The Week Link
Monday 19 March 2001

The Week Think

We Wish To Inform You Of An Excellent Book

I've been reading an excellent, albeit devastating book lately: Philip Gourevitch's We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, a report on the Rwandan genocide. I've wanted to read it for some time, out of a sense of niggling guilt over neglecting to pay proper attention to one of the most heinous crimes to occur in my lifetime. Reading it confirms both the horrible nature of the crime and the feeling of guilt, and adds a new perspective to my entire reading of twentieth century international politics. Which, given that I've studied the subject for years, is saying something.

I don't think I'll ever be able to think about the Clinton administration the same way again. Forget Lewinsky—this was his greatest offence: failure to act swiftly as leader of the free world against the worst state-sponsored genocide since the Holocaust. The United Nations stands similarly indicted, and the whole question of whether grand ideals of human rights are any more meaningful and useful fifty years after the Holocaust than fifty years before it is thrown severely into doubt.

I strongly encourage anyone who cares about human rights to read this book. But if you can't make it to your nearest bookstore this afternoon, try these excellent online resources, which give a good flavour of it: a PBS interview with Gourevitch; and a public conversation with him at the University of California at Berkeley.


A Note For Regular Readers

There was no particular reason for last week's break, apart from needing time out to rethink what I'm doing here—triggered, in no small part, by those musings on stats-counting, which some of you will have noticed I recanted within days. Well, partially recanted: I still think that examining site stats is an important part of the creative process on the personal web, just as any form of feedback is an important part of any creative process. And since contact forms and emails only seem to be used by a tiny percentage of a site's visitors, a site creator is largely stuck with studying stats and guessing what they mean (although Blogvoices seems to be an effective way of encouraging feedback).

Anyway, I didn't want to get sidetracked again onto that to-stat-or-not-to-stat question, but rather to ponder where this weblog is headed. I've become rather disenchanted with the whole weekly personal zine idea; after a first flush of enthusiasm I find it's changing my whole blogging style in ways I don't like.

I wasn't sure how The Week Link was going to turn out, or how it would differ from my previous weblogs. All I really wanted to do was break from the travel-reminiscences of Walking West and to take some of the updating-every-day pressure off so that I could focus on other tasks.

At first it was a relief not to feel the need to write every day. It encouraged a more selective links-gathering process, and allowed me to turn a list of totally disparate links into a more cohesive whole. It also put an end to a tendency to wax personal in my entries, and gave back the 'anonymous pundit' flavour of some of my past opinion pages.

The trouble is, I've ended up missing that personal side of it, and the much broader ambit of my previous logs. Somehow this has turned into a place to muse about the Internet and little else, which I find way too limiting. And cranking out a sizable instalment every Wednesday has ended up taking almost as much time as before.

So for these and various other reasons (pondering the recent spate of anniversaries for weblogs that I read; sneaking a new piece on Madagascar into Walking West; annoyance that 'The Weakest Link' began on Australian television the same week I began this log) I've been thinking: maybe I should go back to doing what I liked doing best. Third time lucky.

Or maybe not. The weekly approach still has some strengths. Possibly I could find a way to combine the two (Neale's old wetlog/mini-wetlog approach comes to mind). Or something. I'm feeling rather indecisive about it all at the moment.

So I'm going to ask for your advice. If you're a long-time reader of my meanderings, tell me, which would you rather read?

The Week Link
Walking West
Some kind of amalgamation of the two

[29/3/01: The poll has closed and this form no longer works. Thanks for voting.]

The Week's Links

The Weeks Past