Print is Dead – a Proton Charging publication
I’ve spoken a few times about why I started Proton Charging. My first Usenet discussions and emailing was simply getting in touch with my inner fan, who had never completely gone away, but certainly fell dormant once girls entered the equation. I then used Ghostbusters as the inspiration to learn a whole new medium – the Internet. And this hasn’t stopped. While I remain a technical dilettante in many respects, Proton Charging has always been the driving force behind trying something new. Flickr, Word Press, CSS, SSI, Iframes, etc. A lot of it is long gone, but it served its purpose. And some you guys never even saw, as I used the server arrangements for Proton Charging as a testing ground for features and systems never intended for use on the website.
But lastly, Proton Charging was an experiment – how long could I keep doing this? The Internet is transient – many websites that I appreciated, both Ghostbusters-related and not, have come and gone, some for more than a decade. So, the test was, how long could Proton Charging keep going? Well, once I found a stride, one that focussed solely on Ghostbusters news and features, and particularly once I was able to take advantage of automatic systems like WordPress, which aided greatly in archiving and indexing, it turned out I could do this indefinitely.
But the need for a Proton Charging isn’t as strong as it was in 1999 – back then, DVD reviews were not a dime-a-dozen. There was no Google to help scour the web. And the same systems that made producing Proton Charging easy made it easy for others to have their say too. And I couldn’t be happier.
It creates a certain redundancy in the news side of Proton Charging – a great deal of the news on Proton Charging is mirrored elsewhere, and as ever, some of the news on Proton Charging comes from other Ghostbusters websites. But I like to think that I’ve managed a certain level of development and maintenance in the news I report – going a step further whenever possible. Offering insight and analysis other times. So I’m happy to continue to provide news, and will do so (sorry, any of you that thought this was heading to some sort of farewell.) June pushed Proton Charging and myself to the limits, adding one, two, even three decimal places to site stats. There were days when the regular job was barely touched, and Ghostbusters was the focus of the day. It brought up a lot of questions – like, should I consider taking on other editors – questions I’m still considering. Certainly, as Proton Charging continues, and my other work increases, and domestic responsibilities increase, I’m going to have to, now aren’t I?
What I’ve been thinking about most though is the feature side of Proton Charging. Against a tide of excellent news, PC features have decreased, though never entirely gone away. I managed to track down and talk to a major recluse from the cast and I started some excellent detective work on the film. For those of you that don’t remember, this was the original root of Proton Charging – there wasn’t any real Ghostbusters news, so I talked about other stuff. I’d write a page about Douglas Coupland referencing Ghostbusters in Microserfs. I’d write two about how I taped the audio to both films onto audio cassette (ask your parents) and drove across the Country listening to the film, discovering an appreciation for just how awesome the dialogue is in the film. Which brings me, at long last, to my point.
Ghostbusters fans have their favorite things – some collect the toys and figures, and I’ve done a little of that, but only a few things I really liked. Some build props and their dedication has resulted in a cottage industry of parts fabrication. The core of GBFans.com, if you look at the daily thread chat, is largely about props (not surprising, given the roots of AJ’s site.)
I like the printed stuff. Magazine articles, newspaper clippings, photo-ready print ads, books, games, stills. That’s my thing. Probably because in general, books are my thing. History is my thing. My background prior to and during the growth of Proton Charging is History and publishing, and so I want to know more about the history of the movie. I want to tear it apart and put it back together again. And to me, there’s more to learn in a Kenner retailer catalog than from one action figure. So, that’s my thing.
Don’t get my wrong, I’ve got boxes of other stuff, which I love too, but I can appreciate and love most of it without actually wanting to own it.
So, I’m looking for a new way for Proton Charging to inspire me, to drive to to something new. I want Ghostbusters as a book. Everytime I manually compiled a list of RGB comics and went to the comic shop, I wish I had a reference guide. I wish that same reference guide had all the information about Kenner’s action figures. I wish I had a list of all the cartoon episodes.
This stuff is all online, but it wasn’t always that way, and while the Internet is vast, it’s still kind of shallow in a lot of ways. And while I suspect the information will always be there, I don’t know that ALL of it will be there forever. I suspect sites will continue to come and go. And I suspect bits of Proton Charging will continue to fade away. That’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about. Nearly 15 years of a website, and a lot of stuff has gone missing. It exists only in my head and with a little luck, on a hard drive, or easier still, archive.org. But some doesn’t. And so while I can’t say where Proton Charging will be in another 15 years, or 30 – those will be future challenges. Can I get a website to live beyond me? It’ll be fun to try.
But I want it all in my hand. Even if the only copy is mine, I want it in my hand.
So, here’s what I’m thinking – I want to make a book. In many ways it will be a book just for me. Book’s are better when they’re complete, and that’s where the drive comes in. On a weblog, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll dig through the rest of the locations later.” Well, when is later when I want to put it all in a book?
And this is where you all will come in. The information I’m gathering, a lot of it we (in a generic, Internet user sense) have all gathered and propagated year after year, but as a book, it’d be nice it it was fact-checked. The rest of it may not have been collected before, or never in a particular way, or never with a certain presentation and explanation or context or background. And that information could use an audience too, either as a group-think editor or just as a reason to get something done. I can convince myself I’ll get to something later, but if I share it with you guys, well, I’d better hurry up.
And that’s the thing – I started this book 7 years ago. If you’d like to consider that how long I’ve been gathering and collecting collectible images online, well, I’ve been working on this book for 10 years at least. But it’s always the same. I start, I run into a daunting problem, and I say, well, I’ll get to it later. Well, when’s later?
So, here’s my plan. I’m going to start up on this book again. I’m going to hack it up into little chunks. Might be only a few pages on a subject. Might be a massive checklist. Might be a transcription of an interview. And I’m going to put them together, lay them out, and piece by piece, share them with you, in posts, and as laid-out PDFs. This book is my new challenge – to re-focus Proton Charging away from the all-consuming news, and back to where it started. Talking about the movie I love.
And at the end of it all, I’m going to collect it together and make it available online as a PDF or via print-on-demand.
And here’s the best part. The book is going to mimic the Internet. Once a first book is published, perhaps there’s enough information for a second. Or new information will require a revision to the first book. Well, reference books have editions, so this one will too – the PDF can be updated easy, and after a period of time, after a certain amount of revisions or new additions have been gathered, the book can be offered again for those, like me, that love to hold a book.
So, who says print is dead?
STEP ONE (1)
COVER! What am I going to call it? And what’s it going to look like? I have ideas. What to call it is pretty easy.
Print Is Dead
A sub-title is trickier. And design… well, I’m working on it. But one way or another, I want to have it sorted by next week, so stay tuned.
This idea is fairly, though perhaps not completely formed in my head. To that end – either to help clarify anything I didn’t cover well enough in my ramblings, or to point out anything I might not have considered properly – comment away.