The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The professionals have taken over YouTube

It happens in every form of art ever invented. First the tinkerers discover the art form, aided by a new techology. Then come the dilettantes, people who figure out the rules and structures of the medium. Next the amateurs refine the techniques, pushing a fad into a form that has commercial possibilities. Finally, the professionals—people who make the art for a living—push everyone else out. Eventually you wind up with nothing but the last two groups—and the amateurs that remain do it because they love it, but have chosen some other avocation.

Via Sullivan, the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has woken up to this pattern as it applies to YouTube:

When it comes to putting together a really great video and ginning up a global viral push, people with resources are winning.

And it's actually been this way for a while. While, for example, 2007's "most memorable videos" featured several homemade videos of people and cats, as Marshall Kirkpatrick pointed out years ago, the most played items have long been music videos from major label artists.

So, after a brief flowering of user-generated online media rivaling the scale and reach of professional online media, we've seen a retrenchment of traditional media structures. Sure, millions of people still have blogs, but the bulk of content that's read is produced by a small number of people who do this for a living (inside completely retooled media companies).

Anyone paying attention knew this would happen, and quickly.

Think about it: if an art form has commercial possibilities, then basic natural selection will favor people who can devote more time and resources to it. And if you spend most of your waking hours on art, unless you're seriously untalented you'll eventually become much better at it than people who only spend an hour or two a day.

As Madrigal says: I think that's a good thing.

Back in the Amazon Associates program

The Illinois Supreme Court recently overturned the "Amazon tax" that caused the online retailer to drop all of their Illinois affiliates (like me) a couple years ago.

Well, they brought the program back to Illinois, so The Daily Parker is once again an Amazon Associate.

All that means is, when I link to books or content—like, for example, the Deadwood Blu-Ray box set—the link will include an ID that lets me take a piece of your purchase.

This is the only way that I monetize the blog. Note, for example, the complete absence of ads. So, if you enjoy the blog, and you occasionally buy stuff from Amazon, check here to see if I've linked to it, and if so, click through. That's it. That's as commercial as I'll get.

Thanks for your continued support.

4,000

This is my 4,000th blog post.

Of course, that's counting from the first braverman.org entry from May 1998, which disappeared entirely for ten years and predated the concept of a "blog" by an interval. The first Daily Parker post was on 8 November 2005.

Which points out, the total doesn't include two non-public entries. The first public entry was 13 November 2005.

So, really, this is only the 3,803rd Daily Parker posting—but only the 3,801st visible one.

Yeah, this wasn't the highlight of your day either. Still: milestone.

Git is not Mercurial

I'm pulling the public repository for Orchard again, because I made a mistake with Git that I can't seem to undo. I've set up my environment to have a copy of the public repository, and then a working repository cloned from it. This allows me to try things out on my own machine, in private branches, while still pulling the public bits without the need to merge them into my working copy.

Orchard, which will soon (I hope) replace dasBlog as this blog's platform, recently switched from Mercurial to Git, to which led to this problem.

I may simply not have grasped all the nuances of Git. Git is extremely powerful, in the sense that it will do almost anything you tell it to do, without regard for the consequences. It reflects the ethos of the C++ programming language, which gave everyday programmers ways to screw up previously only available to experts.

My specific screw-up was that I accidentally attempted to push my local changes back to my copy of the Public repository. I had added about six changesets, which I couldn't extract from my copy of public no matter what I tried.

So, while writing this, I just pulled a clean copy of public, checked out the two branches I wanted (1.1 and fw45, for those keeping score at home), and merged with my existing changes.

Now I get to debug that mess...and I may toss it and start over.

Quick update on the Daily Parker's future

I've started playing around with Orchard, an open-source content-management system, as a replacement for this blog's infrastructure (and as a replacement for other things, like inner-drive.com. It hasn't been all skittles and beer: Orchard has serious issues running on Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, though it runs fine on Azure Web sites.

It turns out, my employer is moving to Umbraco, a different open-source CMS. So it makes sense to try that out, too, as I'll have to support Umbraco at work anyway—meaning I can learn it during work hours instead of after.

Working in my few free hours after work, of course, makes this decision take longer than I'd like. That, and I don't want to do this again for many years.

So no major changes to report yet, but I'm getting closer.

Andrew Sullivan loses a friend

The journalist and blogger's beagle Daisy died today at the age of 15. I'm getting sniffly just posting this:

This was not like waiting for someone to die; it was a positive act to end a life – out of mercy and kindness, to be sure – but nonetheless a positive act to end a life so intensely dear to me for a decade and a half. That’s still sinking in. The power of it. But as we laid her on the table for the final injection, she appeared as serene as she has ever been. I crouched down to look in her cloudy eyes and talk to her, and suddenly, her little head jolted a little, and it was over.

I couldn’t leave her. But equally the sight of her inert and lifeless – for some reason the tongue hanging far out of her mouth disfigured her for me – was too much to bear. I kissed her and stroked her, buried my face in her shoulders, and Aaron wept over her. And then we walked home, hand in hand. As we reached the front door, we could hear Eddy howling inside.

Her bed is still there; and the bowl; and the diapers – pointless now. I hung her collar up on the wall and looked out at the bay. The room is strange. She has been in it every day for fifteen and a half years, waiting for me.

Now, I wait, emptied, for her.

Read the whole thread. Make sure you have tissue handy.

Updating tools, at home and at work

This past week, my company put me in charge of operations. The job includes responsibility for our tools and technologies: bug tracking, client request tracking, code repositories, internal knowledge sharing, and Agile process management. Right now we use a collection of tools that we've used for three years: Beanstalk, Sifter, Zendesk, Yammer, and a home-grown Agile tool called Storyboard.

Well, Storyboard runs on the Azure SDK 1.4, which Microsoft will stop supporting at the end of November. Beanstalk, which just turned on support for Mercurial a year ago, has decided to turn it off six weeks from now. Sifter and Zendesk are all right, except they don't really give us the integration we want with each other or with Beanstalk—which, anyway, is going away.

We haven't picked a new tool set yet. But the search has led me to think about changing my own development tools, starting with this blog.

I mentioned about three weeks ago that I'd started playing with Orchard, an open-source content management system that came out of a Microsoft demonstration project.

I want a blog/CMS that can handle the 3,800 entries I've created here. I also want to continue tagging each entry with its location and local time (like this, whose time stamp would look really bizarre without the local time zone), which means I need an extensible application.

Oh, and it either needs a kickass import engine or a way for me to write one.

I can't say for certain when I'll migrate, given how busy I am with everything else. I hope I'll get this done in the next few weeks.

Yes, automation is key

Earlier I surmised that automating the process of extracting my old jokes from the ancient braverman.org site would take less time than hand-copying them. Well, duh. It only took two hours to write the script, lint the very few entries that needed it, and push the lot up to The Daily Parker.

So, for those of you who have missed all the jokes—there are just under 200 of them, all published from May 1998 to November 2004—start here, then skip to here, and then keep clicking the calendar control.

I'll call out my favorites once I re-acquaint myself with them. This one goes at the top of the list.

Now, programming trance ended, I am off to bed.