Today is the 152nd day of the year 2021

Seems like a good day for a blog post!

One Song Everyday

Building (healthy) habits is not something that comes easily to me, so I always find “do this one thing every day of the year” projects appealing. A few years ago I made a “one second everyday” #1se video and surprised my family with it on the following New Year’s Day. (That was really nice.)

In 2018, after starting a new job, I blogged every day for the first month of the year as a bit of a dogfood exercise.

(And really, I “blog” using internal tools at work most every weekday.)

This year, I am recording a song every day.

Why and What and How

They’re all covers, and they’re all on video. There’s a bit of an About page that I wrote on the first day about why I’m doing this and what I’m trying to learn. It comes down to being OK with not being great at playing and singing, being especially poor at completing songs — playing them all the way through — over the years, and seeing this as a way to make myself accountable (to myself, obvs) for playing whole songs and trying to learn more.

And it’s working. I’m improving, learning about recording, toying around with GarageBand and considering other software, getting out old guitar accessories,

There’s an Index that lists all the songs I’ve done so far from a few different angles, too.

I’ve been meaning to go through and tag some “favorites” but that’s a lot of self-reflection, and I might not be the best judge of this sort of thing, and they’re all good or bad or mediocre or terrible for their own reasons, no favorite children, etc.

Tools and Choices

  • Breedlove acoustic guitar
  • Squire J Mascis Jazzmaster electric guitar
  • Fuzz Factory pedal
  • GarageBand, lots of things
  • Nektar MIDI keyboard
  • Samson C01UPRO microphone
  • black cowboy hat
  • lack of shame

Maybe notable: I’m not posting these on traditional “social” media much at all. I’m just not in the mood this year to give all this content to Google or Facebook or Twitter, or to automate anything like that, though I reserve the right to drop a little snippet in my Insta story from time to time. I’m using for everything, including the video hosting. Some of this isn’t free for customers — it turns out a four-minute song video with multiple tracks is hundreds of MBs? — but I work for Automattic, so I’m using our stuff for free.


Oh, and yes, as an added benefit, I walk around every day knowing how many days have passed this year. Today is the 152nd day of the year.

Any requests?

Current obsessions

In no particular order…

  • Men In Blazers, a soccer podcast by Brits of some vintage, in New York City, mostly, for ESPN’s Grantland. Funny.
  • Roadrunner, by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.
  • Hay Day, an iPhone farm game. Or as we call it in my household (all members of the household, cats excluded) “the farm game” or even just “the farm.”
  • Trying to get sort of OK at, well, Rubik’s Cube.
  • Reddit.
  • Alt Latino, from NPR, because, seriously, where else are you going to hear interesting new (and old) Latin music?

Looser than average ends

Let’s just dig into the bucket of links I’ve been mailing myself from Tweetie, er, Twitter for the iPhone, and see what we can tie together here…

  • There is now a “Share on Twitter” bookmarklet for your Web browser that pairs rather nicely with the recently released “Tweet” button for your website. (An aside: There should be no such thing as a “retweet” button for your website. If the user is mashing the button to craft their own tweet about it, it’s not much of a retweet, is it? The old Tweetmeme method of making the user retweeting @tweetmeme seemed backwards to me, although I can certainly understand their motivation.)
  • Seth Lewis recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the Knight News Challenge. Judging by the abstract, it looks like an interesting academic take on how the News Challenge program has expanded the boundaries of “journalism” and the limits on who might be a participant in that sort of activity. (Obvious disclosure: Hey, I won a KNC grant a couple years back, so I’m extra-interested.)
  • Speaking of research, if you’ve written anything academic about online journalism in the last five years or so, you probably cited Pablo Boczkowski’s work. Lucky for you, he has a new book out, called News at Work. Read it, cite it, rock it.
  • This fascinates me: TimeFlow, a visual reporting/analysis tool for reporters. Less about visualizing conventional “data,” more about visualizing what you know about a story. Better than a pile of notepads? Surely. (via Mark Schaver)
  • USA Today’s Josh Hatch talks about that great Hurricane Katrina project they launched for the fifth anniversary of the storm, released on the Web, but designed for the iPad. I complained pretty adamantly about a recent Washington Post package that was clearly designed for the iPad, to the detriment of readability on the Web. The USA Today package, on the other hand, is the heir to the “Flash package of videos-as-chapters story” multimedia presentation. There’s no Flash, of course, in either the video players, or cool-trick-of-the-moment “Then and Now” image gallery. The USA Today package wisely doesn’t attempt to squeeze a massive text story into a mobile-friendly format. I’d like to believe that this is the beginning of a trend: The cool interactive built with just enough attention to the mobile browser. The user experience carries over across platforms without any missing pieces.
  • And, filed under a mix of fun, music, and historical information visualized as a map, the Rap Map, which maps and explains locations mentioned in the lyrics of popular hip-hop compositions. Spotted this via Kottke, who highlights the Club New York entry, which includes the Shyne/Puffy/J-Lo incident that inadvertently led to me quitting the movie/tv/commercial business. Long story.

So what’s the common thread?

When I look at these links, what jumps out at me are the layers of systemization and optimization that we layer on top of the Web of information available to us as journalists (and to consumers of news.)

Make sense of your social media workflow, impose order on your notes on a story, gather, catalog, and cross-reference otherwise independent locations…

Maybe this is one of the important parts about the shift from existing as a newspaper to a news organization: The end product is no longer, naturally, ink-on-paper. The end product is the organization of information into something useful to the audience.

But that’s obvious, right?

(A few other sources of origin, from my point of view, for the above information presented as a bulleted list: @amandabee, @chanders, @niemanlab)