From Anne R. Allen’s blog: How to Stay Safe in the Internet Jungle

One of the most informative (and frightening) posts I’ve read on trying to stay safe in the “wild frontier” that is (still) the Internet.  Click here to read Anne R. Allen’s post, “The Laws of the (Amazon) Jungle—Eight Rules Authors Need to Know to Stay Safe.”  Be sure to take notes.

In Over My Head … With Social Networking

To start off this post, please vote in the poll here and then read my post.  Please also share by reblogging, tweeting, etc.  Thanks a bunch 🙂

I think I’ve gotten in over my head. Maybe because I’m such an introvert, I think that having multiple social media accounts is going to make me popular. It could make me a pest. I’m always wondering if I have gone overboard, or if I have a good balance of accounts, or if I’m lacking. Here’s are the social media I have accounts and why:

1. WordPress: Well, this is a no-brainer. It’s my platform, my soap-box, my “self-publishing” vehicle. It’s given balance to my marriage (now I no longer complain when my husband wants to go out star-gazing. His absence is my opportunity to write).

2. Facebook: I only started a Facebook account once I realized that that was where all the pictures of my grandniece and grandnephews were going. More than half of my FB “friends” are relatives (I have a lot of cousins, really A LOT of cousins) and we’re pretty spread out geographically so I don’t feel I can let go. And then I got a FB page for myself. If you want to see it, just click on the Like button to the right of this post. PLEASE! Click on the damn Like Button! I know something truly amazing will happen once I get more Likes! FB promised me that I could do more (although I don’t have a clue what that more is).

3. Twitter: I started twitting (I know, it’s “tweeting” but I like “twitting”) a few years ago, got bored with the endless chatter about what everyone had for dinner and dropped out. But I’ve dropped back in and I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m following a lot of indie publishers, self-published authors, and the such.  I really enjoy promoting other writers and artists.  If that’s all I do on Twitter, then right now that’s good enough for me.

4. LinkedIn: This has kind of been an albatross for me. Again, I joined a few years ago, thinking I would eventually find it useful for future job searches. But my account (and network) is currently geared toward my daytime work. I recently adjusted my profile to include my blogging as an occupation (a change which caused some in my network to think I had actually changed jobs).

5. Red Room: Now Red Room is something that my fellow writers may want to check out. It’s free and you can post stories, articles, etc. as well as your blog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t interface with WordPress, so I have to remember to copy and paste my blog posts.

6. Tumblr: Because I can send my blog posts directly to Tumblr as I can to FB and LinkedIn and Twitter. I haven’t been very active on Tumblr.  It’s not very easy to navigate and find people to follow, but when I do make the effort, it seems that Tumblr bloggers will reciprocate.

7. Google+: This is a frustrating one for me. On the one hand, Google+ allows you to create “circles” and you can select what you share with which circles. Sort of like the Groups feature on FB but easier. On the other hand, users seem to prefer that their Google+ connections comment on their original blogs (WordPress or Blogspot), not on Google+. And like StumbleUpon, I have to go back to my post and “share” it to Google+.

8.  And now, to add to this soup of media connections, I’ve signed up for Klout.  Undoubtedly, this will be just another way for me to agitate over my scores, my “popularity,” quantity over quality.  I read about Klout through Randy Ross’s blog The Loneliest Planet.  Randy provides a rundown of his social media accounts as well.  His Klout score (at the time of his post) was averaging at 53.  With just my Twitter account, Klout put me at 45 and I don’t have anywhere near the following that Randy does.  So this will be interesting.  Klout will take 24-48 hours to compile all my data and come up with a new score.  I’ll let you all know if I turn out to have as high as a score as my President 😉

I’m attracted to this sort of data mining because I am a nerd at heart.  Recently at my day job, I figured out how to write a stratified random sampling query in SQL Server 2005.  You’d think I had won the lottery I was so excited over this.  I guess you had to be there.

So what social media accounts you have?  Do you actively engage in all of them, or just some of them?  Outside of your blog, which ones, if any, have you found to be the most useful?  Nerdy minds want to know 😉

Bloggers, Assemble! (A Blogosphere Experiment)

For the adventurous, Sean’s calling for 50 bloggers to participate in his “experiment.” I signed up (gulp).

We the Paparazzi

In some venues, the freedom to tweet, tag, or snap is being denied.  Clubs are denying entry to anyone who takes pictures of other groups at the club and then posts them to Facebook.  A storytelling venue prohibits tweeting during the show.  An article in this Sunday’s NY Times talks about a new social media phenomenon, the idea that “some [people] are tired of living their lives on the Web,” and that others  are finding that “there’s something magical about a life less posted.”  In Party On, But No Tweets, Allen Salkin chronicles the disenchantment some folks are having with the chronicling of daily life, in particular, the minutae of daily life.  Not too mention the embarrassment of suddenly finding yourself tagged in unbecoming photo scapes of parties gone wild.

I was wondering when, if ever, the mind-numbing ubiquity of social media would catch up with us.  Are we really “products just to be harvested.”  Is that all social media has to offer:  a commodification of ourselves?  We are valued by the number of followers we have on Twitter, by the number of friends we have on Facebook, by the number of social media where our blogs are listed, by the number of pictures in which we are tagged.  We become the merchandise that we sell.  So what happens with that other product–our writing–that was the point of all this social media?  At least for someone like myself, who came to the game rather late, the writing suffers the most.

Back to the mundane: Twittering

No, I’m not going to bash Twitter.  The application, like Facebook, is great in and of itself.  But how these apps are used begs the question of mundanity.  See Matt Bai’s essay in today’s New York Times:  “The Chatty Classes.”   Bai poses the irony of how, back in 2004, presidential hopeful Bob Graham’s meticulous (and mundane) daily diary was used to criticize him as “weird”; and yet only a few short years later, that same meticulousness and mundanity is embraced by both celebs and the hoi polli on apps like Twitter.

I’m a daily user of both Twitter and Facebook, and I love how these apps have expanded my world to include like-minded souls that I might otherwise never have “met.”  I find both to be necessary to my growth and exposure as a writer; yet, I use them quite differently.  With Facebook, I’m connected to family and friends, not just writing groups and colleagues, so my expectations of “status updates” are quite different than they are for Twitter.  But I initially joined Facebook as an aunt wanting to be more connected with her nephews and nieces.  I joined Twitter as a writer, with a very different set of expectations.

Bai likens Twittering to the “jabbering [of Tom Hanks on his island] to his battered volleyball so as not to lose touch with his own existence.”  I am perpetually surprised by how many Twitterers feel compelled to note their every move and thought.  I’ve considered “unfollowing” some Twitterers simply because the ratio of mundane vs profound tweets is much too great.  How many tweets about “going out for coffee” or “just woke up” must I slog through before I can find that one good tweet that links me to a good blog or essay or article on writing?  I can’t imagine anyone (not even my friends and family) caring a twit about whether and when I got out of bed; whether I liked my coffee or think it’s a lovely day; whether or not I’m going to shave my legs or try to wax them.

I realize that many if not most Twitterers are communicating with friends and family and so such comments might actually be encouraged and enjoyed.  Then why not have separate Twitter accounts–one personal, one professional–and spare those follow you out of professional interest from having to scroll (seemingly endlessly) through tripe.  It can be done.  It wouldn’t be difficult, and it would be interesting to see how your camp of followers might divide up.

Can Facebook please all its users all the time?

I’m starting to think that it’s not Sunday unless the New York Times has an article on Facebook.  This week’s story gives a pretty balanced view of the latest controversies with the young whipper-snapper, the absolute latest being Facebook’s lovely (not!) new layout.

But, first, what’s great about Facebook?  Well, the opportunity to rebuild families, as in the case of Karen Haber, whose relatives were torn apart by the Holocaust; and the chance for someone like a schoolteacher in Denmark to friend his prime minister and then get the guy to come and speak to his class of special-needs kids.

What’s not so great?  The fact that too many users still don’t adjust their privacy settings, leaving their profiles (and virtual underwear) out there for anyone and everyone to view.  What’s wrong with that?  Read the story about the guy who got fired for what he wrote in a status update or the kid who got nailed by his dad for underaged drinking.  (After reading this article, I immediately checked my settings to make sure they were still at “Only Friends.”)

People have to take responsibility for their own reckless behavior on the internet, but a poor vision (in this case, by Facebook itself) just exacerbates the willfulness of some to bare all, even the most mundane: “Chris Cox, 26, Facebook’s director of products and a confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg, envisions users announcing where they are going to lunch as they leave their computers so friends can see the updates and join them.”  I don’t know about you, but most of my Facebook friends would not be able to join me at lunch even if they wanted to because they live in other states!

Sigh.  I would be very sad to see Facebook become a glorified text-messaging system or just another Twitter.  Right now, it’s so much more for me:  I stay in touch with friends and family who are scattered across the US; I can follow my favorite writers as a fan; my blog is seamlessly updated to my profile so friends who wouldn’t otherwise visit my blog, can still read my stuff; and I can follow other blogs.  All in one application.  I just hope that Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t lose sight of the real utility of Facebook.

Intelligent Tweeting

As a Twitter newbie, the blog posts catching my eye these days are the ones about how to use Twitter efficiently.  I have enough social networking drains on my time as it is (Mafia Wars in Facebook, anyone?).  But my gut tells me that Twitter can be a powerful and positive force in my writing life if I use it wisely.  Case in point:  this blog post that I came across today while on Twitter:  “The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter” by Sharon Sarmiento.  It’s an old post (2007) but not outdated in the least.  Here’s a taste:

“As for those people who have been completely turned off to Twitter because of some of the more frivilous, immature uses of this global communication tool–I hear ya! There’s only one way to deal with those annoying folks: Ignore them. Instead, imitate the people who are using Twitter intelligently.”

Now, go read the rest of the post.

Tweety Bird

My good friends at ShesConnected set me up with a Twitter account, and I’m hooked.  I now have absolutely no excuse not to be up-to-date on all that is happening in the writing and publishing world.  [I’m not sure (yet) if that is a good thing :-)]  If you’re already on Twitter, you can follow me @1writeway.  If you’re new to Twitter or thinking of about joining, check out these blogs for advice and guidance:

Twitter Tips for Writers

12 Reasons to Start Twittering

The Newbie’s Guide to Twitter

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