Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

Recently in Blogging Category

Experiments in aggregation.

For a while now I've been kicking around the idea of how best to aggregate the writing I've been doing in various places. It seems sort of obnoxious (not to mention inefficient) to make a short "check out my new blog entry" cross-posting here every time I post something relevant to the other places I post (such as the Interstitial Arts Foundation, C3 and GAMBIT), so I've been trying to hammer out a different way to go about it. Movable Type 4.25 incorporates their newest product, Motion, which trends towards what I had in mind. I've just spent the better part of the day bolting the Action Streams components of MT4.25/Motion into the templates for this blog, and it's starting to show fruit - although there's still a lot of debugging to do.

The post directly below this one at is evidence of this - it's a syndicated link from my account, as indicated by the foursquare logo by the title. I've bolted in my Goodreads account as well, although it looks like I'll need to post another review over there before it'll show up here. The real goal is still to get something like reblog working to import my posts from the other blogs, but I suspect its current dysfunctionality is due to a faulty cronjob. Or something.

As I said, experiments are afoot - apologies if things look fairly sketchy around here for a while.


Upgrades, part 3.
Haven't seen this in a while, huh?
This might seem like a small thing, but it's actually indicative of a bigger thing. Tonight I changed the 'Miscellany' section of this site to Consulting and moved the "Presentations and Lectures" page into the Writing section. Longtime friends and clients will note that, unlike my old consulting site that is (at least for now) up at, my rudimentary Consulting page only includes a very small amount of information: my general background, my areas of expertise, and where to go to contact me.

The reason behind this change? Simply put, the Dreamsbay site doesn't really reflect what I do when I consult anymore. Since I last updated that site (in 2004, yikes!) I've moved away from doing just websites and graphic design (although I do still do that, of course) and into more strategic development, especially in the areas of new media, the arts, education, interactive entertainment, and storytelling in general. You know, real Comparative Media Studies "applied humanities" type of stuff. (If CMS brands itself as "applied humanities", is "applied CMS" redundant?) Essentially I took a page from my friends Derek and Adam and changed my shingle from a big, splashy brochureware site into a subtler section of this one: in addition to my writing, my design, my research and everything else, I'm also available for consulting. It says so now right up in the upper-right of every page. (The eagle-eyed among you will also note that I swapped the order of 'Portfolio' and 'Writing', since I'm hoping that 2009 will see a lot more writing coming down the pike.)

So, yes. My rates are affordable, my skills list and contacts list are both very extensive, and I'm happy to talk to people about their projects. This is an off-hours thing for me, which means I only have a very limited number of openings, but if you'd like to pick my brain please drop me a line!


Upgrades, part 2.

Continuing in the same vein as before, I've now managed to the get Movable Type's new Facebook Connect plugin up and running on this blog. If you've wanted to comment on something here but have been deterred in the past, give this a shot and see if it works for you!

I've also installed Shaun "sIFR" Inman's excellent Mint stats tracking software, which is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now. The main catalyst for this was the lack of a top-notch iPhone app for Google Analytics, while Mint has a really excellent iPhone pepper that's now sitting comfortably on the home screen of my phone. $30 for Mint is $30 more than Google Analytics, but now that I've got it up and running, I can honestly say the plug-in architecture, the iPhone pepper, and the sheer beauty of the interface make Mint definitely worth it.


Housecleaning, part II!

Another annoyance fixed: the Archives page is now (mostly) fixed. The Archives had been publishing to the wrong page for the last little while (.html as opposed to .php) but now it's back in the right place. The only thing still missing is the Search function, but one thing at a time.


I'm tidying up some loose bits around here, starting with this blog's RSS feed. It had been inexplicably busted since I migrated to Movable Type 4, but now it's up and running again. You can find it at feed://


Uncle Warren versus Cobra Commander.

For those of you not following my Twitter stream, I have just posted a short essay featuring my (bemusement/excitement/fascination) that Warren Ellis is writing G.I. Joe webisodes over at the C3 blog. The article also features Joss Whedon's new project Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Seth MacFarlane's upcoming Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. Check it out.


Don't call it a comeback.

Jesus, what a waste of a day. After attempting to get FastCGI up and running on this MT install, I spent the rest of the day fixing a broken system. Ugh. I'm just grateful this blog is back at all after that little fiasco.

Word to the wise – don't try to upgrade Movable Type to FastCGI on Dreamhost unless you're absolutely sure you know what you're doing.


Consolation Prizes.

Courtesy of James McNally's newly-relaunched Consolation Champs (and c'mon, James, make with the redesign already – standard templates are teh suck) comes this somewhat depressing new look at blogebrity. Kineda used Technorati to reach its new definitions for what makes an "A-list" weblog, a "B-List" weblog, and so on. These new criteria are as follows:

  • D-List (Low Authority): 3-9 blogs linking in the last six months
  • C-List (Middle Authority): 10-99 blogs linking in the last six months
  • B-List (High Authority): 100-499 blogs linking in the last six months
  • A-List (Very High Authority): 500+ blogs linking in the last six months

It's probably fair to say that I am not an A-lister. What's kind of sad, however, is how quickly the lists can flip. Of Kaneda's list of blogebrities, there's not a single one that I read regularly, and Kottke isn't even on the list! A few years ago I felt like I knew a pretty decent number of the A-Listers through SXSW and was friends with a solid number of B-Listers and C-Listers, also through SXSW. Now, though, just like media decentralization has resulted in the fragmentation of pop culture, I think we're also seeing the emergence of fractured, uh, blogebrity. Either that or my circle has fallen out of favor, which is admittedly something of a possibility. I'm still mourning the loss of, although I know Derek's got more important things on his mind.

I also have to admit to feeling a little bummed about dropping so low on the rankings. I'm lucky to qualify as a D-Lister now – this shouldn't be horribly surprising, actually, since I shuttered Inkblots and moved Tip of the Quill with relatively low fanfare. (A trivia point: Tip of the Quill has always been the name of my editorial at Inkblots, which means I could arguably claim to have been blogging since 1995/1996. Heh.) More to the point, it's driven home that I haven't been blogging as much as I should, that I need to look into syndicating this blog wherever I can, that I should work harder to read and comment on more blogs out in the world, et cetera, et cetera.

Further rumination on the whole decentralization/fragmentation thing: lately I've been wondering exactly how much it would cost to live the way I want to live. If in the future we're not famous for fifteen minutes but to fifteen people, how much do we have to charge those fifteen people for our stuff to survive? How much would it cost Joss Whedon to revive Firefly on a subscription basis? How much would it cost to produce Firefly only for an IPTV channel? How much revenue could be generated by distributing Firefly only through the iTunes store?

Something tells me I'm going to be struggling with these questions long after I get out of here... This spring's project (aside from the thesis and two paper presentations): find somewhere that will pay me to do that!



On my morning run around the blogosphere, I stumbled across Twitter, which is, for lack of a better word, a 'microblogging' service. Basically you send text messages from your phone to the Twitter service and it pops them up on a sort of miniblog. To see mine, swing by, and ping me if you sign up!

Hmmm. This is kickstarting some of my mental machines. (Microblogging as narrative engine, as ubicomp, as mobile media, as...?) A good way to start a Monday.


Grant McCracken, eBay's MeCommerce, and Me

So no sooner do I post my first-ever shill for Threadless than C3 advisor Grant McCracken posts to his own blog with his thoughts on eBay's new MeCommerce initiative. Naturally, I feel inclined to comment.

I don't really have a problem with what eBay's trying to do – in fact, a lot of would-be prospectors have come close to this particular goldmine. When you link up the notions of micropayments, product reviews, and personal collection management, you come pretty dang close to an extremely rich vein. Amazon's been providing kickbacks through their recommendation system for years; when I was regularly producing issues of Inkblots I dutifully linked each and every book, film and CD we reviewed to the Amazon page, but we never generated enough sales to cover our overhead, much less pay our contributors. I imagine that a very large reason for this failure was exactly what eBay is trying to overcome – resistance to leave the site you're currently reading.

This is a problem banner ads have had since the Web's early days; while they're great for building exposure to a brand, the idea of tracking their value on click-throughs alone is as ridiculous as saying that any Pizza Hut TV ad that didn't make a viewer drop what they were doing to order a pizza while the commercial was still running was a failure. I like to think that lots of people picked up a copy of the stuff we critiqued, but since very few people bought their copies from Amazon through our links, I have no quantifiable numbers. I'll never know how many went on to pick up copies at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy... As a content producer, I didn't mind that – I wanted our content to be compelling enough to keep people clicking through our site. As the guy paying the hosting bill, I wanted those people to get their butts over to Amazon as quickly (and as often!) as possible. If eBay can figure out a way to "make impulse purchases without leaving the blog", I'm all ears.

Personally, I suspect this system will need the following to succeed:

- a running tally of how much you're purchasing through this blogger (like a cart)
- a running tally of how much of your purchase goes to this blogger (like a tip jar)
- Flickr-esque integration with blogging tool APIs for dead-simple "post this" links

A lot of businesses are, as I said, getting close to this goldmine – Threadless does a decent job, for instance, but they still need good, solid API integration in order for it to really take off. Both the content producer and the bill-payer sides of me are hoping that MeCommerce hits the motherload.

Update. I just swung by the McCommerce site, and I gotta say, their implementation is definitely on the right tack. I think it still has a way to go – it doesn't seem to integrate the three things on my wishlist yet, and I wish there was some cookie-based persistence across pages within the site – but it's definite progress.

Update update. Well, hot dog – I've just been pinged by the MeCommerce people to beta-test their new project and they say my three wishes have been granted. I'll let you know how this goes!