Saturday, October 15, 2005

ConvergeSouth - Local Online Alt Media

Continuing the ConvergeSouth coverage...

Saturday early afternoon:

Exposing a little organizational glitch - Roch Smith's session moved to a different room (Hoder was absent), yet there was no sign posted at the old venue, nor an announcement. So, by the time I and a few others figured it all out, we came in late and missed the opening spiel. I hope I did not miss too much.

At the beginning, Roch asked people why they blog. Nobody said therapy, although I feel it may be the real reason why I blog and why, I suspect, many other people blog. From that Sue's link, here are some examples of blogs as therapeutics.

This session was about building a blogging micro-community, something that Greensboro practically invented and Roch was instrumental in the process by building and running blog aggregator. A number of other places are now trying to emulate Greensboro and foster hyperlocal blogging communities with more or less success.

Lux-Et-Umbra explains:
* Greensboro101 is an aggregator. Not a public forum.
* Greensboro101's mission is to generate local news via blogs, thereby pushing the comments to the blogs that are pushing the local news or setting up the events.
* Greensboro101 is NOT like Backfence, or any site as such since it does not empower citizens for an onslaught of full articles. You blog your post, you summarize on GSO101 and others that are interested will link into your blog.
* Greensboro101 is NOT a conventional news site either, whereas pretty much all of your other sites are basic alt-media news sites. These sites are no different from WaPo, NYT, or even CNN websites except for the fact that they allow citizen participation and sometimes include a forum.
Here's Backfence, so you can compare.

Terrablogs is trying to do this for a number of cities, including Seattle, Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston, Chattanooga, Memphis, Monroe, New Orleans, Saint Andrews, San Diego, St.Louis, Vermont and Vicksburg, but each aggregates only a few blogs so far.

Following in the steps of Greensboro101, there are some other successful local aggregators, in Charlotte, Charlotte again, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Nashville, for instance.

At a level of the whole state, Connecticut appears to have a thriving community of bloggers, including those who do Connecticut Local Politics. I found out about them from a blogging class taught by Colin McEnroe. Check out the students' blogs on his sidebar and their reactions to their state aggregator. Many are uncomfortable with the fact that most local blogs do not write about local issues - what makes a CT blog a CT blog apart from being located in CT? Do people ask the same question when seeing

But, with Greensboro being "30 seconds ahead of the curve" (is this Ed Cone's phrase?) it is not suprising that North Carolina as a state is at the front, and that several other places in the state are trying to learn from the Greensboro experience and join the cutting edge. The "web is a petri dish for hyperbole" (Ed Cone), and with our strength in biotech, it is not surprising that this petri dish is incubated here.

The concept of the blog carnival was born in North Carolina with the Carnival of Vanities. Not surprisingly, the first state-carnival also started here: The Tar Heel Tavern (check out the archives). Several other states have started their carnivals in the meantime, e.g., Montana, NY, NJ, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Kansas is probably going to be next (see here for more). Stephen aka Cicero has a great idea to celebrate the first anniversary of the Tavern in person at the next bloggercon in Chapel Hill.

The Triangle is closely following in the footsteps of Greensboro, emulating everything that appeared to work well. However, the Triangle blogging community is "fractal" (or schizophrenic if you do not want to be charitable) as it tries to organize at three distinct levels. The first level is hyperlocal, pretty much bu county: Wake Co. (Raleigh, Cary, Apex), Durham Co. (Durham, RTP) and Orange Co. (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Pittsboro). The second level is Triangle-wide. The Triangle is not just a geographical unit, but also a psychological one. Many of us live in one county, go to school in another, and go to work in the third. Finally, as Raleigh is the seat of the state government, Triangle bloggers feel the need to be at the forefront of organizing the state-wide blogging community. Perhaps there is even a fourth level - national - as many local bloggers worked, in one capacity or another, for John Edwards in his national bid last year.

Mark Tosczak built the biggest aggregator in the state, the, which can be viewed whole or in regional parts: Triad, Triangle, Charlotte, Western and Eastern.

Triangle Blog Aggregator can also be viewed in separate parts: Chapel Hill, Raleigh, RTP and Triangle Java User Group.

North State Blogs and Triad Blogs are also local aggregators. Does any other state have this many blog-lists and aggregators?

Raleigh News and Observer and Independent Weekly are now trying to use the blogs the same way that Greensboro News and Record pioneered.

In Greensboro, the motor behind the building of the community is Ed Cone - he taught everyone how to blog, organized the Piedmont Bloggers Conference and the ConvergeSouth, and did a lot to force the newspaper to get ready for the 21st century.

In the Triangle, Anton Zuiker does exactly the same. He has organized the Triangle Bloggers Conference and is planning for another one next year. He has blog teach-ins every month. He also runs the local blog meet-ups via Blog Together.

Something is always happening around here. Jude, Justin and Walloper may have moved out of state, but Reed is moving to Raleigh soon and new bloggers are starting out, like New 2 Raleigh in the Triangle and Nita in Greensboro just did.

Sandy Carmany is an elected official in Greensboro. Sally Greene is an elected official in the Triangle, and Will R is running for office.

In the Triad, GTRC and Jill run the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission blog. In the Triangle, Heather is blogging for the NC Conservation Network.

In the Triad, the blogging community is so compact, it almost feels foul to pick some over the others, but you can see the great examples of their work if you check out Sue, everybody's blog-mama, Jay Ovittore, the music man, Stewart the camereman, Lex, the journalist, Billy the blogging poet, Mandie, the photoblogger, and many others, like Chewie, Dave, Michael, Jon, Laurie, Guarino, Patrick, David, Seymour, jw, .....

In the Triangle, Ruby has done miracles with Orange Politics - a site that many are going to emulate next year for mid-term elections. Eric Muller is possibly the best known NC blogger nationally. Pam is right up there as she recently made it. Paul Jones teaches journalism. Henry Copeland runs Blogads. Sarah Dessen is a famous writer. Robust McManlyPants on Average Display has the bext blog title ever. Dave Munger is Poli-sci Department Head at Duke who recently quit blogging for various professional reasons (but I am sure he is still reading us all). Just off the top of my head, let me also mention Jane, Ron, CathColl and ae. We all know each other, meet every now and then, and think of each other as friends.

Will the mountain folks be next? Check the Ashville blogroll here. Some very impressive blogs. Erin, being in Monroe, can pick where to be aggregated - everywhere perhaps.

Or is it going to be Charlotte area? See the Charlotte blogroll on Anonymoses blog for some fine examples.

Anyway, if Greensboro is 30 seconds in front of everyone else, perhaps the rest of the North Carolina is 10 second ahead of the rest of the world. Not bad.

ConvergeSouth - First Impressions
ConvergeSouth - Some Pictures
ConvergeSouth - International Coverage
ConvergeSouth - Building Community
ConvergeSouth - Blog Carnivals
ConvergeSouth - Ethics
ConvergeSouth - Policing the Media
ConvergeSouth - Blogging from the outside

Check the Technorati Tag: ConvergeSouth

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