gonzo

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Look, I’ve been thinking about this stuff all week and I can’t decide. So over to you. Scroll down for a Proper Scientific Poll on the Internet! What media stuff would you like me to do?

I last wrote about this in January, in Five questions and no answers about my media work. Read that before proceeding if you like, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

My regular media commitments currently stand at: a weekly column for ZDNet; a twice-a-month column for CSO Online; around one column a month for Technology Spectator; and a variable number for Crikey. Add in the occasional piece elsewhere, and it looks a little like this.

Media objects produced 2011–2013

The main problem is that the base level of material isn’t high enough, and in recent months it’s started getting a little wobbly. So, how can I build on what I’ve got? And how can I have a bit more fun?

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With a blog post to write, I now have everything I need: click to embiggenAs my first full working week for 2013 draws to a close, almost, here’s an update on how I’m thinking this year might unfold for me. At least as far as work goes.

(If you’re not up to speed on this, please read Doing the business on Stilgherrian’s journalism and Death of a Freedom Fighter, a writing challenge before continuing. The second one includes an explanation of my focus on how the internet is changing power relationships.)

First, there’s a tidy-up of my arrangements with mastheads I currently write for. That’s already delivered two changes. Crikey has given me a pay rise, to a level they now describe as “slightly less pathetic”. I’ve started pitching more stories, and that’s resulted in three stories this week. And there’s this as-yet unnamed sky-shouting column in the works, which will start soon.

Second, I’m thinking of doing a few self-funded projects — or at least projects for which I directly arrange funding — rather than through someone else’s masthead. There’s all sorts of ideas rolling around in my head, though I haven’t reached any firm conclusions yet.

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Three posts in a row from my ABC Radio spots? That’s too many. So until I get around to writing something original, how about we ponder some previous Octobers when I used to write a Letter from Newcastle, or about antlers, or just the random thoughts from an altitude of 11,700 metres.

Three years ago I even managed to tweet some interesting observations and compile them into blog posts. But these days Twitter has completely taken over the role of recording my personal life and this website has, I think, suffered.

I used to post long, thoughtful essays. Now, such essays tend to be about the things I write about for money, and published elsewhere — and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that I’m possibly becoming typecast as a “tech writer”. But between writing several pieces a week for money and maintaining a high-volume Twitter stream, there isn’t time or energy left for much else.

My other podcast The 9pm Edict has disappeared. So has my little video program Stilgherrian Live. So have presentations like the one I did for PodCamp 2007.

Have I got the balance right? I think not.

That’s not all I’ve gotten wrong this year. But I won’t wallow in the mistakes here. Or at least not now. I’ll merely note that perhaps I do need to disconnect more, provide more time for reflection. And maybe those thoughtful essays will reappear.

Windows 7 logo: click for live video stream

Tomorrow morning I’ll provide live Twitter coverage from Microsoft’s Windows 7 launch at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

There’ll be plenty of people covering the event from a technical viewpoint, so I’m going for the anthropology. The culture. The fashion.

The style is bound to be a lot like my Gonzo Twitter 1: Saturday Evening in Newtown, but with more focussed snark.

The event officially starts at 9.30am Sydney time, but I’ll start the commentary on my Twitter stream from 9am. If you’d like to play along at home, you can watch Microsoft’s live video.

I’ll use the official Twitter hashtag #win7. To see everyone’s tweets, use this Twitter search or, for a prettier version, use this Twitterfall search.

Update 3.25pm: It’s been pointed out that using the hashtag #win7 will mean our coverage of the launch event will be lost in the global chatter. We will therefore use #win7au, which you can track on Twitter Search or track on Twitterfall.

I’m caving in to pressure. Following the success of my first experiment, Gonzo Twitter 1: Saturday Evening in Newtown, at 6.30pm or thereabouts I will liveblog from King Street, Newtown, or wherever the mood takes me on this fine Sunday evening.

Wow, that’s in just a few minutes! [Update 22 December: No, it was last night. But you can still see what happened in the CoveritLive tool immediately below the fold. The timestamps seem to be an hour early though.]

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Given that mere popularity doesn’t reflect quality, here’s my personal selection of my best, timeless posts for 2008. Happy reading!

Cover of Without Warning by John Birmingham

John Birmingham has followed up his highly-successful Axis of Time trilogy of military thrillers with another “ripper yarn” novel, Without Warning: America is Gone. It’s a good read, but not as good as it could be.

Like Axis of Time, which posited a 21st-century naval task force suddenly finding itself at the Battle of Midway and the final volume of which I reviewed earlier, Without Warning is alternative history. One the eve of the 2003 Iraq War, an unexplained energy field obliterates all human life across most of the United States. As the world realises the last remaining superpower is gone, the novel tracks the political and military conflicts which emerge through the eyes of characters ranging from a US general at Guantanamo Bay to a female assassin working undercover in France.

My perceptions of Without Warning are coloured by Katie Harris’ comment that my recent Gonzo Twitter effort was like Hemingway. I still haven’t read any Hemingway, but I’ve been thinking about writing styles. In a previous review I described William Gibson’s noir prose as “a richly textured cabernet merlot” in comparison with the “slab of VB” simplicity of Adrian d’Hagé’s action thriller. Birmingham’s writing is another slab of VB. It’s a fast, easy read without too many difficult words or complex metaphors to slow you down.

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Twitter bird cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

I’ve always thought that my essays are my best work, even if I say so myself. I’ve done observationals before, like Saturday Night at The Duke and Burnt out sofa, burnt out life. But this one’s different.

As I walked home through Newtown last Saturday evening, I started sending little observational comments to my Twitter stream:

Actually still on Darlington Rd, a long-haired woman plays melancholy guitar on the terrace-house balcony as a currawong flops past.

As I moved into King Street, I kept going. As I went to Kelly’s On King for a beer, I kept going. I discovered that a rapt audience was watching my comments — although not everyone liked the volume of material. I suggested they use Twittersnooze to unfollow me for a while.

The 140-character limit imposes a certain staccato style which I quite like. I was chuffed to be compared with Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw and (especially) Hunter S Thompson!

Here, then, is my first attempt at Live Gonzo Twittering — as others decided to call it, though I’m not sure the label is quite right myself — across about 90 minutes last Saturday night. the only changes I’ve made have been to fix some typos. Is this the best way to present it after the fact? Enjoy!

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