Sink or swim

By - Aug 1st, 2008 02:52 pm
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There is so much I want to share with you, friends: about grief, about loss, about friends leaving town and friends returning to town, about the regal history of great Midwestern blue-collar families, about Poles and Italians, about the late-night ferry from Muskegon and the Milwaukee International Film Festival and Lakefront IPA and the Trusty Knife and the beach and Fitzgibbons and many, many other things.

However, I am swamped, having just returned from an unexpected week at home (which I bet you couldn’t guess from that wistful first paragraph) and dealing with a wide expanse of life complications, including a stolen laptop, a death in the family and some sort of mysterious sprain in my foot. So all I have time to share with you now, at the beginning of this frightful and final full month of summer, is a video, a link and some stray thoughts.

Remember Friendster? I’ve been thinking a lot about that long-abandoned social networking site, the one that got us all comfortable with the idea of a website that didn’t actually DO anything besides tell everyone else who you were and what kinds of things you liked to do. It was like an AOL profile on steroids, and with pictures, and without any useful functions such as chat or browsing or shopping or downloading MIDI files of popular songs (did anyone else do this during the early days of AOL?). I actually met people through Friendster that are still my friends today.

I think of Friendster as we strategize new ways to bring VITAL to Milwaukee and to the world wide web. There is a life to every medium – every microfiche machine, slide projector, super 8 film and 3D Viewfinder, as well as every newspaper, radio station, TV channel and, yes, website. And the healthiness, vigor and length of those lives depends so much on any medium’s ability to get with the program, change with the times, man up or get out – sink or swim. Sometimes you do everything right and you sink anyway, and sometimes you don’t have to do anything to just float on by (what else explains the madcap success of shitty, shitty MySpace?)

But we’re trying our damndest, practicing our butterfly stroke. We started a Tumblr page that we update at least 5 times as often as we post to these clunky, oh-so-2004 text-mostly blogs. Check out videos, images, links and soundbytes many times daily, and if you’re a Tumblr user already, why don’t you follow us? We’ve got a Twitter page, too, if that’s what you’re into, and a group on last.fm so we’ll know at all times what you like to listen to.

So it might not all be the next big thing, or at all interesting, maybe not even relevant. But we’ve gotta fight to make it in a way that would make even His Girl Friday hide under the desk. It’s gonna be a rough road, but we’re going to make it work, Tim Gunn style, starting with some rad-ass embedded video and continuing to do what we do best: tell great, well-written stories about what matters in this world, with all of its dimensions and mysteries and animated comic strips.

May we present the first episode of Get Your War On: the internet TV show based on the comic by David Rees, which VITAL is proud to run in print every month. Enjoy:

Categories: VITAL

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