Other people’s blogs

Rome Scene is a different sort of Mohawk Valley blog – relatively unconcerned with pessimism and politics. Here’s a thought-provoking post on local banking and savings accounts, and another post for those who are longing for the full Turning Stone “Lava” nightclub experience.

Also: What if Spartacus had had a Piper Cub? What if the Dutch had never lost hold of New York? (via Upstate 2050)

On the subject of maps, the Post-Standard is inviting its readers to take part in an intriguing exhibition at the Redhouse: they’ve included an outline of the map of the city of Syracuse in the Sunday paper and have asked readers to create their own highly individual “alternative maps” and send them in.

Steve Balogh has posed some interesting conundrums about “Who’s Greener?”

Lastly, returning to Phil’s blog post about “Ishikoro,” or the phenomenon of abandoned blogs, and abandoned local blogs in particular…

Local blogging simply is not popular in most areas of the country, particularly economically depressed areas like ours. One Syracuse-area blogger, Jude Nagurney Camwell (aka Iddybud), has been putting out a wonderful blog regularly for years. I occasionally read (perhaps less than I should), but because the focus of my blog tends to shy away from national issues, there isn’t a lot of overlap, and so her blog goes unmentioned. And there are probably even more people keeping blogs in Syracuse that we don’t know about, because they don’t write about local issues or even mention where they are physically located. What can I say? Local culture and politics is seen by some (many?) as less relevant, while Washington and national politics is seen as the only thing worth examining. The idea that you can make things happen in the hallowed halls of power just by sitting in your pajamas, is very seductive. If one craves power and attention and influence (or the illusion thereof), local blogging will probably seem a waste of time.

Also, as for my own blogroll on the right, these are mostly Upstate bloggers who blog about local or state issues. No doubt, my blogroll confuses the hell out of people who are used to every blog having its distinct partisan slant. (Is it Blue? Is it Red? Is it Green? I’m sure it is not enough of any of those, for some.) Almost none of those bloggers found me first (I had to go out and beat the bushes to find them, a task I admit I’ve been lazy about lately – because, as Phil noted, most blogs have a short shelf life) and probably few of them think of themselves as “New York State bloggers” (or even know my blog exists). And we are as far away as we have ever been from having a statewide blogging network that could augment or even form a unified Upstate media voice.

Anyhow, blogging that is not part of a business model (media, political or personal), is never going to attract too many participants. It could be that it’s always going to be a form of communication and deliberation that is for the few, by the few — although I agree with Phil, the apparent death of some local blogs is most regrettable. If that is a dead end, consider the function of a nighttime campfire. It doesn’t take a lot of people to keep that going, even when nearly everyone else is asleep, although it does take at least two or three, and the more the merrier. Does it have a function? That is to say, does it really keep the sleeping campers from freezing to death, or being eaten by the hungry bears out in the forest, or is it just happening because a few people can’t sleep? Unknown. And when you look around and the person sitting next to you has suddenly disappeared, did they go back to sleep, or did they go out to get more wood? Hard to say.

The only thing that’s clear is that when daylight comes, the campfire will no longer seem necessary, and the fire will be ashes. Only the memory of the night’s conversation will remain.

6 thoughts on “Other people’s blogs

  1. Phil

    NYCO:

    Thanks for the perspective and a great organizing metaphor–the campfire. I only wrote my post because several of my favorite local blogs seem to have gone dark (York Staters, CNY Ecoblog, Baloghblog). I guess that ishikoro really is the default state for blogs, for if the source I cited is correct only 15% of blogs remain active for any length of time. Of course, we can see why we suffer these losses: the responsibilities of grad school, young children and work took the aforementioned blogs offline.

    That being said, how do places like Buffalo and Watertown, Ma. develop such cool networks of local bloggers and places like Rochester (Rochester Writers) see their networks curl up and die?

    Put another log on the fire, pull up a modem and sit a spell.

  2. Brian Cubbison

    Do you think The Post-Standard might play a role in pulling together a statewide blogging network, maybe creating an aggregator that pulls in RSS feeds from active Upstate bloggers? I know Sean Kirst and I appreciate the way bloggers have accepted us, and we wouldn’t want to be the media “bigfooting” the scene, but we all seem to agree that Upstate bloggers need a “sphere” to resonate in. Do you think that’s a possibility?

  3. Robinia

    Brian–

    That’s a really good idea. “bigfooting” only happens if you run it that way. If it is open-source, free-access style, well, you would be just helping it happen. There is some networking between blogs already, some aggregation.

    I really think a more networked blogosphere in NY could help incubate new media/arts-related development, “creative economy” style. Or, as NYCO points out, just act as a campfire for us to hang around when the coyotes howl at night…

  4. Adirondack Almanack

    I’m not sure if you saw it. But around the first of the year I did a comparison of local blogs vs. local mainstream media. I compared the first google mentions of various stories (my “top adirondack stories of 2007). I was surprised to see that blogs were nearly neck and neck with local mainstream media when it came to coverage of the regions top stories in 2007.

    I’m not sure how it will shake out in the end. For one, many local papers have begun blogs of their own. Although none seem to have the depth or independence of local blogs like Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Musing, they clearly have a larger built in audience.

    Still, the google results seem to point to a future when local blogs like ours compete directly with local online readers. It’s clear on the most important stories of the adirondack region, that’s already true.

  5. threecollie

    I am glad you took the time to find upstate blogs, because you found mine, which led me to yours, which I much enjoy. If it weren’t for blogs and bloggers very few of us here in the more eastern part of the state would have any idea about NYRI for example…

  6. Ellen

    Phil: You asked, how do places like Buffalo and Watertown, Ma. develop such cool networks of local bloggers?

    I don’t know about Watertown MA… but it seems to me that a lot of bloggers in Buffalo see blogs as part of a business model. WNY Media Network, for example. (In fact, I think if you DON’T have ads on your site, people don’t take you seriously…) And a lot of other blogs are very preoccupied with campaign fundraising, which is another sort of business model. :-) When people think there is money to be made, they get attracted to doing it.

    Brian: The RSS feeds are out there and presumably the PS/Syracuse.com can do whatever they want with them. I think the hesitation (if there is any) would come from the Powers that be on the newspaper side, wouldn’t it? (or am I wrong?) I know some bloggers get prickly about their stuff being used as someone else’s content, particularly someone making money off it, but hey… don’t put your RSS feed out there then!

    I agree with Robin, there does not have to be any sense of “bigfooting,” in part because you guys get off your own blogs and show up in other people’s comments. Do any other “old media” people do that? (No, at best, I think what people like Keith Olbermann do is post spotlighted diaries on Daily Kos, which is still not the same as going into the rank and file commenting.)

    I didn’t see that post on Adirondack Almanack, but I will go and look for it.

    Threecollie: You seem to be part of a network of rural/farm bloggers… how did that happen?

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