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Baltimore - 2 April - I don't know what to think.
Last week I had concerns about giving up the Big Chair so readily. This week I have a new Editor trying to hold on and show his chops and a *highly qualified* interloper itching to take over the real estate.
What is so mystifying is that "suddenly" this little piece of turf at the fringe of the "popular, hip and trendy" Internet should even be considered a place worth *wanting* to lead and shape.
So the question which has been rattling around in my brain all weekend and making me lose more sleep is: What is best for the G21?
Sex is not all I think about....
If I were standing outside of this picture, simply giving advice --- as lots of people are suddenly asking me to do for their Web enterprises (like I have a Clue, right?) --- I would say what is best for The World's Magazine is to make the choice that will:
- Increase readership
- Increase visibility
- Make it more than a charity supported by Rod's other writing.
FEED THE HUNGRY. You can help someone else in this world and IT WON'T COST YOU A DIME. If you simply remember to drop by The Hunger Site every day that you surf and click a simple button ONE LESS PERSON WILL GO HUNGRY. The food is distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme and paid for through the sponsorship of companies that care. Do your part.
Looked at from that perspective, my stepping back to being only publisher is a stroke of brilliance. I'll always keep my hand in, and always have The Last Word, but I need a more aggressive promoter at the helm. I need someone who will cause advertisers to notice this "hip little alternative station at the end of the FM dial." We're certainly competitive with other Web magazines.
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Event # 209: NEW POWER GENERATION
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LAST WEEK's EDITION
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So don't be surprised if you see another "reorganization" take place in this Web space by the end of this month...
THE ARTISTThe thing I always find ironic is that I spent over two years giving advice and pointers, snippets of code, getting paid to show other people the secrets of good Web design --- and everyone who comes in wanting to take over this magazine IMMEDIATELY wants to give me design suggestions. Doh!
It never dawns on them that I might have come to this simple design model and the focus on ease-of-navigation FOR A REASON. In the rough and tumble of working with various writers over the years, I came to accept that this site is basically high-content/low glitz. That serves the writers best, in my view, and allows me to put what could be a very complex site (like WORD) up quickly on the weekend without too much sturm-und-drang over plug-ins, animations and other bells and whistles. I also think that this simple design model *works* for a news and commentary Web site.
Yeah, there have been some design tricks I've seen, particularly deploying vector graphics, which I have salivated over. But then the questions become:
- how has this "trick" improved the presentation of the article?
- am I just pleasing the Web Designer and adding nothing at all for the reader/visitor?
It's the old FORM and FUNCTION debate again.
When I came back from Boston, Kevin and Elizabeth told me that they think I should move into a larger apartment. They think that having my machines always in front of me feeds my compulsive work habits.
They could be right.
They have been trying to convince me to look at larger, roomier places. I can afford it, they argue.
What they discount is the amount of money I'm always sending off to writers in distress. That's my big weakness.
Every month, it seems, I'm sending off hundreds of dollars to writers here and abroad who are in tough patch. I just picked up a new one.
One month it's Eastern Europe, the next Los Angeles, the next Texas, this one Mexico, that one Taiwan.
I wish there was some way to make it a tax write-off or something, but I'm not that smart. So I just go on being the unilateral charity of last resort for writers in distress.
I know: that's incredibly stupid of me.
I'm trying to stop...
"COURTSHIP, SEX, COMMITMENT, LONELINESS, FETISHES....
"Welcome to The Dawn. You have just accessed the Gold Experience. Press DAWN to begin..."
KEVIN: You are a very stupid man.
He had just seen the top candidate (before him) for his job as my assistant.
She is a very attractive, tall, voluptuous redhead.
I tried to explain to him that that was the reason I had hired him instead of her. Hiring her, considering that I was a single, lonely writer and my assistant would be working in my apartment, was a prescription for trouble. My first love was also a redhead. Yes, I'd been immediately attracted to this woman in the interview. She was intelligent and fit the profile of what I needed an assistant to do.
BUT she also fit the profile of the kind of woman I would eventually hit on.
KEVIN: Hey, if you had told me, I'd like to hire you, Dude, but there is this fine babe who has all of your qualifications and is also a fine babe... Well, I would have understood.
ROD: (Laughter) Knowing you, you probably would have. We'd probably still be buddies. But knowing me, I knew better than to hire her.
The Artist has it right, of course. All that glitters ain't gold.
I did something totally unlike Rod this weekend. When Kevin came over to begin our work, I suggested that we go for a walk instead. I ran some errands during the walk, then I just decided to enjoy the day. (Gasp!)
We walked around and admired the various women strolling the streets of our little burgh. We talked about relationships. When my nicotine jones kicked in, we went up to my place and grabbed my smokes. I poured Black and Tans for us and we went outside to sit on the stoop (a Baltimore tradition) and bask in the sunlight and watch the world pass by. There was what Kev surmised was a baby shower going on down the street. Cars full of women kept driving up with Macy's bags, packages, trays of food. We watched the women spill out and strut down my street. I GOOFED OFF. This is very un-Rodlike.
Kev thought this was a good thing.
After about an hour and half my obsessive-compulsive nature kicked in, of course, and we went back up and got to work on this edition of the magazine...
It was nice to pretend that I'm not me for that hour and a half, though.
After working that afternoon and evening, Kevin and I went down to Fell's Point, the prime trawling grounds of the younger set in Baltimore and a tourist magnate. They filmed much of the television series "Homicide: Life on the Streets" down there. I did something I hadn't done in years: looking through the crowds, using body language, points of eye contact, responses to the ubiquitous music, I pointed out the most ready targets in the target-rich environment.
"See Vampyra over there," I said to Kev. " Royal blue blouse, jeans, overly made-up, dark hair. She's looking frantically for someone she won't find tonight.
"Watch this. Jock type, white shirt approaching for an encounter? Bam! She shot him down in one glance. Now she's back to talking to her gal friends. That was a smooth kill on her part. The problem is, she wants someone with a little edginess to him, a little danger.
"Fat chance in that gaggle. But with the right approach she could be pulled from the herd."
"Damn!" Kevin exclaimed. "You're like a heat-seeking missile!"
"Comes from years of watching people. I don't use it anymore, obviously. I haven't used it in fifteen years. But I thought I'd pass it on to you."
I had provided him with immediate profiles on the five or six women in our immediate vicinity who were prime targets. He had listened, observed, nodded. It was a muscle in my brain I haven't exercised in years, being the recluse I am. But there is still a lot of the hunter-gatherer under the skin. I suppose I'll never lose that...
THINGS THAT BOTHER ME THIS WEEK1. Beginning the 6:30 a.m. schedule that my newsletter job demands.
2. Not having my laptop yet.
3. Needing to make *another* decision about the future of this Web publication.
4. How did I get on the Bloomingdale's mailing list? Why?
5. My immediate addiction to Kerbango's MondoRadio.
6. Facing my first serious session with the therapist this week.
7. Needing and dreading a clothes shopping expedition.
8. DirectTV is cheaper than cable. I never watch local channels anyway. Should I switch?
Thanks for coming back this week.
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
This is another Web site made on a Macintosh.
ROD AMIS has published this magazine since 1990. It first appeared as a hardcopy 'Zine. In March, 1996, he launched it here on the Web. Rod was a Contributing Editor at Suite101.com, where he wrote the " 'Net Publishing" feature. His work has been featured in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online, NRV8, and at WebLab's Reality Check site. Rod was also a contributing writer on technology for Faulkner Information Services.
Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues every Thursday. He is principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviews technology issues weekly. His opinions on the Info Age began appearing on MethodFive's HYPER technology newsletter in March. 1999. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000.
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