In less than an hour of snooping around Cincinnati’s significant blog landscape, one can discover the latest who, what, where, when, why and hows about the Queen City. For example, in the time I've spent browsing around to write this article I’ve learned: who designed the pride T-shirts for Northside’s 4th of July parade, what various Cincinnatians think about the label “Young Professional,” where I can buy “just picked” vegetables and locally cured salmon, why CityBeat is suing Citizens for Community Values and certain city officials, when you can catch a free movie on the big screen at Fountain Square and how gentrification in Over-the-Rhine might, in fact, be a positive thing.
Exploring these blogs is like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book; you decide how to navigate, and each page ends with a hook that keeps you reading. Pretty soon, I find myself procrastinating already delayed assignments in the name of “research.” The information is relevant and riveting, and, like most things on the Internet, the more you find, the more new links and sites you discover.
The Cincinnati blog scene, and it is a “scene,” in the sense that bloggers tend to make references to one another, repost their friends’ articles and link their favorite blogs within their own space, is vibrant and prolific. It is also varied; you can find anything from info on how to improve your personal finances to where to buy a rare spice. Some of it is artistic, some political, some is comical, some whimsical – but it is all Cincinnati.
Motivations for launching and maintaining a blog vary. Brian Griffin, 36, is a Retirement Plan Administration Manager originally from New York state who has lived in this area for the past 18 years. His Cincinnati Blog
, one of the area's oldest and most well-linked blogs, was originally born out of frustration. “My intent for the blog started out as mostly a way for me to spout off my ideas and vent at the poor local media of 2002. I started out mostly covering politics, but we have evolved into a vehicle to spread the word out about the great places and events happening in the urban core … Most people in Cincinnati want to get in touch with the vibrancy that exists in Downtown, OTR and the surrounding neighborhoods, but they don't know how because the local media far too often falls back upon 60 year old faux philosophy that success is only found outside of an urban setting.”
Griffin’s goal, besides expressing his ideas, is that his readers take something away with them. “I hope those who read my blog learn,” he says. “They may learn to hate every idea I write about, but they are participating in the local community by reading my blog.”
Kevin Dugan, 38, director of marketing communications at FRCH Design Worldwide
, also began his blog in 2002. His Strategic Public Relations blog
has won many accolades and employs a lot of multi-media – making it appealing to those outside of the marketing field as well.
He began his blog as a way to keep himself sharp. He says, “The blog got started as a way for me to demonstrate my opinion on industry topics while keeping my technical and writing skills honed.”
Dugan also likes to keep up on other blogs. When asked what he feels is Cincinnati’s best kept secret, he replies, “Cincinnati's best kept secret is its pride. We are way too down on ourselves. For example, seven years after the riots we should be celebrating the return of the NAACP convention and not using it as an opportunity to rehash the riots. That said, I love Cincinnati's character and blogs like Building Cincinnati and Make Cincinnati Weird remind me of how great our city is when others seem to forget.”
A blog, which stands for web log, is just that – an informal system to record and share information. These Cincinnati blogs, are, in a sense, the city’s personal journal or diary, documenting all of the personal triumphs and frustrations its residents share. In a sense, one might argue that it’s a form of therapy – both for the individuals who write them, as well as healthy for the city itself.
Albert Pyle, executive director of the Cincinnati Mercantile Library
, says that these blogs are good for the city and he would like to see more of them. To this effect, he is organizing their first “Annual Bloggers Convention.”
Pyle says, “We decided to set it up because if you read the local blogs it seems to me the most interesting reading you’ll find about the city. It’s really sort of a greedy thing. We wanted to meet these people face to face because they seem so interesting.”
Apropos to the casual nature of blogs, there is an informal email circulating in cyberspace inviting authors of Cincinnati-themed blogs to hobnob with their fellow bloggers at the Mercantile Library at 6 p.m. on July 24. Attendees must have a Cincinnati blog and call the library in advance at 513-621-0717 to RSVP. “This is a chance to put a face to a name and to make sure everybody’s on everybody’s list, so no one misses any of the interesting ideas that are being kicked around,” says Pyle. “I think it may even become an annual event. Who knows? We just sort of made it up.”
That’s how the blog scene has mostly sprung up – on its own, growing organically and interlaced with myriad cross-references. The local blog scene is how the city experiences itself – as well as how we can get a great glimpse into the city, discovering corners of our own neighborhoods we didn’t even know existed, at all hours of the night. The only drawback – once you start getting sucked into the blogosphere, it can be difficult to keep your deadlines.
The Soapbox short list of great local blogs:
Photography by Scott Beseler