Double dose of the Random Internet Discovery of the Week! Yay!

If you’re interested in fancying yourself a Jackson Pollock and creating your own work of “art”, have at it. There’s something more profound I need to get to.

This post (link courtesy Awful Announcing) takes a look at how the blog market could be affected by the present recession. It’s mostly written from a sports blog perspective, especially paid sports blogs, but it has implications for everyone else who blogs, paid or not, employed by a third party or merely doing it themselves, whether for fun or profit.

It takes an interesting perspective: Although some, like the blog collective Gawker, think ad revenue is likely to decline in the current recession, the post itself talks to several bloggers and draws its own conclusion based on a study, and they seem to all agree that the recession could help blogs. Some people might decide that, needing to cut costs, the Internet might be one of the first things to go, but AA’s own proprietor suggests the Internet might be one of the last things to go, because it has become so important to job searches – and thus could increase in importance to many people. Some of the bloggers talked to suggested that the blog population could rise as newspapers cut traditional journalists, making room for cheaper bloggers, and as laid-off workers of all stripes look for new lines of work.

Regardless of whether it becomes Great Depression II, this could be one of, if not the, most important recession in our history.

If some of these reactions are true, this recession could greatly accelerate the rate at which the Internet becomes the chief way people get their news, information, and entertainment. At the moment, the Internet is big enough that “old media” – newspapers and TV – are concerned about the impact of losing their audience to it, but not big enough that they’re comfortable with making money off it. If it ever can get that big – and this recession could greatly hasten the day that it happens – newspapers and television as we know them could become as antiquated as the telegraph.

And as the Internet and blogging grows, it has the potential to change the very way we live. We may well look back on the first decade of the new millenium as a time of great flux and transition, when the Internet was still in its relative infancy, or at least childhood and was still taking shape, still taking the form that would shape the twenty-first century. One thing I neglected to mention when I listed a number of ideas I have and might like to work on was a book coming out of my continual wonder at how dramatically the Internet has already changed our lives, and how it holds the potential to change our lives even more, affecting everything from the  news to entertainment to politics to even the very underpinning of our economic system. I had been thinking about holding off on writing it until I had enough of a name that I would have any credibility whatsoever, but recent events – not least of which being the coming recession – have convinced me that right now is a unique moment in history in the evolution of the Internet, and “the fierce urgency of now” – to borrow a phrase from our president-elect – would seem to dictate that I get such a book written in the next couple of years, and preferably starting as soon as possible.

There’s supposed to be a second part coming out today, “focus[ing] on reactions from bloggers who blog as a hobby (i.e. for free) and from readers whose blog-reading habits may be affected by the economy,” and the post elicits reactions from anyone that would fall in either or both of those categories. I’ve sent this post to the blogger in question, but I want to hear from anyone that would have a voice in all of this, anyone who might use the Internet on a regular basis as an outlet, from YouTubers to webcomickers – not to mention, if possible, any advertisers who I imagine count for a significant amount of revenue. Send an e-mail to mwmailsea at yahoo dot com, or if you want to take it directly to him (and his second post encourages it), use the address on the sidebar of that page.

Self-promotion on Da Blog? MY PREROGATIVE!

(From Sandsday. Click for full-sized shameless self-promotion.)

In response to the link to Da Blog’s last webcomics post, someone decided to rap on me by claiming I had been “advertising [Sandsday] by spamming its URL across every webcomics commentary site he could find”.

Umm… excuse me? I made multiple attempts at pushing it on Websnark but that was because I had thought the previous attempts didn’t go through. YWIB utilizes a trackback feature so Da Blog showed up there automatically just because I linked to it; I never attempted to push Sandsday on there at all. Nor have I made any comments on Tangents to my knowledge, Sandsday-pushing or otherwise; if I had commented there it would have been to rap on Robert A. Howard for being so lazy at getting his site back up. I don’t even really know of any other “webcomics commentary sites”.

There’s a link to the strip in my Giant in the Playground forum (=Order of the Stick) sig, but that’s my prerogative; in the body of a post there, I’ve linked to Da Blog as many times as I have to Sandsday, and the latter case I believe was in a thread collecting links to as many webcomics as possible, so that was also my prerogative. If you count TV Tropes Wiki as a “webcomics commentary site” I probably have more links to Sandsday on there than on all other “webcomics commentary sites” put together, but one’s on my profile page (my prerogative), one was on the TV Tropes forum looking for feedback and advice (if that), one was on a “notable webcomics” list where the bar for inclusion was basically “a troper has heard of it” (and even then I asked the boards to alleviate my compunctions about it), thus also my prerogative, and there was really only one other case where I linked to the strip purely out of self-promotion. If I had placed links to the strip even in every case where it was actually applicable, I’d be as ubiquitous on TV Tropes as a strip with only 300 strips can be, with a presence far exceeding my (lack of) popularity, but I’m not that kind of self-promoter. (*cough*StickmanAndCube*cough*)

Even now, as I’ve added a second link, to today’s strip, it was on a discussion page even as I could have easily added it to the main article, and it’s buried way down on the page so any traffic spike will be minimal and early on. I’m far more concerned about the gap between Da Blog readers and Sandsday readers, so I’m looking to see if you – especially the people following my webcomics posts – have any advice on how to improve while remaining true to the core concept. Was my recent dalliance in political discussion a promising new direction or should I stay out of that field? Leave a comment on this post or on the Sandsday Feedback Open Thread, linked off of the strip itself, or e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

Someone linked to me on the forums and I got over a hundred hits yesterday. And I missed it. Oops.

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized commitment. And click here for what I mention in the title. Oh, and this post contains spoilers. Oops.)

You notice I’m not even bothering with the Angst-O-Meter for this one.

My first reaction to this was: WHAT???

I couldn’t help but think of Lucas and anyone else who might have been invited to the originally planned wedding. This might actually raise the Angst-O-Meter depending on what happens from here. How might these people feel about being told the wedding was postponed, then finding out the bride and groom effectively eloped without them?

(In retrospect, the fact that Ethan and Lilah were going to use their respective tickets to go on a vacation might have been a bit of a tip-off that they weren’t just going to go on gondola rides…)

I’m going to keep reading for a few more strips to find out what, substantively and regarding characters other than Ethan and Lilah, will actually happen as a result of everything in this arc. There are a few ways Buckley can keep me on board for the long haul (this and Zeke’s destruction being a symbolic “growing up” for Ethan, for one) and there are many ways, very tempting ways, Buckley can turn me off for good (the entire arc turning out to be a shaggy dog story, various plot threads getting dropped like nothing happened, or really just rubbing me the wrong way at all).

The Angst-O-Meter: Day 5

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized mixed emotions.)

First, with the election approaching, for at least four of the next five weeks Tuesday will become webcomics day again on Da Blog, counting this post. Second, I’m linking to this post from here and here, so expect at least a slight bump in traffic.

With this apparent resolution, we can, presumably, all take a sigh of relief, and the Angst-O-Meter can come back down to 52%.

My frustration with Tim Buckley and the strip, however, is higher than ever.

Last time, I could have justified an Angst-O-Meter reading higher than the one I actually gave; this time, I could justify one lower than this, as there isn’t really much left to patch up. Zeke is still headless and Lucas still doesn’t completely trust Kate, but the main problem was always Ethan’s problems with Christian and Lilah. Those appear to have been taken care of, so for the moment at least, everything is back to some semblance of normal.

But the way things returned to normal, in a single strip, with a ridiculously expedited, bad-sitcommy, almost deus ex machina ending, that still does not sit well with me. Hell, this resolution is almost a single panel, and Buckley did such a good job of convincing people (well, me) that Christian’s words of departure were 100% correct that this resolution almost comes across as out of character. More to the point, it seems to prove CAD‘s critics right once again: the strip revolves around Ethan and nothing bad can happen to him for very long. The entire story arc may no longer represent a descent into First and Ten Syndrome, but only because it may have been turned into something far worse: the same as every other CAD story arc, only with a tease that it would be different.

If things immediately return to the status quo before this storyline it gives the impression that Buckley really is a bad sitcom writer who doesn’t really aspire to more than cheezy soap opera writer. If things immediately return to the status quo before the pregnancy and miscarriage, then people will pretty much riot. The only way for Buckley to save any face from this resolution – and there’s no way he can save face entirely – is for Ethan to realize he almost lost Lilah and perform some sort of soul-searching. But one of the points CAD‘s critics have long held is that real “change” is anathema to the CAD cast, especially Ethan.

The first time I ever wrote a post on Ctrl+Alt+Del, I said that the core of the strip and its popularity was not in being a gaming comic, but in being what Buckley called a gamer comic, in Ethan, Lucas, Lilah, and the rest, and their relationships. When Buckley performed the miscarriage, he said he wanted to “stress-test” what was in many ways the central relationship: that between Ethan and Lilah. I also said that too much emphasis on the “craft” elements of storytelling and art tended to miss the point and try for masterpieces when “kinda good” would do. Tim Buckley is hardly Charles Dickens or Rich Burlew, but he didn’t need to be. I was attracted because I became engaged in the plot, and because I wanted to see what happened next. I didn’t care about the accusations that Ethan was a Mary Sue or that he never really changed from being a manchild despite having impending changes that would require an actual adult to deal with. Those are nitpicks. All that matters, if you’re not going for the funny (which CAD is when it wants to be), is whether the plot is entertaining and/or compelling – no matter what era you’re in. And CAD passes that bar.

But this? This is insulting your audience. This is getting them emotionally invested in a story, wondering how Ethan could possibly extricate himself from this situation, if he ever did… and then pulling the rug out from under them, waving a magic wand, and putting everything back to normal.

I’m not leaving Ctrl+Alt+Del. Not yet. Let me at least see where Buckley is going with this. But this may be a situation where the right thing to say is “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Our long national nightmare is over! I think!

Sandsday should be pretty much back to normal now, so I’m removing the “Sandsday on Da Blog” notice. Freehostia is displaying a notice about their busted MySQL database server, but Sandsday wasn’t showing an error when I checked and seemed to be pretty much back to normal, so I’m guessing I escaped it, or it’s fixed and they haven’t changed their notice. And there’s still a little bug in their file manager as well.

(I think I’m considering ditching Freehostia again, but only if my ad revenue is sufficient for me to move to a paid host. And I’m thinking getting my own domain would be a higher priority for ad revenue than a paid host.)

We are triumphant!

I’ve finally condensed the label list, so the sidebar should be significantly shorter. (Could that sentence get any more alliterative?) That means, among other things, Da Blog Ad will now be significantly higher up the page. Considering adding a new element for single-label RSS feeds, but I’d like to have a box where you type in the name of a label, or select it from a drop-down, and automatically get that label’s feed, and that would require more coding than I have time for at the moment.

Hmm… it appears this is the 100th blog news post.

Important notice regarding both Morgan Wick Sports and Sandsday

Freehostia’s servers are moving to a new data center in the name of better performance, which means I can’t make any changes to the web site in the meantime. I never did get around to updating the lineal titles; the Princeton-Yale title is now Oklahoma State’s after their upset defeat of Missouri (potentially torturing Texas by delaying their shot a week), the 2008 BCS title is now in the hands of Florida, and the NFL lineal title is in the hands of the upset-scoring Cleveland Browns. Hopefully this won’t affect the release of next week’s rankings.

Obviously this also means for the remainder of the week, you’ll need to hit up Da Blog to catch the latest strips.

Just a follow-up

I left links to my post earlier today on “The Importance of Voting” on Independent Political Report and Democratic Underground. I would prefer to have left a comment on a conservative site as well, but the only conservative site I’m really attached to is Newsbusters, which is not particularly wont to post anything connected enough to the subject for my comment to be particularly topical, given their focus on media bias.

I’m sure they’ll all be deleted as spam for the moment, because I don’t have much other than a single strip and a blog post that doesn’t say much more than the strip does. By the time of the election, there will be a great mass of posts and strips that would get excessively fawned on if I made another attempt.

I’m making a slight change to the underlying code for the strip that will become apparent when the new strip comes up.

UPDATE: Gah. Errors corrected. Remind me in the future to look at the page ANY time I change the PHP code, even if the changes shouldn’t show up yet.

Four straight OOTS posts! Four straight!

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized vigilante justice.)

I can’t tell if this is because I’m starting to succumb to my temptations to post on every edition of OOTS, or just because things are really ramping up in anticipation of the 600th strip.

But it certainly seems odd that a villain built up as much as Kubota has would be wiped out of the plot that easily. Of course, this is hardly the end; Qarr still lurks behind the scenes (and who knows who he represents), for one thing, and Vaarsuvius almost certainly would be brought in for his/her own trial if there’s even one supporter of Kubota left (and we did see a ninja seemingly disappear from the fight a few strips back), and maybe even if not – with, if the general consensus on the forums is to be believed, potentially massive consequences.

(If Elan is true Chaotic Good, he sure as hell won’t be the one bringing charges against V, freaked-out look aside.)

More interesting is what this says about V’s state of mind, which for nearly the past hundred strips has been slowly deteriorating as a result of his/her single-minded quest to find Haley and return her, hopefully with Roy or his body in tow, and go ahead and include Belkar if he’s there as well. Whatever moment (s)he doesn’t spend on some harebrained scheme to find them is spent on boosting his/her level to the skies to further advance those goals even more.

So it’s interesting to read his/her last line: “Now can we PLEASE resume saving the world?”

Now, V has said in the past that “any attempt to locate and resuscitate Sir Greenhilt is also the most reliable means of finding Girard’s Gate”, which would be the next step in “saving the world”, but it seems obvious that V would probably have nothing to do with any trial, and everyone else would only have something to do with his/her quest insofar as they could find things for him/her to fight and gain experience. Which, it would seem, giving Kubota a chance to win aquittal may be the better way to go. (I mean, V just vanquished a gigantic demon summoned by Qarr as a distraction. No matter how high level Kubota may be, he can’t compare to a massive demon whose toe is about as big as Durkon.)

So is this a sign that V has finally gotten into contact with Haley? That (s)he has given up the hunt and intends to move on without her or Roy, taking Hinjo and the in-exile government of Azure City instead? Something else? Am I reading too much into a throwaway line?

Well, I’m certainly eagerly anticipating the next episode, at any rate. Then again, I eagerly anticipate every episode.

(PS: I linked to this post from the OOTS forums, so there’s a short-term bump going on here.)