“Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight”

During the hiatus I gave some serious thought to the topic of how to improve the blog in order to both maximize the satisfaction I get out of writing about Lego and maximize the entertainment value for you, the constant reader.  From the beginning I’ve been writing for an audience of builders, I don’t really care about the sort of boilerplate reader who indiscriminately devours nerd culture and loves the Big Bang Theory.  The Manifesto is for the hardcore, the people who do more than just idly consume the product of our benevolent Danish overlords.  With that in mind, lets talk about one topic that came up time and again when I thought about the blog, the proverbial meat and potatoes of Lego bloggery, the model spotlight.  Since the dawn of the hobby as we enjoy it today, blogs have traditionally focused on two things: new product information and giving a digital high-five to the builders who make compelling models.  The Manifesto doesn’t have the access or interest to comment on new product, that kind of news is better delivered and discussed elsewhere.  I cut my teeth doing nothing but model spotlights on TBB and I continued the tradition here during the first run, but I’ve begun to question its value.

Before we go any further I’d like to give credit to up and coming builder Tammo S. who recently posted this striking pair of spotlights that I can imagine several delightful uses for.  Each one could easily be the starting point or even centerpiece for a diorama, and I like how they are highly detailed without being busy.  You can’t go wrong with a little functionality either, although I find the gold one to be the more appealing of the two.  So check out Tammo’s work if you get the chance, I think he’s on his way to bigger and better things so you might as well find your seat on the bandwagon early.

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I’m not sure how much value the concept of the ‘MOC Spotlight‘ has for this blog in particular, at least in the traditional sense of harvesting the best recent Lego models and giving them adulation.  Let’s take Tyler Clites for example.  I’ve met the guy in person, I’ve collaborated with him and I’d put him up there with the best our hobby has to offer regardless of genre both as a builder and a decent human being.  All that said, I’m not sure how much value there is in posting Tyler’s latest model.  By the time you read my glowing opinion of his nearly immaculate creation you’ve already seen it in your Flickrstream, Facebook feed, Instagram and two or three of the big blogs.   I’ll do it here, since I’m talking about him, and it really is a kick-ass ship with an amazing interior but does it benefit anyone if I echo what you already know and has already been said five times over?  Does a guy like Tyler really need an ego bump, when everyone acknowledges his greatness already?  He’s already got a billion followers, favorites and comments.  I know he deserves them all but is it actually pushing the hobby forward or encouraging new or young builders?  I’m not so sure.

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So if I’m not that excited about posting the Top 40 hottest models, should I drop the concept entirely from the blog and stick to the other features you see in the sidebar?  Or should I focus on blogging lesser known builders who are not “ready for prime time” and give them the spotlight and in a best case scenario…meaningful critique from the commentariat here on the Manifesto?  With the diminished pace and output of the blog it seems difficult to do both.  Maybe you favor some other approach entirely, as always, I’m ready to hear you in the comment section.

Because I love to use this particular WordPress feature and the vast majority of readers won’t leave a written opinion but they might click on a poll, please consider participating in the following survey:

 

 

 

 

 

57 thoughts on ““Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight”

  1. Does “College Radio” mean “Show MOCs by builders who don’t get paly anywhere else? I think that is what you should show here. Guys who are good, but who just get no play because they are either new and there work is a little rough… or who are not new, not rough, but still dont’ get any dam play! Like the Space Shuttle MOC from Brick Fiesta? That thing was EPIC, and yet… on line it was met with casual disinterest. THAT is what you should post. Also, I really do hate you Keith. Slap yourself… harder! Again!

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      1. The spotlights are good. I usually don’t get too excited about table scraps, but these really captured my imagination. You should add him as a contact on Flickr.

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    1. Yes Rutherford, that’s what “College Radio” means, so regardless of your hate, you voted incorrectly. I agree that alot of great models are met with casual disinterest, like your own?

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  2. What I dig when it comes to MOC Spotlights is when you expand it to be a spotlight/exploration of a theme… and if the theme is radio airplay, you can call it a “MOC Bloc”. It’s highlighting “Speedmetal” builds for one post, then some “EMO” in the next, and then “Bluegrass Banjo” the next… Kind of like your Friday-Night-Fights but expanded to talk about MOC’s/trends of a certain style, and highlight the good, criticize the bad, and embrace the wonder that is the ugly… Maybe the MOC Spotlight is the segway to the topic…

    … What I can’t get enough of are those photos of single Stormtrooper minifigs that people flood the flickr LEGO group with. WHY NO SPOTLIGHTZ? MOAR PLZ! https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinmboots77/

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    1. Man, I love photos of single stormtroopers! I hate it when I look at the general Lego groups and there’s pictures of people’s MOCs, when all I really want to see are minifigs in someone’s garden.

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      1. Don’t overlook the shots that feature groups of Stormtrooper minifigs cavorting in various compelling locations. I can’t get enough of that sweet action. I like it when they exchange gifts, like balloons, pizzas and flowers. I really think we’re on to something here, why not cater to this gigantic demographic of people who love Stormtrooper Minifigs? They must have their own Group on Flickr…but I doubt the blogging community has recognized their greatness yet.

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      2. I was thinking there is some “evolutionary chart” to be made of the AFOL journey. Stage 1 is crawling on the ground on all fours posing minifigs in gardens (seems like the casual fans/newbies these days start there, and there are tons of them… fortunately most stay on facebook). Some, like the dude I linked, actually do a decent job with the photography …. Stage 2 is probably the set builder/collector (still hunched over with the pile of brick on the ground)…. Stage 3 might be the set modifier, realizing the instructions aren’t sacred (maybe sitting at their table). Stage 4 is the enlightened MOC-er, standing upright at his/her building table with plenty of organized and sorted brick within reach… Of course there are step-skippers (or at least they’ve hidden their past stages well enough from teh interwebs…)

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    2. Hmm…maybe I should consider a Stormtrooper of the week feature. MOAR PLZ indeed. I like the MOC bloc idea, I’m gonna consider that one. I know it’s early but it seems like this audience isn’t that down with Top 40 either, which is interesting because many of our readers and commenters fall into that category and find themselves on the big blogs.

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    3. That guy is clearly not using the internet for what it was intended and in fact may be bringing down the porn traffic with 41 pages of clones-NOT-on-plates. But, can i haz instrukshunz plz. And by “instrukshunz” I mean some more skull fucking through my eye sockets. That shit’s worse than trans yellow!

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      1. Matt, normally I agree with you but I think you’re being short-sighted here, it could be awesome, or perhaps even awesomesauce to celebrate this aspect of the hobby. Really, brother, reconsider it. What says more about the hobby than a Stormtrooper Minifig in garden? I’m working on the column as soon as I get done in the comments section. The people have spoken!

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    4. Yeah, like when he spotlights several boats, or a group of forced perspectives. You make a good point, the collection of different MOCs that have something in commen often leads to good discussion.

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      1. I think the floatplane Omnibus temporarily broke my spirit, brah. That was too many sky-boats! I couldn’t stop adding to the article, it became an obsession to ferret out every last seaplane. Obviously I can scale it back, but I always planned on keeping Omnibus as a semi-regular feature. I like Ted’s idea of the MOC Block, maybe a single post wrap-up for the cool things I noticed during the week. There are some good ideas in the comments so far, a lot of food for thought.

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  3. Would the “Classic Rock” option be the equivalent of the “Two for Tuesday” articles of yore? If so, I wouldn’t mind a mix of that and college radio.

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    1. Yeah classic rock would be famous / influential / important older models that the typical newcomer to the hobby or younger reader might not be familiar with. Two For Tuesday is a good example, although for that series I always try and select people that I’ve actually met, which obviously limits the scope of the concept. Thanks for the input, I’m leaning in that direction but I wanted to see what you guys had to say.

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  4. Missed the grand re-opening, oh well. Never too late, I suppose.
    As I mentioned previously, I discovered quite a few older builders/builds I haven’t seen before due to this blog, so definitely keep post these.

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    1. Never too late indeed, good to have you back! I appreciate the feedback and based on what I’ve read here I’ll keep playing oldies every once in a while. I hope to see more of you in the comments.

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  5. Keith I think you are right in your hunch that 10+ post a single photo + paragraph of text MOC hilights a day are not what people are looking for when they come to this blog. Plenty of others already cover that shit. But I don’t think you should take that to mean MOC hilights have no place here.

    Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

    – One of my principle reasons for following blogs is to discover builders I may not already know, so I can add them on flickr and boost the freshness of my frontpage. Sometimes even the big names that I’m supposed to be following by now have somehow slipped past my reticle, and it’s not til a blog post that I go “oh, why haven’t I been following this person before now?”
    – I like the classic rock stuff, because in my early days I made my home on Classic Castle and rarely ventured elsewhere, so I missed a bunch of the shit that went up on CSF, Mech Hub, FbtB, etc.
    – I really enjoy a post that has some love put into it: themed posts that hilight multiple builders, or breaking down a single builder’s style, etc. Your insight is always excellently consumable, even when I feel you’re wrong.
    – Doesn’t have to be an all the time thing. Could be once a week, once a month, at whim, etc.
    – I picked “college radio” because of item 1 in my list. I would totally dig a running feature that showcases builders who have, say (checks current flicker follower count) 400 or less followers or somesuch.

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    1. Strongly agreed! Since you’re asking: it’s a kick to see from you what I won’t see anywhere else, with your varietal curation and commentary. With every post being a bit precious, it’s a shame to “waste” one on a model we’re likely to trip across elsewhere.

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      1. Yeah, I had a feeling the audience here isn’t really a Top-40 crowd, thanks for chiming in Nick, and thanks for using the term “varietal curation”, you class up the joint, my friend. Did you see that Rutherford?

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    2. Like Nick I strongly agree to what breadman said.
      – Featuring upcoming builders would be new and very fitting.
      – Giving insight on older models that influenced general building techniques, styles or were the start of a new genre would be great too.

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    3. Brendan, good to hear from you and congrats on the nuptuals! Thanks for the detailed feedback, that’s exactly the the kind of thoughtful response I was hoping to get. My instinct says the mix of focus you suggest for the Spotlight is the right one, and it’s certainly been echoed up and down this thread.

      I didn’t know your base-camp was Classic Castle, if you’re ever inclined to write something for the blog it would be great to get your perspective on your time and history there. Or Technic, it’s a topic that is rarely engaged in an entertaining way. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you in the comments, thanks for reading the blog.

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  6. I’m a college kid, and I think your college radio commentaries are about the best this blog has to offer. but of course I really did enjoy your old-school highlights, especially Two for Tuesday. There were also a few spotlight posts that looked at a specific genre (I think one was airplanes, or was it just sailplanes?) and you went to town making a full, multi-picture, multi-builder-recognizing article. I believe I found dozens of new builders from those few posts alone, perhaps more. I am sure they take the most time on your part to create, but the results were always worth reading and savoring.

    Keith, you’ve got a solid head on your shoulders and I’m glad to see you’re using it. I honestly don’t think you’ll steer this blog wrong. Most of these people, if not everyone, are here because they share many of your preferences and sympathies when it comes to the hobby. I’m not saying we’re a bunch of yes men… we just happen to say yes a whole lot to the things you do.

    I love you. I hate you, too. It’s all somewhere in the middle. You’ve got this.

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      1. Omnibus… that was the word I could not remember. I love this type of posting. A collection with a theme. Excellent example!

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    1. Thanks Caleb, I appreciate your thoughts on the blog. Two for Tuesday is a column that I was toying with abandoning for this run but I’ll consider what you said. I got some pretty strong criticism last time through other channels that TfT was too maudlin or nostalgic in the worst sense of the word, I think because several of the people featured in the column had moved on from building. I’ve had an itch to write about an AFOL or two that I probably shouldn’t, and I think that frustration is sort of tainting my outlook on TfT. I’ll take another look at it, maybe change the tone a little or some of the rules like I have to have met the person to be featured on TfT.

      I definitely prefer constant readers to yes-men but your point is well taken, thanks also for the complements on the blog. It definitely keeps us going here, as shallow as that may seem.

      Hurray for the middle! Cheers Caleb.

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  7. I personally have no desire for another MOC spotlight blog. It may just be me but what I liked about your blog is that it functioned more as a commentary on the community and culture of AFOLS, rather than the MOCs people make. Even your posts about MOCs became commentaries rather than simply a pat on the back for the builder.

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    1. I love that honesty Joseph, I don’t think I I want to see another spotlight blog either, the concept has its place but it’s too often bland and forgettable. I appreciate the feedback and I’ll keep it in mind going forward.

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  8. College radio and classic rock, please! Both of those tend to fall through the cracks on other blogs, and give you the chance to ramble about some greater topic within the community.

    And if I may make a recommendation, this dude does some unique stuff and only has 2(!) followers on Flickr so far: https://www.flickr.com/photos/149087679@N04/

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    1. I hear you loud and clear Christopher, I appreciate you leaving your thoughts. I wasn’t familiar with that builder, his/her stuff is odd, I’ll have to take a deeper look and keep it in mind for a feature.

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  9. I’m in for the College radio. Oldies only if you show my old shit, because I might very well never build anything decent ever again and I desperately need the ego boost.

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  10. I agree with highlighting obscure new builders, especially the ones who bring fresh new thinking into the hobby that we can all benefit.Isn’t that information sharing all about?

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  11. I find it interesting, if not synced well to my own tastes, that you likened the choice to music. I find that I listen to pretty much all genres depending on my mood (or causing my mood, I’ll take either) except that goddamn country/western twangy bullshit, it’s the equivalent of trans yellow in cacophonous sonic mutilation form. I can echo all the comments above but I don’t feel that the particular station NOT selected should be excluded as the Manifesto seems to add a bit of Bootsy-esque funky bass to any standard song and dance. So, I will be the potato-head in the survey. I’m part Irish and I like vodka, so I’m good with that.

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    1. And here I always figured you for an Earnest Tubb motherfucker:

      I take your point that even Top-40 has it’s place. Besides if I ignored the top 40 I wouldn’t be able to post about half the guys here. Rutherford excluded, there is no way in hell I will ever blog his crap.

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      1. I hate you. I just wake up in the morning… stretch… crack my back… and start hating you.

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      2. The Texas Troubadour himself, gotta give him some credit for starting honky-tonk and influencing Elvis. Without that, rock may not have been. I know he was speaking English, but I could only understand every fifth word. There ain’t enough whiskey and mule kicks to the head to make me want to listen to it again and try to figure it out.

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  12. I honestly think the traditional “model spotlight” is my least favorite part of this blog. I find the more specialized columns (Two for Tuesday, Constructive Criticism, etc.) hold my attention much more, and it’s not as if you can’t do “college radio” or “classic rock” in these articles. Especially since you’re going to be slowing down, the general “model spotlight” seems like the chaff that needs to be cut. If you just want to highlight builds that don’t fit into the speciality articles, you could do a single post dump of five builds at the end of the week or something.

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    1. I love the bluntness, and I thank you for the feedback, this entire thread has been really helpful so refine the blog going forward. I like your idea of a single post dump, Ted mentioned someting similar and I think it would be a good idea. Cheers Nate!

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  13. I agree with what Michael initially said. Don’t feel like reading all the other comments (3 many 5 me), but I’d also just say don’t worry about blogging build necessarily regularly. One of the biggest problems with other blogs imo is they give up their quality standard because they want to post a set number of times a week or whatever.

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  14. Featuring the new and unusual, mixed with the wisdom of the ages (didn’t want to say old farts teaching us about LUGNET), and meaningful critique — sounds like a winning combination to me.

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      1. Sure, but can you even hear me when I cheer you on from the side of the road? Also, don’t you have that life-size mecha to help you?

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      2. Pascal, don’t remember me of that robot. It seems its name will be Sisyphos. As it’ll still take me ages to finish it.

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  15. What this blog needs is some humor. What a dry, dull intellectual wasteland. All this talk about MOC quality, mini-figure madness, and some moron’s garden. I’m not one to scour blogs looking a pictures for the sake of looking at pictures: give me a little intellectual heft or something wet-my-britches funny as well. MOC of the Week? Stupid. (Mainly because I’d never be featured in it.)

    When you’ve got something to say, or have an insight that may be of interest to builders of varying abilities, share it. Don’t be boxed in by MOC spotlights or some insane feeling that you MUST … POST … EVERY … WEEK to be relevant for swine like me.

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    1. No, what this blog needs in an enima! And more photos of minifig Stormtroopers? I appreciate the feedback Dennis, and I hope you’re still considering writing something for the blog, I know you’ve got a good story or two in you. Glomshire alone would probably be good fodder for an article. Think about it! And I’ll think about being wet-your-britches funny and intellectually hefty. I rely on Rutherford for all of that crap so you might want to downgrade your expectations. Just be funny, right? No pressure. No pressure at all.

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