Lost sketchbooks

Back in February, I lost my handbag and it took with it my then every day carry sketchbook. I was pretty devastated as there were sketches from my most recent holiday in it. I had to lie to the loss of it, plus the every day sketchkit

But I got really irritated this week because I mislaid an A4 large sketchbook. I run god knows how many sketchbooks at the same time but two are fairly regular, one A4 which I take with me sometimes, and the little A6 which is always in my handbag. I searched the house several times and eventually found it under a pile of new books for which I do not currently have shelf space. I am not far from the end of it – I knew this much because even if I could not remember what was it (and when I found it, nice things were in it), the replacement was lined up which meant I was probably a dozen pages out from the end.

I’ve been tidying notebooks today. During the pandemic, I sketched daily, in or other of the sketchbooks. But in Brussels, the art supply and stationery shops were open so having nothing else to do, I bought notebooks, sketchbooks and art materials. I bought books and a few jigsaws as well. But I am now struggling to organise them and while I am doing better on using my sketchbooks and paints lately, it occurred to me I really need to figure out what to do with all of these notebooks (gift them? I’m not ready to give them up yet). The main answer of course is to use them.

Which still leaves with with the open question on how store them, organise them and all that. I never quite got to grips with that for the vast quantities of photographs I took. We’ll see.

Social Media and why are we here, anyway

I have accounts on instagram (not so obvious) and Flickr (more obvious). I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, and during the week, apparently I celebrated 8 years on Reddit.

I also decided that what I really needed was a new blog. I have fond memories of things like boards.ie photography board, meet ups, World Photowalk Day and looking at people’s blogs, in particular. There were some great ones knocking around Ireland 10 years or so ago.

When I started painting, I decided to use Instagram. I had mixed feelings about it but it did seem to be where most art, and watercolour and illustration was to be found. Deviantart exists and I had been sort of not using Flickr which was mostly photography anyway. I wasn’t overjoyed about Instagram. It had been on the go for a while, but was almost unusable on desktop. As somewhere to quickly snap a not terribly good drawing of a VW campervan whlie I was learning, it worked. I’ve happened across a lot of great artists/illustrators on it and it doesn’t look like a lot of them are anywhere else.

The problem is, Instagram has been unusable lately. I say that not as someone who occasionally posts there (because hey now, I am posting to Flickr too) but as someone who scrolls. If you pay attention to the Instagram world, you’ll know that the creators are up in arms. They are losing engagement. Reels are being pushed. They cannot get their output in front of the eyeballs of their followers except via followers. It is killing their conversion to sales, for example.

I don’t run my business via the social media platforms so for me, this isn’t really the issue. What is the issue is, I don’t get to see the people I follow. I wind up scrolling for ages to find things I like. The recommender system for Reels is undeniably awful. I wind up scrolling for ages looking for stuff that interests me. There isn’t a lot of it. People are frantically trying to game the system to get their content in front of me and I am getting trash.

My instagram feed should be almost 100% a mix of watercolour, illustration, photography, mountain/water sports and travel. There is quite a bit of Brittany and Switzerland there. My photo/stills feed tends in that direction. I don’t mind the recommendations there.

For Reels – which has a separate tab – it has been a giant disaster. I have spent 2-3 weeks telling it I am not interested in foster kitten videos, meme videos targeted at teenagers, housecleaning hints. It got the message about bee keeping which for some God forsaken reason, it had taken to recommending to me. The clips have the same dozen songs playing behind them. I am SICK to the teeth of them. And then some of them have a soundtrack written by the same robotic voice that honestly makes me want to stab myself. So I spend less and less time on the site. This disadvantages the artists I want to actively look at, and it means I spend less time seeing sponsored posts. Both creatives and advertisers lose out when Instagram pisses off its audience.

At the beginning of the week (25 July 2022), Adam Mosseri explained that really I wanted all this crap. 15000 people told him on Instagram they did not. I told him on Twitter I did not. A few days, he temporarily rolled back changes to feeds and the UI. That word “temporarily” is kind of noteworthy. Mark Zuckerberg stated during the week that Meta’s objective was to have 30% of content not come from the accounts I have actively chosen to follow across Meta’s platforms. I use three of Meta’s main products to some extent, namely WhatsApp, FaceBook (increasingly rarely) and Instagram. Someone needs to tell him that if he makes those unusable/unattractive to end users, he’ll have nothing to sell to advertisers. I’m not interested in the Metaverse at this stage because I expect it to be a horrible sucking mess of ads for products I don’t want and shite I never agreed to follow.

I get like 20 likes on Instagram for most of my drawings. I can live without the adoration and it’s like I will post less frequently there. In the meantime, more and more stuff will get hosted on Flickr (which I pay for and have done for a very long time) so that I can feed it here where a) it’s desktop and mobile friendly (Instagram: not desktop or tablet friendly). And I can talk about the things that interest/annoy/fascinate me about travel/photography/art.