Requiem for a Blog

The first blog I ever stumbled upon was dack.com, “the 2� of Dack Ragus, a guy living in Minneapolis, MN (USA) who likes to golf, cocktail, and watch movies … in that order.” I truly enjoyed reading Dack’s pragmatic, cynical posts on any of his varied topics, even if I happened to disagree with his sometimes severe opinions. His Flash is Evil article and people’s reactions to it are priceless. His movie reviews are sarcastic and biting, and it works. It was through Dack that I cought on to the whole weblog culture, and for that, I owe him a lot of thanks. Sadly, Dack has decided to move on:

“…what I really want to do is make computers, and specifically the Web, a much smaller part of my life.

“Sure, a new article or web movie might be added every once in a great while, but the weblog � that 315 pixel-wide space with the too-small type � is off the air.”

And that’s the way it is. You will be missed Dack.

Disjointed, Freakish Reflections™ on the Dark Side of Blogging

DyRE’s Guide to Minimising Exposure to Intellectually Deficient and/or Damaging Acts of Blog is quite the handy (and humerously verbose) guide to avoiding those certain blogs that tend to drain your brainpower. While this is an excellent primer for what to avoid in the dangerous wasteland of bad blogs, there are some things I’d like to add. They aren’t as foolproof as DyRE’s rules, but I think they are important to note. First is the “lack of emphasis” type of blog; a page with no links, no bold text, no italic text, and very few line breaks – just solid text. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this one, probably a lot, but its something that irks me. If you are familiar with the regular A-list blogs, you’ll note that there are many impish imitators who will do nothing but post links lifted off of MetaFilter, kottke, megnut, etc… I don’t know how these people expect to gain legions of loyal visitors when all they do is recycle links everyone has already seen!

Ok, enough complaining about bad weblogs. Its easy to complain without providing a possible solution. So how does one actually go about creating a smart, compelling, readable blog? Here are Ten Tips for Building a Bionic Weblog. Its probably the best advice anyone starting a weblog could read and I wish more blogs would contain the sort of qualities that article speaks of. If you were to read my archives, I think you could possibly pinpoint the first day in which I read that article (well, maybe not, I did have some relapses, but I think I’m doing ok – aren’t I?)

Disjointed, Freakish Reflections™ on Webloggers

James, before I even got used to him, seems to have grown weary of the “weblog” form. Thankfully, he still sends out emails with the same concise, intelligent and witty commentary. Though I never really cared much for megnut, she feels she just doesn’t have anything good to say anymore (so she’s not saying anything at all). But Neal is back. And its also fun to look at really old blog entries from popular sites like kottke, camworld, metascene, evhead, dack, metafilter, wisdom, the list marches on… (Note how often some people used to update, and how often they currently update. Funny.)

The art of being boring

Stories, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, need some structure to them. Relating this to weblogs (and its illegitimate sibling, personal journals and diaries), I wonder what kind of structure is needed? My life is boring enough, I don’t need to hear about your boring day too. What is needed is a narrative flare; something that gives your daily events a fictional edge. Most weblogs I see are so disjointed and detached that I simply can’t stand it. Even if nothing fascinating happens, it shouldn’t matter. A good writer will shape seemingly separate and mundane events into a riveting narrative. I am not a good writer, so I end up pulling quotes like this:

“Writing that is �ordinary� must be more than a mirror; it must also be a pool, deep beneath its shimmering surface. Seeming simplicity is an exacting art…”

There are some people who have the talent to make the boring events of daily life interesting, and I envy those people. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a unique perspective either. Torrez provides both a novel approach to life and that ability to make everyday events exciting. I’ve recently discovered some other sites that are so well written that its almost discouraging. So for now, I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing and hope I can connect. Maybe I’ll even shape this monster into a narrative…

Death of a Community

I can’t help but think of the ramifications of the Pyra beakup. Most of the Pyra crew have written about their experiences, and it makes for interesting reading: Matt wrote an article in VH1 Behind the Music mode; Jack Saturn and Meg Hourihan had more heartfelt sentiments. Jack had some interesting things to say; he likened the experience to being in a band that broke up. I agree;Blogger will never be the same. I’m sure Ev will be able to keep things afloat, and maybe even turn a profit once he starts charging for his hard work(Blogger Pro?). Blogger is a great product, and its a terrible shame to have lost such a great team.

On a lighter note, the first issue of Weblog Clinic has been released and I must say that I found it interesting, despite the fact that they had very little advice on weblogging.

Are Users Stupid? Maybe. Does it really matter? If you are selling something, stupid people should be your target audience, since only stupid people buy half the shit thats being sold these days. Personally, I rarely stick around a site long enough to learn the subtleties of its idiosyncratic design, especially if I’m trying to buy something. Jacob’s law still holds true “Users spend most of their time on other sites.”

There Can Be Only One

Well, shit. According to this article on evhead Blogger no longer has much support from, well, anybody but Ev. Everyone at Pyra was actually laid off back in December but stayed on out of hope and faith. Apparently things have fallen through and since people have to eat, they’ve finally parted ways. I guess I’ll just have to investigate Greymatter and hope Blogger will last for a little bit longer. I think its a shame, but it really doesn’t come as much of a suprise. You really can’t have 80,000 users of your software, charge nothing, and expect to make money. Hopefully Ev can get his act together and, as he cryptically mentioned at the end of his article, take it to the next level (making it…profound?).

The Laboratorium

This morning I discovered an uncommonly brilliant website called The Laboratorium. I suppose you could call it a “weblog”, but a cursory glance at its contents reveals a depth and breadth that most weblogs (including this one) severely lack (not to mention some excellent non-weblog content). The author, one James Grimmelmann, tackles current and relevant issues, but from a distinctive angle giving a truly unique perspective. Do yourself a favour and go through his archives so you can really appreciate his work. [found at Monstro]

My Fake Webcam

Thats right, I’m jumping on another bandwagon. Check out my all new and boring Fake Webcam. It will get more interesting as time goes on. I promise.