Saturday, September 2, 2023

The Last Blaugust Post Of The Summer

Blaugust is over and along with it the summer, if you follow metereological convention. If you're an astronomer, you have another three weeks. In the Northern hemisphere, that is. For everyone else, I guess Spring's on the way!

Where I live, we're getting what passes for a heatwave in this country, starting tomorrow, although you certainly wouldn't guess it looking out of the window right now. I think I'll stick with calling it "Summer" at least until that's over, although I may already have jumped the gun a bit. I really should have brought my washing in this morning. Oh, well.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Blaugust. It was fun, wasn't it? Belghast posted the official wrap-up yesterday. There were a record-breaking 104 sign-ups, although since four of them didn't post anything, I guess we had a delightfully round number of actual participants at one hundred . More than half of those had never done a Blaugust before, which is the really amazing statistic.

I won't rehash any more of the stats. They're all there in Bel's post. I'm just going to thank him yet again for organizing what must be an increasingly time-consuming event and also say thanks to the people who gave him some practical assistance. In recent years Blaugust has become more of a community effort, which is great.

Personally, I feel like I was less involved than in previous years and I don't feel like I ever do all that much beyond knocking out a bunch of posts. I was in Discord but all I did was link my posts. I don't think I even read more than a couple of conversations and I didn't join in any of them. 

As for Mastodon, which seems to be taking over as a primary communication channel, it kind of gives me the creeps, if I'm honest. Not exactly sure why - it just feels a bit... culty? I'm not a great one for these kinds of para-social networks in general but the Fediverse seems particularly ominous; even reading about how it works makes me feel claustrophobic.

So I was never going to join in there, which is fine, we don't all have to do everything, but I also didn't even do the things I said I'd do, which is not fine at all. I'd like to apologize to the late-joiners, people who arrived after the first two times I updated my blog roll to add all the newcomers. It looks like I never did add you to my blog roll like I said I would.

I did say I was going to keep on doing it until either I got everyone on or Blogger balked and told me to stop but in the end neither of those things happened. I knew I'd missed the last handful of entries. I never went back to add anyone else after the event began. 

I felt a bit guilty about that (It was just laziness. I'd updated the thing three times by then and I couldn't face doing it again.) but not too guilty. Looking at Bel's post, though, either a lot of people joined when Blaugust was already in progress or I clearly can't read a spreadsheet.

In a post on 1 August I said "As of the first of the month, it appears we have seventy-seven participating blogs, up seventeen from just a few days ago..." There's a big difference between seventy-seven and one hundred and four. It looks like I just missed a bunch.

Not to make any more promises I won't keep but I will try to sort that out, belatedly. Bel's post is a lot easier to read than a spreadsheet (For me, anyway.) so I'll use that to ferret out the missing blogs and add them. 

I'm not sure it matters much nowadays, anyway. Adding new blogs to the blog roll used to seem like it might be helpful. I used to hear from people quite often that they used it as a kind of quick stop when they were looking for something to read. 

I don't know how much that happens any more. It seems to me that most of the newer additions to this ever-expanding blogosphere are getting their updates from either Discord or Mastodon. I'm getting the feeling going to blog rolls to see what's new is a bit like buying a local paper to see what movies are playing. I mean, you could... but why would you?

From my personal perspective, I'd have to say that it's something of a moot point. I already can't keep up with the number of blogs that update regularly on my own blog roll. Adding more is just going to compound that problem. 

During Blaugust the thing was updating so frequently I found myself not just missing posts by the less-familiar names but even by the people from whom I'd normally expect to read everything they publish. More than once I found myself having to go back to find posts I'd missed because someone referred back to something I hadn't read. 

I'm starting to think there might be a functional limit to the blog roll that's smaller than its actual cap (Assuming it has a cap.) I'm even considering adding all the blogs I read regularly to Feedly, which I currently use mainly for stuff that's not on the blog roll. At least that way I can guarantee I won't miss anything. It does seem like that ought not to be necessary and until now it hasn't been but I guess this is what success looks like. The death of blogging has clearly been mis-reported.

Aside from the quantity, which was even more challenging than usual, Blaugust '23 was certainly a success in terms of quality. I'm not going to pick favorites but the event did introduce me to several new blogs that I came to look forward to reading each day. 

The most interesting aspect of the whole affair from my perpective was the way the blogs I enjoyed the most weren't really talking about gaming at all. People talking about themselves and their lives can be more interesting than people talking about games you've never played and probably never will play. Who knew, eh?

That said, I still broadly prefer being part of a blogosphere that coalesces around a shared interest in gaming. I think there has to be some kind of core to exert sufficient gravity to hold the whole thing together or else it just turns into... the internet. 

Even when people aren't writing about the games they play, they're often framing what they're saying in terms that refer to their self-identification as gamers and, while it's a definition against which I've been fighting for a long time, it does make for a sense of shared purpose that feels re-assuring, somehow.

If I was the kind of person who was comfortable with spreadsheets, which I think we have safely established I am not, I'd quite like to tabulate the percentage of posts here at Inventory Full in terms of their primary and background topics. 

For years, the main subject in almost every post here was games and gaming, with the huge majority of posts being very specicifcally focused on MMORPGs. I do use tags, albeit chaotically, and for the longest time it seemed like the first tag I added to every post was either "MMO" or "MMORPG". (I mostly stopped using "MMO" a few years back for the kind of reasons being discussed in the comment threads at Tipa's posts on the genre.) 

There have been something like 2700 posts here since I started this thing and about 2000 of them are tagged with one or other of those acronyms. I'd bet just about all the ones that aren't are from the last three or four years. Even so, I'd guess it's still running 50/50.

I plan on keeping it that way. I may not put in the hours I used to, playing MMORPGs, but I'm far from done with the genre. Today's post wasn't supposed to be about Blaugust or blogging at all. It was going to be yet another about how damn much there is going on in the MMORPG world right now, how many new games and expansions there are that I have more than a nominal interest in playing and how difficult it's becoming to find the time to fit them all in.

That post, had I written it, would have been inspired by opening my email this morning to find two new solicitations for my time and money from developers who have something to sell me right now, both of which I have half a mind to accept. It's really only the certain knowledge that I just can't keep up with all of this stuff happening at once that stops me from jumping every passing train.

From direct observation, then, I'd have to say that both blogging and the MMORPG genre, two concerns frequently described as moribund if not actually dead, are in such robust health I'm struggling to keep up. I dread to think what would happen if either of my main hobbies were to enjoy a genuine, popular revival.

It'd probably finish me off.

All illustrations generated at NightCafe using SDXL Beta

Prompt: "Late summer heatwave in the west of England

All illustrations use the modifier "golden hour".

Each also uses one additional modifier as follows: 

#1 "Storybook illustration"

#2 "Roger Dean"

#3 "1940s cartoon"

#4 "Pop art"

#2 looks nothing like Roger Dean, by the way, which I imagine would please him enormously.


  1. Re: Mastodon:
    "Not exactly sure why - it just feels a bit... culty?"

    As someone who was heavily involved with Mastodon for a bit, I would concur. Not an evil cult, but there was definitely a mindset you were expected to share. One that fit me about 80% but the 20% of the stuff that rubbed me the wrong way eventually led me to get out because I was tired of attempts to shame/coerce non-believers into adopting the mindset 100%.

    "I'm getting the feeling going to blog rolls to see what's new is a bit like buying a local paper to see what movies are playing. I mean, you could... but why would you?"

    I can read blogrolls without creating a discord or mastodon account, though. I guess you CAN read mastodon without an account but that incurs a certain amount of hoop-jumping, but I think Discord requires an account so you can 'join' a Discord before you can read posts, no?

    That said, I must confess I have all the blogs I read in my Feedly account.

    1. Even the people promoting Mastodon most positively always seem to include a lot of warnings along the lines of "Try not to do this" and "People won't like it if you do that". I realize clubs tend to have rules but this seems to go beyond the usual ToS agreements we're all used to clicking past. I just feel it would be a lot less trouble to steer clear altogether.

      Very good point on accessibilty when it comes to blog rolls although I doubt I'd use mine so much if I wasn't here looking at it every day while I'm writing. I'd probably just use Feedly too.

  2. Mastodon reminds me of old-school Usenet when that was a major social network. Mostly tech-nerd oriented with a majority population that grumbled about ordinary people trying to use and/or enjoy the service. It didn't help that AOL unleashed a flood on folks on Usenet without much instruction about the social niceties there, but still the tech-nerd culture was more hostile than helpful. Mastodon has the same contingent of attitude: they'd rather be a small fish in a small pond than have something that could be a net-positive overall. Ah well.

    As far as the Fediverse goes, it's more an attempt to have the overarching Mastodon system be setup like the email of yore where everyone used different servers instead of just grabbing another Gmail account. Looking at how Twitter has gone, it isn't a bad idea, but you do lose certain features that a centralized system such as Twitter or Facebook enable.

    1. It really does have that clique/exclusivity thing going as far as it looks from the outside. It's quite off-putting. Not that I have anything against either cliques or exclusivity but they're only amusing from the inside. And often not for all that long even then.

      The email/GMail thing is an interesting tangent. I used to make a lot of email addresses. I had a habit of making a new one for every new service or game that required one. I made a lot of GMail addresses but quite a few withother providers. I still technically use some of those because my logins to a few games are tied to them. I never look at them, though.

      Meanwhile, my GMail addresses continue to proliferate, with many of them now serving multiple purposes and some of them slaved to a central address. Chrome limits me to ten Gmail addresses, which is a lot less than I want to look at, meaning I have to list and delist them with Chrome to sign in. It's even fiddlier on Firefox. Now Google are tightening up on unused Gmail addresses i have a feeling it's all going to go horribly wrong eventually...

      Sometime I think it would be nice if we could switch the internet off, wait a while for everything to clear, then switch it back on and start again.

  3. Ha! When I saw that second one I thought it looked like an album cover. Now I know why.

    Although to be fair, on the last pic I thought of the cover from The Guess Who's Canned Wheat. I guess it's because of the yellows in both pieces of art, because the wheat doesn't really carry yours per se.

    1. They have a whole load of named artist modifiers listed at NightCafe. I usually try to avoid them but I happened to spot Roger Deam there and the prompt sounded custom-made for his English whimsy. Unfortunately, the result looks nothing like anything I ever saw by him.

      You're right about it ressembling an album cover, though. It even has the dead space for the title at the top and the band's name at the bottom. Or the other way around.

    2. True about it not looking exactly like Dean's work; he tends to use bright colors in intricate details --the layers of purple in Asia's Astra and more suggestive painting in Yes' Fragile notwithstanding-- and the only artwork I can think of that he did that had so many neutral tones was probably Yes' Relayer. (And to be fair, the artwork was the best part about that album.)

  4. Even my tiny blogroll I wasn't able to keep up with during Blaugust. I did make post in honor of dev appreciation week, but I didn't think that was enough to qualify me as an actual participant.

    Mastadon is the potential replacement for twitter I have heard the most about. However, it seems too fragmented and difficult to to sign up for to actually replace it, unless I am misunderstanding something.

    A blogger I follow (was it Wilhelm? or maybe Damien Schubert?) pointed out that one of the main reasons twitter took off was that celebrities adopted it. It gave us normies the opportunity to interact directly with them, at least in theory.* Whichever of the replacements, if any, celebrities adopt will likely inherit the mantle.

    *Interacting with most celebrities appeals to me only slightly more than cancer, so that's likely one reason twitter never excited me much.

    1. I think that's a very perceptive observation about celebrities and Twitter. The internet in general made interactions like that possible but Twitter turned the possibility into an everday occurrence. The irony is that we're so far past that now that people get angry if celebrities *don't* spontaneously interact with them - "spontaneous" interaction with the public has become an essential part of being a celebrity, just like doing book tours has become part of being an author (Publishers literally won't give contracts to writers who won't do it.)

      The normality of those kinds of interactions means no Twitter replacement will be able to sell itself on that kind of pseudo-intimacy with the famous. Fortunately for Mastodon, that would appear to be the last thing the people running it want, so I think their continued relative obscurity is guaranteed.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide