Rocket Bomber - metablogging

Loose ends.

filed under , 10 February 2014, 15:09 by

This isn’t a new thought (even for this blog; I’ve lamented on occasion in the past about how blogging is a mostly solitary pursuit with little feedback — even when people like what I’m writing) and the links presented below are actually from over 16 months ago.

“There’s a cancer spreading through the indie tech blogger community: the blockquote + link post.”
The Linkblog Cancer : Marcelo Somers, 8 August 2012, Behind Companies behindcompanies.com

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with link-lists… but each link has to be deliberate. It must serve a purpose. There’s no reason to link to something unless it’s something readers probably haven’t come across already or you can provide a unique perspective on it. Only link to something when you’re adding some value.”
Telling a Story With Each Link : Kyle Baxter, 8 August 2012, TightWind tightwind.net

“Blaming the format itself for link-blog overload is like blaming Canon for the deluge of mediocre SLR photography over the last decade. The tools are now available to everyone, which is great. Most people won’t become world-class users of these tools, but the surplus of mediocre output doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more people who can be truly great at it — it just means that most people’s link blogs aren’t worth following.”
Don’t blame the link blog : Marco Arment, 9 August 2012, Marco.org

##

My own style (which has evolved over the past couple of years, and is still evolving) is obviously a little different than the ‘blockquote + link post’ that is so prevalent — and not just in tech reporting anymore. My preference is to stack several related links, or even to write a long rambling narrative that threads many quotes and links throughout. My own writing can be minimal, depending on the strength of quoted material. I also like to think my readers can make up their own minds about which sources are insightful, which might be biased, and what facts have to be weighed and considered before being accepted in whole or in part. I provide the editorial, and some context, but the reason I rely so very heavily on links is that I want the reader to go back and double-check me. I want you to read the same sources I did — then you can read my take on the issue (ebooks, or Amazon, or bookstores) and figure out if I’m full of crap or not. I also lean very heavily on Wikipedia links, because I like background, and history, and if I can’t find a handy blog post that gives a topic the context I think it needs, I will teach you until you know enough to make up your mind on a topic.

I have biases. I might even be accused of having an agenda. Also (and Obviously): by making choices on what to link to, and which quotes to pull, I am attempting to guide the reader down a path. This is called curation these days, especially after ‘curation’ is paired with ‘content’ — it’s practically a whole industry at this point. But not every blogger is going to take the time to discuss early 20th century department stores and the 1912 Sears & Roebuck catalog in a piece on 21st century online retail.

What I do is “link blogging” without a doubt. My favourite writing trick is to start a blog post with a fairly long pull quote from someone else — not just to frame the topic and set the tone, but also to spur my own writing. As lonely as this job is, the internet fosters conversation, and my best work is when I’m writing in response to someone else, even if and perhaps especially if the other party doesn’t even realize I’m out here.

Once again, though: I try not to do a single blurb+link because first, everybody and I mean everybody else is doing it, and second, hell that’s what my twitter is for. If you want an idea of what kind of link blog I would write if I devoted a couple hours of every day to blogging just for the cool links, go follow me at @ProfessorBlind.

When I sit down at the keyboard, even for a short post (this is a short post) I want to bring more to the proverbial table. For a site like Boing Boing or Laughing Squid they get away [note: please put “get away” in “air quotes”. —M.] with just blogging links because over time the nature, quality, tenor, and topics of the links themselves become the Voice of the blog; the occasional longer, feature article (in the case of Boing Boing) just supports that. The headlines and in-jokes (how the links are pitched at you) also contribute heavily to this Voice; in the case of Fark the in-jokes are (arguably) The Whole Site. There is nothing to Fark except for joke headlines — and an active community – though the community is there for the jokes.

On the one hand, I’m worried that I trust too much in links. Sure, I provide the links (attribution is good, proper attribution of ideas is even better) but I’m also concerned that the reader’s eye kind of glides over anything in quotation marks and the links themselves—especially when presented in bulk—go unclicked. Still, this is how I write these days. If anything, I write so very little that actually gets posted, I should embrace any trick that gets me to the keyboard — even one-sided conversations with other bloggers who don’t know that I disagree with (or agree, and am building on) their own posts.

##

This one is titled “Loose ends”, mostly because I Have So Many Loose Ends, a dozen or so drafts and hundreds of links, ideas half-baked that really need to be worked on.

I’m also at loose ends myself. The job search is draining me.



This one goes out to my fans.

filed under , 22 January 2014, 19:22 by

Analyzing my hit logs, it seems that about 40-50% of my “readership” are bots checking rss feeds (either the straight rss feed or atom – this blog supports both) and coming up empty.

Not surprising, as I’ve never been able to keep to a consistent (or prolific) posting schedule. Indeed, adding me (well, the blog) to an rss reader is the best way to keep up with updates here. You’ll forget to stop by, you only check in once a month, and by that time I might have written five really long thought-pieces — or I might have written nothing. If you use rss I just become part of your larger media diet, “Oh, RocketBomber. I’d almost forgotten about that guy. What drunken rant did he post this time?”

Still, about 400 times a week, some poor bot is tasked with loading my rss feed and comparing it to the last check, and coming up empty 90% of the time.

I thought I might give those hard working bots something to chew on. Not that they care. (But who knows, they might — maybe some day they will). Thanks, bots, for keeping that last lifeline open, a cable anchoring just another blog from sliding down the long slope into irrelevance.

I have about 15 items in my drafts folder; I’ll see what I can do about getting something into a postable form by Monday.

—M.



Why not?

filed under , 27 October 2013, 15:15 by

Sometimes a tweet is just the right length for what needs to be said.

A quick quip, or a instant reaction to someone else, or a nod of the head over there so you can check out a website or a funny picture I just found. It doesn’t need to be permanent. A tweet doesn’t need commentary; and of course the 118 characters (140 minus the 22 Twitter exacts for a automatically shortened link) is also a limiting factor.

Rules are good, though. In poetry, especially, I find I usually can’t even bother unless there is a rigid meter and rhyming structure. Limits are also good. Many a run-on sentence could use a break (or five) to clarify points, and often the 3rd or 4th dependent clause would do just as well (and have more punch) if forced to live on its own, outside of the comma-bridged habitat.

There is of course Tumblr, which is also a microblogging service — well actually, there is nothing to stop you from posting essays or huge galleries on tumblr except for the unwritten rules and ‘societal norms’ that predominate there. I have a tumblog already, which exists (at the moment) only to reblog the witty and funny stuff of others. Tumblr is a rich vein. [It is also a tad wild; despite the more recent Yahoo ownership it is very easy to find Tumblr’s not-safe-for-work side.]

I don’t see why I should post to Tumblr, though, as no matter how devoted a following I might find there, my words would belong to someone else. The platform is fine, and the tools convenient, but the whole construct of Tumblr is one-major-media-story away from Being Exposed To The Public with the inevitable backlash and corporate over-reaction and user exodus. David built something amazing over there, though; as he is still involved in the day-to-day, maybe Tumblr will avoid becoming just another Geocities- or MySpace-like internet footnote.

…And of course, most of my objections apply to Twitter as well: I don’t own that space, and while I can download an archive, without the twitter-owned platform those snippets-of-wit are close to useless.

It’s not the words—the tweets—that matter, but rather the connections. For that small group, the 80 or so people I “follow” who happen to “follow” me back, Twitter is an ongoing conversation, and the value we derive from Twitter is directly related to those connections. Sure, we could do the same thing on IRC or in a Forum somewhere (or even Usenet, or a BBS) — but Twitter has the advantage of already being on your smart phone and also enjoys a right-place-right-time advantage that is notoriously difficult to duplicate.

[every tech startup wants to be “The Next” — the next Facebook, the next Twitter, the next Angry Birds, whatever — but the difficult part is being original, and implementing well, and building. Twitter outsourced a bit of this, with their once lenient API, and also let the users define the service and the experience — not that they had that intention but Twitter adopted retweets, hash tags, and even the “@” after the fact.]

ANYWAY

I have to ask myself why I give all this great content to others? Why not post it here? I own the domain, I can mess with the CMS and CSS style sheets to my heart’s content, from the backend I can queue posts as easily as I could schedule an afternoon of tweets…

[Actually, I could do a lot more with the CMS… I should look at updating the software, at minimum.]

Quite a few of the blogs I read most often are “link blogs” or other curators and aggregators — Not news sites but the creative-funky-weird-and-wonderful-stuff that we all love about the internet. On a good day (once or twice a year) I might even be able to shamelessly copy the formula match their output.

I won’t know until I try.

On Twitter, I have ~500 followers, and as mentioned the 80 or so folks who aren’t lurkers or spam accounts, but there is also the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend effect, so my reach is closer to 1000, or maybe 2500? Who knows?

For RocketBomber the only stat I can be sure of is the 30 or so people using the RSS feed. The catch-22, though, is that my subscriptions are low because the post frequency is correspondingly low: If I don’t write how can you read it?

…And there is nothing to say I can’t also use other media. [!]

While I’m at loose ends for a bit, at the very least I should give this a try.



Last Week on Twitter, the more politics than usual version.

filed under , 18 August 2013, 23:54 by

I was extremely busy at the store this past week, and working some very odd shifts — so I didn’t have as much time to spend online, and (generally speaking) I’ve been bone tired besides. So not only is this list [thankfully?] light, you get this past week’s link round-up both late, and with minimal introduction.

That said — send it:

##

Multiple Tweets combined for clarity:
“Memo for Santorum: the only governments that claimed Classless societies were all communist http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/12/1230720/-Santorum-dismisses-the-middle-class-as-Marxism-talk …plus Marx made his observations on class while living in 19th Century Germany, France, England… capitalist, gilded age You know what looks A LOT like the Gilded Age these days, Senator? Modern America http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_Age – Classless society my ass. Bah. Every time one of these congress-critters opens their mouth, it’s like a klaxon argument for better education in America.”

“Let them eat cronuts.” : Revisiting “Amusing Ourselves to Death” in the Internet Age.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRabb6_Gr2Y : http://professorblind.tumblr.com/post/58194878346/let-them-eat-cronuts-revisiting-amusing

I think it would be more accurate to say that the Internet is still changing music.
http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/13/4618730/the-internet-changed-music-but-we-still-dont-know-how

“Of all vile beings, we might be the worst.”
http://www.villagevoice.com/2013-08-07/restaurants/the-10-worst-people-in-nyc-restaurants/full/

Cat Donuts. The best thing since sliced cats? from Japan, with video
http://youtu.be/5A2dcJdhRME : http://foodbeast.com/content/2013/08/13/cat-donuts-cause-internet-mindgasm/

Missed this on Sunday. It’s a good, long read. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/11/1230529/-The-real-reason-for-the-GOP-s-all-out-war-on-Obamacare


Yamato : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2rO5IAnj4

The Internet is Made of Cats : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ_6aRjYR0w

Answer: Yes. Question: http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/08/can-you-diagnose-a-manic-episode-on-twitter.html

Losing bookstores is a much bigger problem for publishers than it is for readers
http://www.idealog.com/blog/losing-bookstores-is-a-much-bigger-problem-for-publishers-than-it-is-for-readers/

So, total train wreck (can’t look away) or self-aware art piece?
http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/14/4620554/prince-tweets-to-you-the-artist-makes-his-debut-on-twitter

Why The Grammar-Nazis Are Literally Wrong http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/08/14/why-the-grammar-nazis-are-literally-wrong/


THERE ARE NEIGHBORHOODS OUTSIDE OF BROOKLYN you damn hipsters, and some of *us* could use an indy bookstore, too. http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/new-brooklyn-bookstore-on-kickstarter_b76067

[*smirk*] maybe I should let y’all know I’m Going To Be Launching A New Blog in 2014 http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2013/doing-a-soft-blog-launch/ *and then do nothing different*

Damn sneaky. Does Marketing contribute to the placebo effect, too? http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2013/08/how-big-pharma-repackages-existing-pills.html

Terrorist bosses are micro-managing dicks: terror, both international and cubicle in scale.
http://boingboing.net/2013/08/15/why-terrorist-bosses-are-micro.html

“The death of live music caused by the migration to records” “The death of movies caused by the migration to TV”
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2013/an-end-of-books/

Can we repeal Obamacare and replace it with the Affordable Care Act? [srs question]
http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/08/obamacare-aca-healthcare-koch-prosperity

Teachers in low-income schools are basically punished for being teachers in low-income schools :
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/15/1231250/-Surprise-School-grades-favor-high-income-schools

OK, so here’s the script fix for Star Wars Ep7: with Luke as the only living Jedi master the ENTIRE Council is force ghosts :
http://www.blastr.com/2013-8-16/rumor-day-ewan-mcgregor-back-obi-wan-star-wars-vii

“If future generations want to know how we got to Big Brother, an endless war on terror, and widespread institutionalized disenfranchisement…”
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/17/1231941/-A-different-world-had-it-been-President-Gore

The Random House Penguin merger is the biggest publishing news of the summer :
http://kriswrites.com/2013/08/14/the-business-rusch-the-biggest-news-of-the-summer/
via the Passive Voice http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2013/the-biggest-news-of-the-summer/

##

[I’m still working on the best presentation/formatting for these posts – I’m afraid I may not be happy with anything until I do a major overhaul of this blog’s CSS and other odd gears under the hood. developing…]



Last week on twitter, multiple fails

filed under , 11 August 2013, 13:29 by

If anything, I spend too much time on twitter (to the detriment of other projects I should be spending the time on) and I probably over-share:

Is every last article I read both insightful and/or funny, and worthy to share? Just because I find a topic fascinating (you know, like the business of retail, or sci-fi anime, or the history of technology) does that mean I get to spam 500 more-or-less random strangers with every link that suits my whim and fancy?

It is also true that when I’m tweeting my own mind (and not just links) I tend to “run at the mouth” and tweet 10 or 20 times in a row, violating the spirit of Twitter’s 140 limit and imposing even further on an uncaring audience.

And of course, Not Every Recipe I Make Needs to Be Liveblogged Via Twitter, and of my many bad habits this is probably the worst (that or, you know, the drinking.)

In college I used to joke that if we did something three times, it becomes a tradition, and if we do it four times that means it’s something we’ve done *forever*. Since many of us (who did go to university) only go there for 4 or 5 years, I suppose that these ‘traditions’ are part of what makes the self-forming communities there, indeed, it may be what part of what defines the community. Otherwise, each annual class of freshmen would be a self-contained phenomenon, and the various clubs would flicker in and out of existence like generations of flies.

So: as this is the fourth link round-up I’ve posted, I guess that means I’ve been doing this *forever*. (You won’t believe me, but yes, the following list was edited and abridged.)

##

↑… that was my best joke all week. fell flat. my faith in humanity (or at least the fan base) was betrayed.

Small, savvy player in perfect position to disrupt large, complacent establishment co. — “Walmart’s worst nightmare”
http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/

Wal-Mart’s New Goal: Sell All the Beer
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-08/walmarts-new-goal-sell-all-the-beer

I didn’t intend to get on a wal-mart-kick today, but that’s what I keep finding in my feeds :
http://www.kitedesk.com/the-wal-mart-slayer-an-epic-tale-of-customer-service/

“The article claims that Aldi is so good at selling cheap goods that WalMart couldn’t compete with it in Germany.” :
http://www.freakonomics.com/2009/02/19/do-you-know-who-owns-trader-joes/

Follow-up: more on Trader Joe’s – “Its stores sell an estimated $1,750 per square foot, more than double Whole Foods”
http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/inside_trader_joes_full_version.fortune/index.htm

OK: so *I* know DC’s response to the Marvel Multiverse was and is Timm/Dini/DC Animation starting in 1992 — kinda/sorta waiting for WB/DC to come to the same realization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_The_Animated_Series
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_League_(TV_series)


[yes, at this point in the exercise I realize that last link is both topical and self-referential]



This Week on Twitter, the just the links edition.

filed under , 4 August 2013, 11:01 by

Slight change this week.

If you wanted to follow my every drunken musing and read all the tweets: you’d be following me on twitter. So moving forward, I’ll skip embedding the tweets, skip most of my commentary, and give you a round up of “just” the links.

I’m sure both you and your rss feed will thank me for it.

##



This Week on Twitter, the Mall Grant College Act of 2014

filed under , 28 July 2013, 19:13 by

Shall the name of this ongoing be “This Week on Twitter” or perhaps the more personal “My Week on Twitter”?

hm.

Food for thought. Also, it seems it would be worthwhile for me to edit a bit — perhaps by capping the number of embedded tweets to something less-rss-feed clogging? Not sure what a perfect number would be; more than a top 10 certainly, but 25 seems like too much. [I already edit out the one-on-one twitter conversations, almost all of my retweets, and some-but-not-all-political topics.]

Enough introductory digression. On with the tweets:







































Update your feeds.

filed under , 13 March 2013, 23:25 by

For those who hadn’t heard, Google is killing off Reader — which apparently every blog & blogger I follow is using, in addition to being a personal favorite, though also apparently we’re the only ones since Google is going to kill it.

So two thoughts:

First, if you read this fine blog using my RSS feed, please update your link from http://feeds.feedburner.com/rocketbomber to http://www.rocketbomber.com/rss.

Feedburner is a fine service, but it’s also owned by Google, and as recently pointed out by TechCrunch, its days are likely numbered. While this RSS-business is on your mind (and since you might be migrating anyway) please update that link so you don’t lose me in this mess.

Second, Yeah SURE, Google: I can always get my data via Google Takeout and go to another service. Except it didn’t work as advertised. Imagine that.

Oh, I got the file Google provided. I was able to upload said file to a new reader. 3 whole feeds populated – out of 133. Now maybe the new service encountered an error (oh… I don’t know, maybe a thousand people all trying to do the same thing at the same time or something) but I said, “eff me and eff that,” and just did it manually.

Here’s a tip: go to your Reader settings. Click on the ‘subscriptions’ tab (2nd to left). Highlight everything and copy (ctrl-c) the whole mess and paste it into a text file.

Now you have a listing of each feed, which folder you put it in, and the URL. You could use this information to manually repopulate all your feeds into a new RSS reader – I know this works because I just spent a good chunk of my evening doing it. It takes time, but it’s time I had and I queued up some podcasts to listen to while I was cutting & pasting URLs (no, I’m not so nuts I manually typed them) and that was that.

Even if something new comes along later that I like better, I now how 3 backups: the Google-generated xml file, a text listing, and a fully operational set on a 2nd reader app.



Dead Air

filed under , 24 September 2011, 10:16 by

If you are a radio DJ — or at least if you once were a radio DJ, these days I swear at least half the stations run tape instead of a live broadcast, and the other half run 50 stations all playing the same thing off of a satellite feed — anyway, if you were a radio DJ the only cardinal sin you could commit is to stop talking.

There were things that would get you fired, or fined by the FCC (Carlin’s 7 words, for example — but if that’s your schtick you have an engineer with fast reflexes to beep you). You HAD to play ads, so many each hour, and at designated times, ‘cause that kept the lights on and the broadcast tower humming, and of course, paid your paycheck. Depending on the format and on management, there are no doubt other rules — but only one sin: Dead Air.

If you stop broadcasting entirely, your listeners are going to change the channel. You can play music (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida buys you 17 whole minutes) or turn an hour over to the interns, or get the janitor to tell knock-knock jokes — doesn’t matter so long as you’re still on the air.

As bloggers, some of us shy away from filler posts, or look a bit askance at blogs with too many image posts or embedded videos, especially if that’s all that’s on a blog (there’s a tumblr for that). I like to write longer essays, myself: gives me room to think and expand (and ramble and digress) and I feel posts like those are my best work for the blog, and one of my contributions to the internet, culture, and society.

But one can’t always muster up a long essay, on demand, week after week (at least, I can’t)

Only one sin: dead air. Keep writing — but more importantly, keep posting.



          


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