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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!