After a decade, am calling time on Think Defence and shutting up shop.
I think it only fair that I explain why.
Think Defence has always been a one man band and that man has other things like work, grandkids and lots of other projects to absorb his time, my time. Researching for content, writing it, transferring to the website, site maintenance/design and chatting nonsense on Twitter is no trivial task, and it is just too much at the moment.
Like many bloggers, this is a hobby, and I make no bones about it. But I am piss poor at time management and as many who are passionate about their hobbies will know, just cutting back is not an option, it has to be all or nothing, have tried reducing time, it didn’t work!
The site had approximately 3.5 million words across over just under four thousand blog posts. The more recent ‘long read’ format has yielded forty three articles spanning a couple of words under the half million mark. Traffic has varied but a total of 15 million page views is the current tally, and let’s not forget the quarter of a million comments either.
There has been a few a few shenanigans; others stealing content and passing it off as their own, legal threats from a certain mythical think tank, a constant battle against spammers and the odd intemperate bitchfest in comments, but despite these, it’s been great.
Did I achieve anything, perhaps, perhaps not, showcasing UK defence products, banging on about digging in, logistics, the value of civil servants and threat from civilian drones before they were fashionable is something I am quite proud of, and hopefully some of the longer content has proved valuable to others.
The reason I started Think Defence was simply to provide a forum for (hopefully) sensible conversations about UK defence and security and to indulge my interest. What has sustained me in all those years has been other people; serving, former serving, industry, academics, numerous other defence bloggers or just people with an interest. It has been a thoroughly life enriching experience, am humbled and honoured in equal measure to have known you all.
Reflection on Defence Blogging
Let’s be clear, typing words into a computer is in no way comparable to the problems that defence professionals face in the real world, or indeed, former server service personnel.
I have also tried, not always successfully, to avoid being too judgemental from a position of comfort, people in the MoD and industry don’t get up in morning and decide to make poor decisions. They are working within the bounds of a larger system with financial, political and operational constraints we cannot know. FRES or Type 26 problems are not the result of one pivotal decision made by a single malignant person but when you look at those and others, there is certainly a role for discussion and challenge outside the tent.
The public defence debate must therefore continue, within sensible bounds
Is the future short form blogging or long form online content, both, or something else? Personally, I think the answer is all of them and in addition, video remains an interesting and as yet untapped avenue for the debate to continue.
There is a fantastic community of defence writers outside of Think Defence who are already taking the debate to new levels, my only advice to you would be to be generous to each other, be a friend to each other, you all want the same thing at the end of the day.
I will put the link to the archive site below and over the next couple of weeks, will put all the long reads into PDF format if anyone wants them and download the whole content database for offline storage. I am going to keep the domain, email account and Twitter for now, who knows what the future will hold.
Twitter will remain, but on a watching breif basis, the odd tweet here and there.
But for now, just wanted to say cheerio and thank you all.