Tacoma Urbanist

Feb. 6, 2008 at 12:06am

Tacoma's *Feed>>Tacoma* Suffers Growing Pains

In the last two years, Tacoma's blogosphere has grown exponentially. 

Exit 133 was an early blog in Tacoma and now has multiple authors with two main blogrolls.  Exit 133 also has an active forum which has 466 registered users and likely many thousand "lurkers."


Observing the increasing number of people get their news online, The News Tribune has even sought to enter the feild and now has a number of internal blogs, some run by volunteers and others staffed by Tribune employees.  The Tribune has worked to promote their blogs through their web page and newspaper which they still offer in a non-virtual format.

The third main sector of the Tacoma blogosphere is Feed Tacoma.

There are currently over 31 independent blogs "feeding" through the reader feed >> tacoma maintained by Kevin Freitas.  There are also 21 internal i.feed.tacoma blogs.

Of the three models, Feed Tacoma (FT) has worked as a more open source model.  Yet, with increasing popularity, Feed Tacoma has been faced with an identity crisis of sorts.

Given it's success, will FT now seek to adopt a more structured corporate model of functioning?  Will FT begin censoring contributors and internal blogs?  Is an open source blog platform possible without breaking down into anarchy and spam?

The issue was discussed at length in a Feed Tacoma forum post What Goes on Feed Tacoma?

Here are some key comments of the 26 posted:

Should we have guidelines for contributing bloggers or keep things fluid?

Kevin Freitas


I don't think that we need moderation... I like things the way they are. If I don't want to read something, I don't have to. I'd rather have the option to read a lot of things, and pick which I'm interested in, than only get a few options.

zastica

However, if Feed Tacoma is going to have a significant place in Tacoma, it will be in the "open source" end of the blogosphere. Exit 133 and the TNT are already doing well with the more structured formats.

myself

You could argue that they are the voice of tacoma commenting on federal level matters which could be just as valuable as somebody with no specific voice commenting on what bagel they ate at what tacoma drive through window.

No man alone should bare the burden of deciding who stays and who gets left behind.

RR Anderson

I guess I don't see why it would be necessary or desirable to censor them.

jenym

Commentary:

It is said that "every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it yields." 

Feed Tacoma is in a new territory for Tacoma at least and Kevin Freitas should be commended for the effort.  Its success to date has been because of its open source design.

However, Feed Tacoma participants represent a contingent of "content providers" who have foregone traditional print media and even more structured online and blog formats.  Thus, their strong aversion to any form of censorship or control of any medium they participate in is understandable.

Plus, participants in Feed Tacoma are voluntary and receive no salaries.  Thus, the opportunity to impose much censorship or even "guidelines" for content that exist in the msm are no-existent. 

Also, there are an uncountable number of low cost ways to publish their work, start another open source reader or just remain an independant blog.   In fact, google has a free reader  that can easily be set to monitor a great many independent blogs as well as a free blog (through blogger).

The future for Tacoma media and the blogosphere?  Impossible to forecast, I suspect that within a year or two, another motivated technologist will come it and make the above three formats look antiquated. 

The person or group of people who dominate the virtual and non-virtual mediums will have to anticipate both the substantive content wanted by Tacomans and the method they prefer to have it delivered.  Almost certainly, the dominant format will offer more services, information, ease of access given the growing competition.  The ability to impose content regulations will likely also be less than today.

Rather than ask what should Feed Tacoma do, perhaps we should ask what will the blogosphere look like in 2 years and what will be the most successful format?

comments [2]  |  posted under tacoma, washington

Comments

by KevinFreitas on 2/6/2008 @ 6:51am
Thanks for your thoughts Erik. This site is definitely the most open platform in Tacoma for getting blogs out to folks. It's strengths comes from the collaborative nature of it's contributors whether fed in or on the i.FeedTacoma.com blogs while not allowing any one voice to dominate or control the conversation.

...will FT now seek to adopt a more structured corporate model of functioning? Will FT begin censoring contributors and internal blogs? Is an open source blog platform possible without breaking down into anarchy and spam?

No, no, and yes. The proof is in the pudding. In it's over year-and-a-half life FeedTacoma has pooled together 4,500+ entries from local bloggers and makes them easily digested on a daily basis and an archival one via the search. Of those thousands of entries I haven't received a single comment regarding their validity on the feed's homepage.

As the guy that created the system that runs FeedTacoma I'd rather crank away on creating great new features rather than play censor cop. Granted, I've done so a time or two but it's not the business I want to be in.

Plus, participants in Feed Tacoma are voluntary and receive no salaries.

Which, if I haven't done it enough, I thank them for having the vision to join in show what a group of people can make happen if everyone contributes a piece at a time. I don't think FeedTacoma is "new territory" because it's here and it's worked. However, it's growth is new territory but only in the sense that it's success is driving discussion about how it can take what folks currently enjoy and keep it going. The feedback I receive has informed a 3-page bulleted list of new ideas that I'm constantly checking off one-by-one.

Again, thanks for the commentary and perspective and I'll continue to work to make FeedTacoma the best community resource by people who live and love Tacoma. Anyone is always welcome to chime in via the feedback area in the forum as well as by emailing me anytime.

by Erik on 2/6/2008 @ 8:59am
Thanks Kevin.

One thing I wonder is whether there is a magic formula in structuring Feed Tacoma so that it grows exponentially like the online open source encyclopedia Wikipedia? Hmm.