Friday, April 11, 2008

Prologue for a new blog

According to expert blog trackers, 120 thousand new blogs appear every day. So why write another one? For the same reason that Roger Williams sailed down the Seekonk River. Consider it a "lively experiment." Having devoted much of my life to preserving the endangered species of animal known as the newspaper reader, I am now in search of even more elusive game: the virtual Rhode Islander. Why now? Well, the writing was on the proverbial wall, and it wasn't hieroglyphics, ogham or runes, but hypertext.

During the past few weeks, people have given me all sorts of advice about blogs. Don't be long-winded, or long-worded. Don't be boring. Have a theme. Post regularly. One friend, who has been blogging for a couple of years, said the best advice he ever got was that a blog was not a column. It's more like the e-mail you send to your friends, only with better grammar.

As for what you can expect from this blog, the best way I can put it is to steal from someone else. Once, during an owling expedition at Eppley Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kingston, R.I., Bob Kenney, a University of Rhode Island marine mammal biologist and Audubon volunteer, was interrupted by his cell phone and felt compelled to explain the inspiration behind his ring tone: "It works on three levels," he said. "If you're highbrow, it's a Wagnerian aria. If you're middlebrow, it's the helicopter scene in 'Apocalypse Now.' And if you're lowbrow, down where I am, it's Elmer Fudd in a Viking helmet singing 'Kill the Wabbit' in 'What's Opera, Doc?'"

So you can expect Blog on the Half Shell to be something like that for Rhode Islanders in cyberspace, limbo and wherever else they like to congregate around the bubbler.