New York Times: News Without Newspapers

An article in tomorrow’s New York Times is titled ‘Hyperlocal’ Web Sites Deliver News Without Newspapers.

If your local newspaper shuts down, what will take the place of its coverage? Perhaps a package of information about your neighborhood, or even your block, assembled by a computer.

A number of Web start-up companies are creating so-called hyperlocal news sites that let people zoom in on what is happening closest to them, often without involving traditional journalists.

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It’s very much like what has sprung up over at FBI blogs, to which I belong. (And when I say “sprung up,” I mean “consciously created by forward-thinking Damon Tucker.”)

The FBI blogs site it not quite as hyperlocal (the article talks about areas as small as a block). By definition (“From Big Island”) we FBI bloggers are from around the whole island.

I think it’s really a terrific idea. I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that I browse the site everyday and learn all sorts of things that aren’t in the local paper.

From the article:

But many hyperlocal entrepreneurs say they are counting on a proliferation of blogs and small local journalism start-ups to keep providing content.

“In many cities, the local blog scene is so rich and deep that even if a newspaper goes away, there would be still be plenty of stuff for us to publish,” said Mr. Holovaty of EveryBlock.

Sounds familar.

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Other People Named Leslie Lang

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I want to be clear that the person in the video is not me. I know somebody will miss that! It’s not. This is a post about someone else whose name is Leslie Lang.

The other day I wrote about a standup comic who lives in San Jose and has the same name as me, and then she saw the post and emailed me! 

And she sent me a link to her comedy act on YouTube, which is, indeed, funny. I enjoyed it.

I like her and we’ve been emailing back and forth and it’s WEIRD. I keep almost missing her emails in my box, first of all, because they just look like they’re copies of emails that I sent out. How weird is that to get emails from someone with the exact same name as you?

She’s making a website right now and told me she bought the domain name “leslielangisfunny.com,” which I like, because if someone Googles me and sees that, even if they eventually realize it’s not me, the idea will be there that I’m funny. I told her I’ll link to her on my leslielang.com site, and she said she’ll do the same.  

And then I had the idea that it would be fun to have a little section on my site where all I do is link to people name Leslie Lang. “For Leslie Lang, the stand-up comic in San Jose, click here.” “For Leslie Lang, the AP medical writer on the East Coast, click here.” Etc. It’s the least I could do, having nabbed the “leslielang.com” site and all.

So if any other Leslie Langs happen to end up here, please feel free to be introduce yourselves, so to speak, further confusing and astounding me.

By the way, I was talking about this and mentioned that the other Leslie Lang is starting her own website called “Leslie Lang is Funny,” and my five-year-old daughter said, “You are the Leslie Lang that is funny!”

My husband suggested that we could have a reunion of all the Leslie Langs, and I thought it would be really funny if we all wore nametags that read “Leslie Lang.” And all the husbands could have tags that said, “Mr. Leslie Lang.” And our little girl would wear one that said, “Leslie Lang’s daughter.”

She (Leslie Lang) also mentioned that she considered moving to Hawai‘i a couple years ago, and I wrote back that I had a small anxiety attack when I read that because I would like to be the Leslie Lang here. But then I told her that after I thought more about it, I realized that she too is about building up her name, for her comedy, and two people working on building name recognition FOR THE SAME NAME would be great!

Anyway, the whole thing is really strange but kind of fun. But strange.

But fun.

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Big Merrie Monarch Push at BigIslandOnTheCheap.com

It’s almost Merrie Monarch week here on the Big Island. I love this week, when Hilo town shimmers and comes alive with people and flowers and hula everywhere.

Over at Big Island On The Cheap, we are going to be hitting Merrie Monarch hard. We’ll have a bunch of features — where to eat, half- and full-day trips to take around Hilo, all the exciting things going on with Merrie Monarch itself, some great local coupon deals that are exclusive to our readers (whether residents or visitors),  and some other surprises, too, which are already in the works. 

picture-5I just finished writing up our first Merrie Monarch-related post. It’s about taking a day trip up to the Volcano area, and it’s up now. 

So that’s what I’ve been working on.

Are you coming over for Merrie Monarch? Attending yourself and sitting on those hard hard benches (totally worth it)? Watching on TV? Sitting this one out?

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Needed: Merrie Monarch Tickets

Does anybody have extra Merrie Monarch tickets I could buy from them (at cost)?

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Photo Thomas Tunsch. Used by permission

One year my friend was on a mission to get Merrie Monarch tickets and asked a stranger in line at Starbucks, and said stranger indeed had extra tickets.

I haven’t asked at Starbucks yet, but how about you, online world? Surely you’re more effective than hitting up strangers at Starbucks!

I’d throw in a signed copy of my Exploring Historic Hilo book, if it helped.

Please ask around, tell your friends, all that. Let me know! I would really appreciate any help.

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Leslie Lang ‘R Us

I have a Google Alert set up for my name (do you?) and today I got an alert about how great I was when I did my comedy improv act in San Jose recently. 

I, um, don’t do comedy improv (maybe some occasional, unintentional slapstick), nor do I frequent San Jose. But I’m glad to hear it was enjoyable.

Isn’t it strange to find other people with YOUR name? Maybe somebody named Steve Smith is used to it. But I don’t think my name is all that common, so when I occasionally stumble across another Leslie Lang, it feels so odd. Does anybody have any interesting stories about coming across someone else with their same  name?

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(If that Leslie Lang in San Jose has a Google Alert on her/our name, and runs across this post, wouldn’t that be a little freaky for her?)

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Macario’s Big Island

Macario is publishing a new online magazine and you should have a look. Wow. It’s eye-popping.

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His photography is always great, and in this new magazine, called Macario’s Big Island, he combines his photos, interviews and commentary to illuminate some of the Big Island’s most interesting people in the world of arts, food, music and more.

He just put up what is only his third post there. It’s a feature on the Waimea architect Clemson Lam, and in a stunning turn of events – I’ve just now been able to get my jaw to shut again – he had 300 hits in the first day of it being up. It’s only his THIRD POST! How did he DO that?

He actually made WorldPress’s “Growing Blogs” List, which is a list of the top WordPress blogs in the world in terms of how fast they are growing in popularity. He came onto the list at 97. Isn’t that amazing? I find that amazing.

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FBI Blogs

This blog is now part of a brand-new network of blogs, all from the Big Island and called FBI Blogs — get it? From Big Island?

It’s the brainchild of prolific blogger Damon Tucker, and a terrific idea. I have to say, I learn more about what’s going on this island over at FBI Blogs than I do anyplace else.

Twenty-something bloggers, all with different interests and access to different information — it’s an incredible resource to learn what’s happening on the Big Island, and also to “meet” some Big Island characters. 

I like being a part of this interesting crowd. Go have a look if you’re interested in Big Island goings-on.

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Honolulu On The Cheap

Here goes: A “soft launch” of my new project!

I’ll bring out the balloons and party streamers later soon, but for now, I’ll just tell you: 

I’ve launched a new website. It’s called Honolulu On The Cheap, and it’s all about cheap, discounted and free things to do in Honolulu and on O‘ahu in general. It will be useful, I think, to both visitors and residents; I keep both groups in mind as I select what to post about.

I’ve just started putting up copy there, and here’s a sampling of what I’ve got up so far:

• A printable coupon for Jamba Juice’s $1 deal on its oatmeal with real fruit and fresh brown sugar crumble (good at any participating Jamba Juice)

• Free kids’ workshops at Home Depot on the first Saturday of every month (they make a project and even get a free, kid sized, orange Home Depot apron to take home)

• Where you can stay in Waikiki for only $79/night (click here for the answer)

• And how to get a free ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins

Other content, including articles, interviews and even downloadable “special reports” having to do with Honolulu On The Cheap, is coming soon.

This site is part of a new, nationwide network on “of the cheap” city websites, and you can see the ones that are live on the left sidebar of my website. More are in the works. Each is independently owned and operated (kind of like a Dunkin’ Donuts) but we are collaborating, sharing and cooperating as a network.

I also just signed up for Twitter. I’ve not been interested in the Twitter phenomenon and never thought I’d say that! However, I can see how it can be useful to promoting my site. If you’d like to follow me, I’m “LeslieLang.” If you do, I promise to spare you news of me brushing my teeth or stopping to fill up the car with gas.

I’d love to hear what you think about honoluluonthecheap.com! And let me know if you hear of anything I might want to feature there.

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Hamakua Springs Blogging Tidbits

One of my favorite jobs is managing the blog Ha Ha Ha! over at Hamakua Springs Country Farms, and this week I got to write a couple posts that I especially enjoying delving into.

The first was about Brudda Skibs, who recently participated in a sustainability festival Hamakua Springs owner Richard Ha helped coordinate. What an incredible person. Skibs and the crew he’s attracted over the years volunteer their time and labor to clean up Big Island lands near the ocean and turn them into beautiful parks. There is so much more to his story than just that, though. He is really making a difference.

Watch the video at that post and you can see right into his heart. 

The other post was on the Pacific Century Fellows, a group of up-and-coming business leaders who visited the Big Island (and Hamakua Springs) as a part of their year-long program. Interesting people, and ones we’ll all be hearing about in the news, I suspect, in years to come.

In the course of researching that post, I learned a couple things that didn’t make it into the story: Such as that, in exploring the issues and challenges in areas as diverse as the criminal justice system, education, agriculture, the military and many others, they started one of their days in a prison block, and on another day were flown out to an aircraft carrier.

The things I learn as a freelance writer! It keeps life interesting.

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The Orwell Blog

I love that someone who’s been dead since 1950 is posting daily to a WordPress blog. 

George Orwell (1903-1950) is not doing the posting himself, of course. It’s his diary entries that are being posted, one day at a time, exactly 70 years after they were written. What a neat idea.

From the blog‘When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page’, wrote George Orwell, in his 1939 essay on Charles Dickens.

From 9th August 2008, you will be able to gather your own impression of Orwell’s face from reading his most strongly individual piece of writing: his diaries. The Orwell Prize is delighted to announce that, to mark the 70th anniversary of the diaries, each diary entry will be published on this blog exactly seventy years after it was written, allowing you to follow Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco, his return to the UK, and his opinions on the descent of Europe into war in real time. The diaries end in 1942, three years into the conflict.

Must go reread some Orwell now while I follow along.

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