16 Jan 05

The impact of Blogs

Matthew, who is doing a dissertation "on the impact of blogs on wider society" asked for my view of what I am doing and how I feel about blogging.

I will answer with a recap. Jon's Jail Journal came about as a method of disseminating information about life inside the Madison Street jail to my family and friends, who were
increasingly interested in what was going on. As I had limited access to stationary and postage, by blogging, I was able to conserve resources whilst getting the message out.

It was after I was sentenced and moved from the jail system that the Guardian newspaper published some of my blogs and interest in the blog increased further. Since then, I have received encouragement from various readers of my blog, so, I am happy about what I am doing and I feel that blogging is worthwhile. The feedback is helping me better deal with my punishment, and I now feel as if I have an obligation to write about things that otherwise would remain untold. I have been contacted by some prisoners'-rights organisations who urged me to continue blogging in the hope that the public will become more aware of prison conditions. In general, thanks to blogging and the Internet, some people who would have remained oblivious to prisoner issues are now more aware of what is going on.

Prisoners' voices are seldom heard but the Internet has challenged the mechanisms that control information flows. I am taking advantage of this opportunity and I hope that the Internet continues to be a forum where alternative viewpoints and discussions freely occur.

I am out of touch with how blogging has progressed since my arrest. I used to read a blog authored by a female friend of mine named Susan prior to May 2002, and whilst incarcerated I read Salam Pax’s blog about living through the war in Iraq, which has been published as a book.

When I am released I will scour the Internet for interesting blogs, but in the meantime, I have no Internet access. I send the hand-written blogs to my parents in the UK and they type them up and post them. The prison allows me to receive computer printouts, so, if any readers who write blogs want to take the trouble of mailing me their own or any other blog entries, I would be glad to read them.

I hope that my answer addressed your question, Matthew.

Cheers! Jon

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