Monday, August 27, 2007

Are Heavy Metal Websites Good For The Environment?

A few weeks ago I was thumbing through a magazine and a small headline caught my eye. It said that there was a black version of Google called Since I use Google almost exclusively, and I prefer websites with black backgrounds, I immediately went over to the PC and typed in the url. There it was, as the magazine said, a black version of Google. My favorite search engine in my favorite color. My first reaction was to post a link to it in the Shout Box on the WMA Heavy Metal Forum, because at first glance I saw it as a metal looking version of Google. Guess I just equate black with heavy metal.

After I posted the link, I wanted to know who made it and why, so I went back to Blackle and clicked the "About" link. I figured somebody just did it because it looked cooler in black. Or maybe because a darker web page is easier on the eyes. But I was surprised to find out neither of those reasons were listed and that the real motive behind it was to save energy.

Seems someone had proposed a large amount of energy could be saved if a high volume site like Google used a darker background. This was based on the fact that a CRT monitor uses about 20% less energy to display a page with a dark background than a light background. The basic concept was that if a high volume site switched to a darker background that savings would be multiplied by the number of users. The more users, the greater the savings.

Anyway, after reading the About page and finishing up some other work on the PC, I returned to the WMA Heavy Metal Forum before logging out. I found that a few members had already commented on the link in the Shout Box. Apparently they had also read the Blackle About page, because they were pointing out that the WMA website also saves energy and is "green" since it also has a black background. I laughed about it at first, there were a few reasons the WMA website is black, but being "green" and saving energy were never on the list. Even though that was never the intention, based on the above theory, it turns out to be true. Every time a member or visitor views the WMA website on a CRT Monitor, the black background and dark page uses less energy.

That's a drop in the bucket compared to Blackle, but what if you multiply it by the millions of other heavy metal websites, forums and blogs on the web. There's almost an unwritten law that heavy metal websites have a black background. In fact I've only seen one heavy metal site that didn't, but it was still a dark color. And although most of them don't realize it, their widespread preference for black backgrounds is actually helping to save the planet. Heavy Metal, good for the environment. I doubt anyone would've ever guessed it was possible, but it apparently it is. Too bad Kermit The Frog wasn't a metal head, then he would have known what we all now know - it is easy being green.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Headline That Doesn't Mysteriously Tie In With The Article?

Since I've always been more of an artist than a writer, I've been asking myself - does the World Metal Alliance really need another blog? After all, we already have our own website at which is custom made for publishing the written word. And as if that wasn't enough, we have a blog on the WMA's myspace page. So why do we need another one? Well, according to the experts of the mysterious science called search engine optimization, if you want your site to rank high, you need to establish a presence on both myspace and here on blogger. In fact it has become expected. Just like a local business that buys ads in newspapers or on television is also expected to also be listed in the yellow pages and local business directories, any respectable website is expected to be on myspace and blogger. At least that's what the experts say.

I'm not going to argue with their logic, but I'm still faced with the dilemma of what to write about. This was the same question I faced when writing the first entry on our myspace blog - "what thoughts about the WMA could I write about that haven't already been published on ad nauseam? Afterall, who would bother reading a blog that just rehashes info from the WMA website". The solution for the myspace blog was that there are 2 sides to every story and we would use it as the place to shed some light on the "other side of the of the WMA" that few know about, the non-public side. And with the help of my fellow co-founder Brian (DarkOverlord) hopefully that's what we've managed to do there.

While I'm on the subject, Brian's offered to take over the WMA myspace blog so I can take on this one. To be honest it's a huge relief. Writing the myspace blog had quickly become a task that I grew to dread. The problem didn't have anything to do with myspace, (although the changing screen names always confused me) it was the rigid constraints of the subject matter. For anyone who has read the WMA myspace blog, you may have noticed there is a certain tight format it adheres to. Brian would research and choose a headline from The Ancient Text and each entry was then constructed to tie into it in an unexpected way. Rough drafts were written, circulated between all 3 founders, rewritten several times, and finally signed-off on before they were published. Sometimes they were entirely scrapped. I found it difficult, if not impossible, to write about the non-public side of the WMA without blowing holes through the intentional mystique of the website in a way that all 3 of us could agree on. So it's Brian baby now and he's the perfect man for the job.

Which brings us back to the dilemma at hand, what to do with this blog. Since the WMA website covers the public side and the myspace blog covers the other side, if my math is right, that means we're all out of sides. The last thing I want to do is approach this new blog as a required chore. It wouldn't be any fun for me to write, especially since the words don't exactly flow from my fingers. And even worse, it would probably end up being something nobody would want to read. After talking it over with friends and thinking about it for a long time I finally reached the conclusion that it would be better to approach this new blog as an outlet that I enjoy instead of a task that I dread.

Rather than having the tight format and constraints of the myspace blog, this blog should be the opposite. No particular format. No rigid subject constraints. And at the same time, it should be totally free of the uniformed formalities found on the history and informational pages of World Metal Alliance website. Now don't get me wrong, I think the WMA myspace blog and WMA website are both written in a manner that perfectly fits the goals of each. But this blog will be where we can take off the formal black uniform, loosen the studded belt, and take a look at things on a personal level for a change. Simply written as if it were just an e-mail letter to a friend. So maybe not having a predetermined subject is a good thing. For one, I won't be limited in what I can write about. And, you'll never know what to expect other than the random thoughts, observations and ramblings of an artist who's not a writer. Sometimes it may be about the WMA, sometimes it may be about metal, and other times it may be something that has nothing to do with either. And if I ever get writer's block, there's always the option of posting some pics instead.