Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thinking community.

As mentioned in a previous post not too long ago, Bells nominated me for Thinking Blogger award. I get a little button in my sidebar (which I need to put there) and I get to nominate five bloggers of my own.

The husbeast and I have discussed blogging quite a lot since I started this one, and we've agreed that it tends to have a very nice self-selecting process going on that is a huge advantage. Specifically, it's the internet. Generally you find smarter-than-average people on the internet. Especially if you stay away from porn sites and MySpace (and other 'kid sites'). I know more and more people get on the internet every day, but still - there's a certain amount of knowledge involved to even set up a computer and keep it running, so again, it's sort of self-policing. Not always, but for a largely ungoverned communications system, it works pretty well.

One of the greatest things beyond the sort of mimimum-smarts-required issue, is the sudden ability for people to meet each other. Not just knitters, but hobbyists from all over the world, many who thought they were the only person practicing their obscure arts, are suddenly realizing that, hey! They have company!

The husbeast hangs out in car/truck forums. There are thousands, tailored to specific interests, and in it's own way just as complex and exciting and sociologically fascinating as the knitting blog world. He will pull me over to his computer to look at tipped-over Jeeps in Australia, or the carcass of a Blazer in Alaska. Just last night, he called me to look at a post from someone in Russia. He'd posted in Cyrillic and the husbeast wanted me to read it. (I speak very rudimentary Russian from a stint in classes at college.) Unfortunately the Russian dude was using slang and I was lost beyond the phonetics (which is often the case).

With all this in mind, I chose my five nominated blogs with a thought to something OTHER than knitting. I know, heresy, but sometimes knitters don't see the forest for the trees. We've set up a kickass on-line community, but we aren't the only ones. (Believe it or not, 'the truck guys' often meet up for trail riding, etc. Same thing without the yarn.)


What I Cooked Last Night is a food blog from Australia. It isn't ALWAYS what he ate last night, though it often is. It will stray into other things, but no matter what he writes about, it's touching, funny, evocative, and entertaining. He gives a wonderful sense of place to everything he writes about, from pruning grapefruit trees to collecting Volvos. And when he writes about food, he makes me hungry. What bigger compliment can you pay a food writer?

Also in the food category, though an entirely different kind of blog, is The Old Foodie. This blog is maintained much like a daily newspaper article. It is food history. Every day the author picks a different subject, potatos, eggs, famous dishes or chefs. I like history and I like to cook, so of course I love this blog.

Argh, Ink is the blog of Jenny Crusie, a novelist. She writes about writing, she writes about the first admendment, she writes about male-female relationships or whatever else is making her think at the moment (today it's about aging, commercials, and corporations). She used to be an English teacher so the writing is darn good from a mechanical point of view, and she's got a great sense of humor, so it's always a fun read, too. He Wrote/She Wrote is a companion blog that she keeps with her male writing partner. It's far more hilarious, though contains fewer Deep Thoughts.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is a two-headed blog kept by two damn smart women who are well educated and enjoy romance novels. They review books and do a lot of discussion about romance, relationships, and writing in general. Check them out before you turn up your nose at the idea of a romance novel blog; they are both very smart, and very self aware. And as the name implies, they're also pretty darn funny.

And for the last blog, I'm naming a knitting blog. I know it's a cliche, but I'm naming the Yarn Harlot. These days she's got such a huge readership that the community aspect that can happen in comments gets kind of lost, but Stephanie's a woman who can make you think. About anything. Her topics are varied, she's hilarious, and when she's bored she raises money for Doctors Without Borders. There've been some snarky commentary going around the internet about her these days, and to those people I say, kiss my ass. If you don't like her, don't read her, but she's a kind woman with smarts.

These aren't blogs so much as RSS feeds set up by magazines, with many entries that link to assorted articles. But if you use Bloglines or some similar thing, you can get them to cough current events into your day and it's a damn fine system for staying well-informed. I'm only listing my favorites. There are thousands out there - these days most magazines and news agencies have some kind of RSS feed, often several.

Boing Boing "A directory of wonderful things." Total geekness. They even run knitting stuff occasionally, like the Princess Leia wig, or the Space Invader socks.

National Geographic. Multiple RSS feeds AND a podcast. The weekly 'photos in the news' is fantastic, and the photography always rocks.

Scientific American. The latest science news, not just in the US. Also podcasts, and an 'ask the experts' section that is often hilarious, where people get to ask whatever questions they want and the staff answers them or finds someone else who can.

Slashdot. I think of it as computer geek news, but since I own a computer - so do we all - it contains a lot of information we should be aware of. Heavy on politics and law. And their blog post method is very subtly fun - title, then byline. They use the bylines to make jokes and editorial comments on the articles. For instance, "Six dimensional space-time theory By kdawson on let's-do-the-twistor". Don't let the title put you off - it's one paragraph giving details in words we all understand. (Instead of four dimensions, six, the new two being 'time like'.)

Wired Magazine. Electronic news, a lot of it related to copyright laws, etc. Didja know right now the National Security Agency is claiming that anyone who as ever shared files is a security risk? Yeah, right. Hope they have fun trying to keep track of everyone.

That should keep you guys thinking for a day or two.

Thanks again for the award, everyone!


Amy Lane said...

Okay, that was awesome...totally awesome...I'm totally going to check out the romance book site...(would I ever turn my nose up at a forum about books? Esp. romance books? Think not...) This is why you got the thinking blogger thing, hands down. And you're getting mine too. (When I get my ass in gear and do that post, that is.)

kris said...

I can't wait to scope out some of these sites, Julie. Of course, I'll be cursing you when I see even more of my time going to blogs - but these ones sound as though they'll be well worth the time.


Bells said...

Oh nice approach. More horizon expanding. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog lists - I hope they aren't too habit forming.

Anonymous said...

Also check out

Jeanne said...

Your comment about the Internet revealing other [fill in the blank] type crafters is so true for tatters. Once might have been considered a lost art is alive and thriving because we can connect via the internet - exchanges, patterns, supplies, etc. And thanks for the list of the other blogs - I'll have to check them out.

Alwen said...

Here's a weird bit of small-world, internet connectivity for you:

You know CmdrTaco of Slashdot? I worked with his dad for nearly 8 years, until the company downsized me the day after 9/11.