Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Today, we are lucky to have Ellie from The Daily Smoke lending out her subtle, hushed expertise in the form of a review.
This morning I arrived for a business meeting with 40 minutes to spare. I hadn’t thought to bring a book or buy a paper. Fortunately, the sun was shining, and there was a bench. I resigned myself to sitting. In the sun. Luxuriating. A couple of minutes after sitting down and telling myself not to check my watch, I was startled by a flash of black fur and a rustling in the bushes near my bench. A young cat emerged and sauntered over to what I would have thought was a pile of stones, but turned out to be a pile of cat food that some nice person must have dumped for the gastronomic delight of the feral cats living in the bushes of this metropolitan business park. I sat and watched a total of 5 mature kittens come and go, munch on kibbles, sniff each others’ butts, and silently prey on insects (or something else) I couldn’t see. Before I knew it, my 40 spare minutes had passed. I went inside to get my visitor’s pass.
At some point as I sat on that bench, I thought about this review. I wondered where I would start. Whilst watching a couple of cats sniff each others’ asses, I worried about the reception I would receive. I thought I would start by saying, “Be gentle. This is my first time.” Then I told myself not to be ridiculous: it might be my first time, but it’s up to me to decide to be gentle or not. Now, I reassess: it’s really not up to me. It’s all down to Nate. It’s his bed; he made it; he’ll lie in it.
Nate’s blog isn’t great, but it’s not awful either. “Uninspiring” springs to mind, which, considering the topic, is possibly the most damning of adjectives. Nate intends to change the world. I’m afraid his blog is a little bit like Obama’s presidential election campaign: no matter how many times Nate chants, ‘Yes we can! Hope. Change. Hope. Change.’ he’s not going to make a dent on the American psyche. At least not this American’s psyche.
Itstartswith.us is more than blog. It’s a “project” and as such has a series of navigation options. There is an ‘about Nate’ page, an ‘about this site’ page, and a separate, general ‘about’ link. There are links to twitter and Facebook, a ‘Change the World’ link and one for ‘Partners’. It’s all a little overwhelming. I didn’t know exactly where to start.
The template for the blog section is different from the project template, which is cleaner and more professional. Nate has filled the blog’s margins with a lot of crap. Clean it up, Nate. You’re technically savvy so try to better integrate the blog template with the overarching project template.
There are a few links that require you download PDFs and another to download the ‘ebook’. You’ve got to be kidding me. You want me to download something? Forget about it. I’m here to read a blog not clutter up my hard drive.
Nate deserves kudos for his writing. He writes well. He gets his message across. Neatly and concisely, even if he overuses ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’
Nate’s ‘About Me’ page made me smile. I like that he likes cheesecake and milk and wears hats. After that, I grew weary of the platitudes. It’s the same old thing over and over again. Nate makes references to feel good stories without making me feel anything about them. I like the idea of doing nice things like feeding stray cats or providing critical medical attention to women in Afghanistan. Nate's aggregation of 'inspiring' examples and 'words to live by' falls flat mainly because he fails to get specific. He talks about big ideas and passion. Nate: stop talking about other people's stories and tell their stories.
I’m not a likely convert; I’m a bit cynical. Even so, I like your sentiment. I believe you can make a difference in the lives of those around you. Just not with this blog. I'd rather be watching cats.
For where your heart's at, I give you a pat on the back and a hug. For your writing I give you a couple stars and maybe some confetti.
But for the fit of narcolepsy I suffered as I really tried to give you the fair shake you deserve, I give you a 'Meh'. Sorry.