Jazz Odyssey

Oddly enough, I like it when a computer screws up and the reason turns out to be “Andy Ihnatko is a moron.” Because I’ve been dealing with Andy’s bonehead mistakes for years now and I’m usually pretty good at unraveling them. Fixing a piece of boneheaded hardware or software is the sort of task that makes me yearn for a job that requires me to have a pair of brown shorts and a Class 3 license.

I thought that a piece I put up on the blog on Friday would be automatically posted at 6 AM today. This is a Sun-Times column that appeared in the print and online editions a week ago from Thursday and it represents one of the reasons why I wanted to switch to a meatier blog app than the one I’d already written.

I’ve always thought that there was so much more that I could be doing with the online version.

I wind up cutting lots of stuff to make the thing fit into my maximum word count. There’s always a brilliant (brilliant, I say!) intro that gets cut, and when I’m still 200 words over I have to sigh, select the careful 150-word explanation of why this feature is so revolutionary, tap “delete,” and then type “this feature is revolutionary; trust me” in its place.

Plus, I’ve always wanted a comment system at minimum and maybe even a message board…all kinds of neat stuff. I’ve made these suggestions but there are a couple of roadblocks. Filing two columns (a print and online one) would mean more work for both my editors and the site admins, plus the installation of new infrastructure.

And then there are legal issues, believe it or not. Newspapers worry about libel the same way a touring rock band worries about STD’s. It’s part-and-parcel a hazard of the business. Libel in a newspaper is pretty well-understood and there are mechanisms to ensure that the paper isn’t getting sued three times a day (chief among them: writers and editors adhere to standards of journalistic ethics).

But what happens when Random Q. User posts “Steve Ballmer is a big stinky poopie-head” in a comment to an online article? Legally, does it have the same dismissive quality as a conversation between two people who happened to be standing in the lobby of the Sun-Times building? Or would it be treated like any other piece of content published under the Sun-Times masthead?

Fortunately, I retain copyright to my columns, so with the Sun-Times’ blessing, I intend to re-post each of my columns here. Out of courtesy, I’m putting them on a ten-day delay (a column that the Sun-Times printed and posted on Thursday will appear here a week from the following Monday) so that the paper can benefit from the novelty and newsworthiness of each piece.

It’s really intended as a super-archive and as a way of adding extra value to the stuff I write for the Sun-Times. So bookmark my directory on the Sun-Times to get the freshest stuff. But when the Celestial Waste of Bandwidth goes out of beta, there’ll be a separate page and a separate RSS feed for the “enhanced” column.

Now, let’s get back to the idea of me being an idiot. Yeah, I thought today would be the 16th, not the 15th, and that’s why the first enhanced column didn’t appear today. So you have that to look forward to.

I hope you like it. And don’t email me to ask “You stole ‘After The Show’ from Oprah, didn’t you” because you know damned well I did. My defense is the same as when I started doing an annual holiday “My Favorite Things” column: who are you going to steal ideas from if not the most insanely successful and beloved woman in the world?