Hair Balls introduces a new regular feature: Blog on Blog. Each week we'll interview other area e-writers and explore what they're writing about, why they write about it and why you should read what they write about. Starting things off is Off the Kuff's Charles Kuffner, who we gave Best Blog in our Best of Houston 2007 issue. Texas Monthly also recognized him as one of the 35 People Who Will Shape Our Future. Reader's can't help but notice the sheer volume of Kuffner's blog posts - impressive considering it's a one-man-show. Kuffner covers local news with an emphasis on politics, but doesn't hesitate to add occasional notes about the Astros or his two girls.
Name: Charles Kuffner
Typical Topics: Local news and politics
Day Job: My secret identity? I'm an IT consultant, I do Blackberry-related stuff.
Hair Balls: How did Off the Kuff enter the blogosphere?
Charles Kuffner: The short story is that I happened to stumble across a blog written by a friend of mine and it looked really cool and the next time I saw her I asked "how do I do that?" My deeper motivation was that I had done some writing in college - I wrote a sports column for my college paper that was called, oddly enough, Off the Kuff - and I missed having a forum for writing. It was kind of combination of this is something I'd wanted to for awhile and the medium had come along.
HB: Biggest story to break?
CK: I don't know that there is any one thing. I'm not so much a "breaking news guy" as I am a "Well, let's try to make sense of what happens guy." I think one of the things that I get a lot of positive feedback from these days is when I do analysis of electoral results. I go over precinct data and try to makes sense of what happened from that. I don't really think of it in terms of any one story that put me on the map.
I guess, back in 2003, I was following the redistricting stuff kind of closely and people came to know my name from that. But now the main thing is numerical analysis that I just don't see anywhere else.
HB: Has having this forum where you explore news and politics ever been responsible for a change of heart when it comes to your views? Now that you're looking at matters with a more critical eye and no doubt thinking about them more as you write about them.
CK: Oh, that's definitely happened. I like to tell people that I think blogging has, in some ways, made me a better citizen. It's forced me to pay attention to things that I didn't pay attention to before and it's gotten me more heavily involved in the political process which I think is a good thing. So yeah, and yes, I have definitely changed by opinion on a few things over time.
HB: So, how does one man post so much?
CK: Is this off the record? [Laughs.] The short answer is: I write fast and I just try to fit it in when I can.
HB: Do you have one time where you try to get most of your work done or is just whenever something comes up?
CK: I do a fair amount of my work early in the morning. When the rest of the house is asleep, I get up at about 5 o'clock and just spend about an hour and a half posting stuff and publishing stuff.
HB: Do either of your daughters have blogging aspirations?
CK: I always tell people that my oldest daughter is the real brains behind the operation and both of my girls, at their young ages, are very verbal. They are both interested in the computer already and I think at some point they will probably do something. They'll probably want to do something that's more modern and "with it."
HB: Where do you find your ideas?
CK: I get an awful lot of information just from what's going on in the Chronicle. I find some interesting stuff now via Twitter. People send interesting links and I've gotten a fair amount of fodder from that. Then, of course, I get a ton of e-mail and that is often material as well. I have to be efficient about what I do because there are only so many hours in the day.
HB: Recommended blogs?
CK: There's a lot and I don't read them all every day, because again, only so many hours. Blogs that I try to read regularly in Texas include Burnt Orange Report, Dos Centavos, Muse Musings [and] Greg's Opinion. I should say, I do read Hair Balls, too. I actually was a fan of Rich Connelly's way back in the day when he was with the Public News. I kind of miss that newspaper just because it was so weird. [Laughs.]
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-- Dusti Rhodes