The Big Picnic can best be described as a type of group news blog, an open forum of ideas. Upon entering the site, the massive green banner of close-up view of blades of grass makes it clear that it is picnic time. The whole idea is clear: you have been invited to a big picnic. Come and can sit out on this big expanse of a green lawn, out in the middle of nowhere, alone or with a bunch of friends, eating good food, drinking and sharing ideas by talking alot. The main inspiration of the activity on this site is just that, not only reading input from others but also contributing your own stuff.
This weblog is a self-proclaimed news and opinion journal whose creator refers to him self as a shiftless character (for some unknown reason). The advanced user interface uses a content management system together with PHP technology and provides a slick front-end to the site. Navigation flows naturally and smoothly, and the reader is easily transported from one area of the site to the next. The various news topics include a wide range of interests. On the more conservative side you have access to down-to-earth topics like technology, politics, law and religion. On the other more extreme side of the spectrum, one is delighted to discover topics about alcohol and drugs, sex and violence. While I would not consider the articles themselves very deep and profound, they nonetheless provide material that is fun to scan through. You are not expected to be some expert in the field nor a professional journalist, just being yourself is good enough. There’s also even this big picnic store where you can purchase all kinds of t-shirts, mugs and the usual stuff.
Things really start to shine once you decide to create your own personal account. After joining and then logging in, you receive a number of additional benefits. As a registered user, you may choose themes and avatars, edit and update information on your account, etc. I tried it out myself, and the whole registration process went flawlessly. Within no time I was a full-fledged fellow picnic person. So far at the moment of this review, there were no less than eighteen registered users. There I was receiving special attention as the newest member of the clan! Nicely done.
The most exciting aspect for me of having your very own account is that you can contribute your own articles. You choose a title and a news topic, type in the article (optionally using HTML), and when you are ready you can review it before pressing the final submit button. The editing staff then checks the article contents for proper grammar, perhaps even editing it to make it look nicer or more acceptable, before making it public. A nice system and very well organized.
While for the time being most of the entries have been submitted by the creator, occasionally other authors (like myself) are coming and going. So I expect things will in the long run pick up nicely. The link “top list” provides a view according to most read, most commented, most active categories, etc. The “most read” category indeed shows alot of activity, so this picnic is becoming more popular after all. C’mon down and join us.
I can recommend this weblog as worth a visit and as providing a good and healthy portion of reading material. It is very informative, but at times verges on the chaotic. This is perhaps inevitable when you allow authors from various places and backgrounds to contribute various types of material, so the extra editing by the staff provides the needed control. Personally, I would say that the true theme of the site should be more focused, and rather than being some massive collection of information tidbits with generic content, more structure would be an improvement. Unless of course the true purpose of this news group is to provide a completely open forum of ideas, then the site hits the mark and is achieving its original goal.
The picnic is growing as more people join in, and everyone is welcome to drop by. But there is still some time needed before the site really lives up to its name as a “big” picnic. I am sure it will live up to its many expectations.Big Picnic