Happy birthday, everyone. iBrattleboro is now 15.
Fifteen years ago, Brattleboro had one newspaper, owned by an out-of-state media corporation. There was no “social media” and Brattleboro had few online sources of information. There was also a threat of further major media consolidation.
We wanted Brattleboro to have another option.
iBrattleboro changed things. To those that complained about the newspaper getting it wrong, we provided an alternative and a challenge to readers to do better. We figured that people who lived in Brattleboro would be the best to write about Brattleboro, and would notice the little things that a newspaper might miss. (Recall the Reformer not wanting to discuss unionization efforts at the newspaper, for example.)
To provide checks and balances, we let readers add comments to stories. Any errors, if any, could be corrected by anyone who found one. (This was before newspapers added comment sections, mind you.)
The site used a re-tooled version of a content management system designed for techies to discuss software. We changed it to be about local news and opinions.
In 2003, this was all new and strange, and we were asked to give presentations to major publications and papers. Soon after, newspapers added citizen journalism components to their operations, or added a commenting system.
There was a time when there were under 100 registered users of the site. It’s close to 4,000 today. And we see more than 20,000 unique visitors a month.
The balance between comments and stories keeps evolving. At the moment, the calendar is one of the most used parts of the site, followed by new stories. Comments and conversations are fewer and farther between for now, but we expect to see more comments as the novelty of social media wears off, the annoyance with social media companies grows, and the desire to keep one’s life local (and not tracked and spied upon) remains strong.
Write where you live!
For newer readers and members, welcome. You can write about anything, and share it with a highly-local audience of people very interested in Brattleboro. You can offer up your opinion or support to any story published on the site.
You can share recipes, cover a school event, show us pictures you’ve taken, write an opinion piece, tell a fictional story, write about your business, do a book or music review, or write a regular column. You could pick a committee in town and watch their meetings, sharing what you learn with others that may have missed it.
Write where you live!
Fifteen feels pretty old, but we want to keep on our toes and stay fresh. With that in mind, we’re debuting a new iBrattleboro, our third iteration, very soon. It’s designed to be phone and tablet friendly (about time, eh?), simple to use, and with a twist of local social media built-in. You’ll be able to friend people and have private conversations with others on the site, for example.
To that end, we really hope some people who have drifted of to Zuckerberg-land for the last few years find their way home again and re-engage locally.
We also hope new users are inspired to write their first stories and comments. You are the writers of this site. There is no staff, just people who live in town and are interested in what happens here.
Happy 15th birthday everyone!