Here are some ups and downs for this year. I’m purposely ignoring some big picture issues here, since then there would be no ups at all. It was that kind of year. You will also note that each of these might have fit into a well-considered twitter message, so maybe I should have just done that instead. But … well.
Here is my rule: if you put more than five or six messages into my feed in less than five minutes you are blocked forever. Also, I don’t follow you on twitter to read your deeply felt and sincere meditations on how you formed your bullshit nerd world view about the overwhelming good in all technologies as a college sophomore. Put that shit in your blog where I can ignore it.
Down: Nerd Exceptionalism
The following fact has been true as long public discourse on the Internet has existed: most people online are horrible and you should not interact with them. I point you to this classic USENET thread as evidence: Women and the consumption of toilet paper.
This thread is older than some of the people I work with now. Yet for some reason there still seem to exist people who think one of two things:
Nerds are smarter than normal people.
Since nerds made up the Internet, it should be a sunny nerd nirvana full of nothing but free and uplifting discussion of important things.
This is of course laughable. Get over it. The Internet is the populated by the same assholes and douchebags that populate that cesspool we call “real life”. It’s always been so, it will always be so.
Up: My LP Collection
I finally set up my turntable this year. Buying LPs at Jerry’s has never been more fun. Don’t kid yourself though. This whole Vinyl Renaissance meme is moronic. Vinyl has gone from basically zero sales to slightly more than basically zero sales in the last few years. I expect it to top out at basically zero sales around the time the hipster backlash hits and everyone decides to go back to cassettes.
Up: The Pittsburgh Holiday Restaurant Tour
During our break this year we hit the following places: Legume, Cure, Everyday Noodle, Kaya, the new Chengdu Garden Sichuan place, Thin Man, Penn Avenue Fish and the S&D Polish Deli in the strip. Missed out on Dish and Grit and Grace and many others. It’s never been a better time to eat things in Pittsburgh.
Down: The Value of Recorded Music
The streaming model is on the rise. The streaming model basically says: artists should work for free so Spotify and the record companies can cash in their stock options. So that’s great.
Because of this price pressure, big back catalog CD boxed sets of classic recordings in almost any genre are starting to sell for just south of $2 per CD. This can’t be good. To me it’s truly not surprising though. CDs were always the shittiest music format in terms of the value of the packaging. Tiny anonymous silver disks along with a thin booklet with even tinier type and a few snapshot-sized photographs is about as bad as it gets. I don’t understand how anyone can be nostalgic for that particular form of physical media. To me they are just a less convenient way to get something I’d rather download. Someone does need to publish all the old liner notes as a book or PDF file though. They should look to Hyperion as the model.
Up: The Obtainability of Music
On the other hand, I’ve never seen so much of the catalog of human music production so available for relatively little cost. I’m not sure so much has ever been available like this. I’m talking mostly about old-people back catalog music (classic Jazz, and Classical recordings from the various Golden Ages). However, against all odds I’ve even discovered a fair amount of random new music this year without even using NPR. Although to be fair the artists were probably NPR favorites.
Up: Dark Souls
Started the year playing some Dark Souls PVP while I waited for Dark Souls 2. Ended the year playing some more Dark Souls PVE and PVP … then ran through DS2 again to do the DLC. Spent the middle of the year not playing anything.
Down: The Rest of Console Gaming
I bought a new PS4 and a few games. I think the state of console gaming for me can be summed up in five words: Even Madden kind of sucks. Trying to branch out, I got a few other well-regarded things: Destiny (like Halo, only worse in every way), The Last Of Us (might be good, got bored in an hour), and Shadows of Mordor (got bored after the tutorial). The Mordor game in particular made me yearn for the Dark Souls combat system. So you know where that led.
The good news is that Bloodborne is coming. And also Dark Souls 2 for the PS4.
Everything is on Youtube. In a short time all of human history will be on Youtube. That’s sort of cool.
Because the Intertube people are having some kind of pissing match, Youtube stops working for a few hours every day. Of course, if you can fool the Internet into thinking that you are not in the Verizon/USA network then it all magically works better again. This is stupid. I don’t care that much about the alleged principles behind Net Neutrality… my thing is more “if I paid enough money for enough bandwidth the thing should just work. You have one job!” So get on the ball.