Monday, May 18, 2009

100th Post On RantRave.Com

It has been two months since I posted my first article on This is the 100th post on Rantrave.Since then, almost 17,000 readers have clicked on my articles. I in turn have been exposed to a wide range of interests and opinions ably voiced by other members of the site. Through, I have been able to exchange thoughts and opinions with other members of the site, some of whom post articles and others who simply comment.

Rantrave has a wide readership. It is good being able to reach many readers with an opinion voiced in a timely manner. Invariably, people who have personal knowledge of what I discuss post comments. Some are supportive and voice agreement. Others take sometimes vehement issue with my stated opinions. From Croatia to Eritrea, from the Holy Land to Jamaica, there are a lot of people who care passionately and are not shy about letting me know.

Audience visualisation is a powerful creative tool. Whether I am writing for a Texan conservative who is my contemporary a proud Serb telling me about his country or someone who sounds like the liberal wing of my family, Imagining the facial expressions of readers, their objections, questions and emotional responses gives me a real sense of focus.

I am still developing the ability to make catchy titles. The forty character limit on rantrave is a very good exercise in creative discipline. Some of the titles from my first blog posts sound like the long winded titles one would find in a Communist Party newspaper like Pravda or Neues Deutschland. Even in the more permissive Blogger format, I am looking to improve my titles.

It is very hard for me to predict which articles might be hits with my readers. Sometimes I hit a niche. Other times I get the title right. I sometimes study my successes and failures. I get a special sense of satisfaction when I can spark general interest in an off beat topic like the Coptic language or East German rock and roll. The last thing I want to do is to modify my opinions or subject focus to develop a wider readership. The best thing for the reading public is for everyone to write about what most interests them. This way the public has a wider choice of subject material and styles. I am not, however indifferent to general trends. Some other authours on have broadened my horizons. I store some of them under my favourite authours so I can study their opinions, focus and style. Sometimes, I read some articles that are likely to get me mad, especially for those annoying days when I am shopping for a topic to run with.

Rantrave gives its members a lot of latitude in posting, and limited latitude in deleting comments. This makes for good drama. It also forces writers to think. A famous talk radio pioneer, Bob Grant said on more than one occasion, "I don't care what they say about me as long as they say something."

The thought that it is possible to reach out and influence public opinion in a small way is a powerful tonic. We live in an age where there are alternatives to the three networks that once scheduled almost all of the trains of political thought that stopped daily in America's living rooms. In many ways, the internet revolution reminds me of the "democracy walls" on which Chinese citizens posted comments, caricatures and manifestoes during periods of liberalisation in Chinese political history. In both 1956 and 1989, a lot these bulletin boards disappeared. many of the people who posted on them were tracked down and taken to task for their expressed opinions. I can only hope that the "Democracy Wall" that is the internet endures longer than did the bulletin boards in cities across China. I do not of course mean to equate the level of risk that we as Americans face in the exercise of our free speech rights with the major risk faced in China. I am simply pointing out the common denominator of grass roots media. In the critical times we find ourselves in America and in the world, it seems to be a pity to leave unused the technological amplification of our free speech that is now available.

I thank the readers and especially the owners and staff of for making such a vibrant and fascinating web site. I look forward to writing for Rantrave as well as reading and corresponding with all of the other contributors who have made it such a fascinating site.

Illustration at the top of this page is a painting from a series depicting the Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell Sphere: Related Content

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