Get ready for a contest that's being called "like the United Nations of blogging competitions."
OK, so that's the way the hosts of "Ultimate Blogger 3" are describing the latest season of the Web reality show, which is kicking off this week. (The name of the contest hints that hyperbole is encouraged all-around. So let's go with it.)
The competition's aim? "Trying to find the mastermind of the World Wide Web," as the dreamy, melodic theme song goes. Eight contestants were announced earlier this week, culled from more than 117,000 applications.
An apt description of the contest itself is that it's Survivor online. Each week, contestants will be given a challenge, wherein they'll have to come up with compelling online content, working under tight deadlines. Here's where the part about forming alliances and maintaining them comes into play. The person deemed to have the best blog entry gets immunity and moves on to the next round automatically. The other bloggers will vote to kick one contestant "out of the game, and off the Internet--forever." (Now, this sounds overly harsh and more permanent than it really is, of course. Luckily, contest rules don't specific whether bloggers get kicked off all the Internets.)
Contestants' content will be posted to an area known as "The Den," where the audience can follow the goings-on each week and comment on them.
The first challenge is for each contestant to create a profile. They have until 2 p.m. PDT Wednesday to post. One contestant will be awarded immunity. Votes are due by 5 p.m. that day. Thursday, the site will reveal the first blogger to be eliminated. Updated 9:15 a.m. PDT Wednesday: The new deadline for entries is 3 p.m. Thursday.
The masterminds behind the contest are Mike Merrill, Steve Schroeder and Jona Bechtolt--the creators of UrbanHonking.com of Portland, Ore. The online community began as a Web magazine but later evolved into a series of blogs. Furthering writer Katherine Dunn's theory that "everyone in Portland is living a minimum of three lives," each of UrbanHonking's co-founders has at least one other gig. (Bechtolt is a musician who tours as YACHT and Schroeder runs a local record label, for example.)
For the first time, the contest is part of Portland's annual Time-Based Art Festival. (The group received financial support from the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, which hosts TBA.) This year's performance art festival features everything from a project called "Haircuts by Children" (which is exactly what it sounds like and, hey, they're free) to the play Gatz (wherein The Great Gatsby is read in its entirety) to a dance performance starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. Not bad company for "the greatest Web reality show of all time." (There they go again with the superlatives.)