We’re excited to announce that our Future Cities book release party will be sponsored by Tumblr. Where would we be without Tumblr? That’s too scary to think about. It’ll also be sponsored by our publisher, Hillcrest Media.
Please join us at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis on February 27th for a book release party and Tumblr meetup. For just $10 you’ll get entry, a copy of the book, and a free drink ticket while supplies last.
Other fun deets:
- The Golden Bubbles (featuring Tangential editor Chris Vondracek)
- Koo Koo Kanga Roo
- DJ @jimfrick of Wak Lyf (Curator of technodrome.tumblr.com)
Here’s what’s going to go down:
7:30 p.m. - Doors open
8:30 p.m. - A reading by the contributors
9:00 p.m. - The music begins
Please bring your party shoes. We can’t wait to see you.
Future Cities contributors, in order of appearance in the book:
Jason Zabel—a Tangential editor, formerly editor of the late great Twin Cities A.V. Club.
Katie Sisneros—a Tangential founding editor and a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Minnesota.
Heidi Schatz—a Tangential editor.
Kelsey McDonough—a Tangential staff writer.
Christopher Vondracek—a Tangential staff writer.
Book cover and flyer design by Caroline Royce
Not near Minneapolis? Order your copy of Future Cities here—just $7.99 for a hard copy or $3.99 for an e-book!
Well, I don’t know about a billion dollars—I’m no venture capitalist. But over the past couple of weeks I’ve realized that Instagram has become my #1 go-to social app: if I’m waiting in line at the bank or hung over in bed, I’ll open Instagram before checking Twitter or Facebook or even Tumblr. Why is Instagram so great right now? Here are five things it’s got going for it.
1. It’s a visual Twitter. “Limits equal freedom” sounds very Big Brother, but it’s a lesson Facebook learned from the sparkly train wreck of MySpace, and that Twitter learned from Facebook, and that Instagram has now learned from Twitter. Instagram doesn’t have any links or events or apps or even GIFs—it’s just a steady stream of photos. There’s something soothing about that; you can watch it like a movie.
2. Filters. There’s been much discussion about whether Instagram filters are for twee dilettantes (versus Serious Photographers), but take away the names and the frames, and Instagram filters are really just an accessible version of the tools Serious Photographers have always had access to: changing brightness, contrast, and saturation. A filter can’t make a bad photo good—no more than Photoshop can fix a screwed-up DSLR shot—but it can enhance and clarify, making the photo more attractive and effective. Having that tool onboard is a no-brainer for a good photo sharing app.
3. Integration. I use Instagram for almost all my photo posting now, because it’s so elegantly integrated with other social media: when you post a photo to Instagram, you can easily select which other networks you want to share it with. Best of all, it’s much more reliable for uploading than most Twitter photo-sharing services, and way more reliable than the Tumblr app. It’s just the fastest and least frustrating way to share your photos online.
4. It’s at the sexy sweet spot of network adoption. You know that point in a social network’s life when it seems like it’s used by all the people you want to see your shit, and none of the people you don’t? Facebook toppled off this peak years ago, Twitter’s on its way downhill, and right now Tumblr and Instagram are sharing space at the summit. Chelsea Fagan recently wrote on her Tumblr, “I just took the time to write a bottom-of-the-barrel-scrapingly witty status on Facebook and I just kind of sighed and thought, ‘What the hell am I doing here? I don’t want approval from that pregnant chick I went to high school with and my bullshit new-agey aunt.’” That pregnant chick and the new-agey aunt have their Facebook (and Pinterest), and the rest of us have Tumblr and Instagram. For now.
5. It’s mobile-only. Well, not purely. If your Instagram account is open, your photos exist on individual Web pages that are linked to when you share your photos. But those pages aren’t linked to each other, so you can’t navigate Instagram on a browser: you have to use the mobile app. (Try the Instagallery app for your iPad; it feels like seeing your favorite classic movie on the big screen.) That gives Instagram a feeling of intimacy and privacy that makes it feel weirder to follow a stranger on Instagram than it is to follow him/her on Twitter or even to friend him/her on Facebook. Instagram still feels like a little mobile clubhouse. Will Facebook be able to preserve that feeling? Probably not, so enjoy it while it lasts.
• Friend everything that moves.
• Post lots of links about various topics and tag the names of anyone who might conceivably be interested.
• When someone famous dies, immediately post “RIP [Person Who Died]. You will be missed.” Get 83 Likes.
• Complain about how Facebook is always changing their features, but express hushed awe about the next Facebook development, which you happen to know about (via being a social media expert) and which will “change everything.”
• Use the same profile pic you use on Twitter, looking either outrageously friendly or outrageously sexy, whichever you’ve chosen as your personal brand.
• Use a cover photo of either (a) you and your spouse on vacation somewhere picturesque or (b) you lecturing at a social media conference.
• Have a bio with links to your various projects, one down-homey fact about you, and one emoticon.
• Make 50% of your tweets about various social media conferences you’re attending, 50% links to social media tips, and 0% anything remotely controversial.
• Whenever anyone says anything even vaguely positive about you or any of your projects, retweet it.
• Whenever any of your projects’ accounts tweets anything, retweet it.
• Whenever anyone retweets you, retweet them retweeting you and preface your re-retweet, “Thanks for the RT!”
• Be absolutely religious about distinguishing between MTs and RTs.
• And most importantly: #HASHTAG #EVERYTHING.
• Don’t have a Tumblr. If you’re ever asked about Tumblr, make a dismissive gesture and perhaps concede that it’s “interesting.”
The young girl posted a pensive #GPOY and rolled deeply into her duvet. Only yesterday she’d been reblogging unicorns, but on this day she felt an overwhelming ennui that would come to engulf her until she’d be awakened by the scent of chicken nuggets crisping in the oven.
Further down the dashboard, an aspiring poet posted a few spare lines about the futility of attempting to share love unless one loved oneself. She had paged through many wooded landscapes on Flickr before she glimpsed the snowcapped peak and stately firs that would form the background for her macro. Weary after the long wait for Photoshop to load on her MacBook, she decided not to attend yoga on this particular day. Rather, she placed a Lean Pocket in the microwave and padded softly down the hallway in search of her long-awaited freelance check.
The mainstream publications, as usual, had been busily posting charts and images, hoping desperately to draw viewers back to the publications’ home sites. The advertisers had been sounding the drums of discontent, and copies of the print editions were languishing on the shelves of the newsstands and convenience stores. The 30-something web editor untied the kerchief from around his neck and used it non-ironically to wipe the desperate droplets of sweat off the back of his neck.
Below the one-line comics trying to win fans in an arena less competitive than Twitter, below the music bloggers’ interminable rants, below the vintage interiors and the captioned GIFs and the teeth-gnashing responses to anonymous ask box harassment and Angelina Jolie’s leg…there I found myself, drinking sangria and waiting for Topherchris to emerge from the shadows.
Modus operandi: Lures you in with promise of $100 couch that may or may not have bed bugs.
Motive: Needs to satisfy sexual and murderous instincts built up from sitting on bed bugs couch alone watching Hoarders for the last three months.
Trademark: Portrayed as handsome go-getting blonde man in Lifetime movie.
Modus operandi: Schedules a meeting at Starbucks, and talks the whole time about how impressed he is with the way you’ve leveraged your synergy to utilize your maximum potential. When you’re checking your BlackBerry, slips cyanide into your skinny half-caf vanilla latte. When you start to have trouble breathing, he leans in close to your ear and whispers, “You’re about to be subtracted from my personal network.” Disappears into the crowd as you seize up and slump to the floor.
Motive: Blames his continuing unemployment on your failure to leave a recommendation on his profile.
Trademark: On his way out, passes by the breakfast-sandwich giveaway bowl and drops a business card that says, “MR. DEATH. Vice-President of Grim Reckoning, Hell LLC.”
Modus operandi: Stabs you repeatedly in the back, yelling with each plunge of the knife, “Reblog! Reblog! Reblog! Like! Like! Like! LIKE! LIKE!”
Motive: You downloaded and uploaded his photo of a cat in a hamster ball to your own blog instead of reblogging, and it got you featured on the Tumblr Radar.
Trademark: Takes photos of the killing and makes a GIF that he posts to fuckyeahbloodymurder.tumblr.com.
Modus operandi: Waits until you are hypnotized into a relaxed brainwave state from your favorite “chill tune,” and then says, “Have you ever wondered…if you deserve to be alive?” Then a girl and boy in windpants and sweatbands crawl out of your computer, Ring-style, and strangle you with jump ropes.
Motive: Hating on the 99% who don’t give enough of a shit about Spotify to pay for premium subscriptions and think they can get away with listening to copyrighted material for free without dealing with ads.
Trademark: After you are killed, Spotify posts to your Facebook saying you just listened to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Modus operandi: Throws a molotov cocktail through the window of your book nook.
Motive: After being rejected from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, plotted to travel the country killing every single person who gave a five-star review to Gilead.
Trademark: Dresses like Oskar Werner in Fahrenheit 451.
Modus operandi: Lures you into a backroom at Crate & Barrel to give you a sneak peek of the newest spring collection. Then they lock the door, revealing the back room is actually a dungeon. You must now Pin 4 Your Life, posting as many delicious cookie recipes as you can in five minutes. If they are not delicious or wacky enough (no savory surprises?), you get spray-painted pink and mortified into a house accessory.
Motive: Driven mad by unreasonably high bar set in life for how delicious the idea of a cookie recipe could be.
Trademark: Messy bun.
Modus operandi: Leaps out from under your kitchen table with a shotgun while you’re taking a picture of your omelet and cries, “Let me filter that for you!”
Motive: Spent two years as a political prisoner in a remote Tibetan jail where he was starved to the point of death. Was allowed to use his laptop, but the only social network that the government didn’t block was Instagram. Went insane.
Trademark: Takes a photo of your blood-spattered corpse and posts it to your Instagram account with a Kelvin filter and the tag #GPOY.
Modus operandi: Steals your address book info and then shows up at your house when you are doing one of your favorite things, like enjoying a peppermint mocha, and declares, “It’s time to freeze your moments. Prepare to be paused!” (Yeah, Path talks weird.)
Motive: Jealousy over your devotion and activity on other social networks. “Why not me!? Why not meeeee!?”
Trademark: Leaves a press release for Path’s upcoming collaboration with Nike, signed, “So ha.”
Google Plus Minus Man
Modus operandi: Kills himself.
Trademark: Leaves a suicide note on his Google Plus profile. Weeks go by before anyone realizes he’s dead.
Keep writing. Building a following online takes time—days, weeks, months, years. Post something at least once a day, so that people know to expect regular content. (Plus, the more you write, the more comfortable and fluid you become.) Be patient.
Keep interacting. Commenting, reblogging, and retweeting are great—as long as it’s genuine interaction with people whose posts you value and not just spammy stuff like “Hey, great blog! Now read mine!”
Be responsive. When something happens in the world that you have something to say about, say it—the sooner, the better. You don’t need to contrive some forced response to Kim Kardashian’s divorce, but interest in a topic surges when the news is fresh, and presenting your distinctive take on a subject can help to attract readers and establish your perspective. Put that subject in your headline, use tags on Tumblr, and generally make clear to readers and search engines what it is you’re writing about.
Share via social media. Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Tumblr (unless it’s a Tumblr itself already) for your blog—and add links or, better yet, widgets on your blog advertising those things so that people who visit you for one post can be easily hooked in to come back for more. Post to all of them regularly. Make it as easy as possible for people to follow your blog via the sites they’re already on. (Remember that people may be reading your Tumblr blog without following it via their Tumblr—if they even have one. If you’re curious about how many hits your Tumblr is getting in addition to people who see your posts on their dashboards, you can add Google Analytics.) Add links to your blog from your own Facebook profile, your own Twitter, and everywhere else you have profiles online.
Share IRL. For as little as $20, you can print hundreds of cards or stickers advertising your blog. Stick them in your bag and hand them to people you meet. Drop them at coffee shops, pin them to bulletin boards. If your blog covers a subject relevant to events in your area, go to those events and meet people; talk about what you’re doing. If you want to bump it up a level, offer event sponsors links or ads on your blog in exchange for promotion to their followers.
Collaborate. One of the reasons we’ve had as much success as we’ve had with this blog—and enjoyed it as much as we have—is that from the beginning it was a collaborative project. That’s made it easier to produce a lot of strong, diverse content; and there’s a lot to be said for having a small but rewarding built-in audience. From day one, I knew that even if no one else read any of my posts on this blog, Becky and Katie would, and that was enough. Even if your blog doesn’t lend itself to having multiple regular contributors, consider inviting some of your favorite writers to contribute occasional posts to your blog—or interview them about things you care about.
Do it for the love of it. We didn’t start this blog to get famous or (lolololololol) rich—we started it, and continue to post here, because we wanted a way to share things that we wanted to write. Appreciative readers mean a lot, but what will really keep you going is just enjoying what you do. If we didn’t enjoy this, it wouldn’t be worth it even if we were getting famous or rich doing it. (Actually, that’s probably a lie.)