Connections

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Shannon and Nat.  It’s always fun to meet the person behind the page, and Shannon was just as thoughtful and friendly as her writing.  Nat is also as charming as her pictures.  Seriously, everyone in our section of the restaurant was making googly eyes at her, and she very seriously taught us all the names of the parts of her face.  I asked Shannon how it felt to be part of an entourage, and she said "tiring."  We had the obligatory discussion of how even though we met through the internet, neither of us is an ax murderer, and wouldn’t it be nice if all of our blogfriends lived close enough that we could hang out together.

I keep getting emails about different mommy blog communities that I could join — Today’s Mama, ParentsConnect, ClubMom.  I can’t say that I’m particularly interested. For one thing, I’ve already got more blogs bookmarked than I have time to read.  For another, I feel like most of these sites are vehicles for advertising.  [Thanks to Geeky Mom for the link.]  If I were new to the whole blog thing, it might be more appealing.  Or am I missing something?

I’m more intrigued by two other sites I’ve run across that attempt to harness the power of connections for practical ends.

  • Prosper.com connects borrowers and lenders, taking a much smaller middleman slice than banks.  In a world where credit cards charge 18% or more for loans, and bank accounts pay only 5%, there’s a lot of room for mutual benefit.  Interestingly, so far I don’t see much evidence that there are interactions between people who know each other (or who are friends of friends).  That’s the idea behind the groups concept on Prosper — a high tech version of the microlending circles that require groups of borrowers to mutually guarantee each other’s loans.  The idea is both that your friends know better than a credit agency whether you are trustworthy — and that you’re less likely to default if you’d screw over your friends than if you’d only be hurting a stranger.
  • BorrowMe is a site for matching people with things that they want to borrow and lend — baby gear, ladders, weed whackers, books, whatever. I absolutely love the idea (the gift economy in action, with the added benefit of being easy on the environment), but it only makes sense in practice if there is a high enough density of participants that you can find what you need without paying huge shipping costs or driving all over the place.  I’m a beta test member and so far things are pretty quiet, but they’re having a promotion this week where they’re giving away an ipod and a bunch of shirts to people who recruit new members, list things to lend, and actually lend or borrow stuff.  If you’re interested in checking it out, let me know and I’ll email you an access code.  And no, it’s not because I’m trying to win the ipod, but because I genuinely think it’s cool. 

10 Responses to “Connections”

  1. Laura Says:

    The mommybloggers were THE THING at Blogher and I have to say it totally creeped me out. Because these aren’t mommybloggers who have blogs and happen to be moms, but these were moms who happened to have blogs. It was also creepy the way all the marketing seemed to be directed at them (and me, I guess, if I want to categorize myself that way). I wanted to scream: I am not a market segment! I am a human being.
    I thought the power of mommyblogging was cool until it went commercial.

  2. weigooksaram Says:

    The commercialism bothers me too. To me, the whole point of blogging is to be able to say whatever you want, and now I see a lot of women adopting a similar style in what seems to be an attempt to get more traffic, ad revenue, a book deal, etc. But so many of the voices sound exactly the same. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money, of course, but there are so many other reasons to blog.

  3. marthea Says:

    I’d like to check borrowme.com out, could you send the access code? I could have used it this weekend for a lawnmower.

  4. The Zero Boss Says:

    I agree that too much of the mommyblogging stuff is sounding similar these days. It doesn’t seem that the daddybloggers are having the same issues. But then, the brunt of commercialization isn’t targeted at us dads.
    It’s hard to “go commercial” and yet still maintain your sense of identity. Going commercial is fine (hell, I’m not one to pitch a bitch about THAT), but the commercial goals have to be secondary and incidental to your blogging. You have to blog because *you would blog anyway*, regardless of whether anyone was cutting a check for you to do it. If you’re not writing out of love anymore, it’s time to take a break.

  5. Tiny Coconut Says:

    Heh. Well, I won’t comment on the websites, since, you know…I work for one of them.
    I do agree with The Zero Boss (been meaning to say how glad I am to have you back, Jay!) about needing to blog because you would blog anyway. Absolutely. And I would. And have, for three years now. But I can also say that getting paid for blogging? Totally rocks, too. It’s like two, two, two mints in one. (Or something like that.)

  6. Sheel Says:

    if you like prosper, I think you’ll love http://www.kiva.org... It’s like prosper but for micro-businesses in the developing world. They were in Businessweek this week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_31/b3995088.htm?chan=search
    Also, please send me a borrowme invite.
    Thanks!

  7. Pink Says:

    Hey, I’d love an access code for BorrowMe. Since we moved to Cleveland I’ve been trying to do that informally with our neighbors. It would be great to have a bigger network. Thanks!

  8. Lisa V Says:

    I am not talking about the Club Mom bloggers. I don’t read many of them on a regular basis, so I it’s hard for me to comment on them. But the Club Mom blog in general felt like stuff I would read in Family Circle or Ladies Home Journal. Not my demographic.
    Completely jealous you got to hang with Shannon and Nat.

  9. lorrie Says:

    I don’t want to read generic, deliberately middle of the road, non-offensive posts, ya know what I mean? I want to hear the true voices of the writers. Not their fault that this isn’t coming through on the Family Circle blog circuit, but it just isn’t.

  10. Brian Mullally Says:

    While Prosper.com caters mainly to the US market, there’s another site called GlobeFunder.com which caters to the global crowd, especially those living in the third world.

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