Livingwithmusic.com has been a pet project of mine for quite some time now. For this most recent relaunch, I have deleted a ton of content (over one hundred posts), streamlined the site to be mobile-friendly and packed the content into new categories.
01) Beginnings (2002)
I simply cannot find a screenshot of my first real website anymore, but that might very well be a good thing. I had started much earlier than 2002, blogging here and there and trying this and that, but when Rick Ellis founded EllisLab and released “pMachine“, I think I might have been one of the earliest adopters. All I remember is that I used the new back-end to put together a table-based layout, something that has been frowned upon for ages now, using David Siegel‘s nifty tricks to get some sort of decent layout together.
At the end, I had some brownish/beige website that worked, motivated me … and would, today, be a perfect example of how NOT to design a website. Still, when I switched it to a “live” status, I was proud of what I had achieved. And, as far as I recall, I got into an online shouting match with someone who stole the design and used it for his own website which sold, as far as I recall, original art.
02) deus62.com (2002)
What is livingwithmusic.com today actually used to be bits and pieces of deus62.com, my first blogging experiment and a site, which is still around today. Today it functions solely as a gateway to my small corner of the Internet.
It still ran on “pMachine” but was much more advanced in every respect.
That site had a category entitled “deus62/audio” and that, in turn, contained some music posts, lyrics as well as LP and CD covers, but at the heart of deus62.com were posts discussing films, design and all aspects of my convoluted life at the time.
03) Focusing on Jazz (2003)
At some point soon thereafter, which I cannot pinpoint anymore today, I zeroed-in on “Jazz”, the love for which had been rekindled so massively that for a while, I was not really interested in anything else.
That new deus62.com was still powered by pMachine, was table-based and basically relied on an intricate Photoshop design which I had sliced and diced to fit the restraints of the medium that frustrated us bloggers and designers at a time, at which Internet-related things were just beginning to take off.
One of the highlights was my “Jazz Timeline“, which was actually quite nifty. I am still thinking of integrating something like that today, into the most recent reincarnation of the site you are looking at right now.
04) Refinement (2004)
The next iteration of deus62.com was nothing but a refinement, an integration of various online activities into one single site. Already at that point, music had taken a front-row seat, with a link to the now defunct count-basie.com site, a project which never really jelled, a section dedicated to my music collection, the aforementioned “Jazz Timeline“, and various other departments:
05) Going “Table-less” (2005)
At some point in 2005, I decided to give a non-table-based layout a try, sat down for a single weekend, puzzled together all the techniques I had learned and came up with the new deus62.com.
Shortly thereafter, the music separated from that core site of mine.
06) The “9rules” Phase (2005)
It is also the moment livingwithmusic.com was born. All the music-related posts and activities were removed from deus62.com and moved over to the new domain.
At that time, “9rules” and its forums was a buzzing network populated with the most diverse folks, all striving for excellence in web design and publishing.
People like Bryan Veloso, Jared Christensen, Matt Brett and Paul Stamatiou (both of whom had joined up in the same round as I had), Shawn Anthony …and a ton of others that I had either followed already for quite a while or started to follow when I joined up, made 9rules my first Internet “home”. Grand times with people I still admire today.
I managed to assemble a reader base and get a much wider readership by being a member there, and I am still grateful for that.
07) Exodus (2007/08)
I cannot remember when I left 9rules, and I am too lazy to check right now, but at some point the whole thing imploded, Too many members, too many changes, too many big-headed people at the steering wheel. It was fun while it lasted, but off into the unknown I went.
All of this coincided with two other events, myself falling severely ill for many years, a problem that did not really go away until the middle of 2011, and my site switching from the old pMachine (at that time, “Expression Engine” had become the hot thing) back-end to WordPress.
I lost my footing, something you can see when looking at the archives of this site (ignoring the many posts I deleted). I had neither the motivation nor the health to keep the site running.
So, in the interim, I started using WordPress themes to help me avoid having to post anything longer than a few lines … and even that I didn’t get around to.
Sigmund Freud could have had a field day or two with me, myself and I during that phase. I am glad he didn’t have the chance.
08) Interim (2009/10)
At that time, I also started focusing more on publishing some hard-to-get discographies of out-of-print box sets, a list of the fabulous “Jazz in Paris” reissue series, and some other things that made my site move away from “normal” day-to-day blogging.
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The second intermediate version of livingwithmusic.com used press75‘s excellent “SevenFive” theme, which allowed me to pull together smaller chunks from around my online activities on the Internet. At the time it was used, I was too sick to do anything but post a few links here and there, complain about bad reissues, or add the odd news and review item.
09) Experiments (2011)
In the beginning of 2011, my health improved enough to start experimenting again. At some point – and I had more than plenty of time to contemplate my online activities – I decided that kicking years of work into the trash was not the way to go. Many of the pages I had put out there had helped people find answers to questions, which was my original goal with this website, provided downloads that weren’t available elsewhere (or very difficult to unearth) and, most importantly, I did not want to give up my “steam valve”. For years I had used my site(s) to take a break from the day-to-day stress thrown my way by my job and I decided that before I re-entered “life”, I would put out a new version of livingwithmusic.com.
I don’t even want to list the many attempts at returning to form, but I have one screenshot to show what I was up to all that time.
In February or March of 2011, I started looking into so-called “Pro-Themes” for WordPress, especially over on ThemeForest, and I actually did buy some and gave them a spin. I also tried other “Theme Networks”, like “WooThemes” and “ElegantThemes“, and, altogether, I think I gave about 12 themes a spin.
The following is a screenshot of a theme by “ElegantThemes” that came closest to what I wanted to do, but in the end I decided I needed a site which was easier and quicker to update.
10) Bugis (July/August 2011)
This theme combined so many aspects I was looking for that I fell for it the very second I found it:
- It’s (almost) mobile-friendly. I’ve always wanted my readers to be able to access the site via their iPads, iPhones, or any other mobile devices.
- It certainly does for WordPress what “Tumblr” did for me when I was sick. In fact, it really duplicates its functionality by allowing me to post various longer and shorter posts via the relatively new “post types” introduced to “WordPress” not so long ago. A single “image”, an “aside”, a “gallery”, a “status message”, a “quote”, or the long-assed “standard post” I have become known for, and more.
- It is a breeze to write for and update. Really, I have never had an easier theme to add posts to.
- The support is fabulous.
- It is dirt-cheap. 12 Euro only.
So, that’s why it looks the way it does right now.
So, here we are.
Things aren’t quite finished, but they are rolling along.
“Blogging is dead! Long live blogging!”
It probably s a silly line that might, perhaps, be adequate to sum up many years of online activities. Just like music collecting, blogging follows a circular pattern, dominated by – in turn – frustration and elation. If you are anything like me, you have been there, you have done and tried this, the next big thing and another one, you have veered off course, tried to steer down a straight line again and have, for better or worse, stayed “online”.
I don’t know about you, but the return to blogging was my way of venting my frustration with that so-called abomination, “social networking”.
I know that after “Web 1.0″, “Web 2.0″ and whatnot, people needed a new term or thing to get addicted and acquainted to, but like so many of the developments throughout the past ten to twenty years, the time period in which things like “Twitter”, “Facebook” and even the new “Google+” went “stale” on me has gotten shorter and shorter.
It might be my own attention span, but I have gotten sick and tired of 140-letter quick shots, most of them misspelled, many of which are incomprehensible and a larger amount of which are, simply, absolutely superfluous. I don’t want to know that you are at the grocery store fighting with some sales person, I really don’t care about your toilet paper and its cute printed-on dinosaurs and I certainly couldn’t care less about your new love … which you ditched 2 days later.
I also like language.
I hate when it gets beat into an indecipherable mess.
That’s why I started blogging again.
Slowly but surely.
For now, that is what I am going to continue doing.