Improve my blog’s look

My solo blog is one month old today. I’m reasonably happy with the way it’s going – I’ve enjoyed writing it, there have been some excellent comments, nobody has breached the comments policy (though one person came close), it has prompted some discussion at other blogs, and I have been able to use posts in the media. The daily page views could be higher – averaging 247 a day since I started, though the navel-gazing of the last few days seems to have produced a bit of a surge. But it’s early days yet, and with a Technorati rank of 173,201 I’m ahead of about 56.6 million of the other blogs they claim to be monitoring.

But one thing I don’t like is the look of the blog, which is boring, and the fact that I can’t get the comments sidebar to work. If anyone can recommend someone to redesign it for a reasonable price I’m interested in hearing suggestions. I can be contacted via andrew AT

Academic spin

Earlier in the week, The Australian published a story about Harvard academic Robert Putnam‘s research into ethnic diversity and trust. It reported that:

His extensive research found that the more diverse a community, the less likely were its inhabitants to trust anyone, from their next-door neighbour to their local government. People were even more wary of members of their own ethnic groups, as well as people from different backgrounds.

Now this in itself is hardly suprising. It is intuitively plausible, since the less you know or can infer about someone, and the less you are able to deliver social sanctions through social networks, the less rational it is to trust them. Andrew Leigh (who has worked with Putnam in the past) has already written a good study of it, reporting some international empirical work and adding Australian evidence. This story should just have been telling us that we were about to get some interesting extra detail. But instead it suggests that Putnam himself should be treated with some intellectual distrust.

The original Financial Times report said:

Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity, saying it