Sure, CiB got the award thing and that’s all lovely and stuff, but no blog is an island, especially one like this which employs the via credit liberally. So here’s a quick run down in no particular order of some of the Birmingham blogs I like to think of as Rather Good.
(Not a comprehensive list, inclusion based on arbitrary factors, won’t be relevant in a week’s time as everything changes, etc…)
Andrew Dubber is someone I’d consider a peer and while his New Music Strategies blog has an international reach his being based in Birmingham makes it essential reading. Together with online journalism guru Paul Bradshaw it’s nice to have experts on hand as they help focus my thinking about these unchartered waters.
Ana Milgram, aka Art Stalking Ana, and Nikki Pugh are a couple of practicing artists who really get the blogging thing, giving coverage to stuff they’re involved with and a bit of criticism to complement their practices. Useful models for artists to look at, especially given they’re usually isolated in their studios. A blogging network of artists would be a good thing.
Some of the city’s design agencies provide me with a river of cool stuff which they collect as inspiration and post on their blogs. It’s rarely Birmingham centric but it goes to illustrate the global thinking of these folks. Or something. Substrakt, Boxer, Clusta, Surely and TAK! spring to mind.
Actually, TAK! deserve a second mention as I’m always impressed by how Dom uses that blog to share his knowledge in a way that promotes his business, alongside having some fun, of course. Definitely a blog people can learn from.
Antonio Gould consults in the world of social media these days and when he blogs it’s usually interesting and thought provoking. He helps me put a real world spin on my more fantastical ideas.
Duncan of The Autumn Store‘s blog has become somewhat invaluable of late. Rather than just plug his gig nights he uses his blog to spread the knowledge he’s garnered putting on bands and talking about stuff he likes the look of. A great model for a local arts blog.
Birmingham: It’s Not Shit‘s Jon Bounds is like a blogging brother to me, coming at this stuff with the same spirit yet from different directions. Jon really should be running the local tourist board and no mistake.
Anthony Herron of new-ish record label Boy Wonder has embraced the blogging thing with gusto, using it to get his opinions out there and start to join a bigger debate. Early days still but I have high hopes.
There are a number of podcasters in the city but none have quite the level of passion, dedication and consistency as Little Chris and his Brumcast where he manages to fill a hour every week with new Birmingham music. Give the guy a medal.
Bunny Bissoux became one of my favourite blogs this autumn as she single handedly became the best advertisement for the Custard Factory’s Sunday Flea Market where she had a stall. Hard to describe exactly what maker her blog so good other than it’s a joy to read.
Charlotte Carey gets the whole blogging thing, though she’s a little schizophrenic about it. She’s got a personal blog and a main blog on Creative Enterprise but I like to treat them as one thing. Again, hard to pin down but that’s a good thing.
Leon Trimble’s Chromatouch blog is a great example of a digital notebook. He’s a VJ and experimental film maker by trade and uses this blog to record stuff he finds along those lines. As such it gives a good picture of where he’s coming from and what he’s thinking about.
Clare Edwards of Gigbeth fame is one of the people I’ve been wanting to get blogging properly for a while now. She’s nearly there.
The Crowded Gallery blog from photographer Craig Holmes is a nice example of how you can add a small amount of informal chat and revolutionise your web presence.
Related to this, photographer Steve Gerrard’s blog is a fantastic example of using a blog to promote the photographer as a person. I’d hire Steve not only because I like his photos but because I feel like I know him. It helps that he’s a lovely guy as this really comes out in his blog.
And also on the “lovely people” tip, Friends of the Stars blog well because their souls are pure. What started off as a jokey diary of how rubbish they were at getting their album out has turned into a savvy promotional tool for their music and the scene they operate in, though I suspect a lot of this savvy was accidental.
Andy Pryke is one of Birmingham’s original bloggers (so much so he wrote his own blogging software) so he deserves a mention out of respect, but also because he’s a regular face at arts events with his curly hair and big grin. A lovely man whose enthusiasm for the local arts and music scene is infectious.
I’m intrigued by what Fused are going to do with their slowly growing network of blogs after dipping a toe into fashion. It seems they’ve got all the tools ready and are just waiting for the right moment to launch. If they get it right, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t, Fused could become a rather powerful force online.
It’s safe to say D’log makes my job a hell of a lot easier. I don’t know where he finds half the stuff he does but I’m happy to just sit back and let him do it. Everyone in the Midlands should be following this blog.
The aforementioned Andrew Dubber explained the social internet to Mark Badger and he dove in head first without water wings or a snorkel. The resulting Iron Man Records blog can be rather disorienting but it’s a pretty accurate representation of the stuff that comes Mark’s way. Part of me wants him to calm it down but the sensible part of me knows it’s better the way it is, a reflection of the chaos that is Mark’s life.
I like watching journalists experiment with blogging. They’re a bit like web nerds in that they’re really keen to figure out how it all works and what it’s all for. Two Birmingham journos who really seem to get it are Joanna Geary and Tom Scotney, both of the Birmingham Post. Their blogs are as different as their personalities and might not be of interest to those outside the journalistic bubble, but as the media landscape in Birmingham changes watching how these two figure it all out is fascinating.
Marc Reck’s blog was pretty invaluable last year for both Project X Presents and La Traviata, not to mention his presence as a Birmingham DJ. He’s gone a bit quiet of late but I understand there’s a bit project a’coming regarding an elephant.
Who is Nunovo? What exactly does he/she/it do? And why? And, ultimately, does it matter is these questions are never answered? What I can say is Nunovo has pointed me to stuff in varying degrees of note over the last year and I’m very grateful for the existence of the various blogs.
If blogging is like pontificating in a crowded pub then Russ L is the guy at the bar keeping order with judiciously placed glances. Or something. His blog is essential, not just for putting us in our places but for his monthly roundups of Things To Do and extensive reviews of gigs and events. And he’s a reliable haunter of the comment boxes.
Nick Booth of Podnosh is an interesting case. Ostensibly we’re doing the same thing – using new technologies to encourage communities in Birmingham to use new technologies – yet we very rarely seem to blog about much in common. I’ve decided to see this as a good thing implying we’re both on the right track and that the future of Birmingham’s social internet is more varied and vibrant.
Adrian Goldberg’s Stirrer is another odd one (and not strictly a blog if you can define such things). Adrian’s a lovely chap but the tone of his site irritates the hell out of me and the attached forum is too often a nightmare of idiocy. Still, he’s carved out a niche for himself and that I have little desire to go there could be seen as a success in that regard. I include him here as he does cover arts stuff and his video interviews with local authors have been very nice to see.
Here’s a nice example of why you should take blogging seriously when designing a website. When Chris Keenan’s Prime Objective website was built the blog was tacked on and buried under the Flash interface as an afterthought. It’s since become one of the best arts blogs in the region, but it’s still buried under that Flash interface with no permalinks to the posts. Aargh! But the RSS feed works and it’s well worth keeping tabs on, even if it’s impossible to link to, because Chris is a fascinating chap who does interesting work, keeping his eyes and ears open to to the world.
Rich Batsford is currently off the radar a bit on his 6 month sabbatical in Australia but he’s been an essential figure on the Birmingham blog scene, tying together his personal perspectives on life with his heavy involvement in stuff. Hurry back, Rich!
Thomas Moronic was one of my favourite finds of last year. Ostensibly a creative writing blog where our hero plays about with words and ideas, he also uses it to profile and interview the people who likes and admires. Analogous to an old-school zine in many ways, it oozes attitude and character.
There are a number of bloggers who do gig reviews but the most consistent has to be The Hearing Aid. The coverage is mostly, but not exclusively, of the indie variety and The Baron covers that niche well, regularly haunting the Rainbow and Barfly.
Finally, my man Stef Lewandowski whose uses his blog to rant and rave about stuff, rubbing folk in power the wrong way at times but usually getting away with it. And when he’s not venting about how things should be done he’s offering handy tutorials on setting up blogs and websites and evangelizing the good word.
That’s your lot. As you’d expect there’s an emphasis on the arts and creative blogs and I’ve missed out loads in order to make this a vaguely manageable list, so apologies to those who didn’t make it. You’re all doing good work and I still loves ya.
And if any journalists want to use this post when writing an article, say one on mapping the UK’s blogosphere, feel free to pinch and plunder.