Another Brilliant Idea I Don’t Know How to Impliment

I was thinking about the ongoing animosity between Nashville bloggers and our local free weekly, The Nashville Scene*.  I was also thinking how I really like two things about the Nashville “blogosphere.”  One is that we really do have a kind of loose-knit community and the other is that there’s a really amazing depth of knowledge in it.

The last time Tim Morgan guest-blogged at Nashville is Talking, he put together an RSS feed of all the Nashville bloggers Brittney knew of at that time, and I’ve been reading them all faithfully since then.

It’s pretty cool.  I read a lot of folks I wouldn’t otherwise go to and I feel like my understanding of my community is a little broader because of it.

Here’s what I was wondering.  Is there a way to bring the content of the Nashville blogosphere into direct competition with the Scene?

Could you design a site that kind of felt like a newspaper site–maybe it would have some individual pages–news, local, entertainment, sports, business, religion, opinion, etc.–that local bloggers could choose to participate in, that would split ad revenue among us?  Not that it’d be a huge amount, obviously, but just some token?  And could it run like some kind of giant modified site aggregator?

Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking, which I don’t know how to do.  Say the person running the site came to me and said, “Hey, Aunt B., do you want to be a part of this?” and I said, “Yes, what do I do?”

I think, in a perfect world, I’d do nothing different than I already do, because it’s just a giant site aggregator, except that there would be some kind of standardized tagging so that the site would know how to classify your post.

Gah, I’m such a muddled thinker, but it seems to me that the pages would have standard slots and if you wanted your posts to show up in those slots, you’d tag them accordingly.  So, if there was a slot for “idiot ideas,” I’d tag this “idiot ideas” and the first couple of paragraphs would show up on the site, there’d be a jump, and the jump would land you to my site.

If I had stuff I didn’t want to show up on the… what do we call it… the alt.everyday, I just wouldn’t give it a tag the software would recognize.  So, I guess it’d be some kind of aggregator/sorting thingy.

And maybe on each page, there’d be ten slots that gave you part of the post of the author, but then there could be a bunch of links at the bottom of the page that were just post titles, so that as new posts were written, there’d be some movement on the page, with the newest post occupying the most prime real estate and then moving from slot to slot as more posts came in, so that you could guarantee folks that the newest… I don’t know… say twenty-five or thirty posts would stay available for at least a day, before dropping off.

And it seems to me that, if you had some kind of catchy thing to call it, you could work it a little like Citysearch.  You could have a, which would give you all Nashville & surrounding area bloggers.  You could do a, which would give you Memphis.  But what I think would be really cool is that you could also do it by state–  Or maybe by region–

Now, this would be attractive to advertisers, I would think, because you could pinpoint the communities you wanted to reach.  But I imagine it might also allow smaller blogs a platform from which to be heard nationally.  Right now, if someone at CNN says, “Oh god, what are the bloggers saying about this?” They’re turning to Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan or Atrios or Kos or Michelle Malkin–people who already have a lot of readers and a platform from which to exude influence.

But if there were a widely known network of blogging aggregators/sorters/whatevers, any old assistant anywhere could say, “Wow, you know, I looked at and as far as national politics go, everyone is concerned that Nancy Pelosi is no better than her predecessors.”  The site(s) would give them a place to go to get a quick overview of a wide swath of opinions.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about when I was walking the dog this morning.  I wonder if a lack of caffeine is making me crazy.




*I guess we should just give up the pretense of calling it an alt.weekly?

25 thoughts on “Another Brilliant Idea I Don’t Know How to Impliment

  1. I was going to add something about being a one-woman think-tank, but I thought that might be asking too much of you not to make a "tank" joke.

  2. Sounds good to me. Couldn’t NIT be redesigned to support this idea? I mean, what your proposing sounds a lot like a NIT+ since it has the aggregator and feeds to blogs that show the post title and first several words of the post. I have no idea how it would all work but if it does come to fruition, I want in on it!

  3. Sarcastro, come now. I live to undermine your resolve. Malia, I don’t know if NiT could transform into it or add something like it. I’m not sure.

  4. 1) Sounds interesting. Of course, I foresee bloggers who now just disagree with each other more or less politely starting to engage in dirty posting tricks to drive each other off the top of the display.2) Of course the Scene is an alt-weekly. It’s for the young, hip, snarky Republicans, silly.3) If there was such a site, would any of the local bloggers be able to recommend a restaurant for fish? Not (just) shellfish or catfish, and not hot fish, but, oh, I don’t know, trout or salmon or sole or something like that? Because my father-in-law wants to know.

  5. There’s already a (sort of failed) model for this, but since it was mostly done without the bloggers’ knowledge or consent it’s not quite THERE-there, if you know what I mean. Several cities had them as part of the "we’re gonna GET RICH from blogging!!!" craze that started about 3 years ago.Check out <A HREF="""">Nashville's News</A> for an example. Todd A. has also tried to do something similar with The Juice, albeit on a smaller scale. My understanding from various conversations, posts and presentations was that this was the ultimate end-goal to which Terry Heaton was striving with NiT before he decamped to Texas. We were supposed to become a juggernaut that would attract advertising revenues a la a National Magazine. There are several cooperative-post Blogzines right now enjoying varying degrees of success (The Huffington Post, Pajamas Media, IMAO), but none that I know of which has all of the elements you mention.1. Cooperative, inclusive content by all area bloggers2. Some degree of local focus3. A variety of subject matter4. Tradmedia cooperationCan it be done? Yes. Would it be a good idea? Yes, especially if it can go head-to-head with The Scene.The only drawback is that it will require an initial capital investment, as well as someone who can do the raw programming and design. It would also benefit from having someone knowledgeable to sell ad space.

  6. I like your idea. A lot. Good for people who move a lot or travel, and want to keep up with the news back home. I’d enjoy joining up with others in a MyRegionalDesignation.catchything.comHell, if I were you I’d be sure to trademark or register "".

  7. This sounds like such a nifty idea, Aunt B. I’m no programmer, so I can’t comment much one way or another on the level of technical diffiulty involved, but it seems like it would be (relatively) simple to implement.Mm, perhaps in my internet wandering today, I will look into it further.

  8. Brilliant idea – it’s really a database structure that requires a web layout with a feed aggregator. You still need an editor to traffic cop the whole thing and like Kat said, have someone to sell the space. is a start… but ugly to look at with no photos or graphics. has the content but the layout needs work.Worth pursuing, but the bottom line is can it be monitized? Great concept worth pursuing!

  9. I want first dibs on the wine review column!Not that I know what the hell I’m talking about, but I sure do like to drink me some wine."Hmmmm…I thought this particular wine tasted exceedingly grapey."

  10. Heh… sounds like the animosity here in the DC area between the Washington City Paper (area free weekly, which basically sucks, IMO) and local bloggers. Your idea is a good one… are you familiar with the "ist" (Gothamist, DCist, SFist, Phillyist, Seattlest, etc) family of blogs/zines? I don’t know a whole lot about their structure or setup, but a friend of mine writes for DCist and is a local blogger as well. Seems like many if not most of the contributing writers on DCist also have their own blogs (which used to be linked from the DCist home page but that went away with a recent site redesign).Might be worth checking out… Nashvillist, anyone? ;-)

  11. "Your idea is a good one… are you familiar with the "ist" (Gothamist, DCist, SFist, Phillyist, Seattlest, etc) family of blogs/zines?"Metroblog Nashville was supposed to fulfill that same niche, but so far has had problems doing so.I think that’s because Metroblog Nashville (and all the family of Metroblog) is very much geared toward one type of audience–hip, barhopping late-20s/early 30s.

  12. Yeah, no, I think this would have its appeal exactly because it wouldn’t rely on bloggers writing anything different than what they usually write, it would just aggregate and sort posts the bloggers flagged as being appropriate for the site, with the added benefit to the bloggers being that there’d be some ad revenue on the site that we all could share, but then, since the bulk of the story would remain readable only on each person’s site, she or he could also get any ad revenue they get for folks showing up at their sites.So, it’s a sorting/aggregating/portal thingy that looks nice and has a familiar feeling layout of some sort.

  13. Technologically, what you’re describing sounds like good ol’ fashioned content management with a customized front-end template. Not hard, I wouldn’t think, for anyone with experience. Like Kat, I was thinking that Metroblogging was supposed to be something like this, but has trouble finding its identity. But your point, B, about the content being no different from what bloggers are already producing is a good one, and makes this idea something distinct. Would there need to be some sort of screening process to make sure blogs are of a certain level of quality writing? Or would any Nashville-based blogger be part of the aggregator? Issues like that seem like they could make or break the idea in implementation. Cool thought, though.

  14. Oh, hey, NM, I forgot to ask if your father’s too good for Red Lobster or what? No, I tease. Sadly, if it’s not at Red Lobster, I don’t know where it is.Kate O, the more I think about it the more I think you’d have to have it working both ways. Bloggers would have to say "Yes, I want to participate and because I want to participate, I’ll make whatever small concessions need to be made (like if tags are the way to go) in order to have that happen" and then you’d have to have, I think, someone making an editorial judgment, like Brittney does, to say "Hey this is really worth noticing" or "Wow, Hal Turner, I’m not sure I want this site to link to a site that advocates killing Congress members. Good riddance."

  15. Father-in-law, B., father-in-law. My father was indeed too good for Red Lobster; I don’t think ever set foot in one, or would have, unless perhaps to save his life. (He’s dead now — coincidence?) Whereas I know that my father-in-law has eaten at a Red Lobster or two in his life. He was looking for something a little nicer today, though. I thought he’d like Bro’s, but it wasn’t open for dinner.

  16. NM, I’ll ask the Butcher for future fish recommendations. I don’t know that he’ll know of any places on your side of town, but he might have some good ideas for our side.When we were growing up, Red Lobster was the fancy restaurant we went to on our birthdays. Even though I know better as an adult, I still feel underdressed if I’m not in chuch clothes when we go.

  17. I’ve never seen you in anything other than church clothes, B.I’ve been asking what is alternative about the Scene for quite awhile. There is so much talent there, but I think there must be something about corporate ownership that just doesn’t let it be all that it should be. If i might ask Kate O something….screening out those that don’t meet some writing standards, to me, defeats the whole notion of blogging, doesn’t it?

  18. Mack, in real life, I spend most of my time in overalls and a t-shirt. If you’re special company, I might put on shoes, and, if you’re really lucky, a bra.And I don’t know, do you think NiT defeats the whole notion of blogging? I think if there’s some sense that there’s a person making some kind of editorial decision and who that person is, it’s not a problem.If it’s behind the scenes and appears automatic, then, yes, I think there is a problem with it.

  19. Probably the way to go would be something which utilizes: have mixed feelings on the ‘to compete with a magazine’ angle, insofar as making it look & feel like a magazine site — since in my brain I see the convergence going the other direction (if it ain’t in the Scene’s RSS feed, I’ll never read it). But I imagine planet could be used as a back end regardless.

  20. Well, but I think there’s something to be said, say, if you’re a political junky, for being able to see (and hell, maybe subscribe to a feed that would feed you) only what certain bloggers are saying about politics.

  21. Could there be an automated kick-you-out-of-the-feed thing for bloggers who use "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" or "Rethuglican" instead of "Republican"?

  22. Well, hello. Sara Clark pointed me over here. Truth is, I meant to click over when Brittney linked here the other day, because I have long been plagued with ideas I can’t implement. However, about two weeks ago, I had one that I could implement and I’ve been working on it–slowly spreading it through my network of (blogger) friends. It’s similar in nature, but it’s not the Scene or Metroblog that I’m going after–it’s two publications that should not exist in this city but prosper nonetheless. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I hear ya, there’s a lot of improvements to be made with regard to the dissemination of interesting information.Anyhoo, I need to add you to my aggregation.

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