technology did for it in the end. That and it being someone’s ball that they could take home with them.

  • Mr Sullivan,
    Thank you.
    There is something about the bloggerati, that makes me recall 19th century liberals who advocated extending the voting franchise but only to those who had a financial stake in society or were as intelligent as they were.
    Theres an undercurrent which suggests only those rich enough to own a blackberry and smart enough to use it…have an opinion that is worth listening.
    Suffice to say I dont own a blackberry.
    Yet there is something arrogant or at least exclusive about people who are dismissive of people who vote for.say Michael Healy Rae in South Kerry. Clearly NOT People like us.
    Therefore Id agree that the Southern blogs are distorted. And of course Id argue that the majority of bloggers are “young”.
    The leading Northern blog is Slugger. But Id argue that the under-representation of SF and DUP has led to an unwitting default position that is anti-these parties. The further Slugger goes down that road, the less willing SF and DUP supporters are to be engaged.
    The more shrill the anti-SF, DUP posts and Slugger loses something of itself. Paradoxically SF and DUP posters would probably over-heat the discourse.
    They are NOT people like us after all.
    The consequence is not the meting pot envisaged.
    But its odd that articles of a dissident republican and loyalist nature are more common than any supporting SF and DUP.
    Ive argued that theres an elite liberalism (in the past I have called it an “Overclass” but nowadays I use the phrase “liberal dissident” as they are allies of the other forms of dissident) which has discovered that the GFA did not work out the way that it was supposed and this has led to a default criticism of the system itself, a dangerous road to go down.
    For example a few months ago, I asked a leading Norn Iron liberal if the “sole purpose of AV is to defeat SF an DUP” and he answered with the single word “yes”.

    But the exclusivity, “priestly” nature of the Blogging World can be a discouragement. Maybe its meant to be. Twenty four hours ago, Id never heard of the IBA or Damien Mulley. The inner core of bloggers are too mutually respectful. Mr Fealty hints that “Damien” fell out with people. Oops.
    Damien sounds a lot like me. 🙂
    In some blogging circles I am persona non grata and enjoy it. In part I exclude myself by pointing up the excessive “luvvieness” of the Blogging Culture. Irish Blogging Awards at the Europa falls into that category.

    There is something very healthy about the abillity to Blog (or Journal) but this self-regard will, I submit, lead to marginalisation and demise.

  • Gee, it appears the blogosphere is to go into terminal decline if it’s to be starved of its essential fuel, regardium. Given the migration of mainstream media more and more to the internet – cf the likes of The Daily, New York Times etc – the days of the blog, small, independent and self sustaining – are far from numbered.
    Every industry has its ‘luvvieness’ scene – that’s not an issue. People take it and leave it – they meet up once or more a year and have the craic, that’s all there is to it.

  • Mack

    Blogs are going from strength to strength these days.

    Whether it’s,, or the Huffington Post, Business Insider etc in the USA. There seems to be new strong blogs emerging all the time. In the US their growth rates are blistering. I can’t understand the newspaper paywall – ultimately they’ll get eaten alive…

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Regardium’, that’s a cut-out-and-keeper Con!!

  • Yes I like “Regardium” too.
    But is it “luvviness” or “luvvidom” cos Im sure Ill use that again (and again) 😉