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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.