Sunday, May 13, 2012

Your own drumming blog: final thoughts

...or on the blog. Thanks
and Timothy Vollmer.
A few final thoughts on writing your own drumming blog, and things I forget to mention in our previous entries. I know I promised to outline my workflow for a downloadable post, but this writing-about-non-drumming stuff is getting to be a grind. If you want to know about it- how to use ftp, or accomplish any of the obscure Finale tasks you need to know to make a decent-looking pdf- email me your question and I'll do a dedicated post about it in the future.

Copyright, fair use, and just not being a jerk
This is largely a sharing medium, so it's a good idea to get at least a passing acquaintance with this, so you do it legally, ethically, and gentlemanly-ly. In general:

  • Credit and link to non-original material- both the original author and your online source- or chain of sources. Like if someone on the Drummerworld forum posts a link to something written by someone else, published in a magazine, and posted on the Four On The Floor blog, it's good to credit and link to the referring DW user, FOTF, the author, and the magazine.  
  • Don't copy the whole thing. You're allowed to excerpt; you're not allowed to republish without permission.
  • Don't link to copyright-infringing sites. I've mostly stayed true to that one, though I've bent it occasionally for the greater good, when it's basically harm-free. That's what I tell myself, anyway. But linking to pirated material that is currently available commercially, especially by living artists, does actually hurt people. And by people, I mean artists. Not corporations.  

Quite a bit more after the break:

Other good linking practices

In general, get used to writing URLs in their complete form:

And memorize the obscure-at-first form for writing a link in HTML
<a href="">This is the text you're linking,</a> and this is the text you're not.

When the code above is interpreted by a web browser, it looks like this:
This is the text you're linking, and this is the text you're not.

This is purely a style/readability issue: don't "here" your links. As in:
Click here to get an Elvin Jones transcription.

Rather, write as you would if there were no link, then add the link:
You can find Elvin Jones transcriptions, and a lot of other things, on Steve Korn's site

Not only is it better writing, but it also visually highlights the important parts of the text. Writing and highlighting the word here over shadows the important things- Elvin Jones transcriptions and/or Steve Korn's site. In the phrase above, you could place the link according to which part you want to emphasize; putting the same link twice as I have done is overkill, and actually makes people less likely to follow either link.

Finding your niche
It's not a question of calculatedly trying to do what other people are not doing, it's more about following your interests and strengths. It can be difficult, because often early on your interest is in what other people are doing: at one point in my life following my own interest would've meant playing exactly like Elvin Jones. Most people- most Americans, anyway- place such a high value on individualism they would be loathe to do something so following. But a blog of someone's journey to play exactly like Elvin would be highly worth reading! So you don't need to fashion a unique identity- you just have to recognize your own interests as legitimate and pursue them.

What you name it doesn't matter. 
...after a few exposures. Does anyone notice that this blog is called Cruise Ship Drummer! after the second or third time they visit? I doubt it. I have to remind myself what the words mean every so often, wonder what the hell I'm doing for a moment, and then get back to doing my work. Some names can be persistently detrimental, though: I suspect that will be the case with the unfortunately-named Dumb Drummer blog- not least because the author is emphatically not dumb. It would probably be a good idea for him to change it before he gets in too deep with it. Being memorable is important, though, so maybe he can get away with it.

Graphics don't matter.
Content matters. Content is the idea contained in your language. When I visit sites with too-flashy graphics, I assume they are going to try to sell me something I don't need or want. The most popular- and best- political blogs in the world have very little going on in the way of graphics, which they often have not updated in years. Their appeal lies strictly in the quality of their ideas, their writing, and their ease of use.

A related issue, formatting, does matter- your text needs to be formatted for easy reading. The O'Reilly series of books is a good source for information on the subject.

Organization matters.
Unlike many other types of blog, what you put on a drumming blog is not perishable- people are going to want to access it for many years to come. So you need to maintain well,organized, easily-accessible, and easily-searchable archives.


Jon McCaslin said...

I'm flattered that you mentioned my blog : )

btw- those Elvin 3/4 exercises are keeping me busy...

Jon McCaslin

Unknown said...

Yeah Todd,

This is actually really useful advice, I have always admired your blog for its content and organization. Keep up the great work!

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks, you guys- you do great work- maybe some smart cat will get us all together for a blogger summit at NAMM or PASIC one of these years.

Jon- re: the 3/4 thing- I know, me too- it's making a lot of things happen under the surface in my playing- I think it helped my playing in 5 make a leap forward recently- this is before I was working on the 5/4 versions. It's weird and exciting!