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Monday, July 31, 2006

More Vermont newspaper blogs

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2006 at 5:18 PM

Man, those Burlington Free Press reporters have some kind of crazy blog fevah! Look at them go! They just added The Gadabout to their blog line-up. It's written by staffers Victoria Welch and Sky Barsch and their as-yet-unnamed friends, who will share with us their random thoughts on Burlington nightlife and "the social scene." This brings the BFP blog total to four. Holy heck!

Bringing the Seven Days blog total to four is Meghan Dewald's The Daily Digest , in which our intrepid calendar writer will chronicle her month-long adventure with the localvore challenge. Regular 802 readers will recognize Meghan's mug — she was a guest poster for me a couple times, when I was on vacation and maternity leave. It's about frickin' time she got her own blog.

I feel like we should challenge the Free Press bloggers to some kind of sporting contest. I was thinking badminton, but that's a one on one or two on two affair. Maybe volleyball? But it bruises my arms... What kind of games can you play with four on a side? If we added Don our web guy, we could field five. Maybe basketball? But it's so sweaty.

What about a horseshoe tournament? Or cards? A really cutthroat game of spoons, mayhap?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What i saw today

Posted By on Sat, Jul 29, 2006 at 4:27 PM

I saw this, from Caleb Daniloff's blog (What i saw today):

Strolled the Church Street marketplace during lunch. The annual summersidewalk sale was under way. The crowds were thick under the whitetents, hands rifling through clothes-racks, shopping bags hanging fromelbows. I picked up one dress shirt, just to see what a $185button-down felt like. It felt like protection from the embarassment ofshowing up in the same shirt as a lower-paid co-worker. Lots of merch,lots of money changing hands, lots of 50-percent-off signs. For somereason, this was a newsworthy event. I spotted several TV crews and alocal columnist, eyes and cameras trained on all the swooning consumersexcept for those of us seeking out the 50-percent-off health-insurancetable, half-off fuels stand and drastically reduced war-casualtiescounter.

This is a post from Wed, July 26. I saw the same sale, and had some of the same thoughts this morning.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bad Colonies team in Asia

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2006 at 2:21 PM

If you've always wanted to drive across Asia in a tiny, beat-up used car, you might enjoy this. The Bad Colonies Motoring Cooperative, brainchild of Bristol resident Seth Nathaniel Beck, is competing in this year's Mongol Rally. I wrote a story about these guys last month (Mongolia or Bust).

Beck bought a handheld computer for the trip that lets him and his teammates update their blog from the road. It looks like they're currently stuck in Ukraine, waiting to cross the border into Kazakhstan.

Team member Vaughn writes:

Ifthere’s one thing we’ve all learned, it’s that Kiev is mediocre,Ukraine is a dump, the girls are pretty nonetheless, and we would nevermind if we never came back. Right now BCMC is hoping that we get somethingto help us cross the border, otherwise we have to play catchup to theother two teams. We have all agreed, as well, that crossing Kazakhstanin a convoy of four cars is the best idea, protecting us from seriousbreakdown issues and bandits. Yes, there is a good chance that a one totwo car convoy might get harassed; three to four much less so.

Intrepid Stowe reporter launches another blog

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2006 at 10:38 AM

Scott Monroe of the Stowe Reporter emailed yesterday to say he started a new blog, called The Blotter. He's still updating the paper's other active blog, 49 School Street.

I was driving through Stowe yesterday and thought I'd stop by to see Scott, because we'd never actually met in person. Lucky for me he was in the office. He gave me a tour of the Stowe Reporter HQ, and we talked about blogs and newspapers and I told him I liked the quote on his office door from William Zinsser's On Writing Well. Also, I took this fabulous picture.

On his new blog, Scott will be posting the weekly Stowe police blotter. He also plans to offer insights about the public safety stories he writes for the paper, stuff he doesn't have room to print. Has the potential to be juicy, if he manages to keep up with the workload!

It's tough to blog and write for the print paper. I know — wah wah, poor reporter! — right? But all this writing adds up to time we don't spend interviewing people or writing our stories. It's a lot of work to do both well, especially since our online activities are for now mostly experimental — i.e. not compensated in the same way. So I have a lot of respect for reporters who are pushing the boundaries and trying new things. You can bet that most of them, especially in Vermont, are doing it because they love it, not because they're making the big bucks.

I guess we're also doing it because we have to. I know I feel a sense of urgency, like I need to be experimenting if I want to have a job in 5 or 10 years.

Anyhow, it was good to meet Scott, and to see that even a new media pioneer like him still carries a reporter's notebook in his back pocket. "I always feel naked without it," he told me. Yeah, me too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Long Tail

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2006 at 8:48 PM

Is anybody else out there reading Chris Anderson's new book The Long Tail? I got it a couple weeks ago and am about halfway through. I keep stopping because I read something that gives me an idea, and I start sketching it out and stop reading.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of the long tail, read Anderson's blog, linked above, or check out the Wikipedia entry. Basically, he uses a nifty little graph (the long tail) to argue that thanks to the Internet, it makes economic sense for businesses to offer their customers access to lots of niche content as opposed to offering only the mainstream hits. He often cites Netflix (as opposed to Blockbuster Video) and Amazon (as opposed to Barnes and Noble) as good examples of this model. This is reflected in the book's subtitle, "Why the future of business is selling less of more."

He also apparently talks about how this is changing the culture and why it's a good thing, though I haven't gotten to that part yet. I'm not so sure that eliminating mainstream mass culture is a good thing. I wonder if he'll convince me?

I first heard about the long tail at a blogger conference in North Carolina a year and a half ago, and was captivated by the idea. It's a neat little concept that, if true, presents some exciting possibilities. I say "if true" because I read the house copy of the Wall Street Journal this morning at Uncommon Grounds in Burlington and saw this skeptical review.

I don't feel prepared to offer any kind of comprehensive analysis yet, but I'd say that most of what I've read so far rings true to me. As a former zinester and as a current producer and fan of microniche web content, I think it's all pretty exciting.

Weekly Post: From Tirade Parade

Posted By on Wed, Jul 26, 2006 at 12:52 PM

I was sorry to hear that T'Rage will be moving away once she graduates. I like her spunky take on college life at UVM, even if I often disagree with her. Here's a pre-departure post, Got Diplomas?

It'sfinally here folks. The grand finale. The big bang. I'm one day awayfrom my last class as a college undergrad (and a day away from my 26thbirthday bonanza).

With my luck, I'll probably get kicked outof school for sharing with the class on my lack of sympathy forHizbollah or something. Perhaps they'll fail me for forgetting thatcelebrating diversity on campus only applies to a self congratulatorygroup "diverse" white lefties. Don't kid yourselves, Vermont. UVM isabout as diverse as a meeting of the Dale Earnhardt Fan Club.

Read the rest here, or on the Letters to the Editor page of this week's Seven Days.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Return of the Vermont Blogs

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 11:35 AM

Jeez, there sure are a lot of them. Seems like everybody's got one these days. I'm going to have to start narrowing my criteria or something.

Cog Blog: From the folks who run the bike shop at the Old Spokes Home in Burlington's Old North End.

Orwell's Grave: Politics, etc. from Steven McArthur of Montpelier.

Poetry and Other Thoughts: By Kris Underwood of MamaSays.

MYRANT: By Stephen Bissette. He writes, "I'm a Native Vermonter who drew and wrote from a tender age and loveddinosaurs and monsters, none of which I've ever outgrown. I graduatedin 1978 as a member of the first-ever class at the Joe Kubert School ofCartoon & Graphic Art, Inc., entered the comics profession andcarved out a career until my retirement from the field in 1999. I made(and left) my mark with SWAMP THING, TABOO, '1963,' and TYRANT, amongothers." 

Journalism without the media?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2006 at 9:18 AM

NYU prof Jay Rosen thinks it's possible. He just got $10 grand from Craig Newmark to develop NewAssignment.Net, an open source journalism project. Interesting.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Eye-tracking study

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2006 at 1:06 PM

The Poynter Institute is launching EyeTrack '07 to study how readers interact with news online and in print. This is a little creepy, but it should provide some much-needed data.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Whimsical weekend linkdump

Posted By on Sun, Jul 23, 2006 at 1:57 PM

In the office today after a restful Saturday spent doing pretty much nothing. First time in ages. I actually managed to re-read Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, starting yesterday afternoon, and finishing around 11:30 a.m. today.

I first encountered this British novel about a young, irrepressible factory worker sometime during the last couple years I was in college. It reads differently now that I'm civil unioned and raising a young son. Fancy that, duck.

Here's some stuff I found surfing my Vermont blogroll this splendid afternoon:

Cheerleaders in the pool!, via Abada Abada.

And they're off..., via Bad Colonies Motoring Cooperative.

A "gluttonous consumer frenzy", via Deadbeat Club.

Bush addresses the NAACP, via Dohiyi Mir.

"Straight-up adventure metal", via Solidstate. I'm not sure if Casey uses that term in his post, but that's what he called this band in our editorial meeting last week.

Sassy teens on bikes, via RazMarie's Rampage.

The pig stays, via Starting a Family Farm in Vermont.

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