Talk:Exclusive interview with prominent blogger, David Farrar/Q and A
These are the questions, and below those are the answers made by David Farrar.
For those who don't know who you are and what you do, can you please give a brief introduction to yourself?
I discovered the Internet in 1996 and it didn’t take me long to treasure it as the best invention ever. Started off debating issues on Usenet newsgroups and in July 2003 made the natural progression to have my own blog – kiwiblog.co.nz. The blog has proven fairly popular.
I spent eight years in the NZ Parliament working for various National Party Prime Ministers and Opposition Leaders. I started in July 1996 in the Media Services Unit of Ministerial Services when Jim Bolger was PM and then got appointed to Jenny Shipley’s personal office when she became PM. I was very involved with introducing public e-mail addresses for Ministers, starting e-mail distribution of news and launching the first ever official PM’s website.
In Opposition I worked for Jenny Shipley, Bill English and Don Brash before leaving in March 1994 to set up my own polling and research company. I am also very involved with the Internet Society of NZ (www.internetnz.net.nz) and am currently the Vice-President. Through them I have played a role in the splitting up of Telecom to foster more competition and anti-spam legislation.
What was the first computer you had and was it capable of getting online? That first moment you went on the Internet were you hooked or did it take time before you wanted to spend all day online?
God no – my first computer was in 1982 and was a BBC. Also had an Apple IIe and then a Mac. Finally converted to Microsoft in 1997 after being the only person in Parliament to have a Mac! I started using the Internet at work in around Feb 1996 and did get hooked and got an account with Ihug in August 1996.
Are you the most well known blogger in New Zealand? How many visitors do other New Zealand blogs get?
Myself and Russell Brown are very well known for our blogs, and the Spare Room blog by Ana Samways and Steven Shaw has a pretty high profile also. I suspect we all get over 100,000 visits a month (I am currently at over 300,000). There’s then probably a dozen or so other bloggers who get into the tens of thousands.
Also there are some global blogs run by NZers such as Read Write Web, which have huge readership globally.
What was the first blog you read and what made you decide to become a blogger yourself?
It was NZ Pundit, run by Gordon King. Sadly it is now defunct but it was my inspiration to get started myself. Gordon would post wonderful polemics challenging the conventional thinking and reporting, and after a few months of reading him I realized that I also had views and could try sharing them with the world. So in July 2003 I made my first post, and enjoyed it ever since.
What blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I have literally several hundred I subscribe to and try to keep up with. The ones which I am most addicted to are:
http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com/ - Cactus Kate on men, sex and politics http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ - Whale Oil is wonderfully offensive with some great multimedia http://tonymilne.blogs.com/i_see_red/ - Tony Milne on politics national and local http://norightturn.blogspot.com/ - Idiot/Savant is an encyclopedia of info on what is happening in Parliament and politics http://www.publicaddress.net/ - You get not just Russell Brown, but also David Slack, Keith Ng and many others. http://redconfectionery.blogspot.com/ - a bunch of female Young Labour bloggers half on their sex lives and half on politics – the perfect mix. http://spanblather.blogspot.com/ - Span gives a consistently challenging view of politics from a young female feminist and unionist perspective. https://www.tuanz.org.nz/blog/e379f711-b2b6-4423-9e32-4a8bf9f301db.html - TUANZ’s Downstream blog on what is happening in the telco industry. http://www.geekzone.co.nz/juha - Juha Saarinen - great stories on interesting things http://wellingtonista.com/ - a great joint blog about my home town
How did you establish yourself and what is the best way you have found to bring traffic to your blog?
Well it wasn’t much of a deliberate strategy. I just posted on topics that were of interest to me, and found that many people were interested in the same things. As it started to grow, I found that doing updates more than once a day was a good way to have people regularly checking in. Oh and most important of all is to have a sense of humour and enjoy doing it.
If you weren't blogging what would you be doing?
Earning money! I spend far too long blogging when I should be working on more business. However it is doing well enough that I can divide my time up between my business, InternetNZ and blogging and not starve.
Many politicians, including New Zealanders, have seen the power of a blog and have started one. Are these blogs successful, or do people prefer to read other blogs not tied to a specific party?
Very few are successful because the politicians treat it as a one way communication tool where they just post press releases or travel diaries. Rodney Hide is the best example of doing it the right way. John Key is video blogging and responding to comments through future videos, which is a different way to interact.
Generally people prefer to read what they regard as honest opinion, rather than just party propaganda.
Do you participate actively in any wiki or Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, etc?
Absolutely I am a huge huge fan of Wikipedia and use it many times a day. I even read random articles on it when bored, and was very proud when I became notable enough to be on Wikipedia. Also a daily youtube user and think it is very significant that they managed to basically leave Google Video for dead – it shows innovation can beat a strong incumbent brand.
I wish I had more time to edit Wikipedia. There’s lots more NZ content to get onto there.
Wikipedia and the like are hugely popular websites world wide, what makes these websites effective and successful?
Basically multiple user generated content, rather than tightly controlled content from one source. Also the sense of community such sites generate is quite integral to their success.
Where do you see the internet evolving in 10 years? 20 years?
I wish I knew. In terms of access I see NZ rolling out fibre to the home in the next 10 to 20 years and that will open up amazing possibilities as we will have totally wired homes.
The next big thing will probably be on mobile phones/devices and will be applications that use GPS, mapping and mobile technology. Imagine being able to see a map of your local area on your phone, and not just get told where the nearest toilets or bookstore is, but also if any of your friends are nearby. There will be privacy issues to get over, but this will be hugely popular with kids and many adults.
Thank you for your time answering my questions. Any final words you would like to say to finish off the interview?
Just thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed for Wikinews.