Best of the blogs: Find them here

On Blogs

September 25, 2005|By TROY MCCULLOUGH

Ignore them all you want. Write them off as the hottest Internet fad. Dismiss them as mere online diaries, havens for navel-gazing teenagers and self-important techno geeks.

But blogs are here to stay. They're having a growing impact on our lives. And if you haven't been paying attention to this Web publishing phenomenon with the goofy little name, you're missing out.

Regardless of your interests, your politics, your passions, somebody, somewhere has a relevant blog. The advent of easy-to-use and inexpensive blog software has opened up the Web to anybody with access to a computer and a yearning to create and share -- and these days, that appears to be just about everybody.

Bloggers are posting from as far away as Antarctica (see "75 Degrees South": www.simonc.f2o.org / south) to, quite possibly, as close as the person sitting next to you (see Baltimore's own "Anonymous Coworker": anonymous coworker.blogspot.com).

Everybody from the mayor of Washington, D.C., (see "Mayor's Blog": blog.mayor.dc.gov) to a sometimes-homeless man in Tennessee (see "The Homeless Guy": thehomelessguy. blogspot.com) is blogging. By some estimates, 10,000 blogs are created every day, joining the millions already out there.

Nobody could possibly read them all. And, really, nobody would want to. For every blogger with something interesting to share with the world, there are a hundred more who are content with posting pictures of their family pets -- interesting to a certain audience, for sure, but mundane for most of us. Filtering out the noise on the Internet can be a daunting task.

And that's where this column comes in. Consider it your guide to the blogs. Some weeks it will highlight emerging trends and innovative ideas. Other weeks it will report on prominent sites and influential bloggers. And always, it will attempt to make sense of the ever-changing online landscape and how it relates to our offline world.

I'll leave you today with six Web sites that range in tone from light and frivolous to deadly serious. They -- and many other sites we'll talk about in the future -- highlight some of the best examples of the humor, honesty, intelligence, creativity and discourse that can be found online.

None features pictures of the family pets.

"METAFILTER"

www.metafilter.com

Founded and operated by online pioneer Matt Haughey, this group blog's strength is in its vibrant membership, more than 25,000, and its eclectic subject matter. Recent posts included intense debates on Iraq, information on Hurricane Katrina and homages to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

"WONKETTE"

www.wonkette.com

This political gossip site run by Ana Marie Cox is required reading for anybody obsessed with Beltway politics -- especially the juicy rumors that aren't quite fit for traditional print.

"MUSIC FOR ROBOTS"

music.forrobots.com

JP Connolly and Blair Carswell are music fans of the highest order who focus a lot of their attention on new and undiscovered talent. The site features frequent song downloads so listeners can judge for themselves whether these two know what they're talking about.

"THE INTERDICTOR"

www.livejournal.com / users / interdictor

One of the most noteworthy sites to chronicle the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was The Interdictor, run by an employee of one of New Orleans' Internet service providers. Visitors to the site got an unfiltered and up-close view of the destruction.

"BOOKSLUT"

www.bookslut.com / blog

You'll find no stuffy book reviews here. There's no doubt that incredibly well-read Jessa Crispin and her small staff love books. But pity the poor writer at the receiving end of Crispin's wrath.

"THE PRESURFER"

presurfer.meepzorp.com

Visitors risk losing hours of their lives sifting through Dutch blogger Gerard Vlemmings ever-expanding collection of zany Internet ephemera. If it's a hot trend online, you'll find it here.

troy.mccullough@baltsun.com

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