Submitted by megan on Mon, 06/01/2009 - 19:30
Zoom is right, I did write an article about local blogging culture for the Xpress. A long long time ago now. It never got published. It didn't get published and didn't get published and then we talked about re-working it and then Matthew H. got summarily canned and I stopped writing for them.
The title of the article is, of course, lifted from Matthew P's delightful music blog. Somehow, though, I don't have an interview with him (did I not ask? did he not answer? I have no idea). Too bad, too, since Calum Marsh stopped blogging not long after and answered my questions like he thought I was an idiot.
Never answer a blogger's questions like you think that blogger is an idiot unless you want them to say so on their blog two years later. We hold grudges.
Safe to say that it's not going to get published. It's old now, and out of season, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
I (heart) Ottawa: A Celebration of Local Blog Culture
Most winters, Ottawa is a city of hibernators. Even if you do leave your house, people are damn near unrecognizable, what with tuques pulled low and scarves pulled high. Luckily, the internet is here to save you from getting cut off, even from your local culture. Your community can now come to you: in blog-sized bites.
While blogging is a fairly new phenomenon [did I ever really think that?], it’s taken swift root in our fair city. A random look through OttawaStart’s blogroll shows that you can stay on top of everything from your desk. Sports or politics? You got it. Right wing or left? You got it. Pretty pictures? Scads. Slices of life? More than you could ever have time to read.
This changes the notion of community rather drastically. One side of the argument is that it's for the worse - after all, if everyone stays home and just reads about stuff happening, nothing will ever happen, right?
But this hasn’t been the case, at least for many of the readers, commenter and writers who participate in blogging culture. Zoom now “walk[s] down the street looking for the stories… that could become my next blog entry. In a sense, I feel more connected to my community because I take the time to experience it a little more.” Like many of the bloggers I’ve spoken to, writing about what’s going on around you means paying attention to and telling the stories of those who share your space.
Rather than keeping me from going out, the blogs I read keep me busy. New bands and music from I (heart) Music, Mocking Music or dial613, art shows from David Scrimshaw, readings from Amanda Earl – the list goes on.
But the change can be bigger than that. Vicky Smallman started blogging about Hintonburg almost two years ago, and found it cemented her place in her neighbourhood: “I'm always running into people who read the blog - folks I didn't know before." She also considers her run for the Kitchissippi ward council seat in 2006 a direct result of her blogging efforts.
Individual connections can be fostered through blogs as well. Lurking on someone’s blog can lead to commenting on someone’s blog can lead to virtual conversation can lead to real world communication. Old relationships can change too. “Where I've known people before, blogging has added to the connections between us,” David Scrimshaw told me.
So don’t give up on your city this winter. All the bloggers I spoke with agreed there wasn’t “an Ottawa blogging community” but a series of overlapping communities that self-organize around common interests or geography. That means that someone in Ottawa is writing something, right now, that you’d find interesting.
Not to mention, as Amanda Earl points out, “anything that makes people turn off the idiot box or stop listening to the propaganda of the brainwashed American media is a good thing.”
See you next spring.