links for 2007-04-05

5 April 2007 | | No Comments

Vote in the next week

3 April 2007 | JPG submissions | No Comments

Vote for my photo, and all that.

Crimes I could commit or suffer where, unlike murder or being bashed, the news would fail to mention my sexuality

17 March 2007 | gay crime, mcsweeney's rejections, queer | 3 Comments

links for 2007-03-15

15 March 2007 | | No Comments

links for 2007-03-10

10 March 2007 | | No Comments

What’s old is new again

7 March 2007 | tumblelogs, tumblr, weblogs | 3 Comments

Back when I started weblogging, Blogger was only just getting started and a good many folks still did their archives and their updates by hand in some sort of text editor. Me, I used vi. I’d sometimes sit all day ssh’ed into my webserver with the current month open in vi so I could jot down whatever I wanted.

Along the way, using weblogging software became de rigeur. There were some good reasons for this: permalinks, automatic archiving, being able to update from any computer online with a web browser instead of getting over to your webserver somehow. The push for these applications to do more started making them gradually more complicated: posts came with titles, then “more” links, then comments, then trackbacks, then tags and categories, then RSS feeds…

And all this was great, but a hobby which started as people just sharing links with only a minimal amount of description (or more, sometimes, but not by default) were suddenly becoming more like something else that had been around for just as long if not longer: journals. And then there was some sort of journal-form vs. e/n-form, and then somehow weblogging drifted towards longer-form articles and essays. They evolved into something else, basically. Like you do.

Somehow I’m wondering if a lot of webloggers shifted their forms because they thought they had to, rather than because they’d want to. I once read about a study (and I can’t link to it because I can’t find it, because the key words to search on are too generic, so if you can find it, let me know and I’ll link it up) where people were given a task to perform, and either a handful of tools or a couple dozen tools. The ones given a small amount of tools picked the best one or two for the job and went at it, but the ones given a plethora to choose from somehow got caught up in the notion that they had to use as many tools as possible in their task. A multitude of options could be too much in some cases, making things more complicated.

I kind of see how this idea could get people a little anxious about recreating that simple, old-style weblogging: the tools we have are overly-complicated for something quick and dirty. If you just wanted to post “Check it, Gothic Martha Stewart, neat,” these days I’d have to either open up WordPress in a browser, write it, come up with a title, categorize it, and post it. Alternately, I could post it to delicious or another bookmarks manager, and set it up to post my annotated links once a day to my regular weblog. Either way, that’s a lot of work for “check it.”

This is why I’m really digging Tumblr. It’s a new service that lets you keep what was dubbed a tumblelog somewhere in 2005, which seems to me a lot like that old-style weblogging, but of course better. A tumblelog isn’t so much about personality and exposition, but about tidbits and small amounts of content. Tumblr lets you post in different ways (regular posts, photos, quotes, links, conversations and video), and each type gives you two and only two fields to fill out, with one field being optional. It is stupid-simple. With this, you can be all “Okay, I have this thing I want to put up!….Okay, it’s up!” There’s also the bookmarklet you can use to post, and it’s smartly written. If you’re on a YouTube video, it’ll assume you mean to share that YouTube video. If you have text highlighted, it’ll set it up in a quotation post. Just on a page? It’ll set it up as a link. Wonderful.

I really like this random-seeming style of posting and quoting. Even if you don’t post any regular posts, your personality will come through over time via the kind of content you share. And the conversation posts are my favorite, of course, seeing as I used to do this with the chatter category on and Over Queersville. You do a modicum of text formatting on your end, submit, and they process it all nice and pretty-like. Rad.

Tumblr is in active development and they’re adding new features pretty regularly so far (most recently: feeding your feed from anything into your tumblelog and having it format it as a given type of post that you specify), you can go with a default template and color it or roll your own template, and it’s all free. Right now you can’t leave comments on posts, and I sort of hope they leave it that way, but I guess I can always turn my comments off if they make it happen.

One criticism I’ve heard is the expected one: do we need another weblogging tool? Sure, why not? As long as we have different types of content to post and ways to present that content, we’ll have room for different tools to do it. And as they’ve said themselves:

Blogs are great, but they can be a lot of work. And they’re really built to handle longer-form text posts. Tumblelogs, on the other hand, let you easily and quickly post and share anything you find or create.

For me, it’s like it’s 1999 all over again. Just… designed better, front to back. If I had known about proto-tumblelogs Projectionist and Anarchaia back when Over Queersville died, I might’ve tried to roll my own, or used someone’s software, or gone back to vi. Or, if Tumblr had been around, I might’ve jumped on it instead of—a fine tool, but heavy for what I was trying to do with jaschu’s record. Who needs context? Check it.

links for 2007-03-05

5 March 2007 | | No Comments

links for 2007-03-02

2 March 2007 | | No Comments

links for 2007-02-23

23 February 2007 | | 1 Comment

Sneaky preview

21 February 2007 | JPG Magazine | No Comments

I’m testing something here, which should hint at an upcoming feature at JPG. Here’s a test with a photo:

And one without a photo:

I want to thank the WordPress team right now, for making it super-easy to switch themes in WordPress (and also to Dreamhost for giving their users a kajillion themes as part of the automatic install). It made testing these badges against different CSS scenarios amazingly quick, potentially saving me (and our users) a lot of headache in the future.