Monday, March 17, 2008

802 Offline

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Yep, you read that right — 802 Online is going offline.

I started this blog in August of 2004, and brought it to Seven Days the following April. I envisioned 802 Online as a clearinghouse for information about Vermont blogs. For years I diligently kept a list of Vermont blogs, and regularly read each of them to keep up with how other local writers, artists, journalists, activists, businesspeople and techies were using this new medium.

That was pretty easy to do back in 2004. There weren't many bloggers here then. I organized a Vermontblogger meetup in October, 2004, and just three people showed up. Three!

But blogs have caught on since then. Today it seems like everyone's got one. And it's become impossible to keep up with them all.

So I'm giving up. Sort of.

As of today, I will no longer be posting content to 802 Online. But I'll still be writing for — and editing — Blurt, the new Seven Days staff blog. We modeled Blurt after Slog, the staff blog for The Stranger in Seattle. All Seven Days staffers can contribute, so there will be a constant stream of new material.

On Blurt, you'll find media criticism, news from local bloggers and interesting clips from YouTube alongside weird gag gift items that our art director likes. We're excited about it because we've been emailing this stuff around our office for years — now we can share it all with you.

I'll be abandoning my Vermont blogroll, but I've begun a Vermont Blog Directory, which includes all of the sites I used to list on 802 Online, plus any that anyone sends my way.

In other words, I'm still keeping track of Vermont blogs. I'm just not reading them or writing about them as much as I used to. I just don't have time anymore. Not only am I part of a team that's trying to shepherd the state's largest weekly newspaper into the digital age — I'm also the parent of a 2-year-old... who has another sibling on the way.

So keep sending me news, tips, and new Vermont blogs — you'll find me at cathy@sevendaysvt.com. 

Thanks, everyone, for reading. Hope you like Blurt. Over and out.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vermont YouTube of the Day

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 2:24 PM

I meant to post this a couple days ago, but I got distracted by my crazy job.

Remember Louis Armistead, the UVM senior who did the Davis Center video? We just hired him as a freelancer, and he's making videos every other week for Seven Days. At least, that's the plan.

The first episode of Loutube News features superstar politico-spawn Chelsea Clinton.



Friday, February 29, 2008

Exit Voices in Seven Days

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM

Clinton or Obama? McCain or Huckabee — or Paul? Should the school budget pass? What about the Moran plant?

Vermonters will decide these questions and more on Tuesday. And this year's Town Meeting Day promises to be an exciting one.

All the more reason to share your election day stories on the Exit Voices blog!

Exit Voices is a "Vermont blogging experiment" sponsored by the Burlington-area cable access channels — 15 (VCAM), 16 (RETN) and 17 (CCTV). It's moderated once again by Vermont blogger and filmmaker (and VCAM producer) Bill Simmon.

Here's how it works:

Exit Voices is a forum for Vermont voters to come together and discuss the issues and candidates on the ballot.

In the comments section of the Exit Voices posts, answer these two questions:

1. What motivates you to go to your town meeting or polling station and vote?

2. If you could add a comment on your Ballot for your elected officials to read, what would you say?

Alternately, tell us what you said at your Town Meeting, why you refused to vote, or what makes you crazy about our system of democracy.

I've participated in Exit Voices in the past. I love checking in to read other peoples' accounts of their polling places. In fact, I love it so much that I convinced our editors to run some of the comments in the paper.

Next Wednesday's edition of Seven Days will reprint some of the content from the Exit Voices blog.

I've got to start curating these comments by 2 p.m. on Tuesday — sadly we've gotta send the paper to print before the election results are in. So consider this my first plea to all of you Vermont bloggers to post early (and often!). Your words could wind up in Seven Days.

Kluster press

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 9:33 AM

How's kluster doing this week at the TED conference? I've read a bunch of blog posts from the event, and no one's mentioned them.

But here's a snazzy article in Business Week about Ben Kaufman.

It even mentions the Burlington Brainstorm, which was apparently not as successful as hoped.

Not all the news is good. Two weeks before TED, Kaufman heldbrainstorming sessions in Burlington. His plan was to introduce a crowdto Kluster, luring folks into his downtown lair with vouchers for freedrinks at local bars. He had hoped that ideas would percolate on thebrand-new system, including a project for the TED attendees. More than100 thirsty and curious visitors made their way in, but their ideas forTED came up short.

I just logged in to check their progress. Looks like they've got a lot more ideas, anyway.

Anyone have more info? Man, that conference sounds cool.

UPDATE: Just looked at Vermont Tiger and found this post by Cairn Cross, about Robin Williams stopping by the table at TED to talk with the klusterers.

 

Friday, February 22, 2008

Who are the (rotten) people in your neighborhood?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 3:04 PM

And you thought the iBrattleboro lawsuit was juicy... Some enterprising team of people has created www.rottenneighbor.com, a site where you can tell the world about your rotten neighbors. There are actually a few local entries. I'm putting the comments here, but removing actual addresses.

Winooski:
Old guy that lives in this apt is a pain inthe ass. 40-ish guy that complains about noise too much and looksanorexic, get a life ****-head!

Burlington:
  The kids have no respect they won't listen and they have had the cops called on them many many times.

Williston:
dog bits [sic],kids very loud, smoke smells fromthere, they leave there butts out side for me to pick up, kids have sexout side and smoke, father never home, lots of kids coming and going,land loard don't care, nasty condo to live next to.

East Fletcher:
  Guy's a loser and a drunk.

Burlington:
  These neighbors are also very nice they are polite and considerate and also  has helped me jump my car many times Kudos to them.

Why build a site like this? Here's what the founders say:

What We Believe

  • Real estate agents are not obligated to disclose problem neighbors, leaving clients in the dark
  • Information on bad neighbors should be made freely and easily available to everyone
  • The internet can offer unique, valuable guidance to home buyers and sellers
  • The more rotten neighbors you contribute, the better the service for everyone.

You can comment on these opinions and report them abusive, but this site still seems risky. Can you really trust these anonymous tipsters to give good info? I like the Front Porch Forum model of neighborhood knowledge better, though, alas, you have to live in a neighborhood to see comments from neighborhood residents.

I must admit, I am tempted to log on and tell people about the drug dealing that goes on in my neighborhood.

I just told my co-workers about this site, and read the comments above out loud. They wondered how it will play in Vermont. Says Paula: "It's a good way to get your head blown off by your neighbor." Yup.

Thanks, Boing Boing.

Kluster

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 2:11 PM

Kluster is online. Not much there yet, but you can go check it out.

This is the outfit behind the Burlington Brainstorm from a couple weeks back. They're headed to the TED conference next week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Photobooth Slideshow

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 8:49 AM

Check out this audio slideshow I produced this week, with help from Andrew Sawtell, one of our designers (who is also a photographer). It accompanies Pamela Polston's cover story about photographer Näkki Goranin and her photobooth obsession.

Näkki owns a stunning collection of discarded photobooth snapshots.She's got about 3000 images, a fraction of which made it into herbook, American Photobooth, just released from W.W. Norton. Some of the others are on display through March at Pine Street Art Works.

If you like found art, you'll love this exhibit. We're lucky to have it here in Burlington, so go see it while you can. Here's a peek.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

VT Blogger on Homeless Marathon

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Vermont blogophiles will guess that the headline refers to Morgan Brown of Norsehorse's Home Turf.

Morgan is an activist, a blogger and a fearless communicator. I've lost count of the number of times he's emailed to alert me to a new Vermont blog, or an important news story.

On Wednesday, Morgan will be taking part in the national Homeless Marathon:

WHAT IS THE HOMELESSNESS MARATHON?
It is a 14 hour radio broadcast featuring the voices and stories of homeless people from around the U.S. The Homelessness Marathon features live call-ins all night long via a national toll-free number. The Homelessness Marathon is available for free to all non-commercial stations.

Morgan sent me this message via Facebook:

WGDR 91.1 FM in Plainfield, VT will be airing the 11th annual homelessness marathon from 8PM to 1AM and I will be in the WDGR studio from 9PM to 1AM.

Listen in tomorrow night and support Morgan and this important event.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Journalism without ads?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I really should have taken a day off after returning from San Fran, just to get my ducks in a row, but I didn't. And now I'm paying for it.

Here's an interesting opinion piece about journalism from Edward Wasserman, a j-school prof at my alma mater, Washington and Lee University. Incidentally, I didn't actually study much journalism there — I was an English major.

Wasserman wonders, "Can journalism live without ads?" I wonder that, too.

Modern computing offers unparalleled capacities to track andcalculate. Imagine a vast menu of news and commentary offered to youad-free for pennies per item, the charges micro-billed, added up andpresented like a utility bill at month's end. The money that journalismproviders got would depend on their audience.

Plus, if youuploaded comment or video in response, to the degree it was downloadedby others you'd get credited for it -- compensated like any otherprovider.

Interesting. I looked into the micro-billing option a few years ago, when I was working for cartoonist Alison Bechdel. At the time, it seemed that there weren't any good ways to micro-bill. Has that changed?

I wish there were a way to either 1) allow people to pay a small fee if they choose or 2) make some things pay per view (like, pay a few cents per view), in exchange for dispensing with ads online.

I'm not sure how I feel about it all yet — as a media-lover or as a media company employee — but I'd like to know more about what's out there.

I should add that I'm not really sure that removing ads is a good idea — not just because they pay my salary, but also because I use them as a source of information. A different type of information, to be sure, but they're a source nonetheless.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Burlington Brainstorm: Friday Night

Posted By on Sat, Feb 9, 2008 at 7:57 AM

I went to the Burlington Brainstorm last night, to check out kluster, the new collaboration application from Ben Kaufman and crew.

I'm a homebody, so I went early. I was there from 7:30-8:30 p.m., so if the party got going later on, I wasn't there to see it.

But I was able to test the system, and talk to Ben and some of his design team — including the curiously named Mat Poprocki. Yes, that's really his name. The first photo is Ben, the second one shows (from left to right) designers Mat Poprocki and David Hitchcock.

This was definitely worth an hour of my time, if only because the set-up was so swanky, and I got to play with something new. Although the "free drinks" were actually drink tickets redeemable at local bars. Too bad.

They're not launching kluster until February 18 — this was actually the first time the system was live and open to the public for testing. "Pre-beta-testing" they said. And it's true — a few things didn't work, and I found a typo, but what I saw was still pretty cool.

They asked that I not say too much about how the system works since they're not going public for a week or so, but I can tell you that it's an application that enables group collaboration around ideas. "Anything better served by asking a group," says Ben.

Ben, by the way, is 21. He dropped out of Champlain College and is working on this full-time. He's got 12 people working with him — they got funding to develop this from outfits like Vermont's own Fresh Tracks Capital. In other words, they're exactly the type of business that we saw at Vermont 3.0 a couple weeks ago.

They were asked to take kluster to the TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design), which I've never heard of — possibly because I'm not "one of the 1000 most remarkable people in the world." The gathering takes place at the end of the month. According the the schedule, speakers include Al Gore, Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Samantha Powers and oceanographer Robert Ballard — the guy who discovered the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic.

The kluster crew will be there to use their collaboration tool to help these thinkers and doers share their collective wisdom. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with — if it takes off there and people actually use it. Good luck, guys!

You can still get a sneak preview tonight (Saturday) starting at 5 p.m. in the offices above Stone Soup and Bueno Y Sano on College Street in Burlington (the corner of College and S. Winooski Ave.).

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