Social Media Weblogging

Quiet times

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

My nephew’s graduation was today but I decided not to drive over to it. This last week was a long week, capped off with my roommate receiving some very difficult news last night. It will be a quiet weekend this weekend, which suits me. Perhaps I’ll get out for some photography tomorrow.

I received a surprised chuckle when reading AKMA’s coverage of the Digital Genres conference, and saw the following:

Trevor characterizes blogs as stories, whether in pictures (he cites Burningbird and Rageboy, an unnerving combination) or words.

Now, contrary to popular myth, I am not Rageboy in drag — his eyes are blue, mine are green, and he’s really much prettier than I am.

The Corante Social Software weblog folks — Clay Shirky. Liz Lawley, Ross Mayfield, Sébastien Paquet, Jessica Hammer, and Hylton Jolliffe — have kindly asked me to guest weblog this next week. I was both touched and honored by this request, and have planned a series of posts about the social aspect of social software — what happens when you throw cruddy old human behavior at shiny new social technology. Hopefully the social software folks won’t regret their invitation.

Out and about, I saw that Andrew Orlowski from The Register does seem to dislike webloggers from his recent article. He writes:


Well, primarily because blogging is a solitary activity that requires the blogger to spend less time reading a book, taking the dog for the walk, meeting friends in the pub, seeing a movie, or reading to the kids. The reason that 99.93 per cent of the world doesn’t blog, and never will, is because people make simple information choices in what they choose to ingest and produce, and most of this will be either personal and private, or truly social. Blog-evangelists can fulminate at the injustice of this all they like, but people are pretty smart and make fairly rational choices on the information they process.

Interesting people run interesting blogs, but it’s remarkable how few of them there are.


I’m not sure how big weblogging will be. I had recent exposure to the fact that most people really don’t have an interest in maintaining a journal, online or off. Most people really don’t care for writing that much, or even have that much respect for it. I am finding that even something like writing a technical book can lose technical brownie points rather than increase them.

Having said this, though, I do find that there are people who want to connect and communicate, and who like the idea of a weblog or a wiki, and usually have something to share — whether it’s an interest in books, poetry, movies, music, photography, travel, technology, and yes, even everyday life. And I have grown from this exposure, though sometimes the growth isn’t without growing pains.

I have to laugh at Mr. Orlowski’s statement about weblogger’s spending less time reading books, because my exposure to poetry and literature, cultures and new technologies, and interesting people has doubled since I started this weblog.

I still get a kick out of being called a ‘poetry’ weblog, when my interest in poetry arose from works such as Loren’s recent writing about William Carlos Williams. I found through Loren’s discussion with Language Hat that I also favor the ‘romantics’ among the poets — and now I actually understand what this means, rather than being a memorized term I can pull out to impress people. Too bad Mr. Orlowski spends so much time with the weblogging A-List folks such as Dave Winer and Polish teenage girls, rather than the people I read daily — he might be pleasantly surprised.

As for the socialization — that’s also a chuckle as I read in weblog post after weblog post of people attending this conference or that get together. I think I’m the only person who hasn’t met other webloggers in person and that’s primarily by choice, being the reticent, quiet, and shy person that I am.




Social Media Web

Guest Blog #1

Originally posted at Many-to-Many, now archived at Wayback Machine

Software developers have traditionally used one phrase when testing text output in a new programming environment — “Hello, World!” We need to devise a new form of “Hello World” when testing unfamiliar weblogging software because every weblog post we write is a form of “Hello World!” Our words are recorded and literally thrown out, bounced against the aether, hanging brightly on the page like lures to little fishies. Except the little fishies are people like me, and you. Come here fishy, fishy, fishy.

I wrote once, long ago, that sometimes you have to stop in the middle of writing a weblog post and realize exactly what you’re doing: You’re writing into this void, hoping that someone wanders by and is interested enough to stop and read what you’re saying. It’s equivalent to being in a big room full of walls, and you’re shouting at the walls and faintly you hear other people shout at their walls and every once in a while, someone hears you crying out “Hello? Hello?” and answers back. Contact!

“Hello? World? Is that you?” “Yes! Yes! I hear you! “By the way, your taste in poetry really sucks. Did you know?”

What a unique out of body experience. You can take the voice out of the body, but you can’t teach it manners.

I guess this writing, this post (a word I dislike) is my equivalent of a weblogging “Hello, World!” — a rambling, disjointed shout out on nothing in particular into the threaded void. A tap at your monitor to let you know I’m in the neighborhood and tomorrow, I’ll be by with something useful. Or not.


The price you pay

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s a price you pay to be a part of this virtual neighborhood, and it’s the little bits of connectivity broken when one member or another goes silent for a time — maybe forever.

When I didn’t have the money to keep this weblog going, several of you contributed to help me, for which I am so thankful. The reasons you gave for helping were many, though much was said about the ‘quality’ of my writing — words that touched my doubting soul, providing something beyond the coins falling into the velvet bag. However, one person’s comment about me leaving has stayed with me because of his unique perspective. Jeff Ward wrote:

I can’t afford much at this point, but I asked myself if I’d still want to do this as a slave to someone like blogspot, and the answer was no. Independence is a good thing. While it is a different situation than Mark Woods faced, I feel it essential to try to prevent any tornados from uprooting what I’ve begun to see as a sort of neighborhood.

Wanting to keep our neighborhoods whole and happy because we’ve come to know and care for the people is something that we’ll be facing more of in the future as others move on to other things, or take a break, possibly never to return. And with each leaving, a drop of blood is spilled because they have become a part of this whole experience, going beyond just our own contributions. It pains us to lose people we haven’t met, and may never meet.

I have lost people from my neighborhood, weblogs gone silent, emails unanswered and each time, there’s a hollowness where they were, though I respect their decisions to leave.

There are some people I am very close to, and sometimes I think I hold on to them with a desperation born of a need far beyond me having a weblog because I love to write, though that’s my ostensible reason for being here. Allan Moult is one such who plans on weblogging less, though my government’s actions brings him out now and again. I want to send a note of encouragement to President Bush, tell him to keep up the good work just to keep Allan’s voice, but the words would be false, and my motive is selfish.

Then there is Jonathon, probably my closest friend, though the person who lately I have been picking at and pushing at more than others because even a friendship can not wipe away the differences in personality. Today he wrote a simple message of Adieu and I am devastated because he is part of that circle that runs most closely to me and his silence will ring the loudest.

As a weblogger, my neighborhood is torn and tattered and I could wish nothing more than that he would stay, the hole of his leaving sits and echos and disturbs the flow around me. But as a friend — even one who pushes and picks and causes him trouble and disruption — then I must wish him well, and hope for him nothing but peace, happiness, and much success in his new projects. However, there’s a faintly selfish wish that he returns soon, and even an empty promise that I won’t cause the same problems; but I know I will because being a weblogger doesn’t change, ultimately, who and what I am.

Adieu Jonathon.