Lost in graduate studies and my hard drive crash was a project to identify local bloggers. Beyond that, I would like to see a site that brought the content up to the surface into meaningful channels for subject manner. Now that I’ve cleared another hurdle in time-resource allocation, I’m ready to get this aggregation project rolling.
The catalyst this time is a post in Slugged—a local blog updated by the editorial staff of the Herald-Times, and one of the few publicly-available bits of content the paper published on the web—which indicates the H-T added BlogSchmog to it’s blogroll. Much appreciated, both for the linkage and the recognition that local blogging may be an asset worth understanding, even promoting. I don’t know how much we appear on local searches at being associated with Bloomington (I would expect we’d be somewhere in that mix of results for “Bloomington blog“), so I appreciate Ben and Sophia pointing out both our Blog and the list being assembled on the Politic Exchange unconference wiki.
Despite a lot of time spent each day on the computer, I have precious little time to go check for new information. My exploration is done primarily in the context of research; even this blog serves that primary purpose for me at the moment. I have a small list of sites I frequent each morning, and barely enough time to do that. In order to keep tabs on the growing number of local bloggers, I really need to have some single place to go to check for it. My hunch is that would be beneficial to others interested in Bloomington-area relevance as well.
RSS feed readers are nice tools, for those inclined to use them. There are different kinds of readers, not all of which are interoperable and all of which are personalized. An aggregator, on the other hand, does that same work in a public way, so everyone benefits and new visitors don’t need to know anything about RSS to find the recent content. Planet Info has proven to be a great tool for keeping tabs on current and former graduate students at the Indiana University School of Informatics.
This isn’t an easy design chore. There are issues of integration, both of different blogging content platforms and tagging schemes. Local bloggers and those who blog about local issues are two different things, and suitable channels might be needed to distinguish local politics from social events from personal journals. Readers might want to be able to customize their own presentation or filter some content, so there might be some need to create log-in experiences. However, I think this is a project worth doing because of the benefit to building a local Internet community (as opposed to a bunch of locals who happen to use the Internet).