Items

posted by Mike on December 14th, 2010

Want to help with this week’s 508 show? Make a short video (3 seconds to 3 minutes) that has to do with Worcester, Christmas, the holidays, or whatever is preoccupying you this week. Send it to me. I’ll edit the ones that go best together into a show, and link to the rest.

The video will be posted to the net and cablecast on WCCA TV13.

How to contact the 508 show.


Worcester bloggers

Shaun Sutner, investigative reporter for the local paper, tells me there’ll be an article about local blogs on Thursday*.

This got me thinking about this blog, and about why I write here so rarely these days.

Some of my blogging energy has gone into 508 and my Facebook account. It’s like Cory Doctorow says: “. . . Twitter is siphoning off all the stuff we used to put on blogs that really wanted to be a tweet.”

Mostly, though, it has to do with lifestyle. There have been times in my life when I was doing things, and learning things, that I wanted to share with the world, whether to brag or to help people or to help accelerate those things through publicity. For some time now, and certainly since I returned from DC, life has been a little quieter, with much lower-profile “doing” (with the exception of hosting a TV show), and with “thinking” that’s more focused on the roots of things than the day-to-day news.

I’ve always wanted the entries on this blog to reflect the lives of those who write them, and in my case that seems to have happened. I think it’s a good thing.

This reminds me of the question I’ve heard a couple times this month: “Who will replace Jeff Barnard?” If “Jeff Barnard” was a job description, and Wormtown Taxi the result of someone’s plan, maybe the question would make some sense. But it doesn’t.

Update: Talked to Shaun on the record this morning.

I think when people ask “Who will replace Jeff?” they mean “Who will be the influential, prolific online critic of the Telegram and City government?” It’s those three factors, influential + prolific + critical, that define Jeff in these people’s minds.

I wish I could ask Jeff, “When did you become influential?” Because I think even Jeff Barnard didn’t become “Jeff Barnard” by this definition until he’d been blogging a good long while.

(* Note: Didn’t run on Thursday.)

Advent reading

The New York Times Magazine interviewed Garry Wills:

You’re an observant Catholic. What are your thoughts these days about Pope Benedict XVI?
I think he’s irrelevant.

Irrelevant to what?
To religion; to the Gospel.

As it happens, this Advent I’ve been trying to listen to the audiobook of the Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth while reading Fr. Raymond Brown’s Birth of the Messiah. The Pope begins with Jesus at 30, so there’s not a lot of overlap, but every time he dips back into the “infancy narratives,” I experience a surprisingly distracting cognitive dissonance.

There was a time when I’d read James Ellroy and Tom Swift books at the same time, switching back-and-forth at the end of each chapter. It could trick my brain into finding bitter humor within Chow’s latest slapstick, or leave me totally unprepared for an Ellroy character’s double-cross. Not sure I’m getting any of those benefits with my Advent reading. It’s just making it harder to stay with it.

Published in: Items, Worcester | on December 14th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Items” | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On December 14, 2010 at 20:51 Nicole said:

    Thanks for pointing out the Garry Wills interview; I find those Deborah Solomon interviews so obnoxious (that is, all about her sense of one-upsmanship and gotcha journalism, and not about the subject in the least) that I’ve stopped reading them, but that (well, he) was quite good.

    I fear sometimes that Twitter (and its relatives Facebook and Tumblr) have taken some of my favorite bloggers away from the long form altogether. Jeff told me that he would sometimes just post a link (or a link with a “Heh”) sometimes just to keep that routine of posting. I’m not one who needs to write every day (sometimes the muse is just on vacation) but I often think about what he said. It’s probably similar to your ‘having’ to do a show once a week.

    Blogs are by their nature reflective of their writer(s) and, as such, are ephemeral. I would much rather see Wormtown Taxi inspire people to write their own particular views of the city THEY see, rather than try to copy something that can’t be replaced.

  2. On December 15, 2010 at 08:08 Hannah said:

    If Jeff’s blogging position is to post things constantly, I think Nicole would be a great candidate.

    About me and blogging – my style and energy does change with my current situation. When I first started posting online, it was before I started writing in a diary/notebook, and very personal things would be out there for the world to view (good thing no one really read the turmoil of my teenage years!) I then used a new blog (the Words to Ponder one) to write more about international, and then local, news and my opinions on such matters. Nowadays, though, since I don’t spend nearly as much time on a computer as I used to in New Hampshire or at my previous job, I don’t tend to blog as much. Or write/journal/poem-make and story-make as much, either. =/

  3. On December 15, 2010 at 11:04 jpm01609 said:

    For me blogging is all about the hyperlocal nature of the Worcester blogging scene.

    It is the local scene, after all, that I, as an individual, can impact the most. It is the local scene where I can rub shoulders or brains with others who share a positive view of Worcester.

    Maybe twitter works best of the people in your group all have smartphones too. But the blogs are much more thought out. It is interesting that you mention that Twitter-ing has taken out some of the blogging energy. It is just yet one more example of how cyber life divides people out even further.

    Early this year in my ICT series I was contemplating the Internet “haves” and the “have nots”. I am STILL trying to convert the non-digirati to the benefits, but it is an uphill fight. And what now? Explain Twitter to them? Egads!

  4. On December 15, 2010 at 21:04 Tracy said:

    I don’t know that Jeff would have said he was influential. I know it wasn’t until a Council meeting maybe a month ago where one councilor asked the DPW Commissioner about the city clearing its own sidewalks that I thought, “Hey! Maybe they do read Jeff!”

  5. On December 16, 2010 at 02:31 Julie said:

    Thanks to both you and Nicole for taking over the administration of the blogroll. For me, the local bloggers fill in the gaps where the newspapers and radio don’t or can’t reach. Wishing you well.

  6. On December 17, 2010 at 12:54 Noah Bombard said:

    No one can replace Jeff. Good blogs are as much a reflection of personality as anything else and that you can’t duplicate. But I think there are some examples of good blogging techniques in what Jeff did. He posted pretty regularly (although there are successful blogs out there that don’t), he wrote predominantly about local stuff (although he sometimes wrote about things that weren’t) and he wrote fairly short posts. But one of the things I thought he was really good at was he got out and documented/commented on what he saw. And in that way, he was very much a journalist.

    Some bloggers tend to just comment on the world around them, isolated behind a cyber barrier. Jeff interacted with it.

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