Sunday, April 23, 2006

So why do you blog?

One year and 164 posts have passed since I started this blog (i.e. my personal online journal) and some persons started to ask me why I blog.

In fact, I decided to make a blog on a topic such as International and European Tax during my experience as a teaching assistant in the International Tax Centre in Leiden. I could have started (and probably with more success) a blog on literature, cinema or other areas of my interest. Instead the theme I chosen was a closed topic, probably only of interest to the ones engaged in any way (as a student, researcher or working) on this area.

This choice has a particular reason. I have been involved in tax for more that 5 years and more recently since my work has gained a bit more “academic” emphasis, I realised that a blog could occupy some empty space (left by the traditional sources) and provide some sort of message to persons involved in international tax.

A blog is no more than a “personal online journal” displayed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry on top. A recent Economist special report on New Media gives some insight into the “art of blogging” According to the Economist, Blogs are social by nature and their essence rests on the “the unedited voice of a single or group of persons. Blogging is therefore also about style and individuality. Blogs are designed to induce conversation and at the same time linking to the outside world (i.e. other blogs, websites, etc..). The essence of a blog entry is that “it is not content until is linked.”

So why TALK TAX?

I have the feeling that the Internet revolution is coming late to the tax world, where the old media still plays an important role. TaxProf Blog (Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network), a US blog is an example of how a thematic blog can make a difference. TaxProf Blog is directed to a US audience and its entries rage all aspects of taxation. Therefore, for a non-US reader, the blog is not at first sight the most useful tool. Nevertheless, I like the concept (which also inspired me) and its success proves that there is space for this type of initiatives.

More recently I saw a European blog called TAXVISTA which is a creation of a group of young tax professionals (apparently form different countries). Accordingly, they had in common a “disappointment with the available online tax resources” and decided to launch a website. Through that website they would be able to contact with colleagues from other countries; deepen their tax knowledge in a faster paced environment; and establish their tax expertise online.

The idea is nice, the intentions are correct but the implementation (in my humble opinion) still leaves some room for improvement. The use of more than one language (in the articles section), not always linking to the outside and the lack of clear editorial line may run against it in the long run. Nevertheless, I appreciate the initiative and since a part of the website is only for members, I may be mistaken about the reach of this initiative.

So if TALK TAX is not like TaxProf Blog or TAXVISTA what it is?

TALK TAX is simply a personal initiative designed to stir the debate around international tax issues. Public discussions around technical issues should not be a monopoly of scholars, conferences or specialised journals. There is a mid-way where a blog on international tax can prove to be useful. First, by immediately linking a reader to the sources. Secondly, by inviting others to comment and creating a platform for interactivity. Thirdly, by adopting a more friendly approach and freeing the legal language of some of its “old trappings”. Lastly, by creating a space for open personal development, where ideas and experiences are shared with who want to know about them.

Taking into account the fact that International tax is a particular field, where experience and up-to date knowledge may create leverage, I expect that this type of initiatives to grow in the near future. Blogs can be made within faculties, within an international organization (such as IFA) or on a personal level. The end result will always be that the end-users will always benefit from the increased knowledge-sharing and discussion of ideas will be easier.

For the time being, I will continue to blog. I blog for an idea, which is sharing of knowledge (even if I know that my modest knowledge in this area may be of use to a small community of people). What matters is that you do it for yourself, for what you believe.

In conclusion, I believe the success of my initiative will only be measured when similar initiatives are launched and never by the number of visits, clicks or praises. I don’t blog for achievement and I refuse to advertise my blog. I simply blog for whomever is out there!


Post a Comment

<< Home