Thoughts on a 2014 relaunch

Hello to all, and a happy new year to you. I hope 2013 treated you well and that 2014 is even better.

After a long and only mildly interrupted hiatus, I am finally starting to plan a proper relaunch of the blog, although not ready to predict a date yet.

One reason for deciding to plan a proper relaunch (and please note that we are not yet there, and I do not know when my schedule will allow it) is a gradual and regrettable estrangement over the last couple of years from any sort of academic discussions. By this time I had intended to be back in school, in a Doctoral program, but events have unfolded differently. I still hope to apply next year to start the following year, but that does leave an awfully long gap.

I do miss the discussions of the old blog. And Facebook or Twitter are no substitute. Sure, there are discussions, and I even have many of the old regular commenters on there. But the ephemeral nature of those comment threads grates on me, and the endless timeline of trivia that has become the standard template for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. has gone from mildly irritating to somewhat repulsive, and I trust I am not the only one embracing a grumpy nostalgia for the web of the ancient days of the mid-2000s.

Key to this effort, I believe, will be commuting to a regular minimum posting schedule of at least one moderately substantive post per week, ideally at the same approximate time and date. For this to work I intend to bank a significant number of pieces in advance, on the order of a dozen or so, such that temporary schedule changes will not lead to a temporary but seemingly total collapse of the blog as an ongoing project. Should coauthors rejoin me on the effort there may very well be more than one point on the standard post schedule, but I believe that even a very low hertz cadence is drastically preferable to total unpredictability.

But what will those posts be? Some will be long-unfinished drafts, many others will be presentations of fun old documents from my personal collection and public online archives, but what else?

What do you, the former readers, want to see? I must admit a significant lack of interest in covering current events in the general case, although I am sure that specific events will eventually prompt a reaction.

But, again, what did you read Mutantfrog for? What did we do differently from all the others? What gap looms?

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on a 2014 relaunch

  1. I don’t know that I’ll have something to say every week but I am excited to post whatever comes to mind.

  2. The best thing about the prime days of the blog was the great mix of post subjects. In one month we saw something about the bottom line of the Japanese economy, a naming and shaming of a crappy article in a Western newspaper, and interesting legal point, everyone piling on a news of the day topic, something that gets everybody talking about some foreign community in Japan thing, Steven Seagal Vs. Surfer Dude Emperor, and maybe something unpredictably offbeat. It wasn’t any one thing, it was the mix.

    Japan Probe is gone but I don’t miss it. It had a jackhammer like repetition of the same old stuff (with some fun posts mixed in). For me, MF was all about variety and community.

  3. Thanks Nevin and M-Bone.

    I definitely agree that variety is key. I somehow had not noticed that Japan Probe had gone into hibernation as well, perhaps because even though I had obviously not been checking it regularly, old posts have popped up a couple of times over the past few months in the course of a web search.

    And agreed on the tendencey there (and at so many blogs) towards repetition and filler, despite some good material in the mix. That seems to be a logical result of making an explicit decision to monetize the audience, filling the page up with ads and then making a lot of posts specifically aimed at bringing traffic in order to get more ad impressions.

    While I certainly don’t buy into the tired punk scene notion that getting paid for something you used to do for fun is automatically “selling out” (although it certainly can be. Not all charges of selling out are made by jealous haters.), I decided a long time ago that Mutantfrog is just not an appropriate venue for commercial activity. While there have been some ads on the blog in the past, that was just about enough to cover the site’s monetary cost back when I was a student with a pretty trivial income stream, and I plan to avoid that entirely in the future, even in the unlikely event that traffic reaches a higher peak than it ever did before.

    Incidentally, Japanprobe is still getting rather impressive traffic for a site that hasn’t been updated in half a year: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s18japanprobe&r=36

  4. Have any new solid Japan blogs popped up in English? It seems like most people are tweeting instead. Or out with the old (Observing Japan) and in with the new (Shisaku).

  5. The community and variety are definitely what did it for me. Plus, the research that went into some of the posts was pretty impressive. I also appreciated the lack of trolls. I can never really remember anybody coming onto the blog and blowing all hot over the usual tropes that we often see on other Japan blogs. I guess that was because there was more substance here. You guys didn’t just read the newspapers and talk about them.

  6. I’ve only just subscribed via RSS (after coming through for Joe’s latest on the Tokyo gubernatorial election) so I don’t really have an opinion but just want to wish you all the best :)

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