A few things:
One: When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was The Gods Must Be Crazy. I didn’t exactly understand it as a kid, obviously, but I still enjoyed it for some reason.
I’m happy to say that at least I understood, as my parents explained it to me then: It’s the story of an African bushman and his tribe who have no knowledge of the world beyond their own, of different cultures and advancements in technology, etc. They have everything that their gods provide them with and they’re happy with that.
One day a plane flies over their neck of the woods and someone throws a coca-cola bottle out the window and it somehow lands unbroken. The members of the tribe discover it and at first thing that the sky is falling. Then they presume that it is a gift from the gods, and they discover so many uses for this bottle. But with that comes an even more dangerous element in their world: property, possession, ownership of a limited resource. And with that comes envy, jealousy, hatred, violence.
The item must be removed from their world so that their tribe and worldview can be saved. So the protagonist decides to take on the task of carrying the bottle away, to find what he presumes will be the edge of world, and he’ll throw the bottle over the side and save his people, and the world. He is the ringbearer and he will travel to Mount Doom. But to do so he must journey for the first time into Hell, which comes confusingly in the form of the the modern world and western civilization.
There’s other elements to the story, of course, but that’s what I always remembered from it: The view of our world as interpreted by the limited perspective of someone from outside that world. Hilarity ensues, and as Arthur C. Clarke told us, to less advanced cultures the toys and tools (and tethers) of more advanced cultures would be indistinguishable from magic.
Don’t believe me? Ask John Lennon.
Three: This blog will be going away soon. Soon-ish. Probably some time this year.
The only people who knew that it was ending was Benjamin Light and myself, and that was only when we decided that it was ending. But like ourselves, I’m sure the two and a half actual readers of the blog were barely surprised with the official announcement.
Once they read it, one friend emailed me and asked me how I felt about the imminent closing of Counter-Force’s doors and I literally shrugged upon reading the email. It’s not like it’s my child or anything, but I’ve enjoyed being a part of the thing and will miss it. The next question this particular friend posed to me was whether or not I felt as if the blog had been successful. That made me scratch my chin. Eventually I was able to answer: “Yes.” To me, by a certain set of definitions, yes.
This blog has allowed me to do things and talk about things and share things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do. It’s given me license to explore things that I’ve enjoyed learning about. It’s given me regrets and little moments of agony, things that I wouldn’t have had in the same way without this blog as the starting point, and for that, believe it or not, I’m thankful. Bad times will teach you just as much about yourself as the good times will, if you play them right.
Could the blog been more successful by my definitions or any definitions at all? FUCK YES. But it is what it is and it’s been great when it’s been great, and the game is different than when we started.
Take a look around at the blogsophere now, and compare what you see today to what that landscape looked like four years ago. Everything changes, which is great, and the only constant in the universe, but it’s bizarre how things change.
All of my favorite blogs from way back when are struggling now, it seems. They’re meandering, trying not to waiver in this quantity and qualitiy, but obviously there’s diminished output and even more diminished returns. All my favorite bloggers, those who aren’t struggling along with their blogs, have gone to print media, or to the netherworld that is the writing staff of sitcoms, and they’re flourishing. And they’re not just celebrated and envied now, but also respected. Which may or may not be new.
Four: Just out of curiosity, do websites and blogs still get turned into books, or at least book deals? Do twitter feeds still get turned into sitcoms?
Five: I would kill for the ability to travel in time. In fact, if someone were to put an ad in the personals looking for someone willing to go back in time to kill, like, Hitler, then I would do it. Sure. Sounds legit enough to me.
Picture a narrative, like a story in a computer file opened up in front of you, on your desktop or laptop. Look at the cursor. It can move forward or backward. It can highlight, change, control. The power is at your fingertips. That’s time travel.
And it’s understandable. A job is a job. A chance is a chance, even in a market or medium you don’t respect. Maybe you can change the system from the inside, but probably not, but who cares? A foot or even a toe in the door is more than what so many of us have now.
We all analyze and talk shit and then sell out. And then shit out some kids. And then die. That’s the cycle of life.
If Benjamin Light were here, he’d tell you that network television is soon to be a thing of the past. He’d tell you that the networks will all be dead or in their cancerous last stages in five years. I don’t disagree with him, but I would disagree on his time table. I think it’ll take a lot longer for them to die and for the new thing that comes after to really get its foothold. “What is dead may never die,” sure, but some things never really die, just shrink for a while. Like print media. Like publishing. I suspect that they may never fully pay the Iron Price, if you will. But it will certainly look like that at times.
All that said, if I were offered a job to write for a network sitcom, I would do it in a heartbeat. Are you kidding me? Of course I would. Fuck yeah. Any shitty ass job too. Two And A Half Men starring Ashton Kutcher dressed up like Steve Jobs? Only seen about five minutes cumulative of the entire show ever, but fuck yeah, I’d take a meeting or submit a spec script or whatever. I’m trying to think of an even worse example…
(FYI – This whole blog thing is obviously winding and grinding down, so if anyone out there wanted to offer me a job, let me just say… I’m cheap. And easy.)
I would literally pitch a buddy roommates sitcom starring Dane Cook and Carrot Top if I thought it meant the slightest possibility of a pay check and to be a breath closer to a creative industry I would like to be a part of. I can’t say that I’d love that job, because… Well, of course, I wouldn’t. But I’d do everything in my power to take that thing that I hated and try to make it something that I can hate less, and I’d much rather have a thing to let go than to never have had it at all…
Benjie: This article kind of captures some of the reason that I don’t like blogging anymore: “The Web Is a Customer Service Medium.”
Marco: Interesting article. The last quote in the article kind of sums up a nice train of thought, I think.
Benjie: New potential podcast name: Pedantic Asshattery.
Marco: The medium is the message, and to this day, I still don’t think people understand what the internet medium really is or why things work, or why you should do something other than, “well, someone else is doing it.”
We should start a little dialogue here and turn it into a blog post – which would be so hip – and talk about why we’re bored with blogging, and why Counter-Force is ending, which would the exact opposite of a 5by5 practice.
This follows an earlier discussion/bit of theorizing we were doing about why John Gruber mysteriously or perhaps not so mysteriously moved his podcast, The Talk Show, from one podcast network to another. Also, there’s some ongoing discussion between Benjie and I about a new name for our podcast… Perhaps we can discuss that on the next episode of our podcast?
CHECK OUT OUR FUCKING PODCAST! Please. The latest episode is called: “K-Stew Has A Shotgun.”
Benjie: I guess for me, this article articulates why I want our podcast to be “this is entertaining to listen to,” not “I have some opinions on stuff.”
Marco: Well, the tactic that I intend to employ in the podcast, the one that I’m assuming will work for me, is that I’ll have things to say to you. I only ever kind of think about the fact that we’re recording and distributing that recording in some way. That may bite me in the ass later on, but hopefully people will just enjoy listening to us. But hey, it’s free.
Benjie: I live my entire life as though an audience is watching.
Marco: The only audience that I care about consistently is myself. And the million different voices in my head.
Benjie: There is an idea of a Benjamin Light, some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me; only an entity, something illusory…
Marco: “…but even after admitting this there is no catharsis, my punishment continues to elude me and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself; no new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.”
Anyway, I don’t think the internet is going anywhere, and I think it’s always evolving and expanding, but it’s a shallow ocean. And there’s lots of waves with groupthink and LOLcats and porn bobbing up and down all over the place.
Benjie: I don’t think the internet is going anywhere, and what you see on it is just a reflection of culture.
Marco: Right. It’s not going anywhere and it’ll change, as cultures change, but the internet, to me, dances a fine line between not being all that real and being a little too real at times.
Or maybe not real enough? Excuse me, I need to go return some videotapes…
Eight: Was Marshall McLuhan the first academic rock star? I would say yes, at least for our somewhat modern times. Perhaps the first academic rock star was Galilleo, or Isaac Newton. They seemed like real chill bros of science.
But anyway, I’m just bullshitting here. This is just me carrying out some thoughts to their natural conclusions, for now. But if I could further borrow from the man…
Nine: Here’s one of my favorite McLuhan fun facts…
Not long after he started teaching at Fordham university, and became a full on Academic Rock Star, McLuhan still felt the pressure for people to back up his ideas and philosophies with facts, with proven experiments. So he did so: He split up one of his classes into two, and showed both halves a movie. With the one half of the class, he showed them the movie on a movie screen. They sat there in the dark, watching a large screen with reflected light bouncing off it. The other half of the class was shown the same movie, but on a TV screen.
The result? The two halves took something different from the experience, one side able to discuss the film objectively and the other subjectively. Those who watched the film on the movie screen were able to comment on and critique the film itself. Those who watched it on the TV screen talked more in terms of themselves, how the film made them feel, what they took from the whole thing, etc.
Ten: I hope you enjoyed that story. I’m going to record myself saying that story on a podcast, then film it, then translate it into Japanese, and then back into English, and then I’m going to split this blog’s two and a half readers down the middle and I’m going to show one half that video, spliced into every second and a half frame of a super cut video of keyboard cat versus the Japanese further ruining what we think think/know of porn, and the other half is going to have the video broadcast straight into their nightmares.
Eleven: I don’t mean to be continuously, in the parlance of the internet, fap fap fapping about McLuhan, but the dude was seriously smart, and had some good ideas that only become more applicable as the global village gave way to the world wide web. He was smart enough to realize that the book wasn’t just an invention of ease to deliver information and entertainment, but that it was also technology. The Gutenberg Man had his whole consciousness changed by movable type and technology isn’t just something that mankind creates, but something that recreates mankind. Hence… The medium is the message, we create the medium, which in turn recreates us, new media, old shit/new shit, blah blah blah, fap fap fap.
When they did his book which was to feature his famous slogan, “The medium is the message” as the title, they discovered that when the galleys came back that their was a pretty huge typo present: The Medium Is The Massage. Everyone was furious, except for McLuhan himself. He was a smart guy and probably had a good sense of humor, but now he suddenly saw his simple thought presented as a series of puns.
The message is massaged into the Mass Age which gives way for the onslaught of the Mess Age.
Peace be with you.
Twelve: I don’t know a lot of about the more technical side of the internet, and perhaps I don’t know enough about human beings to even go slightly pop psychology about the larger social networking that happens between us wee simple folk. Memes and SEO and the idea of the ecosystem are all extremely fascinating to me, but feel like they’re still in their infancy. Even with as tired and overplayed as they are in our brains.
I remember at the tail end of last summer Benjamin Light and I were having lunch at our favorite tacqueria and he was trying to explain to me the big tech patent wars that had been erupting over the summer. You know the one? The one in which millions of people who don’t understand how our patent system works anyway were complaining that it was broken? That one. Anyway, Benjie was telling me increasingly humorous stories about CEOs and chief legal officers of these massive corporations shit talking each other in blog posts and in YouTube videos. It was either the battle (of attrition) for public opinion or the ongoing struggle to get the last word, I don’t know, but it was funny.
At the time I made some kind of comment like: “The battle for the Internet will be fought to extremes, but with the tools of the Internet, which makes it ridiculous.”
Here’s a fun fact about me: When I originally typed up that half remembered statement just now, instead of “fought,” I wrote “thought.” Weird.
The old media may be dying, but it’s dying very slowly. We’ll have quite a bit of shade here underneath those falling giants.
Or, put another way: Orbits deteriorate constantly. Things fall out of the sky all the time. It usually takes a while, longer than you might think, and they tend to burn up before you’ll ever hear a THUD. And some things are pretty when they’re burning away into nothing.