Do you remember your first website? Trick question! Most people don’t have websites. Or do they? Is your Facebook page a website? I think so. You put the content out there and it appears on the Worldwide Web. And if you choose to make your privacy settings a certain way, everyone who knows your name and has access to Google (and that’s everyone, isn’t it? Except maybe in China) can see it. But not everyone’s even on Facebook, even though it would seem to be so. Every time I take a class and it’s a mix of tech people and non-tech students, they go around the room with the introductions on the first day and there before your eyes are the extremes of web savvy. So to the question, “what social media do you use (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?” you get the following two people to the left and the right of me last week. The first one is in my program, so I have heard her rattle this off before, “I’m on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and WordPress and -” well, you get the idea. Then you have the lady on the other side of me who said, “I don’t know what I’d use Facebook for and I don’t know what Twitter is.”
Obviously, I’m more like my first example there but it wasn’t always so. Back in the days of Web 1.0 I was merely a consumer of what existed on the Internet. I had gotten AOL in 1994 and I remember thinking when it went unlimited, “will I really spend more than ten hours a month on this thing? Maybe I should pay by the hour.” Nowadays, of course, I spend ten hours on the web every ten hours. But the thing that really made me see the web’s potential was planning a vacation in the mid-90′s completely on the Internet. I went to Cornwall and retraced the plot of my favorite book, going down into a tin mine, seeing ancient ruins where love scenes had taken place, staying in a room overlooking Land’s End (the real one, not the mundane clothing purveyor). I even went to a scholarly conference about Daphne Du Maurier because, well, it was there and I was there. Why not? I found that on the web too. This was the greatest thing ever!
I did author some content. I was a regular in a forum, something I still am, but it’s a different one. I never really found my place there but I made some friends and wrote a few things. But mostly, I just surfed. I didn’t really think about this change until lately, when I’ve had to consider which of my three blogs I’ll put in a signature line or on my Facebook page or Twitter description. Because it’s so easy to start a blog, why not start one? I thought about it again when one of my Facebook friends, a fellow blogger, asked about Tumblr, like, “I have a Tumblog, what do I do with it as compared with my other blogs?” And that’s the way I think too. It’s there, let’s use it, the purpose will become apparent later. I also thought about it while reading Emily Gould’s recent post. She’s the one from Gawker who wrote the NY Times Magazine story about blogging. Most people hated it but I loved it. I think I’m one of the three people who wrote supportive comments on the NYT site. This post, though, is about how she spoke to a High School class about blogging and as someone studying how to use technology in schools, I found it fascinating.
Even more fascinating, though, was a comment from the teacher saying,
It’s funny; as soon as we were done, one of my students said, “I wonder if she’s going to blog about this.” Since it was a captive audience of high school students, I really didn’t think you would, but that goes to show how naive I am about this stuff, though a wiser voice (my student’s, apparently) prompted me to go and check today.
Ironically, one of the questions asked to you was if your daily actions are ever affected by the fact that you might later blog about it. You answered a resounding “no” followed by a brief rant about how lame that would be. However, the immediacy with which you blogged about this experience does make me wonder.
This guy doesn’t really get blogging, it seems to me, and that’s OK, except he’s teaching the subject. This sort of worries me and is part of the reason I’m paying Columbia $40k to get a Master’s in the field. And my point’s a little different from hers (she made hers well, you can go see), it’s that, why not? The technology is there, why not use it? If someone invents some new kind of social media, I’ll probably try that too and see what it can do for me and what I can say that might interest you and what you’ll say that might interest me. This is one of the reasons I had to leave the music business. I was just tired of the whole, “it’s new, I’m afraid!” attitude. That guy who was always only half-joking when he’d say, “so the Internet, huh? Not just a passing phase!” And if being an author of web content makes you an attention whore or a navel-gazer, then I guess we all are. Because these days, it’s just the phone. If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t have a phone. Writing a blog is just like writing a newsletter except, depending on who you are, a lot more people see it and they get to talk back. And if you don’t want to see it, you just don’t look. But why complain about the people who write it? Unless you only read cnn.com, chances are that someone in a t-shirt sitting on a sofa is writing what you’re reading (I’m in my Local H one, in case you’re wondering. I got it free from my second label). And we do care about other people’s lives. Those people looking you over on the subway are wondering why you’re smiling to yourself or what you’re furiously scribbling in that notebook. And some people want to tell you. Now we have the web and we write it for each other because someone wants to write and someone else wants to read.
For the record, my first website was the free one from my ISP so I could put my little Gates film up. I remember each time I made a change how afraid I was to click the button that would make it live. People can see this, I remember thinking. Now I don’t worry that much, it’s so easy. Tweet, click. Status message, click. Blog post, click. New bakery item, click. YouTube video, click. And I don’t even really use my phone. One day I’ll probably say that about these things too. But I hope me writing for you and you writing for me sticks around, I really do.
Title is, of course, a play on:
Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back