Figuring out The Beantown Bloggery

November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

The only celebrity I’ve seen in Boston is Gary Busey – he was leaning against a limousine outside the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Boylston Street. But I know people who’ve seen Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes jogging down Newbury Street.  Sometimes Hollywood comes to Beantown! And the place to hear about it is The Beantown Bloggery.

The blog (I would call it more of an aggregator), from a nameless, former MIT student, compiles info about the best things to do in Boston, and where and when to catch celebrities making appearances/making movies here.

Let me give you a rundown of what I like and what I don’t like about the site:

Likes

– The way it selects the best events. My usual source for everything going on in Boston is Yelp, but sometimes it can get tedious to sort through everything there is. What’s nice about The Bloggery is it selects the cream of the crop.

– The Free tab. I like free stuff!

– The Contest tab. I’m not usually one to engage in something in which the odds are mathematically against me, but suppose I come across a contest with a prize I cannot resist? I would surely find it in that tab!

– The celebrity updates. I’d like it if my star sightings went beyond Gary Busey. (Although, I went trick-or-treating on Beacon Hill and saw former presidential candidate and Senator John Kerry hugging children outside his home!) The charms of Beacon Hill are endless…

Dislikes

– The 1000 Words tab. It’s a feature that tells stories with pictures, but the pictures suck.

– The frequency of updates. Some of the posts under a few tabs are from months ago.

– The blog’s Twitter feed. It’s just tweets about new posts on the site.

Wrap-up

The site is nice for some arts and entertainment info, but I don’t think it’s a must-read, just a site to check out every so often.

 

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Final Project: Edible Boston

November 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

A screenshot of the cover of the latest Edible Boston.

For my final project, I would like to profile Edible Boston, a local magazine about sustainable food.

A part of a larger network of local food magazines (ex. the sister magazine in Connecticut is called Edible Nutmeg, because CT is the nutmeg state), Edible Boston features recipes, profiles of local food producers and interesting features about the best seasonal food.

To accompany my profile of the magazine and its website, I would create a slideshow of the best places in Boston to get local food, even in the winter when New England produce is scarce. (A Google map would go along with this too). And my video component would feature interviews with editors of Edible Boston, food bloggers and perhaps some Boston residents who are passionate about local food.

I Live-tweeted the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Let me begin by saying I wish I could have posted pictures of the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, but my phone is archaic. I tried to set up an account with Twitpic, but then I tried to use it from my phone and nothing happened. Well, about an hour later I saw the picture I tweeted, but the text wasn’t there. Maybe I’ll figure it out in the future.

Anyway, I live tweeted the Vegetarian Food Festival. It was basically a large room (a gymnasium in the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College) filled with exhibitors promoting their vegetarian/vegan food and products. And the place was packed, as you can see by my tweets. I think the best thing about it was all the free, delicious food.

I wanted to go there to see if I could learn anything new about vegetarian food that I didn’t know already, and to learn about new products. But I’m a skeptic, so I was underwhelmed by the new products. How many vitamin-infused smoothies can there really be?

What’s unfortunate about live tweeting an event is that you don’t get the whole picture the way you would on a nightly newscast. Pictures would help, but they still don’t provide the whole scene. So Twitter is somewhat limited in the amount of information it can offer (the 140-character limit helps with that too).

The best part was the personal account you can get of an event. I’m always interested in how people spend their time, and I think it’s fascinating to experience someone else’s experience almost as soon as it happens.

Following Twitter for a Day

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ten Twitter users, one day. What did I learn?

First, here are the people I followed: Tyler Florence, Martha Stewart, Grub Street Boston, Bon Appetit, Ruth Reichl, Saveur Magazine, NYT Dining, Chez Panisse, The Kitchn and Mark Bittman. (These are links to websites, for their Twitter accounts, click on the link to my Twitter account on the right, and then see who I’m following.)

Now I’ll walk you through 24 hours (all day on Oct. 26) of these 1o Twitter users:

Mark Bittman started out the day linking to a post about McDonalds on his own blog and an article about greenwashing in the WSJ. NYT Dining and The Kitchn did links to posts on their own websites in the morning, but Saveur started out by retweeting someone who liked one of their recipes. I liked this, it engaged the Twitter user and promoted its website.

Next up was Bon Appetit, which promoted a contest to win the new NYT cookbook, and then Martha Stewart posting pics of her products at Home Depot. I think Martha was my favorite of the day. I’m much more interested in what she’s doing than reading tweets about what’s on her site. If I wanted to know, I would just visit the site, you know? (Side note, in addition to visiting Home Depot, she also met Tony Hawk. She’s crazy!)

So for the rest of the day, I would tell you what the tweets were like in some detail, but it can be summed up like this: NYT Dining, Saveur and The Kitchn just tweeted about posts on their site for the rest of the day, and there was a little Martha thrown in there too. I got nothing from Tyler Florence, Chez Panisse, Ruth Reichl or Grub Street Boston. What a tease! I will say that normally Ruth Reichl’s tweets are quite poetic, for instance: @ruthreichl Black birds swooping into orange trees; beautiful ballet of the air. Cool, bright autumn. Softly poached eggs on hearty white bean stew.

I would have loved to read more from Ruth. I think what I learned is that while Twitter can be a great tool to redirect traffic to your website, I most enjoy it when tweets are about something personal, and don’t feel like another extension of some corporate machine. I think the best way to do it is to focus on the personal, but every so often, throw in a link to your own site to let people know about the work you’re putting out there.

So far, I’ve just been tweeting about myself and not posting links to this blog, which is a huge mistake! Lesson learned.

 

 

A visit to ERC

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

The other day, I paid a visit to Espresso Royal Caffe in the Back Bay to talk to some customers and employees about why they like it so much (ERC has a reputation for being a cool hangout for local college students). Have you been in ERC? If not take a look at my video. Even if you have, you should still check it out – the vibe of the crowd at ERC is always interesting.

A day at the MFA

October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

For a photo essay of the MFA, click on the picture above.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was full of patrons, students and art lovers on and overcast Monday afternoon. The museum is a mecca of cultural touchstones, a house of modern art, a place to pass the time.

“It’s a kind of magical place,” said Karen Taylor, a junior painting major at Boston University. “You can travel the world and travel through through time in the same place.”

Taylor had a drawing class at 10 a.m. and said she decided to stay to look at Greek and Roman sculptures, which are her favorite works of art at the MFA.

“Before I was a painting major, I was a classics major,” said the South Boston native, explaining her love of Greek and Roman art.

Marie Cruz was in the lower level of the museum looking at contemporary paintings by Kristin Baker.

“I don’t know this work but I am very excited about it,” she said.

Cruz said she is passing through Boston on her way to Philadelphia, but stopped at the MFA to look around. She liked an exhibit of RIchard Avedon’s photos, she said, and owns some of his work.

“I love the arts and I was happy to hear [the museum] was open on Mondays,” she said.

Monika Skiba, from Albuquerque, N.M., said she’s an art lover, too. She was in the African art wing, looking at a tribal mask.

“It’s so different – this mask … and the hair is like a wig,” she said.

She had just gotten to the museum and was on her way to the contemporary art, but said she wanted to view the earlier works of art first. This was her first visit to the MFA, and in two weeks she’ll make her way back home.

Slideshows, an analysis

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The New York Times has a slideshow that accompanies an article about author Leonard Koren and his well-designed house. The slideshow is visually fascinating – the design of his house is calm, and modernist and it really adds a depth to the article it accompanies that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Koren lives in Point Reyes, Calif., and the exterior of his house is weathered-gray wood and beachy grasses and plants. His furniture is an eclectic mix of new and old.

The photos don’t seem to be in any particular order – they are just shots from around his house, illustrating his taste and style. The slideshow turned me on to Koren’s books. He writes about ostensibly mundane things, like arranging objects, but elevates them to an art. Overall, the slideshow of his house was relaxing and enjoyable.

Another slideshow from the NYT that I really enjoyed was a photographic tour of John Steinbeck’s summer home, which accompanied an article about his relatives, and the feud that ensued when they each wanted to inherit the house. Similar to the Leonard Koren slideshow, this one doesn’t seem to have any particular order, but rather its an assemblage of random photos taken around his house that capture little idiosyncrasies, like Steinbeck’s unicorn statue on the lawn.

This slideshow really adds something to the article. You can see why his relatives are so anxious to be the keeper of his legacy – his personal touches are all over the house. The photography is of course well executed, and  the captions are descriptive; many of them describe the picture, as well as offer context from the article.

To be able to glimpse inside someone else’s life via slideshow is something really special, and that words, perhaps, couldn’t give you. A photograph is instantly more striking.

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