I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and so at late hours, I hop online. The vexing part of Facebook is the way that it tells you who else is online. But are they really online, or did they fall asleep with Facebook open?
There is a certain class of person who, when identifiably online in the early morning, is almost always really online. These are the media workers of our community. Paul Lundgren, whom I saw at Chester Bowl Fall Festival, joked that PDD barely runs if he is not on the wheel (like a hamster on the wheel, generating the energy to keep the servers afloat). This is doubly true of media workers of all types — on the wheel at all hours.
So, for example, when I am groggy at 3am and I see Dana Thayer online, I know she is not groggy and sleepless; she is getting the 7am news ready on Fox. I didn’t realize there was a 7am local news until recently (I caught it the first time because it was the show immediately before the Simpsons). But would I rather watch good local news instead of listening to people in New York tell each other that they are a family for two hours starting at 7am? Absolutely.
If it’s 10pm, long after most of us have gone to sleep, and I notice that Naomi Yaeger Bischoff is online, I know that the Budgeteer is being put to bed. Full disclosure: I write for them once in a while. But even if I didn’t: the Budgeteer is, for all intents and purposes, the lake in our media landscape. Sometimes tempestuous (seen those editorials?), sometime placid and calm, and sometimes, when you have lived here for a long time, taken for granted. But like the lake in our actual landscape, it is sometimes hard to imagine our media landscape without the one newspaper delivered free of charge to nearly every address in our community.
Naomi expresses her creativity and her relationship to her community in multiple ways, for example, in photography. This is not a second life; if the goal of the journalist is, in part, to tell her community’s story, Naomi tells it in print and in pictures.
If it’s 5am, Ed Newman is probably online. Like Naomi, Ed works in language and in images, but he’s telling a corporate story — as director of advertising at AMSOIL.
What I think most striking about Ed is the way he pulls the visual creativity that suffuses his personal life into his professional work — even working his own paintings into advertising design (as he discussed in conversation with students at UMD). Ed has managed to make telling his story and telling the AMSOIL story an interconnected project, one that means as much to me as the name emblazoned on the side of the arena.
If it’s just before 9pm, Dan Hanger is going to update his status to tell me that the news is about to start.
If it’s an erratic hour, Dann Matthews, John Hoban or Kevin Mickelson are online… Kevin is the only one of the social media users here to invite his fans to watch him compose a role-playing game supplement. I have never been more excited by something that I nonetheless left after ten minutes. (It’s not fun to watch anyone write.) But the thrill was real, briefly.
The thing I missed most, when I moved to Duluth, was that there was no 24 hour Kinkos. In a major city, a 24 hour copy shop is the spot where creative energy collects. Maybe, in Duluth, it collects online in the wee hours.
What kinds of creative types do you find online after dark?