November 19, 2009
[bdj] How Belle de Jour’s Secret Ally Googlewhacked The Press
… First personal post I ever do makes the front page of the Guardian
. Never again … ‘The sympathetic online diarist, who gives his name only as Darren…’
November 17, 2009
[bdj] Add a blog to the updated list?
… The original email Belle de Jour sent asking to be added to the Updated UK Blogs List.
November 16, 2009
Me and Belle de Jour – “Could it be Brooke?”
Let’s break out of this self-imposed link blogging format for just one post… it’s not every day the biggest secret you’ve ever kept gets revealed on the front pages of the national press.
I have an admission to make about Belle de Jour.
It’s time for me to admit that I solved the puzzle of her identity almost at the very start after she (as Belle) sent me the link to her new blog to add to the list of Updated UK Blogs. Sending the link to me implied somebody who knew quite a lot about how UK blogging worked at the time and I found it hard to believe that an escort that had starting blogging would use me to announce the blog to the world. Then, after BdJ proceeded to knock the ball out of the park in the blog writing department, I started to seriously consider if it was somebody I knew.
In late 2003 I was well placed to guess Belle’s identity. I’d been blogging myself for three years at that point, I had met many London bloggers and briefly read most of the UK-written blogs during 2000 and 2001. UK blogging was (and still is) full of young, smart people and anyone of them might have written Belle’s blog. I never believed that a professional writer could be BdJ – apparently effortless blog writing takes practice, and required an understanding of a new medium which not many people had at the time. So I asked myself: which blogger is it?
A couple of months went past, and after Belle de Jour won the award for Best Written Blog from the Guardian and the whole BdJ phenomenon kicked off, I had my eureka moment – I was sitting on the tube one morning and suddenly thought: ’Could it be Brooke?’
Brooke at the time ran a couple of blogs – A link blog called Methylsalicylate and another science blog called Cosmas. She also had done a few short, smart pieces of writing online – The Autopsy, What The Dead Remember and one called Malted. Malted was about whiskey and was the bit of writing that gave it all away. I remembered reading Malted a few months previously and realised the style and content was reminiscent of Belle’s and was suddenly convinced I had the answer.
I then spent the first three months of 2004 “internet stalking” Brooke Magnanti, collecting together a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that Brooke was indeed Belle. I also slowly became aware of the heightened stakes, as Belle became increasingly famous and obviously wanted to maintain her pseudonymity.
For a while I believed that Brooke would get outed immediately – but it turns out the British press could not investigate anything not handed to them on a plate, and were never looking in the right place – the small clique of people who starting blogging in the UK in 2000/2001. Belle de Jour remained pseudonymous and the mystery remained intact even after two TV series based on her books.
During this time I published a googlewack hidden in my blog – the words “Belle de Jour”, “Brooke Magnanti” and “Methylsalicylate” were published and available in Google’s index on a single page on the internet – my weblog. This “coincidental” collection of links could in no way reveal Belle’s identity. But I wondered if anybody else knew the secret and felt that analysing my web traffic might confirm my strongly-held belief. If someone googled “Belle de Jour” “Brooke Magnanti”, I would see it in the search referrers for LinkMachineGo.
I waited five years for somebody to hit that page (I’m patient). Two weeks ago I started getting a couple of search requests a day from an IP address at Associated Newspapers (who publish the Daily Mail) searching for “brooke magnanti” and realised that Belle’s pseudonymity might be coming to an end. I contacted Belle via Twitter and let her know what was happening. I didn’t expect to hear anything back.
And then early last weekend I received an email signed by Brooke that confirmed that she was outing herself in the Sunday Times because the Daily Mail had discovered her identity.
It was finally over, the secret was out. I no longer have to worry about inadvertently revealing her identity. If I’m honest, solving the puzzle of the biggest literary and blogging mystery of the last six years has been fun and exciting. I’m just really disappointed I don’t get to dig up a gold hare as a prize!
One last thing: Good Luck Brooke, I’m very glad you’ve managed to maintain some control over how and when your real identity was revealed to the public. I think I probably owe you a bottle of your favourite whiskey. Let me know what you like and I’ll see what I can do. – Darren/LMG.
Update #1: Belle has confirmed the story in the comments to this post.
Update #2: Googlewack Screengrab Published
Update #3: How Belle de Jour’s Secret Ally Googlewacked The Press – the Guardian cover the story.
Update #4: The End
[bdj] Now that I’m Not Anonymous
— Belle de Jour outed herself yesterday in the Sunday Times. Old time UK bloggers may remember her other blog Methylsalicylate
from 2000/2001. The Times described it as a “science blog” but as I remember it was a link blog in the style inspired by Jorn Barger
. That’s right… I’ll say it again: Belle de Jour was a LINK BLOGGER.
October 22, 2009
[weird] Take A Weird Break Blog
… a blog collecting weird headlines from Take A Break
style magazines. [via qwghlm.co.uk
September 14, 2009
[comics] George And Lynne Explained
… amusing explanations of the midly NSFW and sexist newspaper strip
… ‘By the way one man is wearing a low cut back top and another wearing a vest and choker it suggests that they like her outfit for its fashion sense rather than the way it shows off her cleavage. So this is a gay super pub with its own multistory car park…’
September 7, 2009
[movies] Matt Haughey on Julie and Julia: ‘There was this one scene. Julie is in her cube and she’s ecstatic that a post got 53 comments and she high fives her coworker, and moments later her husband calls and says he just noticed she’s #3 on the most popular Salon blogs list and her arms shoot up out of her cube in victory and I began to cry tears of joy. I sat in the theater thinking about my little blog…’
[via Robot Wisdom
July 27, 2009
[tv] My Shags As A Whore
– Mitchell and Webb on Belle de Jour … ‘Being a prostitute is brilliant.’ (more…)
July 16, 2009
[books] An Interview With Michael Lewis
‘When I write a long magazine piece that gets attention I feel like it’s more widely read now than it was ten years ago, by a long way. In fact, it feels excessively well read. Twenty years ago I might get a couple of notes in the mail and I’d hear about it maybe at a dinner party. And that would be the end of it, and it would go away very quickly. Ten years ago it would get passed around by email, and it would seem to have a life to me that would go on a little longer. Now the blogosphere picks it up and it becomes almost like a book: it lives for months. I’m getting responses to it for months. And I don’t think the journalism has gotten any better. It’s just the environment you publish it in is more able to rapidly get it to the people who are or might be interested in it.’
June 22, 2009
[tv] Adam Curtis’ Blog
… the BBC documentary maker behind The Power of Nightmares
and The Way of All Flesh
starts blogging … ‘This is a website expressing my personal views – through a selection of opinionated observations and arguments. I’ll be including stories I like, ideas I find fascinating, work in progress and a selection of material from the BBC archives.’
June 15, 2009
[blogs] Scott Rosenberg asks: Who Was The First Blogger?
(and surprisingly comes up with a satisfying answer).
April 30, 2009
[blogs] Texts from Last Night Blog
… ‘my mouth tastes like poor choices’
April 14, 2009
[polictics] Slugger O’Toole on Smeargate: ‘… if you pick a fight with someone who has nothing to lose (and you do), you’re the one most likely to end up on the floor. To quote blog sceptic Geert Lovint, ‘blogging is a bleed-to-death strategy’. Mr Draper is a PR professional floundering in a world he barely understands, allowed himself to be entranced by the (what Lovint terms) ‘banal nihilism’ of one particular type of blogging, and now finds himself being bled to death through his own actions.’
[blogs] Nick Denton Quote On Blogging from 2002: ‘People like Doc Searls and Meg Hourihan are to the weblog as Oppenheimer and von Neumann were to the A-bomb. Gentle souls whose creation will be used by others more ruthless.’ Nick was certainly right about that wasn’t he?
March 25, 2009
[twitter] Salam Pax is on Twitter
… ‘and to add irony while I sit here listening to bombs going off left’n'right.. Iraqi tv is showing a report about how security is better.’ [link]
November 28, 2008
[blogs] A List of all BBC Blogs
… surprisingly small list of blogs for such a large media operation.
October 15, 2008
[blog] Ask LMG: Does anybody know what happened to the Linkbunnies blog
? It’s been unavailable for at least a couple of weeks and I guess there are a couple of readers scratching their heads wondering what happened… (Update: The Answer
October 13, 2008
[blogs] Sad Guys on Trading Floors
… ‘Turning the economic crisis into one of those clever internet memes.’
August 20, 2008
[blogs] What Makes for a Good Blog?
… some interesting points from Merlin Mann
… ‘I’ve come to believe that creative life in the first-world comes down to those who try just a little bit harder. Then, there’s the other 98%. They’re still eating the free continental breakfast over at FriendFeed. A good blog is written by a blogger who thinks longer, works harder, and obsesses more. Ultimately, a good blogger tries. That’s why “good” is getting rare.’
August 14, 2008
[ukblogs] Taking the shine off: Why blog publishing failed in the UK
… a co-founder of Shiny Media
looks at the state of blog publishing in the UK … ‘The obvious reason why UK new media companies haven’t achieved the same success as their US counterparts is down to economies of scale. US sites have at least five times more readers to aim at and that counts for an awful lot when most online advertising is still based around a CPM model (advertisers pay a between 50p-£20 depending on the campaign per thousand people who see their ad). What makes it even trickier is that most UK advertisers for obvious reasons only want their ads to be seen by UK readers…’
August 6, 2008
[bdj] Ask a call girl
… Salon asks three American High-Class Call Girls: How Realistic is the Belle de Jour TV Series? (compare and contrast with the time the Guardian asked Cynthia Payne the same question
) … ‘I guess as an ex-call girl, it’s fun watching the show and seeing what is real and what’s completely off. I think it glamorizes the business a bit. Being a high-class call girl is a cool life if you know what you’re doing, but a very hard life too, which I don’t think they depict well on the show — just how stressful it really is.’
July 1, 2008
[blog] One Post Wonder
… a collection of blogs that only had one post or so … ‘Friday, September 22, 2000 I hate school, I hate all of my classes. Damn she’s beautiful. I wish I were drunk. posted by Stupid at 12:48 AM’
June 24, 2008
[blogs] Tumblr – The Documentary
… ‘Reblog This Nerds!’ (more…)
June 19, 2008
[blogs] Sorry I Missed Your Party
… random pictures of people at parties from Flickr. [via iamcal
June 18, 2008
[movies] The Video Nasty Project
… this blog will watch all 73 original video nasties
so you don’t have to … ‘The plot is basic Frankenstein stuff. A mad surgeon replaces his terminally ill son’s heart with that of a gorilla, which transforms him into a half-man, half ape creature – or at least a man in cracked, slathered on makeup who makes silly growling noises.’
May 27, 2008
[blogs] Sashinka: ‘It’s today.’
April 24, 2008
[life] Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far
… blog postcard project similar to Post Secret
… ‘Everyone is someone else’s Weirdo’ [link]
March 25, 2008
[blogs] Civil Serf blogger faces disciplinary action
… ‘The unnamed civil servant at the heart of the controversy is said to be a fast-track civil servant who, on her blog, said that she was “just senior enough in my department to really know what’s going on, but not senior enough to attract suspicion from my blogging”. [...] Followed closely by political observers, the blog attracted an influential following and was the subject of an investigation to discover its source. Last week the blog went off-line and a civil servant was reported to have been confronted and admitted authorship. She has been suspended, according to reports.’
February 26, 2008
— a sister blog to Speechification
– curating the best TV from the BBC’s iPlayer, YouTube and other sources.
February 21, 2008
[london] All in a Day’s Work
— the blog of a London Cab Driver … ‘A lady I took to Camberwell last night gave me a twenty and two tens for a £22 fare and I gave her one of the tenners back. “You’re honest” she said thanking me. “It’s the only way to be” I replied.’
[via Time Out
February 11, 2008
[funny] The Fail Blog
… ‘This is a site for sharing all things that FAIL with the world.’
[via Sore Eyes
February 3, 2008
[blogs] What I Killed Today
— the sad blog of a veterinary technician detailing what animals they had put down that day … ‘An emaciated ferret who had been fighting an auto-immune disease.’
[via Warren Ellis
January 2, 2008
[blogs] WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier
— a blog posting letters in real-time (ninety years after they were written) from a English Soldier in World War I
to his family … ‘Three days after, we were called up the line again of course I went this time. We had to go to the front line were it was on the Menin Road no doubt you have heard about it. We were there for three days it was awful the shelling day and night.’
December 18, 2007
[blogs] Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers From Original Blogger Jorn Barger
— Jorn’s the Daddy of link-blogging so very little I can add here but I’ve always felt pull quotes and some nice visuals from what you’re linking to is important as well – it’s the great weakness of delicious
great strength … ‘If you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already.’
November 8, 2007
[blogs] BBC Internet Blog
— a blog for the managers of Future Media at the BBC to discuss the Corporation’s internet output – contains some posts from Ashley Highfield
. ‘…I think we have been slow to embrace blogs as a way of discussing our strategy and direction. This often leads to the debate happening elsewhere, based often on only half the information, and without our being able fully to join in the debate. We’ve not done ourselves any favours, and we want to use this blog to re-engage with our friends and critics.’
October 20, 2007
[blogs] Stephen Fry has a Blog
— this is old news but it passed me by. He doesn’t do brief blog entries: ‘I don’t seem to be able to keep things brief. So my advice is that you read it in bits. Or print it out and save it for a rainy day or a recalcitrant motion.’
October 12, 2007
[food] Fraser Lewry’s Animal Alphabet
— Fraser of Blogjam
attempts to eat an animal for each letter of the alphabet … ‘I’m a) not allowed to use Latin names, and b) if I’m struggling to come up with an animal beginning with ‘R’, for instance, I’m not allowed to use “ring-tailed lemur” because all lemurs are filed under ‘L’. Not that I’d eat lemur, of course, because they’re an endangered species, which brings me to c) no endangered species.’
September 22, 2007
[blogs] Nobody reads blogs on Saturdays
— blogging wisdom from Diamond Geezer
. ‘…there’s really no point in blogging on a Saturday, no point at all. Because nobody’s listening. Apart from you, obviously. You’re here, even if nobody else is. Thanks for bothering to find time in your busy Saturday schedule to come and see what I’ve written.’
September 20, 2007
[blogs] Wrong Call
— the Guardian ask if the new TV Series starring Billie Piper
glamorises prostitution? … ‘The main problem is that whereas Belle de Jour the writer has a patently dark sexuality, which allows you to imagine why she embraces her trade, Piper is about as noir as a chipmunk. She’s like a naughty nurse dispensing therapy, rather than a humanities graduate with a genuine sadomasochistic streak. The writer Belle clearly has a rare ability to separate sex from emotion in her working life, but Piper doesn’t have the range to convey this.’
[Related: More links about Belle de Jour
September 15, 2007
[blogs] Mail Watch
— I’ve been reading Mail Watch as the Daily Express dropped the Diana Conspiracies
and concentrated on the McCann Case (the chain of front page headlines is currently 8 days!).
August 8, 2007
[blogs] The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks
… ‘Making fun of bad punctuation since 2005.’
[via The Daily Chump
July 23, 2007
[blogs] Secret Blog of a TV Controller (aged 33 and 3/4)
— funny fake blog of a TV Exec … ‘Thommo is stomping about issuing disgruntled threats to everyone left, right and centre; Fincham is curled up in his office weeping. Human Resources people are barging – unannounced – into offices and throwing office stationery around; even the kind Indian gent in the papershop in White City has a fucking scowl on his face whenever I pop by.’
July 14, 2007
[blogs] Dave Gorman’s Blog
… ‘I’ve given in to the way of the blog.’
July 5, 2007
[blogs] Lowdham Book Festival Lecture Notes
— Mike of Troubled Diva’s
guide to Blog-to-Books… ‘There is something which has recently come to be seen (in certain quarters) as the Holy Grail to which every personal blogger must aspire. Two little words, which have an almost mystical hold over certain sections of the blogosphere… …and I’m going to say them now… BOOK DEAL!‘
June 23, 2007
[comics] 2001: An Adapted Odyssey
— Metafilter discuss Kirby’s adaptation of 2001
… ‘This is really neat and all, but I misread the original post and was really hoping to see 2001: A Space Odyssey as it was adapted by Jack Chick, because that would have been, you know, really really fucked up.’
May 27, 2007
[web] Burst Culture
— Warren Ellis on Boing Boing
, magazines, blogs, tumblelogs
and more… ‘I love print. I love magazines that commit and pay for long articles and long fiction. The web rewards neither approach. It’s a packeted medium, a surf medium. Short bursts are the way to go. The web isn’t a replacement medium — it’s *another* medium.’
May 25, 2007
— Modok (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing
) has a blog… ‘Greetings, tiny-headed comic book (finger quotes) “FANATICS!” This is MODOK speaking! Refreshing your pitiful web browser is futile. Futile, I tell you!!! After many long decades of plotting (and calculating) silently in the shadows, I, MODOK!, have decided to take over the Interweb…’
[via Warren Ellis
May 18, 2007
[blogs] Cnet asks: Is Casey Serin the World’s most Hated Blogger?
… ‘Financial exhibitionism, coupled with a lack of penitence for stiffing his creditors, has transformed the 24-year-old resident of this sleepy Sacramento suburb into a celebrity among fellow bloggers. But unlike other online celebrities, Serin’s stardom comes from a unique source: “haters” who patronize his blog solely to learn what financial missteps he’s made today. “A community formed overnight,” Serin said in an interview. “It wasn’t a very positive community.”‘
[via Pete Ashton