Witness The Neatness! Real Neat Blog Award

So, I’ve been nominated for a neato burrito Real Neat Blog Award, and that will be the first and last time I mention the words “neato burrito” in a blog post on here!

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What is the Real Neat Blog Award? Good question, my intelligent friends. The Real Neat Blog Award is basically a badge of approval shared around between bloggers - no judging panel or voting popularity contest. Just bloggers showing their love for other bloggers.

Pretty neat, right?

Who picked me?

The one and only Jay Mullings (of Written Mirror fame) nominated me for this award. To get a mention from someone who I have been a fan of for quite a while feels awesome. His insights into life, film and TV are a treat to read, and you won’t find anything quite like these various musings anywhere else on the internet.

How does the Real Neat Blog Award work?

In picking me, Jay asked me seven questions, each more intricate than the last and provoking a huge level of thought at a time where I’d love to just sit back and welcome the impending wave of birthday cake this Saturday!

The Rules:

Put the award label on your blog.
Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
Thank the people who nominated you and link to their blogs.
Nominate any number of bloggers you like, include links to their blogs.
Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog or twitter etc)

The Seven Questions

So, without further ado, let’s roll into these questions and give you guys a unique insight into New Rising Media.

1. What inspired your best ever blog post?

Now this, Jay. This is an evil question. Picking between my best blog posts is much like picking between several Golden Retrievers.

Rather than trying to individually select one, I’m going to let time decide for me and pick the first of this list: The Rapper Headphone Conspiracy.

The inspiration behind this was my own headphone shopping. I always go on two elements: sound stats and price - the widest possible range for the cheapest possible price.

This was at the height of popularity for the Beats By Dre name, which spawned many other equally expensive rapper-branded headphones.

But here’s the problem… They absolutely sucked.

The audio range of a pair of Beats studio headphones (RRP £300), matched that of a £40 pair of Sennheiser cans. You were literally paying £260 for the name, and I wanted to let the world know and stop people wasting their money.

And while the post is not one of my best writing-wise (back from my “use big words to mystify” phase), one opportunistic share on Reddit and it was the number 1 story on r/all.

I was mystified by the 65,000+ visitors to my blog every single hour. At 21, it was an amazing moment that I won’t forget.

2. Who is your favourite blogger?

Short and simple, as we have a lot of ground to cover here.

John Gruber’s Daring Fireball is a brilliantly varied blog of short form opinions and long, eloquent pieces about Apple’s tech culture.

She Geeks is another amazing location of opinions, reviews and tasty blogs about tech.

And finally, the cracking cringely.com for some nice analytical insight into some of technology’s biggest future trends.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received/given?

In my earlier years, where my fringe was as long as my luck with the ladies was non-existent (so very long), I was in a pop punk band with my friends… Go ahead, I’ll give you a second to laugh that one off. Hey, not that hard! Fine, I’ll put a picture here and embarrass myself further.

With much of this genre being about one of a few things - friends, ex-girlfriends, your hometown or positivity with a side of pizza, it made songwriting a little easy.

I stumbled on a line that I never used in a song, but has stuck with me since: “you are better than you think you are.” More recently, it has found its place in a tweet I pinned.

For context, I don’t really want to provide much backstory detail. When it came to a fork in the road between a lot of money and being happy, taking life at your own pace, I took the money.

Got a nice flat out of the deal, but beyond that I worked in an incredibly toxic atmosphere that maddened my anxiety to the point of self-damaging thoughts I would never wish on the worst human beings out there.

It was around the time of this tweet that I washed my hands of it all, took a pay cut and hit that classic “reset” button on life. Rather than running before I could walk, I learned to appreciate things at a slower pace. I approached my achievements one small step at a time and in doing so, managed to feel the sense of accomplishment for them, instead of bogging myself down in some KPI-based hellscape.

And because of that, I had the honour of accepting a journalism scholarship to CES, getting my teeth into some of the best blog work of my life and settling into a job with a team that feel like friends.

4. What is the most important ingredient in a blog?

As I stir the broth of content, adding a generous dollop of SEO optimisation and a pinch of social marketing along the way, I realise this metaphor is getting away with me. Because in reality, I don’t want to sound too new age and generic here…

The most important ingredient is you.

Everything only happens with you on the recipe list and if you are not in your best frame of mind, then that aforementioned broth is going to taste pretty terrible.

Back to the aforementioned darker years of my life, it’s very easy to spot when things got bad for me and I really lost my interest in the blog. But as I said, one reset later and a reassessment of what matters in my life, and I’m back to loving it.

Sure, it’s now only three stories a week compared to two a day. However, effort is a relative thing and you shouldn’t be judged on having other priorities in your life.

Focus on you. When you are at your most ripe with ideas, your content is at its tastiest.

5. You’re stuck on one topic for the rest of your blogging life, what would it be and why?
Two words: Future tech.

The technological future is both terrifying and incredibly exciting. For every scary step forward in self-aware artificial intelligence, there is one university team rehabilitating Parkinson’s patients with a Kinect.

What fascinates me most about the future of tech is that the gadgets you see and use have the most unexpected user outcomes. It will be with us for the rest of time and I love to speculate and see where trends go.

6. What is the weirdest comment/feedback you have ever had from a legitimate reader?

While I do have plenty of stories that would easily answer this question, they’re not that interesting. From being called creatively lacking names like “commie little jack hole” when my story hit the front page of Reddit r/all and somebody wishing me an early death for my thoughts on the headphone jack, to threatened legal action from the writer of Power Rangers, you’ve heard stories like these before.

So, I’m going to approach this a little differently… 

As you can tell, I am a very tech-centric futurist in my thoughts and beliefs of the world. Some people will always disagree with you, as a blogger, on many of your opinions. Many of them will find your email address and talk to you directly as well. One such person was Allison, who I can only describe as a techno-environmental Christian, who believes the world will end by the year 3059 due to our apocalyptic reliance on electricity.

No, I am not kidding you. Just read the whole thing verbatim right here and enjoy what may sound like one of the most engaging religious science fiction stories I’ve ever read!

7. Someone offers you £100k to stop blogging for the rest of your life would you take it?

At first, I felt this was a very easy, very straightforward “no.” New Rising Media has been my life’s work and there’s no way I would just give it up for any value of money.

But then the question took me back to the reason I started doing this… My dream career is to be a nerd journalist - by that, I mean focussing on technology, science, video games, internet culture, basically anything you see on this site.

NRM was started in response to the fact I lacked two crucial factors in the recipe that makes a good journalist in these areas - the correct piece of paper and a residence in London.

I’m self-taught in many elements of my writing, relentlessly reading many online news outlets, learning the craft and making it my own.

So the truth is I don’t know. If that £100k came on its own, then I would walk away. 

But if that came with an opportunity… Hell, if it was an opportunity at the bottom of the ladder towards this dream, and the requirement was to stop blogging, that changes things. I’d seriously consider it.

My Questions and Nominations

Time to pass on the torch. Here’s the questions that I will ask of my picks:

  1. What inspired you to get into this in the first place?
  2. Name three bloggers/YouTubers who were a source of inspiration for your content.
  3. How do you overcome creative block and continue making content?
  4. Tell me the story behind a blog post/video you regret.
  5. You are disconnected from all technology for a year. What are the three things you will miss the most?
  6. And what tech will you be happy is gone?
  7. Finally, you’ve been given a magical reset button that takes you back to the very day you bought your blog URL/set up your YouTube channel… What would you do differently and why?

And congratulations to this unlucky bunch that I am nominating one is primarily a YouTuber and the other three are some of my favourites from the UK Blog Awards!