Dispatches, metablogging

What is Dispatches?

This is one of those things I’ve thought I probably should write for a long time but never got to actually doing. Until now.

Dispatches, for those who don’t know, is a semi-regular feature on this site. It consists, essentially, of a few sentences that laments that our (fictional) reporter hasn’t been in touch in a while and then there’s the (fictional) report that he’s filed.

I’ve naively told myself for sometime that anyone who came across it would understand that this is what it was, but looking at it as an outsider I see how it’s not terribly obvious. If someone followed along from the beginning, they probably could have guessed because, well, the first two installments were about pretty blatantly fictional fare: unicorns and the lost city of Atlantis. They were also pretty bad, but that’s another matter entirely.

The reality is that in this medium people haven’t been, and can’t be expected to have been, following along from the beginning. The internet’s great for jumping in midstream, and that has created a far bit of confusion.

The height of that came in a letter I got recently, from a (real) lawyer regarding this story (which has been changed as a result of that letter). Confusing readers who stumble along is unfortunate but tolerable, the specter (even absent an explicit threat) of legal action is another thing entirely.

So, to explain Dispatches let’s start with Steve Finch, our reporter. Mr. Finch–who does not, to my knowledge, exist–is a 30-something newspaper hack or “beat reporter.” He’s an old hand who write clean straightforward stories that tend not to venture to far from the events and opinion relevant to the story. But he does have a passion for odd and unconventional stories that no one else is covering.

His existence is essentially to make it easier for me to write something about “wouldn’t it be cool if…” or “wouldn’t it be weird if…” for this site without having to present them as so many excessive hypothetical. The idea of animal racism, for example, was something that popped into my head one day. But I wanted to present the idea without taking explicit ownership of it; Dispatches allows me to do just that.

I hope that this will clear up any present or future confusion, and wasn’t too much of a bore to those who already understood. Thanks, as always, for reading.