Reaction: Some Readings

February 22, 2009 at 11:10 pm (Reaction)

Jeff Glick does a nice job putting together a piece on compiling a story for the web with text and multimedia. He starts off with a nice summary of research that’s already been done (see: “Navigation will make or break your presentation”).

The reading is broken down into sub-readings that guide users’ eyes, so they can easily procure the information that they wanted without getting lost (note to self: Remember this).

Users and design are the key elements focused on in the article, and the tidbits were helpful in what I should be keeping in mind for my blogs and modules (are they working?) and what I shouldn’t be including in the module i’ll be working on for next week’s assignment. Not too messy and cluttered, but not boring either. Wish me luck.

In Briggs’ text, Journalism 2.0, Chapter 6 covers writing news for the web. This is pretty important and timely (hey, two elements for newsworthiness!) as I’ve got a story due next Monday!

Anyway, the first thing Briggs brings to attention is readers – because we’re writing for an audience (no surprise there). But what’s different about writing for the Web? Forget the new medium and accept a new way of thinking about how to write.

“Takes” are his suggestion. Like a movie is completed in takes, so will your story be completed on the Web. Instead of waiting for breaking story to be resolved, you can flesh it out as it happens.

Writing style changes, too. I’m allowed to be conversational, which might be the best news ever.

Briggs says to “Strive for lively prose, lean on strong verbs and sharp nouns.”

He also says to use a distinctive voice, humor and a conversational tone because they work really well in keeping readers interested and allow you to stick out from the hordes of other news stories on the Web. Art helps, too.

Last bit of good advice that I picked up (but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it in class before), a good headline is the best start.

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Dan Deacon: A Big Name You Probably Haven’t Heard of…

February 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm (Research)

I took Sam Sessa’s advice, did some research on Dan Deacon and came across this little nugget.

The clip from the BBC has a video embedded of Deacon’s Crystal Cat, which clearly is meant to distract its visitors from actually reading. I’m just kidding. In addition to the video, it’s got some nice background on Deacon’s music and personality. Oh, yeah. He has a new album (Bromst) that just leaked and is getting ready to be released in March.

His unconventional tastes have lead to unconventional music – which is part of the Wham City collective of artists and musicians centrally located in Baltimore and Hampden, Md. What’s more important is how much attention it’s been getting and how, since its inception, it has grown to need much larger accommodations.

“When I started Wham City we weren’t so much as an art collective as a group of people who bound together and worked under a common name to help bring attention to each other’s work.”

Once, he would perform from the audience as a way of being connected to them. Now, he’s had to take to the stage.

However, Deacon still has some crazy visions, including a show in a cave and possibly a hot air balloon.

“I’d love to play in a hot air balloon – that would be really cool,” he laughs. “I really want to do more guerrilla style tours where we find an electrical outlet and just play.”

And I think that’d be awesome.

(A Deacon-esque performance. Crystal Cat in Vancouver BC, Jan. 21, 2008. Placed strategically at the end of my post.)

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Talking to the Insiders…

February 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm (Reporting)

My ears are still ringing.

The past couple days have been busy! I spoke to two guys who have some great insight on the most commercial aspect of local music.

Sunday night I ventured down to Hampden to hang out with Matt Davis98Rock’s Noise in the Basement correspondent and a longtime follower of the Baltimore scene – at the 98Rock studio. He invited me to last night’s installment of Noise in the Basement Live, which takes place every Monday at Fletcher’s Bar in Fells Point.

Anyway, Davis and I had a nice conversation about Baltimore’s music and the trends it has be been following and creating (it makes a wave); how radio plays a part in the promotion (in addition to the program, they’ve been promoting their Band of the Month Rome in a Day) and how with the Internet, promotion has gotten easier, but when you get right down to it, it’s still all about grass roots. He mentioned how people regard local music as not good as the commercial radio – but when it all comes down to it, everyone on the radio was local once. He also said that in comparison to the more prominent music scenes, Baltimore has the advantage of being less saturated, so it’s actually a better way of being exposed.

Davis mentioned a movement that I’ve never heard about – Wham City – an even more artsy underground scene in Baltimore. The musicians involved in Wham City often don’t play in clubs and just fill townhouses with people and they thrive this way, which has ventured out to do world tours. This is what Rolling Stone had been focusing on in their Best Scene article.

Last night, Davis introduced me to one of Fletcher’s owners – Evan Tanner – who I also had the chance to sit down with after the concert. Tanner gave two perspectives: a club owner and a touring musician. We sat in between the bars in Fletcher’s downstairs area and talked about how people from outside of the local area have such an interest in Baltimore’s music, and how it seems that Baltimore’s exposure is more from the outside in. According to him, the Baltimore locals take for granted the onslaught of musicians they have touring through the city every day.

Tanner clued me into another do-it-yourself movement that’s making its way through the city. He gave a nice overview of the “four-tiers” of accessibility of venues in the city. He mentioned the “ultra-avant-garde, super hipster indie rock”-type venues, like Nerve Center and Charm City Art Space (which I’ll definitely be looking into), which were all bought up by the really independent local musicians that don’t want to be related to corporate in anyway and just play shows that way.

Both conversations were really interesting. I’m picking out lots of different names and things to look into. This could get awesome.

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Storytelling: Ira Glass

February 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm (Reaction)

Ira Glass is the man. In the first five minutes of his spiel on storytelling, he tells a better story than I do and his was boring!

He makes a great point, though, about his building blocks of creating a story: the combination of anecdotes and the points of reflection that relate to them – making the story worth your while. Using podcasts and youtube videos as a comparison was perfect because we all (don’t even lie) spend our time watching these things for no greater purpose.

Some of the things he said about how many story ideas were failures awed me, and how it was completely necessary to be an “ambitious, super-overachieving person” to make the good stories and kill the ones that have had so much time put into them, but simply became crap. After the entropy ordeal (i.e. getting rid of the crap which lumps itself onto a golden nugget of a story and propping it up to make the story good), I felt a little better when he played the recording of a story from his eighth year in the business. It made me want to sleep, but then robots would probably be chasing me in my dreams.

I don’t have much room to talk, but I’ve only heard This American Life once, and it was so much better than that recording.

Glass’ tips were really helpful (and his demeanor humble) which made me want to pay him more attention. Now, I just need to take what he said and figure out how to apply it, because in the end it could be totally great, just like he said.

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Aural States

February 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm (Research)

Sam Sessa’s blog, The Midnight Sun, clued me into an interesting event that I missed out on by just a few weeks. The Aural States Fest 2009 featured local musicians on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009 and Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009. The event was hosted by the blog of the same name.

Friday night showcased indie rock musicians at Sonar and The Talking Head and Saturday night’s activity was a dance party at The Whole Gallery. Tickets were only 10 dollars and if you got there early enough, you got free stuff.

The Aural States blog has photos and downloadable audio of the sets from the shows. Additionally, it’s got reviews, introductions, features and such of D.C. and Baltimore-based musicians (of the unsigned variety). Granted, that’s not all of the content (national musicians take their place, too), but it’s a nice majority. Reviews and photos from locally played shows are no strangers to the blog’s pages.

Beneath the staff list is a recommended album and a list of interviews which can also be found on the blog.

A staff of 11 works on the blog, all of whom are centrally located in Baltimore, which updates a few times each day. It’s claimed to be written “by music geeks for music geeks,” but I sure hope everyone else is invited to read, too..

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