Happy Birthday, Trato

Alek
 
 
 
Alexa
 
 
 
Anonymoist
 
 
 
Ben
 
 
 
Dan
 
 
 
Domanark
 
 
 
Emily
 
 
 
Eryn
 
 
 
Hawthorn
 
 
 
Isiah
 
 
 
Ivy
 
 
 
Jab50Yen
 
 
 
Juni
 
 
 
Kaleb
 
 
 
Mihmnop
 
 
 
Mom
 
 
 
The Movie Closet crew
 
 
 
Nina
 
 
 
Null
 
 
 
Renee
 
 
 
Shinji
 
 
 
Tim
 
 
 
Virgil
 
 
 
Xanath
 
 
 
Zovi
 

T H A N K

Y O U

On May 18th, 2016, I launched a despi­ca­ble-look­ing Word­Press web­site, sat­is­fy­ing nobody’s antic­i­pa­tion but my own.

 

The 367 days since have been the most sig­nif­i­cant of my entire life.

 

I have learned more, pro­duced more, and slept less than ever.

Though many peo­ple have added to this project finan­cial­ly or intel­lec­tu­al­ly, its great­est ben­e­fi­cia­ry so far has been myself by a wide berth. In the next year and beyond, I need your help to make sure that changes.
 
I can imag­ine (almost hope, even) that these let­ters haven’t had much read­er­ship, but they’ve for­ev­er chron­i­cled my intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment in spite of my shife, fleet­ing mem­o­ry. Writ­ing to you has assist­ed me tremen­dous­ly in fig­ur­ing out why and how I should build this thing.
 
Today, the front page bears noth­ing but the above list of indi­vid­u­als who’ve invest­ed in, con­tributed to, ban­tered with, and/or encour­aged us.
 
Beneath their names is a heav­i­ly smushed screen­shot of all the Extranet’s raw text. It’s a bit less com­pressed than the one I post­ed on Insta­gram — the orig­i­nal was 30,000 pix­els long — but they both allow you to see the entire­ty of what we’ve cre­at­ed so far in one image.
 
The staff and I would like to thank you for your read­er­ship, your engage­ment, and your sup­port of fresh dig­i­tal media.
 
If you recall our mantra — scrib­am quid non leg­erim (“I will write what I have not read”) — note that an unstat­ed com­po­nent of that sen­ti­ment includes I want to read what I have not read. In that sense, our sup­port­ers — men­tioned and unmen­tioned — have direct­ly con­tributed to our sat­is­fac­tion, as have you — even if these are the first of our words you’ve con­sumed.
 
Col­leagues and friends have come and gone, but the core group — the peo­ple I chose to bet on — have remained present in some form, and the work of every one of those who’ve cho­sen to move on will remain in high stand­ing. 

E D I T O R I A L L Y

Tim and Hawthorn have become my right and left hands — keep­ing me in cheque in their own dis­tinct, respec­tive meth­ods when my pre­ten­tious abstrac­tions begin to cross the line.
Over the months, they have thank­less­ly assumed a crit­i­cal coun­ter­weight role, and one of supreme friend­ship, per­son­al­ly.
I’ll nev­er be able to express suf­fi­cient grat­i­tude to either.
The three of us now make up the edi­to­r­i­al team of this pub­li­ca­tion: one dam­aged-goods word nerd, a chaot­ic, prose-sling­ing machin­ist, and a mani­a­cal cyber­count­ess.
 
Nul­li­fy Tim’s com­pa­ny, here on the ground, and I’m not sure I’d be able to main­tain my obses­sion, func­tion­al­ly, and with­out Hawthorn’s spo­radic cor­re­spon­dence from the North­west, I’d have spun off in a cyclone of my own bull­shit, ages ago.
 
Aside from her appear­ances on Future­land, I know ‘Thorn’s byline seems awful­ly absent, but her behind-the-scenes con­tri­bu­tions have had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on deci­sions made with­in vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of the orga­ni­za­tion. This is why — very soon — I’m going to be over­haul­ing our woe­ful­ly-out­dat­ed mast­head to more accu­rate­ly com­pile and present the names who make up Extra­tone.
 
In fact, I’ve already begun build­ing staffer-spe­cif­ic land­ing pages: Tim and I have /cactus and /bilge, respec­tive­ly.
 
Giv­en the below-detailed com­mit­ment against com­pro­mis­ing our visu­al expe­ri­ence, Ben Stokes’ ambi­tious new bi-week­ly web com­ic could not have been pitched at a more per­fect time.
 
My rant about Face­book is most­ly con­jec­ture — the lan­guage of its users — but it actu­al­ly includes pseudoc­i­ta­tion(!) and looks real­ly great.
 
I hap­pened to glance at the Net’s recent top search­es, a few weeks ago, and dis­cov­ered men­tion of ‘bran­don from extra­tone’ behind only my name.
Who is he? I cer­tain­ly did not let any Bran­dons in the front door.
 
Our anony­mous dig­i­tal wraith — K. I. Eleuthe­rios XVII — decid­ed to explore the sto­ry in her expo­si­tion.

M E C H A N I C A L L Y

 
Remem­ber that fuck­ing busi­ness plan I told you about last month?
 
Well, num­ber two has tak­en a lot of my time. Orig­i­nal­ly, I only want­ed a web pres­ence to eas­i­ly man­age the con­tent for even­tu­al sea­son­al prints, but what I’ve learned about dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling in the inter­im has me con­vinced that its pos­si­bil­i­ties trump the need for you to ever hold us in your hands. Per­son­al­ly, it’s been 12 months of obses­sive­ly stum­bling around, which is an odd activ­i­ty.
 
In ret­ro­spect, it would seem that I’ve learned to turn my van­i­ty into pro­duc­tive ener­gy. Remem­ber that night in July when I spent some 18 hours com­plete­ly redesign­ing the site after I’d hap­pened to vis­it it on my phone before bed? I thought this… looks like shit, so I just… threw every­thing away, and start­ed over with the basic infra­struc­ture of today’s tone.
Our serv­er expe­ri­enced
2.1 mil­lion raw hits, 
and 4200GB of raw band­width
exchanged by 32,500 unique vis­i­tors.
210 posts and 71 pages
con­tain­ing near­ly 100,000 words
make up over 12mb of raw Extranet text
-
12,753,703 char­ac­ters,
or
about four King James bibles.
So, our Tra­to has indeed grown into that titan­ic digi­hunk I pre­dict­ed it would, but it’s actu­al­ly got­ten very lithe over time.
 
At ori­gin, the whole clunky-ass intranet thing was a good joke, but I’m very pleased to announce that it (along with its reg­is­tra­tion process, forums, pro­files, groups, etc)  has been destroyed, for­ev­er. The loss of its dead weight cou­pled with a near site-wide elim­i­na­tion of the side­bar has reduced the net to less than half its orig­i­nal load­ing time.
 
Also con­tribut­ing to this new­found imme­di­a­cy in a big way is the visu­al style we devised in Novem­ber of last year, which we like to call Pithed. Like a sort of cyber black­out poet­ry, it involves com­press­ing the shit out of ultra high-dimen­sion images upon ren­der so that they look beau­ti­ful­ly and inten­tion­al­ly pix­elized (as opposed to just plain poor qual­i­ty) at ludi­crous­ly tiny file sizes.
 
For exam­ple, this fea­tured image I took at MAGFest is 4672 x 2628 — more than large enough to be mal­leable for the Extranet’s var­i­ous dis­play for­mats, yet the JPEG, itself is only 120 kb in size, which allows for even the longest-wind­ed, most intri­cate­ly visu­al-laden fea­tures to be briskly ren­dered in less-than-ide­al net­work sit­u­a­tions.
 
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense for us to sac­ri­fice our read­ing expe­ri­ence to page load times — that’s what old new media is for — but I think Pithing will con­tin­ue to have a smooth­ing effect on your dig­i­tal thumb­ing, along with its result­ing lack of caching neces­si­ty. In fact, there was actu­al­ly a sig­nif­i­cant increase in over­all site speed when I dis­abled it to live-edit some­thing a few weeks back. (Remind me to buy a 10-gal­lon hat for such occa­sions.) Until a more tai­lored pro­fes­sion­al solu­tion becomes avail­able, the Extranet will remain live and uncached.
 
Out of all forms of human com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the com­ic for­mat has always been the most alien to me, by far. When attempt­ing to absorb a com­ic book — print or dig­i­tal — I’ve nev­er been able to escape my utter inep­ti­tude. (I’m sure I’ll be able to improve after some expe­ri­ence, one day, but for now, the fact is incon­se­quen­tial.)
 
In the case of Ben’s Har­vey T. Hal­loway, I was pro­vid­ed an enthralling new chal­lenge just in the nick of time. When he orig­i­nal­ly sub­mit­ted Page 1, I sim­ply chucked most of the raw image on the home­page. Appar­ent­ly, some mobile browsers do not allow pinch-to-zoom in that for­mat, and ya can’t just take every pan­el in at once on a small­er screen.
 
The most rea­son­able, short-term solu­tion I could come up with was to install Har­vey on its own instance. I pul­ver­ized a free theme’s CSS (which is why nav­i­ga­tion appears quite glitchy, at the moment,) and mus­tered a bare-bones plat­form that seems to func­tion ade­quate­ly for the time being. The Hal­loway sec­tion on the Net is still the best way to browse and share pages, though. (The entries are sim­ple redi­rects.)
 
If you’re an expe­ri­enced con­sumer and you’ve got the time to send your feed­back, please do
 
My ear­ly focus on user account reg­is­tra­tion exem­pli­fies how dis­turbing­ly pro­found my naivety was regard­ing the state of the inter­net in 2017. I knew enough to avoid anti-open web CMSs like Medi­um or Tum­blr, and to fore­see a uni­ver­sal re-analy­sis of where the fuck our words go, (and I just need­ed to play around again,) but I had no idea how many bril­liant inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion solu­tions were avail­able.
 
Nor did I real­ize the extent of the noise which one is now con­front­ed with when attempt­ing to cre­ate a media com­pa­ny. A pri­ma­ry quandary all along has been sort­ing between what is expect­ed (of a dig­i­tal magazine/blog/news site,) and what makes sense. It’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly essen­tial one — the answer will like­ly decide the rel­e­van­cy of our exis­tence.
 
For instance, Dis­cord is basi­cal­ly capa­ble of every­thing that any/all com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices have ever offered, yet even the most mod­ern pub­li­ca­tions are still using Slack, inter­nal­ly, which is sim­ply unnec­es­sary. Most of the web looks like shit, includ­ing those few pub­li­ca­tions with way too much mon­ey to con­cede to fuck­ing mobile ver­sions of their sites and their readership’s Face­book habit, while oth­ers have stooped to just treat­ing their audi­ence like five-year-olds.
 
If Extra­tone was sub­ject to this cow­ardice, we’d prob­a­bly have a sig­nif­i­cant­ly greater rev­enue stream by now, but we wouldn’t be mak­ing any­thing worth­while. It’d be sense­less.
 
Though it’s been spo­radic — and much too male — there are peo­ple vis­it­ing this web­site. We’ve got­ten some mud on the tires, and the expe­ri­ence has sug­gest­ed that non-con­trib­u­tor user accounts are sense­less. There’s no rea­son for you to wor­ry about anoth­er set of cre­den­tials — anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to put your infor­ma­tion at risk, or for me to have to wor­ry about putting it at risk.
 
As such, I have dis­abled account cre­ation, removed the ✒️ drop-down menu from Meta, and final­ly dis­abled com­ments, site-wide.
 
Meth­ods of engage­ment with us still abound, and would-be con­trib­u­tors can sim­ply email me to have their account made. It’s a lot sim­pler this way.
 

A post shared by David Blue (@asphaltapostle) on

My gift to the Extranet for its first birth­day is this ver­sion — 3.6 — which includes a bunch of addi­tion­al tidy­ing-up with that dig­i­tal flip­ping ide­al in mind.
(I’m just thank­ful I’ve yet to have a dream — or night­mare — about edit­ing the web­site.)
 
  • The search func­tion has been removed from Hus­to­nia — the main nav menu. There real­ly is  some­thing about “online mag­a­zine” and the neces­si­ty of explo­ration. Take your time — you might have fun dig­ging. If you must search, you’ll still be able to use the func­tion­al­i­ty in this for­mat: /?s=[term]. E.g. extratone.com/?s=piss
  • Most sec­tions (cat­e­gories) have been re-vis­it­ed and irrel­e­vant meta trimmed away as much as pos­si­ble. It doesn’t make much sense for every thumb­nail in Words of David Blue in Red to include “by David Blue.”
  • Archive dis­play pag­i­na­tion has been revised. There are now a set max­i­mum num­ber of posts-per-page dis­played, so — if you find your­self remem­ber­ing some­thing you found while explor­ing, you can reli­ably remem­ber where you left off by page num­ber.
  • I tweaked the about page slight­ly, remov­ing par­al­lax to fur­ther smooth things out.
  • Since it’s still debat­ably the best part of this web­site, it’s worth not­ing that I’ve visu­al­ly updat­ed our 404 page.

A U D I O

Despite tak­ing on the undoubt­ed­ly mon­u­men­tal task of draw­ing a bi-week­ly web com­ic, Ben Stokes has con­tin­ued to plug away at The Movie Clos­et.
You can now spread the show around more eas­i­ly with this short­link: bit.ly/moviecloset.
 
Tim bought a Nexbit Robin and reviewed it on Future­land before we caught up on a bunch of sto­ries, and I read the first piece I wrote for Words of David Blue in Red in hon­or of its one-year anniver­sary for Drycast.

T H E P A S T

Since these let­ters have real­ly just been anoth­er, long-wind­ed form of Extra­tone aggre­ga­tion, it’s preva­lent of me to revis­it some of my favorite con­tent from the past year.
 
In ear­ly Octo­ber, we watched the Sec­ond Pres­i­den­tial Debate between Clin­ton and Tump, and I was able to get our very-lib­er­al friend Ivy Holi­vana to chat with Vir­gil — Stu­dio Eat’s Marx­ist guardian angel, and Alek MichaelExtra­tone’s Alacrity Edi­tor and sin­gu­lar Don­ny-vot­ing staffer. It was pub­lished under the now-deceased Off The Grid brand, but was like noth­ing else we’d ever done. It’s a bit of a sur­re­al lis­ten, con­sid­er­ing where we’re at, cur­rent­ly. There was a lot of inter­rup­tion, but every­body was able to artic­u­late their par­tic­u­lar, uni­ver­sal­ly-fresh per­spec­tives on The Tump Prob­lem. Noth­ing much has become of our hes­i­tant Tump sec­tion yet, but that dis­cus­sion is the essen­tial take­away.
 
The first episode of Future­land to bear the name includ­ed an inter­view with Glenn of Vine fame, but dis­cussing his excel­lent Expert Opin­ion pod­cast ‘out-of-char­ac­ter,’ as well as his dil­li­gent study of com­e­dy proved to be much more inter­est­ing than the service’s destruc­tion.
 
Way back in Sep­tem­ber, I got to record a con­ver­sa­tion with a pod­cast­er whom I’ve admired for a long time. Doma­narK co-hosts Clue­less Space Nerds, an Eve Online com­mu­ni­ty icon which I used to con­sume reli­gious­ly. It’s no sur­prise we got along so well, I guess — ulti­mate­ly, we are both Mid­west­ern red­necks who’ve played the god­damn game.
 
We start­ed off this year by attend­ing MAGFest 2017 — our first event ‘cov­er­age’ as a pub­li­ca­tion. Though we only got a sin­gle episode of Future­land from the floor, itself (in the cor­ner with the trash and the flies,) a lat­er, much more sober reflec­tion in the after­math record­ed with Whit­ney, Jab50Yen, Kali, Isi­ah, and Juni proved to be an effec­tive fol­lowup. Though it’s only been a few months, the writ­ten bit — my first attempt at a “big fea­ture” — is already quite cringey in lay­out and voice, but per­haps that’s a pos­i­tive thing. I may fin­ish its com­pan­ion — The Sin­cer­i­ty - one day when I have time to kill, but the expe­ri­ence taught me — if any­thing — just how irrel­e­vant most of my pre­sump­tions were. Round­ing it all up, Jab50Yen and I had a con­ver­sa­tion about YouTube Poop to a depth I can safe­ly claim as the pre­miere offer­ing, any­where, which is uh… very on-brand, at least.
 
Alexa’s extra­or­di­nar­i­ly artic­u­late rants in the last fifty min­utes of Future­land’s 22nd episode are some of my favorite of all time. Imag­ine if we had the means to pay her for more rants and hard-hit­ting prose.
 
The whole sec­tion has been great, real­ly, but Tim’s sons is prob­a­bly my favorite.

I have come from a line of Great men
and less­er men
men who lead proud and ful­fill­ing lives
and those who died before they had time
these men worked with their hands
and with their minds
strong men and smart men
lock­smiths and welders,
engi­neers and min­ers
sol­diers and sailors
grunts to com­man­ders
their blood flows through me
They were sons of Amer­i­ca
She brought them pros­per­i­ty and dis­par­i­ty
they loved her and hat­ed her
so when i die
i will be buried in her heart land
next to her might­i­est riv­er.

T H E F U T U R E

Of every­thing?
Ter­ri­fy­ing
because it is more com­plex than any of us could’ve imag­ined.
 
There will be expo­nen­tial­ly more infor­ma­tion to absorb than the com­bined exchange of all human com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and our meth­ods of dis­trib­ut­ing it will be (and are being) bru­tal­ly test­ed, but ulti­mate­ly, the mes­sage is always more impor­tant than the medi­um.
 
I’ve brought you along for my expe­ri­ences return­ing to (some­what) world­ly aware­ness because this con­text — what you see in front of you — is the only method I’ve found for myself to accom­plish both the aca­d­e­m­ic and per­son­al devel­op­ment that uni­ver­si­ty exists to accom­plish (by dec­la­ra­tion, any­way.)
 
Obvi­ous­ly, I’m grate­ful for the per­son­al progress, but the dan­ger of my per­son on its future has made itself appar­ent. Ulti­mate­ly, Extra­tone can­not be me; can­not be mine.
 
I’ve been learn­ing to love this town, but it’s far from where we belong. As I explained in March, we’re plan­ning to head toward our friends in the North­west, next year — con­serv­ing our com­mu­ni­ty build­ing ener­gies for a more tar­get-rich envi­ron­ment. Ear­ly on, I was ade­quate­ly con­vinced that face time (as in, per­son-to-per­son) was no longer nec­es­sary for inter­com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the ‘tru­ly-mod­ern’ orga­ni­za­tion I want­ed to build, but — as I’ve said rep­e­ti­tious­ly — my per­cep­tion of even our own bub­bled indus­try real­i­ty has changed dras­ti­cal­ly, since.
 
No amount of VoIP, text chan­nels, or file shar­ing ser­vices can replace prox­im­i­ty in the process of a pub­li­ca­tion fly­ing the nest. An office space will always be the ide­al envi­ron­ment for our sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion.
 
It’s real­ly all I day­dream about, these days.
 
I can tell you that I, myself need to slow down a bit, while I still can. A year of web devel­op­ment has gained me plen­ty of knowl­edge, yes, but it’s also cost my body a lot. The ground­work has been laid, and I’ve been slow­ly accli­mat­ing to a more rea­son­able lifestyle.
 
There’s always more to say, but it can be left to the com­ing months.
 
Until then, we’re going to con­tin­ue doing our best to deliv­er extra­or­di­nary dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences, and we hope you find your­self invest­ed in our cre­ation.
 
One more time — thank you.
For every­thing.

Scrib­am
quid
non
leg­erim
 
Edi­tor-in-Chief