Splashpress Media

Welcome back, Franky!

Posted on Feb 23, 2009

Splashpress Media is very pleased to welcome back one its most dynamic editors into the fold: Franky Branckaute. Franky has worked with us in the past as editor of such sites as Jack of All Blogs, Wisdump and Tubetorial. After some time offline, he is now back in full force and raring to go again! Franky is heading up Forever Geek, which we have huge plans for (details to come…) and we are aiming to relaunch at the beginning of April. He is also now the editor of Blogger Talks, after Jeff Chandler said goodbye so he could have more time to dedicate to his own new venture. We continue to be amazed by the sheer energy that Franky exudes as can be seen by the volume of posts (while not sacrificing quality) at FG recently. But for those of you that don’t know him, perhaps the best way to introduce Franky to you is to feature his interview at Blogger Talks, as conducted by Michael Pick of WordPress.tv who had himself been interviewed at BT recently:

In the second part of our double header Michael Pick interviews Yours Truly. After having been online for more than a decade and maintained several mainly computer focused communities I started to write for Splashpress Media in 2006. Before that I have blogged as security advisor on several intranets for multinationals.
Today I am one of the people who make a comeback to blogging after a year of only very sporadic blogging, but I have learned a lot and am up for the challenge.

The interview is long and not only because Michael had many questions, but mainly because I tried to answer as completely as I could. I think I have some views on blogging which can be controversial to say the least and wanted to try to put them in place in the hope to avoid misunderstandings. Go read it now, because it’s my only ever online.

Franky, you’ve lived a dozen lives in a dozen places – none of them boring. What brought you to pro-blogging? And why England?

A dozen lives is probably even for my life an exaggeration, but you are right in that I have walked several paths in life. And all I remember is one big party. Lucky me, I guess.

Asking me after almost 4 years in the UK ‘Why England’ is poised to become the specimen of a story of epic FAIL. Just think about it: the weather generally is bad ((It always pisses down here)), the mainstream knowledge of literature can be resumed with the Page 3 culture featuring Page 3 Girl on the cover page. Binge drinking is still an active cultural event in the life of many, petty crime and fights are omni-present and somehow I am shocked every time I see billboards along these lines ‘Don’t drink too much if you don’t want to wake up with a STD’ and other IMO rather negative and 20 years too late general awareness campaigns. The Gouvernment gives George Orwell and ‘1984’ a run for his money and their place in history. Also, as you might have noticed by now, moaning and bitching are official national sports here.

Sarcasm aside, after a successful career in the bar and restaurant sector on the continent, I wanted to conquer, and finish my bar career in, London, a metropolitan I have loved. Sadly my approach bar life in the UK was poor and I was totally misinformed. There was no way I would be able to aim for the top jobs in UK cocktail bars with my continental and ‘classic’ background in mixology without starting all over again, a sacrifice I was not ready to make. The whole franchise culture in pubs did not help either either. Usually I would alienate interviewers with my tremendous international background and my drive soon be a top mixologist in the UK would only scare them off.

A change in sector brought this workaholic back to the computer screen full-time and I started blogging, although until recently I was not allowed to have a public identity due to contract restrictions. Blogging became my second life where I did whatever I wanted.

If your life had taken a different course, where would you be and what would you be doing differently? What stopped that from happening?

If my life had taken a different course I can only think of 2 possibilities. Whether I’d have followed the rather predefined family uniform tradition, been professionally successful, have a couple/bunch of kids and married three times and divorced four times by the age of 34 or I had gone to college, graduated, become professionally successful, have a couple/bunch of kids and been married three times and divorced four times by the age of 34. Much like most of my classmates actually.
I will be 34 next summer ((year for the next summer period in the UK is still to be determined)), have been successful in almost whatever I did but have never been married or divorced and have no kids (that I am aware of). The only reason why things went this way was my desire to travel, live Europe, not follow my predefined future and I did not like the uniform environment. Yes I tried it, but I must admit that going to corporate level meetings for a S&P500 company (on national level) in torn jeans was a much more enjoyable experience than the whole uniform thing.

Has blogging got a future, and if so does it look like this? If not, what’s it turning into?

I think blogging still has a future but in a different form, structure than we know it now. Actually the whole internet is undergoing structural changes and this time I think the internet *will finally grow up*. To quote Eric Karjaluoto:

In the web world, we’re currently experiencing the fallout of the second of tidal waves. The next one, however, will be slower, more distributed, and come with far less of a schock.”

I agree and think, combined with the negative economic climate we are experiencing right now, the internet itself will become slower, more distributed and better leveraged. Many internet professional has crashed for at least the second time now. That experience will be vital and define the next, the *final* web, a scaled business, but just as controlled by multinational corporations as *real life* is. Just look at the huge amount of properties CBS controls. Amazon will continue to buy properties and so will Google. And then there will be the indies, who will fight more and more the corporate online structures. Kind of your indie coffeeshop vs. Starbucks, but online and no I do not mean Questionable Content.

Blogging is out, but at the same time blogging has a huge future. I entirely agree with Paul Boutin that platforms such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Tumblr and WordPress.com will continue to grow immensely, absorbing a huge majority of the online traffic. They offer the perfect structure for personal bloggers to publish their personal diary and also to generate some traffic and be read. The future of great _Web 2.0_ platforms lays in keeping the visitors on your site, often the only way to generate a long-term sustainable revenue.

Blogs as a magazine are the hype of the moment but a quickly dying one. More and more the indie blogger will have to fight against smaller, profitable networks who create awesome content at a high pace. As you said, most niches have been owned already. I predict that more and more bloggers will join forces and even merge their blogs in some years, creating a bigger, larger platform, a site much more interesting for referrer and organic traffic growth. First we will see mini networks popping up all over the place, driving traffic internally and later we will see a return to _Web 1.0_ platforms, *real* CMS structures. This evolution is already visible in the development of blog platforms. WordPress, Movable Type and Expression Engine become bigger and bigger with every release, offering more and more *bloat*. Buddypress being a perfect example of this. Soon one will think “Hey, didn’t Joomla 1.5 already offer all this in 2005 and Postnuke in 2003?”.
Blogs will have to make this change to keep up with their ever growing size of archives because to be honest, blogs suck when it comes to structural smart presentation of huge amounts of content.
Ad prices will continue to drop as the internet grows. More page views often results in a lower CPM, weird but fact just look at the problems Facebook, Digg and Myspace have in leveraging their CPM. Generating more pageviews with the integration of forums is an old concept and much used technique among indie ‘online magazine publications’. Expect even more forums to pop up, to generate pageviews and increase revenues. Once more BuddyPress is the best example of this return in focus to grow a large own platform.

To resume, blogging is alive and kicking for diaries and the existing platforms have become that important that there is NO place anymore for newcomers anymore. Facebook, Myspace, Youtube and WordPress.com are here to stay and will continue to grow, almost obtaining a stranglehold on the market by their sheer size and ability to quickly integrate more features. Twitter has become a daily part of life for many of us and has the same stranglehold on its API, maybe Tumblr can join the mix but everything will depend on the evolution and duration of the economic downturn as many platforms are in danger of being wiped out as soon as economic decisions could lead to restricted APIs.
Professionally maintained _blogs_ will continue to grow, but undergo changes and evolve in an ever more structurally organized presence. They will more and more become the online magazine you’d have bought from the kiosk 2 years ago, often even open their focus to even more topics. Example par excellence is the Techcrunch network.
Indie bloggers are in for a really tough time. They face a life in traffic quarantaine and will only in the smallest, most unknown niches continue to have a sustainable existence. 2009 is all about building your brand and becoming *huge*. Jump on the wagon NOW or face to be swallowed by the big guns.
I would not start a new blog anymore unless it were in an _exotic_ long tail niche or I were sure to have the support of other sites to push traffic to the new one.

Do you think blogs and blogging are having to redefine themselves, or is there some inherent core of what a blog is and should be? If so, what is that?

As I mentioned earlier I think that blogs will redefine themselves. Actually I think that people will finally start to define what blogging means to them. Right now I think for a majority of bloggers it’s just a personal diary and for the other part it’s a much hyped dream of becoming rich. Ever noticed that the podcast to the 4-hour working week 8 hours long is?
For me blogging is a personal experience and most popular _blogs_ are no blogs anymore. Luckily readers don’t really care about how you call it, but I noticed that people use the term blog less and less when it comes to sites like Gawker, TechCrunch and the whole slur of co-authored publications. Ironically, I experience most MSM journalist blogs much more as blogs, opinionated online columns, than most popular _blogs_ we know.

One of the things that set apart your blogging for me, when I first encountered your work, was this total fightclub disregard for kissing arse, going through the motions and formalities, or even following any kind of pattern other than one you set yourself. It reminded me of what blogs were before everyone got so full of themselves and started acting like stuffed-suit journalists. What’s the motivation or thinking behind that, and is that still the way you like to work?

I do not believe in hype and I think my background in bars is at the base of this attitude. More than once have I worked in, opened even, the newest bar, the hottest spot in town, the hippest in-scene location and enjoyed the popularity of the moment. Then suddenly, 2 doors further a new location opens and you are *out*, look old-fashioned and soon to be forgotten without having made errors. What easier way to open a hot-spot than decorate it Easter style during the end of year Holiday period can you think off? Go against conventions, fight against the hype of the moment and you’ll catch eyeballs.

The culture of A-Listers does not fit in this spirit and has no place in my beliefs. I believe in constantly working at yourself, reinventing yourself, looking forward, trying to spot the next big thing. When I managed bars I was known as a talent scout, coach for new mixologists and waiters and I will continue down that line. Finding unknown people, working hard together and growing, be good at what you do and work hard to become better. A-Listers tend to quickly be satisfied with their status and enjoy their fame. Fall in the trap of constantly repeating themselves, forgetting to look forward. I respect people who abandon this trail of ease and laziness, people who constantly think. I am sure it is a surprise that lately I am very impressed by Jason Calacanis’s email list and I hope to interview Jason some day.
Jason thinks, Jason is not afraid to try out new paths, fail, fall and stand up again. Become stronger, more motivated and driven to perform even better. Respect… for now, as soon as he rests on his laurels I will soon forget him too. But Calacanis is a born entrepreneur with an open mind for dialogue. So is Mark Cuban, who is so easy to hate, but even easier to admire when being objective and looking at his successes. Needless to say it is a dream to interview Mark.

When I started blogging to me it was all about having an online version of a snarky column. Already at school I was hated for my publications, hardblowing straight-forwardness, snark and sarcasm. As dry as I like my Martinis. I do not fit in _the box_ and never will. The art of Fight Club and stepping out of the line lays in how well you control your rebel level, an art I think I master better and better every day. Only time will tell and I hope the next gig at Forever Geek will show that I can combine both elements, professionalism and opinions. I guess it is clear that I admire Nick Denton too.
Blogging is about opinions and being honest to yourself. Don’t write for people who might discover your site, bring you your five minutes of fame, but publish *your* thoughts, be honest with yourself otherwise you’re writing for an online magazine and not blogging. 😉
I think my answers in this interview for _BloggerTalks_ are the prove that I’ll continue to think *independently*. One could say that I suffer from Ataraxia and in the same spirit I will say that Lucky Number Slevin the most underrated movie of the five last years is. Tarantino at his best, but without Tarantino.

Your opinions on the whole media-rich blog thing seem pretty clear (videos and podcasts should keep the frack away from blogs/the interweb is for txt) – do you think the whole web media thing is a flash in the pan, or is it here to stay? And is that going to having any impact on what you do?

Indeed the internet is for text and vowels!

Weirdly enough I believe in media-rich content online, vod- and podcasts just aren’t my cup of espresso doppio. I am a movie freak and can not wait until genuine BD quality hits the streaming platforms.
Considered I suffer from a severe case of Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder (NADD) one would think that the whole media-rich culture exactly my thing is, but more and more I start to experience the restrictions of todays fast evolving hardware market. Portability and mobility are my biggest ennemies. I am an adept of the 3 Monitor Club, you never have enough of real screen estate baby, still the laptop has become my weapon of choice.
Take Lenovo’s W700ds, attach a third screen and give me all together at least 4000px horizontal space, make everything portable, not brick heavy, slap Mac OS X (or XI) on it and maybe then we’re in business for media-rich content. No, I do not demand much.

Then I’ll complain that it feels like TV, way too much of poor content! 😉

One of the things that set apart your blogging for me, when I first encountered your work, was this total fightclub disregard for kissing arse, going through the motions and formalities, or even following any kind of pattern other than one you set yourself. It reminded me of what blogs were before everyone got so full of themselves and started acting like stuffed-suit journalists. What’s the motivation or thinking behind that, and is that still the way you like to work?

I do not believe in hype and I think my background in bars is at the base of this attitude. More than once have I worked in, opened even, the newest bar, the hottest spot in town, the hippest in-scene location and enjoyed the popularity of the moment. Then suddenly, 2 doors further a new location opens and you are *out*, look old-fashioned and soon to be forgotten without having made errors. What easier way to open a hot-spot than decorate it Easter style during the end of year Holiday period can you think off? Go against conventions, fight against the hype of the moment and you’ll catch eyeballs.

The culture of A-Listers does not fit in this spirit and has no place in my beliefs. I believe in constantly working at yourself, reinventing yourself, looking forward, trying to spot the next big thing. When I managed bars I was known as a talent scout, coach for new mixologists and waiters and I will continue down that line. Finding unknown people, working hard together and growing, be good at what you do and work hard to become better. A-Listers tend to quickly be satisfied with their status and enjoy their fame. Fall in the trap of constantly repeating themselves, forgetting to look forward. I respect people who abandon this trail of ease and laziness, people who constantly think. I am sure it is a surprise that lately I am very impressed by Jason Calacanis’s email list and I hope to interview Jason some day.
Jason thinks, Jason is not afraid to try out new paths, fail, fall and stand up again. Become stronger, more motivated and driven to perform even better. Respect… for now, as soon as he rests on his laurels I will soon forget him too. But Calacanis is a born entrepreneur with an open mind for dialogue. So is Mark Cuban, who is so easy to hate, but even easier to admire when being objective and looking at his successes. Needless to say it is a dream to interview Mark.

When I started blogging to me it was all about having an online version of a snarky column. Already at school I was hated for my publications, hardblowing straight-forwardness, snark and sarcasm. As dry as I like my Martinis. I do not fit in _the box_ and never will. The art of Fight Club and stepping out of the line lays in how well you control your rebel level, an art I think I master better and better every day. Only time will tell and I hope the next gig at Forever Geek will show that I can combine both elements, professionalism and opinions. I guess it is clear that I admire Nick Denton too.
Blogging is about opinions and being honest to yourself. Don’t write for people who might discover your site, bring you your five minutes of fame, but publish *your* thoughts, be honest with yourself otherwise you’re writing for an online magazine and not blogging. 😉
I think my answers in this interview for _BloggerTalks_ are the prove that I’ll continue to think *independently*. One could say that I suffer from Ataraxia and in the same spirit I will say that Lucky Number Slevin the most underrated movie of the five last years is. Tarantino at his best, but without Tarantino.

I’ve spent many an early morning laughing at your almost sociopathic loathing of some of the “A-list” and bloggerati. Who’s on your hitlist these days?

Michael, you’re in for a shock here, but I have no hitlist and never had, just the inspiration of the moment. I think offensive snark is so 2006 and guess I’m getting older too.
I still am a straight-forward ‘blowhard’ and always will be, but together with the years comes more relativism and a certain attitude of laisser passer. I have no need anymore to publish my opinion on everyone and everything and have certainly changed my approach to the online life over the last 12 months and this is a return to blogging for me after almost a year of very sporadic updates.
I’ll admit that I miss the old style Jack of all Blogs, snark blog par excellence, and Nick&Nick Valleywag, but I’ll gladly let the fisking to others nowadays.
Also in real life I have become much more lassive. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not fear controversy and even if interviews on BloggerTalks might be _delicate_ at times, so be it.

The ink on your body reads something like the contents of Anton LaVey’s wet dream, by way of a yakuza mob boss. That kind of links back, for me, to the way you blog. Any comments you’d like to make about the connection between the two?

Haha, funny that you ask. Obviously I first have to return the question and ask you how you know Anton LaVey. 😉
The ink kinda grew, it’s who I am. My snark, sarcasm in life and general ataraxia approach have lead to many people being offended and the nicer ones calling me ‘Devil’. The ink obviously could be interpreted negatively but that was the reason why I opted for Kanji and to be original obviously, who wants to be the next kid on the block with a pint of beer holding devil on their arm?
Although I have read interesting stuff about some of the darker beliefs in life, once more I must say that I do not believe in gurus, brainwasher or nay-sayers in general. I am no part of any cult and never will, even not the Cult of Mac. To me the tattoos are what tattoos should be, an expression of a part of my own personality. Best of all, unless when I am in Asia I can always make people believe they mean what I want them to mean at that particular moment, which I think just confirms their true meaning, and no one sees them unless I decide not to cover them. You’ld be surprised how popular and what a great topic starter ‘Two Lattes and a Cappucino’ as meaning for the tattoo is. Only imagination is the limit, even blunt, straight-forward pickup lines are very popular. 😉
Yes, I still need an old-school style red dragon, but after that I’ll stear clear of every single Chinatown worldwide!

So once again, a warm welcome to Franky! Do check out his progress at Forever Geek and Blogger Talks in the coming months!

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