- Community, and: Celestial Monochord: Journal of the Institute for Astrophysics and the Hillbilly Blues, and: The Art of the Rural: Considering Rural Arts and Culture in the Twenty-First Century
In the almost twenty years since University of Illinois programmers first popularized the reverse-chronological list—the "What's Next" page eventually built into Netscape browsers—blogs have grown nimble and robust enough to manage anything that anyone might want to convey. Services such as Facebook are further enhancing the blog concept with tools for sharing and communicating among friends. Frequently updated Web sites usually filled with links, news, commentary, or personal stories, blogs were once widely regarded as vehicles for personal rants. Now, a growing number of bloggers are leveraging the format's unique strengths to inform, learn, and tell stories together easily, quickly, and in compelling ways. Those interested in vernacular culture are no exception. While scholarly communication in folklore studies remains largely rooted in traditional publication models, innumerable dialogs of interest to folklorists are underway in the blogosphere. This review surveys three active blogs (as of May 2010) within larger communities of interest, interconnected and socially networked with other bloggers and readers through blog-rolls, comments, backlinks (incoming links), and linkbacks (a method for Web authors to receive notifications when others link to their pages). The blogs discussed below suggest a degree of dialogic connection, if not with blog comment sections then by inclusion in each other's blogrolls, which are lists of recommended links to blogs usually found in sidebar lists.
Not surprisingly, many public folklorists are involving their communities by writing blogs and encouraging traditional artists to use the format. The Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, produces a suite of blogs for connecting, sharing, and understanding regional culture. The center hosts blogs for western poets, writers, photographers, visual artists, and filmmakers and invites the public to engage the artists about their work and share their own. Western is not alone in these efforts. Other folk-arts programs, such as the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, encourage traditional artists to document apprenticeship experiences (http://www.actaonline.org/content/artist-blogs). Western Folklife Center staff entered the blogosphere in January 2010 to chronicle the Twenty-sixth National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Since then, the staff blog (http://westernfolklifecenter.wordpress.com/) has grown to include a range of topics, including a series of entries tracing John Lomax's collecting trips. Another staff-written blog titled Postcards from the Road showcases audio, video, and still images from exhibits, media programs, and events. These entries are preserved in the center's archives.
Individual folklorists within cultural agencies are also blogging. Folklorist Maggie Holtzberg, of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, maintains a blog for Keepers of Tradition: Traditional Arts and Folk Heritage (http://blog.massfolkarts.org/blog/), where she regularly writes about folk-art traditions in her state. An example of one such entry is a profile of a Hungarian [End Page 122] saddle maker skilled in the art of braiding leather into decorative pieces called sallang. Like many public-folklorist blogs, hers is part of a multipronged strategy to share information about and connect with traditional artists on the Web. Holtzberg also maintains a companion online exhibit with an associated audio and video library documenting traditional artists' work. Citylore, a nonprofit arts organization in New York, sponsors a blog called Sense and the City (http://citylore-senseandthecity.blogspot.com/). It features monthly posts by writer Caitlin Van Dusen, who has blogged about traversing a Staten Island boat graveyard, visiting a sidewalk cobbler in Brooklyn, and noshing at Bombay Chat, "a sort of Himalayan bodega/deli" in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Music is among the most popular topics for bloggers. Within folk-music circles, Root Hog or Die (http://roothogordie...