Tuesday, August 18, 2015

500th Post Spectacular!

Celebrating an IIIA milestone with FAQs a plenty, a look back at our most popular (and controversial) articles and a glimpse into the blog’s future…

By: Jimbo X

Well, here we are folks -- The Internet Is In America, article number 500. Who’d thunk this stupid little blog with no real purpose, intent or content specificity would’ve made it this long -- let alone get publicly pimped by the likes of Vinod Khosla and Lloyd Kaufman and be featured in media juggernauts like Cracked and the freaking New York Times?

I’m not going to get excessively glowy on you guys, so don’t worry. I’ve never really considered IIIA to be a rousing success as a multimedia enterprise, but that was never really my intent. I just wanted to write articles about stuff I liked, stuff I didn’t like and try to tell it in a manner that’s not just your usual, disjointed Tumblr circle-jerk format. A good four years down the road, this site is averaging about 25,000 unique views a month, which puts IIIA somewhere in the top 700,000 or so websites in the States. Considering there’s about 700 million active websites in the world right now, that’s a relatively impressive feat -- doubly considering the fact that I haven’t spent a single penny on advertising or promoting the blog, instead relying on 100 percent organic traffic (and the occasional spam forum post) to lure in readers.

It’s no doubt been a fun and worthwhile ride, faithful IIIA adherents, providing you with surprisingly academic dissertations on venerated texts, acerbic satirical pieces skewering the excesses of contemporary U.S. society and, of course, tons and tons of articles about Taco Bell products, Halloween candies and shitty movies that are awesome. To commemorate this historic moment, I’ve decided to get a little meta about the blog itself, answering a few questions people have e-mailed me about the origins and intent of The Internet Is In America, as well as give you a bit of a postscript on some of the site’s most famous (or perhaps, infamous) posts.

Hey, Jimbo X … uh, who the hell are you, exactly? 

This is far and away the most common question readers send me. Although you can probably piece together my civilian identity by combing through the archives, I try to stay anonymous for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, my day job is professional writing elsewhere, and god forbid somebody finds out I’ve been penning smart-alecky articles under an assumed name somewhere. Secondly, I kinda’ like to keep my personal life and my writing life separate. No offense to guys who want to hit me up on Facebook or Skype, but alike Spider-Man, I’m just trying to protect those closest to me from getting harassed by people who love the Beatles, Ron Paul and Alex Jones but hate my stinking guts. As far as the pen name, I’ve had more than a few people ask me if the namesake is a nod to Malcolm X. While I consider his autobiography one of the finest pieces of conservative agitprop ever written, the “Jimbo X” moniker is actually a reference to something much obscurer … long-time Electronic Gaming Monthly readers, you’ll know precisely what I’m talking about.

Is there or has there ever been a “point” to The Internet Is In America?

My senior year in college, I recall reading some new media text about what makes a blog successful. When it came time to start IIIA, I intentionally did the exact opposite of everything they said, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I’ve proven those smarmy little know-it-alls wrong. From the very beginning, I wanted IIIA to cover a lot of ground, and I never wanted to get entrenched in any one topic. Fundamentally, I just write about whatever the hell I feel like writing about, no matter how serious, goofy, obscure or offensive. There’s no specific “beat” here at IIIA, and personally, that’s what I believe makes the entire thing work. The material is so diverse and unpredictable, in a blogsophere where everything is so formulaic and dreadfully constrained. Nor can I say I’m trying to make a singular political or social message with the blog, although there are definitely quite a few recurring themes I try to hit upon with my articles (more on that later, folks.)

Why did you start this blog, anyway? 

Long story short? It began life as a class assignment for one of my top-level communications courses. At the time, I was writing articles for about three or four different websites -- a video game site, an MMA site and a general pop culture site, plus commentary on some local blogs -- and I figured, “you know, I could easily consolidate all of the stuff I’m writing elsewhere into my OWN blog, and then I won’t have to worry about shitty edits and my stuff not going up in a timely manner.” And so … The Internet Is In America was born.

Why is it called "The Internet Is In America?" 

Way back in the early, Wild West days of YouTube, I noticed some U.S. users would take offense whenever someone posted comments in a non-English language. The general complaint there, of course, was that if you’re going to post something on the Web, you better post it in a goddamn language the American man can understand, because the Internet, apparently, actually resides in the United States. I figured that nativistic, brazenly jingoistic sentiment would make for a fine and dandy blog name … as well as a convenient, embarrassing mentality to routinely mock in random posts.

Why did you select the Inflatable, Waving-Arm Tube Man as the blog mascot?

What could possibly be more American than a giant, electricity-propelled anthropomorphic sock with a hilariously unsubtle marketing phallus? By the way, his official name is Flaily, if you weren’t aware of such.

How do you decide what to write about, and why do I pick that particular material?

First off, I absolutely abhor “personality” driven blogs. You know, the ones where the writers do nothing but talk about their own experiences, uploading stupid photos of themselves and maybe three or four sentences per posts. From the get-go, I wanted to focus on content outside of myself, even if a lot of my articles just so happen to revolve around my own personal experiences (so, when I write about eating at a new pizza joint or seeing a new movie, I make THAT the anchor of the post, and not my trivial bullshit musings.) Generally, I try to map out the posts a good month or so in advance, giving me ample time to conduct research, find visual aides, etc. I like to mix things up as much as I can -- a book review here followed by a food article, followed by a sociopolitical essay followed by a video game article, for example -- and I’m always striving for new and interesting things to tackle (preferably, material that other sites and blogs haven’t already covered.) I never, ever write for analytics or for click bait -- I write about what genuinely interests me and irks me, and I write about said topic until I feel as if I have nothing left to say about it. I wish I could give you a more intricate response, but I really am that floaty when it comes to content.

Are your serious about the stuff you write, or are you just being an asshole?

There’s always a granule of truth to what I write about, but a lot of times, I take it to the extreme just to make a point. I might be a little over-the-top sometimes, but I’m never 100 percent insincere about what I state, either.

Are there any articles you regret writing? 

Not really, although there are a couple of minor errors that still rub me the wrong way -- really simple stuff like erroneous measurements and grammatical miscues (I think I reviewed the “Secret of Arriety,” for example.) Alas, outside of a few questionable statistics and a few poorly cited links to corroborate my points, I can’t say I have any qualms about anything I’ve published on the blog.

What’s the most memorable article you’ve ever posted?

Anything that generated a lot of reader feedback. The “Faces of Death is Fake?” article is far and away my most popular entry, but the comments on "Five Reasons Why The Beatles Sucked" and "Why U.S. College Kids Are So Stupid" have been pretty damned entertaining, too. It’s also pretty nice when people really pick up on the gist of what I’m trying to convey in an article, like the one about my addiction to writing and my miscellaneous articles on the excesses of “nerd culture” and the negative impact of technological dependency. There’s not a whole lot of concrete “points” I try to make with the blog, but when people really connect with them when I do, it makes all of the HTML formatting worth it.

And lastly, are there any articles you wish you would have done?

Quite a few, but the past is in the past. There are a lot of events I never attended that could’ve made for some killer IIIA fare, but I don’t dwell upon the lost opportunities. I’m much more concerned about what’s ahead, and bringing you the freshest, most inspired material I can.

Sigh...look how young we all looked way back then!

As for the future of the blog, I’ve got a few new ideas that’ll be unfurling here in a few weeks. Ideally, I’d like to put out a lot more weekly content -- including regularly updated seasonal features -- without sacrificing quality. Time is certainly a constraint, but I think long-time readers will enjoy what’s coming up.

Content-wise, I’d love to do more real-time stuff. I’ll probably do a live play-by-play for the first Raiders game of the season, and I’ll likely use the same format for the next UFC PPV I cover … whenever that may be. As far as reader engagement, I’ve mulled starting a Facebook page, and maybe even a secondary blog, but I barely have enough time as it is to give you the stuff I’m already giving you. Alas, if there’s strong demand for it, I might shoot for it.

Which brings me to my two biggest points, which will help guide the shape and scope of the IIIA for the next 500 posts -- monetization and guest content.

I always said I’d vouch for a “real” domain once I crossed over a certain threshold, where I was making more than a few dollars a month. I’m not quite there yet, but in a year or so, I’m likely to make the transition to a full blown website sans the blogspot suffix. At that point, I’m certainly open to the idea of posting advertisements on the blog, so if any of you out there want to get on the ground floor, shoot me an e-mail.

In that same vein, I’m all about partnerships. If any of you have a blog or site of your own, feel free to send me a link and we can cross-promote. Content-wise, you have a pretty wide canvas to work with at IIIA -- if you’re a fledgling writer or content producer wanting to get his or her stuff out there in the open, I’m more than willing to give you an opportunity. As before, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, by all means, shoot me an e-mail.

The rugged individualist I am, I’m going to do whatever the hell I want to anyway. That said, I am open to suggestions, so if there are any stories or article ideas you’d like to see at The Internet Is In America, please let me know. Do you want more content revolving around a specific subject? More multimedia content? More essays, less essays? I want to give you a hand in guiding the trajectory of the IIIA as we transition to article 501 and beyond … this is the people’s blog, after all. Well, some peoples' blog, I guess.

It’s been a rollicking good time thus far, kids, but with your help? We can make the next 500 IIIA articles even more kick-ass than the first 500. Here’s to one heck of a future, folks. One heck of a dang future…


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