Monday, April 29, 2013

Is The DC Blogging Community Dead?

I'm a blogger between two cities. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, so I often write about Pittsburgh sports. I have lived in Northern Virginia for more than a decade, so I often write about my experiences living in the Washington DC area. Within the past year, I was invited to join the Pittsburgh Bloggers group, I participated in a fantasy football league consisting of Pittsburgh Bloggers and I was part of the Spring 2013 Pittsburgh Guest Blogger event where 30-40 Pittsburgh Bloggers wrote a guest post on another blog. Although I don't live in Pittsburgh anymore, the group has been extremely welcoming, so it's a little disappointing when I can't participate in events for Pittsburgh Bloggers including a recent TweetUp or attend the Pittsburgh Opera Bloggers Night.

Meanwhile, I don't see any of this happening in DC for bloggers. I attended a DC Bloggers Happy Hour almost five years ago and Lacochran organized a group of bloggers to run a 5K about three years ago. Please note the phrases "years ago" from the last sentence. The Washington Post had a local blog directory, but that doesn't seem to exist anymore. While I like DC Blogs (even though my posts don't appear on the live feed until hours later and then get lost in the middle of the page) to highlight some of the best blog posts and as a blog directory, I don't see any activities or camaraderie among DC Bloggers.

Are blogs played out in DC where they aren't in Pittsburgh? Perhaps the problem is that DC is too spread out. At this point, it is unlikely that I would attend a DC Happy Hour because I'm old(ish) and want to see my family after a long day and commute home. (Although I would jump at the opportunity to get free tickets to a DC Bloggers Theater Night!) However, a Northern Virginia Happy Hour in Fairfax, Vienna, Chantilly or Reston could be a possibility.

So is there still a DC Bloggers community that I just don't know exists or is there little to no DC bloggers community anymore?


lacochran's evil twin said...

Good question. A lot of the folks that we partied with back in the day seem to have moved on (geographically or just away from blogging.) I'd welcome a happy hour, wherever, and some new, local talent to read. In addition to your excellent blog, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

Good post. Some things have changed. In the mid-2000s blogs were bold and outrageous in good ways. There was Why.I.hate.dc, which announced itself in 2003, this way "This blog will contain the various reasons I hate living in Washington, D.C." (That blog defined itself perfectly and had a writer(s) with the chops to live up to it.); There was crazy, wonderful work appearing on Washington Socialites, Throwing Hammers, Rock Creek Rambler, Velvet in Dupont, Cube, Ar-Jew-Tino, I’m not a girl, not yet a wino. (shout-out to the incredible and underappreciated Washingtonienne, who helped to give blogging it’s slightly subversive reputation), DC Bachelor before he moved on to a different theme – I could list dozens more.

All these blogs sought to rebel, to rouse, challenge and to explore; they read each other and collectively energized the community. It was also risky. People lost their jobs over their content or sweated it, but it became a community.

What happened? Some of these older bloggers have survived, but the majority of blogs today are specialized: Mommy bloggers, food bloggers, running blogs, fashion blogs, etc. These bloggers identify themselves around the type of blog they do, and are not part of broader DC blogging community but network with their niche. There are exceptions, unsuck dc metro for one, but these exceptions are in the minority.

Some of these earlier blogs were interested in shaking things up by challenging the incompetent, the lazy, the ridiculous, the settled thinking. There’s still good writing out there, social commentary and emotion, and I try to find it for dcblogs.
What is today may not be tomorrow.

It's not that the earlier bloggers were in anyway *better,* ; what was better was the climate for blogging.

The impulse and the need to storm the gates remains, but most writers today are too cautious. The early blogging community was mostly anonymous. IDs were carefully protected. Today, most bloggers see their work as part of their individual brand, a spoke in their social media presence … this is, to me, representative of the corporate conquest of blogging.

Bloggers today are being gently conditioned by corporate overlords to think of themselves as part of a greater commercial engine, and not as independent writers operating in fearless freedom.

(Regarding feed: If you set your time zone to GMT – London Time – your blog will appear on top of the feed when it publishes. This is a quirk of blogger when interacting with our homegrown feed engine.)


Sean said...

Lacochran - We may have to organize a Happy Hour or some type of event. However, as I mentioned in the post, I don't have a lot of free time these days. A 2 year-old keeps me busy!

Pat - Thanks for your very thorough comment. For me, there were three blogs that stand out compared to the others: Ar-Jew-Tino, LiLu & Restaurant Refugee. Ar-Jew-Tino has been gone for several years; LiLu moved to San Francisco and wrote less than five posts over the past year and RR has written even less than LiLu.

The scene has changed. There are very few active blogs from when I started or even from the past 3-4 years that are still around. I probably need to expand what I read to see some of the new (and hopefully non-corporate) bloggers!

Maybe I'll e-mail you separately about the feed.

Anonymous said...

LiLu is remarkable, and Restaurant Refugee a poet.

rachaelgking said...

Aw, you schmoops. I miss DC and all of you like crazy! All of you are DC blogging institutions as far as I'm concerned (Pat, lacochran, Sean, and RR included).

I did used to organize happy hours and meet ups, but like you said Sean, that was over 3 years ago now. (Time flies...)

I 100% agree with everything Pat said. I also think the DC blogging community was so much smaller years ago, and that's probably where Pittsburgh is at now - it's easy to get everyone together and everyone knows each other since it's so small. There's definitely no community like those here in SF - it's WAY too big.

Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully I can get more than 5 posts off this year! ;)

Phil said...


Law-Rah said...

I got this link of Throwing Hammer's Facebook page and have enjoyed a quick jaunt down memory lane - thanks Pat! I met some of my best friends through the DC blog scene in the mid-2000s. And through other social media outlets, still keep in touch with many others. Even after the monthly DC Blogger happy hours died down, we all remained connected. (BabyBanana, DCSportsChick, DirectCurrent & LucyDances, Chase, Sharkbait, Pheniece, Throwing Hammers, Betty & Jason, the Playaz and many many more!) We've networked for jobs, referred business relationships, seen each other through life events and really just built friendships that started anonymously.

The DC blog community you talk of did exist at some point - and for many of us, it morphed into offline friendships. But there's no reason you can't restart cycle up again. Why not start up monthly happy hours again (Pat at DCBlogs is great for publicizing) and see if you can achieve the same kind of camaraderie the DC Blog scene once achieved:-) Good luck!

suicide_blond said...

I agree with what pat said completely..
also smart phones came along and twitter and instagram joined the scene and they were in "real time" and we all moved to readers the commenting died off... but i am sorry you missed it because i think you would have loved it! with all of dcs super smart and funny folks the scene was really pretty awesome.
Washington Cube still writes amazing things just on her facebook page now...
and phil from PlayazBall sent me well wishes and comet dust via twitter yesterday when i was sick...
a lot of us are still here...even the ones who have moved away still show up in my feeds...but truthfully more often in twitter than wordpress ,,,we are all just in different places, in our lives, and our online lives have shifted as well...

Jo said...

I remember those days well. I went to one of the first happy hours and met many people, some of whom I'm still very close friends with to this day. Lemmonex, Lilu, BrunchBird and many others are all on Twitter! I think that time was pretty unique, like Suicide Blonde said, it was before Twitter and readers and the commenting and the community were really close knit. I Perhaps a little too close knit at times. I hope new generation of bloggers can do it again.

Sean said...

Rachael, Law-Rah, Suicide & Jo - Thanks for your comments. I think I'm odd since I was late to discovering the "old" DC Blogs crew, but I'm not sure I would fit in with the "new" folks. Actually, I don't think there are any new-ish DC blogs that I read.

Any suggestions?