Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is blogging dead?

Slow summer? Or has the blogging mania died down? Yes and yes. Blogging, along with every other form of media output, always slows to a trickle during the long, wet days of silly season. But it can't be denied that blogging isn't a craze anymore. Amen to that, I say.

All the cultural mavens chattering excitedly about blogging say, five years ago, have moved on to twitter about Facebooking. That means that the people who started a blog to be trendy and in-the-know have mostly drifted off, leaving their stale urls littering the blogosphere like fallen apples. The many organisations and companies eager to get a piece of the action have figured out exactly how blogging best fits in with what they do (or whether it does at all) and reconfigured things.

The result? I think people who blog now are likely to engage with it in a more substantive way. Blogging as a form of journalism and cultural comment has been subsumed into the mainstream media, while blogging as a way of publishing creative writing online continues to evolve in exciting directions.

So yes, blogging's profile has dropped a bit, but I don't think that's a bad thing. On a local level, I feel like I haven't helped much, y'know, going off and having a baby and all and not blogging much or organising blogmeets (not to overstate my own role in the Manchester scene. Ahem.) But hark! After months of me dropping hints someone has finally seized the blogmeet baton: Julia of Notebooks and MEN Online Editor Sarah Hartleyof The Mancunian Way have between them cooked up a real, live blogmeet. It's set for Wednesday, September 17 at 6pm.

The action is in two parts: first, a tour of the Manchester Evening News newsroom and Q&A with an editor there (limited numbers - go here for info. Second, a more traditional unstructured blogmeet in a nearby pub. Voting on which pub is happening at Sarah's site now. In choosing a pub, I would advise you to consider two important qualities 1.) "dive"-ness and 2.) likelihood to be empty enough to afford the gathering bloggers enough space to comfortably unwind at that thirsty hour. I will try to attend with the littlest blogger in tow, but I probably won't make it. Early evening is our fussy time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Helpful hints on nominating for the blog awards

How could I forget? Every year, right after I publish the news that we're taking nominations for the blog awards, I have to write a curmudgeonly and pedantic post explaining how a nomination is not the same thing as a vote. And it's that time again. So listen up:

Your blog only has to be nominated once to be in the running to be shortlisted for a blog award. Even if it gets nominated 73 times by devoted readers spanning the globe, the first one is the only one we care about. This ain't the people's choice awards; the judges decide at the MBAs. So putting something on your blog like: "Hey everybody, email this address and nominate XBLOG!" is kinda missing the point.

Also missing the point: nominating your own blog in every category, even the ones that obviously don't apply. Instead, why not maybe throw in a few nominations for MCR blogs you respect and admire in other categories? What? You don't read any other blogs? I'll pretend I didn't hear that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MLF seeks volunteer bloggers

Calling all literary-minded Manchester bloggers, or wannabe bloggers: The Manchester Literature Festival is looking for one or two people to write for the festival's blog during this year's events in October - and possibly take some snaps too. It'd be a great way to get the most out of the festival (bloggers would get free admission to MLF events - the full programme is now up here) and get some wider exposure for your blogging skillz. Your posts would be read by a large audience on the MLF blog, and linked to your own blog if you have one. If you don't have a blog but have been toying with the idea of starting one, this would provide a quick practice run. Interested parties should email cathy AT

Monday, August 18, 2008

Manchester Blog Awards 2008: Nominations open

It's that time again. Nominations are now open for the 2008 Manchester Blog Awards.

Here are this year's categories:

Best New Blog: You're in the running if your blog got started after August 1, 2007. It's that simple.

Best Writing on a Blog: This category recognizes some of the excellent writing people round here are publishing on their blogs. Your blog doesn't have to be a "writer's blog", though. It could be about anything; it's the quality of the prose we're interested in, not the subject matter.

Best Arts and Culture Blog: A blog that covers some aspect of cultural life or leisure in Manchester. So yes, that means art and music, but also food or sport.

Best Personal Blog: If your blog is like your online journal, this is where you fit in.

Best Neighborhood Blog: This new category has been created in response to the upturn in hyper-local online writing; some may have noticed that the "City and Neighborhood" section of the blogroll has grown considerably this year. You're a contender if you focus your bloggage on a particular locale, which could be a nabe (i.e. Gorton) or a wider area (South Manchester, or even the whole city of Manchester.)

Each winner will receive a cash prize, be the envy of all their geek friends and gain admission into Manchester's special section of blogger Valhalla after death. Mind the rules: To qualify, you have to live, work, or go to school within commuting distance of Manchester. And you can't work for the Manchester Literature Festival or MDDA, our valiant sponsors.

You can nominate your own blog, as well as someone else's. Get your nominations in by 6pm on Thursday, September 18. Email them to mancblogawards AT, clearly stating your name, where you live, the name and url of of the blog(s) you're nominating and which category or categories you're nominating for.

I'll be back to tell you about the shortlist in late September, and let you know who this year's judges will be. The 2008 blog awards shindig is October 22 at Matt and Phred's, look for more details here or here closer to the time. In the next few weeks, I'll also be posting interviews with past winners to give you all some insight into what makes blogs work.

Questions? Email me at themanchizzle AT or leave a comment. Have fun!

(MBA logo by Neil Nisbet)