By Anna Hausmann
Jennifer Smith is the typical Elmwood–area resident: young, single, urban, hip, frequenter of cafés and the Chippewa scene, Jazz at the Albright Knox, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, cruising the Allentown Art Fest. Jennifer’s life is a compendium of all things Buffalo, which makes sense because her internet alter ego is All Things Jen(nifer), a blog about being a young, single, hip, urban girl in Buffalo. It’s also one of the hottest local blogs, an addictive cup of French roast—dark, expressive, nuanced, bold, complex, and never out of fashion.
Jennifer Smith grew up in Western New York and went to college out of state, earning a B.A. in Political Science in 1997. Unlike so many other young people from the area, Smith moved back to Buffalo after graduation and has been here ever since. She’s lived all around in the Allentown/Elmwood area, currently living near Delaware Park, the better to dip into more of the city’s offerings. Smith cops to being “not-30” years old, and a law student at UB, planning to complete her degree in the spring of 2006. She also works full-time at a local non-profit agency and spends her down time both enjoying and commenting on the life of a single person.
But if you think her blog is little more than a Buffalo version of Sex and the City, think again. Smith’s abiding curiousity in politics and world affairs gives her blog a depth and complexity missing from more surfacy fare. You can read in-depth about the best local bands on Buffalo Rising, but where can you find an unabashedly neo-feminist homage to Sandra Day O’Connor? Nowhere but on All Things Jen(nifer).
For Smith, blogging is an offshoot of her desire to keep in touch with her friends. Eventually a friend introduced her to blogging and she started what she calls a sort of “Jen newsletter” in the fall of 2003. “Initially, the blog helped me to feel closer to my friends far away. I really didn’t think of it in terms that people out there, other than people I already knew, would be interested.” But interested they are. She gets comments on most of her posts, “except on days that I post excessively, and then no one can keep up with me.”
Smith says she averages about a hundred visitors per day, though she tells the story of the day her blog got cross-referenced with Ms. Universe and she became an instant go-to site. “I had been discussing Ron Hawkins of the band Lowest of the Low and that day Ms. Universe, Jennifer Hawkins, had accidentally stepped on her gown exposing her red thong. Since my name and Ron Hawkins’ name came up so frequently, search engines were leading people to my site. I had over 10,000 hits that day and over 128,000 visitors to my site that month!”
Smith says she reads anything she can get her hands on. “I find when I’m reading magazines I’ll be jotting down notes of things to blog in the future. The newspaper, books, other blogs, the words and stories in my head at night, conversations in restaurants, emails from friends, pretty much everything is blog-worthy material!”
Smith sees blogging headed the way of newspaper and magazine op-ed columns. “It could be focused on a single issue, or entertainment, or Buffalo, or politics, or even your newborn baby’s first year. But it seems to me that the more people entering the arena, the more they are ‘performing’ for an audience of sorts, one that is self-satisfying and fulfilling, as well as something that makes the reader come back for more.”
Anna Hausmann is a contributing editor of Buffalo Spree.