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The Blogerati Files: Pony

This week in the Blogerati Files, Pony .

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
Observations, articulations, dedications and celebrations.

Why did you start blogging? What's your blog's birthday?
My blog's birthday is March 29, 2001.

While researching online communities at the tailend of the dot com era, I came across happyrobot.net. I started a really fun email exchange with the webmaster, Rich*. Eventually he built a little web-based submitter to post my ramblings. I hadn't ever heard the term blog before, but I was tickled that a handful of folks were reading my stories.

(*Rich hates the word blog, so this article will totally make him cringe.)

I have kept writing this for six years because unlike keeping a notebook, you have an audience, and something about posting it online gives it weight and makes it content.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
On and off since 1986.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto? Did you blog about it?
No one moment jumps out at me. Toronto is one of those cities where people don't usually talk to each other on the street, prefering their own contained little bubble. But every now and then there will be a shift in the wind or weather, and it seems that everyone is in your face, getting their crazy on. Spring, after a long winter, is one of those times. Are you feeling it?

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
Hmmm...So much! I grew up in the Annex, around Bloor and Spadina, so I guess I have seen that part of Bloor go from the "Schnitzel Strip" or the "Sushi Strip".

And there used to be more buskers. Or the buskers were better.

I have seen the area around Trinity Bellwoods Park go from kind of sketchy to uber-yuppie. Oh, someone give me a time machine and a real estate agent....

At this point, i'd like to say something about bland gentrification and lack of affordable housing, but i will save that for my blog.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
I would love to go back to the late sixties/early seventies, when writers such as Gwendolyn MacEwan, Margaret Atwood and Matt Cohen were being coffee house bohemians, and writing their first books/poems. Or maybe the punk scene in the 80's - mind you, how punk could it have been when you couldn't shop on Sundays.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Oh geez. That is a hard one. Anyone who is using their creative energy to effect change and make this city more liveable, interesting, and accessible.

I also like that religious guy who plays the harmonica in Trinity Bellwoods, and blesses you as you pass. And the really nice lady who owns the corner store who always says something sweet about my baby.

Do you have a favourite free WiFi spot?
I don't have a laptop.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog? Do you know your blog's most visited post?
I try to avoid looking at stats too often - they make me feel strange. My most commented post occurred when my I asked people to leave a comment if they read me.

My favourite posts are the ones from travelling or the ones I composed when I was pissed off. I remember that one day it occurred to me that there are all these conspiracy theories about how rock stars were killed by their witchy girlfriends. And it really pissed me off how sexist that was.

So I wrote this post called "To All the Rock Stars I've Killed Before".

That one is a fave.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
Would it make you feel better if I told you you were the first? On my blog's 4th birthday, a bunch of people got together and wrote tributes. It was the best blogging day ever.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? If so, how did it go?
I have met a few people that way, and it is the weirdest, most unavoidably narcissistic thing ever. "So...you know stuff about me based on what I write about myself." But once you get over that, it is pretty cool. I forget that people I don't know drop by my blog. It's way-flattering.

Who are your favourite blogger(s)?
I love the stuff my sister writes in her blog from Tel Aviv called "On The Face". She is a great, compassionate storyteller.

Otherwise, I heartily recommend checking out the other writers on happyrobot. They are a sweet, odd, and funny group of folks living mostly in Brooklyn, Toronto, and North Carolina.

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
I love events that work work the big-city-small-community aspect of the T-dot. From zombie walks to Nuite blanche to Car-Free Sunday in Kensington Market.

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
A plate of nachos. I don't know why. I just like sharing a big plate of nachos with friends.

Speaking of food, do you have a favourite Toronto lunch spot?
Many! The Golden Turtle (Ossington and Argyle) makes the best pho. The Gladstone has great sun-drenched atmosphere (and fits strollers), and Perola's (Augusta) on the weekend has kickass pupusas for 2 bucks a pop.

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Oh man. How about: no matter how well you think you have masked you identity, or how small your audience, the last person you want to read your blog will find it. Yes, the internet is that powerful. And no matter how absurd or satirical your tone, many people out there don't get satire - so be prepared to be taken literally.

That said, this medium is isopowerful when it is vulnerable and human. So use your own voice - don't hide behind some faux-pundit tone. At the very minimum our stories make people less lonely. At their best, the dialogue through blogs can galvanize real social change.

Have any advice for would be bloggers? What do you think is the best route to raise a blog's profile?
Consider yourself part of a community. Don't just use your online space as a sounding board or brain dump. Tell good stories, and when you read something good, comment on that person's blog and share that link with your audience.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Preaching to the choir, here, but I wanted to add that for every person who ignores their life for a virtual existence, there is a story of someone who has found great friends through the medium. I have a sister in New York who laughed when I told her I had friends from my web community. Then she married one of them and they have an awesome little girl together.


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