College blogs are nothing new There's CollegeCandy, HerCampus, Barstool U, and a seemingly infinite number of Gossip Girl-type sites. Many students at Bowdoin participate in the collegiate blogosphere, and within the past year a few students in particular have created blogs dedicated to documenting life at the College in a variety of ways. The Orient looked into three Bowdoin blogs: The 'Cac, Empowered in Howard, and Making a Mess.
Daisy Alioto '13 founded The 'Cac (inthecac.com) in March, appropriating the popular nickname for the New England Small College Athletic Conference or NESCAC.
The focus of the blog—whose tagline is "11 Schools, One 'Cac"—is on the shared culture among these small, liberal arts colleges. Recent post topics range from L.L.Bean to VitaCoco, Harry Potter to BarStool Sports, D-III field hockey to the Middlebury alum on the "Real World." The blog's ''Cactionary" feature defines terms and locations specific to each NESCAC school.
"At first, I wanted to give the idea to someone else who knew more about the Web," said Alioto. But when she was at home over spring break, she changed her mind after viewing 'The Social Network.'. "I realized that if I want[ed] this done, I would have to do it myself," she said.
For a few months, Alioto and a friend from Amherst were the sole writers for the blog. Today, the blog features posts by students at every NESCAC school except Hamilton.
"I try to keep all the schools in the spotlight," said Alioto. "I follow all the campus newspapers on Twitter. If I see something from [a school besides Bowdoin], I'll forward it to my writer at that school—but if it's time sensitive, I'll jump right on it."
Though most recent posts have adopted a humorous, satirical tone, early entries show that "the aim [wasn't] to be as funny as it is now," she said.
Alioto noted that serious topics (like bias incidents) are earnestly reported on The 'Cac. However, she has found that the blog's "potential for entertainment [is] what will draw people in."
In an effort to further promote the site at NESCAC schools, Alioto began selling "The 'Cac" shirts, designed by a Connecticut College student (who receives all the profits), at the beginning of this school year. Students at nearly every NESCAC school—and beyond—have purchased the shirts.
Readers have also responded to the funny tone of The 'Cac's Twitter presence, which, as of last Monday, boasts 1,700 followers.
Current students are certainly not the only ones who follow The 'Cac on Twitter or frequently read the blog, according to Alioto.
"Just the other day, I got an email from an alum who wanted to order her boyfriend a T-shirt as a surprise," said Alioto. "[She said that] she still feels connected to her college days because she can read the blog."
"My favorite quote is still the alum who said she thinks her boss is going to think 'Cac is a new street drug because she reads it so much at work."
Empowered in Howard
Like most good stories at Bowdoin, it started with a pepper flip.
"I thought it would be funny," said Coby Horowitz '14, the blog's primary author. "It was definitely a joke at first."
The blog's tagline is "eight guys just tryna [sic] survive," and Horowitz described it as, "pretty much my word vomit... anything I think is funny."
On Empowered in Howard, (www.chemliteliving.blogspot.com) he documents the trials and tribulations of his group of friends, who live i on the first floor of Howard Hall, an upperclass "chem-free" dorm.
Zach Morrison '14, Horowitz's roommate and the blog's editor, said that the blog is "not about Howard kids in general. We just ended up living here."
Part of the blog's purpose, Horowitz sid, is to dispel the popular belief that people who live in chem-free housing are "kind of weird."
"The blog makes us sound ridiculous," Horowitz said. "It's satirical. It makes us seem more 'Howard' than we are [in order] to ridicule the stereotype of a 'Howard' man."
Horowitz's innate sense of humor has shaped much of the blog's content.
"I think sometimes when I write essays for class, I put in too many jokes," he said. "Here it works well... Sometimes I have to rework [a post] a lot, but I think naturally it's ridiculous enough that people think it's funny."
"His humor borders on that of an 8-year-old child," said Morrison, who helps generate ideas for "blupdates," a shorthand Horowitz created for blog updates.
"Then I make sure he's writing in English," he said. "Sometimes it's kind of hard to understand when you go inside Coby's head."
Regardless of how easy it is to understand, Morrison and Horowitz have the same goal for the blog: 70 billion views, "so that everyone on earth sees it at least ten times," Horowitz said.
Making A Mess
Eric Edelman '13 has always had self-professed "strange eating habits." But when his friends wouldn't quit commenting on his unusual meals, he said, "I thought I would embrace it and run with it."
He started the blog (www.foodmakeamess.tumblr.com) last February.
For each post, Edelman tried to create a theme around which he would plan his meal—like being a mock scientist, or referencing pop culture.
"The theme also explains the process of picking the food," said Edelman. "Like if someone said 'why the hell would you eat that?' I'd say 'well, I was thinking about this, which made me pick that.'"
Edelman's bizarre meal choices include an oatmeal-and-raisin sandwich, a pickles-pears-turkey-tomato sandwich, and frozen yogurt on French fries. Most of his meals were created in Thorne and Moulton Dining Halls.
Since August, Edelman's posts have been rare because he was busy with the soccer season. Asked whether he intends to continue "Making A Mess," Edelman said, "I think that's the nice thing about blogging, you don't have to have an end goal in mind. I don't have a huge readership I owe anything to...but it's a nice platform for creativity."
Other student blogs to check out: www.bowdoinstyle.blogspot.com (founded by George Aumoithe '11, now run by Sam Fichtner '14, Alex Pigott '14 and Marissa Rosenthal '14) and www.shariflifts.blogspot.com (by Sharif Younes '13).