Comic Fodder

Of Technology and Fame on Comic Blogs

I love to read, and I love to learn new things, so the internet is both a blessing and a curse to me. At the beginning, I could lose endless hours following link after digressing link, until it would take a psychologist five years to dissect my train of thought to show how I could start my evening researching the quantitative advantage it would take for a shipping company to move its production factories from Japan to China, and end up on a page discussing whether fibromyalgia is a real disease, or just a name doctors give when they can't figure out what's really wrong with you. Suffice it to say I have many varied interests.

I managed to cut down a ton of that time meandering the web by getting a DVR and watching copious extra amounts of television, increasing the number of comics I bought, starting free browser games like Ikariam, and landing a girlfriend who (wonder of wonders!) actually prefers to spend as much time with me as she can. Plus, I started writing here. Which led me to research on blogging techniques and tools, which caused me to follow some links... Dagnabbit!

Once on the cutting edge of this newfangled thing called the internet, technology had swiftly progressed, leaving me in an early-90s Luddite state, able to find things fast and use the hell out of hotkeys, but blissfully ignorant of the online tools that millions of people were learning to utilize, like using Flickr to share photos and such. Coming into the Fodder Family, I decided I should explore these things and see what tools could help us to grow and attract attention. One of the more recent examples is the 'Share This' button at the bottom of every article now, allowing you to tag whatever you want with a dozen different social bookmarking options. Then lo and behold, I come across this article
from Technology Review, mentioning that these very social media tools might be a tad distracting. Thankfully, it mostly seems to have an effect on people present at events. They are supposed to be taking notes and getting the gist of a presentation or an article, but in their wild button-mashing attempts to blog their attendance, tweet something clever, maintain awareness of the last post on their Facebook account and silently return their friend's text on the cell phone, that last try at tagging actually reduced time available to commit to remembering what the hell they were there for in the first place. I'm exaggerating only slightly. (You didn't just update your Facebook while you read this, did you?)

I am of the hope that the technological digiterati out there that have an interest in comic-related topics aren't some pez candy hopped-up megalomaniacs who find a new post, descend upon it like a flock of vultures, and race to be the first one to digg it or buzz it, only scanning enough lines so they can make up what the article might be about in the first place. If you've got enough initiative to find our little corner of the comic web, I'm trusting that the article itself is read to your satisfaction, and then at the end, you decide to tag it, not losing anything important by the time you're done. If we have that few brain cells left available to assimilate new information, all my future hopes of mankind colonizing the universe are already dead on arrival.

But are we going about this the right way? The suggestions by Erica Naone, that perhaps or might serve the tagging experience better, strike me as a step in the right direction. What about it, comic fans? Is there a preferred social bookmark preferred by the pop culture crowd? Or is everyone waiting for the computers to get enough artificial intelligence to tag everything for us without anyone even having to tell them what tags to use? ("I can't do that, Dave. I'll just mark it under Miscellaneous Trivia...")

Of greater concern upon first glance was the next article claiming "Persistence actually reduces the chances of success." Luckily, it was a study of YouTube statistics. Phew! It has long been common wisdom that blogs gain a larger following by posting often, and with engaging content. This study threatened to turn things on their rear, with the discovery that even if you posted a cool video the first time and got better with each and every new video you post, your odds were worse for getting more hits. Dancing baby says what?

Turns out that average perusers of video have less of an attention span than the tagging reporters who can't remember what they just tagged. The latest and greatest shiny object to grab their attention tends to be something new and different. Almost your entire novelty audience moves on to the next video of someone getting hurt bodily, rather than hanging around to see the same guy post something else. I tend to be different, in that when I find a cool segment, I look to see if there's a sequel. Much like the way I follow any other media, if I find a "creator" I like, I will actually follow him or her around for a while, digesting as much good product from that single source as I can. That said, at some point I do end up opening up a dozen different tabs to follow the digression of videos that adds up to yet another evening spent doing nothing but watching YouTube videos. Luckily, I only do it two or three times a year... Dagnabbit!

Yet again, I am hoping that regular blogs are slightly different. My own recent absence does seem to confirm that in the case of written content, success and persistence actually does count for a lot. Posting on a frequent basis on timely events like the leak of the Wolverine movie just about doubled our readership, according to the tracking we follow on ComicBlogElite. As fate would have it, that was followed by the day job sending me out of town for a week, during which time I had no net access, and no way to post new content. We plummeted for the week, down to below half our original weekly numbers. All of which seems to support the idea that comic readers don't whip through their favorite pop culture pages randomly like we do on You Tube, tagging and running. We tend to find good sites, bookmark them, and set things up so we receive a notice that there's something new there to read. When I hit upon the zeitgeist that everybody is really interested in at the moment, like Watchmen, the hits start climbing; also, the recent Trinity article had a record number of hits in a single day for Fodder’s comics section, totaling a couple months’ worth of views in a 24-hour period, and reflecting the thought that “if you post it, they will come.”

The question is, should I bank some articles for the weeks when I have to go away, so content can be posted here in a stable, regular fashion, or do you guys appreciate the break of only visiting ten websites instead of twenty in any given week during your insatiable quest for news and fodder? I know sometimes I need to take a break from my web journeys and just pass up some sites for a while. The worker bee in me tells me that I need to be constantly producing in order to earn my proper keep. The modern, bottom-line oriented just-in-time supplier in me tells me that I need to avoid posting a link to another article along with maybe a picture and two sentences just to have a post for the day, as I see a ton of other blogs do, and make sure I wait until I have something worthwhile, so I don't waste people's time.

What do you think?

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.