Again, I quote Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto: Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free. Look at what other people are doing, not to compete, imitate, or compare . . . but because you enjoy looking at the things other people make.

On Monday I went to the thrift store with elfstar18.  She asked me what I’d been doing this summer.  (She’s been working, going to school, deconstructing and reconstructing clothes, and dressing up pretty for a con, among other things.)  I was stumped.  I feel like I’ve been doing a lot but it feels now like not as much - making cupcakes, crocheting hats, playing Dungeons and Dragons, straightening up my home office, decluttering…  For some reason I didn’t think to say any of that and instead said “I’ve been watching a lot of web series, you know…  I’m telling myself it’s research."  Because I do want to write, produce, and direct a web series, ever.  And I feel like the pacing in a web series is fairly unique.  After reading Maureen’s manifesto and the comments, it occurred to me that I’d been learning a lot from free content people were just giving away on the internet.  So I thought I’d share with you some of what that content is.

  1. Smoothie Handbook I’ve been having a smoothie for breakfast every day for weeks now.  It’s excellent - I get in two or three servings of fruit first thing in my day, it feels kind of like drinking a milkshake, and they’re so sweet that I’ve found myself searching out other sugary treats much less often than I used to do.  (Fruit Smoothie > Snickers bar, if we’re talking about nutritional value.)  Most recently, the smoothies have been from recipes provided by DaNae Johnson in a free ebook she gives away on her Smoothie Handbook website.  The site also has a lot of information about what smoothies need to work and the benefits of particular smoothie ingredients, as well as advice on buying the best blender and vegetable gardening tips.

  2. In my quest to learn more about how a web series should look, I went to The Streamys website and started to check out their 2009 nominees.  Some of you are probably familiar with Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and The Guild, but I was amazed by the variety and quality of production that is out there.  I just want to throw out names and descriptions for a few I’ve really enjoyed:

After Judgement is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi about the people who are left behind once rapture happens. It has great acting, excellent production values, and most importantly excellent writing. I watched a promo for it and immediately wanted to know more about that world.

Backyard FX provides instruction videos on how to achieve professional looking effects with a budget of $50 or less.  I had a lot of fun watching How to Build a Jet Pack.

  1. Because I do want to be a writer-director-producer on any web series I might create, I decided Felicia Day, who is exactly that for The Guild, would be a good source of inspiration.  I went to her website looking to see if she had done any how-tos and found an excellent post about the resources she uses for writing.  Thanks to her recommendations I’ve got 3 used books coming my way and the intention of working harder at being a writer.

  2. Felicia (I feel like we’re on a first name basis, even though we’ve never met or even communicated really) reminded me about some productivity blogs I used to read regularly, and I’ve been spending a lot of time reading Zen Habits, which is Leo Babauta’s blog.  Leo writes not only about productivity but also about simplifying your life and there is an amazing amount of content there.  You could probably spend the rest of your life just reading his blog posts.  And that doesn’t even include his books, some of which he’s put in “beta” form on the internet.

  3. For almost two years, my dishwasher has spewed crap onto my “clean” dishes, which means that at least 50% of our dishes have to be re-rinsed by hand.  Yesterday when unloading the dishwasher I noticed there was some standing water in the bottom of it, so I went online and found this how to video for unclogging the dishwasher drain, provided by Tim Gipson, a home repair specialist.  This is what he does for a living, and he’s giving it away on the internet.  Which is good for me because he lives in Tennessee and it would take a long time for him to get here to help me out.  So, thanks, Tim.  I think my dishwasher might actually wash dishes now.

How many times a day do you benefit from content people have provided free on the internet?