As I reflect on 2011 in Edmonton’s new media space, a figure haunts me: 3,400.
That’s how how many blogs Mack Male counted in this city, for a talk he gave at WordCamp in November.
Man, I thought. Here I figured I was reasonably on top of the Edmonton blogosphere. I had read so many posts in 2011, thanks to the recommendation machine that is Twitter. I had selected dozens for the Edmonton Journal’s first try at aggregating local blogs. And I was writing a sort-of-but-not-quite-weekly roundup that presumed to bring attention to the cream of the crop.
I don’t think I even made a big dent in the 850 or so “active” blogs – i.e. those that had been updated within the week that Mack made his count (a level of activity that I can’t claim to have lived up to).
And that doesn’t even count all of the other new media work being published on YouTube, in podcasts, on Flickr and Instagram, on Soundcloud and Pinterest and Reddit and Yelp and elsewhere.
I felt a paralyzing sense of inadequacy. And then I remembered what I always tell people who avoid Twitter for fear of information overload: You can’t drink the whole stream, so don’t even try. Just dip in, and enjoy getting something you didn’t have access to before. (Thanks to Steve Buttry for the useful metaphor. And thanks Dave Sutherland – corrected! – for the picture of the North Saskatchewan River to illustrate said metaphor.)
So I’m at peace with the knowledge that I can’t consume everything. But I will take this year-end opportunity to examine how I filter and in what ways I should broaden my horizons.
— I have a definite bias towards blogs that focus outwardly rather than on the inner life of the blogger; in short, I like blogs that are journalistic. That’s why Mack’s Mastermaq, The Charrette by Mike Otto and Scott Lilwall, and Dave Cournoyer’s daveberta are in heavy rotation, as was the edmontonian, the late, lamented blog of Jeff Samsonow and Sally Poulsen. Civic affairs and local stories turn my crank, so I listen to every Unknown Studio podcast and try to read everything that Zoe Todd writes, both on Urbane Adventurer and on post-awesome.
— Gig City is also a good source of local happenings. While we’re talking entertainment, I’ll note that I listen to a couple of locally produced movie podcasts: DVD Afternoon and Jay n’ J, even though I see few movies. I sometimes listen to Shutter Time with Sid and Mac and User Created Content, but my lack of knowledge about photography and video games, respectively, holds me back. The Prairie Belles keep me up-to-date on local music.
— Food is a definite blind spot. I hate cooking, and while I like a good meal, I don’t live for great epicurean experiences. But there are so many talented food bloggers in this city. I plan to pay more attention to Only Here for the Food, A Canadian Foodie, Kevin Kossowan, The Kitchen Magpie, Walsh Cooks and foodgirl, among others.
— My knowledge of local mommy and daddy blogs is also spotty. I am a parent, and I like sharing things about my kids, but I don’t read a lot of parenting blogs. I know from those posts that I come across on Twitter that there’s a lot of good stuff being written, so I resolve to pay more mind to blogs such as Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Mom Nation, Wildsau, home made dad, Modern Mama Musings and the like.
— Fashion, exercise, cycling, travel, general lifestyle kind of stuff? Again, not my bag. And yet I suspect there is a lot of good stuff out there that would be worth my attention. City and Dale, Bikini or Bust and Girls and Bicycles are on my “really should pay more attention to” list. I’m sure I’m missing tons more.
— I’m in the middle of reviewing applications for The Journal’s blogger-in-residence program. Besides being very fun to successfully pitch an idea that was a little out of left field, it has also been a great way to draw my attention to blogs I didn’t know about at all or hadn’t paid enough attention to. Some are mentioned above; others that have been updated recently include Traveler Ahoy, Sacred Social Justice, The Mind Travels, The Hope Lady, Recycled Thoughts from a Retro Gamer, Thingamajig, Jamie Post, Blogginsince 05, Chaiwalla’s Boombox, The Past in Unwritten and Caroline in the City. (If you applied and haven’t been mentioned, don’t fret. No decisions have been made, and what The Journal is looking for in a blogger-in-residence is different from what I’m looking for as a reader.)
— Speaking of The Journal, you may note that I rarely mention blogs written by mainstream media in this space. My reasoning was that they have their own tribune, so they don’t need mine. On the other hand, traditional news outlets tend to undervalue the blogs written by their staff, so maybe I should link more. For the record, I tend to read The Edmonton Commons, Plugged In and Capital Notebook, and I greatly admired Elise Stolte’s Living on the Edge in the summer. I haven’t paid enough attention to other local media blogs, but resolve to do better in 2012.
OK, so I just named 50 or so blogs. That leaves roughly 3,350. Gulp. I know I have left out lots of good ones, so please use the comments to let me know what I’m missing. You can also find me on Twitter and on Google+.