Interview - Scott Wickstein

Interview: Scott Wickstein, Founder & Blogger, The Eye of the Beholder & 7th September 2003

In keeping with Media Man Australia's tradition of tackling any subject, we explore the world of blogging.

Scott Wicksteins' blogs have attracted national and international acclaim, and now, we finally interview this blog master.

What's your background?

Not much; I grew up in what is known as the 'underclass' in country SA; managed to work my way up into the IT industry during the boom, but I'm back working in a plastics factory making car parts.

None of that book learning stuff; one thing that I've learned is that you don't need it to produce a reasonable argument.

Why do you blog?

I first discovered blogs when Tim Blair put his url under his column in the 'Australian'. I thought, hey anyone can do this, and so I did.

Why do I keep blogging? Well, it keeps the brain cells ticking over and it is a bit addictive.

How did you come up with your bloggers domain name?

It's an old Metallica song, back when Metallica were good; it's a screed against society's thought police, and it came to mind when a blogger nearly lost his job at a certain public broadcaster over his blogging activities. It happened when I was searching for a name for a domain when I moved over from blogspot.

What are your aims and objectives?

When I started out I hoped to become famous, wealthy and powerful. Now I blog because I really enjoy the writing aspect of it. I actually think I'm crap but the readers get snarky when I don't post; there seems to be some sort of readership. This is gratifying.

Still, I look back at my archives and sometimes I cringe and think "Did I really write that?"

My aim now is to annoy "progressives" and to maybe make everyone else think. More readers would be nice; the trend is, well, positive. And my objective is to make more friends. It's remarkable how blogging brings people together.

What motivates you?

The love of writing as much as anything; I'm what you might call verbally challenged. Typical country boy who says nothing. When I write, the words flow like.. well choose your adjective!

What's your definition of blogging?

It's kind of like an elephant; you know it when you see it but it's not actually that easy to describe. I don't consider newspaper weblogs or link collections as 'real blogs'; there needs to be some sort of original content as well.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Well in my job; it's pretty repetitive and not exactly mentally challenging. So I've got eight hours a day to ruminate about what's going on in the world. I like to spend about two hours a day reading other blogs, another hour reading the papers, so I've got plenty of time to get an idea of what is going on in the world.

Oddly enough, that doesn't always reflect what I write. I try to write on an angle that hasn't been considered by anyone else.

I'm also forever trying to give my blog a 'theme' that makes it rather more consistent in it's content. This never works as I don't really have an area where I'm an expert; the one exception is cricket and I actually have a separate blog for sport.

What should a good blog consist of?

Links to my site; apart from that it should have good writing and a 'theme'. A blog needs to have character. A blogger needs to express their personality in their writing, regardless of the blog theme. Two of my favourite blogs, boynton ( and Spin Starts Here
( have that in spades.

Boynton never writes about politics or the news. Most blogs are actually non political (There's a huge slab of blogs that are devoted to knitting, for example.) It matters not a whit what the subject is, a theme and personality are vital.

Do you foresee yourself being able to afford a lavish lifestyle by blogging?

Only if a wealthy woman sees my site and offers herself as a sugar mummy. There's not a cent to be made in blogging.

The US blogger Andrew Sullivan managed to raise $80,000 in a week so you could say that he's a pro blogger. And some US bloggers have got writing gigs out of their blogs. But in Australia, there's not really the media market to get work out of good blogging.

If you've already got a foot in the door though, blogging can certainly help your career, of course. Tim Blair is the classic example, but the Fin Review columnist John Quiggin finds his blog very helpful, and I can see Gareth Parker ( going a long way in journalism, and his blog will help him.

Has anyone ever made a donation to you via PayPal?

Not a penny.

I host a few blogs and I've billed them to help cover my costs, so it's useful for that.

What are the pros and cons of the PayPal system?

The pros are that it is secure, and it's easy. The cons are that no bastard ever donates.

I do at least a donation a month to a blog or a cause I like. If I can afford to do it on my factory worker's wage, I'd like to know what everyone else's excuse is.

Once a month, guys. If you won't donate to me, do it for someone worthwhile. A blogspot site is free, but to get a decent webhost and domain name, which you need to get the most out of Movable Type costs $150 a year.

What other excellent interview tools can you recommend, or would you like to "rat" on some?

I've never been interviewed before!

What's the most impressive technology you are aware of?

When I dipped into IT I became a network engineer, and my one serious IT job was with an outfit called Exodus (sadly insolvent now.) When I worked there, I got to see the innards of the Internet and the technology at the heart is pretty awesome.

What other media experience do you have?

None whatsoever. Blogging is symbiotic with the media, but it's a strength that you don't have to be involved with the media to be a good blogger.

Who have been your biggest supports and detractors, and why?

Tim Blair gave me my first link and he has always been pretty generous to the blogging community. For a Collingwood Feral, he's not a bad bloke.

Look, the Australian blogging community is pretty tremendous really; there's the odd ratbag but people who ask for help and are genuine will get it. People ask for links; when asked, I will bookmark a site and check it out for a month or so to see what comes up. If they are engaging enough I will link them permanently.

Ken Parish ( has made it an object to link to every Australian pundit-blogger he can find.

In 18 months of blogging, I've had precisely one piece of hate mail.

Are you fearful of any legal litigation, arising from your blog?

Yes I am. I've been a longtime supporter of Stephen Mayne, of, and I've seen what happened to him with the litigation that has engulfed him.

I posted a prediction earlier this year that a blogger in Oz would be sued before the year is out. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet, but it's only September, too. I'm also worried about getting sued for a remark made on my comments facility.

Australian bloggers are tremendous; Australian politicians are bastards and I don't doubt that if a blogger got too troublesome that they'd use litigation to smash them. Look at Senator Bolkus.

Explain freedom of:

a: Speech

Freedom of speech? Say what you like as long as you are willing to take the wrap for it. If you abuse it you are going to lose your credibility but you shouldn't lose your house.

Frankly, we don't have freedom of speech in Australia. I have arguments with other bloggers about this from time to time, but I'm quite jealous of my American colleagues on this score.

The site is hosted in the US but going by the Gutnik case, that won't protect me. Only my poverty is a protection. Sueing me won't score you a penny.

b. The press

That's a tough one. What is 'the press'? The press are free to print what they like subject to our defamation laws. The press can at least afford QC's, which is a darn sight more then I can.

I'll worry about freedom of the press when my own freedom of speech is secure.

Does Pauline Hanson deserve three years?

Technically yes; but I've already argued that she shouldn't have been in a position to defraud anyone. What the hell is the taxpayer doing funding political parties?

Should we give Shane Warne any mercy?

Absolutely. Bob Hawke reputedly was quite the ladies man when he was PM and he was re-elected four times. Warne is probably a disgusting fellow but he has a gift beyond the ken of most; I was a legspinner in my schoolboy days and I can assure you he's bowling gifts are quite remarkable.

He's a cricketer, not a school teacher. If Cheryl Kernot's affairs are none of the public's business, why is Shane Warne's? As far as I'm concerned it's all between him and Simone.

He got a year ban for his drug offense, and I agree with that. When he's served his time, he should prove he's still the best leg spinner in the world, and he should be readmitted to the national team when ready.

I question the motives of his critics to be perfectly honest. Warne brings out the humbug in a lot of people.

What are the biggest dangers of technology?

For me I love technology; I'm looking forward to the future in a big way. There's two dangers though; luddite socialists might persuade or scare governments into regulating new technology to death. Genetic engineering is the prime example here; greenies are so het up about this that they don't
seem to give a fuck that people in Africa or Asia will continue to starve to death, so long as they don't eat that disgusting GM food.

The other danger is that governments will use new technology to increase their intrusive surveillance of citizens like you and me. That's a theme of a site I'm involved in - White Rose It's got a UK focus, but many of the themes discussed there have global

What are some of your favorite blogs and media related websites?

Most of my favourite blogs are listed on my blogroll. I must mention a few though; Michael Jennings ( is the smartest guy I've ever come across. Pick a topic, or a question you don't understand, and he will either know about it or find out about it and write a cogent article about it.

Michael is a contributor at Samizdata (, which would probably be the ONE blog I'd choose if I was told I was only allowed to read one blog.

Bjorn Staerk ( is a Norwegian fellow in his early 20's who is pretty phenomenal and I reckon he's Norway's best Ambassador to the English speaking world.

Tim Blair I've already mentioned, but his wit and links make him a must read.

Media? Well, is my favourite and with establishment news, I read "The Australian" every day.

What are your current projects?

Too many; I'm overwhelmed. Apart from "Beholder" there's my sports blog "" and I try to write for Sasha Castel ( at least once a week.

Whenever I see anything civil liberties related I try to blog it at White Rose (

I'm starting to get involved in politics too; details are sketchy yet and there's no danger of me becoming PM out of it. But I've been asked to play a role, and I'm seriously considering it.

What else should we know about you?

I drink a lot. Currently I'm working far too much and this is curtailing my drinking, but rest assured as soon as I can I will be back on the turps.

Have you been telling the truth in this interview? (GT advises that I was tempted to remove this question upon publishing, but in the name of "keeping it real", the question remains. Further explanation in the editors notes).

Is this a standard media question these days? I read through all these questions and I came to this and I was quite insulted. Not quite sure why you included it, and I also wonder if you asked that of Phillip Adams or other high profile people.

I can assure you I wouldn't spend an hour answering your questions on anything that isn't true.

Hope this is of some use. Cheers



Editors note: A fascinating interview with one of Australia's foremost bloggers. The "truth" question was actually a joke. That will teach me for using a question I saw someone else ask a blogger one time. Bloggers are often more edgy than "traditional" writers. We consider ourselves to be more edgy than traditional media, and as edgy as any (legal) blogger out there. It is out pleasure to link to Scott and some of his fellow bloggers from our website and our blogger. Long live blogging!


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