At a bit of a loose end at the weekend, I thought I would see if there was any mileage in an idea I'd been mulling for a while.
I recently moved to Harborne, a suburb of Birmingham, and was surprised that the district was one of the few in the city without a healthy local community blog. Seeing as I've become a bit of an advocate for these kind of ground-level digital endeavours,
and am very optimistic about their contribution to the future of news and journalism, I'd been wondering if I oughtn't put my money where my mouth was and start my own.
So on Saturday, I did a quick scan of the net and an even quicker poll of some of my Twitter friends and concluded that yes, there was room for a new local blog in my neighbourhood.
So, if ever there was an example of both the power of crowdsourcing via social media and the ease-of-use of ready made digital tools, it was the establishment of The Harborne Mile.
Within minutes of mooting the idea, I had a handful of people volunteering to contribute content, others advising me on the best platforms to use, and examples of good local blogs to learn from.
By the afternoon, the blog was registered and up and running, and by the evening I'd smartened up the design, and added some widgets, content and info pages. I even had some comments offering words of encouragement.
I know I'm lucky in many respects, mostly by having quite a large contacts book, and a modicum of journalistic and technical experience. I'm also lucky to be working in a city which I think can justifiably claim to be a centre of blogging excellence. But I've done nothing that's beyond the reach of someone with a £200 netbook (which I used) and an internet connection.
I'm thoroughly enjoying my foray into community blogging. I learned more technical stuff in two days than I've achieved in years, and love the thought of doing something that will be of value to my neighbours.
I'll share more of what I learn about community blogging as I progress. I think it might be interesting to compare my experiences here with those from the sharper end of my digital endeavours in the coming months.
To find out more about Birmingham's blogging boom, and its leading lights, have a look at BeVocal, which will direct you to other Brum blogs, and is a superb resource centre of tools and data for community bloggers.