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How to “get” Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of on-line social networking

September 9, 2008

People who don’t blog don’t always “get” blogging and make fun of those of us who do. What they don’t realize is that the info they are using–the recipe they bake, the poem which delights, the information they need–often comes from a form of a web site called a “blog.”  By the same token, people who aren’t on facebook or twitter often don’t understand the value of these forms of social networking. I was there too until I read this blog post about a NY Times article on blogging.

Until November when I started mine, I was in the ranks of those who dismissed “blogs.” Now I have several blogs in various stages of development (Art Predator, Wine Predator, The Write Alley, A Tale of Two Cities, Wedding Blogger and Ghost Blogger 4 Hire) and I can honestly say blogging has changed my life, providing me with a huge audience (nearly 25,000 page views from all over the world) for my words, ideas, my poetry.

I know from checking my blog stats that I do a service, that people find information that they need and they want. In the last 10 months,over 500 people have found out about Chris Ringland’s Ebenezer Shiraz 2006, have learned that red wine should be cellar temperature (50s-60s) not room temperature (70s), over 400 people have come here to learn how to make a thick chocolate frosting using powdered sugar and melted chocolate,  over 5,000 people have come here to learn more about various astronomical and astrological events, and thousands have found poetry they searched for on subjects as varied as spring, granite, breastfeeding, the taste of a thunderstorm, and more. With somewhere around 75 poems, with 5-325 reads per poem, there’s a lot of poetry being read on this blog–poetry that wouldn’t have been read if I didn’t publish it here, available for the world to search for and find. (See below for the stats as of 9/8/08.)

Of course, there’s a place in the world for books to hold, cuddle, put on your bedside table. I’m crazy for books, and great book design, and I really enjoyed co-designing the book I co-edited (between sleeps available here). I was contacted yesterday by an on-line publisher about publishing my work as an ebook designed for mobile phones. Do I really want someone reading my poetry on a iPhone? I’d prefer they buy the book but the bottom line is I want to be read–and if an iPhone is my reader’s venue of choice, then I will go there!

Although I have come to respect the power of blogging, and seen and heard how successful it is as a tool for marketing and social networking, I haven’t joined the legions happily twitting away or using facebook. A friend shared with me her facebook reluctance but said she finally joined a facebook for an on-line group we’re both members of, the Burning Moms. She said it is really wonderful to be able to put faces to names; she says she has a more comprehensive understanding of the various members of our group, most of whom we’ve never met.

After attending WordCamp and learning about BuddyPress, WordPress’s facebook type platform which will integrate with my blog, I was still a reluctant revolutionary in the realm of social networking. I could see how BuddyPress would be great for groups who want to stay in touch or even businesses like the Grateful Palate which has operations in Australia and Northern and Sourthern California–operations where people interact often, but never meet. I could see where wine afficionados would be interested in twits from a winemaker like Chris Ringland or a tastemaker like Dan Philips.

However, after reading this blog post which quotes the NY Times extensively, I understand better the attraction and the appeal. The article calls it “ambient awareness,” and describes these feeds of day-to-day life which make up these forms of social networking as creating a small town feeling between people, a feeling of familiarity and knowledge which breeds and requires honesty since people know what each other is really up to. It reinforces the weaker links in our social networks, allowing us to not only stay connected but help each other out–find jobs or houses or mates. Or poets.

Art Predator’s Top 10 Posts in 10 Months

1. Inspirational: Next Lunar Eclipse 2/20/0 4,724
2. Chris Ringland’s Ebenezer Shiraz 2006: r 516
3. whew! plus the best chocolate f 437
4. Gamesh (aka Ganesha) 315 Experiment Poem 325
5. on being a mom…a poem 285
6. about the art predator 273
7.  dia de los muertos & pan de 265
8. Lunar Eclipse Poem 245
9. spring poem 231
10. These Brothers They: A Memorial Poem 228
5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2008 11:38 pm

    I understand all this but for me it’s still a question of time, energy and focus. I really don’t think I have enough to say in public to fill up more than one blog and privately email is easier. Focus is the other thing, if you are sending all this energy out in many different directions the result coming back is less. If I send all my energy out through one blog, all the energy comes back through there. Reading and writing comments, interacting, these are the things that have made my blogging life successful and rewarding. But each to their own, everyone has different needs and objectives. Hello,

  2. September 10, 2008 12:09 am

    hello, and good morning!

    did you read the article? i think it explains more thoroughly the benefits that people are experiencing. and like i said, it seems you need to be doing it, and for awhile, to really understand the benefits.

  3. September 10, 2008 1:26 am

    It’s disturbing and not a little wierd, ‘ambient awareness’. I don’t want to live in their pockets, looking over their shoulders, ‘picking up the rhythm of their lives’. It sounds a little perverse. Not that I object to the perverse, quite fond of it in real life, but that’s kind of the point. A blog is a tool to achieve some objective, ‘ambient awareness’ sounds like a sick obsession.

  4. September 10, 2008 2:01 am

    i don’t think it’s for “strangers” really more like your circle of real life friends and family .and it will evolve too like blogs have to become more sophisticated and thoughtful. it’s a new medium and we’ll figure out what it’s useful for and what it’s not, and for. who we’ll see!

    (not sure how much longer i’ll be able to live with this tiny font…bring on the new themes, WP!)

  5. September 10, 2008 8:50 pm

    True – well said! :)

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