Things that I have learnt from being a long-list judge for the Bloggies.

1. Cupcake blogs are huge. No, that’s not some hip new Web 2.0 terminology which you haven’t heard of before; I’m talking about weblogs which are solely devoted to cupcakes. Huge, they are.

2. The Big New Thing in US blogging seems to be reprinting unflattering photos of celebrities, accompanied by incisive comments such as “OMG WTF LOL Check out BRITNEY she looks so freakin FAT lay off the Krispy Kremes already TRAILER-PARK SKANK HO!!!“, or “HELL-OOO?!! Jessica Simpson looks so freakin THIN eat some goddamm Krispy Kremes already SKINNY-ASS BEE-YOTCH!!!” Any UK readers who have browsed the front cover of Heat magazine recently should know what I’m on about.

3. The GLBT category divides between a) gay bloggers writing about Big Gay Stuff for a gay audience, b) bloggers with a principally straight readership who “just happen to be gay”, and c) more snarky queens being gratuitously rude about celebrities (see paragraph 2).

4. When faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to vote for yourself in a particular category (see paragraph 3 section b), you will agonise for, ooh, seconds.

5. The most disappointing category by far was Best Podcast; I was hoping to walk away with a fistful of recommendations, but instead walked away with only one. Indeed, this was the only category for which I was unable to use up all five of my allotted votes. What disappointed me most was the way that almost all the podcast presenters affected the same blandly generic “US public broadcasting radio” voice, as I hadn’t expected podcasting to be such a blatantly aspirational medium. Just as blogging differs stylistically from journalism, so I had expected podcasting to differ significantly from radio broadcasting. Where were all the personalities?

6. Waiter Rant, a sharply observed “job blog” from a New York waiter, is a damned fine read, and the one discovery that I shall take away from the whole dizzying, exhausting experience.

7. Ohmygod ohmygod Bryanboy… there are no words. (I had come across him once before via Lubin, but hadn’t quite appreciated what a pan-global phenomenon he had become.)

8. Having roped in my almost-impossible-to-impress aesthete of a Life Partner to help judge the Best Designed category (he also lent a hand with Best Food), we both agreed that one site stood clearly ahead of the pack. If it makes the shortlist (announced on Friday), then I’ll tell you which one.

Update: It was this one. Although it does look better in Firefox, as the disclaimer for IE users says.

9. Although I wasn’t judging the Best Photography category, I found myself browsing some of the outstanding candidates from previous years, in order to showcase the medium to K (who has just resolved to buy his first digital camera). Not having browsed a photoblog for many months, I had forgotten just how excellent some of them can be. Here are my three favourites: Daily Dose of Imagery, Heather Powazek Champ, The Narrative.

(Still not convinced? OK, go here. And then here.)

10. Over the pond, blogvertising has reached epidemic proportions, as “ProBlogging(via) becomes the new aspirational paradigm. Indeed, whizzing through the lists of dazzlingly ad-enabled candidates and then returning to my own place, I felt positively dowdy by comparison.

Last September, Rafael Behr wrote a lengthy think-piece for The Observer which, at the time, I thought was drastically overstating the “commerce will kill us all” case. Four months on, I can only commend his prescience.

“The culture of common purpose that prevails today is a product of neglect as much as design. The real gold rush has barely begun. To experience the sharing culture of the blogosphere today is like living in a commune built on an oil field. One day, the diggers will move in.”

I can hear the rumbling from here, folks.

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