Shaking Things Up

My First Polaroid Developing
“Shake it up.”

In the spirit of newness and change, I’ve decided that it is time to shake up the presentation here on the blog.  There are have been a number of ways this interface has taken shape over the years, and when I first started making websites and posting material to the Inter-Web-A-Tron in the ’90’s, I had a number of ideas about what I wanted to post.  The frequency of those posts, and the presentation of them has changed dramatically since then, but I’ve done my best to hit upon themes that I’ve always felt strongly about.  Often those themes involve art and girls, but that’s true of almost every person who has ever been attracted to either.

The most recent incarnation of this blog – and within that, the most recent reboot of it last year – has been an excellent place to post things that are in-progress, or half-formed, as a means of chewing over ideas that I know I want to see go further.  When I first launched a proper blog, just after moving to Portland in 2000-ish (which I’m trying to unearth for the anthropological exercise of it all), my first thought was that the Inter-Web made it possible to have more immediate discourse, or at least, more immediate than the letters I was getting from ‘zines.  I still stand by that idea, and I post to the web largely with the notion that all of this is a draft, that it might be revised and re-written before it finds a final home.  Text, as any writer knows, is always a living document, and even after they are printed, there is an urge to revise.

The idea to go to five days a week was, of course, fairly bold.  That’s a lot of writing, especially if I don’t want most of it to be filler, and especially considering the unforgiving environment that a large part of the web has become.  Fortunately for me, I have gone largely un-harassed during my tenure as a denizen of this electronic republic, which either means that I am so uncontroversial as to be worth little regard, or that the offensive things I have said have been met with an eerie kind of agreement by the public at large.  It would be ridiculous for me to assume that I have enough notoriety to warrant an enemy or two, but having been online since the ’90’s, I’m shocked that I haven’t found some truly horrible examples of humanity who have wanted to fuck with me for the fun of it.

The idea to have one day a week dedicated to video posts seemed like a cheat that could easily be forgiven, so long as the videos were actually good.  (And I’ve been largely successful in that area, I believe.)  Giving over another day a week to index cards was certainly a bit of a gamble, as I hadn’t really seen that being done anywhere else, and I wasn’t sure if it was even something people liked.  It was a new way of approaching writing, and seemed like something that could be a huge flop if not done right.  But like Twitter, the restriction is actually a nice way to force yourself to try new things, and hitting the right length to perfectly fill an index card is a bit of an artform.  I’m glad that I’ve gotten some positive responses on them, because I’ve come to really enjoy making them.

(I would like to make a small digression here, and mention that I entirely owe my interest in index cards – and the idea to use it as a springboard for my own writing – was at the suggestion and inspiration offered by Merlin Mann on his show Back To Work.  I sort of used index cards in College, to keep track of assignments, but never used them as a way to stimulate writing, or as a means of capture.  But Merlin’s observation of the index card as ultimately disposable was something that really stuck with me.  Often, we are too precious about our own writing, and we treat each new notebook as a place where treasured and important ideas will live.  But there is a need for a place to put ideas that just need to get out, and might not really need to live beyond that.  Incorporating index cards into the way that I collect ideas and focus my own writing has been a huge breakthrough for me, and I owe that to Merlin and his suggestions on that program.  He does a wide range of other work – including a fair amount of comedy that is priceless – and I recommend checking him out if you are remotely interested in writing, art, comedy, and enjoying life.)

Having accounted for two of the five days each week, I was confident that I could continue to post three new written items every week, and have them not be a rip off.  But for some reason, I structured the week in a way where Monday led with a video & Friday closed with an index card, and the good stuff was in the middle.  While that idea wasn’t bad, a lot of people pointed out that Fridays are low-traffic for all sites, and Monday is always the strongest.  When I started looking at user engagement with our site’s built in tracking tools, this confirmed that observation.  Monday was our biggest day, and it had the least to offer readers, every week.

So, we’re going to move the videos to Fridays.  This makes more sense to me.  You’re only putting in a half-day on Fridays anyway, you already ducked out early with the guys in the other quad for a “lunch” around ten, and you’re just killing time until your boss leaves so you can get out of there.  So a video is closer to the amount of time you have at your disposal, and we get it.  To accommodate this, we’re sliding everything up a day, putting our index cards out on Thursdays now.

We’re going to try this for a bit and see where it goes.  Again, I’m not entirely sure if it’ll stay like this, but if history has taught me anything, it’s that we can change the way we structure this site at least four more times this year and it still will not account for the total number of changes that I will not be able to predict coming.  So, we’ll try it this way for a while.

And we’ll see what happens.  I invite your feedback, please.

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