In an earlier post about the sudden appearance of a raft of digital fly fishing magazines, I suggested the most common online magazine format — which mimicked paper magazines (sometimes even requiring you to flip pages) — was simply an interim step.
Which led to a few “WTF?” emails.
The operative concept is that new media initially duplicates the media it replaces — a reflection of our resistance to change instead of an acknowledgement of what’s really possible.
I couldn’t pinpoint what was coming, but a lot of us cast envious glances at the groundbreaking New York Times’ Snow Fall avalanche story site.
It seamlessly combined words, pictures (big ones), special effects, video and a bunch of other goodies. Unfortunately, it cost a lot of time and money to produce.
Years later, technology has advanced to the point that even lowly marketing types are looking hard at what I uncreatively called “Big Story” technology in this blog post.
My web guy and I are still looking for the right place to pitch a Big Story project, but Chi Wulff thinks it’s time fly fishing moved into the digital era.
If they pull it off, I’d suggest they’ll be the first to move fly fishing into the “real” digital era — where media is freed from the expectations (and the shackles) of the past.
From Chi Wulff:
As a team, overall we’re passionate supporters of the digital magazine format which has become so pervasive in fly fishing (North American > world) these days, though as publishers of Swing the Fly we’d be the first to admit there are some rather profound limitations in the digital magazine format when it comes to long form storytelling; limitations that frankly are long form deal killers given today’s technology.
They’re calling their effort The Paspartu Project, and while the website basically puts you in contact with them, I am looking forward to their efforts (full disclosure — I’m not involved).
Various news media are using “Big Story” tech already (see The Sea Washed It Away by The Weather Channel). So it’s not new.
But it should prove interesting. I’ll leave you with what I wrote on my writing blog:
Combining video, audio files, still photography, words, graphics and other relevant bits is not easy.
Obviously, you need someone to shoot all that video and still photography, write the story, extract the telling quotes, create the graphics, write and record (or find) the music, assemble the narrative and create a cohesive whole.
And that’s the short list.
A few screenwriting or directing skills wouldn’t be out of place. And it’s probably not going to happen quickly (the now-famous New York Times Snow Fall avalanche story site reportedly took 12 staffers nearly six months to create).
I find this kind of amplified storytelling interesting. But I also sat down with a pen and paper and sketched the costs of creating even a basic Big Story for a client.
Not cheap. Not even close.
Still, we’re seeing glimmers of a way forward — a larger online canvas for writers, artists, journalists and marketers.
One more thought. How do you integrate advertising into a Big Story — at least in ways advertisers will recognize (remember, they suffer a bigger resistance to change than even readers).
See you kicking the tires on what comes next, Tom Chandler.
There was a time when a hole in my schedule might be plugged writing an article for this blog (like the fishing report and Gierach book review I owe you slobs), but these days, a free couple of hours might find me at the sandwich shop buying a meatball sub to split with M2, who — being the younger kid — doesn’t get nearly as many solo outings as her older sister.
She can’t cast and frankly, she’s a danger to herself and others when she lays hand on a fly rod, but taking her fishing (this her first time) is still a remarkable amount of fun.
At least until she announces it’s time to make poopie.
Fun, it seems, is never wholly without cost.
Still, stealing her away from pre-school two hours early feels like a hard-earned jailbreak to both of us.
No trout were caught — and I knew that was probably going to be the case — but I did take advantage of the visit to note my little creek is already showing some bones, and this in the midst of our typical roaring “runoff” period.
See you at the sub shop, Tom Chandler.
Too tired to write about the first Authentic Small Stream Fly Fishing Experience Of The Season. Except to say it was pretty damned cold. Much warm clothing was worn.
And mostly, we had to be satisfied “spooking” the trout instead of catching them. I’m assembling all the usual excuses for the report.
See you writing the report, Tom Chandler.
California’s General Trout season opener leaps out of the cake tomorrow (Saturday, April 26), and while I’m stuck in a training gig, Older (and less attractive) Bro and I will find ourselves on a bona-fide small stream on Day Two of the California’s “Like Totally Awesome” 2014 season.
It couldn’t happen to a pair of nicer guys.
Which trout will feel the sting of our presence? In truth, we’re not sure. We’ve got a stream in mind.
This year, our decision won’t be affected by the snowpack, which usually renders a lot of alpine streams inaccessible. To see why it’s not a problem this year, check out California’s abysmal — and already disappearing — snowpack:
See that dismal “6%” in the upper third of the state?
That’s my snowpack (percentage of normal for April 1). Which means all the water you normally can’t fish until June is now fair game.
But don’t get any ideas. Don’t show up at my stream. My brother and I have suffered through a long couple of weeks. And we’re staring a drought — and potentially short small stream fishing season — right in the face.
So if we see you on our water, we’ll likely gut you.
You know, like a trout. That you’re going to cook. And eat.
Get the picture?
If you haven’t laid your hands on the latest issue of California Fly Fisher, you’re missing the interesting interview with Lisa Cutter — one of the state’s leading female fly fishers and co-owner (with Ralph Cutter, who needs little introduction to most of you) of the California Fly Fishing school.
Essentially, if you think you lead a bum’s life in pursuit of adventure, you might want to see how it’s really done.
Tenkara acquired a beachhead in the Western fly fishing universe at a time when the traditional fly shop/manufacturer relationship is feeling a little… strained. (Actually, it’s feeling a lot strained. I was just being nice.)
So when a fly shop goes full rant about a direct-to-the-consumers move by a manufacturer, it’s not really surprising Tenkara gear is at the heart of it:
Patagonia’s new catalog article and product description about their tenkara rods/book is now another pill difficult to swallow. In one short breath, “Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear, a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle, accompanied by high-priced fishing guides”, Chouniard dismisses much of the fly fishing industry. Why cut off the legs of western fly fishing with Patagonia’s entry into “rod manufacturing/retailing”?
Why did Patagonia and Craig Mathews determine to brand its new tenkara retail endeavor with Temple Fork Outfitters, a relatively new and marginally respected player in the tenkara arena? Marketing? Margins? In fact, wasn’t it Lefty himself (the face of Temple Fork Outfitters) that once told Tenkara USA owner Daniel Galhardo that “tenkara is just a fad and won’t last”?
Alas, why did Patagonia launch its tenkara products without allowing any Patagonia dealer to have access to the product? Why would you choose not to include the retailers that have promoted your fly fishing apparel for years? As far as we are aware, Patagonia has never launched a new product line and not let their dealers in on it. Why now?
Yikes. So much for “simple.”
Tenkara looks like an interesting way to fish. But there have been more than a few statements made suggesting Tenkara represents an elevated form of fly fishing.
And this in a sport where ideas about split shot often degenerate into close quarters combat.
For the record, simple is nice, but those with the temerity to fly fish with a reel are probably not going to hell. (Hell, it’s widely known, is reserved for those using split shot.)
If you feel the need to engage in a religious conflict, I can suggest plenty of better options in other parts of the world.
See you on the river (gutting the guy who showed up just before you), Tom Chandler.
California’s drought continues, and tracking all the stories about it would overflow even a blog dedicated to the stuff. Inexplicably, few of the stories focus on the plight of the poor small stream fly fisherman and the privations he’ll suffer during the drought, but the New York Times does cover two fairly appalling trends in the California water landscape.
First, investors — with little real connection to the land — are buying up Central Valley farmland. And second, growers are planting far more water-intensive crops than before:
Several insurance and pension funds have snapped up land in the Central and Pajaro Valleys and replaced traditional crops like spinach, melons and asparagus with ones requiring more water, like avocados, nuts and berries, which command premium prices thanks to soaring demand from baby boomers and the international market. The region produces twice as many almonds, roughly two billion pounds, as it did in 2006.
The boom in nut trees, water managers in the valleys say, has strained the state’s water resources even further. Brian Lockwood, senior hydrologist at the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, pointed to the strawberry fields that have largely displaced the apple orchards that used to be major producers in the Pajaro Valley.
“Apples need about a half acre-foot of water per acre, whereas strawberries take two or more acre-feet,” Mr. Lockwood said. “You can’t blame growers for seeking better-paying crops, but it has quadrupled water use per acre.”
To get a sense of what kind of numbers we’re talking about, here are the percentage increases (2003-2012) of water-intensive crops (credited to the California Department of Food & Agriculture):
In other words, all those acres that have been fallowed by the drought (recent estimates say as much as 800,000, or 7% of California’s cropland) might not have been fallowed if the field across the road had been planted with spinach instead of strawberries or almonds.
I’m sympathetic to the growers. Droughts are hard, and because salmon and other natives are slowly going extinct, the growers have less water to begin with. It’s a hard place.
Yet planting more water-intensive crops seems like a pretty poor response to an ongoing water crisis — one that has generated a lot of cries for government aid which are being answered to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. (And exactly who’s going to pay for all the damage caused by overpumping groundwater?)
We clearly don’t have the water to increase our need for it among growers, and I’m not at all amenable to waving good-bye to native fish in order to make a tasty snack treat for an overseas market (the vast majority of almonds grown in the state are shipped overseas).
Next time someone attempts to reduce California’s water wars to something ludicrous like “why are you favoring fish over people,” ask them why they’re hugging almonds instead of the farmer down the road. And then maybe we can all get down to discussing the real issues.
See you taking a very short shower so trout in the Upper Sac can breathe a little easier, Tom Chandler.