Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Years Old – An Adirondack Blog History

This week marks our second anniversary here at the Adirondack Almanack. Big thanks to all our regular readers and a big hello to the new readers arriving every week. If you like what you read here, why not support the Almanack by making your next Amazon purchase through us and/or letting your friends know about us? If you own a local business contact us about advertising here.

Before we get started on blogging in the Adirondacks, Rebecca Blood has put together a nice history of blogging – which has been said to have begun in December 1997 when Jorn Barger first used the term Weblog.

State of the Blogosphere

David Sifry (founder and CEO of Technorati) periodically updates the state of the blogosphere. Here are some of his most interesting blog facts from one year ago:

[Technorati] currently tracks over 75,000 new weblogs created every day, which means that on average, a new weblog is created every second of every day – and 13.7 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. In other words, even though there’s a reasonable amount of tire-kicking going on, blogging is growing as a habitual activity. In October of 2005, when Technorati was only tracking 19 million blogs, about 10.4 million bloggers were still posting 3 months after the creation of their blogs. In addition to that, about 2.7 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.

When Adirondack Almanack first went online in 2005 Technorati was tracking over 7.8 million weblogs. They apparently stopped tracking the number of blogs after last summer’s debate over the accuracy of Sifry’s assertion that there were 55 Million weblogs and growing. Still, the number is huge and growing all the time.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated in July 2006 that the “US blog population has grown to about 12 million American adults,” about 8% of adult American internet users. “The number of US blog readers was estimated as 57 million adults (39% of the US online population), although few of those people read widely or read often.” [link]

Adirondack Blogs

A look at the sidebar of Adirondack Almanack reveals that there are now 20 blogs written in the Adirondacks, nearly all created in the last year or so. When Adirondack Almanack went online there was (we believe) just one, Brain Clouds, by North Country Public Radio’s poet-web-guy Dale Hobson (apparently founded in April 2002). Coincidentally, the Adirondack’s second two blogs, Adirondack Musing and Adirondack Almanack, were founded on the same day (March 10, 2005).

Mainstream media has been slow to catch on and local, old-style, media have reported only once on local blogs. The Glens Falls Post Star’s Conrad Marshall wrote a piece in May of 2005. Back in January, Stephen Barlett wrote a piece on blogging for the Plattsburgh Press Republican that regurgitated the typical threat-to-young-people scare tactics and failed to mention a single local blog including the paper’s own “folksy” blog On The Sly, written by Foxy Gagnon (hardly a danger to youth). Oddly, just a month later, the Press Republican announced what it’s calling a “newsroom blog” aptly titled On The Beaten Path and featuring a post by Bartlett. The blog is aptly titled because it travels the same well-worn road as the rest of the paper and so far goes almost nowhere exceptional.

As far as new media trends are concerned, the Glens Falls Post Star has finally smartened up and abandoned the online subscription model, and now provides free access to the Post Star’s web readers (which we suggested a couple years ago). They tried a Don Coyote blog which was abandoned fairly quickly. Then came Maury Thompson’s All Politics is Local blog, er column, which so far has had little new or unusual to add to the local political reporting. No local mainstream media outlet has managed to have a truly successful blog, even on the most basic level of Adirondack Almanack or Adirondack Musing, let alone the success of the Times Union’s Capital Confidential, which actually provides additional context to stories (by occasionally covering third parties for instance), local connections to national stories, and occasionally a breaking story or inside scoop.

What’s Good Locally

Many of our regular readers come to us by way of our RSS feed, having signed up after we mentioned we set up the feed and mentioned our own experience with feed readers (particularly Bloglines) last summer. A large number of regular readers of the Almanack also come by way of our e-mail subscription. All the local papers with web content have good RSS feeds, except the Adirondack Daily Enterprise which is on its way to missing the boat entirely.

Not surprisingly, North Country Public Radio is the one local media outlet that has an established web presence of real merit. While we salute their acceptance of the blog community, (especially their inclusion of Adirondack Almanack as a “featured blog”), their own blog – iNCPR: Staff Blog of North Country Public Radio – hasn’t had a post since late January. Despite a tag line that says “A peek behind the curtain at member-supported North Country Public Radio” there have only been eight posts, all but one in November of last year. They can be forgiven to some extent, because NCPR already has a great site with lots of local “behind the scenes” content and their small staff and small budget no doubt make it difficult to keep up with the blog. Their RSS feeds are well done and inclusive of the majority of their stories – something way ahead of the Adirondack’s other NPR station, WAMC, which is wallowing in fairly lame local content and proprietary feeds that make following their news on a standard feed reader impossible. So compared to the better funded WAMC, NCPR is a web giant who deserves the accolades we more often heap on it.

As long as we’re talking NCPR, here are a couple of questions / suggestions:

Where is the RSS feed for 8 O’Clock Hour?

How about including every story and feature program in the RSS feed seperately? We’re thinking about All Before Five in particular?

How about getting an intern to update the iNCPR blog?

How about doing a story on Adirondack blogging?

Now that you know how we feel, drop us a note (e-mail address at right) and let us know how we can improve the Almanack.

UPDATE 3/23/07
We received the following note from a reader. We’re reprinting it here because we think it accurately reflects the attitude at least some at the Post Star have had about new media – an attitude we hope they’ve changed.

I was either living in the area or had just relocated from North Creek to Buffalo when the P-S went to a pay site. I wrote to complain and received a bitchy letter back from an editor (can’t remember who, sadly) about how within two years every newspaper would be a pay site and I was basically lucky they’d been free this long. Right about now, I’m trying not to gloat.

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John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




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