July 26, 2022

(self) Promotion in the Current Moment

I used to know how to jump start a blog (soooo 2004) from zero through noticed to important in a matter of weeks.

Times have changed.

I’m always on the lookout for good publicity photos — whatever those might be 🙂 Is this one good? I like it. Made a cartoon of it just for fun. Just made it my Facebook cover photo.

Still looking for just the right banner for my YouTube channel. The extreme horizontal shape makes it a bit difficult for my representational desires. The current image is a contact sheet of photos of my grandfather Grant.

I posted this one to my Instagram yesterday. It’s a college selfie circa 1976 and was made as part of an assignment in my black & white class at RIT in Rochester, New York.

I used Google Photo Scan on my phone of the original print I made back in the day. Works slick. Not sure this one does me any favors 🙂

I feel like I’m just stabbing around in the dark. I used to know what to do.

July 22, 2022

Notes on the Trinity Edit

I have one big step left before beginning the edit of Trinity, my latest documentary project.

It’s a buddy road trip story about coping in a crisis era. Call it the Crisis of 2020 as predicted by Strauss and Howe in their 1992 book Generations: The History of America’s Future. A long time ago on this blog I published a list of ten books all Americans should read. This was among them. If you want to check that list, you’ll have to go hunting for it at Archive.org. Just click the link in the sidebar.

Anyway, we’re living through a crisis era just as Strauss and Howe predicted. Now they didn’t say anything about the various problems that might comprise the Crisis of 2020. Instead, they used their model of cyclical generational personalities to make a general prediction. Basically, the generational alignment now corresponds to the generational alignment of the World War 2 era (including the late Depression and post-war angst over communism).

So my buddies and I made a road trip to arguably the site of the culminating event of the last crisis era — the Trinity site in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was tested.

I made this decision before filming began: I’d conduct my interviews with my buddies after the trip and in audio only so that the entire film is narrated b-roll.

I still need to make my final decisions about what audio gets in and what gets left out. I’d like to finish that work in a few days.

And I suppose it’s about damned time to get this finished. I first mentioned the project in a post back in April 🙂

July 17, 2022

Eight Episodes In Plus An Update

I’ve posted the eighth episode of Our Expat Journey to Portugal on my YouTube channel. Just passed the 200 mark for subscribers. Growth has been slow since I posted the first episode on 21 May. I am actually trying to do things (some things, anyway) the “right” way regarding content and presentation. I may go into that a bit more soon.

First, I have to return home — later this week — from my current trip to the East Coast. And I’ll have more to say in my developing series on “what is a documentary”?

July 4, 2022

The Whole Comments Thing, Again

Somehow this seems like a fitting topic for this Independence Day 🙂

So the previous post was about comments on the internet. And I have written many times over the years about the folly of my original “learned” opinion about such things back in the day.

If you want to take a look at recent content of mine that’s received a few rough comments, check out episode 5 of Our Expat Journey on my YouTube channel. You’ll notice I did answer one of them because I detected respect. I think the reply represented misunderstanding. I then chose to drop it.

As far as I can tell, there is no downside to ignoring comments on most social media platforms. I have joined and tested most of them over the years because some of these platforms can be used by journalists, so I need to know them at least as well as my students. My testings and knowings should not be mistaken for mastery. And I have rarely given platforms much deep thought except the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Many I have subsequently ignored. SnapChat, for example.

But TicTok? Hmmmmm… this one is interesting. This one is evil.

I’m not talking about the question of what use the Chinese government makes of this app. The data privacy horse left the barn a long time ago. I’m talking about finally understanding something about TikTok that, well, 99 percent of you have known for a long time. It’s just so damned obvious. And evil.

[Note: I’m using “evil” in a non-spiritual sense. I mean to indicate TikTok, intended or not, exploits us. I know I packed much into that statement. Maybe I’ll go into detail sometime.]

OK, here’s my “the dumbass finally gets it” revelation: TikTok is all about feeding the trolls.

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter what kind of content you post (although there’s a range of typical stuff that gets attention). The way to achieve greater attention from the audience and the algorithm is to feed the trolls. You’re specifically and intentionally rewarded for this. The big three don’t operate this way. Ignoring trolls costs you little. Feeding them gains you little.

TicTok is all about attracting and feeding trolls.

So, yeah, you’re asking yourself just “how stupid is this guy?”

Well, I’ll tell you how stupid: I actually used TikTok for a bit. My username is @docfilmdirector. I was trying to do documentary film reviews. Yes, I know. What a snore! And you can guess the results.


If I were interested in TikTok success, the formula is rather easy: Do whatever, but make sure you understand and deliver clickbait. Then feed all the trolls. Also, according to a student of mine who has a successful channel: post every day, a few times if possible.

You know… kinda like the early days of blogging 🙂

June 20, 2022

Comments on the Interwebs

Nope. Not gonna write a big analysis of this. And this isn’t even a “policy.”

You’ll notice there are not very many comments on Rhetorica since its re-launch as my documentary film brand. And that’s just the way I like it 🙂

It also indicates that I have a smaller audience than during this blog’s heyday.

I’m always happy to engage with respectful people whether they agree with me or not. I’m not happy about providing a platform that can be abused. But, sadly, offering that platform is the price one pays for the desire to be heard (on some level) in the public sphere.

I was one of those academics back in the day who thought internet commenting was going to be a good thing for civic participation.

You can thank me later for the hearty belly laugh 🙂

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