musings

New Year, New Design and some Reznor rebuttal

With a new year, already into the third month, I want to refresh my methodologies for this site. As before it remains a bit of an experiment. Recently I read a blurb on Riotfest about how “Trent Rezenor Doesn’t Give a Fuck About Your Facebook Account“. The link to the full interview doesn’t work but the quote is more or less in line with Trent’s general attitude in interviews about related topics over the history of his public life. As usual Trent makes spot on observations about social media and how invisible most people are online despite the pervasive sense that we are more visible than ever. However…

Years ago when I started using the internet I found my way to the nin.com boards and built two websites. Back then if you had the curiosity and stamina of a researcher you could search the internet and bring together little articles and bits of information that the average user didn’t have time to search for. Search engines didn’t try to target you and preference results based on advertising revenue. This made it possible for me to build one website devoted to Paz Lenchantin that became fairly official because Paz’s fans relied on it and because Paz sent me updates and opened a line of communication so that it was easy for me to fact check information and keep the site accurate.

My reasons for creating the site were many. I thought Paz was pretty cool but she was also the member of A Perfect Circle that was not as visible in articles because Maynard and Billy were usually the focus of the article, followed by Josh and Troy. There were many reasons for the skewed coverage and they’re worth covering but not in this particular post. I was in my late teens and I wanted to learn how to code and design a website but I felt that I was a boring subject for said website and I wanted to make something that interested me and might also interest others. The site was a chance to experiment with something that I found compelling and that ultimately wouldn’t feel like a lot of pressure because it was just a silly goof.

The site grew because I put a lot of time and effort into improving what was there on a consistent basis and because over time I optimized the site for search engines and also let people who might also be interested in Paz know that it existed. It was never a commercial venture and as such it never made money but it did become popular in it’s niche to the extent that after I closed the site I have been told by several people that they’ve missed it because nothing replaced it.

The current web is absolutely different but fundamentally the same as it was in the past. There are plenty of people who use social media as a way to be discovered, to feel a bit famous for a little while or to somehow jettison a career. Many of those are not successful, some are vastly more successful than they ever could have expected. But I disagree with this sentiment from Trent:

The internet is great because it gives everyone a voice, but the Riot Fest 2017 headliner thinks that it’s the worst because it gives “a voice to everybody thinking that someone gives a shit what they have to say,” Reznor said.

What I have found in my journeys on the web is that it can be very much like an art class critique. No one in the class necessarily cares about your art or even pays attention to what you are doing but the exercise of a deadline, a project and being forced in front of a disinterested audience allows you to experiment. The internet has always felt a little like an echo chamber but there is a freedom to knowing that in all likelihood there’s no one really paying attention because when someone does it means so much more.

I do agree with Reznor’s sentiments in that if you go online expecting likes, followers and people hanging on your every word you will often find extreme disappointment and discouragement. Trent goes on to say that people’s belief that they are visible leads them to pander to tastemakers and attempt to be heard in the echo chamber. There’s a wonderful grumpiness to his sentiments that has always been a part of his work. But I don’t wallow in it when I put work online. I remember what it was like on the internet before it became a commercial wasteland. Communities like the nin.com dboards provided a small stage, a place to get to know people, to share and become part of a community. Within that community people were creative, they shared links to things they were doing or that were important to them. It was experimental, weird and sometimes messy and drama filled.

The commercial side of the internet is what Reznor is bemoaning. I see it. It is as sad as he says it is. But I don’t have to be trapped by the hopelessness of it. If I am invisible then I can experiment. I can practice and hone skills that may not be on demand but they’re mine.

So I’m back. It is 2018. The world around me is lush and green after a cold winter. My walks lead me to discoveries of beauty. This blog will change form again as I search for and craft something that compels me hoping that maybe someone in this art critique will look up from their work and find something that compels them as well.

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