Blogging about blogging. SO META.

Blogging is a tricky business. Now, when I use the word “business” there, don’t think I’m making any money from posting once a month. If you are making money from posting once a month, be a pal and tell me how that works. But I digress. So yeah, blogging is kind of weird. There are SO many places you can blog, each one with a different audience. I know from personal experience that if I post something in one place it might not see any activity, but if I post it somewhere else I get tens of views! That sounds sarcastic, and while it was clearly intended to be, it’s like most sarcasm… said with just the slightest hint of truth. If I post something and anyone responds to it or interacts with me in the slightest because of it, that’s a win. That’s a victory for me. If one person reads my stuff or likes my photo or whatever, then I’ve just used this amazing thing called the internet to share a little part of myself with a complete stranger.

That’s why I don’t do it that often.

The truth is, I’m terrified. Sharing something you’ve created with the world means that it’s no longer safe. It’s out there. Anyone can attack it, can pick it apart, can spit on it and belittle it. That little piece of yourself that you gave away is going to get hurt, and by extension, so are you. You’ve got two options. One, you do what I’ve always done, and you quit. That’s the easiest thing to do. Just quit, stop any creative juice you might have flowing, and run. Cut your losses, because that’s the safest thing to do, right? Option two is harder. You suck it up, use the negativity to see if there are things you could do better while still creating what you want, and let the positivity prop you up. In the upcoming new year, that’s my plan.

I need to create, and for some reason, I need to share it with people. Maybe I’m a sadist. Maybe I’m just a guy that thinks he’s got something to offer. Maybe I think I’m way better at this than I really am. At any rate, I’m here to stay, and this is probably going to be my last “wall-o-text” post. You’re welcome! For now, I’m going to sleep. Technically it’s Christmas Eve Day (…what?) and I need to get my beauty rest so I can look like a boss for Santa Claus.

 

Black and Blue Friday

I don’t get the big deal that’s made over Black Friday. I don’t understand the mindset of someone that would camp out in front of a store for a few hours, waiting for it to open at midnight just so they can save a few bucks on stuff they probably wouldn’t buy under normal circumstances. I don’t see how employers can force their employees to come in to work at midnight and pay them no more than usual.

The irony is that all of this happens immediately after Thanksgiving, which is a holiday traditionally dedicated to… well, what it says on the tin. The giving of thanks. It means that little kids in elementary school make lists of all the things they’re thankful for, and write those things around their own hand-turkey. Families get together for a meal that was usually prepared with love (or at least a little liquor) and celebrate one another. The thought of really taking notice of how good life has been to you is on everyone’s mind.

A couple of hours later, people are fighting like savages over whatever little gadget Best Buy or Wal-Mart has told them is both A) necessary to their very survival, and B) fucking $5 off, dude!

Every year it’s the same thing. People line up. Rush in. Shop. Struggle. Fight. Get hurt. Hurt others. Get arrested. Attack. Bite. Tear. Gnash. Save. SAVE.

It brings to mind a line from The Dark Knight

“When the chips are down, these… these civilized people… they’ll eat each other.”

It’s a funny world we live in.

Testing!

This is a test. It’ll probably post multiple times, and I’m sorry about that.

5278315448_fffa0a70f7_b

app.net: why it sucks.

I recently decided to try App.net, which is a new-ish micro-blogging service. Here’s a brief summary of my experience with it.

First, a little nuts and bolts info. It’s basically Twitter. There’s a larger character limit, and all sorts of access to their API, and… well, that’s about it. It costs a minimum of $5 per month to use it, or $36 per year. The (only?) benefit is that there are no ads. Also, the name is a complete misfire. “App.net” doesn’t lend itself well to anything.

I used an iphone app called Netbot to actually interact with people. Netbot is made by Tapbots, the same people who make Tweetbot, and for all intents and purposes, it’s the same app. I immediately knew what I was doing, since again, it’s basically Twitter. There are far, far fewer users than you’ll find on Twitter, and the conversations are of a decidedly tech-based nature.

That sounded pretty good to me at the outset — after all, I am of a decidedly tech-based nature — but since I’m not someone who writes code, I found myself quickly at a loss as to what I was supposed to do with app.net. I decided to ask if there were any gamers about, being careful to hashtag “gamers” to make my query more visible. I decided to search for that hashtag in attempt to find some gaming buddies, and I was shock to find three results, one of which was mine

I was a bit taken aback by this. Surely that was a mistake, just poor word choice on my part. I decided to try a different search, going with #Warcraft, since I love playing World of Warcraft. Surely in this haven of geekery there would be a few MMO fans, right?

Nope.

There were 2 posts containing the hashtag #Warcraft, with the most recent one being over a week old. At that point, it really crystallized in my mind that this service is not for me. Unless you’re in one of the very narrow bands of geekdom that App.net seems to cater to, you won’t find anything there to keep you around. I’ve already canceled my account, which, to their credit, was very easy.

All in all, that’s really the best thing I can say about App.net… canceling my account was quick and easy.

Why we love social media.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook’s popularity and the entire social media experience in general, trying to figure out what it is that causes us to become legitimately addicted to it. My own journey through the pitfalls of social media has been fraught with… indecision, to put it kindly. I’ve jumped from one thing to another and back again more times that I can count, and my poor wife — who has suffered through my indecision — can attest to it. Wherever it seemed that there might be more people I could connect with, that’s where I went. That, to me, is the essence of social media and why we’re so attached to it

In one way or another, we are all alone.

Social media outlets have made it extremely simple to connect with people from around the world that have similar interests. Maybe you live in a fairly remote area, or maybe you live in a place that doesn’t quite line up with your view of the world. No problem, there are thousands of people online that think exactly like you do, and all you have to do is find them. That’s the lure of it all. The hope for commonality, the promise that we’re not alone in how we feel; that there are others out there just like us. The prospect of finding a group of people who like the same stuff we do and that wants to talk about it. That’s what it’s about, really.

We just want someone to listen to us.

We want someone to read the comments we leave, read the mundane status updates we offer, look at the pictures we take, and watch the videos we record. We want someone to look at all of this stuff that we share, and we want them to appreciate it. We want them to interact with us, even if it’s nothing more than clicking a “like” button. We want these things so we’ll feel like we are in fact not alone, and that people really do notice us. We’re looking for approval. We’re reaching out to the internet in search of validation. We want someone, anyone, to tell us that we’re worth liking.

Well… at least that’s why I do it. 😉

I have no idea what this is going to do,

I have no idea what this is going to do, and the only way to find out is to try it.

Bands: Please Don’t “Grow”

 

The music industry is a fickle one. With the constant progression of technology (as well as bandwidth available at any and every place) physical media is all but dead. It’s expensive to make, expensive to buy, and it takes up tons of real-world space, especially if you’re a collector. It’s hard enough to get someone to buy a whole album these days, when the .99 single is king.

So why change your style?

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re… I don’t know, Linkin Park. You release an album called Hybrid Theory, and it makes you a lot of money. Many radio singles are produced from this album, and in general, it’s a massive success. Next step? You release an album called Meteora, which is essentially the same album that you’ve already released. People love it; they buy it and support it. There are more singles that get radio play. Ignoring that weird-ass self-indulgent remix album that you’re allowed at this point, what’s your next move? Make part three, right? Nope. You release some God-awful thing called Minutes to Midnight, completely ditching the sound that got you where you are. Surely by this point you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh crap, self… we really need to go back to what we know. We were good at it and people enjoyed it!”. Right? Nope again. Instead, you release A Thousand Suns, which is, unbelievably, even worse than its predecessor. So now, for your next release, you tout a “return to your roots” type of affair, Living Things, which is what people wanted in the first place… and you manage to turn out a mediocre record at best.

At this point, it’s too late. The ship has sailed. While you were lost in the search for “artistic growth”, the one thing that made you you was lost… and so was your audience.

On the other side of things, you’ve got bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise (both punk bands) that’ve been putting out the same record for years now (and in the case of Bad Religion, decades). You know what to expect from these bands, and that isn’t boring. It’s comforting. One of the things that people hate the most is change. One of the things that people get the most enjoyment from is music. If you’re making music that people love, why mess that up? Another good example is The Birthday Massacre. I love them, and I’ve bought every record they’ve put out. They have a very distinct sound… if you’ve heard them before, you can listen to 10 seconds of a song and pretty much know it’s them. They have a new record releasing in October, and I’m confident that I know what it’s going to sound like. Likewise, I’m confident that they’ll be receiving my money for their efforts.

As a consumer and a lover of music, the only thing that makes me feel worse than thinking about the current state of music is when a band that I love puts out a record I don’t recognize. It’s like you’ve bumped into a dear friend from a few years back, but they’ve changed into something completely different and… bad. Suddenly, you don’t want to be friends with them anymore, and honestly, you’re just a tad embarrassed that you were ever their friend to begin with.

I would ask this of all bands: don’t make us ashamed to have been your friends. We love you for who you are. To quote everyone’s yearbook, “Don’t ever change!”