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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

BetterKnowanSFBlog -- SFist

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 8:00 AM

Every Tuesday morning, the SF Weekly news blog The Snitch profiles one of the Bay's many cool blogs in a segment we call -- BetterKnowanSFBlog. This week: SFist.

By Tyler Callister

In contrast to bloggers like Gizmodo's Brian Lam, Brock Keeling doesn’t seem too attached to gadgets. That’s probably why Keeling, editor of the popular city blog SFist, accidentally left his cell phone at a bar the other day. Luckily, he’s also got enough old school flavor to have a landline, so he was able to speak to me from his SoMa District home in San Francisco.

Keeling, who's 33, got his start in print media as an editor for SF Weekly, but with his new job he's discovered that...

the instant nature of online media provides a more intimate relationship with readers. “At SFist, people let you know right away what they feel about you,” he said.

Reader participation at SFist is high for a local blog. The blog encourages readers to submit compelling tips and wacky San Francisco photos. One recent highlight includes this picture of some woman modeling in front an oil spill cleanup crew at one of the closed beaches:

Click here for the full photo from Messtiza on Flickr

Another blog post highlight was Keeling’s story (titled "Gus Van Sant Hates Us") about his attempt to get a bit part in Van Sant’s upcoming film about Harvey Milk. Keeling, in a playful, self-deprecating Charlie Brown tone, describes how he showed up at the audition completely nervous, listened to the other auditioners brag about their previous roles as extras in big movies, tried to snap a few pictures of Van Sant in the process, then went home to wait for a call about the part. “No one called. No one," he writes. "We didn't get asked to return in Sant's presence to tryout for a speaking bit because we're ugly, fat, and everyone in the world totally hates us, and that's cool.”

SFist is part of a network of fourteen “ist” blogs throughout the world — Chicagoist, LAist, DCist, Austinist, Phillyist, Seattlest, Bostonist, Houstonist, Sampaist, Torontoist, Londonist and Shanghaiist. The flagship site is Gothamist, one of the most popular city blogs on the web with over 65,000 unique visitors per day.

Keeling is a man who proves that the blogosphere is no longer just the nerds' sandbox. His first foray into blogging was a blog about his cat (although nothing as nerdy as lolcats). Like many bloggers profiled on BetterKnowanSFBlog, Keeling has almost no formal tech training.

SFist, which has a site traffic of 585,000 pages per month, has all the elements of a daily paper — from news to sports to arts and entertainment. SFist even has a comic called Tales of Mere Existence — a bizarrely poetic cartoon by the local artist Lev.

Keeling, just like Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas, argues that even though blogs don’t have fact checkers, the commenters act as fact checkers. (And, as Metroblogging's Jason DeFillippo points out, the lack of an editorial middleman may actually be an advantage — a pure transmission from writer to reader).

Keeling may or may not be a nerd, but he firmly believes that online media is the future. He used to work in print media, but is he nostalgic for the look and feel of the printed page? “I think it’s just that — nostalgia,” he said. “You have to be careful not to fetishize it. Sure, everybody likes the smell of old books. But I don’t think it’s very realistic anymore.”

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Ty Callister

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