Wednesday, January 03, 2007


OK, here's a new (at least to me, which means that it could actually be older than dirt) buzzword: "placeblogging." This is a blog set up to discuss what's happening in a neighborhood, town, city, or other geographic location. As you can imagine, it could be useful for someone who has just moved into an area and wants the inside story of their new home, or for connecting movers and shakers, or as an advertisement about the community to the rest of the world.

A new site launched New Year's Day to host such blogs and already looks pretty busy. And an article posted yesterday to Information Week's site calls this the "first buzzword of 2007."

Wouldn't it make sense for libraries to be prominent in such placeblogs, or maybe even to start one if it doesn't already exist? Imagine how much the library staff could learn about its community by participating actively in this!


Mark said...

For once, a potential online community that seems like we should be in it from the start. Certainly public libraries, but even academics, especially state institutions, should be involved.

I'm not always the quickest guy, but I don't immediately see any downside to libraries being in this space.

eric h said...

The #1 "placeblog" rated by placeblogger is "baristanet" which covers the towns of Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair, New Jersey, towns where I live and work, and I have been a regular reader since almost its start. So maybe I can give some background on what makes a placeblog work effectively, and what the role of a library might be in this "space".

A placeblog fills the same role as have "local rags" and "corner stores". Think of a placeblog as a police blotter with innuendo, gossip and an underpinning of real reporting. Deb Galant, the "Barista-in-chief", used to write a weekly column on "our towns" for the New York Times, a proto-placeblog of some repute. The weekly "open thread" is quite popular, and there are regular commenters who are really quite rude. Baristanet is always up-to-the minute when there are power outages, trees falling, houses burning, bears roaming, police cars chasing, houses selling, developments proposing, Sopranos filming or locals (such as Yogi Berra, Stephen Colbert) or ex-locals (Tom Cruise) making news.

Baristanet is financially viable because it provides a very focused audience for local advertisers. I doubt anyone is making a huge amount of money on Baristanet, but I bet it is attractive compared to freelancing.

Let's be real, libraries don't really excel in that sort of stuff. Just so we get a sense of perspective, here is the local link list from Baristanet:
Official Montclair Website
Montclair Schools
Montclair PTA
Montclair Public Library
Montclair Art Museum
Montclair Adult School
Montclair Center
Montclair-Boonton Line Train Schedule
Bike Montclair
Town Profile
Montclair YMCA
Montclair Watercooler
Montclair Unmoderated
Montclair Journal
Montclair Wildlife
Arts Montclair
VillageRadio Montclair Forum
New Jersey Jackals
New Jersey Life and Leisure
Joyce Michaelson
Montclair State University
Mountainside Hospital Foundation
Montclair Fund for Women
Toni's Kitchen
Van Vleck Gardens
Montclair Historical Society
MFEE/Montclair Reads 2006
Montclair Arts Council
League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area
Montclair Community Pre-K
Friends of Anderson Park

Glen Ridge Borough
Glen Ridge Schools
Town Profile
Glen Ridge Pool
Glen Ridge Calendar
Scouting in Glen Ridge GR Forum
Yahoo GR Forum
GR Library

Glen Ridge Community Fund

Bloomfield Township
Town Profile
Bloomfield Center
Bloomfield Health Department
Bloomfield Library
Bloomfield Schools
Bloomfield College
Watsessing Hts Assn
Bloomfield Third River Bank Association
Bloomfield Roundtable
Bloomfield Journal Bloomfield Forum
Bloomfield Municipal Youth Guidance Council
Watsessing Dog Park

that's 57 links, 4 of them leading to libraries.

It seems to me that a vital role for libraries is to start thinking about the best way to archive these placeblogs, just as they play a vital role in preserving local newspapers. Baristanet is a vibrant portrait of the life of my community in a way that my local newspaper has ceased to be.

Lisa R. said...

The other buzzword for this is a "hyperlocal" news site. And yes, Baristanet is the #1 in the game. Lucky for us in the area.