Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The question mark at the end of that title was for optimism, and it paid off:
In the boating world, "local knowledge" is the common term for sources
of essential information about tides, currents, shoals, hidden
rocks and necessities like grocery stores and nightlife within walking
distance of the marina.
South Knox Bubba, a Knoxville-area weblogger, was my best source of
local knowledge when I moved to town last year, and when I was making
the decision to move. He let me know that East Tennessee had great
places to live, folks who were trying to make it better, and local
bloggers of many political shades who actually appeared to have fun
keeping an eye on things (including the news media, and each other). I
hoped that someday I'd enlist a graduate student to write a thesis
about SKB as "a catalyst for public discourse." But now SKB says he's calling it quits, and he leaves a big hole in the Web.
Here's a list of some of the things I liked:
Like most of the folks on the substitute Blabs, I don't want to believe
SKB is gone, but yesterday he posted a black "game over" flag on his
website, and later added a note today saying, "It was fun,but lately it
has become too much like work and not so much fun. Contrary to wild
speculation around the internets, that's pretty much all there is to
it. It's a personal decision, and that's all."
- SKB built a comprehensive database of links to local bloggers as
"The Rocky Top Brigade,"
complete with a constitution
of individual blogs, and posted highlights from them in the margin of
his own blog. (I'm sure some technical whiz in the brigade will come up
with a new database-backed site allowing people to join, or see the
latest list of members. For now, I've grabbed a copy of yesterday's
version of SKB's RTB
constitution and the most recent member list and posted them here so that clicking on my RTB banner on my homepage would have somewhere to go.)
- SKB's essays about growing up in South Knoxville and other topics were at
once proud, funny, nostalgic, charming, articulate and inviting.
- His daily blog entries alerted me to local issues, some covered by the local papers, and some not.
- He read the papers, including weeklies I never saw on the newsstands, summarized their stories and linked to them.
- He sometimes "covered" public meetings and events in more detail than
most local papers, most recently the plans for development of the South
Knox waterfront, and for redevelopment of the World's Fair Park area.
- He usually provided links to background information that professional
news websites rarely offer, out of fear that "customers" will follow
the links and not come back to read the ads that pay the bills.
blog invited "comments" on each post -- and attracted them, including
candid comments from local journalists and public officials. Some days
the comments on a single item went on for 50 pages.
- When the local "alternative weekly" abandoned its online bulletin
board last year, SKB created his own, and "Bubba Blab" attracted scores
of regular contributors and spirited discussions. (Refugees quickly
built and contributed to a substitute blab yesterday using the same software, after a transitional day with a Yahoo group called xblab.)
And on Fridays, his weekly "bird blogging" showed that he was also an
excellent nature photographer. (He didn't stop with once-a-week picture
taking, though -- as anyone who followed the wonderful shots from his
summer vacation trip to the West Coast will remember.)
There's blog and Blab speculation that SKB's decision was related
to the sometimes heated discussions on Bubba Blab and/or his
recent conflict with the publisher of the MetroPulse, which had
him to (only once) mention the real name behind his blog persona. If
that was the problem, I suspect he could have simply closed the Blab
and kept his weblog and its archives online. Whatever the reason, I
hope he comes back -- or at the very least finds a way to keep his
three years of contributions to Knoxville's local knowledgebase
available. If he decides the best thing to do is combine his photos and
essays into a "Best of Bubba" coffeetable book, I'll buy as many copies
as I can afford.
Meanwhile, Michael Silence at the News Sentinel is keeping an up-to-the-minute account headed "A Sad Day," with plenty of comments from Bubba's fans and links to other blogs.
Katie Allison Granju at WBIR summed up Bubba's role nicely last month:
as he is known, has been a catalyst for smart, literate, often
hilarious discourse on East Tennessee politics and culture since he
started his blog in 2002. He has also played a big role in encouraging
other East Tennesseans to get involved in citizen journalism online via
the Rocky Top Brigade blogging community.
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7/27/09; 3:25:18 AM.