WebWatch 05-04-07

Tips and totes: blogtastic Irish websites

In the cut-throat world of the Irish blogosphere, only the best make the grade. At an event in March, the Irish Blog Awards gave out gongs for a wide variety of weblogs, from Best Designed Blog (www.beaut.ie) to Best Specialist Blog (www.icecreamireland.com). Blogs are an irreverant medium at the best of times, with the overall Best Blog winner, www.twentymajor.com, the most politically incorrect of the lot. Village's favourites were in the Group Blog and News/Current Affairs categories – at least you can look at them at work without getting into trouble.

Infactah.com is a group blog where the contributors have very different interests and styles, but overall the site manages to keep a coherent identity, due to the consistency of the individual bloggers' topics. There are not many places where you can see detailed analysis of Cheltenham, followed by a video of a concert, then a cooking tutorial. Or advice on cooking the perfect scrambled eggs, along with horse racing tips. If you prefer to stick to your main obsession, infactah (say it aloud, as three words, for full effect) may not be for you, but if you prefer variety and surprises, it is recommended. This well-designed, easy-to-use blog also features philosophical treatises on biscuts, and a thoughtful list of what the well-informed music bloggers have been listening to this week. Its media-savvy posters seem to know how to set up a link correctly, which is an underrated but invaluable skill in the blogosphere.  

Irishelection.com won in the Best Political Blog section as well as the News/Current Affairs section. This is either a reflection on the dearth of quality Irish blogs on these subjects, or just on the superlative quality of irishelection.com. It's hard to tell. It is also a group blog, but in a different sense to infactah, which seems to be produced by a close gang of friends. Irishelection, where the motto is ‘The Irish Election. By The People', is designed for collaboration from a much wider collection of bloggers. All of its contributers have their own personal blogs, from where they take the postings for irishelection.com. It results in a less consistent style, but does ensure an openness to a wider variety of opinion, often cheeky and only for fun, but frequently insightful. Its theme is Irish politics and current affairs. It takes a broad swipe at all politicans and parties, ensuring that the inconsistincies, mistakes and downright lies of the political classes are not allowed to slip by unnoticed. If the news stories are connected to politics in any way, you are guaranteed to find someone on irishelection.com who will point it out for you. Village particularly likes the news section, which has a selection of headlines from regional newspapers around the country, as well as the party news section, featuring hour-by-hour updates on issues from the parties' websites themselves. It is good to know that there are so many eyes and ears out there, keeping watch.

Tom Rowe