The washing machine at Heather Armstrong’s Salt Lake City home ”” as millions of her followersï»¿ already know ”” is a Maytag. To be specific, it’s a Performance series 4.4-cubic-foot-I.E.C.-capacity front-load steam washer that retailed for $1,599 and that she and her husband, Jon, bought on sale for $1,300, plus the 10-year warranty. They made the purchase near the end of her second pregnancy, a pre-emptive strike against the mountain of soiled onesies that accumulate when a newborn joins the family.
As her followers also know, that machine stopped working a week after it was installed. Instead of washing clothes, it produced electronic error messages. By that time, the summer of 2009, the baby was home, the laundry was piling up and 10 days of waiting for a part turned into 10 more days of waiting for another part, and June became July which became August, which is when Armstrong threatened to bring the wrath of the Internet down on Maytag.
She is one of the few bloggers who wield that kind of clout. Typically, there are 100,000 visitors daily to her site, Dooce.com, where she writes about her kids, her husband, her pets, her treatment for depression and her life as a liberal ex-Mormon living in Utah. As she points out, a sizable number also follow her on Twitter (in the year and a half since she threatened Maytag, she has added a half-million more). She is the only blogger on the latest Forbes list of the Most Influential Women in Media, coming in at No. 26, which is 25 slots behind Oprah, but just one slot behind Tina Brown.
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