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The blog is on

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By Kim Lyons
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007
 

Justine Ezarik is the Internet.

She says so, on her blogs Mommy Pack my Lunch and Tasty Blog Snack, and in the online live broadcast of her life on iJustine.

"I started making videos in the sixth grade, and as technology changed, I just became more interested," Ezarik said. "Now I just don't leave my computer."

She's not kidding -- you can watch her 24/7 on www.justin.tv/ijustine .

Ezarik, 23, of Carnegie, made national news yesterday with a video of her flipping through her 300-page bill from AT&T -- mailed in a box -- for her new iPhone. She set it to the quirky music from Apple's commercial.

AT&T detailed every text message and Internet use for her billing period. "This is so silly," she said. "There's no reason they need to send you this much information."

The video has been viewed online more than 100,000 times since Monday. Consumer tech blogs picked it up, spurring chatter across the Web about the bulky bills.

Ezarik's sudden fame coincides with this weekend's second annual PodCamp Pittsburgh, which she will be attending.

"We're really excited about the lineup this year," organizer Justin Kownacki said. Kownacki, 30, of Highland Park, created the Web series "Something to be Desired."

Justin.tv -- no relation to Kownacki -- will be sponsoring the event, donating Webcams, and streaming the event live online.

Kownacki said he's expecting 200-250 people at PodCamp this year, compared to last year's crowd of about 180. PodCamps started in Boston in 2006. They're free "unconferences," open to whomever wants to attend and learn about podcasting, blogging and other new media.

The word "blog" itself, short for Web log, entered Merriam-Webster dictionary just two years ago.

"Pittsburgh was kind of at the forefront of blogging, before it became mainstream," said Mike Woycheck, administrator of the Web site Pittsburgh Bloggers . The site started in 2004, and now has a directory of 600 blogs in greater Pittsburgh. "We've been very open and embracing of this new medium."

The city's changing political climate fuels a lot of its blogs, said Woycheck, 32, of Ignomar. "Pittsburghers use blogging to vent ideas and complaints. It's a way to make creative responses to all the issues we're facing. This medium is really on the pulse of people's concerns."

The demographic of bloggers in Pittsburgh runs the gamut, Woycheck said. "We have 20-somethings to 50-somethings; blogs about every day life and issues. Sometimes it's bitter, sometimes it's humorous, sometimes it's snarky, but it's always lively discussion."

He will be leading an "Intro to Blogging" seminar on Saturday. "We'll be walking people through what blogging is all about, Woycheck said. "I think it will be great to talk to people about what they're doing, what they're writing. I like being able to engage people one-on-one at PodCamp."

Blogs tend to thrive in areas where there are a lot of schools, especially ones with a tech focus, said Steven Johnson, CEO and founder of Outside.in.com, which recently named Pittsburgh the third-"bloggiest" city in the country. Johnson, whose offices are in Brooklyn, wasn't surprised that the home of Carnegie Mellon University was up high on the bloggiest list.

Johnson said neighborhood issues, such as gentrification, drive a lot of blogging.

"In those environments, the local blogging going on is a great service," Johnson said. "When the old deli is replaced by a new coffee shop, that's not something the newspaper is going to cover, because it's not really an event for anyone outside the 10 blocks of that neighborhood.

"But every little change in the neighborhood is big news to the people living there."


Blogging an'at

Outside.in.com , which tracks blogs and blog postings in 63 cities, recently named Pittsburgh the third-"bloggiest" city in the country.

The site only counted bloggers who actively write about their communities -- not bloggers who happen to live in Pittsburgh but write about cats or knitting (not that there's anything wrong with that).

If a blogger in New York visits Pittsburgh and then writes about a great restaurant here, that would go toward Pittsburgh's tally.

"We try to track as much information related to local neighborhoods and local life as we can," said Steven Johnson, CEO and founder of outside.in.

For the ranking, Johnson counted how many posts were published by each local blog per city during March and April. That number was divided by the population of each greater metro area to calculate its "blogginess quotient."

City Population Posts in two months Blogginess quotient
Boston 4.5 million 39,720 89.2
Philadelphia 5.8 million 51,350 88.1
Pittsburgh 2.8 million 12,630 53.3
Washington, D.C. 5.3 million 27,060 51.1
Portland, Ore. 2.1 million 10,680 50
New York 18.8 million 80,710 42.9
San Francisco 4.2 million 16,630 39.8
Seattle 3.3 million 12,740 39
Chicago 9.5 million 31,540 33.2
Los Angeles 12.9 million 38,230 29.5
Source: Outside.in.com


Wanna blog?

Be unique. Have a voice -- even if your blog is not focused on one thing, have an identity. Blogging is meant to be conversational. If your blog is written like stereo instructions, that's about how interesting it will be.

Be involved. Comment on other blogs you're interested in, or on blogs with similar style. Blogging can be a one-way conversation sometimes, but comments on other blogs are an excellent way to get a discussion going.

Be vigilant. Post in a regular, timely fashion. If you don't post for six weeks, you may come back and find you've lost your audience.

Be careful. What you're writing about could affect other areas of your life, i.e. employment. How personal do you want to get, and how much do you want to divulge•

-- Mike Woycheck/Pittsburgh Bloggers

Additional Information:

PodCamp Pittsburgh 2

Meet and greet: 6-8 p.m. tomorrow

Discussions and workshops: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, 420 Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown.

Cost: Free

Details: online

 

 
 


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