More slanders against Not Born Yesterday on the Beeb


NBY: the wilderness years

A brief history of Grime

The predecessor to Not Born Yesterday began life as a round-robin email called Media Ink in 2002. Sent to mates and heavy hitters in publishing, the media and commerce, it started out as a thinly veiled attempt to get me a book contract/columnist's job/more freelance marketing work. Its other purpose was to say, "Look, I can write" to important people like my kids and my Mum.

The subterfuge landed me one nice article in The Independent Magazine, and a series of pieces in Market Leader. In those days, you couldn't do much more than type and attach humungous photographs to emails, and by early 2003 - with a circulation of just 104 - I was thinking what else I might do with my new-found knowledge. This learning was only partly technological; with far more time after retiring from full-time work, several things were becoming ever more clear to me. These were:

  1. Most large-scale business is crooked
  2. Stock exchanges and remote shareholders are ruining business and family/community life
  3. Globalism is obviously flawed as the way forward
  4. Energy and water will dominate geopolitics until a technological solution is found to the problems
  5. Banks exist for each other and have lost the plot about their proper role
  6. Personal credit is wildly out of control
  7. Capitalism is a good model for feeding people, but we need a better version
  8. The lack of civic education will mean more and more draconian legislation until all our liberties are gone
  9. The UK Party system is controlling and corrupt, as is much local government
  10. Hard-line pc is driving people towards extremists and ignoring the rise of Islamism as a local threat
  11. Focus groups, packaging and slick (but empty) communications ideas produce useless ‘gesture’ politics
  12. UK debt servicing has spiraled out of control and threatens all of our welfare services
  13. Little or no preparations have been made for an ageing population
  14. Politicians must stop asking why people don’t get involved, and instead look in the mirror
  15. As a culture we have lost the ability to think freely and laterally
  16. We need a new Establishment more than we need a new Government

The site started up in June 2003. I think it may be unique in having been almost entirely grown by individual invitation, recommendation and the odd review. Up until 2007, it was seen by most readers as quite funny but slightly deranged…as well being wrong about almost everything. Bear in mind, by this time Nby had accused Lehman Brothers of having an unsustainable business model, Peter Mandelson of dodgey EU dealings, Tony Blair of murder, Northern Rock's CEO of being unhinged, RBS's Freddie Goodwin of having a small willy complex, various local government officers of being crooks, a computer retailer of gbh and fencing email names to criminals, Hillary Clinton of being a mad bitch, estate agents of talking up a busted market, and Gordon Brown of being a sanctimonious hypocrite who, once in power, would unravel in public.

The stock market crash, banking meltdown, economic slump, house price collapse, Madoff affair and MPs expenses scandal briefly made Not Born Yesterday a hot number receiving 1200-1500 hits a week. (Look, to little old me, that's big). And although most have returned since to la-la-land, one result is that with more contacts and sources reading and sending my stuff, I could produce an even better-informed product.

Then in September 2009, Nby broke the Brown health story, which the Press rapidly turned into Brownmadandblind. Within a week the site was getting 5,300 daily hits. This mass-market appeal was short-lived: nby is not for most people - at least, not yet. I’m trying to be an engaging philosopher with some practical ideas about how to reduce and reverse the power imbalance between the Big and the Individual. A lot of the time the site is meant to amuse, expose, suggest, predict and explain. A lot of the time it misfires, but a loyally subscribed readership of just over 800 are still enjoying it regularly , and we still get at least two thousand visits a week.


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