02 January 2006

A year of Bond-ing

Today marks the first anniversary of the Bond Papers.

One year ago, in the midst of the offshore talks, I started this blog as a means of contributing to the discussion of public policy issues affecting Newfoundland and Labrador in particular and Canada in general.

While much has changed in the past year, the core goal for the Bond Papers is still the same: to contribute to an informed discussion of public policy issues. It started with the offshore and in the first few weeks that proved to be the issue that dominated.

Since then, there have been posts on everything from the fishery to alleged spy planes flying through Newfoundland and Labrador, Titan missiles and economic development. Some posts are lighthearted and humourous. Others have been deeper and wordier. Whether they succeeded in being funny or serious, as the case may be, is best left to its readers.

Readership incidentally, has grown fairly steadily in the past year. On any given week upwards of 150 people a day drop in a read these e-scribbles. At times, such as the election, the daily readership has doubled that number. There is no defined pattern to the reader levels. On Friday past, for example, the readership hit the weekly peak of 245 unique visitors. On New Year's Day, it hit almost 150, on a Sunday, when normally readership would drop to the low double digits.

Fundamentally, the Bond Papers remains a form of samizdat, or self-publication. It is an opinion column written at least daily. The opinions here are based on my experience and my research into issues. Fortunately, I have built up a fairly good filing system and a bank of genuine experts off whom I can bounce any of my thoughts and ideas. Ultimately, the opinions presented here are my own.

Blogging, by its very nature, does not follow a single pattern. The one followed here encourages e-mails as the way for readers to give any feedback beyond reading it faithfully and turning up in the hit counter. Most correspondence comes from people who read regularly, beit daily or weekly. Some disagree completely with everything. Some agree with every word.

The majority fall somewhere in between and that is as it should be. The fundamental purpose of the Bond Papers is to provoke, and with any good fortune, to provoke thought.

My favourite response remains the angry telephone call from a politician, soon retired, who felt that in fact I was the one who couldn't do math. I will pit my calculator against his any day in confidence that mine is correct.

My second favourite is the threatening letter from part of the fourth estate that felt it best some of these columns perish rather than be published. Hypocrisy has a new name, but I was quite happy to stop handing out free advertising.

One of the most common questions asked is a simple one: how much time do you spend on the blog?

I don't keep track. I fit it into the day. Most days, I find an hour in the evening or early in the morning to throw some things together. Since it is a topical online column, there is plenty of fodder. On other days, I'll be able to take some time during lunch or in the break between other projects to fire off a few thoughts. Anything substantial sometimes takes a half day or more, parceled out over several days. There are occasions when I have worked into the wee hours. Thankfully those times have been rare.

How much longer will this continue? Who knows?

With so much fodder for the typing cannon, though and being an opinionated s.o.b., it will be hard to stop.

After all, NSDQ.