July 09, 2005
Ultimate Houston

The Chronicle is running an online contest called Ultimate Houston, and its list of nominees in certain categories has generated some complaints.

What is odd is that CollectSpace.com was nominated [for Best Blogger]. It's a big website, but a website is not a blog. It doesn't even claim to be a blog:

Conceived as a hobby site, collectSPACE has since grown to become the leading resource and community website for space history enthusiasts and space artifact collectors through the provision of original news reporting, collecting guides, and as a virtual meeting place for a truly global audience.

The term "blog" is not to be found on that page. But apparently somebody at the Chronicle wanted to boost Pearlman's "website."

Well, that's one possible explanation for how that site got nominated. Here's another:

Welcome to the 2005 Ultimate Houston Reader Picks ballot. Last month, we asked you to nominate your favorites in more than 200 categories, and you did.

In other words, the five sites listed were the top five named by Chron.com visitors who participated in the nominations process. Is it really a surprise that the readers of a newspaper website might not pick the same list of favorite local blogs that, say, the readers of a blog might? Maybe if we bloggers would pause for a moment from congratulating ourselves for being so revolutionary and new-media-ary, we'd realize that there's still an awful lot of people out there who don't have a clue about who and what we are. And maybe, just maybe, that says more about us than it does about them.

So is collectSPACE a blog? Well, they do have blog-like permalinks to individual entries on their main page, and their main page includes a note of gratitude to their readers for nominating them in the Best Blogger category (for some odd reason, the permalink for that post doesn't actually link to it - it's mysteriously absent from the associated Archive page; since they seem to be using Blogger for their publishing tool, I can't say I'm too surprised by that). Call me a bleeding heart, but that's good enough in my book.

One other point of interest:

The Houston Press's annual "Best Of" lists are always kind of fun. In contrast, the Chronicle probably ought to abort their bad imitation.

Well, some of us still remember one occasion when the Press' Music Award nominees included a band that had been defunct for several years at the time, and they misspelled their name to boot. Unlike the Chron, the Press' list was generated by its editorial staff, not their readers; also unlike the Chron and their erroneous choice for Best Greek Restaurant, the Press never acknowledged, much less corrected, their error. I for one see no reason why the Chron can't compete with the Press in that space.

(Yes, technically the Music Awards are not the same as the Best of Houston. They are pretty closely related, however, with the Music Awards being essentially a special case of the Best Ofs.)

Last but not least, there's the matter of who you should vote for in this contest. If you have only one selection to make, it should be to name 89.7 KACC as the Best Radio Station. If you go ahead and fill in the whole thing, you might consider picking me as the Best Blogger. And thanks very much to those of you out there who helped get me on their short list. I do appreciate it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 09, 2005 to Blog stuff | TrackBack


I haven't seen a blogger lecture on what "an awful lot of people" may or may not know about blogs in a while. That's nice.

In the bH comments, you'll recall that the Chron editor in charge mentions screening the selections for legitimate reader picks. So if some people don't know much about blogs but know just enough to nominate a non-blog or little-known blog (as I finally told Dwight, take your pick!), perhaps the editors could help them out a little -- just as they finally helped out with the Greek Restaurant category (thanks to some of those self-obsessed, self-congratulatory, new-media types who seemed to be the target of your above lecture point). If the people don't know, sometimes they need a little help, as you yourself suggest Charles!

The notion that CollectSpace is among the top blogs in town is funny. The notion that a Mediterranean restaurant is among the top Greek Restaurants in town is funny. The notion that Chris Baker isn't among the top radio personalities in town is funny.

The editors could easily have made those things less funny. That three Chron editors joined our little conversation (a reference from Jarvis, another unashamed, self-obsessed, self-congratulatory, new-media enthusiast) is a pretty cool development, and yes, that we helped convince them to change one of the three is also not bad for a few self-obsessed, self-congratulatory, new-media enthusiasts.

I didn't say the Chron can't compete with the Press for Best Of awards. I said they're doing it badly. But of course they're going to do it -- such things potentially generate interest among readers and they're fun, and the Chronicle needs more of both.

I also didn't reference the Press's Music Awards, which are distinct from their Best Of selections not just "technically" but substantively, and I'm unclear on the relevance to this conversation beyond the fact that a little ol' blog managed to get the Chronicle to change its thinking on at least one category this time around, and the Press music people weren't so receptive to that criticism from a different blog three years ago. I'm tempted to say times and attitudes are changing, but that would really give me away as one of those self-obsessed, self-congratulatory, new-media enthusiasts, eh?

Posted by: kevin whited on July 10, 2005 11:13 AM

Oh Charles, please!

I didn't even know about this whole Ultimate Houston thing until our friends at Lone Star Times pointed it out. They were the ones who first mentioned it was odd that our blog wasn't in there.


We do the blog because we love it and if we had no readers, we would still do it.

The purpose of questioning Ultimate Houston was that some other categories were clearly screwed up or lacking obvious choices. Don't you find it strange that the only newspaper columnists nominated were from the Chronicle? I do. Don't you find it strange that Chris Baker was missing? I do, except that many Chris Baker listeners probably don't even bother with that newspaper anymore.

And, yes, this is the result of letting readers do the picks, but that's kinda the point. If the Chron wants to do it that way, some obvious picks will most be likely overlooked, and someone will point that out. And if the Chron really wants to let readers do EVERYTHING, then it might be a good idea to add an editor's choice, because otherwise it's not really Ultimate Houston. It's more like Chron-readers-who-saw-a-graphic-on-the-side-of-the-website-or-actually-opened-the-newspaper-and-then-took-the-time-to-nominate Houston.

Best of luck to you! You sounded great on the radio yesterday. =)

Posted by: Anne on July 10, 2005 12:10 PM

Anne, Kev,

This is arrogance that betrays even your own prior works:

Anne: "And, yes, this is the result of letting readers do the picks, but that's kinda the point. If the Chron wants to do it that way, some obvious picks will most be likely overlooked ..."

Obvious to whom? Are we to believe that Anne Linehan is the authoritative source on blog rankings in Houston? Let's just call this what it is Anne ... arrogance.

Kevin: "The notion that CollectSpace is among the top blogs in town is funny."

Funny if one presumes that they also have a monopoly on knowledge of blogs. My sense is that the inclusion of a non-political/newsie blog such as this both backs your self-congratulatory, new media self in one sense: blogs are filling a lot more niches than those areas covered by political blogs. But since this is coming from one who has previously (and, I would add, deservedly) Best Blog of Houston from the Press in 2003, I think it warrants a mention that part of the very justification of the award you received was for the diverse, non-political coverage that mixed with the current events posts. Yet here you are, of all people, knocking another blog who is up for nomination based on non-news blog coverage. Again ... arrogance.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on July 10, 2005 3:45 PM

I tried to vote for you but I got this message after I hit the submit button:

"The monthly result submission limit has been reached for this account. Your form results were not saved. Please contact the form owner."

I haven't lived in Houston since 1997 but I did get a kick out of seeing Ed Brandon's nomination for weathercaster. I can't believe that guy's still around. Now where was Ron Stone?

Posted by: duhnonymous on July 10, 2005 3:58 PM

Greg -- my comments did not refer to blogs. My comments referred to other categories. If you want to specifically deal with blogs, I would suggest there are plenty of blogs that should have been on that list, and bH would not be one of them.

Tom Kirkendall, Laurence Simon, Banjo Jones, Kuff, and PubliusTX would be on my list. If it were six choices, you would also be on my list.

My comments did refer to newspaper columnists (the Press has some, plus there are at least two Spanish-language papers, and assorted community newspapers), and radio hosts. You don't think that Rich Connelly and Robb Walsh are obvious choices? Chris Baker, the #1 talk radio host, isn't an obvious choice? That doesn't mean they'd win, but if the dang thing is called Ultimate Houston, shouldn't they be in there?

The fact that the Greek restaurant category was messed up shows that the reader-picks system is not infallible.

That's not arrogance; that's personal opinion, and what is a blog for if not personal opinions and preferences? You seem not to be shy with your personal opinions on your own blog, and while I often disagree with your opinions, I never mistook your personal opinions for arrogance.

Posted by: Anne on July 10, 2005 4:26 PM


In the spirit of Kay Bailey Hutchison, I shall devote the next six years towards moving up a notch or two on that list.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on July 10, 2005 5:19 PM


Oh yeah, I'm sure it'll be near the bottom of your to-do list. =)

Posted by: Anne on July 10, 2005 10:04 PM

what about voting for "your" favorite air personality...perhaps a humble yet loveable dude from spring branch who has survived the deregulation of radio and stuck around to do good in his hometown rather than chasing the bedouin trail of corporate greed and syndication..hmmmm...maybe?
forgive his overt hedonism and embrace his "communitarian" spirit and outspokeness!

Posted by: OUTLAW on July 10, 2005 10:34 PM

You'd put KACC ahead of KPFT?

OK, OK, maybe so. KPFT is certainly not for everyone. But somehow I bet it'd appeal to readers of this blog.

Maybe by next year, your fine city will join Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi in having an Air America affiliate. But until then, KPFT is your only real alternative to right-wing corporate radio.

Posted by: Mathwiz on July 16, 2005 2:49 PM