BLOGS BY ROCHESTER WRITERS
There are two major stops for people interesting in writing by the bloggers of the Flower City.
Several dozen blogs are featured there, and the bloggers there run across the spectrum -- Ben Rand's blog for the Rochester Business Journal is listed cheek to jowl with the blog of the President of the Rochester Cannabis Coalition, and blogs by RIT professors and WXXI Reporter Michael Caputo bracket photoblogs, indie rock musicians, and a carillon bellringer.
The second top source is less broad but more full: the Rochester LiveJournal community centered around RIT students, the alpha geeks of tomorrow. (The alpha geeks of today too, come to think of it.)
There's nothing fun going on in Rochester that someone hasn't posted somewhere on a local LiveJournal. You may have to dig to find it -- there are 437 blogs there right now, and rising -- but what you dig through will almost certainly be more interesting than whatever you were looking for in the first place.
On a more conservative level, the Democrat and Chronicle hosts a group of community bloggers commenting on life and affairs in Pittsford, Brighton, Henrietta, and other local areas inside Rochester.
Which of the several hundred blogs should you begin with? Here are a few of my personal favorites:
A Year At U of R
A well-written, thoughtful, moving journal of a University of Rochester nursing student.
Touching, hilarious, awful incidents follow one another in emergency medical situations that read better than most journalism and fiction. The author witnesses and handles it all, deals with a cataract of study material as well, and manages to maintain a quality of intelligent reflection throughout.
Fascinating reading for anyone, but for nursing students or anyone interested in a medical career, selections from this blog are a must.
Escoles, the writer of antikoan.net is a lucid writer of both commentary and fiction, a working computer programmer with a sharp understanding of how the world of computing is unfolding and evolving, a citizen with a good and disrespectful grasp of politics and media, and a clear-eyed observer of modern society, particularly in those areas where it's being re-shaped by the flux of technology.
Antikoan.net, escoles' blog, is the condensate of those qualities. That's why it's different and that's why it's better. It has a solid objective edge, like a good Slashdot column.
Most blogs are bad because no one really cares what the blogger had for lunch or whether their significant others respect them or not. But we care about the world we live in, and antikoan.net describes and assesses this world with insight and intelligence. Escoles ranges from militarization to Macs to the structure of karma with the fluid ease of a natural writer, and a good mind.
Bookmark it. It's more than a reading pleasure -- it's a learning pleasure.
The Fictionist is the blog of Jonathan Sherwood, who works in public relations and who as a writer is successfully breaking into the professional fiction marketplace.
Sherwood is also one of the founding figures of R-Spec, the Rochester Speculative Literature Association, a group bringing together writers of experimental fiction, magical realism, slipstream, science fiction, and fantasy, with the emphasis not on genre but on creating works of high literary quality.
The Fictionist contains solid tips about the craft of writing, intelligent commentary on books and authors, and useful advice on how to navigate the writer's life successfully.
But perhaps the best thing about it is the picture it builds of what it means to be a serious writer, working hard and purposefully to build a creation, and live a life, of substance.
There are very few blogs that one can classify as inspiring, but this comes as close as any. Jonathan Sherwood clearly believes in the value of literature and in the worth of the literary vocation. Visiting writers could learn from him in more ways than one.
THE INNER LOOP
The Inner Loop is a blog by the Editor of City Magazine, Rochester's alternative news weekly.
The Inner Loop does not take the middle way. Conservatives, racists, and homophobes are flayed alive, and capitalist corruption is bemoaned, as interesting and embarrassing news items you won't see elsewhere are trotted out before our appalled gaze. ("While the Pentagon is planning to send in more troops, the administration officials, according to the Times, 'are considering alternatives other than democracy'.”)
Good writing. Though perhaps not for Republicans with high blood-pressure.
Don't be misled by the title. If you're interested in how computing is affecting social interaction, mamamusings is one of the top blogs in the country on the subject, written by one of its pioneer figures, and filled with pointers to no end of solid and thoughtful material.
Dr. Elizabeth Lane Lawley is the Director of the Lab for Social Computing at RIT and an associate professor of information technology there. She writes in English as opposed to Geek and adds a generous share of personal reflections as well as commentary the ups and down and tedium of academic life.
This nonetheless remains, in spots, one of the most cutting-edge sites anywhere about one of the most cutting-edge subjects around, namely, how computing is affecting the way we live with each other.
Required reading, whether you're a Rochesterian or not.
THE POLITICAL NOTEBOOK
Reflections on the local political scene (with an occasional piece on New York State politics) are featured in The Political Notebook by Michael Caputo, a researcher at the Center for Governmental Research and political analyst for WXXI.
As you might expect from someone associated with WXXI, this blog features good clear writing, thoughtful commentary, and concise insights from a gifted stylist with a moral center. Caputo is solid, as a person and as an author, and is a sharp observer of the local political scene. Were the entries just a little more regular, this would be Rochester's best political blog. Even so, it's certainly worth a look.
ROCHESTER WRITERS GROUP BLOG
A group blog by RocWiki contributors and other Rochester-area writers. Sort of an experiment, and with ambiguous results, but where else can you find of writers blogging and grousing en masse as opposed to individually?
Steve Pomeroy, the author of Staticfree, departed Rochester for Massachusetts with a degree in Computer Science earlier in 2006. This was unfortunate, because a more intelligent and gifted gentleman never walked the computer science halls of RIT.
A founder of the Social Computing Club at RIT and one of the originating forces behind the Lab for Social Computing, Steve's interests run the gamut from the Semantic Web to Lewis Carroll to robotics to Lojban. A brilliant mind, superbly alert to the play of human intelligence in the new environments provided by computer technology.
Though Staticfree is not technically a Rochester blog any longer, there are enough old Rochester posts to allow its inclusion. And I want to include it because whatever Steve Pomeroy writes about anything is worth reading. There are few people anywhere with a clearer sense of the coming human future.
Though a Rochester native and resident, Ms. Sorbello is a frequent visitor to the American West, romanticizes it wildly, and dumps on our shallow and snotty pampered city ways with rich abandon. Cowboy film reviews, scornful assessments of government mis-handlings of the immigration situation, dotty but colorful anecdotes, and odes to cacti and bountiful Mother Nature abound.
You'd never know from Western Skies that the Twentieth Century happened -- one of its virtues, perhaps. Well written, nonetheless, and well worth reading.