now, that is something I did not expect.
Last update: July 24, 2006 – 1:10 AM
Minnesota's blogosphere is intensely personal
Regular folks are using blogs to share their lives with the world - whether it is interested or not.
John Reinan, Star Tribune
Steve Eck bought a TV on his lunch hour. Allison Tripp-Russo is going to a karaoke bar. And Andrew Mogendorff's son found a booger.
We know this because all three felt compelled to describe the events in their blogs. We gave these Minnesotans the Internet -- the most powerful communication tool in the history of civilization -- and this is what they're using it for?
But Eck, Tripp-Russo and Mogendorff are more the rule than the exception among the more than 12 million Americans who blog -- a number that doubles every six months, according to the Pew Internet Project.
While a handful of bloggers have gained fame and a few even make money at it, most aren't in it for glory.
Adopting colorful online identities such as Nihilist in Golf Pants, Salted Wound and No Name Slob, they write about their cats and their struggles with lawn care, sharing with the world the details of lives that are not exactly extraordinary.
"Ladies and Gentlemen: At the end of banking hours on this very day, I, Barrett Chase, will for the first time in my adult life, be entirely free of all debts, public and private," Duluth blogger Barrett Chase announced to readers of his blog, The Product.
"I'm not wearing my rings today (because they kept slipping down & I didn't want to have them fall off, I think this happens often with my fingers in the summer)," Tripp-Russo wrote in her blog, Sophic Journey. "Anyhows: I'm having an awful case of the 'ghost rings' -- I keep trying to adjust rings that are not there. Heh."
Modern day diary
We've always had an urge to record our lives, said Thomas Augst, an associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. Augst's specialty is the study of 19th-century diaries, and he sees similarities between today's bloggers and those forgotten people who carefully documented their everyday activities some 200 years ago.
"These ordinary people, who had no realistic expectation of achieving fame or success -- why would they record their thoughts?" Augst said. "There's a very moving quality even in the ridiculous, mundane things people spent their time writing about, then and now.
"It can look trivial, but there's something meaningful in it," he said. "People think their ordinary lives have a dignity that is worth commenting on, even if no one else ever will."
Tripp-Russo, a working mother of two from Richfield, said her blog helps keep life organized.
"I post about my exercise to keep myself motivated," she said. "If I'm posting about things I'm trying to get done, I'm more accountable. It keeps me following through on my goals to share those goals with friends."
Some do harbor dreams of gaining fame through their blogs. Christa Lawler, a Duluth sportswriter, said her personal blog allows her to experiment with writing approaches.
"I'm single, and I'm 30, and I live in Duluth, which is not the most exciting place in the world to live," Lawler said. "I kind of like to write about Duluth and how crappy it is and drinking."
Lawler adopted a party-girl persona for her blog, Big Giant Tampon Commercial, but said she reined it in after realizing that her family was reading her postings: "I'm worried that someone might try and ship me off to rehab."
Easier than mass e-mails
Andrew Mogendorff moved from Scotland to Minneapolis seven years ago and uses The Mogenblog to keep far-flung relatives up to date on Toby, his 3-year-old son.
"It's easier than sending e-mails to tons of people," he said. In one recent entry, Mogendorff harnessed the power of the World Wide Web to tell the story of -- well, here's the item.
"I had an 8am meeting this morning -- kind of harsh -- and Emma also had an early start so it was a bit of a dazed rush out of the house," Mogendorff blogged. "In the car at one point Toby said 'Hey, Daddy, look!' 'What is it, Toby?' 'I found a finger booger!' 'What's a finger booger?' 'It's just something you ... discover.' "
Mogendorff laughed when asked why he blogged about that.
"Just because it was funny. You know, kids say the darnedest things," he said. The Mogenblog has even had some practical benefits.
"Toby had a stammer," Mogendorff said. "I did a little research and put something [on the blog] about that. Maybe 10 times, somebody has e-mailed to say, 'Thanks for helping out -- I've been having the same issue.' "
Blogging to lift spirits
It was a blog that brought the Honey Bunny to Minnesota. Jeanne Griffin started blogging in 2002, when she lived in Boston. She ran across Minnesota Stories, a popular local blog.
"That was one of the reasons I wanted to move to Minneapolis -- I just thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen," said Griffin, who blogs as Honey Bunny. "Then, once I started writing about how I was going to be moving to Minnesota, a lot of people who were complete strangers started saying how happy they were that I was moving and offering to meet us."
Griffin's favorite blogging topic is her cat, Lola, but her posts range from cooking to movies to her fledgling jewelry business.
"If I'm depressed or not feeling good, writing helps me," she said. "Even if nobody reads it, just writing helps me feel better."
John Reinan • 612-673-7402