Home / Robert Farley / Embracing the Promise of the Medium

Embracing the Promise of the Medium


David Axe profiles Information Dissemination:

Still, 14,000 daily readers and the power to influence the Navy ain’t bad for a blog that began in 2007 almost by accident. The way Pritchett explains it, he was interested in trying out the whole blogging concept but didn’t really have a strong preference when it came to subject matter. All he knew was he didn’t want to write about his IT job. A big fan of naval history, he decided to focus on today’s Navy, instead. “That was what I enjoy reading about,” Pritchett says.

On the strength of long, analytical articles written with an almost Spock-like emotional detachment, Information Dissemination quickly attracted a core readership in the Navy and naval policy circles. Early on, Pritchett’s topics included the usual maritime grist: piracy, budgets, shipbuilding. But he addressed them with fearless disregard for many readers’ limited attention spans. Many posts included charts, tables, links to budget documents and detailed lists of ship deployments. The detail could be exhausting, but it was also a refreshing change compared to the shrinking column inches in print journals…

In March 2009 a China analyst writing under the name Feng, whom Pritchett describes as “the smartest person writing about the rise of the Chinese navy [that] nobody had ever heard of,” penned Information Dissemination’s first major guest post: a technical assessment of Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile systems. Seized upon by The Drudge Report and other more mainstream media outlets, Feng’s article racked up 6 million views, and fueled a continuing panic in Washington over Beijing’s so-called “carrier-killer” missiles.

“His contributions were so impactful that I started looking for more authors,” Pritchett explains. In addition to Feng, he signed on liberal analyst Robert Farley, a conservative counterweight named Brian McGrath, and Chris Rawley, a prolific writer and Navy officer. Handing over the bulk of the writing allowed Pritchett to focus on managing, promoting and improving the blog.

ID represents an outstanding body of work, and I’m proud to be a part of it. The blog format is perfect for the project that Galrahn wanted to pursue; a coherent, long term conversation about naval doctrine and maritime affairs. Extant opportunities for such a public conversation were limited in 2007, especially for someone without a professional maritime background. The differences between ID and LGM are enormous, and I find it both fascinating and rewarding to be able to contribute to both.

Oh, and I will return to my Seapower in Culture series, probably this Sunday.

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