I live and work in Birmingham UK.
Last night I went to the first meeting of 'Birmingham UK bloggers' (name under review). We met in the back of the Kitchen Garden cafe, in the Kings Heath neighbourhood of Birmingham. I was a lone, late 30's female, amongst a group of rather young men (not an altogether unpleasant experience) and I know those that turned up where not particularly reflective of the wider local blogging community - it did mean, however, that our table was a veritable smorgasbord of gadgets! Anyway enough of the observations.
The thing about a meeting like this is that it is hard to figure out why we're getting together. I guess to meet and share with a bunch of folks with a similar pursuit. What became clear was that the role of blogging is changing, with user generated content cited as more heavily read than the generic corporate type websites (I don't have ref for this but think it was the gist of what one of the other bloggers said) it would seem that all sorts of organisations are looking to the blogging community to either harvest or exploit this content.
Now in some respects this is a good thing. I mean we write this stuff, imagine someone, somewhere reads and cares and if someone links to you well then that's all good. But what came across strongly was the sense of what characterises a good blog. For me authenticity and independence stuck out. From my perspective I blog here about my research and my personal blog about my personal rantings and stuff. It is not specifically about where I live and not about where I work. But of course, these things are often interrelated, there are cross-overs and frequently there might be issues, which would be of interest or might feed well into some other organisations context/agenda.
I get the sense that the blogging community is at a strange point - a bunch of organisations were cited, who either: want a blog, content, or appear to have a bunch of ready made stuff. But how as a community do we organise ourselves? Should we organise ourselves? Should we be capitalising on our networks and content? Should we be promoting the city we live in? or be using our blogs to do so? Should we be happy to have our content re-purposed for some other organisations benefit/context/agenda? Now this is not to say that this blog is of any huge value to anyone other than me having a place to waffle on, but I got the sense last night that these are some issues we (the bloggers) need to be considering.
I should say that some of this discussion was in the context of this Guardian article which failed to give Birmingham a mention so for my part I will do my bit for my local blogging community because, well, I said I would. These will include having a specific Birmingham UK bloggers blogroll and tagging my postings with ‘Birmingham UK’ where appropriate (maybe always?) and by the same token I would encourage others to do the same.