And While We’re on the Subject…

Of primitivity and me ranting about it, of course… Blogger is another study in frustration. After using Gmail for something like six months, and now looking at Blogger as just another Umbrella Corporation… I mean Google product, I’m shocked to discover that certain things about Blogger just suck.

First of all, the Blogger spell checker is a joke. It doesn’t even know the word “blog,” or any variation, which, while a nice bit of irony, is pretty annoying in the very meta world in which we live (and more importantly blog!).

The other big shock I had today is that the ability to post via email in just broken. It used to work, and it’s one of the big reasons I finally bit the bullet and converted this blog to Blogger! I emailed in a post hours ago and it never showed up, never bounced, just went into the ether never to be heard from again. Great.

The other item I really thought they would have added by now is categories. Most of the other blogging systems allow you to categorize posts so that your archives can be segmented or whatever. I suppose you could create a separate blog for each area of your site—I may eventually create a blog for books or my own writing or whatever—but then you can’t cross-post or have the newest items from all blogs automatically aggregate to your main blog. Maybe there are plug-ins or extensions or something I’m not aware of, but dammit, I waited for the bleeding edge to dull down a bit. This should be easy by now!

More SXSW Primitivity

So, I was finally able to register in the SXSW online directory today. For what that’s worth, which is not much, except I think I was able to change what will appear on my badge, though I’m not at all sure about that. I’m also a little concerned that I was able to get my first-choice, dictionary-word username. I’m not going to give it here because that would just be dumb, but suffice to say it’s obvious and it’s a domain name that I was unable to get because it was registered back in 1993, before, I think, I had personally ever used the Internet. It’s a common word, in other words. So exactly how many people go to SXSW anyway? Apparently far fewer than were in the third round of gmail invitations, because I didn’t even get that username there.

Over and over I’m struck by how desperately I need synonyms for “primitive” to adequately describe what a disappointing experience dealing with the SXSW web site is. I just keep thinking about Bruce Sterling and Xeni Jardin and all the other technopundits that will likely being attending and why, if they aren’t being comped (which I’m sure they are), they aren’t just trashing this process in their blogs on a yearly basis until it gets fixed. Or maybe not “fixed,” since it basically works, but at least comes up to a level resembling what the conference is supposed to quite literally be about: the state of the art.

And yet, when I start poking around in the SXSW forums, I have a crisis of conscience. Maybe this is still a mostly-volunteer effort. Maybe they are spending what little money they get—because SXSW is still amazingly cheap as unsponsored conferences go—on actually bringing in decent speakers and content. Maybe with limited resources they just have higher priorities than coddling me when I’m ponying up my $250. If that’s the case, I can live with it. And if I can’t I ought to volunteer. As if.

Corporate Commands

I’m sure that if you take any single aspect of our culture and focus intently upon it the results are not very pleasing. This fact does not diminish the creepiness of of the database of corporate commands.

If you thought “Just Do It!” was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“Be yourself only better” (Premier Fitness)
“Get your smile on!” (Lay’s)
“Capture life anytime, anywhere” (Radio Shack!)

So let me get this straight, people get paid to come up with this shit, and then it makes other people buy shit? I am so scared.

Sucks by Sucks West

I finally signed up for South by Southwest Interactive, on the cutoff day for the final discount ($25, big deal). I’ve avoided the whole SXSW thing for a long time, but I’ve always wondered if that was to my credit or detriment. I skimmed the periphery last year because my friend Mara was playing off-badge venues during the music portion (and probably will again this year, I imagine), but that’s as close as I’ve gotten.

I’ve also read some of the post-mortem blog commentary from the Interactive portion the last few years, and though it never looks like much going in there always seems to be some spontaneous gestalt that occurs when that many talented, freaky people meet in one place and agree up front to just geek out for a week. Kind of like Burning Man, but with far less of a plan, if you can imagine that.

And that’s what I’m referring to in the subject of this post, actually. Having avoided SXSW for so long, I kind of expected it would have matured a bit by now. But going through the site and then the actual registration process it still seems really primitive, a bit raw, as in not quite cooked. Most of the registration process barely has fonts. The automated confirmation email takes a day and a half to be generated. And after you’ve paid and are confirmed, it’s still three or four days before you show up in the online directory. And right now, one month out, there is nothing even remotely like a schedule of events posted. To buy a discounted ticket, you need to take it totally on faith that the whole thing is not going to just suck, not to mention possibly all happen at 7:30 am on a Sunday. Does this sound like the workings of something that has been “where the web’s most creative minds share their ideas about how interactive technology will shape our future” for 12 years running?

Ironically, signing up for SXSW Interactive is the reason I finally revamped this blog and switched to blogger. I mean how can you go to something like this and not have a blog that at least looks like it’s been running continuously for a couple of years?

A fluke among flounder