MY OBJECTIVE WAS OUTLINED IN AN e-mail and was sent on July 26, 2005,
to a consortium of Newsport-Mesa newsmakers:
Dear (Sir or Ms.),
This is Elia Powers from the Daily Pilot newspaper. I am writing
an article about bloggers in Newport-Mesa and am looking to see what
blogs some of our residents read and write. If you could respond by
e-mail with your name, I would appreciate it.
The number of blogs doubles every five months, according to
Technorati, a blog-tracking firm. Right now, there are approximately
14.2 million of them, and I wanted to know more about the bloggers in
our midst. Here's what my inquiry revealed.
POST NO. 1: THE MEANING OF A BLOG
It's difficult to discern true emotion over the Internet, yet
parts of Kiril Kundurazieff's e-mail did seem unmistakably sincere.
"Being online, and then becoming a blogger, changed my life," he
And so, for this story, it seemed essential to contact
Kundurazieff, a longtime Costa Mesa resident who moved to Santa Ana a
month ago when his apartment lease ended.
Pre-interview research was a cinch. There's no shortage of space
on the Web, and Kundurazieff takes full advantage, including enough
personal fodder to piece together a short autobiography.
Like many who call themselves bloggers, Kundurazieff keeps his
postings close to home.
He writes about his daily experiences, his favorite restaurants,
even his politics.
In a one-week span, he described in detail a 45-minute tour of
Newport Beach's new Mormon temple and a 27-mile bicycle tour of Costa
Some of Kundurazieff's readers simply know him as the Cycling
Dude, the name of his 2-year-old blog dedicated to transportation on
two wheels. (He doesn't own a car.) Others know him from Sneakeasy's
Joint, the online diary he jokingly used to refer to as "Huntingport
Mesa's #1 Blog."
One thing was certain: Communicating with Kundurazieff would be
easy. If nothing else, bloggers are attentive to reader inquiries.
What good is your name and what value is this medium if you aren't
responding in real time?
The e-mail messages shot back and forth. It was time to use the
old-fashioned method of corresponding. The phone rang.
POST NO. 2: THE CATALYST
On a hectic Friday morning, a message flashes across my computer
screen: "I thought you might be interested in seeing the Web log I
The author is Geoff West, a Costa Mesa resident and an opinion
writer whose commentary regularly appears in the Daily Pilot's Forum
The link leads to A Bubbling Cauldron, a new site devoted
primarily to musings about political happenings in his hometown. For
those wondering, there is space in cyberspace dedicated to one
person's thoughts on life in Newport-Mesa.
This site has a decidedly local focus, paying homage to the people
who make news in these two towns.
Which leads to the question: Are the newsmakers also blog
POST NO. 3: THE ANSWER
About a dozen people responded to my e-mail. Here is a sample of
"I don't read any blogs. I'm hopelessly out of the mainstream
there," wrote Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff.
"Sorry to say I don't understand blogging and don't visit blog
sites," wrote philanthropist and columnist Jim de Boom.
"I don't read any blogs. I don't have the time to read about
people's opinions on issues," responded Newport Beach Chamber of
Commerce President Richard Luehrs.
Some were apologetic. Others expressed an interest in learning
more. But few who responded gave any indication that blogging had
reached them -- or the mainstream.
The act of blogging is a fairly recent phenomenon, one that became
increasingly popular in the months before the 2004 presidential
Increasingly, Internet providers are becoming blog hosts,
providing people with free server space. That means blogging isn't
just for the techies anymore.
Technorati, a website that tracks blogs, identified 14.2 million
sites in late July -- a more than 50% increase from findings five
Which leads to the question: Who is doing the writing?
POST 4: IN WRITING, HE'S POLITICAL
"I'm not a writer," answers West in a smooth, monotone voice from
his home in Costa Mesa. "I'm just a guy who writes."
West, 64, has lived in Costa Mesa for more than half his life. He
spent a large part of his career as a headhunter for regional
companies. These days, he is enjoying retirement.
Politics never really piqued West's interest. City Council agendas
rarely crossed his mind.
"I was like most everybody here," he said. "They just rock along
... Unless there's a sink hole that forms in front of your home, you
don't think about things going on."
But then West started paying attention to newspaper editorials. He
wanted a voice.
So West wrote prolifically, on topics including St. Andrew's
Presbyterian Church expansion, the Job Center's future, the state of
Costa Mesa's Westside.
He taped Costa Mesa City Council meetings and often viewed the
video more than once. After furiously penning a political essay,
West's byline often appeared in print in the next day's newspaper.
Early last month, West discovered he didn't have to wait that long
to broadcast his thoughts. He developed a blog site and began posting
"It provides me a way to respond to an issue on a more timely
basis," West said.
And he is clear about his intentions: "I want it to be other than
a one-sided rant. I want people to pay attention to what's going on
around them. If 50 people decide to get involved, I'm a happy guy."
He signs the bottom of his blog, "Geoff West: The Pot Stirrer."
POST NO. 5: A COMMUNITY OF HIS OWN
Since starting his first blog in 2002, Kundurazieff has stayed
Writing had always been a pastime, but few readers ever saw his
product. A self-proclaimed introvert, his social network was limited.
That changed in 1998, when he bought his first computer and joined
message boards, where Kundurazieff was among people he considered
like-minded. He wrote opinion pieces and received critiques and
responses from fellow posters.
Almost everyone managed a blog and read each others' Web pages.
"It gave me an outlet for creative discussion," said Kundurazieff,
who works for a phone company in Huntington Beach. "It made me a more
social and outgoing person ... I started meeting people all around
One of the people he met through his blog was Mitch Reifel. Both
joined Bear Flag League, an association of politically conservative
POST NO. 6: A FLASHBACK, NOV. 2, 2004
On Election Night, Kundurazieff and Reifel, along with other Bear
Flag League bloggers, huddled around a television set at Reifel's
Costa Mesa house.
This was an evening of multi-tasking. As poll numbers shifted and
electoral votes were tallied, guests chatted with each other and
added entries to their blogs.
They sat in the room until midnight, alternating between typing
For Reifel, posting numerous times in an evening is unusual.
"I try to post once every business day and once over the weekend,"
he said. "If I don't, readers start to wonder what's going on."
POST NO. 7: WHAT IS A WINDOW MANAGER?
That's the name of Reifel's blog, which focuses primarily on
issues relating to business.
"It's someone who has a fairly high job with nothing to do --
except look out the window," Reifel explained over the telephone.
For years, that described Reifel, a high-level employee at Samsung
who was "not given a lot to do." So he found a new hobby: reading
He started by reading sites managed by members of the "MSM" (that
blogging shorthand for mainstream media). He then discovered
business-oriented pages that catered to his interests.
Soon enough, Reifel started his own page. What began as a
politics-oriented blog turned into a place where he posted business
tidbits and occasional tips. Readers were intrigued. MBA students
loved the free advice.
He expanded his coverage, writing about business ethics and even
his own exploits. Still, he sticks to a list of unofficial blogging
1. Keep work and blogging separate.
2. Don't use full business names in your posts.
3. If it's called for, change a person's first name to keep
POST NO. 8: A TANGLED WEB
On the lower-right-hand portion of Reifel's blog, he posts dozens
of links that lead to other Bear Flag League sites.
"What makes blogs interesting is the commentary," he said. "You
get discussions going. It's like being at a cocktail party where you
are arguing about business or politics and no one gets upset."
To decipher the group's rallying cry, look no further than the
Bear Flag League mission statement:
"We enjoy the camaraderie of our fellow Left Coast bloggers and
the spirit and struggle of being in the minority as Conservatives
living awash in a sea of Liberals."
No one ever said blogs had to be balanced.
And when it comes to political blogging, many choose not to cross
Newport Beach Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a Republican, regularly
reads a group of conservative blogs -- including Orange County
Courant, the California Republican Blog and Powder Blue Report, run
by an Irvine resident.
Some choose to focus their writing or reading on a single issue.
Newport Beach homeowner Don Krotee uses his blog,
o7www.newportheights.orgf7, to outline his reasons for opposing the
St. Andrew's church expansion.
"The size of the church today is, as many in the neighborhood
feel, just too big," Krotee writes on the site. "Here is an
opportunity to show your opinion."
POST NO. 9: AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
And therein lies the beauty of blogging: Anyone can be a pundit.
Expression is at your discretion.
Still, Reifel said he doesn't think blogging will ever replace the
"It's going to be a way. It's not going to be the way," he said.
Both Reifel and West acknowledge the drawbacks of the medium.
"If there's an error made by the mainstream media, thousands of
bloggers are jumping on them checking facts," Reifel said. "For the
vast majority of blogs, no one is checking facts."
West said he has, in the past, complained about newspaper editors
removing words or phrases from his writing. Still, everyone needs an
editor, he said.
And what's one difference between West and a professional
"I only write when I want to," he said.
Blah blah blog
* blog (o7n.f7) short for Web log; a chronological series of
postings, like a diary, published on a website and distributed over
the Internet --(o7vt.f7) the act of posting one's thoughts to a Web
* blogger (o7n.f7) one who posts such a journal; a blogger
usually includes plenty of commentary in his or her blog
* blogosphere (o7n.f7) the somewhat intangible universe where
* blogging (o7n.f7) the posting of a person's thoughts to a
* ELIA POWERS is the enterprise and general assignment reporter.
He may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or by e-mail at