Snapshots of the Missouri Arts Blogosphere

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1998: Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone hits U.S. bookstores. Saving Private Ryan wows audiences at the movies. Larry Page and Sergey Brin found Google, Inc. And no one has ever heard the word “blog.”

How things have changed! As of February 1 in this year of 2014, the number of blogs worldwide on just the popular hosting site Tumblr.com was 169.8 million. WordPress.com accounted for another 75.2 million. It’s impossible to figure out how many more blogs there are. Another leading site, Google’s Blogger.com, doesn’t provide public statistics, and these three are far from the only blogging platforms. But we knew for sure that with blogs dedicated to everything from the American Red Cross to photos of cats with their faces framed by pieces of bread, among those bazillions there had to be blogs by Missourians about the arts.

When we set out to find such blogs, we got a close look at not only how the sheer number has zoomed but also how the style and function of blogs have evolved since sometime in spring 1999, when web designer Peter Merholz playfully broke Jorn Barger’s 1997 coinage of “WebBlog” into “we blog.”

“In the beginning a blog was a collection of informal articles where you wrote your thoughts on things that interested you,” recalled Mark Gordon, chief executive officer of the St. Louis web development firm eComand Solutions. These first online personal journals established a basic structure of separate entries in reverse chronological order. That hasn’t changed, Mark said, and “there are still plenty of amateur bloggers who use blogs to give their opinion on specific topics. But blogs have also become a very strong form of marketing. Companies use blogs to give people a more personal view of their business and to keep their websites updated and fresh. People now add images and videos. Each blog has a different take on what a blog will look like. That’s the neat thing about it—you can be pretty creative.”

Here is a sampling of the Missouri arts blogs we found by using specialized search engines like Technorati, IceRocket, and Google Blog Search; by noodling around the internet with keywords; by checking out blogs recommended in the “blogrolls” of arts bloggers we found; and by asking for help from people who follow our Facebook Page or subscribe to our monthly enewsletter, Art Starts Here. We narrowed our selection to blogs that in 2013 updated an average of at least once a month and whose most recent post wasn’t any older than December. We found blogs by artists, arts organizations, dedicated arts fans, travel experts, and news media.

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 Written by Barbara MacRobie from the Missouri Arts Council.

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