Twelve years ago, Lise and I flipped the proverbial switch and turned on iBrattleboro.com, a new type of web site. It used the world wide web to communicate hyper-locally, and gave everyone in town who cared to register a platform for sharing news, events, stories, and opinions of all things Brattleboro.
Since then, we’ve worked to keep things up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round, even on holidays. That’s 4015 days without much of a break, something I’m not sure I would have agreed to up front had I known what was involved, but now I can’t really imagine things without it. That will come someday, but not now. Now we are twelve.
That’s 12 years of non-professional, un-edited, real-community local information. You’ve done a spectacular job.
Every week there are new local stories, photos, and events.
Every week we continue to add a number of new users. Thousands of people have registered to contribute something since the site began, and at almost any time of day 20-50 people are on the site using it. That adds up to tens of thousands of unique visitors each month, eager to see what’s going on in Brattleboro.
Our twitter feed is approaching 1,000 followers. The site is studied by both journalism and government students and professors, and has been imitated in other localities. Traditional news outlets follow the site to look for story ideas.
I’m surprised more local businesses don’t take advantage of advertising to this intensely-Brattleboro audience. I thought it would take 10 years to establish ourselves as a media outlet with excellent local reach. We don’t employ ad people to hound potential advertisers. Maybe some businesses only respond to calls from salespeople?
(Maybe people don’t know that they can have a small ad on the homepage of the site for a full week for $30?)
In any case, what we do here isn’t about money. It’s the DIY media aspect that powers us.
As I see it, the site is about news, information, civics, and community. It’s about asking and answering questions, and exploring options for how we govern and guide ourselves. It’s an historical record, telling a story of early 21st century life, shaped and colored in by hundreds of voices and perspectives, for future historians to stumble upon and explore.
It’s also whatever you, the reader and/or writer think it is. Perceptions matter.
For this 12th birthday, in lieu of or in addition to large cash gifts, perhaps you could tell us what you like about iBrattleboro.
Ready for another 4015 days? I’m going to take an hour or so off, then I should be ready.....