06 May 2007

The Thing About the Brotherhood

The Intelligent Singaporean was one blog aggregator that was born shortly after the mrbrown incident and evolved with amazing speed into one of the local blogosphere's greatest assets. Created by inspir3d, its aggregation style is a one-man (or possibly one-team, since its operations are not well known to me) effort in collecting and publishing relevant blog entries. This is a remarkable task, considering that it is a daily effort and one has to use his intelligence and wisdom to sieve out good entries. More information about the Intelligent Singaporean can be obtained from this Singapore Angle interview.

Its style has varied over time before settling into the plain links we see today, and it remains largely an aggregator except for some occasional posts by a mysterious "Brotherhood". The Brotherhood posts appear rather frequently, approximately once every two or three days - almost as common as the "daily reads" that publishes the aggregated entries. Their articles are long by blog entry standards, and I find them quite difficult to read because of the obscure way the articles are written.

The way they operate doesn't really make things clearer. The Brotherhood consists of several online personae, and they are usually the ones to post the first comments on these Brotherhood posts. These comments, written in apparent coded messages, are sometimes incomprehensible to people outside of the Brotherhood, and it does add frustration to one who yearns for transparent and clear arguments.

Usually, I follow everything on the Intelligent Singaporean, but after reading the first few Brotherhood posts, I decided to skip them altogether. Apparently, I am not alone in not reading the Brotherhood posts: in the comments of this entry by Mr Wang Say So, he said that

"I really don't know much about who these "Brotherhood" people are, and the way they write, I don't think I will find out.

And somewhere further down, a person signing off as "Rob" said,

"Can we move on away from the Brotherhood stuff? There's a reason why I don't visit IS anymore."

That being said, I must emphasize that the aggregator part of the Intelligent Singaporean is still a very worthy read as it is before the Brotherhood appeared. And since inspir3d has allowed the Brotherhood to publish their articles there, I presume that their articles are generating a reasonable amount of readership, so perhaps their posts appeal to some other people. People like me can just skip the Brotherhood posts.

However, I do wonder if having the Brotherhood posts is the best arrangement. Their articles are essentially blog entries, and thus quite a different nature from the "daily reads". Wouldn't it be better to separate them into two different sections? For that matter, why doesn't the Brotherhood get a blog for themselves? Certainly, this will make the main aggregator site neater. Just imagine a newcomer to the blogosphere being introduced to the Intelligent Singaporean as the best aggregator for local sociopolitical issues in Singapore; it is quite likely that he/she will be confounded by the recommendation.

I have no say as to how the Intelligent Singaporean is run, and I certainly do not know the relationship between inspir3d and the Brotherhood (I suspect they are personal acquaintances). But I think the Intelligent Singaporean will serve its purpose better if the Brotherhood articles are not featured so prominently. At least, it should be given the same "status" as the normal aggregated posts.


Anonymous said...

hi thanks for ur frank, honest feedback. although their posts can be rather opaque, i think in time to come u will come to appreciate what they write.

in the mean time feel free to just use the aggregator


Pandemonium said...


No problem. Great job at the aggregator, by the way! Thanks for your efforts!