Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I've Learned

It's day one at Drifting Through The Grift. I will probably spend most of the day setting up all the bells and whistles around the place but I thought a little introduction is in order...You may call me griftdrift. ~March27, 2006

It's not an anniversary but I feel the need for reflection. Drifting Through The Grift has been a great adventure over the last three years and don't worry, it will continue. At times, I marvel at the places I've been, the things I've seen and the things I've learned.

Rusty hates lists but I like them. Here are the thoughts which have been percolating in my brain for the last few days.

On Blogging and Writing

  • I've stopped referring to myself as a blogger. It feels stale and limiting
  • I've begun referring to myself as a writer although at times, it feels too pretentious
  • Blogging brings great discipline and every writer needs great discipline
  • I'm terrible at self-promotion. I probably should get 3 times the traffic I do but I don't hawk myself like I should.
  • Inspiration comes from the oddest places
  • Every writer knows the frustration of writing a great piece and having it wither on the vine. I can write what I think is my best and hear crickets. I write three sentences about a drunk on a lawnmower and get 20 comments
  • There are a many great writers in this town and they often make me feel inadequate
  • I always wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson but I've learned that my own voice is more valuable than mimcry
  • Most people point to this piece as their favorite (a sociology professor even read it to his class)
  • This piece is my favorite
  • I'm rededicating myself to writing. Including finally working on the novel I've sketched out over the last three years
  • Two years later, "Porn Hunt" is still the top search term to hit my blog
On Citizen Journalism

  • It is possible but it's really hard
  • Professional journalists do it well and they have to do it well every single time
  • I believe the ultimate point that some professional journalists miss is people attempting citizen journalism attempt to mimic the standards set by the professionals because of their great admiration for the profession
  • It still amazes me how easy it is to just take a pad and pen and just go someplace or call someone - from the Georgia Supreme Court to talking to a legislator
  • That's the easy part. Putting together a piece that is both informative and entertaining is the hard part. And let me re-emphasize, the professional journalist has to do it every single time.
  • We're doing a good job but we could be doing more. We need more coverage of the City of Atlanta. Especially with the Mayor's race
  • The bottom line is if your interested, pick up a pen and pad or a recorder or a camera and hit the streets. The stories won't wait on you.
On Traditional vs. New Media
  • On the positive side, when I consider the conversations two years ago at the APC compared to more recent conversations, I'm encouraged
  • On the negative side, there are still many in the traditional media or transitioning from the traditional media who are blind to the rich new media culture in Atlanta
  • It is telling that the person who greets me without judgment at every event we both attend is a 30+ year veteran of political reporting while the nastiest fight I've ever experienced was with a 30-something staff writer at the AJC. Sometimes we need to re-assess our own judgments
  • I will continue to point to places like inDecatur, DecaturMetro and DriveAFasterCar until I'm blue in the face because I believe if anyone is close to figuring the whole thing out it is them.
  • I still believe the niche market is the savior of news
  • I believe the TV news has the best chance to survive as meta-news because pictures are still more compelling
  • But I believe the pictures would be even more compelling if they were backed by well-written copy and connections to the local
  • The "blogs don't fact check/spew untruths/have no standards" meme still drives me crazy. If you find yourself saying this, realize your peddling philosophy from five years ago and you will be judged accordingly
  • The influx of outstanding, experienced writers into the community is a huge positive. Now, we just need to help them engage.
  • My theory that once a journalist is dragged kicking and screaming into the blog world, they become addicted holds true. Mark Bradley is the latest proof
  • My personal "gets it" hierarchy goes like this: Creative Loafing>Athens Banner Herald>AJC
  • Creative Loafing was the first to embrace the community and still the best at engaging the community
  • Athens Banner Herald moved from picking on commentors to becoming the most willing to engage in "the conversation".
  • For all my criticism, I like the AJC redesign and think they are possibly now moving in the right direction
  • This fact will not prevent me from laying into them when they something stupid in the future. And they will.
  • I still owe Andisheh Nouraee a bowl of pizza sauce
  • I still claim Blake Aued owes me a beer
On Politics
  • There's always something crazy
  • It has to be really crazy for most people outside the insiders to care
  • It is very easy to get sucked into the inside baseball aspects
  • Most legislators are nice. Shocking but true. It is always good to remember this fact when you worry your caricatures go too far.
  • But some of them are mean as snakes and would walk a country mile to slap a mule if they thought it would get them votes, money or power.
  • Sen. David Shafer is a bit of a nerd but that also makes him invaluable in wonk talks. I learned more about Grady from him in 30 minutes than I learned in dozens of media pieces
  • Up close, Dale Cardwell is a little scary
  • Jim Martin has the passion in him and I sometimes wonder if he's just getting bad advice on his image
  • Josh Lanier is a little crazy but it's the good kind of crazy. And he thinks its funny when I talk about him collecting tip jars from filling stations
  • Rand Knight could have a bright political future but humility is a word that needs to be learned
  • I'm frequently reminded of an old Playboy cartoon where a madame is talking to one of her young ladies of the evening and she says, "I know, dear, Democrats are more fun but Republicans have more money"
  • The first time I attended a Democrat event, someone was passing out jello shots
  • I've yet to attend a big Republican event. I'm not sure why. They are a secretive bunch
  • Bobby at Manuels swore to me he was retiring before the next President election. I told him, "You can't do that!". He looked me in the eye and said, "Watch me"
On The Personal
  • Three years ago, I was intentionally unemployed and set off to explore writing, politics and the country
  • In those three years, I've published over 2300 entries, travelled to nearly every state east of the Mississippi and chased political stories to Perry, Cumming, Athens, Moultrie, the Capitol, the Georgia Supreme Court and even a porn shop
  • Three years later, I'm back in the software industry but I'm still chasing stories
  • Possibly for that reason, I find myself being pulled more to the web/tech/entrepeneur side of social media instead of writing/journalism/politics side
  • I'm still going to chase stories because I'm a writer and that's what a writer does.
I'm proud my writing, my advocacy of the local blog community and the product I've produced over the past three years. But what makes me happiest is the people I've met, the places I've seen and the education both have provided. This little experiment doubled my circle of friends and my exposure to worlds I'd never experienced cannot be quantified. And those will always stay with me. Even if blogger or blogs or new media or whatever the next iteration is called goes tango uniform.

Thanks to all who've provided so much.


The adventure continues.


Rusty said...

Really, I don't hate lists when someone puts some thought into them. It's when people are writing them because they're lazy or to cynically stir up drama to boost SEO/pageviews that I hate them.

griftdrift said...

I definitely should have sprinkled "porn hunt" as much as possible.

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

My goodness. With all that fine speechifying it's like you're headed off on the QE2. Don't forget to pack 2 tuxedos and a silver cigarette case.

Unknown said...

Jello shots? Wow. That musta been fun.

I am quite shocked to learn that it's just over three years - thought you'd been up to this longer than that.

Your writing is always a pleasure to read - I could never pick a favorite.

griftdrift said...

Grayson, it would be more like waders, a john boat and a half-crushed pack of Marlboros.

DanielNAdams said...

Another thing you should be happy about:

You consider yourself a writer. Well, the word eludes me that one would use to give scale to the "writer." So, I'll just say this. I'm not a writer or what one would refer to as an avid reader. But it is "writers" like you... that somehow... I don't know how, forces me to do both... eagerly/enjoyably. Thank You.

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

As with writing, it's always good to change-up one's recreational pursuits every now and then.

Mostly Muppet said...

Long-time reader; seldom commenter.

Keep up the great work. Love to read your writings.

Jeff said...

Seriously dude, its always a pleasure reading what you write.

Sara said...

When I put the bug in your ear about starting a blog lo those many (ok, 3.5) years ago, I expected that it would be well written and something you would enjoy doing. But, by any measure, my hopes and expectations have been far exceeded at this point.

My favorite post is probably this series. It's the one that springs to mind first, which means it made the most lasting impression.

Icarus said...

Cool post. And, as always, I enjoyed reading.

And if you really want to go to a Republican event sometime, I think I can still get you in to some of them.

I'm mean, hell, even no Sunday-Sales Ox still poured me a margarita at the last big shindig.

Yeah, we can do that. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

TweetTweet said...

Congrats, Mr. Drift, and here's to many more non-anniversaries. Your site is one that I visit every day and thoroughly enjoy.

possum said...

Well, Mr. Griftdrift, you've done mighty good these past three years, especially dealing with that nitwit Jim Wooten. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I will be happy to buy you a beer any time, but only on the condition that we follow it up with seven or eight more. Blake

Wes said...

Read you every day. Don't stop. It gives me hope for this place (even when I disagree with you).


Unknown said...

i read you blog

Jim Thompson said...

Thanks for providing a worthwhile forum for "the conversation."