too much typing—since 2003

1.19.2005

ho-made

Many of my friends are still putting together lists and mix CDs of their favorite music from 2004, and one thing that's striking is the way many people's focuses have shifted from albums to single tracks (to an extent, that's true of me as well). I've always been fascinated by the way format or medium can influence the way things are received; in fact, my aborted dissertation at one point was going to address technology and its interaction with popular music. (Sounds vague? One reason I never took it much further...) Here's an intriguing article on the influence of the iPod and shuffle-mode generally on the way people listen to music.

By coincidence, around the same time I read Dan Hill's essay, Tris McCall was crankily complaining (in his January 13 entry: scroll down) that his whatever-it-is-website keeps getting called a "blog," even though he (correctly) points out that his site does not use many common blog features. "Blog," though, is one of those words that's come to mean something other than it began as meaning - hell, a local print publication features a column called the "Editor's Blog" - but what's more important is that the substance of McCall's complaint is against the standardization he sees blogging software as producing. (While I'm at it: I hate the word "blog." It's ugly, and ill-formed - no one really runs the "b" in "weblog" that closely into the "l." But saying "online journal" - what most blogs are - not only takes more time to type, it seems needlessly precious and, given the common usage of the word "blog," prone to misunderstanding or confusion.) And he's right to an extent: I made some minor tweaks to the prefab format this site appears in, so it looks slightly different from other sites using the same format - but it's still a bit jarring when I stumble across another site with the same format. It's like, hey, you're wearing my shirt...oh yeah, I bought it off the rack anyway...

That comparison, though, is suggestive. I mean, I'm glad Tris does all his own HTML coding, etc. - and I have little use for some of the more annoying eager-to-please features he mentions - but cutting and pasting every post, archiving old posts, and manually managing everything seems a time-waster on par with insisting on making one's own clothing. Yes, the occasional homemade shirt is nice - but really, I'm far too modern to want to spend all that time building an entire wardrobe.

In part, this is a pseudo-intellectual defense of laziness...but I wonder if the difference between a site like Tris's and a site that uses blog software is all that significant, or legible to those who don't know it. It's not as if Tris's site looks different with every entry; he sticks with a recognizable template (which, thankfully, has become a bit less eye-strainy over time: thank you, serif fonts). And since I hand-coded my site for about seven years (it's still up: the "old ADS" links), I can at least speak from both sides of that experience.

It's also true that if I took the trouble to update my circa-1994 knowledge of coding, I might be able to design something that looks good - at least as good as the template I'm using, which I actually rather like. But I'm not building my own car either...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

what can i say, man, i was just annoyed that they lumped me in with the tv-watching journals and the sites that are updated every blue moon. but i expect they only did that to try to get subtly even with me, since i have been making those s.o.b.s look bad for over a year now.

Romeo Stacker said...

This is very informative. I hope to see more in the near future