Things that have been keeping me busy:

  • Getting ready to play tomorrow night at Garfield Artworks with the epic Japanese hardcore(?) band Envy (on Temp Res), and a band called Sleeping People (I have to like a band with a name like that) and Knotfeeder (I guess ex-Don Cab, and featuring Andy from Southpaw as well). This is our next-to-last show, forget S*nic Y*uth and come see us and a band from Japan that kids shit their pants over instead!
  • Work is busy as all get-out, what with having a lot of requesting being done, and training new student workers, and having my name rhymed with “candy” in a sing-songy manner by whomever is manning the information/candy desk when I walk by, and being asked by multiple professors if I’m not an undergrad.
  • Speaking of undergrads, in the class I’m taking (I’m taking two, but one is web-based and therefore I don’t see undergrads when attending), I was struck today by the youth and, er, exuberant naivete of my classmates. That’s code for me saying some are kind of annoying. But hey, not all of them. It should be interesting.
  • I wrote over the weekend, stuff I’m happy with, for the first time in ages. Not blog writing (obviously). Poetry type stuff. It all started flowing out Saturday evening, enabled perhaps by delving into nature at Cook Forest with my mom earlier that day, or by seeing awesome experimental films at Jefferson Presents that evening, or alcohol, or all of these things and more. Regardless, I’m happier with myself than I have been in quite a while on account of this.
  • I fully intend to present you with an essay on the importance of the holy trinity of Ben Folds Five albums (S/T, “Whatever and Ever Amen,” “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner”) in my life, at some point in the near future. (Ed.: Apparently I already mentioned this, in a post I vaguely remember writing a few days ago. Deal with it. I’m not taking it back.)
  • What’s new with you?

promises promises

August 25, 2006

Soon, a comprehensive entry about the holy trinity of Ben Folds Five albums. Then, who knows? I’ll be a 40-hours-a-week-plus-two-classes-and-applying-for-grad-schools man. Perhaps blogging will not be quite the priority it has been for a while? Or perhaps I’ll be in front of this computer all the time and blog MORE about less exciting stuff.

hello blog

August 22, 2006

Sometimes I forget you’re here. Not really, but sometimes I’m too busy making food and playing music and hanging out with babies and having loads to do at work, and I don’t have time to update you. One of these days this will cease to be the case again. Until then, bide your time!

here’s something.

August 17, 2006

Something that I’ve never really “gotten” is WHO is in charge of distributing domain names and all that stuff. I’m not talking about Godaddy or whatever, I mean where do THEY get the right to do that? And this New York Times article brings me a little bit closer to understanding. Mostly what I’ve learned is that “ICANN” is a hilarious acronym, and the ICANN website is painfully 1997-looking, and I still don’t fully “get” where they get the DAMN RIGHT to distribute domain names and all that. I guess to an extent there’s involvement from governments worldwide? Or something? Regardless, I learned also from poking around the ICANN site that when they approved .coop and .tv and all that a few years ago, they also approved .aero (for use by the aviation community) and .museum (I’ve still never seen this in use). Also, .biz is the worst top level domain I can think of. It conjures images of sleazy car salesmen. Who would use it? Should I migrate this thing again, to Perhaps.

So a while ago I made some threat that involved regaling you with some sort of theory about Youtube videos being embedded in blogs, and the fact that it BUGS THE HELL OUT OF ME even though I still love the people who do it because I am very much not a player hater.

That threat was made a week or a little more ago. The conversation it sprung from, which also involved Brian 1, occurred just a bit less than a month ago. The idea is finally coming to fruition now. Welcome to my mind, and to my “work” ethic.

The thing about blogs is, and you can argue with me on this one if you’d like because I know that there are valid arguments to be had here, I generally feel as if MOST READERS conceptualize them as text-based publications, descendents of things like zines, diaries, perhaps newspaper columns, maybe letters. Thus, when we access the blogs we read regularly, we’re prepared to use our print literacy to decode what we’re about to see. We’re expecting words, perhaps an image or two (hopefully of kittens), and probably some hyperlinks to deal with. Same goes for if we were opening up a zine, or turning to a newspaper column of someone we’ve gotten to know through regular reading.

While, yes, one beautiful thing about the web as a tool for disseminating information is that it’s always potentially a multimedia experience (and is therefore incredibly versatile), I feel like most of us at this point aren’t ready (and may never be ready?) for a medium that employs different literacies essentially at random2.

A related example is the embedding of music files into personal Myspace pages. The automatic play of songs on bands’ pages is annoying enough — it essentially dictates that if a user is browsing the web and s/he MAY come upon a band Myspace page s/he better not bother listening to music on her computer during that browsing experience, lest s/he come upon a page that’s going to blare another song on top of whatever’s already playing in Winamp or WMP or whatever.

Band pages are usually recognizable as such before the user navigates to them, though, so s/he can prepare by pausing Winamp when s/he knows s/he’s about to open a page that will almost definitely include sound. Music isn’t an integral part of personal Myspace pages as a rule, though, thus making it impossible to determine from page to page while surfing through profiles if one will play music or not. The rule then necessarily becomes: turn off YOUR music, in preparation for the possibility of having SOMEONE ELSE’S music foisted upon you. The surfer is forced to change HER environment in order to satisfy the whims of whoever is on the other end of that Myspace profile.

Back to embedded Youtubes, and, to be fair, Quicktime movies3 and whatever else falls into that category. While the case is slightly different with these as opposed to with embedded music files (most importantly in that these generally don’t play automatically), there are important similarities. When a blog that’s, say 90 percent text-based employs video files embedded into it occasionally, it forces on the reader a different sensory experience than s/he bargained for when coming to the blog.

If a blogger calls attention to a video file elsewhere on the web by describing it and providing a link, I generally find that I’m much more satisfied with the choice presented (based on that text description, from someone I ostensibly trust to some extent, do I or don’t I want to click on this link and watch this video?) If the video object is directly in front of me as part of the blog, I’m first forced to wait for it to load, then faced with the question of what the hell this object in front of me is, since it’s usually difficult to tell based on the first frame that’s facing me and/or the short or nonexistent description the blogger gave me (why should the blogger bother describing what’s already there, existing in the same window that the reader is already looking at?)

Television and movie audiences don’t want to have to read when they tune in, save for supplementary text on the screen or the occasional narrative bridge that comes up to tie things together. If they did, they’d be reading a book. Newspaper readers would be downright stymied if they had to watch films as part of their reading experience. Someone sitting down to look at a picture album wouldn’t want music to pop out of the album as part of the experience unless they were specifically expecting it. Or, for a less hypothetical example: no one REALLY likes those damn birthday cards that play songs when you open them up.

The major appeal of the embedded video or audio file in an otherwise print/visual text object seems to me to be similar to the appeal of those damn birthday cards: it’s neat, so people do it. The thing about the card is, another part of the appeal is that it’s surprising and kind of annoying, in a funny sort of way. I doubt most bloggers want their blogs to be surprising and kind of annoying, in a funny sort of way. Solution: stop that stuff! Just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

As always, I welcome arguments wholeheartedly.

1. Tell him to update his godforsaken blog already.

2. I mean “at random” in the sense that one usually doesn’t know when first accessing a webpage if that page will require reading, or viewing, or listening, or some other sort of sensory digestion. More “traditional” media essentially always come with some set of assumptions about what sort of literacy is necessary in order to digest the content/message.

3. I noted this morning that going to a site with an embedded Quicktime movie crashed my browser last night while I was in the middle of a blog entry. This is another issue with these items being embedded that’s bothersome — most of us aren’t expecting when clicking on a blog, or even the index page of a website, to be faced with some sort of object that maybe our computer or browser can’t handle, or that will, er, clog the tubes of our internet for a time. What I really want to note here, though, is that as of this evening — not 24 hours after that experience — WordPress seems to have enabled an autosave feature in the post editor so that I don’t need to worry about constantly saving or risking a similar disaster of content loss. Hooray!

Serious Game.

August 16, 2006

Last night I wrote a post, then in another tab in my browser went to a page that, unbeknownst to me, had a Quicktime item embedded in it, which of course crashed my browser and caused me to lose my post.

My best effort to recreate the mood of last night would go something like: Hi folks. I’ve been busy and haven’t posted much lately. I’m nursing wounds from a seeminly inexplicable bike wreck, and reading a good bit and preparing a training session on using blogs in academic research, to co-present to colleagues at work. It’s funny that a lot of what my co-presenter and I are stressing in said presentation is a lot of the same philosophy that I was so publicly and vocally pushing circa three or four years ago in the context of Indymedia. I feel like so much has changed in my life since then, but it makes me feel good to realize that, despite what some people might think, I haven’t gone back on the important stuff that I was saying back then — the context has just changed a bit, and perhaps I’ve tempered certain aspects of my game.

Speaking of my game, I’ve decided that I’m going to try (at least for now) to come up with one somewhat serious post about stuff that I’m interested in studying per week. I think that’s a good goal and gives me a structure to work within, and we’ll see if I decide to change that once school starts. The rest of the random talking will continue as scheduled.


August 14, 2006

This is the kitten. Say hello to her. Sara K is going to adopt her because my momz doesn’t want to keep her. She likes biting toes and fingers and playing and being frisky, and napping round about 4:00 pm.