Sunday, December 04, 2005
LOCAL BLOGS: New York Times review of Connecticut startups
Published: October 9, 2005
HEADLINE: Dear Blog: It's Another Day In Connecticut
By JANE GORDON
The New York Times
A WOMAN who moved to Fairfield County from Brooklyn a few years ago is
sharing her struggle to adjust to suburban life. A man who knows where to
find a rare black-spruce bog in Connecticut wants other people to know,
too. Several people concerned about local politics, transportation and the
courts are writing about these issues.
All are voices in the Connecticut blogosphere, a cacophony of emotion and
information that has become a kind of town meeting in the ether.
About 80,000 Web blogs, or online diaries, are created worldwide each day,
according to Technorati.com, a blog tracker. The site does not track how
many blogs are created each day in each state, so figures for the number
of blogs in Connecticut are elusive. But anyone with Internet access will
find plenty here.
Tom Fausel, a technology consultant who lives on a farm in Harwinton, has
been assembling a list of Connecticut blogs on his site, ctweblogs.com,
since this past December.
''I kind of noticed with the whole blogging thing that there are people
out there who have a tremendous capability to write, but who aren't sure
anyone is listening,'' Mr. Fausel said. ''So the point is to build a sense
of community, to get a following for these folks who are writing. The
beauty of this is that in my mind, we're really out on a frontier here.
This is wide open. Now we're trying to define that space.''
Mr. Fausel has found and published links on his site to almost 100
Connecticut blogs. He said that he has discovered more than that, but has
left out several because they do not meet his standards for taste, which
exclude anything he deems pornographic.
He does not, however, worry about talent or political correctness, he
said. And he cannot possibly be concerned about punctuation or spelling,
which has gone so far by the wayside on the Internet as to make a strict
Connecticut bloggers chat about all sorts of subjects. On
dogstar.typepad.com, Eric Lundquist, a dog trainer in Norwalk, shares his
advice and knowledge. Besides stories of dogs performing unusual antics
and a recent photograph of a dog fetching a frog, Mr. Lundquist has listed
the newest principles of dog immunology on his site. He advertises his
site as: ''a log and journey of Eric, his business and anything related to
the same. And of course, for assorted ramblings.''
On ctnewsjunkie.com (with its slogan, ''Because You Need It. Bad.''), Dan
Levine, a reporter with Courthouse News Service, a national news wire for
lawyers, writes independently about Connecticut's courts and Legislature.
On Sept. 29, he reported that Gov. M. Jodi Rell appeared at a labor union
convention that day after she had recently vetoed several bills that would
have served labor unions. ''So how did the Connecticut AFL-CIO receive
Rell at its convention today in New Haven?'' Mr. Levine wrote.
On Connecticut Windows on the Natural, at cttrips.blogspot.com, Brendan
Hanrahan, a Connecticut guidebook publisher, shares his knowledge of all
things nature-related. Mr. Hanrahan took his two boys to the Black Spruce
Bog in the Mohawk State Forest in August, and wrote about his trip.
''The Black Spruce Bog here is among the most rare of Connecticut's
critical habitats,'' he wrote. ''It got its start as glacial melt water
ponded up in a bedrock depression some ten thousand years ago. This was a
place where plants and aquatic life began to re-colonize the tundra as the
last Ice Age slowly melted away.''
Some bloggers are looking for love, like Miss Erma at misserma.com.
Recently she wrote: ''You know sometimes (in other words, now) I get into
this attitude where yes, I'd like a boyfriend now. Sign me up.''
Others, like Jennifer Jackson of Westport, are seeking people who share
their passions. Ms. Jackson is a former Marine Corps officer who attacks
knitting with military precision. She runs a knitting circle on Saturday
morning, known among local knitters as Saturday kNit Live. She knits for
charity. And on her blog, majorknitter.com, she talks about all issues
The blog (with its slogan, ''Everything you wanted to know about my
knitting obsession but were afraid to ask'') displays free patterns along
with cooking recipes, lists links for knitters, and writes about various
trips Ms. Jackson takes and events she attends, all the while working
knitting into the topic
''I don't want to be the person who bores my friends to death with a slide
show when they come over,'' she said in an interview. ''Or each time they
are here, say 'Look what I made.' So I started the blog, and maybe 80 to
90 percent of my patterns are all original, so I want to share them, I
want them published. I know I want to publish a book someday.''
Then there are the bloggers who share their views of the world with
readers. At the blog caffeinatedgeekgirl.typepad.com, a woman who moved to
Fairfield from Brooklyn a few years ago blogs about her transition to
Connecticut life, her family and small issues that arise in Fairfield.
''I consider my site a combination of blog and online journal,'' she wrote
in an e-mail message, asking to remain anonymous because many of her
friends and family do not know that she keeps a blog she considers a
little too revealing. ''I'd like to say that my blog has some greater
purpose, but it's really just about my life and views. I've only lived in
Connecticut a few years, but I post often about living in Fairfield County
and adjusting to suburban life.''
Although caffeinatedgeekgirl blogs regularly, a monitoring of blogs shows
that many have brief life spans. The success of a blog, like any journal
or diary, depends on the devotion of its writer.
''There's a lot of turnover in the blogosphere, where people do it for a
few weeks, a few months, then tire of it,'' said Rich Hanley, director of
the graduate program in communication at Quinnipiac University and keeper
of a blog about the news media, creepingmeatball.com.
''You also need to have something to say, and that's an issue,'' he said.
''How many people have something to say that other people wish to read,
and can they do it on a sustained basis? If you have something to say and
you can say it in the Web aesthetic, even if it's only to two or three
people, you've succeeded.''
These days, Connecticut corporations and small businesses are creating
their own blogs to keep in touch with employees and customers. Even
newspapers like The New Haven Register that have regular columnists also
have blogs by writers to provide readers with another avenue to hear from
the newspaper's reporters.
Westportnow.com has become the gold standard in Connecticut for blogs that
focus on news and information. It is run by Gordon Joseloff, a journalist
who worked for United Press International and CBS, and who said in an
interview that he lives off his real estate holdings in Fairfield County
because blogs make little to no money.
The blog makes liberal use of photographs of breaking news in Westport.
There are images of downed wires, road construction, storm damage and car
accidents like one in Westport last summer involving the singer and
actress Eartha Kitt and her two toy poodles.
Within a few hours of that crash, photographs showing Ms. Kitt on the
ground surrounded by emergency workers, her Range Rover on its roof and
her toy poodles held on a leash by her daughter, were posted not on an
Associated Press Web site or the local television news, but on
Westportnow.com. Employees for The New York Post saw the posting, acquired
the pictures and published them in the next day's editions.
To get that kind of image, Mr. Joseloff has cultivated the good graces of
stay-at-home mothers, retirees, students, aspiring photographers and
anybody else with a camera and a willingness to take rudimentary
instruction in shooting pictures.
Mr. Joseloff has come to know what writing a successful blog feels like.
But he is also running as the Democratic candidate for first selectman of
Westport, and Westporters have let him know they are concerned about the
future of the blog if he wins.
Mr. Joseloff related a conversation he had with a Westportnow reader
''Gordon, any bozo can run Westport,'' the reader said to him. ''But only
you can do Westportnow.''
Mr. Fausel said one of his favorite blogs is by Tina Hayes, a Southington
graphic artist and Web designer who describes in detail how she arrived at
her artistic results.
Like many first-time bloggers, Mrs. Hayes created her blog for emotional
reasons. In 2000, she was struggling to care for her sick mother, and
seeking an ear for her strain and sadness.
''It became an outlet,'' Mrs. Hayes said. ''When I was in that whole
stressful situation, I needed to vent about being exhausted.''
Her mother died last year, and Mrs. Hayes began to see her blog
''It's just more fun now,'' she said. ''It gets my work out there. And one
of the things I like about blogs is that they are bringing content back to
the Web. It's bringing actual text back that people will sit down and
Here are the Web addresses for the Connecticut blogs mentioned in the
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