Saskboy is a computer scientist who comments on all sorts of news, movies, and his daily thoughts. Photography, politics, preserving humankind, and having fun through humour are just a few of the things he likes to do and share online. Some of his creations include the Pet Foil Hat Technology seen on cats everywhere there’s an addicted eBay buyer, and The Teleban — a blog group of funny people semi-devoted to banning television in jest. He often writes to be funny, and wrote this bio in the third person to make it seem at first as if he had someone else promoting his site. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s currently living in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada where the snow ought to melt any week now.
Saskboy’s been blogging since 2002, and contributes to Off The Grid, a blog that won the 2006 Canadian Blog Award for Best Science/Technology blog. He co-moderates and is the assistant webmaster of a prominent Canadian political blog aggregator, and has organized public Barbeque picnics for groups of Saskatchewan bloggers affiliated with the Saskatchewan Blog Aggregator
Simon Owens: For Bloggasm, I’ve conducted nearly 200 interviews, and the vast majority were with bloggers who could be categorized within a specific niche. You’re one of those bloggers who blogs on whatever comes to mind. Do you find it hard to gain readers this way?
Saskboy: Ah, the niche of the “whatever-blogger”. It’s not a famous niche, and certainly not the way to attract a regular and massive following. It’s the type of blog I enjoy writing (and reading) the most, however. I started blogging to share pictures and stories with my family after I temporarily moved several thousand kilometers east to Canada’s capital city Ottawa. Then I got interested in eBay’s discussion forums, and found I enjoyed writing and commenting on almost any subject under the sun. I hated it when something I’d put hours into discussing, would scroll off the page into the virtual dustbin, and so I started saving my rants, jokes, and conversations by putting them into a blog I could archive, instead.
Sometimes I get onto a kick about politics or environmental policies. Other times it’s tech news, or things that relate to big-business locking customers out of fairly using things we’ve bought. I also do a bit of travelling in my job, so I have photography from small towns that most people would normally never visit. My blog is a true journal and log of my days, not a focused news or gossip blog which tends to get the most loyal readers and huge traffic numbers, but I’m happy with the crowd I do have (and look forward to meeting many more as they slowly discover my blog). I enjoy the intelligent and humourous comments I do get at my site.
Simon Owens: I’ve noticed that several of the Canadian bloggers I’ve interviewed follow US politics closely. Do you find this to be a trend among most Candians? How do you guys view the recent power shift in Congress from the Republicans to the Democrats?
Saskboy: All Canadians who follow politics, also follow US politics closely. Canada’s certainly not the 51st state, but we listen to what comes out of Washington DC, because we know it will have a significant effect on what happens on our side of the border. Many of our jobs depend on trade with the USA, so having an insular President in power impacts on our trade and tourism industries, as we saw with the Beef BSE blockade, softwood lumber NAFTA dispute, and the ongoing Homeland Security passport directive that is killing the camaraderie and cross-border shopping trips that have gone on for generations between our countries.
Canadians politically also have an unfortunate sense of smugness that comes from knowing a lot about American politics, while the average American knows next to nothing about Canada, let alone our politics. It’s understandable really, but it doesn’t mean we like being unnoticed and unacknowledged as an important part of North America by American culture. Canadian news always contains coverage of American news (which is part of why we know American politics), but we don’t see an equivalent proportion of Canadian coverage on American media. And when we do, half of the time it’s through the distorted lens of Bill O’Reily, or Ann Coulter who tell lies about Canada in their reports.
I think most Canadians are either optimistic that the Democrat-controlled Congress will improve the relations between our countries, or are entirely indifferent to the change. Both the Democrats and Republicans are to the right ideologically of slightly more than half of Canadians. There are some differences between the parties, but the almighty dollar rules even more strongly than it does in Canada, so two parties who are beholden to corporate interests don’t really give the independent thinker or politician a fair chance to be heard.
I was impressed when Senator Leahy tore a strip off of Alberto Gonzalez for witholding information from a Senate committee, concerning the deportion of Canadian Maher Arar to Syria where he was tortured. Holding the executive branch responsible for crimes is something we didn’t see during the Republican years, so hopefully the improved oversight is a glimmer of things to come. American democracy is suffering from a lack of imagination, especially if it elects another Clinton to the presidency. I don’t think it’s right for only Bushes and Clintons to be in power from 1988 through 2012, even if Hillary would do a fair job.
Simon Owens: How does the Candian political blogosphere compare to US political blogs? Do you have your own versions of Michelle Malkins, Instapundits, and Daily Kos?
Saskboy: The Canadian political blogosphere is vastly different from the American political blogosphere. In Canada, blog aggregators (sites which republish the feeds of member blogs) rule the numbers game, with only a few exceptions. There are popular newsprint media bloggers, and one very large Conservative blog written mostly by one woman, Kate (also from Saskatchewan like me), but the most popular sites are ones that direct readers to the hot news of the day on whatever blog siezes upon the latest topic in the best way. Kate’s blog is politically in line with Michelle Malkin’s, so you could say she’s the Canadian version, but since Canadian bloggers know of Malkin, Kos, Little Green Footballs, Glenn Reynolds, etc. it’s as accurate to say we add to the American blogosphere at the same time as being a microcosm of it. Progressive bloggers is probably the closest site Canada has in readership, style, and ideology to Daily Kos. And Bourque may be our Instapundit, although he was just rocked with a paid-headlines-as-real-news scandal, so his readership may have taken a dive?
Simon Owens: You linked to a “10 things that blogging has taught me” item recently, which commented mostly on the quick, often hysterical nature of the blogosphere. Do you think that bloggers are still in their toddler stage, and will mature as a form of journalism media as time goes on?
Saskboy: I think the bloggers of tomorrow are the kids making websites in grade 6 classes, and the bloggers of today are people who barely grew up with computers. The blogosphere is going to be changing constantly, but there will always be new bloggers, some having just started using computers, and some having used them their entire life. I don’t see blogging evolving into journalism of the kind provided by major news stations and professional journalists, at least not if the Internet and laws regarding free speech stay as they are today. There’s no way for every blogger to devote the kind of time they’d need to “evolve” into a pro, so we’ll always have cat-blogs, and variety blogs like mine.
The other aspect to your question is the implication of having bloggers a part of the main stream public consciousness. As blogs endure, some will grow into professional journals, and the public will become more aware of independent media online. Blogs have the ability to revolutionize where people get their news from, and that will have profund implications on culture around the world. I think the jury is out on whether bloggers will be more or less hysterical than the current media, where everything is a “shocking revelation” if you trust CNN to describe the nature of events.
Simon Owens: What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?
Saskboy: 1. Miss Cellania – is a great read, and there’s more than enough laughs to kill an evening with, on any given day. Miss C has her fingers on the pulse of every joke on the web that you haven’t seen yet.
2. The Galloping Beaver – has an excellent perspective on political news, usually from a person with a lot of military experience. When I need to know how a government is messing up in regards to defence, TGB is an excellent resource.
3. I put a lot of effort into promoting blogs from my home province, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug the SaskBlogs Aggregator hosted and designed by Lance Levsen, another ex-military blogger. There is a nice cross section of blogs to be read at the Aggregator, and I swing by almost every day to get the latest on what other Saskatchewanians think about current events.
4. The Prairie Wrangler – Olaf’s blog is from a conservative viewpoint, but unlike many Canadian Conservative bloggers (known as Blogging Tories in Canada), he conducts himself in a more personable manner. Facts and intelligent discussion are important to Olaf, so along with the humour of the daily political cartoon, you find plenty of honest debate from dozens of commenters.
5. There are a few I’d like to put for my last pick. There are so many good blogs I read, and 5 doesn’t cover nearly enough of them. But Procrastinatrix is an interesting and intelligent (even when there are poo jokes) blog. Bonus points go to her for actually knowing the details of feces, and still having a sense of humour.
And in “link dump” fashion here are other considerations: 1337hax0r for his excellent set of websites combined with his political and technical knowledge. Nic’s Opinions for the sometimes naughty jokes, and funny threads. Liberal Catnip for her blistering indictments of government incompetence. And Jim Bobby Sez for his unique, accented style.
(Related posts: Interview with Echidne of the Snakes, Interview with Jurassicpork from Welcome to Pottersville, Rush Limbaugh caught with bottle of Viagra, A WikipedianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fake Ã¢â‚¬Å“authorityÃ¢â‚¬Â, Interview with John Hawkins from Right Wing News, College kids posing nude for campus magazines, Have you broken the law and want to write a book about it? DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go to Canada)