8.14.2007

Hark and Listen Hard



No internet at the apartment yet, and Seattle costs a lot more than Houston. Hence my quietness this week.

This is about links, and will be short. As some of you know, there are more sports blogs in this country than there are televisions and fingers. They all cull material from the same internet, and many times these sources are much more gigantic operations that just lack in know-how or brand credibility.

Admittedly, I've gotten salty about not being linked to before, but that was only when I found a video or photo that was buried deep within YouTube or Flickr. I'm not saying that no one else could have found them, but they didn't, and might not have if even if they had been looking. On the other hand, anything that lives in a a less wild and democratic media platform ( e.g. a newspaper) is out there. Even the local stuff can be turned up in a matter of seconds these days. Chances are, we're all going to find it, because there are plenty of bloggers whose daily toil consists of grabbing things to link to. Finding it first is hardly a noteworthy achievement, since it was never really "found" in the first place. There's a difference between finding treasure in a junk store and being the first person to check David Foster Wallace out of your public library.

Some of you may know that I like The Wire. Think about this: the blog game is just like the dope game, but the territory is the links. Now, what's more important, trifling over who got their post up first, or taking the time to say the best shit we can about breaking news? Really, there's only like four blogs that need to be curating daily lists of links, because those are the ones that have the traffic, the cohesive identity, and the resources to pull this off on a grand scale. Everyone else should be trying to form some non-obvious ideas about whatever happened. Because even if someone were to click over through the "via so and so" route, there's no guarantee they'd even remember they'd been there if all they saw was sports-talk-y tripe and a link. More street ministry: taking over a corner doesn't make it yours indefinitely, and certainly nothing's happened to identify your crew with anything lasting or meaningful (i.e. product).

There is so much time being wasted over this links business that I'm sick. You can call me Stringer, and I fully expect to be shot dead in an abandoned building over this. Because just as there's no rep in the streets without defending turf, the blogosphere ranks would dwindle to nothing if you actually expected people to write well and stop thinking they're reporters. Who, incidentally, are often themselves using the exact same material as everyone else standing next to them in the locker room.

34 Comments:

At 8/14/2007 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

String? I dunno Shoals, I always had you pegged for a Bodie-type, the insider's outsider.

 
At 8/14/2007 9:18 PM, Blogger PostmanE said...

Agree with this, even if I am oftentimes guilty of not taking enough time to get something interesting.thoughtful.unique up about whatever is out there. Sometimes, I feel a weird sense that it's better just to get something up even if it's run of the mill. That's usually always incorrect.

I especially hate the "I found this first, LINK ME" attitude that too many people out here have. Good to be polite and link, sure, but if it's happening, most people are going to find it one way or the other. It's about where you take the item -- and how well you can string sentences into paragraphs -- that sets this site and few others apart.

That, and the t-shirts.

 
At 8/14/2007 10:15 PM, Blogger T. said...

Are you takin' notes on a criminal conspiracy?!

Shoals - is this in response to a specific incident or just more of a general feeling?

The whole Peja/Sports Guy Intern from several years ago set in motion the way which led me to FreeDarko - so in some respect it is helpful to get your name out there.

But unless your product is king, then people are just going to go elsewhere.

 
At 8/14/2007 10:21 PM, Anonymous Jordan Ginsberg said...

the blogosphere ranks would dwindle to nothing if you actually expected people to write well and stop thinking they're reporters.

God willing, right? Meanwhile, there will never be any shortage of Kintel Williamsons, and there will always be a glut of Frogs. The idea that writing quality and depth of ideas would increase just because every dipshit with opposable thumbs is now powered by Blogger was sweet in its infancy, but I'm not sure the general tendency towards attention-whoredom should have been so surprising.

Hell, I started a sports blog, wrote two decent entries and then hung it up because it became pretty obvious that I didn't have as much to say about sports as I thought I did. I imagine that's the case with a lot of the lesser blogs that revolve around the news item and a not-so-snappy one-liner -- not much to say, but still want to be part of the gang.

Give it time and the weaker ones will hopefully be indicted due to lack of interest. The fact that there already seems to be growing frustration would bode well for that, you'd think.

 
At 8/14/2007 10:31 PM, Blogger J.E. said...

You know, I'd really appreciate some fucking credit/links for this post, Shoals. DON'T SPIT IN MY FACE AND TELL ME MY CUSTOMIZED GMAIL MESSAGE DIDN'T INSPIRE YOU!

 
At 8/14/2007 10:53 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

Harrison Ford His Guts?

 
At 8/14/2007 11:18 PM, Blogger 800# said...

I think that linking is for the benefit of readers. It's not necessarily about ownership of ideas, but it allows readers to go deeper into the commentary. If I'm reading a paper, I'm concerned about correct citations because I want to be able to find the shit that was referenced.I think this site is built around broken links. The project is to completely recontextualize most of the linked material, and thus secure a level of intellectual ownership over it. Finding the flickr page that a goofy ass birthday shot came from ruins your fun in a way, because it allows readers to demystify your joke. I sense a contradiction then: finding the material requires unfettered access, through google probably, to the rest of the interweb. Your readers though are cut off of the link trail and don't have that same access, and thus their resources for developing commentary are limited. String and Barksdale couldn't have it all. They either had to give up the pride built into the game and holding their corners (that frog mask pic is mine bitch), or they couldn't run their shit legitmately and be part of a free and open market (fair use shucka, I'm just another link twisting up this network).

 
At 8/14/2007 11:38 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

800#: Correct me if I'm wrong, Shoals, but it seems like this post distinguishes between linking within analysis and linking to a news story and writing three sarcastic lines about it. It's my understanding that Shoals has a problem with the latter, not the former.

As someone who started a basketball blog with a friend about three months ago, let me say the following:

1) I generally agree with the ideas behind this post. We only put up links when they relate to analysis we're giving, because there's no reason for us to put up links when only a relatively small number of people read the thing. I love FD to death (one visit to our site and you'll see that we completely jacked the post structure), but I know that anyone who wants to read the shit here already did it well before they read my site.

2) That said, I completely understand why some people link a ton. It's frustrating to not have as many people reading your stuff as you'd like to, and linking to other sites gets them to notice you, which in turn gets them to read more of your real articles (if you have any), which in turn gets your stuff linked there, which in turn makes more people read you, which in turn makes you big enough that the constant linking makes sense. That's how it works in theory, at least.

There are days I wish I put up link dumps. But in the end I realize that it's unnecessary. If I'm not writing good stuff people shouldn't read the site in the first place.

Of course, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get excited when our shit gets linked on sites, even the smaller ones.

"Kintel Williamson" should become a term in everyday speech.

 
At 8/14/2007 11:42 PM, Anonymous Cougar said...

Thanks for "bringing it", Shoals. I've checked out a lot of blogs and most are as described above. Not worth much of a damn. I'm fully satisfied by FD, Fanhouse, and the Basketball Jones (when they 'cast that is). I want more, but it ain't there.

Also, I don't see you so much as Stringer, but more like D'Angelo. You see the game for what it is, try to be a good soldier, but in the end, muthafuckas just gonna turn on you. Stay out the library.

 
At 8/15/2007 12:35 AM, Blogger Joey said...

First of all, please stop writing about The Wire. For the same reason that I can only listen to that one Skillz and Freeway song but so many times ("...youngins wanna act like Michael from The Wire/Til they realize Michael just an actor on The Wire..."), I can't really be reading about The Wire: it gets me too hyped, and there is nothing that can satiate my appetite as we're in between seasons. Especially since they took away my Sopranos and tried to make me like that crappy surfing show, which only hurt the Deadwood legacy.

Second, you should have linked me up in this post since I was on some comments section isht before this post even had a comments section (sort of).

 
At 8/15/2007 1:13 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

On the general topic of link dumps: I prefer to give love to other blogs (a must in the game, though actually not really - certainly some sites, including FreeDarko and Skeets, too - have done without linking too much to other blogs), but try very hard to make it relevant to what I am writing. The end result is that I don't link as much as I should, but I hope (sincerely) that when I am linking (which I still do pretty often, especially to my two favorite sites) it counts for more. Wishful thinking.

As for this post, um... what? Why do I feel like I'm guilty of something? Oh yeah - because when my boss (the head of the department) sends out a general e-mail about "behavior issues" to the entire department, but that is really directed at one specific person - everyone else ends up confused and upset. Yo, you got beef, cool. Call them out on it! If they are good people, they'll respect your beef and settle up. If they are bad people, call them out publicly, and let them have it.

Personally I would just write a bitter rhyme about their sh*tty site, and insert a few momma jokes....

 
At 8/15/2007 1:28 AM, Blogger Alex said...

David Foster Wallace. P - I - M - P.

 
At 8/15/2007 3:41 AM, Blogger rebar said...

like biggie, i assume shoals would've been knee deep in the crack game if he hadn't gotten into this rap [blog] game. whatever you're selling, i'm buying by the O.

 
At 8/15/2007 4:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea a lot of blog sites are just repackaging the same weak shit under a different name. but they know the hardcore (basketball) junkies will just keep coming back, twice as much for the same fix.

 
At 8/15/2007 10:42 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Also, to address the underlying reason for link dumps in the first place - to build an audience - here's my suggestion: comments. Most of the sites that I get traffic from (including here) are because I comment regularly on those sites, and eventually some of the readers check me out. Hey, Shoals has never linked to me directly, yet a good chunk of my traffic comes from here.

And that's how I find most of the sites I read, too. It's easier at sites where clicking on the comment directly takes you to that person's site, but that's how I find most of the sites I read. Here it is a little harder (I hate blogspot): Hey, there's Goathair... he's The Blowtorch. Hey there's Joey from Straight Bangin'. And there's Ty Keenen from...?

But the point is I think comments are a better way to cultivate a following then just link dumps. Besides, as nice as a link from another site is, I prefer having conversations around my post... I worked hard on it (hopefully), thought it up, scrutinized every word before posting... f*ck it sucks if no one comments. Whether it is just to say "hey, that was cool", or "you're wrong because...", comments always feel good.

 
At 8/15/2007 10:42 AM, Blogger PostmanE said...

That's usually always incorrect.

What was I saying about sentence structure again?

 
At 8/15/2007 2:40 PM, Anonymous amphibian said...

stopmikelupica:

After a certain point, writing without feedback becomes pure masturbation. There is a lot of noise on the Internets, but on sites with quality content, usually the commentators themselves can produce small nuggets of good content themselves. The best example I can think of is right here and the worst example is the Fanhouse idiots. Especially "Jitesh Patel", who writes trite nothings in all caps.

The comments also provides a give and take between orator and audience, which enables and evolves both towards a better state.

FreeDarko - entertaining and improving ur mindz.

 
At 8/15/2007 3:59 PM, Blogger H2AZ said...

amphibian - are you trying to say masturbation is bad? Please don't harsh on my mellow.

 
At 8/15/2007 5:33 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

H2AZ, I will never think of Carmelo the same way again.

 
At 8/15/2007 5:42 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

amphibian: Absolutely. As much as I like the articles on here, I think the hardcore discussion last week was one of the best things this summer.

 
At 8/15/2007 7:21 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Like a fat girl's thong, I'm pulled all kinds of ways by this post. On one hand, Shoals is absolutely correct that quality is of the utmost importance. But then again, you've still got to sell the product, right? I mean even FreeDarko got a big boost from Deadspin in its infancy. People need to know you exist if you want to really make an impact, so there's got to be some sort of balance between selling (innovative ideas) and being sold (getting linked).

I mean, if you're going to check out THEBLOWTORCH.BLOGSPOT.COM, I want to make it worth your time. Just sayin'.

 
At 8/15/2007 9:12 PM, Blogger Trey said...

So who's gonna be the first blogger to get laid out on the trunk of a car in the middle of the projects with their eye gauged out?

 
At 8/15/2007 11:02 PM, Anonymous Brendo said...

Isn't your devoted cadre of acolytes enough, Shoals? How many propers do you really need to come from outside of your comments page? WWJandekD, dude?

 
At 8/16/2007 12:11 AM, Anonymous The Gong said...

I've gotta say, I kinda see Henry Abbott as String, he handles the bidniz.
You though Shoals, you're straight up Omar, a glitch in the system that is fuckin' unstoppable.

 
At 8/16/2007 1:18 AM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

I don't watch The Wire, but "a glitch in the system that is fuckin' unstoppable" sounds a lot like Billups to me.

 
At 8/16/2007 6:51 AM, Blogger T. said...

Billups as Omar TRUE TALK.

The cheese stands alone.

 
At 8/16/2007 9:42 AM, Anonymous Sean said...

This conversation between Dan Patrick, Reggie Miller, and KG may be the highlight of my summer:

http://espn-mp3-od.andomedia.com/espnpod2/espnradio/insider/patrick/patrick_08152007_9.mp3

 
At 8/16/2007 10:04 AM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

Reggie, that's cause you live in a damn cottage, hahahahahaha.

 
At 8/16/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Cyanide said...

"Hold on, KG, we're on the radio..."
"Oh, oh! My bad! I'm in the living room, so, you know..."

Golden.

Awesome interview. KG and Reggie are hilarious. Somebody needs to throw them in a booth together once they both hang it up.

 
At 8/16/2007 12:18 PM, Anonymous The Gong said...

oh shit! Billups as Omar, why didn't I see that?
so beyond what they're labeled
blogger, stick up artist, yet so much more

 
At 8/16/2007 12:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

preface: i am having a terrible day and am extremely thin-skinned.

comment: i'm glad to know i'm just an ordinary blogger.

 
At 8/16/2007 1:53 PM, Anonymous Sweat of Ewing said...

What is it exactly that KG said to prompt that? I can't make it out on these crap headphones.

 
At 8/16/2007 3:55 PM, Anonymous Cyanide said...

Yeah, I was trying to make it out earlier with iPod earbuds at work and nothing doing. Got home and tried it on some decent speakers and it sounds like he says "Sheeeiiiitttt" before Reggie starts talking about the number issue. Assuming nothing else was there and got muted or something.

 
At 8/16/2007 5:52 PM, Anonymous The Gong said...

I meant no disrespect Shoals, I had you tagged as Omar from the start!

Besides with some thought I figure you're more of a David Simon anyways. Different metaphor but damn if you didn't take some "known" quantity and make it the most unique shit going.

 

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