My friend Jaggy laments the end of ORblogs, a website that pulled in various blogs from across Oregon and organized by city or town, and offered various ways for Oregon bloggers to connect to each other. It was a rather great idea, one that helped build, I believe, an Oregon blogging “community.” Unfortunately, Paul Bausch (who also helped start Blogger long ago) can no longer sustain the site, so it’s going down:
When I started ORblogs in March 2003, there weren’t many good ways to find bloggers living in a particular area. And because I had recently moved to Corvallis, I wanted to learn what I could from people living near me. The site personally put me in touch with bloggers across the state, taught me a lot about Oregon and its cities (including Corvallis), and I hope the site did the same for others. I feel ORblogs served an important role for Oregon blogging by gathering independent voices across all spectrums into one place where everyone shared a common geography.
I’m shutting ORblogs down now because the site continues to grow and the job of maintaining the site at the level I feel is necessary to keep it valuable has grown with it, putting it out of the bounds of a hobby. I wasn’t able to make ORblogs self-sustaining financially (let alone turn it into a job), and I can no longer devote the time to the site that it needs to grow. Blogging has changed significantly in five years, and blogging is no longer a hobby for manyâ€”it’s a job. Commercial blogging isn’t as interesting to me as the personal web and that factored into my decision as well.
It’s interesting to me the ways in which this site helped folks network. While living in Corvallis, I was able to connect to various other Corvallis blogs, and even made some friends through the networking process. I stopped visiting ORblogs a year or so ago, mostly because I was busy and was already reading quite a number of blogs through my Bloglines account.
Paul ended ORblogs for both personal and economic reasons, but the economic/resources one is most interesting for me. How much room is there for network building sites like this that are not corporate owned, not worldwide, but local, that actually bring the non-digital environment (for example, Oregon) into relation to the digital writers in that environment? Certainly, there’s lots of room. But does that room shrink as larger corporate networking sites (bloglines, google, etc.) gain adherents, and as the time and resources constraints (it takes time to run these sites and money if your traffic goes up) grow unwieldy?
I probably sound romantic, desiring for local “communities” of digital writers, but it seems like it’s getting harder and harder for these type of sites to exist and continue existing.