I'll take a crack and then if you read this post and have more to add, add in comments or post on your site and leave me the link so I can pick up in updates to this post.
First, I think it's important to note that although some major metropolitan areas like Seattle and New York have thousands of active bloggers, we do not have an extremely vibrant blogosphere community ... Yet! I believe it's coming, but as for many trends we lag the coasts a bit.
If I was starting today, with a goal of blogging or just connecting to the blogging community in NW Indiana I would do the following immediately (right after starting my own blog):
- Subscribe to the following sites using Google Reader (Google's free RSS feed reader system - hosted online so it doesn't take much memory at all) take the second web address (right click and choose copy shortcut) and use subscribe button on feed reader to put that address into the field (right click and choose paste) Now Google Reader will give you a feed "headline" everytime this blogger posts. You don't have to go to the site, just your reader to see what's been added.
- Christopher Hedges - RSS Feed for Christopher Hedges Chris is probably the most prolific blogger that I know in NW Indiana, posts on politics and region news and life. There is a second RSS Feed for his comments, and I'd say he gets the most comments of all our bloggers here in the Region as well. Well worth watching on your reader.
- Porter County Politics - RSS Feed for Porter County Politics This is the site you're currently reading. We have five authors, and I'm trying to add a few more this month in anticipation of a lot of political activity over the next 9 months. We've endorsed Jon Costas for AG, Mitch Daniels for Governor and John McCain for President.
- Northwest Indiana Real Estate - RSS Feed for Northwest Indiana Real Estate Another of my sites, focused on real estate trends especially here in Northwest Indiana. Key political rants here focus on cities and towns and their hunger for cash, normally balanced on the backs of developer and home builders.
- Energy Savings - RSS Feed for Energy Savings as the name suggests Aaron writes mainly on energy efficiency and energy savings for homes and businesses. The occasional rant on politics, though his other site NWI Reviews gets more of the political activity.
- Blue County in a Red State - RSS Feed for Blue County in a Red State written by author calling himself Buzz cut with a definite edge. Lots of politics with an edge against fraud and politicians in Lake County.
- Life and Lawns - RSS Feed for Life and Lawns written by Allyn Paul, during the spring and summer almost everything is about landscaping.
- Dripper Underground - RSS Feed for Dripper Underground. Jean writes about a whole host of things, but is a huge Barack Obama supporter!
- Inkspot Printer - RSS Feed for Inkspot Printer. Chris writes about printing, marketing, and politics ... not necessarily in that order. Chris worked on the Jon Costas for Mayor campaign in 1999 and 2003 and knows online marketing.
- NWI Reviews - RSS Feed for NWI Reviews Aaron uses this site to rate websites, blogs and restaurants in Northwest Indiana. Watch for political endorsements and ratings on political websites as well.
- NWI Blogs - RSS Feed for NWI Blogs My original attempt to review and link up all the sites I could find in NW Indiana. Many of the sites listed in the sidebar are inactive, so this list here is my best guess at the people writing most every day. I'm sure I missed some, so if you read this and you got missed, use the comments to leave a link or address.
- Prayeramedic - RSS Feed for Prayeramedic. Dan was using this site for everything he had to say, recently he added Tyranny Watch below, and is using this site predominantly for humanities and religious debate.
- Tyranny Watch - RSS Feed for Tyranny Watch. This is Dan's newest site, with his strongly worded positions on world and political issues, including a decided slant toward Ron Paul.
- South Shore Progressive - RSS Feed for South Shore Progressive. Ok, I'll admit, the only strongly Democrat site I have subscribed. This doesn't mean more don't exist, it means I haven't found them yet. Just think how many Obama or Clinton supporters there may be in NW Indiana on Myspace or Facebook or other similar social blogging platforms. I was just on the site and noticed some links to other possible left leaning sites, I'll keep an eye on them and post if they are active.
- Hammond Ramblings - RSS Feed for Hammond Ramblings. Matt Saliga and his comments and debates about things Hammond and Lake County in general. I think Matt has run for office, or was seriously considering at one point.
- Kevin Tracy - RSS Feed for Kevin Tracy. Our very own Huckabee favorite, who seems to be strong for Republican candidates but also currently leaning toward Bob Barr for President. Kevin is a great writer, even when we disagree he writes terrific, and strongly Catholic to balance the strong evangelicalism of Dan's Prayeramedic posts.
- Post Tribune Jerry Davich - RSS Feed for Jerry Davich. As near as I can tell Jerry is the closest thing we have to an active journalist blogging in NW Indiana. Some other journalists have blogs but they post so seldom that the readership has to be pretty minimal so far.
Sure there are more sites than these, and perhaps this post will bring more of those that are political in nature to the fore. The Times hosts a message board, NWI Interact, which many of us posted on pretty regularly back three or four years ago. Frankly, the message board format is pretty used up and I know many of the commenters have multiple names and there aren't that many serious people on there. They've also added blogging or more aptly commenting to their articles but to date very few people are commenting, and the comments are more like Quicklies ... pot shots from anonymous posters.
2. Next, a rule of thumb in blogging is that if someone comments on your blog, you return the favor and comment back on your own blog (always be the last comment on your own posts) and go to the commenters site and leave a comment on one of their posts. Now, this suggests that the commenter leaves a way of finding them. This creates and maintains active commenting threads and debates. Google loves this stuff, because the deeper the comments go the more active they rate the site for the types of words used in the post.
3. Lastly, at least for now (we'll call this Part One), I did form an online social community for Northwest Indiana Bloggers. Frankly, the campaigns and craziness of 2008 kept me from promoting it well. Here's the address: Northwest Indiana Blogging Social Network ... If we get some members, I'll post more and we can work together more fluidly.
One thing that is often requested is a thorough list of a blogger's social connection nodes, I list many of these on sites not necessarily about politics, but here are a few of mine:
Next time: How to "share" on google reader with friends, how to use twitter to increase readership, political campaign blogs and social networks, micro-blogging live events, photo and video vlogs