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mixsion statement

May 2, 2008 by jjosh

(pic of, the new mixtape site with a great cassette-style interface) 

Since I started the blog in February 08 I’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff. I wasn’t really sure what was going to be when I bought the domain. Then while getting ready to start the blog proper, wordpress (whose software powers this site) had a little exercise before you start blogging where you write down what you plan to do, who the audience is, how often you’ll blog, etc., in an effort to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

My little written bit basically amounted to sharing anything I found online that I thought was cool — music, video, linkage — much like my favorite blogs. I’ve come to think of it as an extension of the mixtape, which is an artform I’ve loved since I was taping off the radio in 1982. In college my mixtaping reached a alltime high level: I was using the media lab to tape things off of VHS videocassettes; I had inherited my dad’s old cassette player that could control the level in (yes! no more loud to soft transitions); I was part of a group of fellow mixtapologists who took it very seriously (report cards were made for each mix, a fanzine was published (I show up on page 13)); I was able to scour the college radio station for b-sides and weird rarities, or record myself doing "long-distance dedications"; ETC.

Post college, I was lucky enough to have a father who loved cutting-edge tech, so I could offer people CD mixes when it was still a novelty. When I decided to try DJ’ing, I did a lot of research before deciding to go with CD decks (more flexibility, don’t have to buy records all the damn time). I could run the decks into my computer and record the mixes, then split them into tracks with other software.

Part of the joy of the mix (both making and receiving) was getting/hearing something that made you say "where did THAT come from?!" And of course, the mixtape merely offered you the track name. There wasn’t really any context, so a really obscure track (I remember putting a Crooked Fingers track on a tape for Dan R before Eric B had even become Crooked Fingers…coup!!) could have an air of mystery about it that really added to the fun, and prompted attempts at one-upmanship.

The same is true of forwarding links to your friends — you just send the youtube link, not usually where you got it from. And this keeps that sense of mystery, that great feeling of "where did they find THAT?!"

But once you start blogging, it seems that the protocol is to reference where you got your article links, your weird remixes, your youtube links. The mystery is gone, you can see the wizard of Oz behind the curtain, it becomes clear that the main asset a blogger has is simply time. Time to search these things out. And this is true of a lot of blogs, right? I read waxy and it becomes clear that he’s sometimes getting links from fimoculous, so I start to read that too. And then I see that he’s getting links from metafilter, so I add that as well. Now when I read fimoculous, half the time I’m thinking "bah, that’s just a metafilter link, I’ve already seen that."

Of course there are a bunch of blogs generating content, and there are a lot that balance linking plus generating (I feel I err on the side of linking), but it’s weird, every time I have to credit what blog I’ve linked from, I feel like a bit of the magic is taken out of whatever it is I’m forwarding. Though it seems like it would be rude to not credit them, right? After all, I’m capitalizing on someone else’s time when I post about a link they’ve found (or that they’ve found on a blog that’s found, ad infinitum). But this never worried me when I took a track from someone’s mixtape and put it on a tape I myself was making. On the contrary, it made it feel like the tape was stronger having pulled from these various sources. But I know I have to credit the links.

I think this is similar to the fallout that recording artists are feeling from the internet’s ability to free information (read, music). Admittedly, it’s a lot slighter — I’m not losing money on this, after all, just CRED — but the idea that now you no longer have to come to me to ask "hey, where did you get that amazing Beck Hanukkah song?" seems related. You are now free to follow that link to its source, you are now free to see how I’m finding stuff, you are now free to make your own mixtape (blog) that is as rich and varied as this one. After all, a mixtape is not about making music, but selecting. And in today’s DJ culture/blog world, the selecting itself can be an artform, I suppose. It feels like it is.

A lot of this is stemming from my fear. My fear that since you can follow the links and see the man behind the curtain, you too will look at my blog and say "well he just got that link from fimoculous, and that one from analoggiant, and that one from warrenellis, it’s all unoriginal rubbish." Last week (two weeks ago?) I saw three posts that played on this fear too:

– one was a blog post that had designed a graphic showing how you find out about stuff. Starting with blogs of original content, it then moved out to "big dog blogs" like boingboing or gawker, then to "other blogs", then "conventional media" and finally "your mom". I guess it really is that transparent.

– two was a blog post by someone who early in the week "made a prediction that before the week is up you will see footage of a golden eagle killing a mountain goat". Amazingly, I had already seen that video. The blogger later blogged about how right he was, linking to links to that footage by fimoculous, waxy, etc. as proof that you would have seen it. I had forwarded it on myself, and so was again sort of amazed at how transparent it all is. (To be fair, the video is amazing)

– three was kfan (old college aquaintence Kevin Fanning, whose tumblr I love) sounding off about the weak state of blogs, and writing about what it’s like when one of the "big dogs" links to you…this was the first mention I’d seen of someone dropping fimoculous like it was boingboing — I had no idea! Thought it was one of "my" blogs, you know? Like a secret that only a few of us knew…

But move past the fear and anxiety that this creates (for some reason), and there is something great there. A couple of things…

First, we are lucky that the internet is such an extremely massive repository of information and artistic effort that those of us who enjoy finding things and sharing them (a la mixtapes) have such a massive pool to pull from. One could make a conscious decision not to link to anything the "big dogs" link to (I have sworn off boingboing, and get bummed whenever I link to a metafilter link that later shows up on fimoculous) and still have more than enough interesting and worthwhile stuff to share. And it’s all about the sharing, right?

Second, I know that there is a certain community of people (welcome, patrons of jjosh!) who come here and may not have the time/inclination to check metafilter, listmaker, kottke, etc. Instead, they welcome the additional filter that my particular taste provides (more muppets!).

Third, it is a big motivator to create more. To write more (I loved what kfan was/is doing with his blog, whygodwhy), to put more films together (snow of truth, ash fetish), to finish more mixes (coming soon, I swear!), to really try the VJ’ing I’ve always wanted to do, to link to friends’ bands, photography, etc.

Information. Community. Creation. Sounds like a severe corporate mission statement, but I’m digging it somehow.


  1. dan says:

    i love that you mention me like i’m a big dog. very funny.

    i enjoy the links. i don’t check them all out but i enjoy them. i don’t read any of those sites that you mention. i don’t really have an interest. i like reading sites likes yours. i know you. i know your tastes. i like the personal stuff you write – your take on things and i also like the links that i might not have otherwise found.

  2. jjosh says:

    listmaker is one of the sites I check regularly ‘cuz I know it’s updated so often…plus it’s great…

    for this post I was trying to dig up the spreadsheet graph I made at one point comparing the report card grades of a bunch of mixtapes over time to see whether they trended upwards or down, but it’s in old Windows 95 Quattro Pro format, which I can’t open anymore. I wanted to use it to really hit home how far we would go with this stuff…

    I suppose I could have mentioned your journals with the circled track numbers as well…

  3. miss fidget says:

    Viral knowledge has made my life so much better, be it mix tapes, weird books, or now links. BTW, I just added a link to you on

  4. oointgroov says:

    Imaging getting into your time machine and going back to meet with Josh Granger when he was writing “This Problem” and saying “Dude, I’m you in the future and in, like 20 years, you will write the following sentence and amazingly, people will understand it:

    ‘this was the first mention I’d seen of someone dropping fimoculous like it was boingboing'”

    How nuts is that?

  5. jjosh says:

    @ Miss Fidget thanks for the add! I will quid pro quo (is that a verb?)…

    @ oointgroov, I love it. The me back then would have taken the me of now out for a drink and we would have talked about grunge, I have no doubt. It would have been awesome.

  6. Gamera says:

    Amazing post. I found it through big dog Listmaker and agree with him, I almost soley read blogs by people I know. There’s too many damn people out there with blogs and cool ideas and great links – i’m busy enough as it is. THanks for filtering out the garbage for us jjosh.

    Also, in regards to that Crooked Fingers song, “Sleep for Sale” that you put on a mix for Listmaker – he then put it on a mix for me and I cherished it for years as it was never officially released once Crooked Fingers became an actual entity. I even transferred it onto cd just in case the mixtape blew up one day but then last year, the cd was eaten by a computer and could not be salvaged so I am back to only having the mixtape copy. Another coup for analog!

  7. jjosh says:

    An analog coup is my favorite type of coup, lemme tell you. Yes, Sleep For Sale was undoubtedly one of my favorite mix moments of all time because Dan and I would constantly try to blow each other’s minds. He would dig up these crazy old REM live tracks, I would plumb the depths of Beck B-Sides.

    But to come across an Eric B track he had never heard?! YESSSSSSS! Plus bonus that the song is so fantastic that even now I still get it playing in my head. I’ll post it at some point here so all can enjoy…

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