When a place-blogger travels, she faces the interesting challenge of using the same old tools of word and image to capture a place that is new and unusual to her. This past weekend, Gary and I traveled to Chicago: a place where he has lived previously but where I had never been. Visiting a new city with a former resident is like traveling with your own private tour guide, and I would have never thought to go strolling on Chicago�s Navy Pier on Tuesday morning had Gary not suggested it.

Blogging is (or at least can be) a highly personal, individualized phenomenon: your blog doesn�t look or sound like mine, and my blog doesn�t look or sound like anyone else�s. Pundits commonly talk about the political biases of the mainstream media�but what about the personal biases of an individual blogger? When you read posts by Blogger X, that version of the truth is necessarily filtered through Blogger X�s perspective, preferences, and blind spots. If memoir is a highly subjective genre (as the recent hoopla over James Frey�s Million Little Pieces indicates), then blogging is similarly slippery: my place-bloggish view of Chicago is going to be flavored by my personal preferences and marred by my own perceptive limitations. Most women visiting Chicago, for instance, would spend at least a day or more visiting the upscale shops on Michigan Avenue�s Magnificent Mile�but as for me, I snapped several pictures of shop-windows there and then spent infinitely more pixels capturing photos of towering buildings and the impressive Chicago skyline. If you rely upon my eyes to give you a view of a weekend in Chicago�or of a year in Keene, for that matter�you�re going to get a view that�s necessarily both incomplete and distorted, filtered through my own experience.

But, if you had two or more bloggers covering the same scene�walking the same beat and photographing the same sights�you at least could triangulate their experiences by comparing their individual takes on the same phenomenon: what did he see that she missed? Touring Chicago this weekend with Gary, I found myself re-visiting the novel phenomenon of dual photo-blogging: what do you do when two cameras are aimed at the same sights and sometimes one another? As Gary and I found when we visited New York City over a year ago, two pairs of eyes see more than one do�but often there�s significant overlap as Blogger A says �Look!� to Blogger B. So how do two wandering, blogging shutter-snappers avoid redundancy in their posts?

As we have in past journeys, this weekend Gary and I sometimes shot distinctly different images: I have more pictures of mannequins than Gary does, for instance. In other cases, though, we snapped image after image of the same sights, each of us burning an unspeakable number of digipixels, for example, on Millenium Park�s reflective �Bean,� which will be the subject for its own photo-rich future post.

As we debated how to allow ourselves our own writerly and photographic personalities as we each blogged the same places, Gary and I coined the term �SynchroBlogging� to describe what we plan to do with our impressions of this Chicago trip: over the next couple of days, Gary and I will post our individual impressions of the same sequence of sights, linking to each other�s posts so readers can compare our He Said/She Said perspective of the same phenomenon. If blogging is one way of sharing both place and personality, then the old adage of �the more, the merrier� should apply�although I�m not sure if the waiter who was flummoxed to find me, Gary, and Armand of Moleskinerie fame obsessively photographing our food, cameras, and an impressive dessert cart during Sunday�s lunchtime meet-up would agree (stay tuned for Syncho-Details about that).

It would take a team of bloggers, I�m sure, to capture Chicago in all its richness�already, after spending less than three whole days in the Windy City, I�m compiling a list of things to do and see next time. And while Gary, Armand, and I continue to stew the idea of an Elastic Band Tour, Gary�s vision of a cross-country road-trip of Moleskine fanatics, I�m coming to realize that it might take a busload of bloggers to capture the nuance and complexity of places near and far.

If nothing else, SynchroBlogging affords many opportunities for mutual humiliation as He and She post embarrassing photos and stories about one another: another coinage Gary and I have brainstormed is �blogmail,� the cyber-equivalent of blackmail where you threaten to post picture X if your companion makes good on his threat to post picture Y. In tomorrow�s post, I�ll tell you how Gary had his self-esteem boosted by a theatre of Blue Man Groupies�but in the meantime, you�ll have to enjoy this image of a tranquil moment Gary shared with a not-very-talkative Metal Man, notebook open as he readied to record every word of wisdom from a deeply grounded Chicagoan. (Click on the image for an enlarged version.) Some sights, I think, are simply begging to be blogged at least once if not repeatedly.

    For Gary�s version of our walk along Chicago�s Navy Pier, click here…and check back tomorrow for the juicy details of the love-fest Gary experienced at Sunday night�s performance of Blue Man Group.