Friday, November 30, 2007
I hate most blogs and never got the appeal.
This hatred was discovered last year when, for a previous course, I was also required to keep a blog. That's when I discovered that I would rather doing anything else than blogging.
There are some "blogs" that I read. The authors call them blogs, but the only true blog I read on any sort of regular basis is Media Nation. I read the local news blog, Bruins blog, and other sports blogs on Boston.com, but I don't consider those blogs. They're more just online updates put under some category in the sports section.
Would it be considered blogging if the updates were just posted on the online sports page or on the home page? I believe that's the same as CNN or the New York Times updating their sites throughout the day with new news items. It's not necessarily blogging.
I enjoyed my online journalism class this semester, don't get me wrong. What I learned about taking pictures, editing audio and visuals, and putting together slideshows will be invaluable as I attempt to find a job in the field of journalism after my graduation. But the blogging aspect of this class was hard for me.
Personally, I'm a news guy. I love breaking news and other hard news. Blogging, I feel, requires too much of an opinion in a person's writing, which is the opposite of what I've been trained to do. Some people are better at it than others. Most people are better at it than me, but, as the saying goes - to each his own.
So when I stumbled upon Veggie Friendly, I didn't expect to be impressed or interested, but I gave it a shot.
I'm glad I did.
The food on there doesn't sound too hard to choke down and, on a personal note, I should eat healthier - at least that's why my friends keep telling me.
I especially enjoyed the entry about pizza because even if it's a veggie pizza, it's still pizza. And who doesn't love pizza?
But dessert is one of my favorite meals of the day. And I'm pumped that I found a blog dedicated to deserts with a local hook!
Fussy Eater is a great blog to read on a full stomach because if you haven't eaten in a while, those hunger pains will only get worse.
The blog, unfortunately, isn't updated too frequently, and when there is a new post, it tends to be more about baked goods in general. However reading back a bit further reveals some tempting tips about local bake shops right in the area.
The pictures that go with the posts make the blog that more appetizing.
Now for dessert.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
But one college student has had enough of the local under-21 scene (or lack of it) and has started a blog dedicated to events for all ages.
The blog only started this month, but after reading the couple of posts makes me wish this blog was around a couple of years ago when I wasn't 21 yet.
There's a lot of "underground" events the author blogs about, but he makes them sound appealing and sometimes includes mapquest directions to get to the location. Another useful feature is the calendar of events.
I wouldn't be surprised if the blog skyrockets in popularity soon.
Quick side note: For those that don't understand or forget how lackluster the under-21 scene is in Boston, here's a refresher.
Then I found that this author has reviewed more than 100 beers and I found myself sitting at my computer reading through the reviews and thinking about what I would be ordering at the bar tonight.
Besides the booze, the blog also has posts and podcasts that focus on "tech geekiness and gaming geekiness."
Personally, I'm not into gaming or tech stuff, but the beer reviews make the site well worth a visit.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"When you are on the T, it's best not to make eye contact. If you do, we know you are new to the whole public transportation thing."
That's from the author of the blog Driving to Work. It's a great blog based on a simple premise - a man's daily commute to work.
The author takes public transportation and somehow (I'm assuming some blackberry or similar device) blogs while he commutes to work. The posts are interesting because they appeal to anyone who has taken the T more than a couple of times. I just wish it was updated more frequently.
Unlike the blog from the previous post, this blog seems to be more focused on Boston.
Also, from the pictures, it seems this author/photographer actually likes the city and is not trying to leave.
Despite the title, the author is definitely not clueless in Boston.
The site is just a list of entries about Shakespeare-related events going on in and around Boston. There haven't been too many events in November so far, but October seemed pretty full of Bard days.
And, if you've ever seen Shakespeare in the Common, and liked it, then this site will be useful to you.
Boston's great! There's so much to do and see here besides the typical touristy trail-type stuff. And, even if you've been here for years, decades, etc., there's still new, interesting things to discover.
This blog showcases Boston through a lens. The author/photographer posts one of her own photographs each day. And, although her profile makes it seem like the author doesn't particularly care for Beantown, she takes photos that showcase "everyday" Boston.
I'll admit it - I am a "weather geek" as the blog puts it. I would track hurricanes for fun, download the National Weather Service maps and all that jazz. But school work has since rained on my weather hobby parade.
This blog, run by the MetroWest Daily News, is pretty new, but already has some interesting facts posted, especially about my favorite type of precipitation - snow.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
From the birth of the Revolution to the discovery of new medicines, Boston is one historic place.
And one local historian is attempting - through his blog - to reach out to the masses and explain some of Boston's less glamorized historic events and places.
The blog can, at first, seem a bit dull, but that's because the posts are not about the same aspects of Boston's history that you hear over and over again.
Turns out there's only three, at least according to this directory, and one of the blogs is run by a daily paper up in Lawrence. The others are both from authors living North of Boston.
The two independent-run blogs can be found here and here.
If you're like this author and don't know the difference between a daisy and a daffodil, then you can find these blogs interesting as the posts go into detail about each author's garden. The author's passions is evident as soon as you finish reading the first post.
I also like the description on the back quarter blog that reads:
"Sometimes your mid-life crisis puts you in the driver's seat of a granny car rather than a sporty convertible. Deal with it."
It doesn't have much to do about anything, but during my research I came across it, read it, and became interested.
It's like a bad TV show where you start watching it at its premiere and it turns out to be bad, but you're too invested in the characters that you have to keep watching.
Oh well. Enjoy.
There's been travel blogs as long as there have been blogs. People - especially Americans - love to travel and are in the top group of people who spend their money and time traveling.
When it comes to traveling in Boston, the Go Boston Card Blog seems to have the Hub covered.
The blog even had this Bostonian surprised at what he could learn about the city he grew up in from a new travel blog.
The blog is updated frequently with a list of weekly activities and guides to getting around each scene in Boston, from nightlife to shopping to vi sting colleges.
There is one catch, that isn't much of a catch anyway. The blog is operated by a group that sells a "multi-attraction pass" for Boston. I'm not sure if they're only putting events or places up on their site where you can use the pass, but it sure seems like you can use it everywhere.
The blogs worth checking out, even if you live in the city. You might learn something new.
Blogs create some sort of stir when there's a post about a certain subject. Readers of the blog can then comment and the author can then comment back. Then there are the blogs that take the "discussion" to the next level.
One such example is the blog Fitchburg's Voice.
The blog is an outlet for citizens of the city many miles north and west of Boston to post comments and voice their opinions, concerns, whatever, about a certain topic. It sounds like a message board, but the moderator helps out here.
Instead of letting people go off on one topic for however long, the author of the blog creates a new topic or a subtopic every so often. During Fitchburg's recent city election, the author posted a couple of times. One post asked "Who did you vote for and why?"
Unfortunately, no one has yet to comment or start the discussion. The idea is good. Let's hope more people realize that. Maybe they're too busy commenting on sites that post pictures of celebrities pets in Halloween costumes?
Some of the western towns appear to have a blog, but it's just the wicked local link. Other towns or cities, like Cambridge or Mendon, have some blogs operated by townspeople and not journalists, which can be a good thing and provide a different perspective.
The link listings, which seems to be a project of h2otown's Lisa Williams, is a useful tool for finding blogs about specific cities, towns, or neighborhoods.
Well whomever did say that hasn't read Boston's holiest blog.
Cardinal Sean's Blog, as you've guessed, is updated by Boston's own Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley. The blog started out over a year ago, before the Cardinal's trip to Rome, as a more modern way to communicate with fellow area catholics about his trip and what he was doing over there.
However, the blog is updated once a week and is a great new resource for area catholics to stay more connected with the head of Boston's archdiocese.
The posts are incredibly long, but they're full of pictures, so that helps a little.
I was hoping there was at least one podcast on there because I vaguely remember the Cardinal doing one recording of a Mass perhaps, and putting it online somewhere. However, I couldn't find the podcast anywhere. Anyone that's heard the Cardinal speak before knows he has a wonderful voice, especially for radio or any sort of audio. Hopefully he'll start podcasting soon. Couldn't hurt.
Monday, November 26, 2007
There's just too much to say about how great Christmas is, so I'll spare you the long post. But here's a link to a good, local, blog that's all Christmas, all posts.
Hopefully, I'll find more local, great Christmas blogs to post here later.
Any realistic C's fan will tell you that the team was just bad over the past couple years - actually for a while, but they were just plain bad the past few years. Finally, their front office made some trades, got some absurdly amazing players, and suddenly the C's are 11-1 and are picked by a number of sports media outlets to be the number 1 contenders for the NBA title this season.
There's always been the standard blogs about the C's and, of course, the recent pop-ups since the C's are now a force in the NBA. But the simply titled CelticsBlog.com has been around since 2004 - a year when the C's lost more games than they won.
The site bills itself as "interactive community dedicated to providing fresh, comprehensive coverage of everything related to the Boston Celtics and the larger world of basketball." And it's a blog of its word.
The two newspapers in Boston try their best to provide readers with in-depth and complete coverage of the Red Sox. On game days there's no shortage or ink used up on the Sox. And I won't even mention special playoff sections. There's also no shortage of Sox blogs based in the area.
But one blog has become the blog to go to for Sox info.
38 Pitches is a blog that news outlets have confirmed is updated by Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling.
The blog has become its own news outlet in recent weeks. It was Schilling who announced his own resigning, which other news organizations then attributed their reports to.
Some of the posts are long - very long, but I don't think many Sox fans have a problem reading anything Schilling posts, no matter how many hours it takes them to finish reading it.
That's where HubArts.com comes in.
The blog is a pretty good source for information on Boston's movie and TV scene. However, it's not limited to the big and small screens. The blog provides information on some of Boston's biggest attractions - the Wang and other performing art centers of the Theater District - and, of course, Boston's sports teams.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
But while doing research for this blog I found that to not be true.
There are a few good blogs that discuss alcohol and "the bar scene," but with a certain audience in mind - that of the Allston/Brighton/Cambridge/Somerville/Medford/etc.-based grad student or young professional.
One of the more comprehensive drinking blogs is drinkboston.com.(It's updated by a freelance journalist, so you know the author knows how to drink.)
The blog provides some interesting tidbits and facts about drinking and certain kinds of alcohol and even provides information on upcoming local drinking events or tastings. However, as I wrote earlier, this blog, like most of the others, has a certain audience in mind.
It's not aiming for the undergrad crowd, which I don't understand why one of these blogs hasn't yet. If I had a nickel for how many times I asked my friends, or vice-versa, where we were going to drink this weekend, or where can we go for a different "scene," or rent was due this week, where is there cheap beer, I wouldn't have to worry about drinking money.
It's called Boston Behind the Scenes and it's more a blog full of podcasts than an actual blog. I've listened to some of these and they turn out to be really interesting.
It seems like the author focuses on some of the quirks that make up Boston, or things that would undoubtedly be on a tourist's checklist. However, after listening to some of the the author's podcasts, the information in them can inform even someone that has grown up in Boston all of his or her life.
Be surprised and listen for yourself.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The Pats, who are now the only undefeated team in the NFL with a record of 9-0, are undoubtedly the most interesting team in football right now. Their quest for the perfect season is being watched closely by Pats fans and foes alike. As soon as it could, NBC switched its scheduled Sunday night prime time game between Chicago and Seattle to the New England vs. Buffalo game on Nov. 18.
The interest has lead to an increase in chatter among Patriots bloggers.
One popular blog, Reiss's Pieces, is updated almost daily, and on game days forget about keeping up with the blog as the amount of posts can surpass the two dozen mark. The blog, updated by Mike Reiss, the Patriots beat writer for the Boston Globe, reads not only as an analytical sports report, but also reads as if a fan were writing it.
The amount of detail in Reiss's blog is unmatched and his love for the team doesn't interfere with his writing.
Another blog, Patriots Locker, is run by a sort of conglomerate of sports blogs updated by local writers. Judging by the number of comments per post, the blog gets a decent number of visitors. However, as some readers comment, the posts are bogged down with stats. There are updates to player situations and injuries, but hardly any commentary or analysis except for the occasional adjective.
The "Boston Immigration & Nationality Law" blog is updated by a local attorney, Joshua Paulin, who "serves the immigrants in the Boston and Framingham metro areas."
Paulin's blog offers information that can be useful to local immigrants. From legal information, to local immigrant informational meetings, to visa bulletins, the blog serves as a centralized source for a broad range of helpful programs for immigrants. Some of the posts are even written in Spanish.
After the recent raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a New Bedford factory that employed scores of immigrants, this blog serves a true social purpose. However, one has to ask if the people willing to work for little pay in poor conditions can even access Paulin's blog.
Personal injury lawyers are also turning to the web to not only "inform," but to advertise their services.
One such lawyer-turned-blogger, Christopher F. Earley, has at least three blogs that offer "information and a general understanding of the law." There is a disclaimer on his sites that warn readers that the blog is for "educational purposes only" and "not to provide specific legal advice."
One of Earley's blogs, simply titled "Massachusetts Personal Injury Blog," is a little misleading. The personal injury blog reads more like his other blog, "Massachusetts Auto Accident Blog." Both blogs do provide legal insight that is pretty random and not timed to any recent news event. For example, some posts on the personal injury blog deal with truck accident statistics and myths about traffic tickets. Also, both blogs haven't been updated in about a month or so.
His third blog, which also hasn't been updated recently, is a little more focused. The "Massachusetts Slip and Fall Information Blog" does exactly what it says - provides legal information to those who have slipped and/or fallen.
There's no signal as to where Earley went or why he stopped, but he is still licensed in the state as a lawyer and has no record of discipline. Maybe the blogs worked so well as an advertising tool he became too busy to keep up with them?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wicked Local, the same branch of GateHouse Media that operates the Watertown blog, also hosts a blog by Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.
I think the blog is great. Previous posts read like pre-written speeches, but lately its been coming alive.
Curtatone doesn't post too often, but when he does, it's pretty entertaining. In his latest post, he calls out the Tufts Daily, the university's student publication, for saying fewer people showed up at a youth meeting Curtatone attended at the university. He also gives short responses to reader comments. Usually the comment's are about parking, which make for a good back-and-forth.
What would really ruin what is and could be a really great blog is if the author isn't actually Curtatone and is really one of his staffers. I have my suspicions, but decide for yourself.
One of the best local blogs around is Lisa Williams’ h2otown. Williams has not just taken blogging to a new level, she’s taken journalism to a whole different level.
Williams started her blog a couple of years ago and since then it has grown beyond belief. She reports on everything Watertown. She even records the council meetings on her tv and then uploads them to the web to post on her blog – at least the interesting portions of it anyway.
Nothing is too big or too small for h2otown. Williams will even take reader comments and use those as an item – such as the woman who keeps seeing the albino squirrels on her street. There’s also the pictures of houses in town that go all out with the Halloween decorations.
Although some may not like it, the blog is citizen journalism at its core.
Just for comparison, there’s the Wicked Local Watertown blog. Wicked Local is operated by giant GateHouse Media. The Wicked Local blog tries its best to compete with h2otown, but its difficult writing to fill up a town newspaper each week AND keeping up with a blog at the same time. The posts on the Wicked Local blog are more recaps or short follow ups to stories that appeared in the local paper, which isn’t a bad thing, but there’s h2otown to compete with.
That’s not surprising, especially since there are countless blogs about and based in one of America’s oldest cities. However, what is surprising is how many there are.
These blogs, like most others of a similar topic, vary in their quantity and quality. But the best of these “Boston blogs” is Beantown Bloggery.
Its motto is “Your guide to anything and everything Boston,” and it’s certainly true. The author writes on any topic from when tickets to go on sale for up and coming bands performing in Boston to a new fancy restaurant opening in town, to a new discount fair on popular bus lines out of South Station.
The blog is reminiscent of a small town weekly newspaper that has a real local focus and does a really good job of informing residents with news they can actually use.
However, the blog does seem to appeal to a limited audience. The content of the posts seem to be more geared to residents of Beacon Hill and the Back Bay and not so much Roxbury or Mattapan.
Friday, October 26, 2007
There's also no shortage of food-themed blogs in this city. And no matter what their style - from the informative to the odd - these blogs can leave a reader satiated.
Boston Food & Whine is a great local food blog. The author keeps the reader updated with the latest happenings in the local food world and keeps on top of the best places to eat from 'date night' spots to 'kid-friendly' eateries - as the author puts it.
On the other end of the food blog chain there's Burrito Blog. This blog obviously has a more specific focus and doesn't post as frequently as Food & Whine. However, the author gives his readers what they want - what's good and bad Mexican food in the area.
Warning - some of the pictures on these blogs may make you suddenly hungry.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
In a city that lives and breathes baseball, there’s never been a shortage of blogs about the Sox, but some of the media are just catching up.
Some outlets have launched a free text messaging campaign where users can sign up to receive breaking sports updates about the Sox. One local TV station, WBZ-TV, has even added an interesting new feature that is half-blog and half-story.
One of the station’s producers is camping outside Fenway Park with the hope that he can buy day-of-game tickets for the first battle between the Sox and the Rox.
He’s chronicling his experience with “frequent” updates on ‘BZ’s web site. The updates seem to be posted almost every hour, but who knows how long that will last.
So far it’s an entertaining read, and it should become even more entertaining as the hours go on.
I just discovered that the US Coast Guard also has its own blog. It's actually pretty interesting and unlike the local police blogs, the posts read like a dramatic retelling of a rescue (where there is one). There are also the occasional PR posts that explain new training, update equipment, etc.
The blog incorporates posts from all of the Guard's regions from Houston to Boston, but a New England-related post is usually put up every couple days.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Students are not the only ones vying for their top choice. Colleges and universities are competing between one another to attract the best and the brightest. To ensure they do, many have been taking the next step to reach out to more computer-literate generations.
In the past couple of years, many colleges and universities have added new features to their web sites that are based on the success blogs or the billion-dollar video web site YouTube and video blogs (vlogs).
In this area, Boston University has added a video podcast. The podcast is not just a virtual tour of the institute’s campus, but rather follows a handful of students through an “average” day on campus. It can be viewed on the school’s web site, but they push the aspect of being able to download all of the 10-part podcast and take it with you to watch on your iPod. The most entertaining part is that all of the outdoor shots make Boston seem constantly sunny and warm. If only those out of state students knew what they were in for.
Wheaton College, a private school in Norton, takes a more traditional approach. It offers perspective students the chance to read up on the college through the blogs of five of its students. The blogs don’t seem to be updated too frequently, but the posts sound sincere enough and don’t appear to be censored by the school. They don’t give it as good play as the BU podcasts gets on its web site, but interested enough students should be able to find these blogs.
That statement as true now as it was back whenever it was first said.
Many area police departments have discovered blogging and have since started their own blogs. They vary widely on the information and frequency of their posts. Below is a sample of blogs from the largest departments around.
Boston Police: The Boston Police Department launched its blog in 2005. Since then, it has served as a communication tool between the department and mainly the media. However, in addition to the usual two or three daily blotter items and updated crime statistics, the bloggers post messages from the police commissioner to the public in an attempt to communicate with the members of the community that do read the blog.
Brookline Police: The Brookline Police Department’s blog is a bit younger than Boston’s – having launched earlier this year. The department also provides daily posts, but the content is much different. Rather than blotter items, the posts on Brookline’s blog read more like actual police reports.
Lowell Police: The Lowell Police Department’s blog is a mixture of the two previously mentioned blogs. The blog isn’t updated nearly as frequently, but it contains blotter items and other posts that read like they were copied from an officer’s report. However, there’s more of a community feel when reading this blog as some posts alert residents to upcoming road construction or even the passing of a well-known city firefighter.
If you’re a Bruins fan you’ve already heard the following phrase that references Boston:
“The Hub of Hockey.”
Well, Boston’s professional hockey team may want you to believe that Boston is the hub of hockey, but with Red Sox gearing up for the World Series, the Patriots winning every game they play, and Boston College claiming the No. 2 ranking in college football, hockey has taken a backseat in this region.
But inevitably, baseball and football season must come to an end, and hockey will surely reclaim its prominence in Boston. In the meantime, for hockey fans there are a number of outlets to read up on the Bs while other sports teams hog most of the space in the sports section.
One of the more popular blogs about the Bruins is Boston.com’s Bruins Blog. Fluto Shinzawa, the Boston Globe’s Bruin’s beat writer, keeps the blog pretty up to date. He even blogs live during the game on occasion and posts multiple times during game days. Shinzawa seems pretty well connected with Bruins insiders and provides readers with a good story.
There’s also the Bear Essentials, a blog written by John Bishop, who works for the team’s official web site. Bishop doesn’t seem to be as well connected as Shinzawa, as he often gets beaten, or is just slow to post, but he does post as often. The Bear Essentials also seems to be more a public relations tool for the Bruins as it sometimes can fill up with information on upcoming promotions or ticket opportunities. It appears to be more of a fan’s blog than a straightforward informational blog like Shinzawa’s.
There are a number of other Bruins blogs out there in cyberspace, but a lot of them barely post, even on game days.
The only downside of the two more popular blogs is that they aren’t too critical of a team that could use a good kick in the backside sometimes. They writers provide a lot of compliments and pats on the back to the team when they write, but when the team plays poorly there’s usually some sort of excuse.
Hopefully, if the Bruins continue to play the way they have been over the past few games, there will not be much criticism anyways.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
And with this abundance of radio stations, there’s also a bounty of blogs. Many stations have started their own blog or have their DJs keep blogs.
WBCN, a rock station, offers podcasts of its most popular DJs’ shows. So does KISS 108, a Top 40 station. But KISS takes it one step further and also offers a video blog of its morning talk host Matt Siegel.
WBOS, another Top 40/Alternative station, has a link to a number of blogs and podcasts by their DJs.
What’s most interesting is seeing how this medium is trying to stretch its reach even further to capture that workday crowd who may not be listening during the day, but surfing the station’s Web sites at work.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
In a World Wide Web of endless blogs, there are even more endless blogs that focus on the political on goings, blunderings, and whatever else happens in this state’s politics.
And just because Massachusetts is a state considered to be one of the darkest shades of blue doesn’t mean there aren’t any republican blogs to be found. There are a number and – like the liberal blogs – they love writing long posts about their positions.
The two local political blogs that are most often quoted in area publications are Blue Mass Group and Hub Politics.
Blue Mass Group is the state’s most popular liberal blog that really made a name for itself – especially in the media – right before the 2006 race of governor.
Posts vary widely in topics, but always have some sort of political tie to them. They’re usually longer posts, but well informed and written – as long as you know it comes with a liberal twist.
However, the blog is somewhat overwhelming when you first visit it. They link as much as they can in their posts, but the appearance creates an unappealing mess.
Hub Politics is a little cleaner. Its posts are – ironically – to the left or the screen and appear a lot neater. Its posts are shorter but come with the conservative angle missing in Blue Mass Group.
While both blogs have posts that stick it to the opposite party, Hub Politics seems to really stick it to the Democrats – especially Gov. Deval Patrick.
Both blogs are good sources of information, particularly about the inner workings of this state’s politics. Just use caution and remember which blog supports what when digesting their posts.
However, some of the bigger and more enthusiastic schools or districts now boast about having their own blog.
The topics and content vary widely from school to school – as does the usefulness and the frequency of posts. We’ll examine a couple of local school blogs here.
Take the Scituate school system’s blog. Titled CSI Scituate (CSI standing for Central Source for Information), "posts information of importance such as: School Committee Meeting highlights, reference to Mariner articles, selectman or advisory meeting commentary, etc.," according to the blog's description.However, it appears the authors don't know exactly what they're doing just yet. Yes, we're all still learning, especially this author, but the men or women behind the scenes of CSI Scituate have posts from late last year where only the headline appears and no working body text.
Also, the content seems more geared to informing parents rather than the students, which isn’t all that bad, but posts on topics that would attract and inform the students wouldn’t hurt either. What definitely wouldn’t hurt is if the blogger actually posted. The last post on the blog – May 7.
Maybe the school system lost its blogger because of a failed override or maybe they just gave up. Either way, it’s a shame.
On the other hand, students a couple of miles to the North can read regular posts on their school system’s blog.
The Boston Public School Department launched its own blog last year and it has come a long way.
Yes, some of the pictures in recent posts aren’t loading and the posts read like marshmallow fluff press releases (maybe that’s because they let the chief communications officer do all the blogging), but you still have to give the school system credit.
The posts are regular and the content is informative for both parents and students. Some of the posts even feature students completing interesting projects and research. With 57,000 students or so, the BPS is making good use of its blog.
Not bad for the nation’s oldest public school system.