Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Betamax blogging

I've decided not to close the year with a Best-of-2008 list because, quite frankly, I haven't read/heard/seen enough genuinely new stuff to fill 10 slots, let alone 10 things that have filled me with such enthusiasm and/or loathing that I can stack them in any particular order. Instead, I've been having one of those tedious internal debates about whether to herald 2009 with a bells-and-whistles redesign for Cultural Snow. I've barely done anything to the default design I picked when I started blogging three (!) years ago, leaving it, as Cath Elliott puts it, looking "too much like a Penguin Classic". I do sometimes feel a bit inadequate when I see the lovely pictures and clever squiggly bits with which the rest of you decorate your sites. I haven't even bothered to add on one of those doodads that tells me when the rest of you have updated. (I did try it, but it made a horrible mess all over my dashboard.) I've just bunged a few widgets down the right-hand margin, and if the spacing goes a bit wonky I just go off and make another cup of tea and hope the Blog Fairy will sort it all out.

So what's stopping me from creating Cultural Snow 2.0? Well, sheer bloody indolence for one thing; as well as a distinct lack of confidence in my own technical and creative abilities, the dashboard disaster being pretty much par for the course. And I've always been a late and nervous adopter of technological innovations, although I recently discovered that I was only the third person in Bangkok to sign up to Twitter.

I briefly considered following Mr Frith's lead and putting a call out to a hip young designslinger, although that would inevitably create tensions: as well as being indolent and incompetent, I can be a bit of a control freak when I put my mind to it, a lethal combination. But I've also come to the conclusion that now everyone else has a bells-and-whistles blog, mine no longer looks primitive and creaky; it looks minimalist and a wee bit retro. And I'm also reminded a little of Aunt Percy.

Aunt Percy (real name Persimmon) was a character in one of my favourite childhood books, Clement Freud's Grimble. She lived in a tower block where the flats didn't have numbers; instead, they were all painted different colours to distinguish them. Aunt Percy's door was buff. Unfortunately, because all the doors were exposed to the elements, the paint gradually faded, until all the doors were buff. One resident suggested that they should put their names on the door, but Aunt Percy objected. She'd made the right choice of door colour to start with, so why should she have to bother with putting her name up? So all the others put their names on the doors, and underneath they put "and Aunt Percy doesn't live here".

So when Grimble goes round to Aunt Percy's flat for his dinner, because his parents have unexpectedly gone on a cruise to Peru, he knows to look for the door with nothing on it.

Not quite sure where I meant to go with that.

Anyway, in the current turbulent circumstances, the best of good wishes alone can't hope to ensure a happy new year, per se; but let's hope that 2009 will at least be interesting. Even if your front door isn't.


Billy said...

I remember Grimble well. I also read the sequel.

From Wikipedia:-

"Freud received 23,500 letters about the work, including 64 letters of complaint from domestic science teachers who thought the book disgraceful."


And as for design, I wouldn't worry about it, as long as it isn't too complicated it doesn't matter.

Charles Edward Frith said...

It's 3 clicks to change the font permanently. Dashboard, Layout, Fonts & Colours.

Times New Roman is about to make a comeback around 2011 though. I'm good at that sort of thing. Rarely earns me a dollar though.

Fat Roland said...

My blog used to be black. Now it is white.

I call my redesign the "Michael Jackson."

Rog said...

Ah, Byte Magazine. Not as bad as my Bark I recall.

We didn't have these traumas to contend with reading Practical Computing in the early Eighties with the wonderful Jack Schofield puffing sagely at the helm.

Annie said...

I saw a lovely hardback copy of Grimble in a charity shop yesterday, I've never read it and would have bought it, but it was £45.00.

Keep Cultural Snow the same, it will soon be the only blog not mucked about with!

Anonymous said...

I think your blog looks lovely just as it is. Bright and readable. Which applies to the content too.

All the best for 2009.

patroclus said...

I agree - there's nothing you need to change about your blog. It's the content that's important, and your content is as great as ever.

I'm pleased to hear that TNR is making a comeback. Is a comeback also predicted for Comic Sans?

Marsha Klein said...

Now Tim, if you REALLY want to see a blog devoid of clever twiddly bits, you need look no further than mine. Please don't change Cultural Snow; Patroclus is right - it's content wot counts.

Also, thank you for the mention of Grimble - Jonathon Cape reissued 'Grimble at Christmas' this year. I'm hoping they follow up with a reissue of 'Grimble' as my copy is falling apart.

All the best for 2009.

clodhopper said...

Wot patroclus and marsha etc said. Nothing wrong with penguin classic and pink on black will not suit.

best for 2009


FirstNations said...

I like your blog; your blog looks just fine, and there is enough blue on it to keep me happy.

now of course i mean blue the color, not blue as in content. although more nudity here in the Cultural Snowfields would be nice now that I come to think of it. what the hey.

Tim F said...

Oh well, that told me. Thanks for the reassurance - one less thing to do this year.

As for fonts, can I put in a lone vote for Lucida Handwriting?

West said...

I laughed for days at the bit in Grimble where his parents leave him 50p for his breakfast, but as 50p isn't very appetising, he goes and buys a bacon sandwich with it...

(I was only 30 at the time, obviously...)

£45 notes for a h/back? That's bloody outr....erm, probably about right actually...

You know what they say Tim, "if it ain't broke..."*

Umlaut vacillation: docubio

sounds like one of your readers, Tim...

*...privatise it.