Jammer's Blog, the reboot

June 3, 2009

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Two years ago, when I launched IDWID, the first incarnation of my foray into the blog world, I had a mission. That mission was: (1) Here's a blog where I can write more stuff, and (2) there are no parameters to the mission, because It Do What It Do™.

IDWID was more or less conceived as a series of inside jokes, and early blog posts reflected that nature. Over time, however, it became clear that IDWID as a name and a concept was too disconnected from Jammer's Reviews and its audience and where I actually wanted the blog to go.

It also became clear that common themes were emerging in my blog posts: television and rants, for starters. Some of these posts would be right at home over at Jammer's Reviews (TV reviews, particularly). Others, not so much, but that's the nature of blogging.

Over the past few months, as I've been pondering the future of my online presence, I realized it might be time to kick Jammer's Reviews further into the blog realm and perhaps move it away from its traditional structure.

To be sure, that transition actually began in Setpember 2007 when I redesigned the underlying structure of Jammer's Reviews and added the commenting system. I'd say the comments have been an unqualified success. Not only did they breathe new life into the existing reviews (or, at the very least, make me more aware of the activity that already existed there), they have provided a great level of interactivity that has improved the site and made it more fun for both readers and myself. (I also am impressed by the quality and civility of the comments on the site; I moderate comments in some other community forums, where the bile and negativity frequently make me want to punch my computer screen.)

It's interesting to consider how the blog has more or less reinvented how we think of content on the Internet. I've been doing this a long time, and when the blog first came out in the form of free-form journal updates, I shrugged it off as stupid. At the time, it was. (Blogs were then what Twitter is now — except that Twitter has a built-in usefulness-limiting feature in the form of 140 characters.) But over time, bloggers have become the 21st-century columnist, covering every topic you can think of. The blog simply became the simple way of managing the content and allowing real-time published reader feedback.

Over the past few years as I've continued my reviewing, one thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that managing the content of my site has become an inefficent use of my time. I don't employ a CMS, which means all the managing of links and RSS feeds and so forth has been done manually. This means less time spent writing and more time spent on webmaster duties. When I finished my review for Star Trek last week, for example, I then spent another hour just getting everything lined up to post the damn thing online.

So, over the past few months I've been working on a new design that could help me reboot this blog. The relaunched blog is called ... Jammer's Blog. (I know, it almost makes too much sense.) My thinking is that Jammer's Reviews and the newly renamed and rebooted Jammer's Blog will become much more of a coexisting beast in the coming months. I'm hoping to do more off-the-cuff blogging than I've been doing in a while, and I'm hoping that the off-the-cuff blogging will turn into more off-the-cuff review writing, for whatever might be on my mind (in most cases TV). I also hope that I'll be able to announce a new TV reviewing project, and that perhaps that will become a review blog that will exist here. (Don't bother with suggestions; I've got some ideas already.)

This is mostly a matter of automating the content management and making it easier for me to more quickly post things I write. But this is also an experiment in adjusting my writing habits. I want to write more often, about perhaps more topics, but shorter stories. The days of two- and three- and four-thousand-word behemoth reviews is over. The last season of Battlestar Galactica was a rewarding reviewing experience, but the length and weekly grind of those reviews just about killed me. There's just not enough time in a day for me to do that and lead a normal life.

So, it's time to think of myself as a reinvented blogger. Or perhaps a reviewer-blogger hybrid. In some cases, blog posts may simply be a jumping-off point for discussion. Sometimes they may go completely off the typical topics. Sometimes they will be more traditional reviews. We'll see. It still do what it do.

In terms of housekeeping, you'll see that this blog sports a design that evokes the classic look of Jammer's Reviews. I also have an alternate, more newsy layout which you can use if you'd prefer, by clicking the CnB Layout button in the link bar at the top. ("CnB" stands for "Clean and Blue"; cookies are required to use CnB Layout.)

All the former IDWID posts have been ported over, as have most of the comments. I copied the database over a few months ago (I think March or April) so any comments posted on IDWID since then (and it hasn't been many) won't be in here. No biggie.

I'm also going to probably phase out the existing Jammer's Reviews RSS feed in favor of simply the Jammer's Blog feed. I recommend you subscribe to the blog feed to make sure you continue getting updates. Anything that gets posted over in Jammer's Reviews (like TNG reviews, for example) I will provide notification here via a blog post.

Note, however, that you should maintain your subscription to the Jammer's Reviews Comments RSS feed if you are using it, because the commenting system over there is separate from the commenting system here in the blog. In brief, if you want to stay connected with all things Jammer, these are the feeds you'll want.

That said, stay tuned. We'll hopefully get this blog going again with more articles/blogs/stories/reviews/whatever in the coming days/weeks.

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7 comments on this post

    Well, good to know the TNG reviews are coming back. ;)

    Anyway, nice to see the Blog will get a rebirth. I liked your original concept (It's always an event when you post on the Trekbbs so posting on the blog is almost the same thing) but then I guess real life got in the way. No problem, it happens to all of us. Good to know it's coming back.

    You said not to bother with structural/content suggestions. I wouldn't presume to make/give any, but as far as what might attract people to post once structure and content have been determined, consider, if you want, the film critic Roger Ebert. Ebert (who has always had a site, www.rogerebert.com; initially, he simply posted reviews and occasionally commentary on the site) now has a blog feature on that same site - the blog entries are on the right side of the screen, the reviews on the left; the top of the screen contains helpfully labeled links (i.e. you can click on "blog," "current reviews," "search reviews," etc.) to make the site extraordinarily friendly. Blog commentary on his site is some of the best I've seen - not just in terms of "civility" (at the risk of repeating myself, that word is too often viewed as a virtue (or vice, as the case may be) when it is really an attribute. The blog topics he picks are wildly inventive (they range from discussions of evolution to why we cry at movies to specific blogs about a review Roger has just made), and I think he's done a public service, given the nature of these topics and his and his posters' intelligence, by sending a quite convincing message (contrary to what today's brain-dead American "conservatives" have said) that you can be a film critic and have an opinion on other matters, an informed one. In other words, you can sing and talk at the same time (as opposed to "Just Sing and Shut Up). He's also just a plain excellent writer and moderator.

    It was a good move to combine the blog and the actual site. Makes it a bit easier to keep track of both.

    Still looking forward to reading the rest of your TNG reviews (have you already started on Season 5?), keep it up!

    Yes, this more modest community here is a cut above the rest in terms of keeping chilled out. I hope that the seed can define the plant that it germinates ie that with this more civil atmosphere, people who come here will follow the pattern and the aura can remain.

    Compare this to SDN where the webmaster actively encourages people to be aggressive, confrontational and complete douches. Nice if you want that kind of style, but it's also nice that this place does things a bit differently.

    @Dan L:

    Yes, Ebert's Blog is quite something. I won't pretend that I could turn this blog into anything approaching that. Ebert's blog springs from a lifetime of knowledge and experience and a fount of material and anecdotes that I couldn't hope to mimic in 30 years, let alone now. I can barely find the time to read all that he has written (and I have read him online every week without fail for 13 years now, and in his books well before that); I can't imagine how he finds the discipline to write it all.

    Exciting stuff. I've been wondering what you'd do now that BSG had finished...

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