Old Shleven, aka Steven I. Weiss, Elder of Zion — the sparky young pisher, self-aggrandizing j-journalist, father of Jewish megablogging, and my first-ever Internet arch nemesis cum buddy ol’ pal (just f’in with ya bro) — continues to expand his jblogging empire, adding to Canonist and CampusJ with two new niche blogs that raise the bar for jbloggers everywhere, and, continuing in our sacred tradition, adapt the trends of the secular/non-Jewish blogging world and apply them to the jblogosphere.
Iconia, authored by Menachem Wecker, covers the intersection between faith and art.
Jewess, with senior writer Rebecca Honig Friedman, covers all things Jewish and female.
The sites are both incredibly well-written, but what makes them most interesting to me as both a student and progenitor of Jewish internet culture is the model Weiss is emulating a la Gawker Media. Following Gawker’s initial launch as a NYC gossip blog, the company has since launched a number of successful niche interest blogs, such as Jalopnik for auto enthusiasts, Gizmodo for gadget enthusiasts, Lifehacker for computer nerds, Idolator for music fans, Deadspin for sports fans, and so forth. The long tail is where it’s at, and Jewish women’s issues, and religious art are certainly valuable niches that Weiss is well positioned to cover. We at Jew School have tried to do the same for the niches within the Jewish left, with the varieties of sites we’ve launched both successfully and unsuccessfully over these past few years.
As blog fatigue sets in and readers become more specific in their blog reading (hewing down the number of sites they read regularly in favor of a select number of “must-reads”) niche blogging makes a lot of sense in terms of both preserving traffic and increasing value and readability by sorting out the mish-mosh of material on the web. I commend Weiss for driving this approach forward and wish him much success in his new ventures.