6342Re: Socialist Alliance
- May 18, 2004Web response to leftist sites. An observation from a little piranha
about the big fish
By Bob Gould
The discussion about Green Left Weekly's energetic self-promotion of
its rather large web response is of some interest. While Ozleft, with
which I'm associated, doesn't get anything like the massive hit rates
of GLW and the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS seems to get even more
than GLW) our modest experience throws some light on web responses.
For instance, without any publicity at all we put up an article by
myself on Australian race experience and policy, and it has drifted up
to nearly 300 hits in a couple of months. An article, against by
myself, on multiculturalism has drifted up to about 1000 in a few months.
Occasionally I get emails from people who've used my articles in
preparing essays. A lot of the hits seem to come from people Googling
on keywords. This obviously does not equate with the enormous hit rate
of GLW and the WSWS, but clearly some of the same elements are
present, on a much larger scale.
GLW has performed the extremely labour-intensive task of putting up
about 12 years of a weekly newspaper on the web, and GLW Paramatta and
others promote themselves systematically, week after week, on numerous
websites and discussion sites, and they get the harvest of a
substantial response. More power to their elbows.
The same broad principle applies to the even bigger hit rate of the
WSWS and the very substantial hit rate of Workers Online. Energetic
and professional web activity generates a substantial response -- at
the level of web viewing. In this day and age that's clearly an
important sphere of political activity and as a relatively late
convert to the web, who is now an energetic web publicist I wouldn't
want to belittle any of that.
The following problem, however, arises: how is that despite the quite
extraordinary hit rate, particularly on GLW and the WSWS, that the
overt political activities of the groups that produce these sites, and
use them so intelligently, remain at such an extraordinarily modest level?
I go, from time to time, to public meetings called by the Socialist
Alliance in Sydney, and the attendance at those meetings remains in
the range of 60-100 people -- the same range at which meeting like
that, conducted by the Alliance and the DSP, have sat for the past
I don't want to enter into territory of the triumphalism, and the
reaction to it, generated by this argument. I'm rather more interested
in the disparity between a large web presence and the apparent lack of
change in the political influence of the groups running a successful
On our much more modest scale, we're quite pleased with the overall
response to Ozleft. Almost all the material we put up gets a
respectable response. It seems to me the site has some political
impact, and I keep encountering people who react to issues raised in
various articles. Nevertheless, the problem still exists of connecting
off the web with people who show some interest in material on the web.
It seems to me, at that level, none of us have found an answer to
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