I was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. Neslted on Lake Erie, it’s the fourth largest city in the commonwealth and it its a great place to live, work and raise a family. Media wise, there’s 1 daily newspaper, two companies that control the radio stations (read: very little local programming) and 4 TV stations, again run by 2 media companies.

In 2003, I started a directory of Erie bloggers, as there wasn’t a good list. It started off as a subdirectory of a domain I owned, and for a year or two it grew very slowly. Over time, I added in a blog, updated rather infrequently, that talked about local issues. In 2005, I had a partner and a new domain name, ErieBlogs.com. Reaching a couple of hundred people a month, it was a fun hobby and we started to build a nice little community. We commented on each other’s blogs, we linked to each other, it was great.

We also merged with another local blogger who was doing a blog, updated daily, covering news and events around the area. We started selling ads and formed an LLC. Our little hobby had turned into a real business.

Fast forward to May 2009. The blog marches on. Now on my own, the site reaches 35,000 readers a month, a couple of hundred thousand page views and it makes a small scratch of money. We hold a yearly blood drive, we’ve raised money for a local parents of autistic children group and people locally have helped me raise almost $3,000 over the last three years for the March of Dimes.

Now that you have a little background, let’s get the meat of the post. The Press and Tower is a blog that covers media happenings in Erie. This week, they are running a poll asking people who the most influential media person in Erie is. I was included on the list, which is an honor. The other people on the list are media professionals from the TV, print and radio worlds.

After a day or two, I’m winning.

picture-2

Let’s be honest. There’s no way I’m the most influential media person in Erie. I run a small blog that doesn’t make any money and I do it on my own.

But…

I think in 2009 and going forward, blogs and social media can be a part of the mass media landscape.

While I can’t compete with media conglomerates for eyeballs (its especially hard not having a newspaper I can fill every available inch of unused advertising space to promote my website, or reference it on every newscast and station break on TV), I can do something that they are struggling with.

I can build a community.

I can help people connect, converse, share, experience, learn and more. Since I’m a one-man operation, we can be very nimble and jump into and use technologies like Twitter and Facebook. No corporate oversight or overhead here – our decisions and actions are driven by what’s best for our community, not the bottom line.

When I meet people in Erie or we’re talking about my site, they often say its the first place they go in the morning for a quick news recap and they go on their way. Maybe they come back to see a job posting or what local blogs have updated. They leave insightful comments that rarely turn into the flame wars that were once found when the newspaper’s website had comments enabled. For the most part, it’s a civil, engaging place.

To show the power that a medium like Twitter has, and how you can use it, I linked to that survey from our Twitter account and asked people to vote for the small guy (i.e. me).

So, in 2009, why can’t an independent blog be part of the larger “mass media?” I think it can.

What’s the takeaway for higher ed? Respect your community, and base your actions on what’s best for them. Engage them and keep them part of the process. You’ll see a definite return on that investment.

Things at my college have been busy – we’re moving servers, bringing a new project management software package online and my spring and summer travel schedule has begun in earnest. Despite all the craziness, I’m taking time this weekend to participate in the March for Babies.

I’ll be Twittering from the walk, of course, so expect some fun updates on Sunday. Would you take a moment and donate a dollar or two or three to support me in my walk this weekend? Here’s a bit about why this is important to me.


This weekend is the March for Babies, an event held around the country to raise funds to support the March of Dimes and the research this great organization does.

I know first hand that the research and technology developed by the March of Dimes saves lives – they saved the life of my son.

In 2002, my son was born 9 weeks premature. He spent 5 weeks in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit where he received world class treatment, which I know helped him survive his early birth and other medical issues.

Before he was even born, he received a surfactant treatment to help his tiny lungs develop – technology that was developed thanks to funds from the March of Dimes.

As you can tell, this is a cause that is very important to me. For the last few years, I’ve been participating in their annual March for Babies event to help raise funds to ensure that future babies will be helped.

In 2007, I raised the most of any individual walker in Crawford County, PA and in 2008, my family was excited to be named the Ambassador Family for the walk. It was a great honor and we were very excited to be part of the event. Our team, the LolCatz, was also the top non-corporate team last year. How great was it to get a newsletter from the March of Dimes awarding honors to the LolCatz?

So, I’m asking for your help this year. I know as much as anyone that times are tight for everyone, and that many causes are asking for your help right now. I hope you’ll support me – if even a small amount of people who read this website every day gave $2 or $3, we’d raise a ton of money to help fund new and promising research.

So, please, I’m asking for your support. You can give securely and safely by clicking on the banner above or by clicking this link.

Thank you so much, and thank you to those of you who have given generously or who are participating in the walk this weekend.

Prematurity = stunned.

Nambu is a new Twitter client for Mac OS X that burst onto the scene this week and is quickly gaining many fans, myself included.

Let me start by saying I’m a big TweetDeck fan. It’s grouping features and columns make keeping up with the large number of people I follow much easier to do. However, TweetDeck has its limitations. The fact that it can only connect to one account is frustrating, especially for those of us who manage multiple accounts, but if you have just one account, TweetDeck serves its purpose very well.

Twitterific is also a very good app. Again, it’s perfect for a person with 1 account that wants an unobtrusive app to help them follow people. It’s annoying sometimes when it complains about characters in a password (which you’re supposed to do) and there’s no easy way to switch accounts other than quitting and logging back in.

Enter Nambu. It’s a native Mac app (no Adobe Air needed) and it looks and feels like a Mac app. You can have multiple accounts, and it very nicely organizes the accounts in a sidebar. You can quickly jump from account to account, and see replies (or mentions) and direct messages for each account.

You can add the people you follow to groups under each account. So you can create a friends group under your personal account as well as a different one under your college’s account. I can see that being very helpful.

I like the fact that Nambu shows you where people’s redirects point to. Instead of a tinyURL address, you see feedproxy.google.com if its using Feedburner. That’s nice. So is the links sent and received area. I’ve added a screenshot below.

Like TweetDeck, Nambu lets you set up searches for keywords and terms. I like that it shows you at a glance the number of times your term is found. Want multiple columns, like TweetDeck? No problem. If you can think of it, chances are it’s there.

Even though I’ve only been using it a few hours, I’m very impressed with this app, especially for an early beta. This is an app I would gladly pay for, and I hope it continues to be developed and improved.

[nggallery id=2]