If you don’t follow me on twitter, and in that case, I’m genuinely surprised you’re here at all, though, thank you, hi, you might be unaware that in May and June I did a long exercise in posting critique of every city flag in America I could find, doing – generally – one state a day for a whole month.The intention was to archive it, on this blog, like I wound up doing for the state flag thread. This is good for me, because it means the work isn’t as ephemeral as it is on twitter, and I get some easy blog posts already made, and it’s good for you, because it means you can actually find the things by searching this central repository of my writing. Win win.
The problem now is scope. See, the state flags were broken up over a week – fifty flags, five days, that more or less worked out. The twitter thread though was an hour a day – more or less – every day for a month. And the number of city flags vary wildly between states – Wyoming only had two or three worth mention, while Massachussetts had three hundred and thirteen. What this meant is that every day I was writing maybe two thousand words plus research plus images of the flags in this thread, and over a month, that’s – well, that’s a book. If you read the whole flag thread, you read a very twittery book.
It’s also big enough that there really isn’t a convenient way to copy it into a document or translate to a webpage. I host the images I put on this blog on this blog – I don’t like the idea that another service going down will make the images fail, or that someone – hypothetically – can change what my blog is showing without my control over it. That means gathering my own versions of all of those flags – and there were almost eighteen hundred flags. Each blog post about them would be quite large, and a lot of those flag comments were just jokes based on a tiny number of extremely basic failings.
I’m not sure I’ve solved this problem yet. One possible solution is to just make the flag thread into an ebook, but that gets into a really fascinating complicated space.
See, anything posted on twitter is effectively transitory and there’s no expectation of financial remuneration. There’s a certain amount of leeway I get when I post a photo unsourced. I’m not sure, however, about the possible legal ramifications of the use of art owned by cities and states in a different country, especially when if I put the effort into making a good, well-formatted book, I’d be wanting to charge for it.
I mean I could, hypothetically crowdfund a book: Maybe just a book called Your Flags Are All Garbage, and pay an editor or legal department to work things out for me.
Still, for now, that’s an idea, rather than a plan. It’s a funny old thing, really. Creating things is hard, but then translating what we create to useful forms is hard, too.