Sunday, April 29, 2007

Clinton Hill the "bloggiest" neighborhood? Nah, it's Prospect Heights

[Note: This post has been updated.]

Outside.in, an innovative, venture capital-funded way to organize neighborhood information by collecting work by "placebloggers," has issued a press release claiming to identify America's Top 10 Bloggiest Neighborhoods.

The number one neighborhood: Clinton Hill.

Nah.

Here's Outside.in's methodology:
The results below are based on a number of variables: total number of posts, total number of local bloggers, number of comments and Technorati ranking for the bloggers.

That assumes that blogs are about one specific neighborhood and that the blog is included in Technorati. It also confuses the home of the blog with the subject of the blog.

Clinton Hill & AY

Here's what Outside.in says about its top-ranking nabe.

1. Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
The Neighborhood
The rapidly gentrifying tree-lined blocks of 19th-century townhouses are also home to the Pratt Institute of Art.

Local Blogger
Jonathan Butler, creator of Brownstoner, who quit his Wall Street job earlier this year to run his popular real estate and home renovation blog full-time.

Local Obsessions
Will the nearby mega-development Atlantic Yards destroy the neighborhood's quiet charm? Is the still-hot Brooklyn real estate market headed for a crash?


While Brownstoner is an interesting and popular blog, especially because of the robust comments section, it is hardly a blog focused exclusively on Clinton Hill. (Butler's based there.) Rather, it's a blog about Brooklyn real estate and neighborhoods faced with development.

And Atlantic Yards is hardly the "local obsession" that distinguishes Clinton Hill from other nearby neighborhoods. NoLandGrab is clearly the comprehensive source for Atlantic Yards-related information, with far more posts per day than Brownstoner's total on all topics.

Outside.in relies most heavily on NoLandGrab in its Atlantic Yards section. Its press release didn't mention NLG.

Beyond Clinton Hill

When CNET followed up, in an article headlined Report: 10 communities most likely to spur a blog post, the summary erred:
No. 1 is Brooklyn's Clinton Hill neighborhood. The proposed $4 billion Atlantic Yards project has burned up the blogosphere, said John Geraci, Outside.in's chief product officer. The plan calls for the building of a huge commercial complex, which includes a sports arena, hotel and retail shops.


First, the project would be mostly housing.

Secondly, if Atlantic Yards burns up the blogosphere, then Clinton Hill and Brownstoner are not the main entry point to the controversy.

The press release got picked up by mediabistro, the New York Press blog, Brownstoner, the Brooklyn Heights blog, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, the Clinton Hill blog, and many more.

Park Slope slighted?

The New York Post, in a 4/25/07 article headlined BROOKLYN HAS NATION'S BLOGGIEST NEIGHBORHOODS, added an interesting observation from Outside.in founder Steven Johnson:
Park Slope and other brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods were almost as bloggy, Johnson said, although the official second place went to Shaw, D.C., followed by downtown L.A.

Hm--does that mean that they left out other Brooklyn neighborhoods because they wanted a national list? We can't be sure, because Outside.in hasn't published its methodology.

The home, or the subject?

Putting aside Outside.in's research methodology, I'd say that, for substantial and original content, Park Slope-based bloggers surely surpass Clinton Hill. The Park Slope-based blogs include my Atlantic Yards Report, NoLandGrab (weekday), and Gowanus Lounge--and several other bloggers who post regularly.

But Prospect Heights, because of the Atlantic Yards project, is clearly the most blogged-about neighborhood. The blogs mentioned above, plus Brownstoner, Curbed, Gothamist, Brooklyn Views, Picketing Henry Ford, and more all cover Atlantic Yards.

Why has the project received such blog-based scrutiny? I'll remind people that Brooklyn College's Paul Moses, a former New York Newsday reporter, has said of Brooklyn and the press:
Nowhere in the country do so many people get so little local coverage.

Where to go for AY

And Outside.in posts text ads when you search "Atlantic Yards" on Google, claiming to offer "News and inside info on Brooklyn's most controversial development."

You may indeed be able to find news and inside info, but there's no original content. All the content is coming from somewhere else, notably sites mentioned above.

Following up

Outside.in's Steven Johnson comments below that the list was "more fun than empirical science" and explains that the list "began by counting the location of individual posts, not bloggers."

While I appreciate the spirit of the exercise, I still think it falls short. First, the press release claimed to answer the question "what exactly are America's bloggiest neighborhoods?" I think the word "exactly" was obviously overstating things.

More importantly, if you look at posts grouped under Clinton Hill on Outside.in, a significant number of them--a majority on the home page as of April 30--are about Prospect Heights, especially Atlantic Yards, not Clinton Hill. So proper identification of "the location of individual posts" is crucial to determining the bloggiest neighborhood.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Norman, thanks for the detailed analysis our list.

    First, I hope it's clear from the tone of our introduction that we meant this list to be more fun than empirical science. We did it to draw attention to the placeblogging phenomenon (and particularly the urban placeblogging phenomenon) and of course to draw attention to our own role in that ecosystem...

    As for methodology, we began by counting the location of individual posts, not bloggers -- that's one of the key elements of our approach, that the posts can have a separate location from their blogger. (If you're in Park Slope, but you write an entry about Clinton Hill, we track it as a Clinton Hill post.) Then we looked at which bloggers were based in the top 50 neighborhoods that came up in the initial scan, and then ranked by Technorati authority and comments. We realized of course that Brownstoner does not write exclusively about Clinton Hill, but he's obviously a key figure in the Brooklyn blogging scene, so we thought it made sense to mention him in the summary of the neighborhood. But certainly it's not meant to slight any of the other incredible Brooklyn blogs, AYR included, which we all read religiously...

    And yes, as I said in several interviews, we made one editorial decision: only one Brooklyn neighborhood could make the list. Park Slope would have definitely made it, along with Prospect Heights as well.

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  2. Steven, thanks--my response is above.

    ReplyDelete