Medium: Another Subbranding Apocalypse

What the fuck is a “Sub Brand?”

Shife is a sub­brand. Words of David Blue in Red is also a sub­brand of mine, and I’ve decid­ed to exper­i­ment with it by dis­trib­ut­ing it on Medi­um via a “per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion” for a vari­ety of rea­sons.

  • This man said I should.
  • My own design goals for Extra­tone made sure it would nev­er pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty to exper­i­ment with Medi­um pub­li­ca­tions from the get-go.
  • I’m already try­ing out a Medi­um mem­ber­ship with the intent the write a col­umn about its user expe­ri­ence and how it’s changed from the per­spec­tives of the read­er, mem­ber, and pub­lish­er.
  • I’m appar­ent­ly an enthu­si­as­tic Gimp poweruser, addict­ed to crank­ing out a rough-but-exten­sive rack of dig­i­tal assets in a sin­gle morn­ing.

Just this evening, I dis­cov­ered Schick Toikka’s Saol Dis­play via this Tweet from Typo­graph­i­ca and I’m Fuck­ing In Love. I used Vival­di screen cap­tures of their sam­pler to cre­ate a few ban­ner logos for Red Let­ters at a low­er res­o­lu­tion than I’d pre­fer for “brand assets,” but since this whole thing is an exper­i­ment and I haven’t actu­al­ly bought the type­face, I shan’t com­plain. While we’re on the sub­ject — I actu­al­ly cre­at­ed these super-cool, HP Jour­nal-sourced pro­mo­tion­al pan­els for the col­umn two weeks ago using the same IBM cor­po­rate type­face this blog wears (Plex.)

Cus­tom drop­caps are eas­i­er than I remembered/expected — I can’t recall how much I’ve actu­al­ly played around with Medi­um com­po­si­tion in the past — and Elec­tric Lit­er­a­ture def­i­nite­ly has the best I’ve seen thus far.

Also, the post from that sam­ple — “How Writ­ing Closed Cap­tions Turned Me off TV For Good” — is prob­a­bly the best thing I’ve yet read on Medi­um.

I don’t know how many oth­er folks actu­al­ly lis­ten to Tomor­row with Joshua Topol­sky (though you’ll note the show has less than 3000 fol­low­ers on Sound­Cloud) and The Verge­cast, but I do reg­u­lar­ly and have for near­ly three years now — per­haps I have some odd attach­ment with the Engad­get — Vox Media — The Out­line sphere. Over time, Paul Miller has become one of my favorite tech jour­nal­ists as per­haps the token small-gov­ern­ment Chris­t­ian Repub­li­can of this com­mu­ni­ty, yet I some­how missed his appear­ance on Tomor­row in 2016, when he… unfor­tu­nate­ly… said “I love [Don­ald Trump’s] posi­tion on Mex­i­cans,” but then imme­di­ate­ly fol­lowed up with an insight­ful com­par­i­son of our new POTUS with Kanye West. The thing with Paul is that he’s only explic­it­ly men­tioned his con­tentious (as far as New Media goes) posi­tions once, when asked on this pod­cast, and it’s inevitably tough to lis­ten to and even tougher to read the sparse Sound­Cloud com­ments.

Other News

  • Papa John is dead. (Look at that byline… Imag­ine actu­al­ly liv­ing with “Jar­gon” as your sur­name.)
  • I’ve final­ly arrived on my Final Con­clu­sion regard­ing my per­son­al real­i­ty as a whole.
  • It’s a good thing I don’t watch that one tele­vi­sion show…
  • I’ve just pub­licly come out as a Blog­ger.
  • Medium’s release note habits are dri­ving me even more insane.

Bandcamp, The Globalizer

With last week’s Drop­box Paper wor­ship, and my cur­rent efforts to appre­ci­ate what Band­camp has done for inde­pen­dent music dis­tri­b­u­tion, I’d like to think I’ve made some progress in cel­e­brat­ing how/why ser­vices and soft­ware have got­ten it “right,” as opposed to dwelling on my own com­plaints about them. (Though I think the next one will prob­a­bly about Medi­um Mem­ber­ship…) Here’s some of what I’ve dis­card­ed so far.

This Fri­day, I’m cel­e­brat­ing the fifth anniver­sary of the sec­ond Dry­wall album – undoubt­ed­ly my musi­cal peak – so I’ve been think­ing about what com­pelled me to make exper­i­men­tal music in high school. I’d been record­ing myself play­ing the piano since MyFirst­Sony days and the sen­sa­tion of the desire was the same: I want to cap­ture those few lit­tle bread­crumbs of genius I’d stum­ble upon in the course of hours-long impro­vised jour­neys because they did not exist oth­er­wise. With­out a micro­phone or lis­ten­er present in the room, any espe­cial­ly cre­ative ram­bling can’t have hap­pened. I’d nev­er be dis­ci­plined enough to repli­cate any­thing that com­plex because I didn’t want to be. So, I’d record tapes to keep them to maybe lis­ten back on anoth­er day (it doesn’t many dif­fer­ence whether or not I do, only thatI can.) I can’t ever think I’ve done any­thing good if I can’t repli­cate or prove it.

How is it that we’re going back to 2008 and eighth grade… again? Well, why don’t you inno­vate some shit! I could’ve dig­i­tized those record­ings and released them on MySpace for a sin­gle class­mate to hear (maybe I did – maybe I didn’t,) but what dif­fer­ence was that, real­ly, than fill­ing up a cas­sette tape and chuck­ing it in the bot­tom of one base­ment stor­age bin? It wasn’t pub­lish­ing, it was just anoth­er form of archiv­ing. And then, my peers and I got a lit­tle old­er and we became con­vinced – like all ado­les­cent white boys do – that some form of “mak­ing a band” was nec­es­sary to actu­al­ize our high-school exis­tence. If we’d been born just ten years ear­li­er, our tra­jec­to­ry would’ve been (for the best) through garage, house, and ice cream shop shows to local venues and late-night prac­tices before cul­mi­nat­ing in our school’s annu­al Bat­tle of The Bands com­pe­ti­tion, when we’d com­pete with one another’s bad­ly-named posse for $1000 worth of stu­dio time at some local out­fit which would result in some­thing we’d effort­less­ly for­get about before our 30s.

Yes, all of it came to pass for my grad­u­at­ing class as ordained by the nat­ur­al cycles and grand design of Amer­i­can exis­tence, but it was accom­pa­nied by some­thing entire­ly new: the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tran­scend the depress­ing, dead-end local live scene and deliv­er our music to the World, thanks to Band­camp.

Though he didn’t found it alone, Ethan Dia­mond has remained Bandcamp’s pub­lic face for its whole his­to­ry. I’d nev­er heard his name before begin­ning research on his “vir­tu­al com­pa­ny.” (Slack was pret­ty new in 2014, no?) From the inter­views and blog posts I’ve read so far, I iden­ti­fy with him heav­i­ly as some­one most inspired by their own com­plaints about exist­ing work. His and his co-founders’ sto­ry reminds me a lot of COMPAQ’s.

We worked out of the pub­lic library for the first four years of the company’s exis­tence.”

What Has Bandcamp Done for You as an Artist?

Band­camp is 10 years old this year, and I’ve been think­ing about how preva­lent it’s been in my own cre­ative life and how many of my music-mak­ing friends have been able to eas­i­ly dis­trib­ute their work (in dig­i­tal, cas­sette, CD, and vinyl forms) thanks to its long-stand­ing sup­port of inde­pen­dent artists. Now, with excel­lent prod­ucts like the Band­camp Week­ly pod­cast and brand-new iOS and Android apps, it’s con­tin­u­ing to main­tain its place as a superb source for music.

I think it’s time to look back in depth on what Band­camp has done for artists and how their par­tic­u­lar Open Web-cen­tric pri­or­i­ties have made it pos­si­ble. For my next col­umn, I’m out­lin­ing Bandcamp’s his­to­ry at large, and I’d like to include some sen­ti­ments from cre­ative friends about their expe­ri­ences and for that, I need your help.

You can respond how­ev­er you’d like — via the Google Form I’ve cre­at­ed (also embed­ded below,) my Twit­ter DMs, Extratone’s Dis­cord, or by send­ing me an email — it’s up to you. Please do include any spe­cial pref­er­ences you may have about being quot­ed.

If you choose not to respond via the Google form, its ques­tions are out­lined below. Please take them as guide­lines, only — any/all thoughts on Band­camp are wel­come and very much appre­ci­at­ed.


When did you first begin using Band­camp as an artist?

How has Band­camp per­formed for you as an artist dif­fer­ent­ly from oth­er online music dis­tri­b­u­tion ser­vices like Sound­Cloud or Last.fm?

What do you like best about Band­camp as a plat­form for music dis­tri­b­u­tion?

How do you think Band­camp could improve on its artist pub­lish­ing tools?

How could Band­camp improve edi­to­ri­al­ly to best curate and dis­trib­ute YOUR work?

Extreme Composition Meta

My new col­umn about Ever­note, Drop­box Paper, and the sig­nif­i­cance of mod­ern word pro­cess­ing was stretched near­ly to 7000 words thanks to my gen­er­ous fiance’s Leno­vo ThinkPad (my Spec­tre has yet to be fixed, though its new charg­ing port arrived today,) which is even more of a rad machine than I could’ve imag­ined — supe­ri­or to my lithe, enduser-as-hell Hewlett Packard in many writ­ing-spe­cif­ic con­ve­niences like seg­ment­ed nav­i­ga­tion keys. Win­dows 7 is even bet­ter than we’ll all remem­ber it, though I’ll be glad to go back to a high-res­o­lu­tion dis­play.

Con­sid­er­ing that this blog, itself exists sole­ly because I want­ed to explore as many forms of word pro­cess­ing as pos­si­ble for this piece, acknowl­edg­ing its exis­tence would be painful­ly, even vul­gar­ly meta, so here’s a pull quote:

This is where Word­Press should out­shine just about every­thing else as a pure, open-source Con­tent Man­age­ment Sys­tem for any and every use by any and every folk with serv­er space, so I thought I’d try out my own fresh, ultra-con­nect­ed install to see how its expe­ri­ence has changed. In word pro­cess­ing terms, its iOS and Win­dows clients are lightyears ahead of where they were a few years ago, but to take full advan­tage of them, one must allow Word­Press’ own soft­ware access that’s not Open Web at all.

Shife's External Content
5/6 of this lit­tle blog’s con­tent sources are not my serv­er.

Of course, the soft­ware I’m refer­ring to here is Automatic’s Jet­pack, which is nec­es­sary — as far as I can tell, any­way — in order to pub­lish remote­ly and par­tic­i­pate in the greater Word­Press dot com com­mu­ni­ty and its “bil­lions of posts,” and is no doubt respon­si­ble for this tee­ny tiny lit­tle site’s already piti­ful­ly glut­to­nous depen­dence on exter­nal con­tent. The “Read­er” func­tion with­in a Jet­pack-enabled Dash­board is prob­a­bly its most bewil­der­ing fea­ture. I sup­pose I’m just too young to tru­ly under­stand the his­to­ry of blog­ging, but I believe in The Open Web, okay? I real­ly do.

After this evening, I actu­al­ly have a few revisions/additions which I may or may not get around to address­ing in the next few days, depend­ing on whether or not I’m able to fix my lap­top tomor­row:

  • I for­got about mass email clients and TinyLet­ter — MailChimp’s aging spin­off.
  • I also for­got to men­tion write.as — a beau­ti­ful and intrigu­ing plat­form that’s not quite like any­thing else.
  • I didn’t both­er to check out Evernote’s in-brows­er expe­ri­ence first. Turns out, it’s a lot bet­ter than the app.

For bet­ter or worse, I’ll cer­tain­ly have knocked this top­ic off the wall for a good while when I can final­ly feel done with this.