Changing Winds

Winds of Change mission statement 2.0:

What challenges will face the U.S., the West, the rest of the world that aren’t being discussed everywhere every day?

What opportunities exist – to these challenges or the widely discussed ones – that should be pursued?

What isn’t being talked about in the chattering class that should be? Winds should be a place where questions that are slightly off-center can be asked, and where answers that aren’t obvious should be proposed.

For the next four years, we’re going to hear endless partisan chatter from people who care a lot about it in publications and on sites where that is the focus. Winds isn’t one of those sites, and “impeaching Obama” or “destroying the GOP” aren’t going to be core topics here.

The goal for Winds, as I see it, is to be a place for interesting conversation about issues that possibly shows them in a new light.

Note that interesting conversation comes first; that means respectful engagement with the rest of us.

To that end, we’re working on Winds 2.0 which I hope will launch in early December (my attention and time are the throttling issues). I hope we’ll have an interesting lineup of writers (a lot of whom are people you se here today) and I truly hope that those of you who have participated will continue to do so, and will step up and occasionally author a piece here.

There will be some new rules – we’ll require registration from commenters – and, I hope, some new ideas.

Since I only have a limited about of bandwidth to devote to Winds, it will have to be split between blogging and managing the changeover. So both will get less than I’d like.

If you have author privileges at Winds today, please read this, think about it a bit, and drop me a note that sets out your interest in participating and some of the ideas you’d like to bring to the table.

While Winds isn’t a hugely popular blog, it’s got a pretty respectable level of traffic, and I’d like to see if we can find some smaller, interesting bloggers and reach out to them about joining us here – either by moving here, or by using it like Totten does as a way to put interesting posts out into the world and pull more people to his blog. So what new voices are out there that we ought to reach out to?

My goal is to port the site to the new platform (which will be MT 4.2 based) by the 1st week in December, then spend December establishing the lineup of authors and start the new year with a refurbished set of digs (and maybe Diggs) for all of us.

28 thoughts on “Changing Winds”

  1. Registration to post is a dumb idea. How many registrations are now required if a user makes the circuit of a dozen or two different blogs?

  2. You do it once per site, and you’re done. The goal is to cultivate people who care about the conversation here, rather than folks who drop by to drunkblog and p**s in the punchbowl. If you’ve got another idea on how to do that – to promote heated, serious debate and lock out the trolls, I’d truly love to hear it.

    A.L.

  3. Winds of Change is one of a very few blogs I frequent with any regularity. I might check in 3 times a week and I don’t post here much due to time limits. I like the direction your going and the “slightly off-center” focus. I would like you to know I appreciate the effort you put into this blog.

  4. I’d suggest using OpenID. That way you can require login without forcing people to create yet another account just for this site.

  5. A.L.: The best part is, we don’t have to use Google just because you welcome your new overlords. We can each pick our own favorite overlords. By the time I’d ever heard of OpenID, I was surprised to learn that I already had at least two of them (AIM and Yahoo). And if I was really paranoid, I could even set up my very own personal authentication server. What a great system! And now, a couple years later, WoC might become the first place where I actually have a USE for OpenID.

  6. Registration is a good idea. However it came into being, the web version of astroturf has become more than a nuisance. As to the other things, Winds has always been a place where the echo chamber hasn’t had perfect pitch, and where at least the actual articles (and sometimes, maybe even often, the comments) presented interesting facts and/or opinions.

    Congrats on what you’ve done, and God speed on what you will do.

  7. Technically, I want to change the design to bring the comments more priority, do a little bit of cleanup and figure out how to make the ad spaces useful.

    Plus I want to refocus us onto topics that will have a longer shelf life.

    A.L.

  8. bq. Plus I want to refocus us onto topics that will have a longer shelf life.

    Amen to that! “Farming is killing, mostly. Weeding, pruning, doing away with bugs…” Didn’t someone say roughly that somewhere in the Turkey thread? :)

  9. I’m all for registration mments but if you are taking any suggestions of a more technical nature – please, please, please bring back the “preview” button.

  10. What challenges exist?

    Sorry, but about keeping the blog clean of trolls and lunatics from any side I have no idea. But about challenges I have. There are many, and they are linked.

    Included; how do we keep going a technological civilisation that is beginning to come up against hard limits? Answer; take away the limits. We have available four hundred trillion terawatts of power and uncountable billions of tonnes of any raw material one cares to name – and the road to getting all of that starts a hundred miles or so away.

    Included; how do we channel the energies of millions of young men (yes, it’s still mainly men) who no longer have the traditional outlets of waging war or going out to the frontier and potentially getting themselves killed? See above.

    Included; how do we shut down the flow of resources to those who want to kill or enslave us? See above.

    One message that many of the young and even more of the middle-aged would get behind, if someone had the courage and vision to give it. And it wouldn’t have to be a politician; the resources needed are accessible to some (very few) “private” individuals:

    “BACK INTO THE BLACK – THIS TIME TO STAY!”

  11. From my increasingly infrequent perspective WOC has seemed more tedious and less enlightening of late. I think a useful direction for the future would be to deliberately place and discuss the day’s hot topic (likely political) in its larger (probably philosophical) context. The narrowly partisan political approach, seen too often, is just the long winded version of sloganeering, where useless terms like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are brandished as if they were somehow explanative. I propose that every commenter have to submit ‘both’ sides of any argument in order to enjoy publication. This idea reminds me of the old fashioned concept of a debate wherein the debaters had to research both sides of the topic; as they were only at the last minute arbitrarily assigned one side of the other by the moderator. I know this would be a Troll killer. The very few dedicated enough to present a discussion covering both sides of any issue may very well be worth reading. How’s that for off-center?

  12. bq. From my increasingly infrequent perspective WOC has seemed more tedious and less enlightening of late.

    Care to characterize the curve? Was there a “knee”, in your opinion, and if so, around what date?

  13. N.M. #17
    Good question, but I can’t recall a triggering ‘event’. My first guess would be to postulate an association between election related rhetoric – tending as it does to partisanship, and my reported disaffection. The concept of a mission statement is also particularly germane. What is the object of this, and similar exercises? Illuminating discussion leading to a more complete understanding of the events surrounding us? Or is it just winning some contest of wits? [AKA a p*ssing contest] I think there is some insight to be gleaned from the adversarial system we use to determine truth and dispense justice. That process only requires one side to pursue the truth rather than victory, and the truth is often lost in that process. Were both sides to adopt winning as their principal goal [partisan ‘discussion’ defined?] the odds of finding the truth would likely plummet even further. How to move away from partisan assertion and towards illuminating discussion is the challenge I would pose.

  14. Sure. That’s the cat to be belled, with the usual risks, including: monoculture (“echo chamber”), navel-gazing, wonkery, irrelevance, pomposity, prolixity.

    One site I’ve linked to in the past called “Overcoming Bias.” It’s run by an academic friend of mine and some other semi-cronies. I check in there quite rarely of late, so I can’t vouch for its present condition. But maybe some cross-pollination might be in order. Hmmm.

    Another aspect: making backchannel a bit easier.

  15. AL : Fair enough but I guess all I’m saying is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. While I’m sure there is room for improvement, there are a lot less trolls and inane commenters here than virtually any other web site I have visited. So by changing the comment policy you might change that dynamic, and who’s to say it will necessarily be for the better?

    [I suspect really, requiring registration won’t detract from the quality as long as it’s easy enough to register, but there are always unintended consequences of changes in policy so be careful.]

  16. I have to disagree with Ian Coull (Commenter “Celebrim” often makes the same comment). I’ve been hanging out at WOC since 03, and it hasn’t changed that much. Many of the same commenters–Andrew J. Lazarus, Nortius Maximus, AMac and others–are still around. In other cases, the cast has changed, but the characters haven’t. The far right used to be represented by “Raymond.” That position is now ably covered by “Jim Rockford.” The militant anti-muslim ground once covered by Trent Telenko and his compatriot whose name I don’t remember is now covered by Fletcher Christian and to a lesser degree David Blue. The way out libertarian “TJ Madison” has been replaced by the “paleocon” TOC. The liberal POV that used to be represented by “Vesicle Trafficer” and AJL is still covered by AJL, who has since been joined by “hypocracyrules,” “Coldtype,” and “beard” among others.

    Think about it, are there comments now that are worse than Raymond’s constant “70 million skulls” attributed to an undifferetiated “left” or Trent’s fantasies about nuking the middle east, not to mention the shrill hissy fits of “P. Lukasiak?” I think it only seems that way because the issues and arguments that were fresh in 03-05 have now gone stale. Both sides’ positions have ossified and become a cliched set of talking points. That’s why your new direction may be a good thing. If it changes to talking more about philosophy than specific issues, that’s a subject I enjoy and have some knowledge of. Still, I’ll miss the entertainment of the partisan boxing matches.

  17. JTFR, Coldtype is well to my left. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Indeed, I’d say he is the only true radical leftist found here.

    I’m OK with registration, and I agree with Thorley Winston that we need a preview button.

    There is no reason, for about the next two years, for most posts to degenerate into a proxy for the election. This may allow diversity of subject to increase.

    As far as comment quality, I think Fred is onto something. If you search the archives from 2002-03, you can find front page posts on the imminently forthcoming use of liberated Iraq as a base for Special Ops against Iran. I can’t remember if it was Telenko or his compatriot who even supplied a suggested order of battle, straight from his video game. It’s probably for the best that most of the posts are now datelined in the Real World.

  18. Fred, I protest.

    Nuke the Middle East? Maybe. But where I differ from some is in the details. I do not consider the fiery death of a billion people to be desirable. I do consider it less undesirable than the same but accompanied by the death of several tens of millions of people in our part of the World. Or the eventual death of _everybody_.

    I shall explain. Islam does not, as it currently stands, allow coexistence with any other way of life whatsoever. In that, Islam is probably where Christianity was half a millennium ago. And we don’t have half a millennium to spare; we probably don’t have half a century.

    If the West does nothing, then one of two things will happen; either Islam takes over by default, because their birth rate is MUCH higher than that of the civilised West, or some total lunatic on their side – of whom there are many – lets loose with a nuke and then they all die. Possibly after they have set off some more and possibly not. God only knows what that would do to the West; unlike them, we have a conscience.

    However, that is the _better_ of the two possible consequences. The worse is that they win; and then there is a global Caliphate, and since they are completely against science and technology those two things disintegrate – and before very long at all, the exhaustion of irreplaceable resources does in civilisation. And not very long after that, in geological terms, some disaster that we no longer have the capacity to do anything about (another Dinosaur Killer, the next ice age, a supervolcano, for examples) does us in. And that is it for life on Earth; by the time the resources regenerate themselves ready for our successors, Earth will be uninhabitable by multicellular life.

    All that presupposes that nobody is going to come up with anything worse than nukes, and that too is wrong. Engineered superviruses and grey goo are just two of the horrors that someone sufficiently mad could unleash.

    Which leads back to one of the themes of the OP. What are the challenges for the West? The main one, and the one on which all depends, and the only way out of the mess described above, is energy independence and a new source of resources. The way to that begins a hundred miles away, more or less. The challenge is that the hundred miles is straight up. Wealth and _lebensraum_ beyond our feeble Earthbound imagination lie ready for the taking. Time, and past time, we got started on getting them.

    *BACK INTO THE BLACK – THIS TIME TO STAY!*

  19. #20 Glen: from a recent post over there, chock full o’ quotes…

    bq. “Dealing with the sheer of volume of ‘stuff’ available on the internet is like being a crackhead with OCD. In the course of one hour I’ve tweaked my fantasy baseball lineup, posted on this message board, read Yahoo news, answered my latest e-mail, downloaded guidance criteria for PAHs in soils in NY State, checked the discography of a couple of bands, sent a deliverable to a client, and checked the weather. If that isn’t superstimulus I don’t know what is. It’s amazing how much I can do, yet accomplish so little.”
    — Misanthropic

    True dat; and “I need to put together a better suit of armor before that [figurative] tribal warlord’s deadline expires or I’ll never get out of here alive.”:http://ironmanmovie.marvel.com/ Either I or Winds gotta shift a bit. :)

  20. Joe, thanks. And sorry for repeating myself, at least partially. I should have quoted from the movie inspired by Wells:

    “It is the universe or nothing. Which shall it be?”

    Our answer to this question will be irrevocable, and it will be given this century – probably in the first half.

  21. Actually, Fletcher, it was Trent Telenko who had the glass Middle East fantasy. I didn’t mean to accuse you of going that far. I just meant you come from approximately the same point of view about the middle east. To be fair, I have also never seen you claim a war with Iran is imminent, as Trent and his friend did. So I guess in some cases, the comments have got better.

    AJL, you’re right. Coldtype is well to your left (I think Coldtype is well to the left of Trotsky). Again, I just meant that there are still as many and as able representatives of the left on WOC now as there has ever been.

    I also don’t mind registration.

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