Reconstruction

Hi all. It’s been a little while since I’ve added anything to the website. Here’s some jumbled up stuff that will hopefully go some small distance in helping to explain why.

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The last thing I want to do is just write something for the sake of having something new for people to look at. Sometimes, if you consider yourself a writer, you do need to write for writing’s sake. That can come down to something as simple as enforcing self-discipline. I enjoy writing, but I’m not a writer, so I thought it would be OK to excuse myself for a week or so and look at some other things.

One thing that I thought might be worthwhile would be to simply be a consumer of online media for a week. I spent more concentrated time on some of my regular online journals, the purpose being to really take in what they’re writing and look at the structure behind their work, their methods. It didn’t work out well. Here are a couple of examples.

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I discovered that Rupert Murdoch’s news.com.au is focused completely on page views, serving up the most asinine stories behind catchy headlines simply for the purpose of sucking people in to click the headline. There were, quite literally, stories about absolutely nothing on the front page of the website, one of the most viewed news websites in the country. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it really is purely about the business for them.

What they do have, however, is churn. They keep the stories coming and I guess it’s the hope of something interesting and relevant that keeps the News link in my bookmarks.

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One of the more annoying discoveries was the fact that the higher quality writing seems to occur on some of the less attractive websites. It seems high churn does lead to higher income and better investment in design.

That’s a blanket statement subject to plenty of exceptions, I know, but it’s just something I noticed on my daily travels around the web.

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I also discovered that the standards at the The Truth About Cars have slipped to such a degree that one of their writers, Jack Baruth, is unwittingly compiling TTAC’s own deathwatch series. The entries are focused solely on picking holes in competitor websites, criticising their competition whilst complaining that TTAC itself doesn’t get the same access to vehicles and events. Baruth’s latest whine-a-thon is amazing for its hubris, especially considering Baruth’s own click-seeking penchant for sensationalistic excess when he first started writing there (check out his Maximum Street Speed series – part 1, part 2 and part 3). I wish TTAC a brighter future, but I fear that some time from now, we’ll look back at Baruth’s recent work as a chronicle of everything that went wrong at TTAC – good writing, sadly misdirected.

And then there are the ridiculous bits. The current editor-in-chief, Bertel Schmidt, recently published an entry that comprised nothing more than a photo of a girl at the Beijing Motor Show who happened to have protruding ears. And he’s the guy in charge of this circus?

I hope the handful of good writers at TTAC get off the boat soon. The site lost whatever tenuous grip it had on its raison d’être some time ago and barring a complete change in editorial direction and focus, things are only going to get worse.

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So why all this reflection on other sites, on other forms of media?

I guess I’m looking for an opening, looking for something that needs doing. Looking for something to sink my teeth into.

I like publishing online. I’ve enjoyed meeting people through my website work and given that we’re spread around the world, it’s the only reasonably accessible way for me to stay in touch. I don’t want to lose that but by the same token, I don’t want to carry on writing dribble for the sake of keeping a door open.

I want a purpose.

I’m looking for something big and meaningful to do. My time with my old Saab websites, and then with Saab itself, was so all-consuming that much of the rest of my life ran on autopilot. Saab was the focus of nearly everything I did and I loved it.

Was it a little unbalanced? Possibly. But it was good to have some focus.

Making Saabs United the best, the most current, accurate and trustworthy Saab-based news source provided a wonderful mission and a great sense of motivation. SU has passed into good hands and has continued to do some wonderful things. The recent campaign to acquire the last Saab built and donate it to the Saab Museum has been an outstanding success and I’m very proud to have been part of the work they’ve done and the contributions that people have made. For me, however, it’s been hard to sort out what I’m doing without that focus in place.

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I’ve also used this week to get my head into some other things.

I’ve joined a gym, which I’m attending during the week with a colleague from work. I’ve also starting dabbling in the stockmarket. Both are long-term projects, of course.

PJ has just come up with an art project she wants me to put some time into so I need to start looking at that. I think it has merit, but we need to look at what’s already out there, whether we can do it better and the amount of time it’s going to take vs the potential result. Will it work?

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This entry has been all over the place. Sorry about that. I guess it just shows where things are at right now. PJ and I have some visions of where we want to go. It’s just a matter of finding the right road to get there.

I want to find a way to keep doing what I enjoy doing, of making a small contribution to the day of people who take some time to visit. I’d like to keep building relationships with people who are interested in similar things – cars, music and other bits of assorted crapiola.

I guess it all comes down to this – it feels good when you’re doing something substantial, making a positive contribution to something you enjoy. A lifestyle, an interest, a community. I’d like to find that once again.

Thanks for your patience and have a great weekend.

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15 Comments

  1. Noble pursuit Swade. One must constantly question the status quo. I, for one, applaud your recent gym attendence and interest in the stockmarket.
    One takes care of the body, while the other probes the mind. It’s also kind of handy that the market doesn’t open till 10am……perfect amount of time to allow a gym session, shower and strong coffee ready for the morning bell.
    Good luck Swade

  2. As much as I’ve missed your daily writing, you need to Find your own road…(pun intended) and find something to motivate you again. All the best wishes from a spring-green fresh but slightly too cold Vargön. 🙂

  3. Good to hear from you again Steven. I must admit I was beginning to wonder where in the blogosphere you’d gone. Now I know.

    Re: TTAC, I followed Murilee Martin over there from Jalopnik after their Gawker redesign caused all sorts of fallout, and subsequently left TTAC after Bertel started going on his rants about Saab. I’ve landed at Hooniverse where much of the old Jalopnik commentariat went after all the hoohah hit the fan. It’s a much more civilized bunch and I’m sorry I didn’t go there sooner. As a result I also stumbled on their sister site, Atomic Toasters (http://atomictoasters.com/welcome-to-atomictoasters/).

  4. Hi Swade

    How about a little more writing about Tasmania itself? I’m sure many of us around the globe would enjoy learning more of the history, culture, lifestyle etc.

    Chris

  5. The old adage, “you can’t tell a book by its cover” is still true today. Perhaps it should now be, “you can’t tell a website by its landing page”.

    Agreed about the Murdock thing; AOL here in the US is the primary culprit in that department. The words ‘shocking’ and ‘horrifying’ are certainly over used in the teaser headlines. I’ve stopping clicking on them; if they really suck me in, I Google the content rather than reward them with a click. That’s just me.

  6. Focus, I know what you mean.

    Now my favorite YouTube video is Saab Arctic Adventure. (red 9-3s) So, I desided to do a YouTube Swade99 search. Sometimes, I think you just need to have some fun.

    “We miss you, Steve.” (smile)

    As always, just a thought.

    1. Not sure to what extent Murdoch ( & Son’s) intense discomfort in Britain over the last few weeks has reached the wider world. But SWADE followers – and other rational, sentient, moral beings – might take some solace from their being Found Out in a big way here. I liken it, somewhat whimsically, to SAAB versus GM. The huge, impersonal, brutal corporation peddling the lowest quality they can possibly get away with, and crushing mercilessly all in their way, versus….well, you know the rest. The fun bit is, the Murdochs and their henchmen (and henchwomen) are, astonishingly, getting their comeuppance in Blighty – and that might, just might, stretch to the rest of the civilised world! Hurrah!

  7. Rupert & James performance during the enquiry has been pantomime of the highest order. Breathtaking duplicity and denial which are pure comedy. All that remains is for someone from the gallery to stand and point saying “he’s behind you!”

    Lying hounds.

  8. Swade,

    The question that comes to my mind after reading this (and probably yours as well) is: do you want to write for someone else’s site, or do you want to run your own site?

    There’s a gap in web auto coverage.
    You’ve got a bunch of sensationalist sites on one hand. They’re a mix of re-issued press releases and boneheaded reviews (what’s the best car to drive on an all-expenses junket in Majorca?).
    The flip site are high-quality specialized sites that have limited appeal. This site and SU make the list, but some of my other favourites are greencarcongress, bringatrailer, autospeed, mulsannescorner (all are dot coms if anyone wants to look them up).

    1. Hi Bernard,

      I’d love to do a site such as what you’re suggesting. I guess the trick is finding the right niche. 80’s and 90’s classics, perhaps? 🙂 Will have to find something as it would be a dream come true to do it properly.

  9. Eeek!

    Please don’t use the word “reconstruction” again. Freaks me out when used on a Swade related site!

  10. Well done with gym membership. Is this linked with the desire to stop smoking? How’s that going by the way?

    1. G’day Joe,

      All linked to wanting to feel better. Now if I could only stop with the chocolate biscuits!

      Have cut down on the smokes a fair bit and am waiting for the e-Cigs to arrive. Gym working well already. Enjoying it quite a lot. Am going at lunchtimes so it’s quite a good break from the office.

      I hope all’s well at Blue Turret. Keeping you busy enough?

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