by Brian John Spencer
I’ve gotten like 100s of job-rejection letters since graduating in 2010. It hurts! Then I got a response from Tod recently – “Welcome to the team.” That was cool. So I suppose I better introduce myself, a bit like Saul did — except I doubt many will be so familiar with me, if at all. I’m not in the habit of commenting, though I’ve been reading the blog for over a year now. I actually submitted a few guest posts around this time last year (here, here and here).
I suppose I should say more of myself. My name is Brian Spencer. (Otherwise Brian John Spencer, because North America seems to have a lot of Brian Spencers.) I’m from Belfast, Northern Ireland and studied Law and French at university. I was troubled into utterance/blogging around about 2010 by the horrendous economic and employment climate that continues to affect young people in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
I stumbled across the OT when it was still The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. I instantly loved the place as a shared online space, where there were individual blog channels, and an open blog pool where everyone could dip. The quality and calibre of debate and writing was immense.
I was massively inspired. It made me want to go away and up my game. So I started my own blog, The Ideas Workshop – a place where I could write and experiment at my own pace. I just wanted to learn. The whole time I kept in touch with OT and other blogs that set the standard. Like the Dish, the Spectator blogs, Brain Pickings, Greenwald wherever he be, and Slugger O’Toole to name a few.
Having my own blog allowed me to take the guest blog I did for you guys on law school and expand it and go in deep. From a narrow sphere of interest, my own personal blog allowed me to expand my reach. I began exploring topics like Writing Is Hard, because I actually found writing and blogging hard. I started blog series on the Cult of University, Art is Theft, Combinatorial Creativity, Writing for Free, When It’s Cool to be Dumb, The Relationship Between Words and Money, The Surrender of Journalism to PR and Abuse of State Power and many more. I also wrote individual pieces on whatever was topical or relevant.
Over the last 12-16 months I’ve learnt a huge deal from reading and replicating blogs like OT, and from just doing it. The confidence, speed and efficiency and hunger for blogging just rises and rises the more you do it. I even started another blog, Media Law Northern Ireland. I, of course, continued to write on the Huffington Post and Defero Law, and Irish blogs, Slugger O’Toole and eamonnmallie.com where I had first begun writing online.
Once I started I couldn’t stop. It had to come out. A bit like Orwell, I was “smothered under” blogging. Like Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan, I didn’t actually want to be a blogger or writer as such – it’s something I had to do. So I gave up the hunt for a job in law and went with blogging pretty much full time. In fact, art and Live Drawing , my first loves, are my income. I should say that I’m as much a blogger as an artist and find the two inseparable. Each supports and feeds into the other in a positive feedback.
I’m now a writer, artist and legal blogger. So what do I see with this coming on board to OT?
For all the doomsayers and negativity I keep saying to people that this is the best time to be alive. The best time to be in journalism. Shane Smith said it and Hitchens said he so very envied the young person starting out. So I just want to get as involved as possible and contribute to this new world as much as I can. I’m fascinated by the emergence of Vox and the Intercept and what the guys at the Dish are doing with completely ad-free, subscription online journalism. I’m also still fascinating by this group blog and how you guys find a space in this wider bloggo-ecosystem.
By bringing the Ideas Workshop onto the group blog I want to take my blogging to the next level again. I really want to start engaging more with commenting and hopefully you guys can encourage that and keep me accountable. It’d be great just to get feedback and response to some of the themes and topics I’ve looked at. After all, it’s the coming together of ideas and opinions that creates bigger and better ideas.
I have loads of ideas of what I want to tackle. I want to contrast the US — the post-Jeffersonian, Nixonian democracy — with Europe, the ever-closer social democracy of Schumann-Monnet and Spaak. I envy your first amendment (even though your politicians are trying to criminalise journalism) and want to talk about that. I want to follow the Snowden debate and write about how pathetically inert Britain is in the fight-back against government surveillance and what kind of internet we want. I want to talk about your journey towards full marriage equality and contrast it with Europe and Ireland. I want to write about art and creativity, and even talk about how privacy is necessary for creativity.
I want you guys to see a bit of Ireland online and hopefully allow me to be part of this thing which is just really exciting. Peace out guys!