Monday, March 31, 2008

BBC Manchester Blog: RIP

Some sad news: The BBC Manchester blog is no more. The experiment has run its course, and creators Richard Fair and Robin Hamman are bowing out.

You have to hand it to them - okay, I became involved with it, so I'm not totally impartial here - but they did good. In fact, I was initially very suspicious of the project. So many other instances of traditional media trying to "do" blogging result in tin-eared, unreadable sites that have all the easy authenticity of Michael Howard in a metallic hoodie. Or they expect bloggers who already have an established audience online to fall all over themselves to write for their media outlet just for the sheer privilege of it, and seem gobsmacked when they don't.

But Robin and Richard, from the first, demonstrated their willingness to engage with the existing community of Manchester bloggers on equal terms, and use the BBC's broad reach to make the medium increasingly accessible, welcoming many Mancunians new (and old) to blogging with workshops, radio spots and generous linking. They showed that blogging can be a very effective way for established media to incorporate new voices into their output - and that local people who are not necessarily members of the media elite can contribute really worthwhile and fresh content about their city (even if it isn't news-led; even if, in fact, it is totally random.)

I'm sorry to see the experiment end, but I understand it couldn't go on forever - these two guys are pretty busy. I'm frankly amazed they were able to keep the blog active and interesting for as long as they did, given the number of other things they both have to do. Still, the UK landscape has changed so drastically in since the blog started in 2006 - big newspapers and media companies seem to be getting a bit more of a handle on this blogging thing, and local microsites, citizen journalism and community-led content are the buzzwords of the day. The BBC Manchester Blog was certainly at the forefront of this trend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New blogs: The moany edition

Oh my god. I have been feverishly ill now for two weeks, and being ill is apparently much worse than normal when you're super pregnant. For one thing, your immune system is not so effective. I have drunk gallons of vitamin C drink, inhaled more steam than a sauna attendant and ingested such radioactive levels of antibiotics that I can curdle pots of bio-live yoghurt with a single glance. And for all that I feel a little better, but not much. In fact, I have to go lie down for a bit.

That's better, not so dizzy now. Okay. (Cough.) Sigh. So I guess I have some new blogs to tell you about.

Last year Susie started a pregnancy blog called Oscar or Isabelle. And then she had her baby and it turned out to be neither an Oscar nor an Isabelle, but a Milo. So she's unveiled a new wordpressy blog in which she will record her adventures with the new man in her life: Travels with my Baby.

Lovely Gill Moore, Manchester photographer and graduate of one of our blogging workshops, has started an excellent blog that features photos she admires as well as her own work, news and thoughts about photography, exhibitions and other random things. Scatterdrum: Ramblings from inside a photographer's head.

Andy Sewina has started posting a work-in-progress-novel blog, called "Space Invaders!"

Tom writes Book of the Future, which deals in technology, society and geekery. "Been going since November 2006 and though I haven't managed to keep up my intended blogging schedule over that time I'm still approaching my 90th post," he says.

Ian Hough is the author of a book called Perry Boys about Manc football and culture in the 70s and 80s. He also writes a blog called The Nameless Thing, at which you can read about his theory of The Four Quadrants of Manchester.*

"The 4 quadrants are sectors, regions in Greater Manchester County, which possess definite identity and character, fault-lines in the ancient crust of our city. Just as Paris’ arrondissements are arrayed as a gigantic snailshell, in a tight clockwise spiral around the central core, so are Manchester’s degrees of suchness concentrically packed, like jam roly-poly about its lively heart..."

(*Unless you're from Partington, in which case you should not read it. It'll just make you angry.)

Finally, Manchester socialite Miss Coco LaVerne has arrived to pretty up our general area of the blogosphere. In her own words, Coco is "an enigma, a spectacular incarnation of beauty and grace." Welcome Coco. Now I'm going back to bed.