Blogging the City

A spate of new real/virtual blogging communities has popped up, trying to connect virtual blog-based communities with their geographic counterparts. These are aggregators 2.0, a step beyond something like Pgh Bloggers, which has mostly outlived its initial usefulness.

The slickest is, which has some hot-shot backing. You register a city-related blog, then aggregates and displays their posts. Voila! A virtual (Pittsburgh, or Brooklyn, or wherever). The technology can parse and deliver RSS feeds based on post tags, so if I'm careful to tag my posts "economic development" then you can subscribe to Pittsburgh-oriented "economic development" posts and read my stuff, among others.

Not quite as slick in the technology department, but more of a "citizen journalism" effort, is Metroblogging, which offers "Metroblogging Pittsburgh" via a team of local bloggers, some of whom have been around the Pittsburgh blogosphere for quite some time. [Updated 3/02: There are other, similar enterprises that haven't yet come to Pittsburgh: and]

And in the "not corporate, but authentically user-generated" department is WikiProject Pittsburgh, led by Overheard in Pittsburgh blogger Chris Griswold.

What's missing in each and all of these is something that I've been talking about in lunchtime conversations recently (and something that, I should add, I have no personal ability to supply): intelligent filtering. The wisdom-of-crowds phenomenon that supports wikis works well but is labor intensive. Is there a Google News-style resource that does the same thing? That takes user-supplied specs, searches the blogosphere and the public media space for relevant posts, eliminates duplicates, and displays it hierarchically? By city? region?


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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