The Mad City Dash is the blog of Ben, the self-proclaimed cyber bum. He is a homeless man who has recently moved to Madison Wisconsin from Mississipi (from what I gather in his entries). Ben has a laptop and a T-mobile phone, and is blogging his experiences on the street. It is a standard blogger blog with very few distracting features. There is a link to google video, where you can watch a few of the videos he has taken with his phone (when his phone doesn’t run out of minutes), something called “blogTV” which I didn’t go visit but found to be not very obtrusive to the look and feel of the site, and a link to a paypal account where if you feel like it you can send him a donation.
There isn’t a lot of content just yet. About 33 entries, most about his struggle with the bureaucracy of the DMV in trying to get a photo ID now that he lives in Madison. Ben takes pictures of meals at homeless shelters and people he meets around, and right when the blog starts to get a feel that it is going somewhere, he launches a second blog, called Abstract Chaos. I don’t see the need for a second blog really, when there isn’t a lot of content in Mad City Dash. I got interested in what was going on with him, as he’s trying to find work, trying to find a way to get his laptop repaired, and just trying to get along in life.
I’m not sure if the launching of a second blog is indicative of the types of decisions Ben makes in his life but I get the feeling (33 entries does not a psychologist make me)… he just gets into something and jumps into something else. I’d like him to blog more about why he came to Madison, what brought him there, how he finds himself homeless… was there a home in Mississippi?
Part of me feels bad in assigning a rating to the blog, not because he’s homeless but because there isn’t a lot of content to judge. In an entry where he says he signed up for the weblogreview.com, he states “This might help me create better blogs. Now I just have to figure out better content. :)”
Dude… you’ve got better content!! The circus? You ran off and joined the circus and got sick and put into a hospital?!!! Hello — there is a HUGE story there. Write it.
Ben — You’re looking for feedback and encouragement towards better content. As someone who has written online since 2001, and written very personally — this is my advice to you brother.
Blogs are more than off colored jokes, links to pictures of Paris Hilton crotch shots, and rants about what a mess the Iraq war has become. Blogs are your opportunity to tell your story.
Your life is content.
Your situation is content.
Your views about how the DMV was messing with you — that was content.
Dig deep. View it as a confessional of sorts and the audience out here will grow. Write it. You’re living it — write it. Blogs don’t have to be about “today I had soup.” You can go from “this happened when I was 10” to “i got a new cell phone” to “this is what I think about Iraq” to “when I was in the circus…” It doesn’t have to be linear. It is story telling — and stories exist no matter the date. I’m sure you’ve got stories. Build them.
Share information that you find helpful or not helpful from a homeless person’s perspective. Maybe one day you won’t be a cyber bum, but you’ll be a cyber author, with enough stories to share across the globe.
For now, I give Ben the cyber bum a 2.75 and hope this does not hurt his feelings. I encourage him to keep writing, in shelters, libraries — wherever he can, whenever he can, and to focus. FOCUS on one blog and write it out there.
Best of luck to you brother … hang in there. NULL