Tue, Jan

The Greatest Canadian... Blog -- Part IV

Tue, Jan 29, 2008

Greatest Canadian... Blog?

The deadline for voting on the second round of the 2007-8 Canadian Blog Awards sort of snuck up on me. This might be the drawback of only voting once rather than once a day — a difference that may focus the mind, but then keeps the awards out of sight and out of mind for most of the days of voting.

But whatever the case, if you haven’t yet voted for this year’s finalists, I encourage you to do so. You have until the end of tomorrow (Wednesday, January 30) to get your votes in. This year’s first round voting has produced an ecclectic set of finalists and a diverse collection of blogs to peruse.

So, without further ado, here’s my quick take on the contestants.

Best Blog

Contenders: Daveberta.ca, Yarn Harlot, Raymi the Minx, Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob, Small Dead Animals

This year’s competition pits two giants: Small Dead Animals has the readership that most of the political blogosphere can only dream of (even if I suspect a fair chunk of that readership are people who visit to pull out their hair). Raymi the Minx shocked the isolationist Canadian political blogosphere by appearing out of nowhere last year to smash our limited world views. Both have extremely loyal readers. It will be fascinating to see the final results.

Who Should Win: Daveberta.ca (though I predict Raymi may take it, here)

The rest of the field illustrates how diverse the blogosphere is, how there is something for everyone, and how those somethings generate fascinating communities all their own. The inclusion of the Yarn Harlot is a prime example of this (a knitting blog competing for Best Canadian Blog? Well, check out the huge community of knitting bloggers out there), and Mike’s Bloggity thing is a good cultural (television) blog that I should be adding to my blogroll.

But I’d like to note Daveberta’s placement in this field. It’s strange that of all the Albertan political blogs out there, the most famous ones to come out of Alberta are run by Liberals. It just goes to show how the blogosphere tilts towards the unusual. But I also used to think that Daveberta was in the shadow of Dan Arnold, the Liberal running the best political blog out there, Calgary Grit. But Daveberta continued regardless, offering his own commentary and showing that there was room for another Liberal Albertan blogger. And with Dan Arnold moving to Toronto, it leaves Daveberta to hold the fort.

How have I managed to miss Daveberta for so long? I’m going to rectify that mistake. He gets my vote.

Surprise Exclusion: None.

Best French-Language Blog

Contenders: Ni.Vu.Ni.Connu, Brem Experience, Le Ciel Est Bleu, Le Blogue de Joseph Facal, Intellexuelle

I fear I have to decline to comment on this one, as my French is atrocious, but it is nice to see French language blogs finally getting some attention from the Canadian Blog Awards.

Best New Blog

Contenders: The Dinosty, WindsorEats FoodBlog, …Scale Down, Windsor, Uncorrected Proofs, Danielle Takacs: Galloping Around the Golden Horseshoe.

The pace of the expanding blogosphere may have slowed (they’re no longer talking about ten blogs being created every second, or some such), but there are so many new blogs hitting the skids these days, it’s always amazing to see those rare few rise to the surface. The Dinosty is a Canadian basketball fan with an attractive looking blog about his passion. Windsor Eats shows that there are good things to eat in Windsor, whereas Scale Down, Windsor tackles the political issues surrounding this border town (since when did Windsor develop such a happening blog community?). NDP Blogger Uncorrected Proofs has been making waves in the Canadian political blogosphere, and Liblogger Danielle Takacs takes up the Liberal cause from her vantage point in the GTA.

Who Should Win: I’m voting for Scale Down, Windsor, because I like an underdog, and because I like what they’re doing. All of the blogs listed here are worthy of winning. I like Danielle’s analysis, but I’d strongly recommend darkening up that red column, and giving your site a black background, for ease on the eye.

Surprise Exclusion: I nominated Conservative Raphael Alexander of Unambiguously Ambidextrous. In just a few short months, he has attracted a lot of attention from the rest of the blogosphere. I don’t always agree with his take on things (he’s more to the right than my other favourite but sadly departed Conservative bloggers Andrew Anderson and Olaf Radawanski), but he’s clearly doing something right. His discussions are always interesting, and he treats his readers with respect.

Best Group Blog

Contenders: StageLeft, Food Court Lunch, Canadian Deals Blog, DeSmogBlog, Peace, Order and Good Government, eh?

This is one category where the Canadian political bloggers still have some dominance. It seems that the subject of politics is one that encourages group activity in what is usually an individual pasttime. It’s hard to argue with yourself otherwise, although that doesn’t stop most bloggers. Stageleft and POGGE are two old hands in the political blogosphere. The DeSmog Blog is an acclaimed environmental blog, while Canadian Deals (a BANPC member!) has made it its life mission to blog about the best deals available for Canadian consumers. The Food Court Lunch is not about food. It appears to be an ecclectic progressive semi-political blog which makes its debut here, and I’m sure that Stageleft and POGGE will make the new guys welcome.

Who Should Win: Stageleft

POGGE has a larger community, and a considerable pedigree, but for the last year Stageleft has been sparking with a wit and irreverence that puts many at ease as they come aboard the comment threads. This is not to say that Stageleft and Balbublican won’t give the trolls and the idiots what for, but fascinating discussions have already taken place among people of diverse political interests. Candace is a regular there, for instance. And with some excellent footage of whale sharks, we have an eclectic mix that is forever interesting.

POGGE cuts it close, but may need a little more time to catch that elusive spark.

Best Blogosphere Citizen

Contenders: Dave Hingsburger of Chewing The Fat, Julie Wilson of Seen Reading, Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog, Dave Cournoyer of Daveberta, Angella of Dutch Blitz

There are some interesting names here, and all of the nominees run awards-worthy blogs, but in my opinion, there was a misunderstanding about what this category should have been about. Most of these nominees are noted for things they have achieved on their own blogs, but what are their contributions to the wider blogosphere?

Who Should Win: Unknown

Surprise Exclusion: I would have liked to have seen Rannie Turrigan of Photojunkie nominated, as it was his work during the early days of blogging that ensured the creation of a Canadian blogosphere community. What about Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing (although he has already had plenty of recognition, and part of the goals of these awards is to spread the attention around). I should have nominated Stephen Taylor, personally. His work in creating the Blogging Tories sparked the creation of several other partisan blogrolls and even the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians, and made the Canadian political blogosphere the hopping place that it is. I’d also nominate Jason Cherniak for his creation of the Liberal version of Stephen’s work, for similar reasons.

Well, maybe next year.

Best Blog Post

Contenders: MegFowler.com: Look at my boobs! I am very smart!, Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob: What’s the male of Feminism?, Knitnut.net: The real reason I support the crack kit program, Knitnut.net: Kindness Meters?, Slap Upside The Head: Town Council Misunderstands Gay Pride Flag

2007 nominee Meg Fowler gets recognized for a post about the conflicting messages being given by the media to young women today while Mike debates the merits of women-only contests. Knitnut gets nominated twice, once with a harrowing story about being a drug addict on the streets of Ottawa and, in a related tale, complains about Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien’s misplaced priorities of scrapping a city drug program, and then metering panhandlers (I’m wondering if these two should have been nominated as a Blog Post Series). Finally, Slap Upside the Head vents about the mayor of Truro comparing homosexuals to pedophiles.

Who Should Win: A tough call, but my vote goes to Knitnut’s Kindness Meters for the whole “say, what?” value. And people think Toronto has problems.

Best Blog Post Series

Contenders: Live from Waterloo: Coming to Canada, Dutchblitz.net: Foto Friday
, Uncorrected Proofs: A Short History of the Labour Movement in Canada and Quebec, One Old Green Bus: One Dozen Canadian Heroes, Canadian Cynic: Keeping us up-to-date on The Surge

Live From Waterloo talks about a subject I’m familiar with: the trials and tribulations of immigrating to Canada, while Dutch Blitz talks about photography every Friday. Uncorrected Proofs gives us a sizable history of the Canadian labour movement (this is probably why he was nominated for Best New Blog) while One Old Green Bus gives us a list of twelve historic Canadian heroes. Finally, the folks at the Canadian Cynic cast their eye upon George W. Bush’s surge of troops in Iraq.

Who Should Win: It’s good to see Canadian history front and centre in this category, but my vote goes to One Old Green Bus for blogging subject matter that’s more interesting to me personally. A close second would be Uncorrected Proofs’ history of the labour movement.

Surprise Exclusions: Spinks’ 101 People Who are Ruining Canada (and 10 Who Are Not) might not have qualified under the Blog Post series category, as it’s an entire blog, but it fits surprisingly well here. Spinks created a controversial list that attracted national attention. Yes, it was one person’s opinions, but it was more than just a curmudgeon’s rant. He qualified everything he said, and backed up his arguments, while at the same time respecting his readers, even those who disagreed with him. Attention on both sides of the political spectrum picked up as the man closed in on number one. Neither side rioted. Both sides just nodded, or shook their heads, and went away having thought.

Another surprising exclusion was Calgary Grit’s multi-blog competition to find the greatest Canadian premier.

Best Political Blog

Contenders: Small Dead Animals, Uncorrected Proofs, Angry in the Great White North, Calgary Grit, Daveberta.ca

A pretty good diversity in the contestants here, even if they are old hands (with the exception of Uncorrected Proofs. Small Dead Animals and Angry in the Great White North bring in the Conservative contingent while Calgary Grit and Daveberta bulk up the Liberal side. The NDP gets attention with Unconnected Proofs. It’s only a shame that the Green Party missed out.

Who Should Win: Calgary Grit, by a mile. He is the most fascinating political blogger in Canada. Dan Arnold has an extensive partisan pedigree — head of the Alberta Young Liberals, active in his provincial party, and one who backed Gerard Kennedy for the federal Liberal leadership. Despite this, he blogs without any blinders. He is willing to accept and acknowledge legitimate criticism of the Liberal Party and he’s not afraid to note when his party comes out looking bad. His analysis is trenchant and always interesting, and he imbues his blog with his decent personality. Calgary Grit has blogging down to a T — he not only gives readers something interesting to read, but he presents a persona that many would love to meet.

Surprise Exclusion: None.

Best Progressive Blog

Contenders Calgary Grit, Stageleft: Life On The [Lower] Left Side, We Move To Canada, Daveberta.ca, Uncorrected Proofs

Calgary Grit, Stageleft, Daveberta and Uncorrected Proofs have already made a name for themselves in other categories, so it’s little surprise to see them here. The blog We Move to Canada started life as a description of an American family’s journey to this country, and has continued as a story of that family’s experience settling in here.

Who Should Win: We Move to Canada, primarily to spread the endorsements around, but also because it’s a well written and attractively designed blog.

Best Conservative Blog

Contenders: Wudrick Blog, Catprint in the Mash, Joanne’s Journey, Small Dead Animals, Angry in the Great White North

Small Dead Animals and Angry in the Great White North are both old hands in this category. Joanne’s Journey is the work of a woman who has been attracting attention both on her blog and in other blogs’ comment threads. Catprint in the Mash is a former member of the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians and Wudrick Blog is a blog that I’ve been meaning to add to the Waterloo Wellington Bloggers Association for a while (a Kitchener Conservative? That’s almost like a Calgary Grit).

Who Should Win: My vote goes to Catprint in the Mash, who takes the libertarian path of conservatism. His posts are always interesting and he treats his commentators with respect. A close second is Wudrick’s blog for similar reasons.

Best Non-Partisan Blog

Contenders: Nunc Scio, Slap Upside The Head, More Notes From Underground, Bow. James Bow., Waking Up On Planet X

Who Should Win: Not applicable.

I’m in this, so of course it would be conflict of interest for me to make an endorsement. However, I will say that all of the contenders here are fine non-partisan blogs, and I myself nominated Waking Up On Planet X for this list.

Best Personal Blog

Contenders: Don Mills Diva, And She Knits Too!, Raymi the Minx, Schmutzie’s Milk Money or Not, Meg Fowler

This category sees a rematch between the interesting personalities of Meg Fowler and Raymi the Minx from last year. New to the mix is the Don Mills Diva, a young mother in one of Toronto’s post-war suburbs and an administrator in Toronto’s film and television industry. The blog, And She Knits Too! isn’t just about knitting, as evidenced by this post describing the woman’s day in court. Finally, we have the hip and eclectic personality of Schmutzie’s Milkmoney or Not, Here I Come, to round out the field

Who Should Win: I was most impressed by the Don Mills Diva, whose blog is easy on the eyes, despite all the pink, and whose personality comes through. And it’s a compelling personality as well, although perhaps the fact that I’m also the parent of a toddler may be making me biased.

Best Photo/Art Blog

Contenders: Doublecrossed.ca, Write About Here, Philogynist, Schmutzie’s Milkmoney or Not, Here I Come, Casi en Serio

Doublecrossed posts a picture a day, no muss, no fuss. Write About Here, Philogynist, Casi en Serio and Schmultzie’s Milkmoney adds commentary to their images. The field has come a long way since Photojunkie and Daily Dose of Imagery dominated.

Who Should Win: Doublecrossed.ca best fits this category, and offers up some fine photography.

Surprise Exclusion: It may not have been a blog, but the work of ex-Polspy’s Sean McCormick deserves mention.

Best Humour Blog

Contenders: Schmutzie’s Milk Money or Not, Mitchieville, Raymi The Minx, Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob, Nag on the Lake

Remember what I said about the eclectic personalities of Schmutzie, Raymi and Mike? That brings them to the Humour Blog category. Joining them is the Nag on the Lake. Mitchieville offers a political tinge to its humour, with some of its contributors showing up on the libertarian London Fog

Who Should Win: My vote goes to the Nag on the Lake, for an active blog, an interesting mix of posts and a clean design.

Surprise Exclusion: Rick Mercer isn’t here! Has the Canadian blogosphere lost its lust for celebrities?

Best Entertainment/Cultural Blog

Contenders: Juice: Entertainment News With Extra Pulp, Nag on the Lake, Mike’s Bloggity Blog Blob, Food Court Lunch, Seen Reading

This category pits the eclectic bloggers Mike and Nag with the entertainment industry watcher Juice. Food Court Lunch is another eclectic blogger, while Seen Reading blogs about books and has an interesting eye for detail in his daily commute in Toronto.

Who Should Win: My vote goes with the understated Seen Reading. I’ve got to give the book lovers some love.

Best Business/Finance Blog (more than 5 blogs due to fifth place ties)

Contenders: Canadian Silver Bug, Idea Drunk, My Name is Kate, Canadian Free Stuff, Uninstalled, Major Persuasion, Flacklife

Now we get into the categories I know very little about, so I’ll leave these links up there for you to decide. I do know that My Name is Kate was among the finalists last year as well, and Canadian Free Stuff is a BANPC alumni.

Best Religious Blog

Contenders: Hell in a Handbasket, Jesus Drives an SUV, Bene Diction Blogs On, Jordon Cooper, Whatever He Says

Who Should Win: I nominated Jordon Cooper this year, and I’m pleased to see him make the final round again. His blog continues to be a fascinating window on a wonderful personality, and it’s well written and well designed to boot.

Best Sports Blog

Contenders: Pedersenmedia, The Dinosty, The Joy of Sox, James Mirtle, Hockey Capital

Best Activities Blog

Contenders: The Genealogist, knitnut.net, Maple Syrup and Poutine, Yarn Harlot, And she knits too!

Unfortunately, I’m not one for sports, and I’m not one for knitting, so I’m not qualified to talk about these blogs. But again we illustrate the depth and breadth of the blogosphere as a community. Of course sports-fans would get together on their blogs — they’re practically an extension of their romper rooms. And as for the knitters? How could they have hoped to keep in touch with each other without this forum they’ve made for themselves.

Best Media/Celebrity Blog

Contenders: Breakfast Television, James Mirtle, Michael Morrison, Rick Mercer, Juice: Entertainment News With Extra Pulp

Ah, here’s Rick! He’s moved up in the world and vacated the Best Humour Category for us regular bloggers. Good on him. smile In a field that used to be dominated by such professional pundits as Paul Wells and Antonia Zerbiasis, we now have the show blog for Breakfast Television and sports journalist James Mirtle competing with the feisty work of such talented amateurs as Juice and Michael Morrison.

Who Should Win: This is not a field I’m familiar with. Only Rick Mercer is really known to me. He’s come a long way; his design is excellent and he’s no stranger to writing these columns. But he also has plenty of attention already, so how one of the underdogs gets a turn?

Best Family Blog

Contenders: The Genealogist. Digging Up the Family with a Keyboard., Frog and Toad are Still Friends, Don Mills Diva, CityNews: Family Matters, Postcards from the Mothership

Three of these five are individuals giving readers an interesting window on their lives. The Genealogist offers practical advice in building family trees, and CityNews offers useful family advice. For my money, though, the best family blogs are about families. Blogging is, for me, an intensely personal experience. I love getting to know the people behind the blog through their blog.

Who Should Win: Postcards from the Mothership is my favourite, although the Don Mills Diva cuts it close. I have to be sure to check out Frog and Toad, though.

Best Local Blog

Contenders: International Metropolis, blogTO, Miss604, Spacing Toronto, WindsorEats FoodBlog

Local blogs really represent cities as bloggers; they can be as diverse and eclectic as individual bloggers, and that’s the case here. Compare Spacing Toronto with its urban planning tilt and activist ethic with the wider ranging blogTO and you’ll see what I mean. It’s good to see Vancouver represented with Miss 604, and WindsorEats strikes me as the little local blog that could. International Metropolis mines the relationship between Windsor and its cross-river cousin Detroit.

Who Should Win: International Metropolis. I nominated Spacing Wire, and they have an excellent blog and an excellent magazine, but I was blown away by this Windsor-Detroit blog. It’s an unusual subject, well written, and excellently designed. It deserves your attention.

Best Sci/Tech Blog

Contenders: Internet Duct Tape, Eastern Blot, Climate Audit, WinExtra, Weighty Matters

I’m sad to say that I don’t know any of these blogs, but they’re all well worth checking out. On a quick inspection, I found this fascinating post about child actors turned science geeks that I wouldn’t have encountered without the Canadian Blog Awards. Check each of these entrants out and make your own decision.

Best GLBT Blog

Contenders: Queer-Liberal, Slap Upside the Head, Montreal Simon, Gay Persons of Color, Screw Bronze!

Who Should Win: I’ve always been impressed with Montreal Simon, especially after this heartwrenching post. The anger he strives to cope with may be hard to take, but it’s real, and his blog is an impressive journey. It was a hard choice, but I ended up voting for Slapped Upside the Head, however, for their well-informed and compelling take on their activism.

Best Podcaster/Vlogger (more than 5 blogs due to fifth place ties)

Contenders: The Audio Circus, commandN, Inside PR, Dotto Tech, CBC Radio Three, Galacticast

I haven’t been listening to podcasts since Greg Staples got out of the business, so visit these sites and make your own decision. I will confess to a strong interest in checking out Galacticast, however.

Best Military Blog

Contenders: What The F*&#!?!?, Military Mom at Home, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Torch, From a Canadian Cadet to an American Soldier

Best Education Blog

Contenders A Difference, The Crux-of-the-Matter, Remote Access, Michael’s English Usage, Open Thinking & Digital Pedagogy

Again, in these two categories, I’m not qualified to make a recommendation. Check out all of these fine sites and make your own decision.

Best Activist Blog

Contenders: Dawg’s Blawg, Chewing The Fat, Glenda Watson Hyatt: Do It Myself, Persephone’s Box, Big Blue Wave

Who Should Win: Dawg’s Blawg. Dr. Dawg has been picking up his game of late, producing one of the best blogs in Canada. He’s well informed, passionate, and makes compelling arguments, and he treats his commentators with respect. I am, frankly, a little in awe of him, as he has an expertise in political thought that I’ll never match, and quite often when an issue breaks, I do go over to his site to see what he’s thinking.

And that’s that. Again, it’s really amazing to see the diversity of thought that’s available out there to be sampled, and all of these individuals should be commended for allowing ordinary Canadians this window onto their souls — either that or these guys need their heads examined.

But enough from me. Check out the links, do! And get voting!

On This Day

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