Transformation & Migration

Last month, I announced on Extra­tone’s Patre­on that I’d reached a cer­tain epiphany: the best course of action is to relaunch Extra­tone as an Elec­tron­ic Music Mag­a­zine.

While a few flag­ships of the Amer­i­can under­ground tech­no mag­a­zine like Trax have man­aged to remain afloat, they’ve been worn down into com­pla­cen­cy by the mel­low­ing of their scene and unavoid­ably shift­ing pri­or­i­ties after the years they’ve got on us. It’s been alarm­ing­ly appar­ent since 2012 that music jour­nal­ism would be total­ly unequipped to spot the heroes of the genre and DAW bust­ing Twit­ter gang in the cru­cial moment.

I’ve been less quick to begin the nec­es­sary changes than would be ide­al, but the idea is com­ing togeth­er. In the first of our new month­ly free­lance album reviews, Adam Bex­ten did a won­der­ful job of sum­ming the sig­nif­i­cance and the tech­ni­cal expe­ri­ence of Robyn’s Body Talk.

Robyn arrives just in the knick of time, offer­ing the escapism of grand pro­duc­tion, unfor­get­table lyrics and a per­fect world where even our great­est prob­lems can be solved out on the dance­floor… [It’s] not going to actu­al­ly save the world, but it pro­vides lis­ten­ers a per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to escape the heat, dance it out and – at its best – see them­selves in a remark­ably hon­est way.

I’m glad our call for reviews found its way to Adam — his work cer­tain­ly made me a Robyn fan, and we’d be priv­i­leged to pub­lish more of his thoughts in the future.

Extranet V. 4.4

Before I/we can fig­ure out how much redesign­ing will real­ly be nec­es­sary for the future, slim, music-cen­tric web­site (Ver­sion 5,) let’s take a moment to doc­u­ment a few in-the-mean­time changes which may or may not car­ry over. After a bunch of fid­dling in late July, I changed most of the Extranet’s lega­cy typog­ra­phy in favor of mod­ern, most­ly open source, most­ly well-loved Google fonts. Body text now wears Crim­son Text, Head­ings are now in my per­son­al favorite IBM Plex Sans Con­densed, and Nav­i­ga­tion is in the infa­mous Incon­so­la­ta.

I also end­ed up rad­i­cal­ly chang­ing the col­or palette around the newsletter’s new vin­tage NSA poster-inspired land­ing page, expand­ing upon FEFBEA. “FRESH” has been replaced with “MUSIC” on the main menu, link­ing to the new ver­ti­cal, which I intend to make much less plain in the near future. Linked in the cat­e­go­ry descrip­tion is the in-progress ‘E List’ — a new page meant to define who Extra­tone is for as explic­it­ly and pre­cise­ly as pos­si­ble. The pre­vi­ous­ly-des­ti­tute Gerogerigegege chan­nel in our Dis­cord has been allo­cat­ed for links to music and music-relat­ed reads. Please do invite any­one you know in the gen­er­al orbit of elec­tron­ic music (lis­ten­er, cre­ator, crit­ic) by spread­ing extratone.com/talkmusic.

It’s near­ly a sure thing: I’ll be migrat­ing the archive of my Let­ters from the Edi­tor to this blog. It’s as yet unde­cid­ed whether or not the work of our past 2.5 years will be kept “hid­den” on the main CMS (min­i­mal­ly hyper­linked to,) or if it’s worth mov­ing the whole thing as it is to a sub­do­main. As always, if you’d like to share any thoughts/insights you may have on this, do please con­tact me by Email or Twit­ter.

Per­haps the new pri­ma­ry ban­ner. What do you think?

Sorry Mom, I’m Still Fucking Blogging

Though its rel­e­vant to per­haps 2 oth­er liv­ing peo­ple, my ultra-con­nect­ed Word­Press exper­i­ment at extratone.com/shife is in the process of being moved here as part of sep­a­rat­ing my own work from Extra­tone. I’m going to leave most of the triv­ial design exper­i­ments behind and per­haps actu­al­ly write explic­it­ly with­in the blog­ging medi­um? (I doubt there’ll be much con­sis­ten­cy or reg­u­lar­i­ty.)

The Future

I’ve real­ly wast­ed a lot of your time in the process of fig­ur­ing out what the fuck the World Wide Web real­ly is, but this is it — I actu­al­ly know how to get out of the way and do what I’ve been try­ing to do all along, and it’s fuck­ing impor­tant. Through­out my recent, exten­sive jour­ney through a sig­nif­i­cant breadth of online prop­er­ties, I’ve as yet been unable to find any pub­li­ca­tions — estab­lish­ment or oth­er­wise — who are even the slight­est bit equipped to cel­e­brate LGBTQ, genre-bust­ing elec­tron­ic musi­cians. I pas­sion­ate­ly believe this stuff is urgent­ly need­ed by a bunch of young lis­ten­ers who’s explo­ration is being active­ly and dis­as­trous­ly lim­it­ed by stream­ing ser­vices and the cur­rent music crit­i­cism estab­lish­ment.

I sup­pose the future ele­va­tor pitch would be some­thing like “imag­ine The Vil­lage Voice but with a glob­al eye and a tru­ly diverse, ded­i­cat­ed readership/community which pri­mar­i­ly publishes/employs LGBTQ and non-white writ­ers.” If that elic­its even a frac­tion of the excite­ment with­in you as it does with­in me, here’s how you can help

  • If you’ve got some cash to spare, sub­scribe via our Patre­on and help us reach $25/month so that I may buy hot pock­ets instead of spend­ing my own mon­ey on month­ly free­lance album reviews.
  • If you’ve got some thoughts/interesting tunes/compelling reads to spare, we’d be delight­ed to have you stop by our Dis­cord.
  • If you’ve got some friends, bring us up! If you just hate Extratone.com, itself, then just tell them about the work of the extra­or­di­nary cre­ators we endeav­or to uplift.

The spe­cial print edi­tion is com­ing, but I’m going to focus my ener­gy on accomplishing/pondering the future as I can for the time being.

WordPress, MovableType

Kara Swish­er inter­viewed Matt Mul­len­weg on Recode Decode! It’s extreme­ly sad how excit­ed I was to see this in my pod­cast feed (and that I’m already writ­ing about it before the post has actu­al­ly gone up on Recode, itself.)

We Called it Guten­berg for a Rea­son

They dis­cussed Mov­able­Type briefly, which was revived in 2013 and now has a 50% Japan­ese lan­guage user­ship, and I’d real­ly like to know how that hap­pened.

Also, I had no idea his and Word­Press’ com­pa­ny, Automat­tic owned Lon­greads and Atavist. Hilar­i­ous­ly, I also found out his old blog themes are now avail­able in the Word­Press theme direc­to­ry. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I had to wait a whole darned week for a “light­ly-edit­ed tran­script” [local back­up] of this episode, but frankly, I’m just glad they decid­ed it was worth tran­scrib­ing at all, con­sid­er­ing Word­Press’ out-of-the-excitable-for-dab­blers sta­tus. I mean… it was prob­a­bly a bit cru­el to place Mullenweg’s episode in direct fol­lowup to Kara Swisher’s inter­view with Mark Zucker­berg the pre­vi­ous week, which — for obvi­ous and entire­ly-jus­ti­fied rea­sons — will sure­ly be the most-lis­tened-to Recode Decode episode by far in its recent his­to­ry, at least. 

I’ve been doing Word­Press for 15 years and I’d like to do it the rest of my life.”

Yiokes! Ya know? You’re damned right, “oof.”

I think every tech com­pa­ny should have an edi­to­r­i­al team.”

Out of sign­f­i­cant and near­ly-unbear­ably heavy bias, I must agree whole­heart­ed­ly with this state­ment — and Mullenweg’s req­ui­site elab­o­ra­tion — and I must leave you with the expres­sion of one final wish: that Zucker­berg had been inter­viewed post-Matt, instead, and Kara Swish­er would’ve brought this up with him.

Panic Urine

Shife rep­re­sents the best of the next gen­er­a­tion of smart, inde­pen­dent tech­no­cul­ture mag­a­zines.

▂▃▅▇█▓▒░۩۞۩ ۩۞۩░▒▓█▇▅▃▂

Imag­ine: it’s 2018, and you’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with a What You See is What You Get, uber-bloat­ed, entire­ly pri­va­cy-com­pro­mised auto­mat­ic Word­Press instal­la­tion for a few months, but you can’t remem­ber why. It could’ve tak­en you 5 min­utes… Maybe this is the one that took two years? Or maybe nei­ther are any­thing more than not-even-all-that-advanced trick­ery: what if every­thing you’ve thought you’ve engaged with in your Web Brows­er for the past year has been noth­ing but care­ful­ly-manip­u­lat­ed play­back of a screen­cap­ture? Would it even mat­ter?

You find your­self in Hell again: the in-CMS Word­Press plu­g­in brows­er, which scrolls all-too-soon over the true Mark of The Beat, him­self: Accel­er­at­ed Fuck­ing Mobile Pages… 

You hes­i­tate only for a nanomo­ment — tears swelling up in your eyes — before click­ing “Install,” prompt­ing less than a full sec­ond of “Installing… ⟳” before the page reloads, the but­ton blues, and you engage with a User Inter­face for the last time…

▇▇▇╲▇▇▇╲▇▇▇╲▇▇▇╲ ▇╲╲╲▇╲▇╲▇╲╲╲▇╲▇╲▏ ▇╲▇╲▇▇▇╲▇╲▇╲▇▇▇╲▏ ▇▇▇╲▇╲▇╲▇▇▇╲▇╲▇╲▏ ╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲╲▏ ┊▔▔▔┊▔┊▔┊▔▔▔┊▔┊▔

No! It was just a night­mare… There is an AMP Plu­g­in, but you new lit­tle Bitch Site remains entire­ly free of it. Instead, it’s been replaced by some­thing strange

❚█══█❚                                                  ❚█══█❚

I’ve now spent I don’t even know how many nights dig­ging through the entire his­to­ry of dig­i­tal media, and it’s been a lot more emo­tion­al­ly tax­ing than you might sus­pect. I can’t tell you how many dead or stolen URLs I’ve land­ed on — sev­er­al life­times’ worth — and the vast major­i­ty of those sur­viv­ing C and D-list pub­li­ca­tions and plat­forms have been hope­less­ly neglect­ed.

Basi­cal­ly, I’m start­ing to wish I was my age now at the time I was actu­al­ly born — 1994. I think Suck is impec­ca­ble and I wish I could’ve been there to see it.

You find the genius hilar­i­ty that was the fore­run­ner for just about every­thing on The Open Web, and then you find them 25 years lat­er… on Medi­um… After the Chuck Kloster­man col­umn, expect Holy Fuck Lol Why Is Every­body Actu­al­ly Migrat­ing from The Open Web to Medi­um, Now because many of what I’ve dis­cov­ered today is extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ing.

This post has to be over­whelm­ing because I’ve been con­stant­ly dis­tract­ed this evening and have some­how found myself with­out a suf­fi­cient way to archive Web His­to­ry links apart from our gen­er­al read­ing list.

As some­one with no nos­tal­gia for Web 1.0 (when Suck launched, I was 8 years old, learn­ing how to touch-type with a card­board box over my hands) my inter­est comes from a sus­pi­cion that Suck rep­re­sents the web at its best, when an inde­pen­dent online pub­li­ca­tion could con­trol its own nar­ra­tive. Suck wasn’t try­ing to game its ana­lyt­ics, or opti­mize for any­thing, or bait-and-switch its read­ers for clicks. Even so, it quick­ly reached 10,000 dai­ly read­ers, and boast­ed a bud­get large enough to pay con­tribut­ing writ­ers $1,000 per post. Read­ing it now, I’m struck not by nos­tal­gia, but envy for the par­tic­u­lar free­doms afford­ed to ear­ly online pub­li­ca­tions.

The Best Mag­a­zine on the Ear­ly Web” — The Atlantic

Freq Check #20

Trim­ming, slim­ming, and trou­bleshoot­ing The Extranet left us ten times faster and much, much loud­er.

I’m post­ing a dupli­cate of today’s Editor’s Let­ter here because I’ve been con­sid­er­ing migrat­ing it away for a while now. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this.

After spend­ing a few weeks dot­ing on The Extranet with pre­cise­ly the same atten­tion I’ve pledged not to lav­ish upon it, I think you’ll be sat­is­fied with the results, though prob­a­bly much less so than I am. More impor­tant­ly, our old friend Ryan Dell graced us with his flaw­less satire in “Unso­licit­ed Cre­ative Advice,” which will no doubt occu­py the front­page for a good while. As per the tem­po­rary return of my focus upon my own work which I described last month, I was able to knock out a healthy chunk of the pet top­ics I’d been sit­ting on for years. I wrote about Google as our new God, the sin­is­ter sym­bols I saw in Han Solo: A Star Wars Sto­ry, the impor­tance of Twit­ter lists, and the State of Word Pro­cess­ing in 2018.

I’ve also been work­ing on com­pil­ing a “Visu­al His­to­ry of Extra­tone,” which I’d even­tu­al­ly like to dis­play in a unique-ish online pho­to gallery (for now, it’s on Flickr,) and The Drycast Mas­ter Col­lec­tion, which I’d also like to present (and prob­a­bly sell,) in some clever medi­um. So far, I’ve updat­ed the style and meta­da­ta of episodes 1–18 and in the process unearthed the long-lost yzome episode, which includes a superb dis­cus­sion of mod­ern music that’s more than worth an imme­di­ate lis­ten.

I took the time to post us on Fonts in Use – one of my favorite nerdy design projects on the web – which almost imme­di­ate­ly led to some great feed­back from Co-Edi­tor Flo­ri­an Hard­wig regard­ing my typo­graph­ic sins (“Oof!”) and an embar­rass­ing misspac­ing with­in our big But­ler mast, which I have now cor­rect­ed and dark­ened. It looks sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter, no?

In the process of whip­ping up my sub­mis­sion, I summed up my bizarre rela­tion­ship with this Web Site bet­ter still than I ever have before.

Because we chose to exper­i­ment and build the look our­selves from a posi­tion of rel­a­tive inex­pe­ri­ence with web design instead of seek­ing out a pro­fes­sion­al solu­tion, The Extranet as it exists now rep­re­sents more than two years of exhaus­tive tri­al and error that was a sig­nif­i­cant learn­ing expe­ri­ence for myself, espe­cial­ly. It has been tin­kered with, poured over, and bro­ken expo­nen­tial­ly more than if we’d cho­sen to turn its cre­ation over to third-par­ty hands. As a result, our team’s become bizarrely sen­ti­men­tal and proud of it as a part of our organization’s iden­ti­ty.

As proud as I am to have us in the defin­i­tive design cat­a­log on the web, I’ve made enough sig­nif­i­cant changes since the post to ren­der it rel­a­tive­ly out-of-date, already. First, I tracked down and elim­i­nat­ed the serv­er error which caused our down­time at the begin­ning of the year before sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly opti­miz­ing the shit out of just about every­thing until I could reg­u­lar­ly bench­mark The Extranet at 10 times its page­load speed from this time in 2017. After fix­ing and embold­en­ing the mast, I then slight­ly upped the weight of all type­faces, site-wide, but I still found Cor­morant Gara­mond’s per­for­mance to be insuf­fi­cient with­in our new speedy expe­ri­ence. Where we once decid­ed upon it for body text because it wasn’t the obvi­ous choice and we thought its dec­o­ra­tive flair to be loud in its van­i­ty, I all at once found it fee­ble and weak in con­trast with the header’s new got-it-togeth­er­ness. For the moment, we’ve switched to Georg Duffner’s EB Gara­mond – an open source, more robust dig­i­ti­za­tion of The Big G – but I may be test­ing oth­er bod­ies on the live serv­er so watch the fuck out. In Ver­sion 4.3, the head­er no longer sticks, the scroll-to-top but­ton has dis­ap­peared at last, and images will be sharp­er.

Notice that RADIO has replaced AUDIO in the menu. We’ve resumed broad­cast­ing tunes and pod­casts in our one-of-a-kind style on Anchor, and our radio feed is now dis­trib­uted to Apple Pod­casts, Break­er, Pock­et Casts, RadioP­ub­lic, and Stitch­er. Its new, sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er-qual­i­ty play­er is now embed­ded again on our front­page. The main Stu­dio Eat feed (/audio) has become redun­dant, so we’ve removed it from iTunes and Google Play Music. It will remain acces­si­ble here, but our new Extra­tone Radio page is a more appro­pri­ate avenue to our sounds. For the next few weeks, I’ll be revis­it­ing one episode of Drycast every day and play­ing tracks from Sub­ur­ban Anar­chy in hon­or of its five-year anniver­sary next Fri­day. I’ve also added both Future­land and Drycast to RadioP­ub­lic because it seems like an intrigu­ing project.

Fast and loud: Our pod­casts are spread­ing, and I’m writ­ing more in a heav­ier type­face deliv­ered sig­nif­i­cant­ly faster and I’ve tak­en away both of your last meth­ods of quick­ly escap­ing it. Good luck.