Rebecca Bollwitt is one of Vancouver’s most well-known bloggers. Better known on-line by her handle, Miss 604, the 29-year-old joined the blogosphere in 2004. With about 2,180 posts, Bollwitt’s blog is a reliable and frequently updated source of information about local events, music, history, and more.
Bollwitt sure knows how to keep herself busy. She can be heard cohosting The Crazy Canucks hockey podcast with her husband, John Bollwitt, and three other bloggers, as well as speaking at various events. She’s the creator of the Best of 604 awards for local blogs and Web sites. This year, Bollwitt co-organized the WordCamp Whistler conference and put together the Vancouver Twestival fundraiser. She’ll coordinate the next Blogathon Vancouver, a 24-hour blogging marathon for charity, this summer.
Last year, Bollwitt founded sixty4media with her husband. The company’s services include moving clients’ blogs to the open-source platform WordPress and designing themes for them. It also does social-media consulting with regard to blogging and podcasting.
Bollwitt spoke to the Georgia Straight by cellphone from her downtown home.
How did you get into blogging?
I’ve always kind of been involved with the on-line realm. So, my first real job was in digital media, doing webcasting. So, I’ve kind of always had my finger on the pulse of what’s going on. I was living in Boston for work, and that’s how I came up with my handle, Miss 604, because I wanted to be associated back with Vancouver and things. So, when I moved back to town, I was reading blogs. Well, I was reading blogs while I was away as well. But then, when I moved back, I noticed a lot of really local blogs were written by people who had just moved here, and these are the new things they were discovering. I realized my perspective can be someone who was born and raised in the area, so also the history of it comes in as well. So, yeah, that’s how I got started.
Do you consider yourself as journalist?
I don’t. Some people say yes. Some people say I should. But, you know, I’m a blogger—and whatever. I know when you say that, you know, people think you’re writing about puppies and kitties and knitting and stuff. But I have no shame in saying I’m a blogger.
Why do you think your blog has been such a success?
I don’t know. I attribute it a lot to the community in Vancouver. I had been writing for two years before I even went out and went to a type of meet-up or anything. So, in 2006, I went to BarCamp, and I got involved with, you know, the Gastown-Yaletown dot-com community down there. Going to meet-ups, going to the monthly blogger meet-ups, going to DemoCamps, going to all the different camps, and just having such a great support system of people who were kind of working towards a similar goal for their own projects—publishing content on-line and working at it in various different ways. And, I think, the fact that I just keep doing it. People keep coming back, and I keep writing things.
What are the downsides to being a popular blogger in Vancouver?
Well, one of them I dealt with this morning was kind of in the technical realm. You get people who scrape your content. So, I was on the phone with an aggregator this morning. Some guy was taking my titles of my posts and my posts’ content and putting them on his site and smothering them in Google ads—so essentially making more money off the posts than I ever would. So, things like that: imitation and, I guess, content theft or just being out there in public. If I say I’m going to be at an event and there’s someone I might not necessarily want to know I’m going to be there, I’ve already put it in the public sphere.
How well do you think politicians are using social media in this provincial election?
Oh, they’re trying really hard. I attribute most of it to Obama....I think some of them are using it well—to have conversations with people and responding to messages—because they’re saying people might not have necessarily e-mailed an MLA before or walked into an MLA’s office. But they feel like they can approach them more in sending them a Facebook message or a tweet. They’re trying to get it. Not all of them are following everyone back or using their at-replies.
What’s your favourite blog to read?
I have a list of my current favourite ones I check out, like Vancouver Is Awesome because it’s so positive. Everybody’s always writing negative stuff or talking about what’s wrong. So, Vancouver Is Awesome is pretty good. And just anything that I have listed in my blogroll. I usually go through there at least once a week and just check up on everyone. I’m really bad with RSS feeds and Google Reader, so I don’t check that. Oh, and Beyond Robson. Beyond Robson’s a must.
What’s your next project?
I guess organizing the Blogathon Vancouver. In terms of sixty4media and our company, I really want to revamp our own company site, because we’ve actually had many more clients that I need to throw in our showcase and showcase all the work that we’ve done kind of on a professional side. But, as for Miss 604 and blogging, the next one will be Blogathon Vancouver. There was a period there—between Best of 604, WordCamp Whistler, and Twestival—where I organized a 100-person event every month for three months straight, and I promised myself I wasn’t going to do it anymore. But the next one will be Blogathon, and then after that it’ll be Best of 604 again.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.