Somewhere, over the rainbow, a blog is born. A blog for Kansas. A blog for America. A blog by a reporter with a difficult-to-pronounce last name. But most importantly, a blog that is AMERICA'S ONLY PLACE dedicated to the vital intersection of politics and Sunflowers. The Heartland gods nod in wise approval.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Out of the echo chamber

Talk about rude awakening. Cell phone rang at 8 this morning (was up past 4). Knight Ridder, wondering why my computer was still in the press tent. "Because I'm working today," I said. "Not from here," was the reply -- the tent was folding up, taking all the media organizations with it.

Didn't know about that. Oops. Threw on jeans, spent $42 cabbing to Fleet Center, got computer, returned to hotel right before checkout, bummed a ride and am now in Somerville, Mass., among friends. Now, Weekend Update (and not The Daily Show, which you may notice I'm not linking to. Oh well -- last year I was on Jeopardy! and lost. Some folks just aren't meant to be famous.)

One week into my blogging career, and I've made one firm conclusion about blogging: I have no idea what I'm doing. Second, almost-as-firm conclusion: Most other people don't either. Tom Webb provides moral support, and Adam Smeltz, the 20-something scoopmeister himself, provides inspiration. But as can be seen from the avalanche of narcissistic blog coverage this week, the medium's still early in its evolution, and how one fits in, and then expands, the sphere remains very, very much a mystery.

Dan Bricklin provides a particularly insightful piece on event blogging that accurately describes the life cycle many of us at the convention faced. We got off to great starts, with well-written, well-thought out posts. Then, the convention hit. We got tired. Initial acclaim faded, and we didn't know where to take thinks next. We didn't know whether to write about events, write scene-setters, or just gaze at our own navels. I struggled with this a lot -- I've been a daily newspaper reporter for five years, and for this I tried to combine my reporting experience with an earlier life as an opinion writer in college. Sometimes the fusion worked -- it was like being 10 years younger while also being less of an idiot. Sometimes I felt even younger, though, in a bad way -- like a 13-year-old with an uncertain, cracking voice, afraid of girls and wondering if he's really normal.

(Wait. That's how I am now.)

So basically, I'm exhausted, confused and directionless.

But optimistic.

Mechanical and creative frustrations aside, this is fun -- and it has potential. The e-mails from everywhere are great, and so's the pent-up charge of expression flowing throughout the blogosphers. Bloggers are so numerous, and come from so many perspectives, that one really does get a crazy-quilt comprehension that's unlike anything else ever exposed to a global audience. And it would be nice to strike a tent and carve a niche. The convention was very much a throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks experience -- but the nice thing is, another convention's coming up, and everyone has a few weeks to learn lessons and prepare.

A few "to-do" things for me this month.

1. Blog needs a name. While I think "Alan Bjerga" connotes virility, wit, virility, native genius, virility ... No one uses a simple name for a blog. Please -- send suggestions. Of course, to name a blog, it helps to ...

2. Get an identity. I still don't know what this blog should be "about." If it's just about me, that's not going to fly -- I'm not that interesting. Any thoughts on that are appreciated too.

3. Get a camera. I hate taking pictures, but it's time to go multi-impressional. Need digital camera.

4. Read other blogs. This is kind of overwhelming, but the embarrassing fact is, I don't read many blogs. If anyone has an example of one they think is particularly good, I'd love to know about it.

Thanks. I'd like to see this space evolve. Ya know, it's really fun. I think the interactions are broadening, and creatively the whole format is challenging and intriguing. Lemme know whatcha think, and I'll be back soon.