One way I look to use blogs is to get glimpses of places I’m not, and to keep tabs on where I am.
My friend Ken recently started Live For Buzz which represents a really interesting idea for how to tie blogs and message boards together. EAVBuzz is a message board many East Atlanta residents use to share news and information, gossip, kvetch, have off-topic discussions, share public safety reports, organize get-togethers, and solve problems. Live For Buzz is a blog front-end for the message board, that pulls out discussions that might be of interest to the larger community or to people who don’t live in the immediate area. The Buzz is such an active forum that it’s become difficult to keep up with the volume of new posts that go up, and Live For Buzz addresses that problem by creating a more distilled information source for people who only have time to watch the most significant discussions. Ken distills the discussions into a several paragraph blog entry, and then also always offers links straight into the board, for anyone who might decide they’re interested enough to roll up their sleeves and enter the fray. I think more message boards should think this way, and use a blog as a more accessible point of entry for outsiders. There’s a lot of information on message boards that doesn’t bubble up to the surface because it takes so much effort to wade through it all, especially if you’re not a member.
On the other side of the country, for the past several months I’ve been reading Tony Pierce’s Busblog, thanks to a pointer from my friends Gregg and Josh Lucas at LA Times Interactive. Tony’s personal vignettes about his life and what he sees around LA are great reads, and he also writes about the rapidly evolving blogging program he runs at LA Times. Because he also has access to the LA Times writing and editorial staff, he does some great work digging deeper on stories that come through the paper and offering his own unique perspective about what’s happening there.
His writing style is inspiring, and i find that when my own head is filled with cobwebs, reading the Busblog helps me knock them loose sometimes. I especially like how his titles often grab me and pull me in to his subject matter without having to scan any of the entry. And they almost always deliver what they promise. He also polls his readers often, highlights friends, acquaintences, and strangers doing good work online, and manages to balance what’s important to him about writing and what’s important to his audience in reading him.