Saturday, April 17, 2010

Left Out

Yesterday, as we were getting ready to do our podcast at the Lakeside Café in Town Center, I ran into fellow HoCo blogger Free Market. After introducing him to my co-host as the local libertarian, he made an interesting observation about a void in the HoCo blogosphere.

“We need a good Democratic blogger.”

More specifically we need a prolific lefty to balance out the local conversation. Given the long history of left leaning political activism in Columbia it is somewhat surprising that no one has really stepped up to the plate yet.

Perhaps Alan Klein could fill that role now that his efforts to waylay the Town Center redevelopment plans have fallen short. Then again, in a comment made on HoCo Rising he did say that “Blogs are the least likely venue for rational discourse of any sort."

That’s not exactly a good place to start

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Much appreciation for FM asking for all sides of issues. Thanks, you're an asset for the County, FM.

Anonymous said...

The guy who writes 53 beers on tap is a HoCo Democratic Central Committee member.

HoCoRising said...

I was going to say that 53 Beers, being on the DCC, is left enough for the rest of us. There's also the Baltimore Sun (I'm here all week, folks).

BTW, Alan wasn't the one that said blogs are bad news. It was one of the TAG folks. I think Alan is indifferent to blogs.

wordbones said...

hcr,

Thanks for the correction. I thought it was AK. My bad.

Alan, if you're reading this, I apologize for the misquote.

While 53 Beers may be a lefty, he's really more of a community blogger than a political blogger(as determined by hocoblogs)

-wb

HoCoRising said...

But so are you...unless you consider yourself above the muck.

wordbones said...

...unless you consider yourself above the muck."

Hardly.

-wb

Anonymous said...

No, 53 Beers is hardly a dem, or possibly a dino (dem in name only). He's pro Chamber of Commerce which is an animal all it's own, loyal to the mighty buck (dollar that is, not deer buck).

Anonymous said...

The liberals in Howard Co are either too old to use computers or a bunch of people who don't care about issues other than who will give them the most free healthcare and other handpits.

Anonymous said...

A "good Democratic blogger” for Howard County? What would be the point?

It'd just be preaching to the choir.

I'm always amazed that there is such a solid majority of liberals in Howard County, which is always in the top five or ten richest counties in the country. Why are you people so involved in making money and living the good suburban life, when you could be making an average living because you're off helping out in Haiti or Africa, or donating most of your highest-average-income-in-America bucks to good causes elsewhere?

The dichotomy has always astounded me.

What is it, "do as I say, not as I do"?

Don't get me wrong, I moved to HoCo because I make good bucks, and wanted good schools and a cul-de-sac upscale environment for myself and my family. I like making money and I work hard to do so.

Just don't make me throw up a little in the back of my throat because of liberal do-gooder crap every election day. Democrats in HoCo...there are none.

Prove me wrong. Sell your Hummer and your mega-buck home and move to Honduras to do some missionary work. I dare you.

Anonymous said...

WB
I thought you were the local democratic blogger.
HH

Anonymous said...

While it would be much more interesting to have a Dem blogger like in 2006, these blogs are only read by a few hundred people very few of whom are regular voters. Politicians read them, Central Committees, Political Activists, Journalists, but again, (and again, folks) VERY few regular voters read these pages. (where caps, translate to italics)

They're baking cupcakes for the elementary school function, they're driving kids to music lessons and doctor/dentist visits, visiting grandma, they're working in completely unrelated fields to what's discussed here. In short, THEY are the normal ones, NOT US.

It would behoove us in the interest of wisdom to actually TALK to these normal people now and again. And I don't mean push-talk (variation on push poll) wherein an opinion is promoted, but LISTEN to them.

HoCoRising said...

For the most part, I agree with Anon 4:29. However, what I find fascinating is the effect that non-political blogs like HowChow have had as "entry points" in the few occasions that they cite to one of the politi-blogs. On the one or two occasions that HowChow has cited to my page, the visits sky rocket, and the visitors will normally check out three or four other posts (based on page views). That's why I try to review new restaurants every once in a while to bring in the outside readership and try to get them in on the conversation.

I don't want anyone to agree with me, and I don't need the ego-trip of high page visits. I just want more people to talk to.

Anonymous said...

More people to talk to is one of the few goal blogs in Howard can inarguably reach. Influence on voters = not happening.

Regarding food, look at the number of hits explorehoward.com gets in the news chat area when someone posts a restaurant review. The food hits number in the thousands compared to political news postings from commenters that are counted by the dozen.

Still, keep in mind that there are about 85k registered dems, 55k reps, and 35k indys in this county and even the two thousand food hits look comparatively small. Good for a restaurant, not so good for influencing voters.

HoCoRising said...

I would say a blog with an "intent" to influence votes is doomed from the start anyway. I've seen them, and they tend to be condescending. Readers feel that out early and won't stand for it. I do my best to let everyone know where I am coming from and who I support so that when there is some sort of endorsement they know it is my view, and not an attempt to persuade. I think the other blogs that rise to the level of relevancy tend to do the same.

These are hobbies, not missions. I think the flexibility we have with blogs gives us a chance to have fun with the news in a way that the newspapers can't (or won't). What I will say is that blog readers (that small sect of 100-200 people) are probably much more likely to vote and much more likely to talk to their friends about the election and the candidates.

Jen said...

You know.....

I am a 31 yo, married atty who moved to HoCo to move in with my now husband. We live in a small condo and are saving for a (hopefully) detached home one day in HoCo. We make his tuition payments (with the help of financial aid- he returned to school in furtherance of his career goals). We pay my astronomical student loans and entertain ourselves with netflix and bowling, and the occasional dinner out. We'd rather spend our $ on beach vacations, which we take, once a year. I vote liberal.

When I began surfing around to find HoCo blogs, I came across the inevitable food blog (which I enjoy) and free market/hocorising/tale of two cities, etc. The essence of this post is dead on. I was so surprised that the young professionals I see roaming around Target at 8pm (commuting home from DC, like me) don't seem to have an opinion in the blogosphere. Didn't we invent the internets??

What I learned after reading several blog postings: libraries are bad; sprinklers are worse; Middle Eastern food markets are good; the idea of 500k homes being built on Rt 108 is a dream come true to some, or a nightmare for others (the latter for me and my husband); some development company wants to reinvent urban planning using our town; and Ken Ulman has mysterious nosebleeds that require surgery.

To say that HoCo needs a left-leaning and sensible blogger to report on issues affecting the young*ish families who moved here hoping to responsibly buy a home, plant roots, start a family, and meet others who participate in the daily grind, is a HUGE understatement.

HoCoRising said...

One of the first things WB said to me when we met for beers was "If people don't like what you write, they can start their own blog." Go for it, Jen. I promise to be your first loyal reader.

Freemarket said...

WB- thanks for posting about this. Maybe this is the nudge someone out there needed to get started.

Also, thanks Anon 2:42!

Sarah said...

Totally agree with Jen-- I'm 25. I moved here not out of choice-- after all, being under the age of 30, I should love cities and I do, but logic dictated our decision-- I work in Baltimore, my fiance works in Greenbelt. After renting for a while, we ended up falling in love with the area because of the village center idea (where we could actually walk to get groceries, go to a restaurant or bar, etc), the trailways, and the diversity (though limited in some areas for sure). We ended up buying a great ittle townhouse in a great neighborhood last November based on proximity to the village center, the library, and the Snowden River Park and Ride. I lean democratic because I don't like social conservatism, and while I love fiscal conservatism, I just don't see it in the Republican party of today, local or national.

I try to blog regularly about a whole host of things on a more general level, but I will say that I'm not interested in starting a political blog-- I don't have the stomach for it. I comment on blogs like this one and that's enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Hocorising, it’s a hobby for you but trying to keep Mike Davis’ mission from clouding the truth requires several of us who are paying attention. He and David are very clearly on a mission, and it’s a very narrowly defined mission. Most people simply cannot keep up with their pervasive postings as this is what they do for a living, much more than a hobby.

Jen, you are right on target. Thanks for posting. Sarah, exactly, me too except that I’m older.

FM, you are welcome.

Let’s all get together at the May 1 Wine Tasting at the Wine Bin (as posted on hocorising’s site and the wine bin site) and hash through this interesting topic of having a more liberal blogger and what blogs do now, along with possibilities for the future. I'm told the Wine Bin has more space than last year due to the huge success of this charity wine tasting.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at the profile of an average Howard County blogger and you'll understand why there isn't a true "lefty" blogger. You're all white men who have no kids or flexible work schedules. It's a good old boys club where arguments are on the margins, at best, and most discussions involve a healthy does of back slapping.

The problem isn't a lack of a lefty; it's a lack of perspective.

HoCoRising said...

Anon 7:00, I would be more than happy to sell you or anyone else their Spring Wine Festival tickets. I have to sell 15.

Anon 7:08, I get up at 6 am to keep up with daily posts. I do this because I like it, but my work schedule is not as "flexible" as you may imagine.

Anonymous said...

Yes, anon 7:08. Very true. Please add your voice more often, I've noticed the lack of women and younger people and encourage Sarah and Jen to post more often.

There really is a lack of perspective. I must add, however, that hocorising is young, and takes the charity work seriously which adds to his perspective, as it sounds like he's using his expertise to help with legal issues. I must add however that he seems to be more comfortable with men, and a prior connection with an individual man is of even greater comfort. Not good for adding perspective.

On the other hand, nothing wrong with a bunch of white guys who have the time getting their voices out there. Just wish the rest of us had more time.

HoCoRising said...

I'm so glad that we bloggers are so easily measured and categorized.

wordbones said...

hcr,

It is rather enlightening isn't it?

Perspective is in the eye of the beholder I suppose.

-wb

Anonymous said...

Mr Rising,

Breath. Don't take offense when none was intended. It's great that you get up early to work on your hobby, but just so we have the facts, you are white, male and childless, correct?

Also, I assume you are middle class, which combined with the other three facts makes you pretty much a carbon copy of the other local bloggers. This is not meant to be critical of you or your buddies, although the back-slapping can be a little gratuitous at times (see above). It's just a statement about the local blog network and its lack of diversity. Left/right distinctions are silly and meaningless when compared to our real differences.

HoCoRising said...

Mr...Ms...Anonymous,
I wasn't necessarily offended, just taken aback at the observation that white, male, childless writers all think and act the same, and this coming from someone advocating for perspective. It seemed hypocritical and ad hominem, as opposed to addressing specific aspects of what we write, as is provided for with each and every post.

This "back-slapping" you refer to is the fellowship of people who know what it is like to be "criticized" by Anonymous commenters to which there may be no directed response (see above).

But don't worry, I'm not offended and am fully oxygenated. I just think I have a right to respond. There will never be a day that all perspectives are covered, but that doesn't make it necessary to stereotype the ones that are.

wordbones said...

...and for what it is worth...I'm not childless. I have a daughter in 6th grade and a stepdaughter in college.

I can assure the readers that they both enrich my perspective.

-wb

Anonymous said...

Rising,

Apparently, defensiveness is a common trait among childless, white and middle class males.

Anyway, sorry if I pushed a button. Honestly, I didn't think pointing out that people from similar backgrounds share similar perspectives (not thoughts and actions) was really controversial. Nor did I think there would be push back by saying that people of different stripes should join the discussion, because that's what this post was about, right?

And, finally, if you want to argue that you don't have a flexible schedule, responding to a comment 20 minutes after it's posted doesn't help your case. Try doing that if you're a cook at a restaurant or a stay at home mom or a hairdresser or a plumber or any number of other jobs that don't afford internet play time.

HoCoRising said...

You crack me up. Why is it that posting a response makes me defensive? Maybe I just enjoy the banter? I get an e-mail when there is a comment on the thread, and I take 2 minutes to respond. Some people are addicted to tobacco, I am addicted to argument.

All I'm saying is that if you had said that all childless black males have the same perspective, you would have made the 5:00 news. Furthermore, the time you spent telling me how much time I have could have been used putting up a post of your own...especially if you add the time you spent talking about how busy you are. And if I'm "defensive" what are you? A missionary of truth?

Anonymous said...

WB, great thread. This is what blogging is all about, especially in a local context.

Jen, after reading your posts, you strike me as a conservative who just doesn't realize it yet. I look forward to reading YOUR blog.

Me? Tall white guy. Works a 50 hour week. Veteran. Put myself through 12 years of college--four on the G.I. Bill--to get where I am today. Four daughters, all blondes, all know how to write a sonnet, load a handgun, dress for success, and use a chainsaw. Varsity athletes, honors scholars, tai kwon do belts. Oh, and they can cook, but then, so can I.

I'm a feminist.

Don't even ask me about my wife.

The point is, bloggers tend to be people who are technically astute, intelligent, and a bit above average.

Welcome to the 21st Century. Find a spot.

Bob O said...

What Anon 10:46 PM said.

Oh, that was me.

Glad to see "young" people moving to HoCo, by the various posts here. All the reasons why they end up here are...are fairly fiscally consertive and socially liberal. Good for them.

Jen said...

anon 10:46- Glad to know you can surmise a person's political leanings based on a couple of blog comments. I'm sure there's a couple political parties spying on you right now in an attempt to bottle and sell your magical talent ;-)

FWIW....i grew up in a "union family" in Boston. Seeing my father struggle, but always make ends meet working with his hands, I decided to go to law school. I learned there that conservatives pretty much dominate the universe. I now work defending corporations.

While secretly plotting against them with my liberal voting! Muhaahha...

The only conservative bone in my body is the one that will work against my ideals in order to make a living. In order to assuage my no longer 20 liberal mind, I've dubbed it "buying in" and not "selling out".

HoCoRising said...

Jen,
I would really really enjoy your blog. Maybe you can make it a Sunday afternoon thing...

If you every have something to say, but don't want to put in the time/effort of a full site, your guest post would always be welcome on my pages.

-Tom aka HCR

HowChow said...

Great series of comments. Three thoughts:

1) I completely agree with the childless observation. Free, quiet time is a key part of this hobby. Blogging sucked dry several other things that I like to do, and I'm adapting to correct for that.

2) I love that links lead people to other local blogs. I think there is a type of person who wants to read blogs, and I link liberally because I think it's a great way to show off other blogs. Anyone who writes about food is welcome to email me about posts. I just started a Trolling series explicitly looking for people who might have a guest post in them, but not want to start their own blog.

3) The real fun of blogs has been the interaction -- having people comment, email, etc. That's the lesson I learned from Jessie X and Strobist, and it is one of the reasons why I get so frustrated by anonymous comments that just slash people. This is a real chance to talk to a few people. Why just slash people? One of these political blogs might publicize meetings or nefarious acts, etc. But they're not replacing what people are losing as newspaper reporters disappear. I'm not replacing an authoritative food reviewer. Good blogs provide some information and give other people an opportunity to join the conversation in a way that doesn't exist in a newspaper.

Jen said...

I appreciate it! I may give it a try. I don't know that i'd write an entirely political blog b/c I have a lot of interests (nail polish, gossip, etc.), but I do know that I wouldn't hold back.

HoCoRising said...

If you check out www.hocoblogs.com you'll see that people blog about just about anything. Whatever you want to spout, the offer stands on my end.