The streets overflow with slush. The sun goes down shortly after lunch. The thermometer hovers around 25 degrees. It's officially winter and, until you arrive in Acapulco for Spring Break, your main source of Vitamin D will be the warm, glowing screen of your laptop.
But this isn't such bad news in Rhode Island, where our small state has turned out a cyberspace bigger, richer, and more ambitious than you might imagine. Politics. Gossip. Drugs. Sports. History. Music. Our local Internet provides a veritable liberal arts education, with DJ Pauly D — the man of nine million Facebook "likes" — as its provost. So, kick off your boots, order a pizza, and charge up that MacBook. This is your guide to Digital Rhode Island.
Most schools have their own mini blogosphere and Rhode Island's colleges and universities are no exception. RISD has the inimitable — and highly addictive — "ONLY AT RISD" TUMBLR, where anonymous contributors post gifs for every conceivable art-school scenario ("COOKING IN THE RISD DORMS" shows Paris Hilton frying a strip of bacon with a clothes iron. "IN THE 9TH HOUR OF CRITIQUE, WHEN PEOPLE JUST CANT STOP TALKING ABOUT THEIR OWN WORK" loops Jersey Shore's Snooki repeatedly screaming "Shut the fuck up!").
Providence College has a bevy of blogs devoted to the Friars men's basketball team: FRIARBASKETBALL.COM,PCBASKETBALL.WORDPRESS.COM, andFRIARBLOG.COM, home of the "Friarpod," a 50-minute podcast where guys nicknamed "Mayor" and "Warrior Friar" parse every rebound and new recruit. Back on College Hill, Brown's BLOG DAILY HERALD — the digital arm of the esteemed Brown Daily Herald — sets a high standard for sharp-tongued streaming commentary. Check out their Drunk/Sober/High reviews of "Twilight: Breaking Dawn II" and the Providence Ghost Tour for equal doses of clear-eyed, bleary-eyed, and red-eyed cultural analysis. The Blog Daily Herald even has a 30 Rock-inspired, behind-the-scenes web series called "The Blog," which takes viewers inside fictional, surprisingly funny editorial meetings at the BDH's brick headquarters off Thayer Street.
But such campus-centric fare shouldn't stop you from venturing into post-graduate bloggery. Out there in the "real world," your first stop should be the PROVIDENCE DAILY DOSE — SparkNotes for informed, intelligent conversation about the Ocean State. Here you won't just find comprehensive weekly music listings (when are the Moldy Suitcases appearing at Nick-a-Nee's?), you'll also find posts about restaurant openings, plays, protests, film screenings, art exhibitions, and flu shots. The main draw, however, is head editor/writer Beth Comery's laser-etched commentary on political issues — particularly the War on Drugs. "One more thing Patrick," she wrote to end a recent post about former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy's opposition to marijuana legalization, "how many years in prison did you spend as a result of your run-ins with airport security, the Coast Guard, and the Capitol police? Or were you given other options?"
Another blog deserving your clicks is the long-running ART IN RUINS. Founded in 2002 — which makes it almost geriatric, in blog years — AIR is dedicated to documenting past, present, and future architecture in Rhode Island. And it does its job well; the site overflows with info and photos about defunct underground bowling alleys and Rhode Island's next planned glass and steel edifice. But the site is much more than facts and blueprints. Thanks to a carefully curated feedback section (here, they're "Anecdotes" not "Comments") each page becomes a trove of memories, ghost stories, and urban legends. "[I] remember my uncle saying there was no water in the water fountains, just gansett!" writes one guest on the page dedicated to the bygone Narragansett Brewery in Cranston.