The Clarion Call of the Local Weblog

When I write what I write here, I tend to think of myself as writing to an audience of about ten people: my mother, my mother-in-law, my brothers, my sister-in-law, and maybe Robert Paterson once in a while. Oh, and all the Ledwells and the Sandy Nicholson and her crew.

Them, and a bunch of random web surfers who end up here because they search Google for “I’m angry at my phone company.”

Recently, though, an interesting thing has started to happen: this weblog’s audience, combined with the compact “everybody is connected to everybody else” nature of Prince Edward Island, means that when I write things about Islanders and Island institutions here, somehow word gets back.

Yesterday I wrote about my car insurance; today, Fred Hyndman responded. Fred owns my insurance broker, Hyndman and Company (as did his father, and his father’s father).

Last week I wrote about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Emergency Room. The next day, the Chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine posted a comment, followed shortly by his predecessor.

I cautioned new anchor Bruce Rainnie about over-Boomering on Compass. An hour and a half later, he assured us all he was mindful of the dangers.

I wrote about Marie Brine’s ergonomics auditing and got an email back from Marie several months later, and then, a few months after than, another one telling me a friend of hers in Taiwan had run across the post.

My initial negative review of Angels Restaurant elicited a phone call from Ken Zakem, the owner. And then a follow up from his father.

And the granddaddy of all of this, my open letter to Island Tel, which resulted in a lot of hand-wringing at the company, and a lot of interesting conversations with mid-level managers who agreed with me.

I point this out not as a prideful boast of my awesome media power, but from interest in what it says about weblogs, especially when they take place, out in the open, in a small place like this.

I’ve never been seated firmly on the ” weblogs are going to change the media forever and replace newspapers and television” bandwagon. That said, what happens here, and on other local blogs, does seem to more and more involve an interesting sort of feedback loop that you don’t see in traditional media.

Whether this is truly powerful and interesting, or a self-involved sort of virtual coffee talk, remains to be seen. In the meantime, it is lots of fun.


Al O'Neill's picture
Al O'Neill on March 19, 2004 - 02:20 Permalink

The Charlottetown weblogging interconnectedness really seems to be quite unique, outside of say New York, where most of the blog content seems to be people writing about going about their lives, only it’s cool because it’s New York and simply going to a bagel shop has some level of forced cachet to it.

But I certainly haven’t run into any other similar webs of connected net writers as this, and frankly with the craze surrounding all things to do with social networking lately I think it really might be worth exploring.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on March 19, 2004 - 02:42 Permalink

I see, here, one of the original promises of the internet fulfilled — that this interconnectedness need not be limited by geography.

A few simple examples (trivial on their own, but perhaps part of a more significant whole):

I wrote on my weblog about the incomplete icon-set in the Windows XP operating system. Soon thereafter, one of the designers contracted by Microsoft to work on the icons weighed in with his point of view.

I included a track by a musician/songwriter on my first little home-made internet radio show. I didn’t realize when I first discovered his music that he was also from Canada. A few months later, I was having diner with him in an Ottawa pub.

In October of 2003, I wrote a short article criticizing the visual identity of the Mozilla open source software projects and making a series of suggestions. Soon thereafter, I was contacted by someone at the Mozilla Foundation. Now I’m helping implement some of the suggestions and found myself at the Mozilla headquarters in California last month.

Also while in California, having never been there before, I found myself able to enjoy the company of all kinds of smart and interesting people I had “met” previously through my weblog.

All of that said, I don’t intend this as a counter to the local power of the weblog. It’s all pretty cool.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on March 19, 2004 - 22:48 Permalink

I think it’s time to aim bigger Peter, throw something out there like, “You know, I’d sure like to chat with that Pope” or “If Elvis is really still alive, I wonder if he has e-mail?”. Can’t hurt to try!

Robert  Paterson's picture
Robert Paterson on March 20, 2004 - 15:58 Permalink

I was having a coffee with Steve and dan the other day and we were talking about not only this but you Peter. We were amazed at what your influence is on PEI. Embarrassing moments follow — I check the Buzz to see what is on at City Cinema and think about changing my ISP to ISN while blogging and worrying about how Jevon and I can get York to take up blogging in a big way — all the time thanking you that you helped me drop the last vestiges of my corporate thinking.

Then I realize that you have had a hand in all the things that i value the most on PEI. Do you stand up on a soapbox? No. You just go out and lend a hand

Thanks Peter