JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Why I let Abigail read the paper this morning

September 23rd, 2004 · 6 Comments

In Seattle, blogs are being used to debate initiatives and racism, chronicle a Libertarian campaign for secretary of state, humanize the image of Microsoft and rally Seattle Mariners fans against a set of bleachers.

Bloggers made the front page of The Seattle Times! The paper has now published three pieces on blogging in the past four days. Sunday’s edition touted Baby blogs click with parents. Today’s included two articles describing local bloggers: the front page Web logs catch fire as kindling for change and it’s companion (on page A15) Blogging guru stops, for a while, in Seattle.

The different pieces paint various pictures of blogging. The “baby-blog” article ( a national piece written by Molly Millett of Knight Ridder Newspapers) describing parents who blog about their children’s growth and cereal-eating habits, emphasized the community and support received through the Internet. “I keep this journal as a way to get things down on paper to remember them, but also as a way to have a community of parents, to know I’m not alone and crazy..”

I learned that it is possible to get a Ph.D. by studying “mommy blogs”!

Clancy Ratliff, a student of rhetoric and feminist studies, is studying the Web logs of mothers for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota. Ratliff said she got to thinking about how Web logs that discuss the Iraq war and the upcoming U.S. presidential election — often written by men — get as many as tens of thousands hits a day, but that the Internet audience is not as wide for the women who write online about politics in a more personal, everyday-life kind of way, such as parental leave policies of corporations.

“People may think, ‘Oh, this is just someone’s blog about changing a diaper,’ but these are women who are using blogs to have a voice in the public sphere, to get their opinions out there,” Ratliff says. “It’s a pretty powerful thing for a lot of women.”

The pieces in today’s paper emphasized Seattle-area bloggers and focussed on numbers. I must confess that of those mentioned, about half of them were new to me. I’m always happy to learn more about local bloggers and add more feeds to my aggregator!

However, I wish that the pieces had described more of the community in Seattle (with a link to the meetup site ) or linked to the Seablogs site. And I would have liked to see even more bloggers included, such as Anita Rowland! (Links to Scott Koon’s and Natasha’s blogs should have also been included on the paper’s site!).

The author, Kristi Heim, mentioned many readership/technorati numbers, and compared one local political writer to Instapundit’s daily stats, using the words “still tiny”. The article focussed on how bloggers are – or aren’t – affecting change. While emphasizing kindling in a mostly positive piece, yet the evidence of examples given – and the question But just how much influence are they having outside the navel-gazing blogosphere? seemed to suggest that bloggers don’t yet have the effect or audience they desire locally. Maybe sparks and kindling but no fire.

But the way blogging changes lives doesn’t necessarily have to do with the number of readers or links. Few bloggers in the Seattle area have enough clout to single-handedly impact an issue. But through our community, through linking to each other, the message spreads. Empowerment can come in quiet private ways too, through a person putting thoughts on a page, claiming a voice and space. I know blogging has changed my life. It’s affected how I read the news. How I care for my kids. How I think about the world and myself. How I escape for weekends at blogging conferences…

Speaking of blogging conferences, the piece on guru Dave Winer‘s arrival in Seattle was a fun read. He was compared to both Captain Kirk and Jerry Garcia. Although I am not a fan of either The Grateful Dead or Star Trek, I could see how those images might fit.

Ted and I don’t allow Abigail to read the newspapers. We talk to her a little about the news, but we want to wait a while before exposing her to all that happens in the world.

However, this morning I let her look at Dave’s article with his picture. She remembered meeting him. Why is he in the newspaper? she asked, puzzled and curious. She laughed to read the line that Many people didn’t recognize him until they heard his name.

The other sentence that gave her a giggle was – to quote her paraphrase – he looks like Jerry in a T-shirt!. I don’t think she has any idea who “Jerry” is.

But here’s a thought I had: When Ben & Jerry’s names an ice cream after Dave – or after bloggers in general! – then we’ll know blogging has finally caught fire..(hmm…I wonder what flavor ice cream it would be?…)

Tags: blog

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anita Rowland // Sep 23, 2004 at 6:14 am

    Both articles (dave, and the one about political bloggers) came out of the most recent meetup which Kristi attended. Dave said he knew her in California, but he didn’t invite her to the meetup as far as I know.

    She’s mostly a political reporter, so she was looking for bloggers with a politcal focus. Since that’s not my interest, I’m not surprised that I wasn’t in the article. I’d have liked to see a more specific mention of meetup.com, though, so folks could find us!

  • 2 Betsy Devine // Sep 23, 2004 at 6:38 am

    Cambridge seems a smaller place with Dave gone, so I’m glad he’s getting appreciation in Seattle. Good idea about Dave and ice cream, just don’t call the flavor “SOAP.” Maybe diet coke flavored? It wouldn’t reflect blogworld without some nuts in it…

  • 3 pops // Sep 23, 2004 at 7:21 am

    Seattle political bloggers?

    Such a thing exists?

    There was a guy about a year or two age who tried to scare up a directory of all the Puget Sound bloggers. I ran though that list and you needed a microscope to find the political types.

  • 4 Julie // Sep 23, 2004 at 8:06 am

    Yes, a mention of meetup.com – that’s part of what I meant by “community – so I inserted a link into this post! Thanks, Anita.

    Betsy – I like your nuts suggestion 🙂 Maybe coffee with nuts…and something else too?

    Pops, yes, apparently there are some political bloggers out there…last night I noticed links to a couple of them in the side bar of a Midwestern blogger…but the article also involved someone who blogs about the Mariners. (I had no idea! – no M’s fan am I…)

  • 5 Myko // Sep 23, 2004 at 11:03 am

    It’s a big shame that given she got source for her stories at the meetup that she fully neglected to even mention its existence.

  • 6 natasha // Sep 23, 2004 at 11:52 am

    She didn’t get my info from the Meetup, because I know that I haven’t been to one. (Not that I haven’t wanted to, but they always seem to conflict with my schedule.) She said that she was referred to me by a couple of the other folks mentioned in the piece, and that she’d known of Winer for a while, though of course I don’t know how she got in touch with all the rest of the folks mentioned.

    But yes, there are a few political bloggers in the Seattle area 😉 There are big concentrations in New York, the Beltway, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, and curiously, Texas. But in general, looking at the Seablogs blogroll, I’d guess that what’s considered to be the community of hardcore political blogging is comparable to the size of Seattle’s regional blogging group, just spread out. And I’m sure we’re dwarfed by the number of people who blog about sports, technology and personal topics.

    It’s a little all-consuming, the politics thing. Sort of like committing to read several newspapers a day. Hence, the tendency for insularity, and also not to frequent the blogs of people we don’t personally know that veer off the topic. If someone had planned all this intentionally, it would probably rate as a design flaw. But it just sort of happens that way, so it’s pretty much an accident.

    I expect all the polibloggers will chill out and let our hair down after the election. Unless we spontaneously combust 😉 Either possibility seems equally likely at this point.

    Anyway, nice to make your acquaintance. I keep meaning to get in touch with more local bloggers, but you know, topical lockdown.