Monday, 2 July 2012
Five years of blogging
Doctoral Studies in Human Rights now has thousands of readers around the world. Many of them are not doctoral students and perhaps never will be, although one can always hope! Many people have contributed items and information to the blog over the years. It has even been cited in a judicial decision or two, as well as in academic journal articles and at conferences. Some have been upset by my frankness and iconoclasm, and a few have been offended. Sorry about that. It's nothing personal.
In 2010, I launched a spinoff blog to provide coverage of the Review Conference of the International Criminal Court. There is a mischievous tradition of an entry on 1 April that a few people continue to fall for. I can only do this once a year because good ideas are in short supply.
More than 1,000 separate items have been published on the blog. Some of them are rather lengthy analyses of important developments, while other items simply inform about coming events of interest, or of useful documents and publications, and of successful doctoral graduates. I've made no secret of my own obsessions, especially the abolition of capital punishment and the challenges of international justice. But over the years, a huge range of human rights issues have been discussed.
The posts on the blog are fairly regular. A month has never passed without a few items being published. I've written and posted from every continent and from more than sixty countries. In a few, I have been blacked out by reactionary government policies. My posts on China and Iran were written on site but had to wait until I left the country before they could appear. I suspect that if I had greater computer skills, I would have been able to get around this. I know that readers of my blog in these countries have found such a way.
Technology changes quickly, and there's no assurance we'll still be blogging five years from now. So far, I've resisted expanding into related areas like Twitter and Facebook. I've also batted off approaches aimed at commercializing the blog and using it to generate income.
A few years ago, I began identifying the blog with a French postage stamp that was first issued in 1900. Known as the 'Mouchon' in honour of its designer, bears the inscription 'Droits de l'homme' - that is, Human Rights. I cannot be sure, but probably there was a connection with the Dreyfus Affair, and with the French Ligue des droits de l'homme, which flourished at the time. The French also issued the stamp in some of their overseas territories and post office, where it sent an interesting message.