Well, well. One day we’re sitting around planning a community news site and fourteen years later we’re looking back as if in a Talking Heads’ song. My god, what have we done?
Same as it ever was.
For fourteen years now, almost every day of our lives has had an extra layer to it - iBrattleboro.
Sometimes on iBrattleboro, we find ourselves forced to delete comments that violate our community standards. We hate having to do that, but there are times when comments cross the line — for instance, when a commenter personally attacks a business owner for promoting a product, service, or event that the commenter thinks is wrong. Deleting comments, no matter how harsh the comments may be, inevitably leads to accusations that we’re denying the commenter their free speech.
President Trump seems to be presenting a unique opportunity for citizen journalists. Yes, I’m digging up that dusty term to remind you that you have the power of the pen.
The unique opportunity appears to be that he plans to bypass traditional media and go direct to the people via Twitter and YouTube.
When he announced his first 100 day plan, it came as an upload to YouTube, not a press conference. Professional reporters were forced to write stories about an online video.
Happy birthday, everyone. We’re all teenagers today!
Today is the day that iBrattleboro.com turns 13 years old. We can now watch PG-13 movies without adult supervision!
13 is a baker’s dozen, the number of cards in each suit of the deck, and the number of original colonies.
Math lovers will note that 13 is the 6th prime number, the smallest emirp, a Fibonacci number, and a happy number.
iBrattleboro.com remains one of the longest-running citizen-powered news and information sites out there, and we continue to be contacted from people around the country and around the world who are interested in doing similar projects where they live. As I noted a week or so ago, we’ve recently answered questions for someone in a small town in Queensland, Australia, and have been interviewed by hyperlocal activists in the Ukraine.
You might be interested in the Ukrainian project. Yurii Antoshchuk, head of a community media foundation there, got in touch to ask us some questions for publication in Russian and English. We answered their questions, but also asked them about what they were doing there.
People we talk with are sometimes unaware of the numbers behind this site. In honor of our Token Economy, let me share some recent statistics. As you know, we’re extremely local, and focus on Brattleboro and surrounding areas in southern Vermont. Our audience drifts into NH and Massachusetts as well. We also have people reading and writing who are interested in Brattleboro but live elsewhere. A few of these folks are reporters looking for stories and people to interview.
Let’s look at some numbers.
iBrattleboro was just given a generous gift of $300, and the person doing the giving asked us to challenge readers to match the gift. Our guess is that the hope is we can raise another $300 for hosting, upkeep, and so on from some small donations.
If you are so inclined, you can contribute using PayPal (a box here in the iBrattleboro section in the right column should assist) or send a check to iBrattleboro, 41 Cedar Street, Brattleboro, 05301.
Thanks to everyone who wrote us regarding iBrattleboro being offline.
The quick version of “what happened?” is that we weren’t properly notified that the domain was expiring today, and failed to renew it in advance. That led to quick renewals this morning, and waiting for it to come back online.
So, thanks for asking and welcome back. (We’re going to switch domain registrars.)
It's nice to feel hot at least once during the summer. Recent summers have left me feeling a bit chilly, but this year we are experiencing quite a few days that I would classify as "genuine summer." It's currently approaching 90 degrees in Brattleboro. Hot and humid. A chance of thunderstorms.
This is all a way of saying we've fixed the iBrattleboro weather page (NOAA makes occasional improvements that break things, then we catch up.) This round of improvements includes a new set of weather icons they hope will better indicate what's going on.
Twelve years ago, Lise and I flipped the proverbial switch and turned on iBrattleboro.com, a new type of web site. It used the world wide web to communicate hyper-locally, and gave everyone in town who cared to register a platform for sharing news, events, stories, and opinions of all things Brattleboro.
Since then, we’ve worked to keep things up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round, even on holidays. That’s 4015 days without much of a break, something I’m not sure I would have agreed to up front had I known what was involved, but now I can’t really imagine things without it. That will come someday, but not now. Now we are twelve.
That’s 12 years of non-professional, un-edited, real-community local information. You’ve done a spectacular job.
There have been many new users in the last few months, so I thought it might be useful to take a moment to briefly explain iBrattleboro to our relatively new friends. Long-time users of the site are welcome to add additional information in comments.
iBrattleboro was started in February of 2003 as an experiment in do-it-yourself media. It was a reaction to a number of things including big media consolidation, a lack of local reporting, and our personal interest in developing an online community resource.
Every once in a while we ask fans of the site to help cover the costs of keeping it going.
If you are in a position to do so and would like to help out, consider a gift to help offset some of the expenses of keeping this ship sailing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (for over a decade).
Kirsten A. Johnson, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the Department of Communications at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa, has a request. She's doing research about citizen journalism efforts around the country and would like your views as users and contributors to this site. The more responses she gets, the more accurate the results can be. We filled out our survey, and she followed up and asked us to invite you and share the link.
Happy Birthday everyone. iBrattleboro is now 11 years old That means we’re all heading toward our exciting teen years, but still retaining our youthful charm and innocence, right?
Lise and I are your guides and enablers, but the site remains yours. You decide what’s important, you write the stories, and you provide the commentary. There are no reporters or editors.
In 2003, the idea of using the world wide web for a local purpose was almost unheard of. News came from the TV set and from the newspaper or weekly news magazines. There were few blogs, no Facebook, no YouTube, nor Twitter. News outlets did not let you comment on stories other than by sending letters to the editor.
Just a note to say Lise and I wish you all the best this holiday season.
Thanks for keeping Brattleboro interesting, and keeping your neighbors informed and entertained with news, stories, commentary, history, events, links, photos, and more.
Santa visits the animated calendar today... watch him touch down on Oak Street.
Just a quick not to say how delightful it is to see the return of the iBrattleboro Christmas Calendar, one of my holiday tradtions for several years now. I love the pictures of old Brattleboro, alhtough at first it took me awhile to realize that in Windows I could right click and zoom in for a more detailed view. I get such a kick out of the animations. It's a great way to start the season. Thank You.
Somehow y'all broke this week's poll about where to put the skatepark. Our best guess is that the poor poll software couldn't keep up people changing their votes and write in options, but it is just a guess.
Before it blew up, the ranked, extremely-informal results were as follows:
The Neiman Journalism Lab, a project of the Neiman Foundation at Harvard, asked us to write about the 10 biggest challenges we've faced over the last 10 years with iBrattleboro.
If you missed it, PBS MediaShift asked for a similar story on some lessons learned a couple of months ago.
For those who don’t already know this, extra features and bonus priviledges are given to those who log in to the new site. This list outlines some of the best reasons to register and log in.
1. Edit your stories, event listings, and comments. Need to make a correction? Event details change? Have an afterthought to a comment? Log in to be able to be your own editor.
2. Add Photo Fun Photos. There are more ways to contribute when you log in. Additional menu options and features become available to you. You can add Photo Fun photos.
Sooner or later, most people like to add links to their stories or comments. To make things easier for your readers it is helpful to learn to format your links. This helps you avoid really long, ugly internet addresses in the middle of your great work.
Here’s how to format a link in a story or comment on iBrattleboro: