The last Nashville is Talking post went up with a dateline of "11:34 am - February 8th, 2010." I don't have it in me to write another obituary today, so I'll just say it's a shame.
Nashville is Talking was an enormously important factor in the success and energy of the Nashville blogosphere -- indeed, of all Tennessee's. In its heyday under Brittney Gilbert, it was an important place for bloggers and blog readers to come together to argue, fuss, fight, flirt, make up, make friends, and keep up on what was going on in the lives of our fellow Tennesseans.
Under Christian Grantham, the scope of Nashville is Talking changed, and a reader might have found anything from instructions on how to enact change in one's own neighborhood to court documents embarrassing to local internet celebrities.
Anyway, it was a good time while it lasted. So I asked Brittney Gilbert if she wanted to wax nostalgic with me. She said yes. And then we made out. Okay, not really. Just checking to see if you were still reading.
Catch the interview after the jump.
So, Brittney, today is the last day for Nashville is Talking. Back in the day, you were the first NiT blogger. So, I thought it might be interesting to take a second and get all nostalgic. Care to join me?
From my perspective, when I was just starting out as a blogger, NiT was a huge deal. There was a vibrant community, people saying a lot of interesting things, and great discussion. The first few times you linked to me, I felt... I don't know... really thrilled that some important media person was validating my ideas. (Ha, maybe I shouldn't ask questions that reveal what a goober I am.) From your perspective, did you know you were doing something revolutionary?
When I went in to talk to Mike Sechrist about blogging for WKRN, I thought he meant he wanted me to volunteer. Like, blog a few hours a week for them for free. When I got to his office and he said he wanted to pay me to blog 40 hours a week, I knew right away that we were about to embark on something revolutionary.
Mostly because no one had ever done that before: hire someone full-time to blog from within a newsroom.
The idea for Nashville is Talking, which was born by Terry Heaton and realized by Mike Sechrist and team, was genius. I had been blogging for six or so years without knowing who else in the area was doing the same. Once I began scouring locally for bloggers, magic happened. I discovered some serious, serious talent in Tennessee, most of which was going unnoticed.
As I trudged ahead blindly I watched people grow. I watched their blogs explode. I watched fast and firm friendships get made. I saw people who would have never communicated otherwise fight and make up and hug and become better for it all.
Kinsey is right. It was messy. But it was also miraculous. Bloggers I discovered, like Kleinheider, now made their living doing what they love. You have an audience in the Scene now. Katie Allison Granju just signed the Dooce/HGTV deal. These people were all under the radar before Nashville is Talking, and now they are flourishing. So yes, I knew.
NiT, in its day, really coalesced the Nashville blogosphere into a unique and lively community. With so many other forms of social media — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — it seems a lot more difficult to get that kind of genuine interaction. Even WKRN's current general manager calls NiT a "quaint reminder of how we all got started," made obsolete by newer forms. Do you think blogs are less important than they were? Or maybe just more ordinary?
Blogs are now like cell phones. Just about everybody has one. Which is great, but yes, it has diluted their impact. However, I think there is lots of room on blogs for long-form writing that has taken a back seat to status updates and Twitter quips. I think we may also see them make a resurgence in those who took to the medium best.
And what of the blog aggregator? I guess I feel like, as people use more and varied streams for expressing themselves, the need for trusted curators actually increases. It seems like there's a subtle difference between just pointing to what people are saying (aggregating) and weeding through to the good stuff (curating)? If there's not someone (or many someones) to point you to the stuff worth looking at, how does a person find it? But I wonder what you think. Is NiT an experiment whose time has passed or did the granddaddy of an important social movement just die too soon?
Kottke.org is one of the best sites on the internet. It is also one of the most popular. Kottke is a curator, and through him I find some of the web's best gems.
I think Nashville is Talking, no offense to Christian, died long ago. It may be "going dark" now, but when the blog became a multi-media site that required log-ins to comment, it took a big hit. And while Grantham has a great nose for news, I am not sure he was as versed in community engagement. Nashville is Talking moved away from promoting local bloggers, and that is where I think it suffered most.
Frankly, if I were to move back to Nashville, I might start up something similar to what Nashville Is Talking once was. I miss the community that was cultivated and grown to something amazing. Because I do think there is a need for an aggregator of all the online talent in Middle Tennessee, and not just the political one at Post Politics.
I wonder if the Tennessee bloggers will miss NiT.