Tag Archives: blogging

My Place To Write: The Blog

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Serdar and I discuss writing all the time as we are both writers and people fascinated by writing. The blog post you are reading resulted from one of those conversations – what is blogging’s value? Yes, I am presenting you with a blog post about blog posts.

Serdar eloquently addressed this subject in his own blog, and it is my turn. He has his story, and I have mine, and this story explains why I find value in blogging.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I have always loved writing, and I mean that without irony or guile. I recall all my times writing and making comics as a child, inspired by the movies and shows and books of my youth. Like many children, I had the ambition to write professionally, but even as plans came, changed, and went, the writing continued.

wrote.

Why? Ironically I can’t put it into words easily. Technically there’s the thrill of construction and creation. Emotionally there’s that feeling you get when sensations and experiences flow out of your fingers. Personally, there’s that hope to reach out to and connect people. As a finite being, there’s a sense of legacy, making something that outlasts you.

For all my writing experience, metaphor is the only tool I can use to explain the feelings.

So I wrote, and then the internet came – the age of web pages and text reaching people through HTML and email.

In the 90s I had to get a web page where I’d post links and rants and so on. I reached out to people via words, and though my motivations were a mix of sincerely trying to connect and just wanting attention, it was writing. Eventually, this became Seventh Sanctum, my site of random generators.

The internet kept giving us more, easy ways to connect (as newsgroups faded away). Soon I was on Livejournal, of course, because who wasn’t? That’s where I met blogging.

On LiveJournal I could compose and connect. I could put out a post and reach people. What I said and what I reblogged could influence people, help them, and get a response. LiveJournal showed how you could write and matter without having a book or a newspaper.

But LiveJournal faded, and blogging was the thing for the internet-savvy. Though blogging didn’t have the connectivity of LiveJournal, you had control. It was yours, doing things your way, and owning your name and domain and content. Blogging was perfect for my latest writing venture in the mid-00’s – writing about geeky jobs.

A friend of mine and I had considered writing a book about geeky careers as we knew many talented fanfic writers, cosplayers, and the like. We wanted to see people use these skills in their livelihood, but a book would be challenging to write and publish. But a blog? That was easy.

So we created a blog initially called Fan To Pro (later, MuseHack). We blogged like crazy and had fun doing it, writing about news, career advice, and the like. More people joined us, and we networked with others. Far easier than a book, right?

Then I took my knowledge and wrote a book.

Somewhere after 2010, self-publishing had become easy enough that people could publish their books. I took my writings and ideas and speeches on careers and made the book Fan To Pro (later rewritten).

The child who wrote because of books and TV shows and comics he read finally had a book decades later.

But when you’re an author, you tend to keep writing, and I did. Authors also need a platform – and most authors were starting to blog. Having been blogging for years for Fan To Pro, I blogged for myself as well, beginning in 2008

Thus I had a home for my writing, my way, my stuff. Some of it was for promoting my writing, some of it was done on autopilot so I kept making content, but I wrote.

What’s funny is that my author/personal site has actually created books. Multiple column series I created ended up being the seeds of books on skill portability and  resumes. Yes, my blogging due to my writing a book based on a blog turned into books.

I kept writing. I keep writing. I keep blogging.

Blogs are personal. They are a unique expression of yourself, and you can customize them as you see fit. You can’t get that on any platform you don’t own.

Blogs are long-form if you want. You can do a short post, yes, but you can also do long-form posts. They are a chance to express in detail – and communicate about detail.

You own blogs. Your domain is yours and controlled by you (hopefully). You decide on the technical setup. You are not dependent on any platform – and can move around if needed.

Blogs are easily transformed. Blog posts are excellent fuel for books or a way to try out some ideas to expand later. There is also the advantage that you don’t worry about who owns or rebroadcasts the contents.

Blogs are easily connected.  Blogs have RSS feeds if you set them up, and those can feed into other sources. You connect them your way and in your time.

Blogs last. The site you post to can kill your posts. Companies shut down. Your blog can jump from server to server, host to host, even to other formats (like the books I mentioned).

In an age of posting on other people’s sites, I feel that blogs have yet to be fully appreciated. If I knew how to use their power fully, well, I’d use it.

But no matter what I do or don’t understand, I’m going to keep writing.

Steven Savage

Speculation: Living Without Facebook And Twitter?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

Facebook was used to harvest data by a highly unethical and bizarre campaign firm, Cambridge Analytica, to sway the US elections resulting in a worldwide scandal, with more coming out all the time. Twitter has terrible controls and policing and still seems infested with bots and haters. It’s not looking good for social media out there.

I saw someone post recently (I think, ironically, on Twitter) that the internet becgan being less beneficial with Twitter and Facebook became prominent. That got me thinking as my instinct, as a technophile, is to not believe that any technology is bad. My instinct was there, but it wasn’t defending itself very well.

So I’m going to try a thought experiment – what would happen if I suddenly gave up Facebook and/or Twitter? What if they vanished?Let’s learn from this experiment.

FACEBOOK

OK, so Facebook gives us a massively integrated service. Messaging, posting, building groups, events, and more. it integrated with OTHER services as well. It’s a one-stop shop of things – which of course was part of the problem for data mining, because it’s a great place to get tons of data and influence people.

My intended use for it is:

  • Keep in touch with friends and family.
  • Post about my books and projects and provide a way to be reached.
  • Schedule events without using email or Meetup.com.
  • Find people I forgot about.

In addition I use it for:

  • Reading and posting random funny stuff.
  • Occasional ranting.

Right here I see that one of the big advantages of Facebook is twofold – integrated services and everyone else using it. However it’s the latter that means a lot more to me – Facebook is successful as people are using it. If no one else was using it I wouldn’t care, it’d just be an interesting thing.

So if Facebook vanished then I’d:

  • Keep up with friends and family in other ways. I’d probably use mailing lists and chat programs more.
  • I’d read more friend’s blogs/tumblrs to keep up with them.
  • I’d schedule things via email, meetup.com, or google.
  • I’d get random stuff through tumblr.
  • I’d promote my projects differently and probably focus more on blogs and newsletters.

Hmmm. Sounds like that “integration” and “everyone uses it” thing is a big part of Facebook. Those are things that can be done elsewhere (integration) or change (mass exodus from Facebook).

Let’s try Twitter.

TWITTER

Yes, I know Twitter is a swamp of BS, bots, hate. it’s also a great focused Microblogging service and good for news feeds. I am going to passionately note that the current Twitter could have been something better – a microblogging and news alert system. But I get ahead of myself, though it reveals I probably like Twitter more than Facebook.

So what do I use Twitter for?

  • Screaming into the void.
  • Following friends doing the above or doing something useful.
  • Getting newsfeeds and updates and re-posting them.
  • Sort-of chatting.
  • Microblogging.
  • Promoting my work and networking.
  • Finding and enjoying funny stuff or weird stuff.

I can’t say there’s anything that surprises me. That also tells me I’m kinda more open about my Twitter usage.

So looking at this it tells me my Twitter usage is broader and more passionate. I get updates that are important, post stuff, and communicate. I’m not scheduling events or anything, just communicating, listening, or yelling. Again it makes me appreciate the odd purity of Twitter.

But what if Twitter vanished and there was no replacement? What would I do?

  • Get my news via newsfeeds.
  • I’d probably discuss news more in my blogs.
  • I’d probably join some news discussion groups and sites and use them.
  • I’d focus a lot more on my newsletters for promoting my work.
  • I’d do different marketing for my work.
  • I’d definitely look more to tumblr for weird and silly stuff.

This tells me that, again, I actually like Twitter more than Facebook, which I may have to process for awhile. Also almost everything it does can be done elsewhere, though not as fast. Twitter is a sort of blog/message board/RSS fusion.

WAIT WHAT IF BOTH VANISHED?

OK if Twitter and Facebook both vanished what would I do? I think it’s obvious – everything would be back to blogging, newsletters, meetups, chats, and RSS feeds.

Which tells me, that, yes Twitter and Facebook really changed how we used the internet. If they vanished my life would basically go back to what I did before the service came to be. I’d just have more awareness of the goals, benefits, and disadvantage of integration.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

So thought experiment done. Now what have I learned out of all of this? Here’s what these two social media services give us:

AMPLIFICATION: One reason we love these services is Amplification. They can reach people and reach a TON of people. That’s an obvious answer but it’s very important to understand the power (or illusion of power) Facebook and Twitter give us.

That also means that any potential replacements or new incarnations need to keep this in mind – or we ask if we need it.

INTEGRATION: Is useful, it’s nice to have, and I think we get used to it. It certainly helps when you use something as primary social tool – but it also brings its own problems of data usage, spamming, or time-wasting.

As social media evolves and changing, we’ll need to rethink Integration. What do we need, how do we do it safely, and how often do we care.

AUDIENCE: Twitter and Facebook wouldn’t matter if they hadn’t built their huge user bases. They’re the result of self-fulfilling prophecy. It may be hard to get people off the platforms, but clearly audience matters.

This also means they’re vulnerable as part of their weight is just weight – we want that audience.

CONNECTION: We want to connect with people. These services give that – or the illusion of that at the very least. We value that.

We might question if we’re actually connecting in a useful or appropriate or healthy way. I’m wondering, as I examine this, if there may be some problems here. It’s not always deep connection.

COMMUNICATION: We want to know what’s up. Obviously. In many ways Social Media isn’t remarkable as there’s just so many ways to do this, Social Media just adds all the above.

I question if we’re communicating that well via social media considering the various joke posts, bot posts, etc. Maybe we’re not really communicating.

In the end, Facebook and Twitter don’t do anything unusual, they integrate things, streamline them, and bring a big audience and access. Ther’es nothing wrong with this of course, it’s just as I step back I see how they built on known services and our desires.

I think they’ve proven to be both problems and benefits. I view them as neutrals-to-sort-of-good – but deeply flawed and manipulated. Sometimes I think they both cause and solve problems, which seems a bit of a wash.

If they vanished, though, or I stopped using them I could live without them. Anyone could, we’d just have to rethink how we interact (which maybe we ought to do anyway). It’d just be back to the earlier internet – but we did learn valuable lessons in what we need and want.

MOVING FORWARD

After this little exercise it’s given me a few things to think about with social media, our dependence, our issues, our mistakes. There’s probably a lot more to come out of this.

I have a few changes I’m making:

  • I’m going to be more thoughtful on my social media and what I use it for.
  • I want to cultivate more intimate discussions through my various media.
  • I don’t want to depend on any one kind of media.
  • It’s pretty clear I use Social Media to waste a lot of time and need to rethink that.

As for the future of Twitter and Facebook? Well in a way they’r enothing specual or unique, and they can’t (and won’t) stay the same forever o rbe forever. Things are changing, how they change – and how others change – is going to be something to watch.

But I can choose what I do.

– Steve

Join the (Extended) Conversation

I did a post at Fan To Pro that suggested we had an “SF Gap” – we don’t have SF to inspire us anymore.  Serdar jumped on this both at the original post, and in fascinating blog posts of his own he discussed the gap in ourselves, and how we can use technology to delude ourselves.

This is some seriously good stuff, so I wanted to prod everyone to join in the discussion – because there’s going to be more to come, trust me . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.