Rip It Up And Start Again

I’m adding one more dig­i­tal res­o­lu­tion. I need to learn Word­Press next year, and not just the nuts and bolts. I’m talk­ing bells and whis­tles too. I sug­gest­ed this a bit with the whole ‘make this blog a sand­box’ item, but I think it needs to go fur­ther. I need to start sim­ple and work my way up, learn­ing more as I go. To that end, I’m going to not only repur­pose Black­mail Is My Life as I see fit, I’m going to start work on postschaden­freude, a new blog offer­ing thoughts and com­men­tary on music and the indus­try that’s bring­ing it down.

How does that sound? You can fol­low the postschaden­freude tum­blr here.

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christ­mas tree, orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by Black­mail Is My Life.

Helen and I are busy get­ting ready for our sec­ond annu­al Christ­mas par­ty here in Fish­town. Tonight we made our pil­grim­age to Ore­gon Avenue to buy our Christ­mas tree. Last year we bought a Fras­er fir. This year we want­ed some­thing taller and a lit­tle less bulky so we chose a Grand Fir. It’s rest­ing in water for the next few days. We’ll start dec­o­rat­ing it on Fri­day night as we prep for the par­ty Sat­ur­day. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait!

My Digital New Year’s Resolutions

I real­ly need to sort out how I use the Inter­net in 2009. It sounds crazy, but 2008 was a tri­al by ordeal for me as I tried more new web prod­ucts than I ever have before in an effort to bet­ter under­stand the work that’s being done out there, and to have opin­ions about it. It’s no mean feat, and it’s rarely reward­ing. I want to change that next year. How will I do it? I’m going to make a list!

  1. Find a lifestream­ing ser­vice that works for me. Lifestream­ing ser­vices ought to con­dense my web expe­ri­ence and make it sim­pler. So far, it has­n’t. Con­trary to what Robert Scoble might say, Friend­Feed isn’t the answer. It’s a start in the right direc­tion, but it does­n’t address the noise issue most peo­ple have and, with­out a built-in Twit­ter client, my respons­es often go unno­ticed by my fol­low­ers. It’s the sort of thing many of my online friends have signed up for, but few use. That’s bad.
  2. Speak my mind on “music 2.0.” on both the web and pub­licly. I unsub­scribed from Wired’s Lis­ten­ing Post blog this week. Why? Because not only is a ter­ri­ble music blog, it’s also a bad tech blog. (OMG! As I wrote this I found that they shut down the blog on Fri­day. It’s a Christ­mas mir­a­cle!) Elliott Van Buskirk and Scott Thill seemed to copy and paste all the PR email I delete. It’s not just them. It’s endem­ic to music and tech blogs these days. Is it ask­ing to much for any­one to be gen­uine­ly crit­i­cal of free, on-demand music? Could it be that there are bet­ter ways to get peo­ple to engage music con­tent on the web that don’t involve sell­ing music? I think the answer is yes.
  3. Write more about music and not just the music/internet nexus. Part of the prob­lem of writ­ing about this stuff crit­i­cal­ly is that peo­ple mis­take you for being a ‘hater,’ which applied broad­ly, means it’s not fair to crit­i­cize any­thing. If you crit­i­cize music 2.0, then you must hate music. I think the per­fect way for me to coun­ter­act claims like this is to actu­al­ly start writ­ing about music again. I prob­a­bly wrote my last real review in 2007. I need to be more dili­gent about spend­ing time think­ing about music for its intrin­sic worth and not just strate­giz­ing around music content.
  4. Play more. As I wrote above, I need to find what works for me. When I do, I need to use them for fun and for sto­ry­telling, and not just as raw mate­r­i­al for bet­ter ideas and imple­men­ta­tions. I’ve done some of that in the past year, but want to do more of it.
  5. Par­tic­i­pate more. Some­thing I’ve found since I start­ed using Twit­ter reg­u­lar­ly is that social net­works have got­ten much more use­ful since they — and their users — have matured. The qual­i­ty of infor­ma­tion and the peo­ple con­tribut­ing it have increased dra­mat­i­cal­ly. When you fac­tor in improved search func­tions across var­i­ous social media plat­forms, you’re apt to con­nect to some­one who real­ly knows what they’re talk­ing about. Same goes for real life. I want to be more involved in con­ver­sa­tions about where the music indus­try is head­ed as some­one who’s deeply invest­ed in
  6. Find new sources. This goes hand-in-hand with #5. I know there are plen­ty of peo­ple out there who gave up on music blogs when their favorite blog­gers got hired into main­stream and dig­i­tal jobs. I’ve fol­lowed some folks from the Sty­lus Mag­a­zine dias­po­ra, like Jeff Weiss, but I trolling blogrolls has­n’t borne much fruit. I’ve read many accounts this year that blog­ging has gone flat, niche, and worse, but it does­n’t mean peo­ple aren’t doing great work out there. Food blogs are rag­ing right now. Is music so mori­bund that peo­ple can’t even say intel­li­gent, inter­est­ing things about it anymore?
  7. Treat this blog as a sand­box. When I hemmed and hawed about redesign­ing Black­mail Is My Life, I was for­tu­nate to con­nect with Chris at Click­Pop­Me­dia. When I was unem­ployed in 2006, I start­ed a project I did­n’t fin­ish. I real­ly need to edu­cate myself on Word­Press and learn how to build a blog that incor­po­rates new fea­tures like Google Friend Con­nect, Yahoo Media Play­er, and oth­er pow­er­ful social ele­ments with­out need­less­ly clut­ter­ing the site.
  8. Stop both­er­ing with PR peo­ple, when­ev­er pos­si­ble. I know it’s a 2008 Techcrunch meme to bitch about PR, but there’s more than a ker­nel of truth to it. For every great and help­ful PR, there are five spam artists. Most haven’t caught up to the speed of the Inter­net, despite the fact that Pitch­fork has become the gold stan­dard for PR. Let’s face it: the albums leak faster than they can mail them, if they ever mailed any­thing at all. What else is there real­ly? Poor­ly writ­ten ad copy and some bio­graph­i­cal details? Every­thing’s avail­able online. Let’s move on.
  9. Get one of these. Take more pho­tos. More impor­tant­ly, take a pho­tog­ra­phy class! One of my regrets from 2008 is that I did­n’t take enough pic­tures. Helen and I went to sev­en wed­dings and I have just a hand­ful of pho­tos to remind me just how much fun we had all year. Grant­ed, it’s hard to take pic­tures when you’re sweat­ing (or falling) on the dance floor, but you get the gist.
  10. Share more. Or per­haps, share more effec­tive­ly. This cor­re­lates to a num­ber of my res­o­lu­tions. Heck, it prob­a­bly con­dens­es five of them into one. I need to nar­row con­tent into cat­e­gories, whether it’s a wed­ding or just a qui­et din­ner with friends. Both can be fun things to share, but it needs to be done right. If I abide by my new rules, Black­mail Is My Life will be a place not only for polemics, but will pro­vide an over­all pic­ture of what I’m up to and with whom. Blog­ging should­n’t feel like work, right? I feel like the only sto­ry I real­ly told effec­tive­ly online in 2008 was my marathon train­ing. Between June and Novem­ber I wrote about or record­ed my mileage and marathon mile­stones all over the web, pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar updates here on BMIML. I want to do that with more sto­ries in 2009. I hope you’ll join me for them!

Here are ten dig­i­tal res­o­lu­tions I’m going to try to live up to in the New Year. Are you mak­ing any for your­self? Let’s do 2009 right!

I Ran the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon

Marathon shoes, orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by Black­mail Is My Life.

23 weeks of train­ing came to fruition yes­ter­day as I com­plet­ed the Philadel­phia Marathon in 3:13:33. I ran through three pair of Puma sneak­ers, the last three I had from my Philebri­ty Fit Club win­nings. They served me well. I ran over 750 miles in the past six months, and they were with me every step of the way.

Want some high­lights? Of course you do!

  • It was crazy cold. I’ve read that it was 27 degrees at the start, but 19 with the wind chill. For con­text, con­sid­er this: the air horn that would’ve sig­naled the start froze! May­or Nut­ter had to count­down the start.
  • I ran most of the race behind a man who wore shorts, no shirt. Need I say more?
  • That crazy cold made for some crazy con­di­tions. The water was freez­ing on the street at the water sta­tions, mak­ing a dif­fi­cult run treach­er­ous. I tip-toed through them gin­ger­ly, fin­gers crossed. I did­n’t fall, so that tech­nique clear­ly worked.
  • The course map was wrong! I think peo­ple had an idea that we would­n’t be run­ning up South St. as it’s been torn up. We ran up Spruce instead, which meant run­ning across some Bel­gian block. How quaint! Sprain an ankle in a colo­nial style!
  • There are cars parked on the course. Peri­od­i­cal­ly the Clif pace run­ner would call for fans to step back off Chest­nut St., which would real­ly help, except they were actu­al­ly pro­tect­ing us from the cars parked on the course. I did­n’t see any­one wipe out on a hood of a parked vehi­cle, but it was def­i­nite­ly possible.
  • Speak­ing of wipe­outs I did­n’t stop to watch: I was run­ning in Fair­mount Park when sud­den­ly the pack part­ed and I saw a white flash in my periph­er­al vision. I iden­ti­fied it as a shoe. Its own­er was in hot pur­suit, div­ing back for it against the oncom­ing run­ners. Like I said, I did­n’t wait to see if he was tram­pled. I hope not.
  • The Clif bar pace guy was great, but: he ran the first half of the marathon behind pace, and then made up the dif­fer­ence in the sec­ond half. This was a dis­as­ter for a run­ner like myself, who needs to stick to one pace and run like a human metronome.
  • A half-marathon is a piece of cake. Every­one should do one. I was­n’t crow­ing like this in Sep­tem­ber when I ran my first, but now I think it’s safe to say that 13.1 miles just isn’t that far. It seems far, but if you take the time to pre­pare your­self, you can total­ly run this dis­tance. Think about it.
  • Run­ning fans make fun­ny signs. The fun­ni­est I remem­ber read­ing read: Bet U Wish U Taped Ur Nip­ples Today. I did­n’t, but I laughed any­way. I need­ed to laugh. I just fin­ished run­ning Lemon Hill.
  • Speak­ing of hills, Philadel­phia isn’t as flat as every­one says. It’s hard to visu­al­ize just where the course takes you, so the lit­tle hills here and there real­ly catch you by sur­prise. Fair­mount was tough; Lemon Hill was tougher; and that last lit­tle over­pass into Man­ayunk was the worst.
  • Every­thing you hear about the last 6.2 miles is true. I ran 20 mile train­ing runs three times. I was con­sis­tent­ly able to dig in and run the last four miles up to 20 sec­onds faster than my work­out pace. Not so on Sun­day. I sput­tered to 8 minute miles by mile 22. Should I have eat­en anoth­er gel? Maybe, but there was­n’t much left in the tank anyway.
  • Hav­ing said that, I think that I went out too fast. The adren­a­line was flow­ing and I felt great in those first sev­en miles. I cranked out a sub‑7 mile some­where in there. Did­n’t mean to, but I did. Did it hurt me? Prob­a­bly, but I still man­aged a 7:19/mile aver­age on the run.
  • Any­thing else? I’m already look­ing for­ward to next year’s marathon. I real­ly want­ed to qual­i­fy for Boston and I just missed it this year. I don’t feel bad­ly about it; I only spent six months train­ing for this one and I near­ly did it. I plan to rest, recov­er from this run, get some new sneak­ers (pos­si­bly Pearl Izu­mis), buy a run­ning jack­et, and stay frosty this win­ter. I hope I see you out there!
  • Last, but not least: I want to extend a spe­cial thanks to Ross and Bryan from Philadel­phia Run­ner. I can’t say enough how great these guys are and how wel­come I feel every time I walk into their stores. Their sup­port and encour­age­ment were won­der­ful. Ross even hand­ed me a water along the course!