We Need More Toronto Blogs

by Joey deVilla on July 25, 2007

Hipster woman in hipster dress on hipster bike.
BlogTO’s and Torontoist’s ideal reader. Image taken from The Hipster Handbook.

Differences in Perspective

While I agree with Torontoist writer Patrick Metzger’s statement that Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s refusal to “share any of the billions of dollars that the province sucks out of Toronto each year” is wrong, I think he’s out to lunch with his statement about the 2.8% rise in consumer spending:

The Canadian dollar rose to a 30-year high against the U.S. greenback yesterday, fueled by a 2.8% month over month rise in consumer spending. The numbers show that even with peak oil and climate change catastrophe just around the corner, we’re still willing to get out there and buy more unnecessary crap. Go, Canada.

Accordion Guy regular reader Chris Taylor called Metzger out on that statement:

Maybe they were out buying Energy Star stuff to replace their old, inefficient junk. Not that anyone has ever done that before.

And Metzger fired back with the stock sarcasm of someone who doesn’t work for a living:

It’s possible that the numbers reflect conscientious citizens buying solar powered cars, storm windows, and shopping bags made from organic hemp. However, the data shows it’s mostly SUVs, gas and Gucci handbags.

Ah yes, the old “money and progress are bad” canard. I’ll counter with this comic:

Comic featuring two cavemen. Caption: “Something’s just not right — our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything is organic and free-range, yet nobody lives past thirty.”
Comic from Reason. Click to see it on its original page.

Demographics

Back in the winter, I caught up with local tech community builder Will Pate for lunch. He was in the process of moving to Toronto and we were talking about the local blog scene.

One thing that came up in that conversation was that although the BlogTO and Torontoist served their demographic very well, their demographic was only a slice of the larger pie that is Toronto.

What is that demographic, you might ask? They’re mostly white, under 30, and only attend events that take place in an area bounded by…

  • Dupont on the north
  • The Distillery District on the east
  • The lake on the south
  • Roncesvalles on the west

(Here’s an idea: take the events listed in BlogTO and Torontoist for the past year and plot them on a map. I’m willing to bet that they’re concentrated in the zone I describe above.)

Hipster in work shirt, jeans and trucker cap
Another hipster, courtesy of The Hipster Handbook.

They can reply “Yeah, that’s me” to seven or more of the following statements:

  1. You graduated from a liberal arts school whose football team hasn’t won a game since Mulroney was Prime Minister.
  2. You frequently use the term “post-modern” (or its commonly used variation “PoMo”) as an adjective, noun, and verb.
  3. You carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag and have at one time or another worn a pair of horn-rimmed or Elvis Costello-style glasses.
  4. You have one Conservative friend who you always describe as being your “one Conservative friend.” [optional]
  5. Your hair looks best unwashed and you position your head on your pillow at night in a way that will really maximize your cowlicks.
  6. You own records put out by Matador, DFA, Definitive Jux, Dischord, Warp, Thrill Jockey, Smells Like Records, Drag City, Mint and Nettwerk.
  7. You bought your dishes and a checkered tablecloth at a thrift shop to be kitschy and often throw vegetarian dinner parties.
  8. You frequently complain about gentrification even though you are responsible for it yourself.
  9. You have refined tastes and consider yourself exceptionally cultured, but have one pop vice (Laguna Beach, either Idol show and and anything on Slice are popular ones) that helps to define you as well-rounded.
  10. You spend much of your leisure time in bars and/or restaurants with monosyllabic names like Plant, Bound or Shine.
  11. You have kissed someone of the same gender and often bring this up in casual conversation.

(If these look familiar, it’s because I took ’em from 11 Clues You are a Hipster from The Hipster Handbook).

My Modest Proposal

Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve got nothin’ against twenty-somethings who like hanging out in charming local dives, listening to indie rock and buying things at thrift shops. If you’re a reader of this blog, there’s a good chance that you are (or were) one of them yourself.

I just think that there’s room for other “What’s going on?” blogs. Even Will Pate, who’s part of the BlogTO/Torontoist demographic says “Dude, there’s got to be more” (not a direct quote, but that’s exactly the way he’d say it).

We need blogs that cover events in areas outside the hipster core, whether they’re in the near-burbs like Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough, or out in the 905 area code. Blogs for people who work in offices, drop their kids off at hockey practice and have Costco memberships. Blogs for people who don’t look as if they were descended from the Family Compact. Blogs for people who both buy fair trade coffee and Harry Rosen shirts. Blogs for people who work the night shift.

Who knows, if this tech evangelism/computer programming thing blows over, I might start one of them myself.

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Quinn July 25, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Joey, as always, you make a great point, and you do it without being crass or betraying the message. I’m slow-blogging a response to this one. 🙂

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 12:33 pm

@Karen: Thanks, Karen! I’m looking forward to reading your response.

David Topping July 25, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I’m also cooking up a reply to this, but I’ve got to go through our demographic info (we did a readership survey in January) first.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 1:21 pm

@David Topping: Looking forward to it, David!

Dave Forde July 25, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Joey – do we need “more” or do we need better quality on what is currently out there?

Chris Tindal July 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Regarding so-called “green consumption,” please see:

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/07/24/eco-junk/

It was published just yesterday. In short? We can’t shop our way out of this problem.

The Explosively Tale July 25, 2007 at 1:29 pm

You know, it’s a good thing that the hipster zone is bordered by the lake on the south or we would have a lot of drownings!

Maria July 25, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Hey, I have a CostCo membership. I do not have checkered tablecloth, and my hair absolutely does not look best unwashed, eeeew. You can go check out my blog!

David Topping July 25, 2007 at 1:33 pm

According to the readership survey that we conducted in January,
35% of our readers are over 30 (and some of our staff is, my co-Editor and the author you’ve quoted, Patrick Metzger, included). People’s incomes (admittedly, something people tend to lie about on anonymous surveys) are spread pretty evenly among all possible ranges. A lot of our readers are well-educated young people, but, well, I think that that is the nature of people who tend to read blogs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the demographics of most online blogs were similar to ours; in fact, I think we’re doing quite well on the “diversity” front. I don’t know the race of the people who are reading us, as I didn’t think to ask that on the survey. I can tell you that the majority (65%) of our readers identify as living in “Downtown Toronto,” but we didn’t (as we should have) get more specific than that; the other 35% identify as living in areas like Scarborough, Mississauga, North York, or elsewhere in Ontario.

As for our geography, we — the Torontoist staff — cover what we know. It’s more interesting that way; I’m not qualified to write about what’s going on in Scarborough, and it’d show if I wrote an article. Event listings, mind you, are a portion of what we do; they’re not the only thing (or, in my eyes, the biggest thing). You need to bear in mind that the staff is composed of individuals, and there are no collective agreements on anything (be it the environment, culture, whatever). I wrote a letter trying to clear up the collective-individual thing recently (http://www.torontoist.com/archives/2007/05/a_letter_from_t.php) in light of people complaining that we were hypocrites when we condoned advertising one week and celebrated it the next.

I’m also kind of disappointed that you didn’t contact anyone from Torontoist before writing this article. If you’d done that, I could have provided you with our actual demographics, based on the aforementioned readership survey, so you wouldn’t have to guess.

In terms of our staff being “mostly white”: we hire people for a number of reasons, race not being one of them (most of the time, it’s kinda hard to tell when you’re just e-mailing back and forth). We hire the best people who apply to contribute, and that’s about it. That said, we did just hire a batch of new contributors who aren’t on our staff page yet, some of whom aren’t white! Crazy, I know!

As for myself, I dislike the “hipster” moniker because, well, I’m not one. As for your hipster checklist, I fall into categories 1 and 5. I do own American Apparel shirts, though, so I’m not sure if that slides me into more dangerous territory.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best as I can here…I just think that it’s unfair to say “this is who is reading Torontoist” based on pure speculation.

David Topping
Co-Editor, Torontoist

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 1:55 pm

As they used to say on old TV talk shows, “Keep those cards and letters coming!” I’ll post replies here in the comments, but they’re going to have to wait until after work.

Patrick Metzger July 25, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Come on, Joey, you can do better than that. My smartass response to Taylors comment was based on simple fact – home building materials, trucks and SUVs, and consumer goods are what’s principally driving consumer spending. This isn’t just demostrable fact, it’s intuitively obvious if you look around and see what kind of businesses are making money.

Also, I am not “someone who doesn’t work for a living”. Notwithstanding my flippant TOist bio, I’ve worked and continue to work with some success in corporate Canada and am not at all averse to profit or progress.

Lastly, I am the least hip person on the planet, as Topping will attest. I am over 40, live and socialize well outside yr hipster boundaries, and mostly listen to the Clash and Neil Diamond.

Scott Brooks July 25, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Who the fuck is the Torontoist?

Lee Dale July 25, 2007 at 2:41 pm

I think there are some decent points made on all sides here.

Mr Forde, I’d definitely agree with more. Being reasonably centred within the demographic that the two above mentioned blogs are catering to, their watering down to serve other interests would not be a good thing. Focus, focus, focus. Specific blogs will win over a one size fits all model.

But I do wonder whether this market is both served and reading because, well, they’re the market that read blogs. How many 40 year olds get their city info on a blog vs the Star, etc.

Anyway, dissension among the Toronto internet literati is a good thing.

Peace.
Lee

David Topping July 25, 2007 at 2:47 pm

“Torontoist” is just the site’s name — all the sites in the Gothamist network share the same name: city name + “ist” (or, in Seattlest’s case, “est”). The “ist” suffix suggests knowledge or interest about the word that precedes.

But I digress.

David Topping July 25, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Sadly, I have to leave now, too (I’m playing baseball! How hipster-y of me!), but I’ll try to answer anything posed to me and to respond to anyone’s comments (and yours when they come, Joey) when I get back this evening.

Chris Taylor July 25, 2007 at 3:16 pm

@Joey: Hey, thanks for the nod. And please, no more Giada de Laurentiis. =)

@Patrick: My question would be “What GDP data are you looking at to determine the actual articles of consumption, and is there a qualitative difference (beyond normal margin of error) indicating that more “luxury” items are being consumed this month?”

@Chris Tindal: Good luck selling the minimalist ascetic lifestyle in the 21st century. Most people in this city are not out buying SUVs and designer goods, they are buying the stuff they need to survive. Food to eat, clothes to wear at work, furniture to sit on, etc.

I like the high-end Rosen/Renfrew goodies, and I’m also perfectly willing to replace old crap with energy-efficient stuff along the way. Did that with the home network appliances/systems — they are all 50% more efficient than their predecessors. Patio lights are all solar, indoor lighting is all CFLs, ditched the car completely, transit-commute everywhere, walk to the grocery store, take the train rather than fly, buy locally-produced food, yadda yadda. Tell me where there is room to cut the fat. I probably live a more minimalist, enviro-friendly, neighborhood-centered lifestyle than most Torontoist writers, but it’s not the focus of one’s life. I spend money on reasonable needs and wants, and avoid spending on stuff I don’t. Still have a five-figure entertainment budget which permits me to go to the symphony, ball games and stuff around town. At the end of the day fully 40% of my income is going into savings, not consumption — but I’ll still buy stuff when I have to; I’m not a monk with a vow of poverty to uphold.

In the long run this isn’t going to change the world in the blink of an eye, but evolution is a gradual process. You don’t go from amphibian to eagle overnight.

Will Pate July 25, 2007 at 3:57 pm

@Joey: You have my voice down pat.

Awesome post and very interesting conversation dude 🙂

Chris Taylor July 25, 2007 at 5:09 pm

@Patrick:I don’t want to spam Joey’s comments here, but Patrick, you are flat-out wrong in your “smartass response”. The numbers (either as total dollar value or percentage increase) simply do not bear out the assertion that it’s SUVs, gas and Gucci handbags.

Your belated correction here (home building materials, trucks and SUVs, and consumer goods) is much closer to the facts. Remind me which aisle Home Depot hides its gasoline and Gucci handbags in?

Jerrold July 25, 2007 at 7:13 pm

I may as well chime in as well…

I’m trying to figure out why blogTO and Torontoist have been singled out here and can only come to the conclusion that it’s because they’re the most visited, most updated, and most staffed. They also cover a significant range of topics, and have survived the thrived in the Toronto group blog scene (which in my opinion is already saturated).

Calling them hipster fodder is clichéd yet somewhat complimentary nonetheless because both sites do aim to cover interesting things going on in the arts and culture scene (which are innately trend-oriented).

The thing is, SEVERAL other city group blogs that perhaps aren’t as “hipster” (however you define that) do exist (Metroblogging Toronto, Spacing, Reading Toronto, National Post’s Posted Toronto, Eye blog, Now blog, blogUT, to name just a few). There are also hundreds of read-worthy personal blogs out there too (I subscribe to Accordion Guy by RSS).

Furthermore, I wouldn’t answer “yeah that’s me” to a single one of your 11 hipster statements, Joey. I’m 30, live in Etobicoke, work with microscopes by day, and simply love my city.

That David Topping guy, on the other hand, is as hip as they come 😉 😉

Cheers,
Jerrold Litwinenko
Associate Editor, blogTO

Tim July 25, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Hey Joey,

I don’t disagree with the spirit of your overall comments but I think you’re probably not reading close enough to see that the blogs you mentioned do try to cover Toronto culture outside the downtown core.

As the publisher of blogTO, I can point out that we have lots of content on our site East of the DVP (have you seen our Leslieville and Riverside maps and profiles?) as well as north of Dupont. In fact, you should check out the Big Ragu at Lansdowne and St. Clair. The review in on our site along with a lot more from Corsa Italia, Yonge & Eg and Bayview/Leaside.

And have you seen our neighbourhood profile of Kingsview – Dixon? Last I checked that was both west of Roncy and north of Dupont.

So, while the majority of our coverage can certainly be described as within the boundaries you identified, on closer examination I think you’ll find there’s plenty that’s not as well. And our event listings, btw, are free and community driven, meaning anyone can submit an event to our site. We don’t discriminate if it’s in Scarborough.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 7:47 pm

@Dave Forde: As Lee Dale says, it works better if BlogTO and Torontoist cover the Toronto stories and events that they do best, and other blogs, each catering to their own readerships cover different Toronto stories and events.

Even with the occasional story that gets up my nose, BlogTO and Torontoist do a great job — it’s just that their focus is limited to a limited slice of Toronto.

So in answer to your question, I’m saying “more”.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 8:29 pm

@David Topping: Hey, David!

First: all team sports, with the notable exception of ultimate, are most certainly not hipster.

Second: Nuthin’ wrong with being a hipster, loving jab in the ribs aside. I’m just pointing out the readership.

Let me make myself quite clear: even with the occasional article with which I disagree, I enjoy reading Torontoist and hence it’s a part of my daily blog reads.

And now, to the first of your points: yes, I don’t have the readership survey data, but I do have access to your articles, and based on their form and substance, I can tell who they were written by and for. It’s not voodoo or pulling facts out of my ass; if I were to show you copies of the Sun, Economist, national Review and Mother Jones, I’m quite sure you’d be able to tell me who their target demographics were after you read them, all without the benefit of a reader survey.

Your survey seems to confirm my ratiocination. Assuming it was properly taken (Did you get a statistically adequate sample size? Do the margin of error and confidence level support that assertion? And so on…), your under-30 readers outnumber your over-30 readers two to one.

As far as your staff being mostly white, it’s not a complaint, just an observation. I’m not really an affirmative action guy, I’m a meritocrat. By all means, stick with picking the writers whose work you like best.

The point I was trying to make is that the two big blogs that are all about Toronto serve their demographic well, but it serves a specific audience best. It can’t be all things to all people, nor should it.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 8:45 pm

@Patrick Metzger Hey there!

Yes, I figured you actually did work for a living — I inferred that from your recent articles in which you mentioned city taxes.

It was the smart-ass retort about “SUVs, gas and Gucci handbags” that I was remarking about: it’s the sort of throw-away neo-Marxist line one would expect to read in the Socialist “Worker”.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 8:46 pm

@Chris Taylor: Thanks for chiming in, dude!

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 8:55 pm

@Jerrold Hey, Jerrold!

As with Torontoist, I like BlogTO and read it every day. And you’re right: I point them out for the reasons you cite, and yes, “hipster” is both compliment and loving jab in the ribs.

Patrick Metzger July 25, 2007 at 9:12 pm

“SUVs,gas, and Gucci handbags” was indeed a throwaway line, but wasn’t intended to incite class warfare since I always seem to end up on the wrong side of those barricades. It’s just an observation on the consumer culture which we’ve collectively constructed, and of which I’m as much a part as anyone else.

I’m quite comfortable with my assertion that a surprising increase in consumer spending like that, not coming in the wake of a disaster or on the introduction of an iPhone, represents purchases of choice, not necessity. The reality is that if the collective “we” didn’t buy crap we didn’t need, not only would the marketing industry disappear, the economy would grind to a halt. At least that’s what they taught us in biz school.

David Topping July 25, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Hey Joey,

The survey details, mundane as they are: we had some 500 people respond to our survey, with (at that time) about 3,000-4,000 visitors a day (now we’re more around the 5,000 range). Not bad, not spectacular, but reasonably-sized as far as samples go.

I was thinking about this a lot today. My claim that our audience is pretty similar to that of other blogs, if not more diverse, stands — I think that we do appeal to people who aren’t currently as well-represented in our demographics as I’d like for them to be, but many of those people simply don’t read “blogs” (or whatever it is that we are). We do have lots of things that ought to appeal to non-bog-readers, like when we had the first photos from inside the ROM (http://torontoist.com/2007/05/inside_the_rom.php) a while back, or, even something like tonight, where we broke the news that Aileen Siu has resigned from Queen’s Park (http://torontoist.com/2007/07/aileen_siu_reti.php) before anyone from the mainstream media had a chance to (I think. I hope.). Like a lot of blogs, we beat the mainstream media to a lot of stories that interest the general public, not just hipsters (or not hipsters at all). But God knows that the only reason my mom knows what a blog IS is because I work on one; I think she’s been to thestar.com, but, well, that’s about it. She will also maybe see this comment because she Googles my name (hi, mom!).

Ya know, what I was thinking about a lot today was a meeting that I had with a car company spokesperson a while back. She was talking about how, now that the consumer demand for greener cars is there, her company can finally start devoting energy and money to making them. But she’d confused the process: demand is not some one-sided thing — companies can create it as well as respond to it. Her car company shouldn’t be saying “oh, now there’s consumer demand for a green car, let’s make one,” it should be saying “hey, a green car would be really cool. let’s make it, and have the people come to us.” I like to think that we’re somewhere in the middle of that, between responding to what our regular readers like, and creating stuff that people outside of that group will enjoy.

“It can’t be all things to all people, nor should it.” Agreed. But we can be something to a lot of people.

Sorry for getting all lame and dreamy on you.

Joey deVilla July 25, 2007 at 10:26 pm

@David Topping: It’s not lame and dreamy — it’s spot-on.

Joe Clark July 25, 2007 at 11:55 pm

Joey’s been around online for a long time, but so have I, and I’ve had a long publishing history. Put those two together and all I can tell you is that blogs need writers and readers, and the groups you single out as needing blogs – a condescending list itself – tend not to be either of those.

The only significant barriers to entry are poverty (can’t afford a computer, though blogs can be and are updated via free computer time at the library) and disability (cannot get the computer, browser, blog software, or something else, to work at all or with your adaptive technology). Beyond that, it’s an open playing field.

There’s good reason to think that if the blogs you claim to want to see do not yet exist, it means there are no writers or readers for them. Even if they existed, you would not really read them.

Joey deVilla July 26, 2007 at 12:16 am

@Joe Clark: Well, if you say my list is condescending, it must be condescending. After all, you are the reputed expert in that area.

Danielle July 26, 2007 at 12:38 am

I’ve been trying to revive my own blog as more of a city-wide thing, but alas, my hipster-clues tell me that I shouldn’t bother.

OH ACCORDION GUY, WHY MUST YOU QUASH MY INDIE-WEB DREAMS!?

martin July 26, 2007 at 11:01 am

“As with Torontoist, I like BlogTO and read it every day.” – Joey

That’d sum up this thread for me right there.

Not a ‘hipster’ but you read these blogs daily like so many others like you. Hmm. They must appeal to non-hipsters. Drats, there goes the argument.

Joey deVilla July 26, 2007 at 11:17 am

@martin: There’s some overlap between my world and those of BlogTo and Torontoist as part of the nature of my job (technical evangelism / promoting local technology, which includes blogging), the neighbourhood in which I work (falling distance from the Gladstone/Drake axis), my own blog and the whole accordion schtick.

To borrow your line, “Drats, there goes a hasty attempt at debunking.”

Joey deVilla July 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

@Danielle: I’d say “go for it”. As long as you know your audience and write well and consistently, you’ll find a readership.

Rohan Jayasekera July 26, 2007 at 11:49 am

I’d just like to mention how happy I am with the quality of this conversation. It’s so good that I almost don’t care what it’s about. Joey, thank you for starting it, and those who disagree with him, thank you for doing so in such a constructive way.

Still, I do have a comment on the subject. I think there is a large grey zone between hipsters and non. I’m nonwhite, I’m 48, and I scored a big fat zero on the hipster checklist. But:

(1) I do have an aversion to going outside the borders Joey mentions (except the west one, because I live near it). Consequently the geographic focus of the blogs under discussion is very relevant to me: I really am not interested in reading about events spanning the whole city, let alone the GTA, because I’m unlikely to go. (BTW, the downtown concentration isn’t so bad since so many people living outside it are used to going there to work and play — far more than in the opposite direction.)

(2) I’d venture that another characteristic of hipsters is that they don’t have kids, something which has a huge influence on interests and lifestyle. I don’t have kids either, so I end up largely hanging out with other childless people, most of whom are much younger than I am. I have no interest in child-oriented activities (except on the rare occasions when my wife and I are out with her nieces), while I do have interest in adult-oriented things. At 48 I go out very little compared to when I was younger, but I still like to read about it!

Wendy July 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Side note: in my eyes, marriage has whomped a good portion of the hipster out of Joey. Blame/thank me, if you like. 🙂

Margot Lewis July 26, 2007 at 2:14 pm

I am a daily Torontoist reader. I live for the day when one of my photos is published on their site. I don’t think I am the only reader who doesn’t fit the demographic at all.
1. You graduated from a liberal arts school whose football team hasn’t won a game since Mulroney was Prime Minister.
Nope. Trade school, of sorts, no university.
2. You frequently use the term “post-modern” (or its commonly used variation “PoMo”) as an adjective, noun, and verb.
Never used that phrase in my life. BoHo a few times.
3. You carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag and have at one time or another worn a pair of horn-rimmed or Elvis Costello-style glasses.
God no, designer purses and no glasses at all. Too vain.
4. You have one Conservative friend who you always describe as being your “one Conservative friend.” [optional]
I have friends of all political persuasions.
5. Your hair looks best unwashed and you position your head on your pillow at night in a way that will really maximize your cowlicks.
$150 cuts and colours, washed everyday with expensive products. Hundreds of dollars of makeup, tastefully applied.
6. You own records put out by Matador, DFA, Definitive Jux, Dischord, Warp, Thrill Jockey, Smells Like Records, Drag City, Mint and Nettwerk.
I can honestly say that I have never heard of a single one of those bands.
7. You bought your dishes and a checkered tablecloth at a thrift shop to be kitschy and often throw vegetarian dinner parties.
I have Wedgewood China from my Grandmother. I have never made a meal without meat in it somewhere.
8. You frequently complain about gentrification even though you are responsible for it yourself.
I live in an illegal loft in a industrial building, complete with asbestos, unlevel concrete floors and crumbling wiring.
9. You have refined tastes and consider yourself exceptionally cultured, but have one pop vice (Laguna Beach, either Idol show and and anything on Slice are popular ones) that helps to define you as well-rounded.
Okay, you got me there.
10. You spend much of your leisure time in bars and/or restaurants with monosyllabic names like Plant, Bound or Shine.
Wrong again, unless Fresh counts
11. You have kissed someone of the same gender and often bring this up in casual conversation
No actually. But my Conservative friend has.

Eric Grant July 26, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Older hipsters with kids are “Grups” as re-coined by Adam Sternbergh, formerly of Toronto Life. I might come close to qualifying in some quarters.

I would definitely consider this here blog to have the same kind of voice/imaginary reader as BlogTO and Torontoist, particularly for its geographical focus.

I’m a Beach guy, and only make it west of Bathurst occasionally as a tourist.

When I stop to think about it from the geographical perspective, I’m a little ticked that the two blogs mentioned identify as Toronto blogs, yet (along with Eye and Now) spend so much time focused on a part of town that practically doesn’t exist in my own mental map of the city. But that’s more a quibble with the branding than with execution. Change the names to WestTorontoist and BlogWTO and complaint evaporates.

So I don’t read those blogs. And I don’t know if there’s enough stuff to blog about going on this side of the river that I’d read a blog that did have that focus. My neighbourhood, and the surrounding ones that I tend to visit, are pretty well served by very local free bi-weekly newspapers.

megan July 26, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I’m sorry, did you say PoMo?

Good god. Glad I somehow missed that take on post modern.

Uh, yeah, that’s it, nothing to add to the conversation particularily.

tbit July 26, 2007 at 8:52 pm

well crap; i live outside the borders and I don’t match one thing on the list. i guess i have to hang up my hipster hat and give away my ironic tshirts.

crap.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi July 26, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Hey, Joey! I write for blogTO. You’ve met me so you -know- how unhipsterish I am, I’m Japanese-Canadian and I’m definitely over 30. 🙂 I live in North York and have also covered events and places in the area as well as in Scarborough. I’ve lived in Toronto for most of my life (used to live downtown) and *love* this city.

I discovered blogTO through friends, all of whom are (like me) definitely over 30 and live all over Toronto, not just downtown.

Thanks for starting this discussion; it’s been an interesting read.

Ry C July 26, 2007 at 9:04 pm

We’re the tits!

martin July 26, 2007 at 9:32 pm

@joey – you can’t possibly think you’re unique in that aspect?

Sameer Vasta July 26, 2007 at 10:27 pm

Disclaimer: I write for blogTO.

First of all Joey, I want to thank you for starting this discussion. Whether people agree with you or not, this was obviously an issue that needed to be brought up, and I’m glad you were able to do so with tact and humor at the same time.

A few thoughts:

While both blogTO and Torontoist make a valiant effort to cover events outside the downtown ‘hipster’ core (I’ve personally made a conscious effort to cover things like the Arts Etobicoke Gallery opening, urbanNOISE in Rexdale, and Ribfest in Centennial Park as some examples of things happening outside the core), in essence, their bread and butter is the ‘hipsters’ you refer to.

I don’t fault them for that: after all, like any sound business, Toronto blogs have to cater to the needs of their audience. So instead of blogTO and Torontoist being consciously geared towards the “Yeah, that’s me” audience you mention above, I feel that they have become that way partly because those ‘hipsters’ are the people that come to the site, and they ask for and want more of the same…hence shaping the direction of the blog.

Me? I can’t answer a single yes to the questions you present, and I’m very much what you mentioned later in your article: an Etobicoke-dweller that works in an office, has a Costco membership, shops at Harry Rosen. Many of the people I grew up with fall into a similar demographic. The one thing I’ve noticed, however, is that these same people turn to places like blogTO and Torontoist when they want to break out of the mold, to do something different this coming Saturday night. So while the Toronto blogs right now may cater to a certain slice of Toronto, they still act as important resources (especially with things like the restaurant and cafe listings over on blogTO) for people that fall outside that slice.

But back to the main point: you’re absolutely right that Toronto needs more. There is, I believe, a lot of space (and perhaps lots of demand) for a blog that focuses solely on an area such as Rexdale (where I grew up). What I’m not sure is that there are resources: people that are willing to put in the time and money to get something like that started, and then to maintain it as well. If those resources can be found and mobilized, then I would gladly welcome a Rexdale, or a Thorncliffe Park, or a Little Weston Village-focused blog.

So now we ask the question: where do we find these people, these resources, to make this a reality? And until we do, isn’t it best that we try and diversify what currently exists (like Torontoist and blogTO) to make them richer for people outside their target audience without alienating their current readers?

Japhet July 26, 2007 at 11:31 pm

I think most markets are being served. Whether you live in Chinatown East, Ronces, Scarborough or Mississauga, chances are you have a local paper or website or community that provides you with the news you need about your area. For those who fall in between the cracks, the mainstream media is their only outlet.

If there’s a demand for an info source that’s not being met, something will rise to meet that demand. You can count on it.

I think a lot of folks in the 20-35 bracket are interested in picking up their news from NOW/Eye/Torontoist/blogTO and maybe even some of ’em are hipsters. Go to Spin Gallery for one of their parties and you will see hipsters.

As a writer for blogTO, I’ve been to a meeting or two and I see a lot of slightly-nerdy, college-graduated 25-30 year-olds. Granted I’m generalizing a bit but you get the idea.

AndrewC July 27, 2007 at 9:19 am

Did you dig up a wasps nest or did you not.

Joey deVilla July 27, 2007 at 9:20 am

@Margot Lewis: So is your vice Celebrity Paranormal Project? I haven’t seen it myself, but I’ll admit to borrowing a line from one of the celebrities in the promo ad — I laugh out loud every time I hear him say “I’m sweating like a hooker in church!”

Joey deVilla July 27, 2007 at 9:37 am

@Sameer Vasta: The issue of resources is going to be the hardest to solve. Neighbourhood community or cultural associations might help — I myself am giving the Filipino Centre Toronto a hand in getting their blogging efforts kick-started. Another possibility is to get local community-oriented newspapers blogging. Finally, there’s always a chance that a business that acts as an unofficial community gathering place — most likely a “third place” such as a restaurant or cafe — might end up being the sponsor and champion of a community-focused blog (for example the Dooney’s Cafe blog).

As for BlogTO and Torontoist, the best option would be to spread themselves wide as far as they can — but without spreading themselves thin. As I’ve said before, no blog can be all things to everyone.

Joey deVilla July 27, 2007 at 9:42 am

@AndrewC: It comes with the territory, and at the very least, it got people thinking and talking. Fortune favours the bold, as they say.

Al July 27, 2007 at 9:55 am

I’m a 905er who works downtown. I don’t know what my demographics are…I don’t think I have enough readers for that. I looked down your list of hipster clues and I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them so, enjoy the blog if you like.

Paul B July 28, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Ya, as if any of that area outside the hipster zone mattered. ;P

Eden Spodek July 28, 2007 at 11:00 pm

I definitely don’t meet the definition of a hipster. I’m not part of the under 30 crowd. I also write a lot about the shops and other goings on in my North Toronto neighbourhood.

Sameer Vasta July 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

@Joey: This might be a project that would benefit many community organizations in the city.

Perhaps setting up workshops and tools for NGOs, rec centres, and other orgs on how to get their message out on the web (whether through blogging or otherwise) is the first step the community of bloggers in Toronto should take in order to help create a more vibrant and diverse web community in the city.

As you’re currently doing something similar for the Filipino Centre, might you have some ideas on how this can be reproduced in other parts of the city?

Deadrobot August 6, 2007 at 8:38 pm

As I read this I had a voice in the back of my head yelling “What about GTABloggers.com, a long dead site culled together by Rannie of Photojunkie.com fame?”

It’s been around for some time now and has a great cross section of demographics from Toronto. However, someone needs to wrestle control of it from Rannie because he has no time to update it.

While you look down that long list of blogs, you’ll find your ‘subcultures’ of bloggers, like the moms, blue collar workers and queers.

But does this utopia of Toronto blogs work?

I did a stint over on Torontoist as their queer blogger for a couple months and I have to admit, I felt alienated (David, you tried hard to pull me into the fold but I just didn’t feel it), because I’m no hipster, and I didn’t venture out into those boundaries mentioned. As a result, I felt my voice on the blog was ignored or uninteresting.

Take one of the most popular Toronto gay blogs right now: Thickslab. Smart, intelligent, sometimes not safe for work. And most would find that outright sexuality alienating. Much like I would find reading about Toronto child rearing rather dull.

I think the diversity it there, you just have to go deep if you want to see it. Thing is, most people don’t venture past their own blogrolls.

Alden C August 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm

OK, to be honest I check out BlogTo and the Torontoist daily because more times then none I will find something interesting to read. When I come to think about it, I don’t read close to 80 percent of what’s posted because the interest of those posts don’t fit my “demographics”. I don’t consider myself a hipster at all, more of a fan of the Hip Hop community and culture. Anyone else out there in the blogging community? Doesn’t seem so. But nevertheless, I am drawn more into the love for the city as most of us Toronto bloggers. Both BlogTO and the Torontoist and even Spacingwire have been great in featuring my personal blogs, photos and mini projects in the past. Thanks for the support guys! So from a personal note, you hipsters are alright. Keep doing what u are doing. Just because you cater to a certain demographic doesn’t mean others aren’t reading. You’re just doing you thing…

At Toronto Metroblogging we don’t post very often (but try to as much as possible) and there’s only a just a few of us. We all come from different backgrounds, young, old, students and even “grown ups”. The posts vary from current news to just plain old fun around the city. Most of our readership comes from other Metroblogging cities around the world that stop by the Toronto site to see what’s happening in our City. Some cities include Manila, Hong Kong, London, NYC, LA, Montreal and Vancouver. I know we are no contest for some of the “big gun” Toronto blog sites out there but I just wanted to put the word out that we’re around and if you looking for something to add to your Toronto blog roll come check us out.

http://toronto.metblogs.com/

Jane August 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Wow this post is now 3 years old but still holds true. I find myself outside the hipster demographic and started my site particularly because what was on blogTO and toronotoist seemed incomplete to me.

Brian Sharwood October 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Jane & Joey,

Absolutely true. Why there aren’t more local blogs still amazes me. We started blogging our neighbourhood about a year or so ago at Ossington Village and I’m just putting together a post making the point that there are others like us, but in fact there aren’t that many.

This post could use an update. 🙂

We did a local debate recently at the Garrison sponsored by our blog too. That’s getting hyper local, and is journalism at a local level.

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