On the Halifax Bloggers website, there’s a blog called Noticed in Nova Scotia. Stephen Archibald’s posts often draw connections between the province’s past and present, usually with the help of photos from his personal collection. Sometimes, his posts don’t relate to anything historical, but rather things that catch his eye as interesting.
“Imagine someone who can write about the inside of an envelope and make you want to read more of his work,” says Kate Kirkpatrick, Halifax Bloggers’ managing editor. That’s how she describes Archibald’s blog. And yes, Archibald once did a post about the patterns found on the inside of security envelopes and how some were quite attractive.
How Archibald generates ideas for posts is equally interesting. Often, the ideas come from something that’s happened in the news and if he has images relating to it, he’ll use the news event as a starting point for his post. In the case of the envelope post, it was inspired by a line Premier Stephen McNeil had said about fiscal restraint and the need for “living inside the envelope.”
Most posts feature concise text and lots of photos, which mirrors what one might find in a museum display. “I suspect it relates a bit to that,” says Archibald, who spent his 35-year career working for the Nova Scotia Museum, before retiring in the early 2000s.
Archibald’s blog is essentially a more thorough version of his Twitter account, @Cove17. He joined the site in 2009 and has since posted almost 11,000 tweets. It was through Twitter that the founder of Halifax Bloggers noticed his work and asked him to write for the site when it launched about two years ago.
The beauty of Archibald’s social media presence is that he inspires people to pay attention to what’s around them and find the beauty and uniqueness in the things that surround us. If you look, there’s a lot to be captivated by.
“I think what he’s trying to do is bring people back to the [real] world a little bit,” says Kirkpatrick. She says the site has received lots of feedback from readers who say they are looking at their surroundings differently as a result of reading Archibald’s posts. Archibald gets tweets from people who are inspired by his work, who will post photos and note they are “out doing a @Cove17 thing … looking at stuff,” he says.
One of the reasons Archibald’s blog is successful is because of the institutional knowledge the 69-year-old possesses and his ability to see how things have changed over the years. He’s also helped by his collection of photos, which up until his social media presence began, had only been seen by him and his wife. “It was unclear of what use they were,” says Archibald.
However, those photos are getting a second act. “The blog and the Twitter stuff have allowed them to have a life of their own and take on a new kind of value,” he says.