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PlaceBlogger Discussion


Originally uploaded by lisa.williams.

Thursday, Oct. 12, 7PM
Berkman Center for the Internet and Society
23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA

Attendees will get the first, prelaunch, look under the hood at a live, under development version of Placeblogger, the site I’m putting together that will be a directory and live aggregator of headlines from placeblogs across the US. I’ve collected more than 700, with examples from communities in every state in the nation. (And one for…wait for it…Antarctica!). Click here for a screenshot. The project has support from The Center for Citizen Media and Jay Rosen of Pressthink.

Placeblogs — sites that focus on geographical communities — are the living laboratory of citizen journalism: they say interesting things about how nonjournalists approach covering a fire, or a town council. More on this session, including links to directions, after the jump. Meetings are an ad-hoc affair, but this session may have a live audio feed accompanied by IRC for remote participants if we can get it working.

Looking at placeblogs gets us closer to some answers about citizen journalism:

  • Are placeblogs really journalism? What about all the material that’s not journalism?
  • Are they really breaking news or just recycling pieces from traditional news organizations?
  • How many placeblogs are there? Have they attracted contributors? Advertisers?
  • Do placeblogs have staying power? Will they “go to all those boring meetings” to provide consistent coverage of civic issues?
  • Why do placeblogs fail? What are the most common reasons behind a placeblog’s demise?
  • Why do placeblogs exist at all? What factors are giving rise to so many at once?

Placeblogs reveal a fiercely non-generic America that’s not about national big-box retailers, and they don’t feature the kind of broad, blunt coverage that results from driving by communities at highway speed, or flying overhead. There’s little Red vs. Blue America or fad coverage here. They show America at the level of detail you get at a walking pace. Many of them are also delightful — they give a snarky insider’s view of a community that’s the closest you can get to teleportation — it’s like being there and listening to conversations on the street.

The Berkman Thursday crowd is a very special audience; I owe them a lot in terms of all the education they’ve given me over the years. I’m hoping to get your feedback on questions I have about developing the site, including topics like tagging, geotagging/mapping, and aggregation.
Berkman Thursday meetings are free and open to the public. The group often goes for dinner afterwards, which is Dutch Treat. For more information including directions and accessibility information, see Berkman Thursday Meetings.

2 Comments on “PlaceBlogger Discussion”

  1. #1 Dadblog » links for 2006-10-11
    on Oct 11th, 2006 at 11:55 am

    […] Center for Citizen Media: Placeblogger Site that aggregates “local blogs” being presented as a beta (tags: localmedia messymedia) […]

  2. #2 Griff Wigley
    on Oct 18th, 2006 at 4:34 am

    Great to hear about this development, Lisa.

    Be sure to check out our civic blogosphere sites here in Northfield, Minnesota: