dgivllrfi - The ghosts of London Blogs past #2

Two days ago I wrote about Londonist. Today its the turn of London Reconnections. The other two, Ian Visits and Diamond Geezer follow later. These three blogs besides Londonist, especially London Reconnections, couldn’t be in any more contrast yet in a lot of ways they are more down to earth and homely. In other words these three other blogs connect better with their readers and its most likely the fact quantity’s left out of these three blogs’ equations.

Comparing all four blogs, they couldn’t be more different, but that’s the idea. Each of the has their own approach and style which makes each so different from the other thus Londonist has its own merits despite the sheer output it generates.

What ultimately makes a blog is the quality of the posts that can be found. In that respect the three smaller concerns, London Reconnections, Ian Visits and Diamond Geezer are about quality and it makes a huge difference in terms of connecting with the readership.

We start with London Reconnections, or Reconnections as it likes to call itself these days. Its the youngest of all the four blogs yet has a huge following. The simple way to judge the success of Reconnections is by looking at the comments sections, these regularly run into the hundreds.

London Reconnections is all about transport and personal mobility. By the latter I mean walking, cycling, even roads and it publishes regular in depth investigations on various subjects, for example, the chaos at both Lewisham and Peckham Rye where systematic failures caused massive delays to Southern rail services, the Thameslink shambles, the Goblin Line, TfL’s tube upgrades and of course Crossrail.

London Reconnections doesn’t have a office as opposed to Londonist. Instead it holds monthly meetings in a pub in London. These bring its readership together for a chat and garners the magazine’s all important social fabric. Its rare for a blog to do such things yet it works well in their case. The only other blog I am aware of that does this successfully is London Historians.

lconnections - The ghosts of London Blogs past #2

The origins of London Reconnections can be found in the older London Connections blog. This excellent blog filled in much needed gaps in the reporting of transport issues however its invigilator ceased writing in 2008.

The cessation of London Connections is therefore why we have London Reconnections. Its an attempt to reconnect people to the world of transport blogging and it does very well on that.

London Reconnections is managed by a volunteer team who live in all sorts of places including Canada! Its a good example of how digital technologies transcend boundaries and distances.

Who runs London Reconnections? Its several people, all under nicknames of course! (See LR’s page screencapped below.) There’s Mwmbwls, Pedantic of Purley, Long Branch Mike, John Bull (the main players) as well as others who write from time to time.

Some might think the ‘Mwmbwls’ is not even a real name… it is! Below I’ve given brief clues what it alludes to 🙂

Ers ei cysylltiedig gyda y Ystumllwynarth rheilffordd, y rheilffordd Abertawe a Mwmbwls, a mawr trams Brydeinig, mae gennych yr ateb!

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London Reconnections’ Whos Who. September 2011.

Is there a ‘Who we are’ page these days? There is but there’s no direct link to it as far as I can see. Here’s the link.

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Without a doubt this has to be the very first London Reconnections – 22 September 2011 – all about the new West Ham bus garage!

Initially the content was short and to the point. Lately its taken on a more professional stance with lengthy, detailed investigations which tie in with the occasional magazine it publishes. These are great but sometimes I do find the detail a bit much – and that makes me wonder whether I’m cut out to read more than just a basic explanation of things. Perhaps others do get this overwhelmed feeling too and would rather LR just cuts to the chase a bit quicker?

In terms of the blog’s style and design, it’s changed just a few times. Thus the blog hasn’t got that many ghosts to speak of! The most dramatic of LR’s past ghosts however was the ability to change from a light to a dark theme – something few others do (the only other I know of is dpreview.com)

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London Reconnections’ dark theme 16th April 2012.

The other thing about this inverted look was there was an additional option to switch between excerpts and full posts. This feature first appeared around March 2012. Strangely it reverted the page back to its clean white look though! Here’s the toggle example from 16th April 2012.

In September 2014 LR adopted a short lived black look. This appears to have been done under the guidance of Boomstick Media (now names.co.uk.) Perhaps the black just wasn’t knobs enough?

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London Reconnections 27 September 2014.

In February 2014 a different theme, perhaps hot on the heels of Londonist.. was adopted. Blue as the main colour giving a nice and uncluttered look. The first of these issues included a touch of purple too!

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London Reconnections February 2014

Basically in those nine years since London Reconnections began, there’s been just five main style changes. Perhaps the biggest change occurred in April 2017 when a header image was used for the first time.

The Internet Archive has not rendered that change of style properly (just as some other achieved pages also show a missing header image.)

This new look London Reconnections also heralded the excellent article on Frank Pick’s futuristic bus stations outside London and its an example of LR material about places outside of London but still bears a strong relation with London’s bus network. London Transport’s Green Line spread its wings quite a long way!

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The best rendered example of the new look is therefore May 2017 when LR discusses new trains for the DLR. Not only that, it was too about the time the site changed its title from London Reconnections to just simply Reconnections – although the URL is the same.

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Some have queried the aspirations behind the site’s renaming, however its been asserted the main focus is still London but the new name gives a bit of flexibility to the site as it can more easily write about topics outside of London which too are clearly of great importance in terms of London itself.

One advantage of this rather subtle renaming is ‘Reconnections’ can now follow the exploits of London’s former tube chief as he gets taken for a ride in the Big Apple! In fact it has an article published exactly a year ago on the exploits of our ex tube chief – although LR, so far, has not written on Mr Byford’s dealings with bed bugs!

Actually the above story could be just a scare. Gothamist says its probably that but adds that some bus drivers have their doubts and the MTA is covering things up. I expect the bed bugs came up for the day on either a regular or an Amtrak Acelea service from Philadelphia – its why they have not been seen in NY since 🙂

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Andy Byford gets taken for a ride in the Big Apple. More here.

London Reconnections has a magazine and there have been five issues so far. I have not read any of them let alone seen a copy, so I can only give a brief summary of these. Even though the current issue shows just the latest (January 2017) a trawl through the internet archive will reveal ghost pages with each of these featured in all their gory – especially Issue four! Here’s three of its magazine’s covers…

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Issue one. August 2015.

The focus of these magazines is of course London’s transport and each deals with a particular subject. As the image above shows, the first issue was about the typefaces used for the tube.

The second issue focused on the Harrow disaster of 1952 and how, because of it, Britian’s transport began to be modernised. Another major rail disaster, Hither Green, is also covered as well as other subjects.

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Issue three. March 2016.

Issue Three and Four have covers which tell us pretty much what the subjects were about – TfL Rail and Crossrail. Issue Four is sold out however a digital version can still be purchased.

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Issue four. June 2016

Issue Five covered the schism between the different ideologies looking to unite London’s rather fragmented rail systems. There hasn’t been a magazine since January 2017 however and from that it seems the staff are perhaps focusing more on the actual blog itself.

In true Thunderbirds tradition, here’s a count down of those issues in the ghostly archives and when they first appeared in real world terms by way of links to those very pages:

FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE. London Reconnections are go!

Reconnections’ latest look is here and its slightly different to the earlier look. The change was of course done to perhaps emphasise more the ‘Reconnections’ – having dropped the ‘London’ part of the title some months back!

lr28122018 - The ghosts of London Blogs past #2

The current Reconnections. Not yet archived at the time of writing. That for the 21st December 2018 can instead be seen.

Update: The screencap showed the page as it was on the Internet Archive when I did my research. However a recent check shows the archive has done the same as before and dropped the ‘Reconnections’ badge. Its common across a lot of archived sites by the way and its not just restricted to LR. Some of the child pages in LR too suffer from incorrect rendering and clearly the css is missing part of its code. Without a doubt the Internet Archive itself suffers from ‘link rot’ and coding bugs too!

As the five magazines produced by Reconnections show, there’s a business slant however its minimal and limited to sales of the magazine itself. Any other possible income is made as donations via Patreon. I do not think Reconnections really want to introduce advertising and one cannot blame them. Why bother with advertising when one can be far more successful without?

Advertising is of course the primary means of earning an income, but then one is at the mercy of the companies managing the revenue. YouTube pays the most successful channels very well and its 100% certain they will be paid. However if one is not as big as the main players the problem then is the income is quite fragile. Its not guaranteed and tomorrow it could just stop.

This of course is why a number of bloggers/vloggers are turning to other means. There’s Just Giving, Go Fund Me, or in the case of Reconnections, Patreon.

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Reconnections’ Patreon page.

There are other blogs that derive their income from different means. Again for example London Historians is a membership organisation and their blog is funded by way of membership fees.

I do not know what Reconnections’ plans are for the future. However I do know they would like some more contributors with an excellent background in transport issues.

Anyone with an interest in writing well researched transport articles should contact Reconnections as they would like to see a much wider range of topics related to transport. It doesnt have to be trains, Crossrail, the tube or buses. It can be about walking, healthy transport, the environment and many other things. Their contact is questions@londonreconnections.com

Part three continues with a look at the ghost blogs of Ian Visits and Diamond Geezer.

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Manchester Mike

Great review of an awesome site.