Tuesday, 14 October 2008

It's the human ecology stupid Thanks to Will Perrin for pointing to a helpful piece by Matt 'Hyperlocalblogger' on 'what makes a great local blogger'. It's a solid discussion-starting list of nine points to help people succeed in local blogging. Things you need: Passion Interestingness Good Writer Outgoing Newshound Honesty Patience. And two things you don’t necessarily need: Longevity Technical Skills and/or Money I especially like Matt's note about not having to be a long-time resident. William is on record for some provocative tongue-in-cheek criticism of the very idea of blogging, but he picked up on the absence from this list of the notion of teamwork or collective endeavour, because it's a small team that helps him make the King's Cross site work. I'm not a local blogger so I can't confirm from experience other than community development experience, but I'd have said that Matt's number 4, being 'outgoing', coupled with a new no.8 for building up a team of contributors, were really important. And if you get 200 contributors and supporters together for your community website, as they did in London SE1, you can have a 10th anniversary party with a dramatic difference. Apols if this post is a bit London-centric, but while I'm at it I ought to mention the lively active sense of bustle you get from Harringay Online. Useful reflections also from Lee Bryant and Martin Dudley on William's post here. Postscript - David Wilcox has posted about Matt Collins's Localmouth. Previously: Hyperlocal, ultralocal, local online
The discovery I've just written a story about a blogger who, over the years, introduces occasional fictions into his posts. They accumulate, and gradually begin to dominate. Anticipating that the time will come when his integrity starts to flake, he sets out to duplicate his own identity. Straightforward enough. Dates, address, passport number, bank account details, dates of employment and major embarassment, phonecalls and journeys made, places frequented, minor achievements, a selection of emails sent. Soon enough there's plenty on which to build some sort of personality, and he begins to plan how to substitute the new identity for the old one. He starts by turning up at a meeting that he himself would have gone to, using an immaculate copy of the email invitation. The effect seems seamless and he makes the commitment. A week later he even makes a comment from the floor at a debate, claiming to be his former self, and goes comfortably unchallenged. But the issue of reputation crackles in the background. A couple of over-confident anonymous enquiries to test the new identity result in problematic silences, when contacts who should have been guarantors of good character appear not to know anything about him. How can this be? He blunders on, clumsily detaching reputation from self as he overlays detail on its own image, searching now for something factual to blog about. But the real world won't be seen by fictioned eyes, it does not exist, he has discovered a bankruptcy of social capital. I know, it needs a bit of work. The final text is here.

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