Tag: site news
Those of you following me on Twitter and the like are already aware of this, but I’m going on an extended hiatus from blogging for the foreseeable future. Most of this has to do with a shift in interests and habits, but there’s also the fact that, since a lot of my interpersonal relationships have shifted to being in person as opposed to being online, I’m finding less of a need to document how things go on a day to day basis.
What’s most interesting about this is that, previously when I found that I wasn’t blogging “enough”, I would redouble my efforts to do it, forcing myself to post just anything to fill space. I’m trying a different tactic now, not being quite so brutal to my muses, and basically trying to get stuff done behind the scenes, as opposed to in public. We’ll have to see how it goes.
Anyway, there aren’t any updates expected for the remainder of the year and a good chunk of next year as well. I really don’t see myself returning to blogging until late 2013 at the very earliest, while 2014 seems like an even more likely prospect. It depresses me a little that I am not going to be able to have anything going on for the tenth anniversary of my blogging career, but truth be told ten years of mediocrity is not something to celebrate. Working on and finishing Nerdery, Point of Descent, the next Indigo Foundation novel, and other projects are worth celebrating– but only once I’ve got them done.
That’s the breaks, folks. See you around.
(Unrelated: my iPhone just had a kernel panic when I tried to post this. Hopefully that’s not an omen.)
It’s been a while since the last post. Most of you who followed me through that time via Twitter and Facebook know that it’s been a pretty stressful stretch, but the worst of it is over now. I’m working on a bunch of things behind the scenes– which I’ve previously used as an excuse for not updating or sharing information, but in this case it’s the honest truth.
In the time since I last posted, I’ve:
- Finished painting 1850 points of Imperial Guard.
- Assembled four warjacks for Warmachine, and am ready to paint them up soon.
- Started a dedicated gaming blog– it’s going to pre-launch on Friday and full launch on Monday.
- Made ready a Paranioa one-shot that’s happening this Wednesday.
- Actively made strides towards improving my job performance and happiness.
- Been away from home for a week on business. (I handled this better than I thought I would, actually.)
- Continued preparations for the Tekkoshocon video game room, including getting ready to order arcade sticks.
And that’s just the stuff I can talk about. I’m not kidding you all when I say I’m a very busy person!
Anyway, with the new blog starting up, I’m not going to promise frequent posts here. I am, however, going to redouble my efforts to keep on top of the more life-changing stuff as it happens; there may not be a set schedule but I’m going to try to avoid missing whole months in a row this time.
I’ll be back later this week with the pre-launch of the new blog and a bit more information on my current state. Everything’s fine… I’ve just been really, really busy.
Were we wrong about Mass Effect? That’s not really the point. Personally, I think it was a better game than the reviewer said it was, but then again we almost always disagreed internally about the games we reviewed. Netjak always inhabited that quasi-professional level, where we weren’t getting paid to write about video games, but we all approached it with solemnity approaching the sepulchral. So, how exactly should we have been approached?
In his book “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”, Cory Doctorow introduced the concept of whuffie: a quantitization of personal reputation that had replaced money as the way to gain non-essential luxuries (basics were freely available). People who did good things, like composed symphonies or let people ahead of them in line, gained whuffie, while people who did bad things, like cutting people off in traffic, lost it. It is instantaneous and mostly subconscious due to constant neural connections to an/the internet. In short, it puts a number on positive attention, while penalizing negative attention. While it sounds like the ultimate in egalitarianism, it sits poorly with me as something that should ever be implemented, even in the internet, simply because it’s instantaneous. Someone who just made a bad mistake will have a low whuffie score due to the snap-judgments of those around them drowning out or undoing the good they’ve done in the past.
If you try, but fail, you may have gained experience, but you have still failed. In private, the only one who ever sees it is you, and thus it’s easier to take. The problem is when your failures are public: if someone sees you fail, no matter how close you came, the memory of that failure is still there. On some level the witness will always have that knowledge about you, and there’s a good chance that it will in some way color their perceptions about you. When the failures are ephemeral– like bumping into a glass storefront because you thought it was an open door– the effect is minimal. When the failures are permanent and/or replayable– like a Youtube video of that very same collision– the effect is compounded.
With blogs and the internet, the temptation is to take everything as being instantaneous. Something posted years or decades ago is just as accessible as something posted right now, and whether or not it’s just as relevant today is, ironically, irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how long ago you posted that topless picture, or if it’s just one ill-conceived moment among thirty thousand exquisite photographs; it’s there forever and it’s all that matters. There is no statute of limitations on the internet.
It should, of course, go without saying that I think that’s a load of absolute bullshit. For my part, I try very hard not to let one mistake in the past color my perceptions of any site, professional or personal. The big names are capable of cranking out stinkers once in a while. But the little guys who don’t get any attention sometimes have the biggest ideas. The internet was supposed to let everyone’s voice be heard.
So remind me why we’re ignoring some of them, just because everyone else is?
The question then becomes one of effort and consistency. If 99% of the posts on a blog are filler (cough), does that automatically condemn the 1% of the posts that have genuinely good and interesting content? More important to the point at hand, does that 1% of posts command the blog’s readership attention for the uninteresting 99%? If it’s not a 1%/99% ratio, where exactly do you draw the line? How do you judge a site’s real worth?
The “fun” thing about all of this comes when you realize that some of the internet intelligentsia happen to have some rather cruel streaks in them as well (and I most certainly include myself in that categorization from time to time). The egalitarian nature of the internet just doesn’t sit well with some folk, and that gives rise to sites such as “Web Pages That Suck” and “Your Webcomic Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad”. This is to say nothing of the legions of commenters and forum-goers who pooh-pooh anything that isn’t a work of magnificent perfection.
Now, far be it from me to say that criticism isn’t warranted or desperately deserved in some cases– and I’l be the first to own up to the many, many mistakes I’ve made in the past. But as I’ve always said, honest and constructive criticism will always beat just plain ol’ criticism. For everything that’s wrong, there should at least be something that was done right. This isn’t always the case, obviously, but the cases where it doesn’t hold true are so astonishingly rare as to be worthy of the ire and bile that are heaped upon– well, more or less everything.
It gets worse when you start trying to quantitatively and objectively assess the quality of something based on a relatively incidental number. Back when Netjak was still around– which was itself a remarkable example of a professional blog– we raised our fair share of hackles with certain of our reviews. The biggest offender here was with Mass Effect, which didn’t get the glowing praise from the reviewer that the rest of the gaming press was lauding onto the game. This prompted an individual to sign up for our forums (which we used in place of a comments system) and berate us for not falling in line. The individual went so far as to suggest that our small userbase on the forums (because we’d just gone through a dormancy period due to technical failures) as well as the low number of threads and posts (because it was set to auto-purge posts older than a certain threshold) “did not give [us] the right” to our opinion of the game. Nevermind that Joystiq had linked to us repeatedly; we were small, therefore we didn’t count.
Last week, Pez mentioned (via Twitter) that he was in the bad habit of disregarding blog posts that don’t have comments. His argument– and it’s not an unfounded one, but I’ll get into that later– was that if nobody had bothered to respond to it, it wasn’t worth his time to read. He himself admitted that it’s a flawed reason to not read something, and when I made the snarky self-deprecating remark that “nobody must read my blog, then, if there’s no comments”, it was mostly as a joke. But then, I got to thinking about why he’d have that policy about feedback uber alles, and why its scarcity somehow indicates a lack of quality.
My introduction to the social internet was, as I’ve said often, Usenet. That was nothing but feedback. It’s post upon post upon post, each one building off the rest, and a community emerging from nothing– not even a structure more concrete than “post about this here, and that there”, and even that was fluid to some degree. Occasionally one post or another would become a foundation for more discussion, either by virtue of its own content or by containing a reference or link to something else, like a World Wide Web page. It would be the “big topic” for a while, and then fade away as the next one came to the table.
A good friend of mine, who I met during our shared time in Usenet, dislikes the idea of blogging in general. He feels it to be narcissistic and unnecessary, as the vast majority of them are people just endlessly talking about themselves into the void to make themselves feel important. I, of course, can’t argue with that, considering the fantastic amounts of pure crap that I put out here, but as the past month or so seems to have shown I’m working on fixing that. But what I think that friend is missing is the rather important distinction between a personal blog and a professional blog, and a rather frightening blurring of the lines between hobbyists and professionals.
The coming of the World Wide Web made everybody rock stars, and elevated all content to the same plateau. Suddenly, personal blogs, not necessarily intended for widespread consumption, are being presented and styled as if they are. Structurally, there’s nothing different between my site and say, Joystiq, aside from the content and the tools used to produce them. Where it all breaks down is in content: Joystiq has it and I, to be quite frank about it, don’t. At least, I don’t regularly have any content nearly as compelling as Joystiq’s constant feed of gaming news. And that’s where things start to get hairy.
Thoughts on the weekend past are coming on Thursday, as per what is becoming my usual idiom.
Nowadays, nobody even uses the term “home page”; the idea itself is outmoded as browsers offer bookmark syncing capabilities and browsing session restoration. There are huge services dedicated to keeping your bookmarks completely accessible, thus obviating the need for you to learn HTML and have hosting space set up. Personal hosting sites are vanishingly rare since the collapse of GeoCities, their purposes having been melded into social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter; their most common use case even at the end– a weblog– is now handled far more elegantly by services like WordPress and Blogger.
I maintained a links page on my old site for just shy of about nine years now; it went live at 7p on Thursday, April 24th, 2003. At some point this month– likely by the time you read this– that will have ended, as I’m migrating my bookmark list to iCloud. The Links page on the old TFO.net site, which remained an open-secret since the 2009 move to this domain, will be deleted, as it doesn’t serve any purpose anymore and is prohibitively difficult to maintain. I’ll talk a little bit tomorrow on why that is.
Folks, I just wanted to give you a heads up about what happened yesterday, before I get into writing today’s post. I had scheduled some Bailout for yesterday, but for some reason it didn’t show up on time and was instead sent to the drafts folder. This perplexes me as it’s the one time I intentionally set up Bailout. Anyway, the post has been recovered and placed in its rightful point in cyberspace-time, so there’s that.
A longer post on today’s topic is forthcoming, I hope– if not, it can wait until tomorrow.
I spoke very briefly yesterday about how the 30 Days of Content project worked before I got sidetracked. As it turns out, the project was an overwhelming success. I had a month of genuinely thoughtful and interesting posts up, and no filler or Bailout. Part of this was due to the decentralized nature of the time investment involved; by working on it “when I could”, I freed myself up from a lot of the time pressures involved in taking time out of every day to write a new blog post. This culminated in the rash of “multi-part” entries over March, and it’s that change which had me thinking that maybe I need to try that a bit more often.
I’m going to take each month as it comes, then, and write up posts in advance in more or less the same way I did for the last month. Sometimes I’ll go into longer detail on a topic, and if that means I go over a couple of days, then so be it– the shorter per-post format makes it a lot easier to digest a concept than the massive walls of text that I traditionally employed. Yesterday’s post (just shy of 1000 words) was about the maximum length that I really want to get into for a one-day topic, and I don’t want serial entries to hit that mark each time unless there’s a damn good reason for it.
I also think that as time goes on I’ll be able to return to more light-hearted entries. Certainly I’m in a bit of a dark place right now, mentally, and I recognize the need to get myself out of it. Writing a blog has always been a sort of group-sourced therapy for me, where I can try to work out some of my inner struggles while moving on with daily life and preventing myself from becoming too melancholy. I’ll try to be a bit funnier as time goes on, though I also realize that each and every single time I’ve said that, more and more humor escapes me.
Anyway. I can’t promise that you won’t see Bailout in the future, nor am I even interested in making that promise to you when I know that I will eventually either go back on it or break it shamelessly. What I can say, though, is that I want to try to go back to an idea I set up way, WAY back during 2007; you’ll find out tomorrow what it is. The current format evolution of the blog makes it much easier for me to actually work on it now, and because of this it’s going to be a stronger feature than it was then.
I started the Thirty Days of Content on the day that an Apple announcement happened. Initially, I hadn’t intended to have any discussion of the new product (and as I’m writing this the announcement hasn’t even happened yet), and while time didn’t permit me much chance to comment anywhere outside of some Twitter sparring, I did eventually change my mind. Part of the reason why I meant to have some remarks ready on the 8th stems from the last thirty-day project I ran around these parts– the Brandless February.
Back in February 2010, on the heels of another Apple announcement, I had decided that the hype and trolling that invariably surrounds these things was not worth feeding, and I made a vow that for thirty days, I wouldn’t give any company any free advertising by mentioning them on my blog. It was a difficult experiment, especially as a ton of interesting announcements happened in the intervening period. I eventually resorted to a massive infodump post for the day after the experiment ended, with most of the information being incredibly stale by the time it was actually released. This was less than ideal.
Thing is, just because I’m running a project on the blog doesn’t mean my life doesn’t go on in the interim. It’s quite the opposite, in fact, considering I’m running this project because my life is getting too busy to “live-blog” it. There’s a precedent for time-sensitive posts going up regardless of the overall situation, too, though not in recent memory– you’d have to go back to my split-post plan from 2008, on the old site, to find it. On the flip side, there’s also the fact that I’m running a major life project, as well– the nerdery book– and that can’t take away from the blog, either.
Life goes on. Time waits for no one. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I’m still getting there.
Folks, I’m sure you’re disappointed in me for the rather alarming number of missed posts recently. I am as shamed as you are. I’m probably going to take a little bit of time this evening to write up some shorter posts and pre-load them for the month of March just so I don’t have to scramble for Bailout first thing in the morning. I’ll have to have some canned posts ready for during the convention, at the very least. Still, it’s my goal to make sure that I have a fresh post ready for you all once the convention preparation period is over. Thank you for bearing with this.