I am not a blogger.  In fact I’m not computer savvy in any way whatsoever.  I mean, I only just realized that my laptop had a DVD drive.  I am not joking.  The extent of my Internet usage doesn’t really span beyond Google and Facebook and I’ve only just mastered Netbank.  

But disclaimers out of the way now.  Given that net communications was a compulsory Media and Communications subject, I thought it would focus more on the evolution from hard copy newspapers to online news and the differences between the two.  I did not anticipate such a major focus on blogging, so in hindsight, this subject was probably not the best choice for me, given that I have never really had any interest in blogs. 

Despite my best efforts, the intricacies of blogging still remain somewhat a mystery to me and my technical skills (or lack thereof) made the whole blogging process very difficult.  

One such instance where my lack of blogging knowledge really let me down was the ‘frequency of posting’ element.  I’m not trying to excuse myself at all, but it didn’t even cross my mind that when you start a post on the wordpress forum, the date and time is automatically recorded.  I wrote all of my formal posts in Word first because I wanted to draft and redraft before submission.  I thought that posting on wordpress was final and once posted could not be edited, so I was apprehensive to post anything.  As such, all of my posts are now listed as being posted at the last minute.  I’m very disappointed that I didn’t realize this earlier and understand that my mark will be significantly lower because of it.  This is my face right now.  

this is what my lack of net knowledge has done to me


Nevertheless, my one and only experience with the blogosphere was overall positive.  In terms of the assignment itself, I really enjoyed the informal tone and ability to write however I wanted.  On the negative side, I felt that in the end, my chosen niche of breakfast didn’t really have an overbearing presence on the blog, given the nature of the required posts.  It seemed as though choosing a niche was completely unnecessary except for the ‘anatomy of a post’ post and the odd reference to a niche blog.  I mean, when I’m out for breakfast I’m not thinking about the comment cultures and intellectual property, so I guess net communications and breakfast blogging didn’t really gel for me and I found it quite a strain to link the net communications posts to anything in the world of breakfast.  

I found the platform of wordpress, hmmm, ok.  I found it a bit restrictive in terms of design and it took me a long long longgggg time to work the simplest of things out like how to properly use the dashboard and the addition of a blogroll.  Also, I hate the photo uploading tool.  I hate it.  I never worked out how to crop a picture, despite my best efforts, so several of the pictures I had for the blog never actually made it.  If (and that’s a really big if) I ever decided to make another blog, I think I might give a different platform  go.  I must also add that my housemates and I chose he cheapest possible Internet connection, which several times resulted in me storming out of the room and slamming the door in wordpress’ face.   

Overall, I think being a really good blogger requires a lot of passion and a great interest in what you write about.  It’s a lot of hard work and for amateur bloggers without dedicated following, there is little return.   

This is all sounding quite negative.  I actually quite enjoyed the experience, I mean it was a good excuse to eat lots of scrambled eggs for ‘research purposes.’

My final bit of bloggy advice.  Go watch The Breakfast Club while eating Small Block ricotta hotcakes.  Heaven!

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are we like minded? is a rabbit with a pancake on its head kind of creepy?


“Blogs create communities of like minded people”Geert Lovink.  

No offence Geert, but I don’t think that’s a particularly prodigious observation.  Of course blogs create communities of like minded people – people visit blogs for a reason, because they’re interested in what the blog has to say.  One can safely assume that the producer of the blog is also interested (hopefully).  So bingo.  Target audience + specific content = like minded people.  Niche blogging may have narrowed the field for these ‘like minded people’ by offering more specific content, but by making blogs more specific, surely followers of these blogs have a particular interest in the content being produced?  

I’m just speculating here…  

I’m not saying that ‘like minded’ people will always agree.  Just because you have a particular love for breakfasting in the general Carlton area does not mean that you will agree with me that the coffee at Cafe Cocca Nova is rubbish.  Obviously though, this is not a matter of life and death and not likely to spark any particularly rousing debates.  In my research for this subject, I have not come across any serious disagreements on Melbourne food blogs other than the odd ‘hey I kind of liked that restaurant you said wasn’t that great.’  Conversely, The Age online, a site I frequent much more than any food blog, receives a huge number of comments offering numerous differing opinions.  (Now I’m aware that this is not a blog, but it’s the same principle and it receives more interesting posts than any food blogs.) One issue of late that has led to a great deal of user generated content and debate is the burqa: to ban or not to ban.  This article recieved a comment from ‘confused’ in direct retaliation to the content posted in the piece.  

“Another pathetic attempt at making this religion appear something it is not. Anyone who states with conviction that the niqab is not a symbol of oppression is clearly as radical and brain washed as the men that imposed these sanctions.”

This comment is aggressive (“pathetic,” “brain washed”) and would be offensive to many people, but obviously ‘confused’ is not afraid to put his opinion out there.    

I do agree with Geert Lovink’s belief that “if you disagree with a fellow blogger…it is much safer to post the remark on your own blog.”  People use the web as a form of protection; they’re not scared to say things online they might not usually say face to face, but as Geert says, you’re less likely to step on toes if you do not directly comment a negative opinion on someone else’s blog.   But if you’re really passionate about something and you’ve got a worthy opinion, why not just say it!  But make sure it is said in a respectful manner.  Nastiness is nastiness, face to face or over the web.  Netiquette should be no different to the etiquette we use in our daily lives.  Virginia Shea‘s book Netiquette states 10 specific rules of netiquette, including: ‘Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life,’ ‘Remember the human,’ and ‘Help keep flame wars under control.’  Worthy advice, Virginia.    

 I’m definitely more of a passive reader than an active commenter.  Sorry new media, but I have not jumped aboard the citizen journalism train.  Yeah yeah, blogs are interactive communication platforms, and I’m more than happy for people to comment on my blog, in fact I welcome it, I’m just saying, and perhaps I’m being too blunt here, but I usually just cbf.  Despite my own inactivity, I am not unaware of the ever blurring line between producers and consumers of online content.  Participatory culture is a crucial part of blogging’s appeal and it adds a certain sense of democracy to the whole process – freedom of information and participation.  

I think wordpress’ feature of not automatically posting comments until the producer has the chance to approve/disapprove them is really clever.  Unlike facebook and myspace, where possibly defamatory content can be posted for all to see without the user’s approval, this feature allows producers to moderate content and as such avoid any ‘flame wars if they so desire.  This also serves to protect online reputation; good thinking wordpress.  Of course, this begs the question that in dsapproving possibly defamatory content to be posted, is democracy being stifled?  It’s a tricky question, but I think one that must be left to the modifier’s discretion.  If anyone posted anything (or anything at all!) offensive on this blog of mine, I would not approve it.

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Share, remix, reuse – legally

The main philosophy behind Creative Commons is that sharing is caring.  I like that, so I added a Creative Commons license to my blog (it’s in the bottom right corner if you were wondering).  

But TBH, IDK WTF CC is.  

…just tricking.  

This video gives a pretty good explanation.

If you paused that because of the strange and annoying voices of the commentators, I’ll give explaining a go.  

Creative commons is a not for profit organisation that went online in 2002 to counter what the Commons’ founders saw to be unfair changes in copyright laws that restricted users’ access to creative works.  So, as far as freedom of information goes, the whole thing is really quite democratic.  Lawrence Lessig, the head honcho of Creative Commons, saw old copyright laws to be overly rigid and incompatible with the layered nature of the web.  The Internet and the content therein is, by nature, difficult to keep track of in terms of copyright, given the vastness of the Internet and the natural rhythm for constant revision and alteration of content. So, through Creative Commons, Lessig and his crew allowed Internet users to select a protective license for their work that enables their content to be as open or closed as they choose.  The options are: a blog is completely open; a blog is open to re-posting if the re-posting is not for profit; or the blog is more protected.  Lessig himself describes it as giving the individual “a control on creativity and innovation.”  (Lessig’s blog, in case you were wondering, has a CC license)                                                                                                                                                                 


Conveniently for Lessig, this all worked out very neatly in legal terms and in fact, Creative Commons didn’t need to take any legal action to activate their licenses.  This is because users sign up for CC licenses voluntarily and when legal questions are raised, the licenses automatically revert back to standard copyright law.  

One main critic of Creative Commons is Armin Medosch.  Medosch, a journalist himself, says a major flaw in the CC mantra of ‘sharing’ is that for professionals, their content is their livelihood, and CC’s claim that all work should be open to sharing is not appropriate.  He wants to be “paid in full” (lol Eric B and Rakim anyone?)  and fair enough, blogging is his job.  Whilst the site may suit amateurs, for professionals Creative Commons offers no real protection.  Their work is their ‘intellectual property’ and it is in their best interest that it is not openly accessible.   Another negative of CC pinpointed by Medosch is that it allows venture capital driven online projects such as Flickr or YouTube to make a fortune by harnessing user generated content but the original producer of the content doesn’t gain a thing.  Moreover, CC relies purely on (shudder at this term) ‘netiquette’ so there’s nothing but an honesty system stopping someone from completely ripping off work.  

So, I guess in a way Creative Commons is indie because it allows for amateur remixes, flexibility and creativity, but at the same time it benefits ‘the man’ by indirectly giving multi-million dollar companies like YouTube lots of extra dollar$.  Essentially however, I have to agree with the great Thomas Jefferson; ideas should remain in the public domain.  No hoarding of great ideas people!  What’s more, by sharing and building upon the work of others, truly great work is able to be produced.  Have you heard the Grey Album by Dangermouse and Jay-Z?  It’s amazing.  Give it a listen.  

Throughout the blogging process, I have tried to properly attribute all outside material that I have used through links, and adding a Creative Commons license to my page means that should anyone want to reference my work they are obliged to give me some credit.  It does not restrict people from using my content at all, but (hopefully) means that they will use it respectfully.  However, I was initially ambivalent about getting a CC license because I didn’t think anyone would really bother to reproduce my content.  Nevertheless, I like the principles behind CC – the sharing, flexibility etc – so I used a step by step tutorial from scissormonkey.wordpress to generate the appropriate CC license for my blog.  I chose the most open license because hey, what have I got to steal.   

In terms of my niche of amateur food blogging, I think CC is perfect.  I have used photos taken by other bloggers, but have linked back to their sites.  I have also linked to fellow bloggers reviews, because after all, no blog is an island.  For professional food bloggers however, I understand that this might not be appropriate.  

Whilst a CC license might be appropriate for my humble little blog, if I were a professional blogger I am sure I would agree with Armin Medosch and view CC in a different way, probably opting for more stringent copyrighting.

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Design has, for me and I’m sure for most others, been a major priority in the blogging process.  We instantly know whether we  like or dislike designs, and nobody wants to be known as a blemish on the face of wordpress.

OmG cLaSsY MuCh? - i hate that crap.

Perhaps it is because I am just one step above being computer illiterate, but I found it really hard to customise my blog inside the wordpress restrictions.  When I was 16, I used to pimp my myspace page daily, typing what I wanted into google and coming out with all sorts of crazy codes and implanting them into my profile to make it totally hip and rad duuuude.  My profile wasn’t quite dirtstyle – come on it was 2006 not 1995 – but some of the more, shall I say, tacky, myspace users definitely used horrible glitter graphics to sex up their pages (very uncool).  Check out the video on Cory Arcangle below; one of the, uh, ‘champions’ of dirtstyle.  Having said that though, M.I.A. is one of my favourite artists and totally rocks dirtstyle on her myspace page.  But I guess M.I.A. could start wearing giant cod fish on her head and call it cool.  

– wow. cory…

Degraves St, a hub of cafe cool

But anyway, there’s no denying it, the food we eat and the places we eat at have become a major fashion statement.  It’s very much a faux pas to order fried eggs when out (how bogan) and you can basically judge how cool a cafe is by how tight the staffs’ jeans are.  So food and fashionable web design go hand in hand in my niche.

I think Alan Lui’s question what is the formal design of information cool? is meant to be rhetorical, but at the same time, it is very thought provoking.  What is cool?  How can cool be measured?  If we start calling something cool will it still be cool?  Is repeatedly italicising the word cool, cool?  Alan Lui himself suggests that formal modernism -stemming from the avant garde movement of the 1920s is a key ingredient for information cool, and I would tend to agree with him.  The same applies to food – simple is often best.  I’m sure that this minimalism has something to do with just how horrendous dirtstyle was; it is the complete opposite.  Facebook’s clean, crisp design for example, in contrast to the OTT-ness of myspace, shows an overall progression towards Alan Lui’s cool. 

Of course when it comes down to it, design is subjective.  It’s pretty crazy that in the 1920s Jan Tschichold started to call certain types of design outright wrong.  Then again, Vincent Flanders and Michael Willis’ book Web Pages That Suck, does basically the same thing but with specific reference to the Internet – pinpointing the over the top, clashing elements of certain web pages that, well, suck.  They too like functional design.  

anti-design = anti-aesthetically pleasing. gross.

Anti-design is a design movement that emerged in the late 1960s in Italy.  It not only hates busy, over the top dirstyle type work, but is a reaction against cool minimal design.  Anti-design (as stated in the reader p.256) uses distortion of scale and form, shocking use of colour and visual puns in a protest against “good design.”  

To me, anti-design is just ugly, dirtstyle is trashy and minimalist design is, you guessed it, cooooool.  And oh my goodness the font debate!  What a highly entertaining lecture.  I had absolutely no idea that such a battle was raging over the interwebs.  How red is my face.  Whilst I do agree with Dragan Epenscheid in the Digital Folklore Reader that comic sans is “tasteless incarnated as a font” I just can’t believe that anyone actually cares enough about this sort of thing to call Times New Roman “a winding and crumbling serif.”  I like Times New Roman!  Does that make me a loser?  I just don’t know anymore.  But I’m using it.

Maybe I’m just doing what society has brainwashed me into doing by giving in to the minimalist impulse, but I tried to abide by the rules of cool in keeping my blog functional and clean.  A good food blog should focus on the photography that accompanies the reviews (arguably photography is the crux of all food blogs).

I admire Rachel Kendrick’s blog Thus Bakes Zarathustra for its impeccable photography and unique layout.  Having heard Rachel talk about her impressive professional blogging career however, I do not feel too substandard for sticking to a wordpress theme.  I chose ‘Press Row’ by Chris Pearson so I could “feel like a journalist” and because it wasn’t too formal, but at the same time wasn’t too cutesy or flowery.  I like how it allowed for a bit of creativity with the option of a custom header but I really like the ‘Inuit’ themes’ box post idea, which wasn’t available.   When I finally learnt what a widget was, I was underwhelmed.  I don’t know what I was expecting, something much more interesting than a ‘search’ button or the possible addition of a calendar I suppose, but I liked the ability to add images down the side of my blog.  

Anyway, maybe I’m overestimating my web-coolness by calling my blog minimalist, but I’m trying.  Trying is uncool.  Damn.  

(Degraves St image courtesy of redbubble)

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Small Block, 130 Lygon St East Brunswick

There’s nothing I like more than waking up with a craving for ricotta hotcakes with barabados cream and poached vanilla saffron pears, then cycling over to Small Block to fill my tummy.  


the best pancakes you will ever ever eat ($16)


The hotcakes here are AMAZING.  The coffee is a DELIGHT.  I would go so far as to say the Small Block is my all time favourite breakfast destination.  It’s also been a cheap eats sweetheart since its opening in 06.  

This particular morning was as pleasant an experience as ever, with the prompt and friendly service you can always expect.  

However, one woman complained about the music situation and I had to agree with her.  It was a bit of a cacophony with the front of the front of the cafe playing 90s shoegaze and the kitchen staff pumping (the devil) nova fm.  Something had to give.  But  the kitchen won out and we were forced to listen to this drivel, which made the overall dining experience slightly more painful than it should have been.

FOOD: 10/10

COFFEE: 10/10

ATMOSPHERE: 9/10 (thanks a lot, Katy Perry)

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Niche blogging is inevitable.

Even just logging in to wordpress gives an idea of the vastness of the blogosphere, as the figures for new posts, bloggers and comments for the day are announced on arrival – always in the hundreds of thousands.   As of February 2010, there were over 10.6million blogs hosted by wordpress alone, a figure growing that has grown rapidly since the start of wordpress in 2006.  

Since the rise of blogging in the mid 2000s, food has always been a major player.  Of course, there are countless different ways to tackle this subject – hence the slew of niches that have evolved.  There’s vegan blogs, food on a budget blogs, restaurant review blogs, exploration of exotic cusine blogs; the list is almost endless.  

So, the long tail theory  visually demonstrates how myriad niche markets have arisen because of cultural change.  In “The Long Tail in a Nutshell,”  Chris Anderson states that “our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on arelatively small number of “hits”…at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.”  In relation to blogs, this has meant that as blogs become more prevalent, their subject matter becomes more tailored and specific.  No longer does there exclusively exist mainstream food blogs about the well trodden paths of most popular restaurants and recipes, but also about restaurants in specific areas etc, making the long tail grow and grow.  Anyone can produce content and there will more than likely be an audience for it.    Problogger provide a great explanation of the long tail.   



My own blog’s niche is in many ways eclectic but at the same time quite specific.  I say this because almost everyone eats breakfast.  What’s more, the type of people who go to cafes for breakfast range from mothers juggling prams full of twins to grungy artist types who look like they haven’t eaten for a year, to hip retirees whose haircuts are much more au courant than mine and who will never permit themselves to be seen as ‘over the hill.’ 

But at the same time, this wide range of people still shares some common characteristics.

For one, they must be willing to fork out on average $15 for their brekky, rather than the 15 cents my mother spends on her rolled oats every morning.  For another thing, the cafes I am reviewing are quite experimental with their menus and are also seen to be quite in vogue, so the niche I am appealing to must be open to try new and often exotic things.  Finally, and perhaps most obviously, I am primarily reviewing cafes in the Carlton area, so being a local is quite handy.  So essentially, my intended niche market is the reasonably well off, trendy people of the 3054 postcode who enjoy eggs.

I have found drawn inspiration from two particular blogs in this niche.  

Where’s the beef? 

  • Overall where’s the beef is a vegetarian, Melbourne based food blog that does great reviews of local eateries as well as including several of their own recipes.   At the end of each post there is helpful information like pricing, phone numbers and addresses of restaurants.  They have also documented their eating adventures whilst traveling overseas, so the blog is not just Melbourne specific. 
  • Their target audience I guess would be Melbournians or those planning to come to Melbourne interested in finding great vegetarian friendly places to eat.  Given the addition of the recipes, the blog is also relevant to people all around the world.   The restaurants that are reviewed are, for the most part, reasonably cheap-ish, so would suit students as well as families.  Where’s the beef seems to be a labor of love, so I’m guessing the authors Michael and Cindy publish their blog for their own satisfaction and to share with family and friends. They have a dedicated legion of regular commenters.  
  • The blog is hosted by blogspot, and is not a professional blog, just a few foodies sharing a bit about what they love, so advertising is not an issue.  
  • The blog’s design is clean and simple.  Well taken pictures of the food being discussed is included with each post so readers get a real sense of what’s going on.  The layout seems to be a ‘theme’ similar to those available on wordpress – nothing too fancy.  
  • The authorial voice of contributors Michael and Cindy is conversational and friendly, whilst giving a great critical review of Melbourne eateries.  They don’t hold back if they’re unhappy about something, but the overall tone is really warm and fun.  
  • Blogs are posted quite frequently and in fact, where’s the beef recently did a ‘stats’ post for their 1000 post celebration.  The stats showed that the duo averaged 5.5 posts per week.  Not bad at all.   The posts vary in length but on average I’d say they’re about 500 words. 


  • Overall Tomato claims to be the insiders’ guide to restaurants food and drink in Melbourne, and does not tend to fall short of this declaration.  
  • Tomato’s target audience differs from ‘where’s the beef‘  in two main ways.  For one, it is not a vegetarian blog.  Also, the restaurants reviewed in this blog are slightly more ‘high class,’ not as grungy or ‘indie trendy.’ 
  • Tomato is a professional blog, so there is quite a bit of advertising.  In fact, author of the blog Ed Charles has a page dedicated to ‘ads’ charging $160 a month for a minimum of three months with traffic of 14,000 visitors per month (not too exorbitant).  The ads on there at the moment are all food related: one for cheese, one for food photography and one for kitchenware direct.  I did not even notice them at first so I don’t find the advertising on this site an issue at all.  
  • I’m not sure I like the design of the site.  It’s a bit all over the place and I found it difficult to navigate my way around the site.  It kind of reminds me of my desk, it’s very messy but I know where everything is, and I’m sure Ed Charles knows how to find his way around.  
  • The authorial voice, like ‘where’s the beef’ is conversational and lighthearted.  I have found this to be a recurring theme in food blogs.  It’s not an overly serious subject, I’m sure most bloggers blog for the love of it, so why write in an overly formal, inaccessible tone?  It would not suit the content.  
  • Blogs are posted quite frequently and typically receive many comments.  Given that this is a professional blog, it is not surprising to see a frequency of posts.  

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Gingerlee Cafe, 117 Lygon St, East Brunswick.

Breakfast this morning with my boyfriend Alistair’s parents and I have been asked to choose where we go.  

Hmm, pressure.

From my experience, they like good, hearty food.  Nothing pretentious or too exotic or expensive.  Quite traditional.

So where to take them?  I considered the reliable local Birdie Num Nums, but the last few times I’ve been there I’ve been disappointed.  I find their menu quite unimaginative and although they do the old bacon and eggs with a twist quite well, it’s not really my breakfast place of choice,  (or perhaps I’m just bitter because I applied for a job there and didn’t get it.)  

I had never been to Gingerlee before but the cheap eats guide assures me that it “treats your tastebuds anything but gingerly.”  A blend of European and Middle Eastern flavours; it was a risk, but one I was willing to take.  

We arrived at Gingerlee and to my surprise, there were plenty of tables available.  It was midday on a Saturday so alarm bells started going off in my head.  Why was this place not packed to the rafters like every other little cafe along this strip?  But then I saw the food and I was instantly relieved; it looked amazing.


The service was quick and friendly and the menu very inviting, with a nice mix of breakfast and brunch options.  

I opted for the Syrian french toast with orange blossom syrup, poached rhubarb and honeyed labna.  

I think the picture speaks for itself.  Not only was the dish beautifully presented, it was absolutely delicious and certainly nothing like  your usual soggy french toast.  The thin sticks of french bread were crispy and full of lovely toffee shards.  The orange blossom made it quite sweet, but the tartness of the rhubarb and bitterness of the labna complimented the sweetness perfectly.  A sprinkling of green pistachio dust gave my breakfast  the perfect finish.  It was a large serving that I could not finish, but a fair amount for $16.  In my books, Gingerlee definitely rivals Seven Seeds in the running for best french toast in Melbourne.

Not quite up to Seven Seeds standards for coffee though; my soy latte wasn’t very smooth and was slightly bitter.  I don’t normally take sugar, but I was forced to add half a teaspoon to cover up the bitterness, which is never a good thing.  

My fellow diners were hungrier than me, so all chose from the brunch menu.  

Alistair ordered a Moroccan chicken salad with cous cous and chickpeas topped with a minted yoghurt ($18.50).  Probably a poor choice considering he doesn’t like cous cous or chickpeas and nearly fainted when I told him what I’d eaten at the Moroccan Soup Bar last week, (see giorgi mack’s review ) but he will eat anything chicken and the salad did look very tasty to me.   


His mum ordered the tuna linguine with pine nuts and sultanas ($17).  She assured me it was full of flavour and the sultanas and rocket worked surprisingly well with the salty tuna.  


His dad stuck to a BLT panini with herbed mayo ($9.90).  Although I would probably never choose to order it, I was glad Gingerlee’s menu offered something for everyone.  


I really enjoyed my first experience at Gingerlee.  My breakfast was delicious, pretty and creative.  Everyone else really enjoyed their meals too, or at least told me that they did to save my feelings.  The only complaint, apart from the mediocre coffee, came from Alistair’s dad re: “that god awful noise they call rap” that was playing.   I would definitely go back for the french toast, but I’m also very keen to try some of the other Middle Eastern infused dishes on the menu.

FOOD: 8.5/10

COFFEE: 6/10

ATMOSPHERE: 7/10 (because Trevor didn’t like the music)

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