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Bloggers aren’t anal, are they?

Chris Horkan checks out the city’s blogging scene in the week of the Manchester Blog Awards

Published on October 9th 2007.

Bloggers aren’t anal, are they?

“I blog because I enjoy writing, and I like the back-and-forth of writing and reading blogs.” Kate Feld is talking about her blog The Manchizzle, one of over 15 million active web logs – or blogs – around the world. But far from being a personal diary, she uses The Manchizzle to highlight the most interesting cultural happenings in the rainy city. It’s “a hub of blogging goodness”, as the Guardian described it in August.

Kate, an American writer based in North Manchester, has been central to the growing community of bloggers in the city. She organises meetings in bars and cafes and leads blogging workshops – including two last month as part of Manchester Literature Festival. “Blogging makes me feel more connected to the community,” she explains, “and has helped me meet a lot of people I'm good friends with now.”

In otherwords blogging is an easy way to publish your writing about anything – music, football, politics – and to interact with others who share the same interest.

Last year Kate established the Manchester Blog Awards. “It seemed like there were a lot of great blogs starting up in Manchester, but they weren't very widely read or known about,” she says. So together with former literature festival director Chris Gribble, they launched the award to recognise “this emerging, DIY body of writing”.

Kate is grateful to Manchester Literature Festival, which provides organisation and publicity resources for the awards: “They helped us establish our credibility, because being included in their programme indicates that we're serious, and dedicated to doing things the right way.”

Manchester Digital Development Agency provided funding and its boss, Dave Carter, as a judge, while BBC Manchester’s Richard Fair – himself a blogger – was also on the panel.

Prize-giving in 2006 took place at Urbis during the literature festival, with four winners named in Political, Arts and Culture, Personal and Blog of the Year categories. The overall winner was The 43 – a blog about travelling through South Manchester on its namesake’s Stagecoach bus. MP3 blog Yer Mam! scooped the arts and culture category, an area Manchester does very well.

Following the success of its inaugural year, the event has now grown to incorporate Best Writing on a Blog and Best New Blog categories – and it’s moved to that focal point of Manchester’s cultural life, Matt & Phreds. The night will feature readings from two nominated blogs, plus the final chapter of Elizabeth Baines’ Manchester Blogstory – an interactive short story that asks readers to vote on the outcome – and a question and answer session with Caroline Smailes, whose blog landed a book deal. Music throughout the evening will be provided by some of the city’s music bloggers.

There were over 90 separate nominations this year, with shortlisted blogs including council estate-based Single Mother on the Verge, an unemployed, former Manchester Airport worker, the self-explanatory Shoe Project and Rent Girl, who documents “the perils of renting” in an addictive Hitchcock/Rear Window style. They are among the cream of Manchester’s blogs – and writing – and provide the perfect starting point for both prospective readers and anyone tempted to blog.

Kate, who was previously involved with New York’s blogging scene, says Manchester lends itself to a blogging community: “Manchester's small size is a boon for the blogging community; you very quickly start to feel like you know.”

Manchester Blog Awards 2007
10 October, 7.00pm, Matt & Phreds
(64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter. 0161 236 5725)

Free, but please book at www.mlfestival.co.uk

What do Confidential readers think? Is blogging a version of the 18th century coffee shop, a community of like-minded people chatting away? Or does it simply allow frustrated writers to bore other frustrated writers?

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 9th 2007.

interesting article thoughtfully written until the"Is blogging a version of the 18th century coffee shop, a community of like-minded people chatting away? Or does it simply allow frustrated writers to bore other frustrated writers?" comment. A poor finish there.

mandyOctober 9th 2007.

or is an anal blogger something entirely different? It doesn't really bear thinking about.

GordoOctober 9th 2007.

Anon, he does that a lot to me as well, he's a pain in the ass.

mandyOctober 9th 2007.

nah an anal blogger would have pointed out that he means coffee house and not coffee shop

AlanOctober 9th 2007.

So Anonymous I take it that bloggers are anal.

Jonathan SchofieldOctober 9th 2007.

I have to Gordo. You see it's 'a pain in the arse'. Not ass.

Jonathan Schofield - editorOctober 9th 2007.

Dear Anon, I added those sentences, not the writer. The whole point was to create a debate.

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