Exclusive interview with prominent blogger, David Farrar
Thursday, May 10, 2007
David Farrar is most known for his "fairly popular" blog, Kiwiblog, where he posts on various topics, including politics and technology. He is the vice-president of the Internet Society of New Zealand, and has been involved in helping to split Telecom New Zealand up and in anti-spam legislation.
David Farrar first started using the "best invention ever," Internet, in February 1996 after having owned a BBC Micro microcomputer since 1982. On the Internet he debated various issues using Usenet newsgroups. Kiwiblog now serves for this purpose. He then got his own personal Internet account with ihug in August of that year.
Farrar also has political ties, which can be seen in some of his blog posts. For eight years, Farrar worked for various Prime Ministers (PM) and Opposition leaders for the National Party, working with the likes of former PM Jim Bolger and former PM Jenny Shipley in the Media Services Unit of Ministerial Services.
Until Farrar landed himself a job in parliament, he had been using mainly Apple computers, "[I] finally converted to Microsoft in 1997 after being the only person in Parliament to have a Mac!"
Farrar was involved with introducing public e-mail for ministers, and the first Prime Minister website.
In 2004, after leaving politics, Farrar set up his polling and research company.
Kiwiblog, sparked by now defunct blog NZ Pundit by Gordon King, currently receives over 300,000 visitors a month. He suspects that Russell Brown, and the Spareroom blogs get well over 100,000 visitors. "There’s then probably a dozen or so other bloggers who get into the tens of thousands."
"Gordon [King] 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."
Farrar admits to not having a deliberate strategy for promoting himself and his blog, he just found that doing more posts in a day and posting what he was interested in got the visitors that were interested in the same things. "Oh and most important of all is to have a sense of humour and enjoy doing it."
If Farrar wasn't blogging, he says he would be "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."
Farrar has a few tips for those politicians who have started a blog, or are looking at starting one up, "Very few are successful because [they] 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." But still warns that most readers of blog prefer "honest opinion" instead of reading what the politicians want them to read.
Farrar is a huge supporter of Wikipedia and says that he uses it multiples times a day. He says that he was "very proud" when the Wikipedia community regarded him as notable enough to have his own entry.
"I wish I had more time to edit Wikipedia. There’s lots more NZ content to get onto there."
Farrar says the success to websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube is because of multiple user generated content, "...rather than tightly controlled content from one source." The focus on the community at large is also a major factor of their success.
When asked where he sees the Internet in decades from now, his simple response was, "I wish I knew." But he does predict every house in New Zealand will be connected to the Internet via fibre optics.
One scenario Farrar drew was, "...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."
David Farrar would just like to say thanks for the opportunity of being interviewed on Wikinews.
Blogs he's most addicted to
David Farrar subscribes to literally hundreds of blogs, below are the ones he's most addicted to.
- Cactus Kate on men, sex and politics.
- Whale Oil is wonderfully offensive with some great multimedia.
- Tony Milne on politics national and local.
- Idiot/Savant is an encyclopedia of info on what is happening in Parliament and politics.
- You get not just Russell Brown, but also David Slack, Keith Ng and many others.
- A bunch of female Young Labour bloggers half on their sex lives and half on politics – the perfect mix.
- Span gives a consistently challenging view of politics from a young female feminist and unionist perspective.
- TUANZ’s Downstream blog on what is happening in the telco industry.
- Juha Saarinen - great stories on interesting things.
- A great joint blog about my home town.