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 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 🙂

June 13, 2022

The Whole Blogging Thing

So Rhetorica is one of the oldest, continuously published weblogs. Its earliest iteration began in 1998 as an academic project for my graduate work. It took its present form in March 2002 just before I graduated.

The explanation in the header about a snafu is there in case anyone who remembers the old Rhetorica comes looking for it. And that requires going the Archive.org to find the old content — about the rhetoric of the press-politics relationship in America.

New readers — are there new readers? — get to follow the latest change in my academic career and creative interests: documentary filmmaking  (see also Carbon Trace Productions). I’ve been at that since 2014 but only writing about it recently.

The problem with reinvigorating Rhetorica as a retro blog is that I’m no longer confident in my ability to gain readership in a form that’s no longer current. I briefly tried Substack and didn’t like it. I even tried TikTok for mini documentary film reviews leading to hilarious failure. I still use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Blogging just seems so 2004.

But I’ll keep it up. I like to write.

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