Editor-At-Large: Blog off... You don't want to know what I weigh today (do you?)

Click to follow
The Independent Online

We've become a nation of bloggers who spend hours each day tapping out our innermost thoughts and posting them on the internet - sites such as MySpace and BeBo are booming. Even Wal-Mart has got in on the act, setting up a website called - how naff is this - the Hub, aimed at teenagers. As if any self-respecting cool dude would choose to be identified with a company that pays its workers appallingly and is intent on closing down all forms of competition, from small businesses to rival supermarkets. The Hub is even more ironic when you think of all the websites that have been set up with the express intention of criticising everything that Wal-Mart stands for.

I'll come clean at this point. A year or so ago, I set up a website, janetstreetporter.com, to promote my books and one-woman show - and it's most definitely NOT interactive. You can log on, have a laugh, sneer at my old publicity photos, read some columns and log off again. I don't crave a "dialogue" with you, nor am I going to bore you to death by posting what I weigh today, who I shouted at on the tube and which ex-boyfriend I dreamt about last night.

The web is fast becoming clogged up with blogs; the verbal diarrhoea of the under-educated and the banal. A report published last week claimed that one in four internet users in Britain keeps a diary on their computer, and half of us - about seven million saddos - share this literary dross with other people. The other week, Catherine Sanderson was sacked by the firm of accountants she worked for, because she wrote a blog (La Petite Anglaise) which talked about life in the company's Paris office. She argues that the firm was unidentifiable and is claiming unfair dismissal - but she did write it in the time she was being paid to do real work, not launch herself as the new Bridget Jones on the internet.

Blogs are so uncool. If David Milliband's doing one, and the Chief Constable of North Wales (in which he talks about doing a 12-hour shift outside Phwllheli in sweltering heat), then it's not something that rings my bell. Blogs are for anoraks who couldn't get published any other way. If I'm feeling a bit down in the dumps, I'd rather ring up a real friend and have a whinge, or go out for a drink with a workmate. And reading about someone's sex life in all its mind-numbing detail isn't going to make me feel better about my own. Take a look at The Guardian these days: it's gone blog crazy. Every other page features blogs on a subject of the day. There are blogs posing as news stories and even serious comment and editorial pieces about the significance of the blog. Of course, it could be to do with the fact that the paper is desperate to promote its website - but hey, can I ask one salient question? If The Guardian is the home of the blogger, what's the point of hiring all those expensive writers and columnists to fill it up if bloggers can unleash a torrent of words on every subject from toe nail clippings to Paris Hilton? What happened to intelligent, well researched, cogently argued news reporting and comment? The Guardian seems, in a perverse way, to be saying that amateurs are the future in publishing - and that can't be good for business.

Meanwhile, clear evidence that people need to communicate to other human beings verbally rather than in cyber-space, is shown by the amazing success of a company called Talk Me Through It, set up by Crispin Thomas, who freely admits that he's hopeless with technology. Quite simply, you call up TMTI and you are non-patronisingly helped with all those embarrassing problems to do with video, phones, televisions and DVD players.

Crispin Thomas says manufacturers are to blame for not writing clear instruction manuals. Take the phrase "Global roaming network lock-in functionality"- it simply means the phone works anywhere!

A star is born at the 'errant' MP's libel hearing

In a courtroom in Edinburgh an extraordinary story has been unfolding over the past couple of weeks, as one of the best-known politicians in Scotland has been suing the 'News of the World' for libel. The newspaper alleged that MP Tommy Sheridan cheated on his glamorous wife Gail, a former air hostess, indulged in three-in-a-bed sex, bonked his mistress at his brother-in-law's house, visited swingers' clubs where customers wandered round in fishnet tights wearing nipple clamps, took drugs and got up to goodness knows what with ice cubes and red rubber gloves! Mr Sheridan, who seeks £200,000 damages, took the extraordinary step of sacking his top legal team and is conducting his own case.

Last Friday he spent a large part of the day in floods of tears when he was cross-examined about his alleged sexual escapades by the defendants' QC for four hours. Gail, meanwhile, has clearly taken a leaf out of Martha Stewart's book when it comes to providing the press pack with a gorgeously stylish entrance each day. This woman has definitely got an excellent stylist - we've not seen the same sunglasses or bag on consecutive days for a week. She exudes class, and whatever the outcome of the trial, I fully expect Mrs Sheridan to be selling her story and appearing on our screens before long.

Doing porridge: A superfood, but it can hardly make 'em smile

It's sweltering - and I'm still eating porridge. This is the super-food to end them all. A designer breakfast that ticks all the right boxes with nutritionists and diet gurus. A huge bowl of porridge stops you from eating anything else for at least five hours. Now Tory MP Richard Bacon is demanding they serve the stuff to prisoners, claiming it raises serotonin levels, which cheers you up. I'm sure it does, as well as lowering cholesterol and providing plenty of fibre. But if I were serving 10 years, I'm not sure that a humble bowl of porridge would turn me into a positive cheery prisoner.

Screen grab: The Southern Scarlett is an unlikely Tudor

The BBC has raised its pitiful pay offer to staff to just under 3 per cent, while top executives still trouser rises averaging 30 per cent over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, in its attempts at cultural excellence, the corporation has decided to cast the petite blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson as Anne Boleyn's sister in a new filmed drama. I know that ratings are all-important these days, but can someone explain to me how an American with big lips, gorgeous tits and a Southern accent is the very first choice to play a Tudor aristocrat?

Too cheap: The joys of travel with drunken stags and hens

This weekend millions of Brits will be gritting their teeth and queuing at airports, off on holiday. You won't be surprised to know that complaints to airlines have trebled over the past year. Last weekend my Ryanair flights to Cork and back were on time. The staff were efficient. What was more problematic were some of the passengers. Is it me, or are scantily clad, drunk men and women on stag and hen weekends revolting? Cheap flights are generally fine; it's often the customers that make the experience so horrible.