theferrett: (Meazel)

Okay.  So Shelley Dankert was a conservative blogger, drunk on buttershots during election night.

She decided to YouTube what was an EPIC FUCKING RANT, berating her friends for not sharing her YouTube videos enough.  The rant is twenty-four minutes long, and frankly, I’d probably watch her in a different sitcom every week, a tiny blogger furious that nobody is paying attention to her.  It’s a little close to the bone, but I love it.

Alas, she’s disallowed embedding, probably because she desperately needs the hits on YouTube.  Anyway, watch the first four minutes, at least.  Yes, the screen is black, mostly.  Part of the charm, really.

“I can make fifteen fucking posts on Facebook, and not fucking one of you will share it!”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she thanked me for blogging openly about my polyamorous relationships.

“I started reading your relationship essays not long after I started dating seriously,” she told me.  “I was a late bloomer, and reading them helped me short-circuit some of the stupidity I might have had.  Instead, I got to make completely different mistakes.  It’s like having a huge ‘include’ statement in the process of What Not To Do.”

“So I’m like a programming library,” I said.

“A very nice and eloquent library,” she agreed.

I don’t know if the comparison is really true – I think my library’s a little bloated and redundant – but that is why I write about polyamory and relationships in general: I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

I’m not wise.  I have made, and continue to make, a lot of insanely stupid mistakes.  I say hurtful things, ignore signs I shouldn’t, destroy my lovers.  And when I’m standing among the wreckage of my own idiocy, often my sole consolation is, maybe I can stop someone else from doing that.  So I write that up, in the hopes that at least one person will learn from what I did.

And I‘m still making those mistakes.  I often joke that I have three hobbies – polyamory, programming, and writing – and all three put me in touch with my dysfunctional past.  I’ll be upgrading some piece of code on StarCityGames.com and think, “What idiot wrote this inefficient, buggy code?”  And then I’ll go, “Oh, that was me,” and take a quiet moment to meditate on what an idiot I was four years ago, and how much better I am now, and how the code I’m writing now will look like complete shit to the me of four years in the future.

What you see in my blog?  Is not the total of who I am.  It is, instead, a total of the lessons learned.  And I fuck up in monstrous ways that don’t necessarily teach me anything new, and opening up those mistakes to the public would just humiliate the people involved, and so I don’t blog about it.  My writings are an attempt, in many ways, to teach myself, to analyze the errors and see if I can distill it down to an essay that I might remember later.

So my blog, I think, is a library.  Include it, raid it, call the functions in it that you need.  The library is mostly bug-free, and I’ll let you know if I’ve applied a patch. Enough people have benefited from it over the years that I’m pretty sure it works on certain operating systems.  I’m proud it exists, and if you ever have any questions on poly, I’ll try to answer them for you.  Maybe I can head you off at the pass.  And that’s the library.

But the me itself is a frail, human thing, prone to stumbling about in the dark like everyone else, and please don’t make the mistake of thinking this structure I’ve created to help guide you is me.

I am not the library.  The library is the result of me.  It’s a distinction I want you to recognize, because on any given day you could be a lot smarter than I am.  And if I’m very lucky, maybe you’ll teach me a lesson.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Twitter has had a weird effect upon me; it’s made my blog less fun.

Because for Twitter, I have these weird little toss-offs that I put in there – things like wondering at Mitt’s airplane comments, or discussing fall’s inadvertent gift-giving, or delighting in wretched combinations of alcohol that shouldn’t work but do.  They’re fun, they’re often goony, and they’re in love with the world as I am. I think my Twitter feed is reflective of my personality; an odd mixture of strange takes on life and political links.

My blog has become where I put my “big” thoughts, and those tend to be weightier.  Also less funny.  Looking back over the past two weeks, it’s all “Here’s media bias!  And forgiveness!  And Republicans!”  Not a laugh in the bunch, I tell you.  It makes me appear even more bloated and gasbaggy than I tend to be.

I’m not sure how to deal with that.  It doesn’t help that LJ’s app is terrible, whereas Twitter’s app is very good, so if I have a weird idea on the fly or in the bathroom, I just fire up the Twitter client.  But it has segregated my thoughts into Big Serious Thoughts and Fleeting Silly Thoughts, which makes this appear ponderous and lumbering.

Dunno how to fix that.  I used to post four, five times a day, which drove many nuts.  Now I just flood Twitter, but that’s normal there.  So how does this site feel more like me?  Do I just post seventy times a day here, with silliness? I don’t think so.

There’s all these weird things I kind of want to do with the blog, but haven’t.  I kind of want to start an advice column.  I’d like to review magazines again, but I’m too sporadic to do that regularly.  But whatever I’d do, I’d like to make this feel a little lighter than the collapsed-souffle feeling I get when I read my archives.

Ah, weird problems to have.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I think happiness is thin on the ground, so I usually try not to crap on people’s joy.  If you like to get naked and roll around in dead toads, I retain my right to be thoroughly squicked, but I’ll usually keep that to myself.  Is your dating relationship a vial of nitroglycerin, poised on top of a teetering stack of rocks located deep in earthquake territory?  I won’t say anything to disturb the contentness you feel now unless specifically asked, even if I’m pretty sure the resultant explosions will be spectacular and speedy.

And so I think about a falling-out I had with a friend I had over the disgust he had with seeing a certain kind of people at kink events, wherein I kept calling him out for discussing how those people made him feel uncomfortable.

What I said to him, repeatedly, was that speaking about those people in a judgmental way was a bad thing, particularly in a place where many of those same people – who attend many of the same kink events that you do – might feel ashamed of themselves.  When they see you, they’ll remember your writings on your revulsion, and feel bad.  So while exploring your virulently negative reaction may be something that’s necessary to getting past your personal dislike, which I support, airing this particular dirty laundry in public will make them feel awkward and ugly.  Which I still believe.

Yet there I am, picking on the one-penis polyamory, raging against a style of people in a rather popular rant.  When those folk see me, they’ll know that I am down on the whole “You can date women, sweetie, but never men,” and they will feel ashamed.

And the difference?

I’m perfectly okay with having those people feel bad.

I think my friend didn’t mean to cause potential offense; he was just trying to explore a set of reactions he was having, and determine whether those gut reactions were fair.  Yet in writing about his revulsion, he was inadvertently targeting people for things he admitted might as well have been his problems.  The damage was done regardless.

Which is why, before I write a rant, I think: do I mind if these people feel icky when I’m done?  Is this just me?  Are these people all that bad?

And if after considering all these topics, I believe that these folks are the enemy of the kind of world I want to see happen, then I will fire.

With an audience my size, I try to choose carefully; as the years go by and I’ve gotten some experience in managing a mid-sized audience, I’ve learned more about what hurts people, and have modulated my approach quite a bit to minimize accidental harm.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes that I regret in picking on the wrong people, mistakes which sting me to this day.  So when I fire my tirade-cannon, I try to be certain that it’s never “Oh, it’s not you, it’s me” – no, buddy, I think it’s you.

Now, my essay could have been written better, as several people responded with, “…We’re starting off with one-penis policy as we dip into poly, but my husband acknowledges it’s unfair and is working on it.”  And that, to me, is a very different kettle of fish.  Yes, it’s an unfair jealousy, but there’s a distinct difference between “You don’t date men because I’m your boyfriend,” and “You don’t date men, because I’m insecure about that, and I’m trying to better myself on that front.”  So my torrent hit some folks who are using the one-penis rule as a way to move into alternative fidelities… and that I do feel bad about.  I was aiming at a very specific kind of relationship, and was a couple of degrees off on my aim.

(And there’s an interesting comment left by Katranna, who muses over some of the distinctions between men and women and wonders whether men are clingier.  Also good food for thought.)

All of that feedback will be taken into account before I rant again.  I don’t do it often, or lightly.  I care about the opinions of strangers – since as I said, happiness is hard to find and I think people owe it to the world to think carefully before minimizing the joy of others.

But that doesn’t mean that I never take aim.

And if I call someone out, then some people will dislike me for being judgmental, or too angry, or misguided.  And I will spread open my arms and drink in their hatred.  Because by the time I’ve decided to complain, I’ve already decided they’re not the sort of people I’m going to respect heavily in the first place, and at this stage in my life I’ve thought it through enough that I can accept a negative backlash.  Even the bits of negative backlash that are uncomfortably true.  I’ll sort through those negative reactions to see what I might have gotten wrong.

And I acknowledge that I might be wrong.  I don’t know it all.  I’ll make mistakes, and if I do, then I’ll do what I can to clean them up.

That’s how I sleep well at night.  I’m comfortable with it.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Back in The Day, when I had infinite people reading me on LiveJournal, I’d post an entry and the comments exploded.  I’d hit “post,” and five minutes later I’d have fifteen comments.

Now, I make a big ol’ important post and sometimes I don’t get a comment for half an hour.  That used to unnerve me – is this a bad entry? Did I say something wrong? – until I realized what was happening.  English LiveJournal is slowly dying.

What used to happen was that the LJ friends page was like Twitter or Facebook now – so constant a stream of data that you just refreshed your friends’ page and wham, new entries.  Maybe you didn’t check it twenty times a day like I did, but the friends page was a ritual where my latest entry popped up in real time.  I was a part of the info-stream.

As LJ use has declined, though, the traffic patterns have changed for me.  People no longer read my blog as part of a daily pulse; it’s in their RSS feeds, or bookmarked separately, or they wait for me to post the interesting links to Twitter (since I don’t Tweet-spam every post).  I still get roughly the same number of comments, but as opposed to arriving in one explosive comment-dump, they now arrive scattered over the course of two days, like late passengers departing a red-eye connection.  I’m read at their convenience, not the convenience of LJ.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little weird.  Some days I post a SRS ENTRY and then wait until I get one comment just to ensure someone’s listening.  By the time I get out of the tub, I have like three comments, which used to be the sign of an entry falling on its face.  Now, I’m patient; the user feedback will arrive in due course.

If you write it, they will come.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I had a conversation on Friday night, which I then translated into a conversation on my blog.  The two are not the same.

The conversation, as presented, was such:

“So you play a lot at the dungeon,” I asked.  “You’re clearly very sensual and body-oriented.  Can I ask why are you sexually monogamous?”

“Couple of reasons, some bad,” she replied.  “The bad one is that I’ve got it very good with my partner and don’t want to screw things up.”

“Stop right there,” I said.  “That’s a good reason.  An awesome reason.  Don’t you dare think that’s a bad reason for being monogamous.”

Now, that’s not actually the conversation I had.  The conversation I had was actually over the course of about twenty minutes of asking how she met her partner, and hearing the origin story (I love romantic meet-cutes), and seeing the profoundly silly grin she got when she talked about her partner.  Then we discussed the difficulties of living in separate cities when you’re in love (which I did with Gini, so I sympathized), and some of the issues involved in being in hot, sensual BDSM play and not crossing boundaries.

Then I said, “Look, I know the question itself carries some weight, so please don’t think I’m judging you in any way – but given that you play so damn sensually, do you mind me asking why you’ve chosen to be sexually monogamous?”

Very different take?  Yes.  But when I write essays, I change conversations all the time.  In this case, I knew my ultimate point was to talk about how choosing monogamy because you just don’t want to risk losing your current love is a valid choice.  And an accurately transcribed conversation would pull that punch of revelation, which I planned to have about halfway through.

Also, I scrub off details before I post.  Discussing more about this person’s relationship and what I knew about it would risk putting someone on a stage they never asked for, and I am always cautious with that.  My conversations as presented in this blog are often heavily changed; after posting, I asked Gini whether she knew who I had spoken to, and when she guessed wrong twice, I knew I’d obfuscated correctly.  In truth, I can actually neither confirm nor deny that the person who I spoke to was heterosexual or a woman or a conversation I even had on Friday.  But providing more context means providing more identifiable marks.

So I boiled down a long and complex and intensely personal conversation to three lines that summarized the heart of it.  I often do this.  This is why I tell people that what’s in my journal is me, but my blog is not who I actually am. It’s an edited version that sometimes makes me sound better than I am, or sometimes makes me sound worse – all depending on what approach I think will sell the central point of my essays better.

The gist is there, always.  The details?  Not so much.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So my friend Kat blogged today about appearing competent on the Internet.  She, like many, is cautious about what personal details she puts out on the net, because as a semi-public figure she doesn’t want to come across as whiny or idiotic.  As she says, “Here’s the thing about the Internet: it’s public, and it’s permanent….So I behave like I know that people are watching me, and most of the time that’s fine.”

Then she muses upon the things we lose by only blogging about the things that look good.

I don’t blog about the things that look good.

I air my worst aspects simply for the reasons she mentions: if I don’t write honestly about what I’m going through, people will think that they’re alone.  So I go to great pains to exhume some of my worst moments and put them out there for public consumption.

As a chronic depressive, I think it’s important to send the message to my fellow sufferers that yes, you can have this level of crazy pent in your head and still find a way to function.

As a writer, I think it’s important to send the message that even someone at my level of career gets a lot of rejections, and getting here took a lot of ass-in-seat writing.

As a polyamorous married man, I think it’s important to send the message that a lot of married couples deal with jealousy and squabbling and still manage to love each other very much.

These are all noble goals, and yet Kat’s fears are well-known.  Opening veins in public spaces comes with a cost, and that cost is pretty awkward sometimes.

Because writing is a static thing, and you are (I hope) an evolving person.  There are essays I wrote back in 2003 that I’d be embarrassed to admit to today.  I’ve evolved considerably in how I feel about race, about politics, about feminism – and yet the ignorant shit I wrote almost a decade ago is still on the record.

You don’t escape that.  People, by and large, don’t accept that semi-public figures can change their minds.  And so I know people who’ve read an awful essay I wrote five years ago, and think, “What a thoughtless sexist asshole,” and that’s who I am to them now and forever.  There are places where my name is reviled for stances I’d no longer take, and in many cases have actively backed off from.  People have actively tried to talk my girlfriends out of dating me, because they know what a jerk I am – they know this from a handful of essays they’ve read, but that’s enough to know I’m toxic enough that anyone who dates me must have no self-respect.

Which is fine.  But that’s what happens.  Write once, read forever.

For every person who gets what I’m trying to do, there are an equal number of people who have written me off as a drama queen.  They see my blog as a way of screaming for attention, rather than as a method of sharing.  And for every nice comment I get, there are the links I stumble across where people I’ve never met discuss their mutual loathing of me.

And then there are the days where people have gotten so used to me discussing my feelings in a public space that they forget that this is a very scary thing to do, and I’ll post something somewhere, and a long debate will break out on the intimate details of my personal life – as if my life were a football game.  That’s always a little unsettling.

Then there’s the cost of dating.  Being with me means being in the public circle.  Some of my lovers want more time on-stage, some want less time on-stage, and all of them want to be presented in the way they deem ideal… so The Blog is always an issue in relationships, a quiet thing to be constantly negotiated.

This is not to say that I haven’t done some good.  But the danger of talking about yourself as though you haven’t got your shit entirely together is that many will see you as a walking train wreck.  One post can cause years of trouble.  Some people never forgive for one post… Even if that post was written badly on a stressful day and you didn’t say what you meant.

I blog openly because I believe being honest about my inner turmoil makes it easier for people to see that even quote-unquote “successful” people can still have issues, and work past them.  Otherwise, all you see are the results, and you come to think that the people Up There can’t possibly have anything in common with you.  (Not that I’m a huge celebrity, but I’ve had some accomplishments.)

Most days, I’ll stand behind that approach.  But some days, if I’d known what would be involved, I might not have gone down this path.

It’s a performance that I can no longer step away from.  This blog and I are me, and if I deleted my public presence, there would still be forum threads in spaces going, “What the hell did that attention-seeking idiot do now?  I guess he’s trying to make people feel sorry for him.”

I deal.  It’s not for everyone.

In fact, I think it’s not for most.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

If there’s one thing Star Wars Galaxies taught me, it’s why Facebook is the Jedi Knight of social networks. Which is to say, broken.

See, when I heard the first Star Wars-themed Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game was starting up, I thought it would be awesome – even if I don’t play MMORPGs. (A game with no definable end point is a bad thing for a gaming-obsessed, job-holding weasel.) What I didn’t consider is that designing for one audience often means you alienate another.

Since Star Wars Galaxies was set before the original Star Wars, Jedi were a rare thing – after all, Luke hadn’t even heard of them. So you could become a Jedi, but only through an arcane method that few understood and even fewer had the time to level-grind to manage. Then, when you finally became a Jedi, the rewards were that people would start bounty-hunting you.

This was great from a flavor perspective, and certain gamers loved the challenge, but casual gamers got pissed off. Why do those dweebs get to be Jedi just because they have thirty hours a week to devote to this game? I can only play for an hour a night. Why am I paying my subscription fee to not be a Jedi?

What Star Wars Galaxies brought to the fore is that there were three separate audiences, none of whom could be satisfied simultaneously: the Star Wars nerds who wanted Jedi to be rare because that’s the way it was before the movies, the die-hard gamers who wanted “being a Jedi” to be the reward at the end of an impossible quest, and the casual games who wanted the Jedi-hood to be something they could do, quite literally, in their spare time.

It was a question of who you lopped off, really. Eventually, Galaxies just said “fuck it” and made Jedi into a starting profession. This made the guys who’d devoted months to their Jedi career unhappy – but at this point, the designers had discovered the Star Wars equivalent of the Kobayashi Maru, an unwinnable situation where no matter what their next move was, they’d pisse off a ton of fans.

By making one faction happy, they’d destroy the experience for someone else.  That’s where Facebook is now.

I am a minority at Facebook. I know this.  I have about 700 “friends,” many of whom I don’t know that well because I get around online a lot and people tend to friend me randomly.

The average Facebook user has about 130, and I’m willing to bet most of those friends are people they’ve met personally.

Furthermore, Facebook is  clogged with work and old school friends, ex-girlfriends of friends of mine, and who the fuck is that guy anyway? Did I friend him on a drunken bender one night? His profile picture seems alien and scary, is he a serial killer?  As such, I visit a lot, but mostly to see how people have responded to me. If I want to check in on my friends, I go to LJ or Twitter, with bouts of Google+.

(And with all that, I still have 100+ people I haven’t friended because I don’t know who they are. Dangers of being a D-list Internet celeb.)

So Facebook has this uphill climb because its hyper-aggro method networking everyone means it’s infested with all of these people I’m not particularly keen on in the first place. It’s like being at a party with that guy you hooked up with three years ago.  Okay, you know him, but how much time did you really want to spend catching up?

Facebook seems to have recognized this, and has been slowly developing an algorithm that sorts out the most “important” posts. Except it’s completely broken. The algorithm seems weighted heavily towards likes and comments, which means the first thing that shows up on every Facebook home page viewing is some stupid cartoon that everyone thought was funny, or yet another article on the 99%.

Meanwhile, I’ve had not one, but three people undergo life-threatening surgery on my Facebook list, which I found out about through other means.

Furthermore, the people I interact with become this tightening circle of interaction. I respond to someone’s post because, miraculously, they had a personal experience that wound up at the top of my queue. Facebook goes, “Oh, you like them!  Let’s show more of them!”  So suddenly, my feed is infested by the same twelve people, and if you had a life-changing event and you’re not in my Facebook-culled Inner Circle, well, fuck you. You haven’t cracked the algorithm.

You might as well not exist as far as my Facebook world goes.

Meanwhile, the people I did interact with once thanks to Facebook’s algorithm become my BEST BUDS EVAR, where Facebook slavishly keeps showing me everything they did.  Hey, Shirley watered her plants!  You want to know about Shirley’s plants, right?  Oh, and now she’s vacuuming! She took a photo of a sunset!

SHIRLEY YOU’RE NOT THAT INTERESTING.

Thing is, what Facebook’s designing Facebook for are its die-hard fans. They’re making it so that you never want to leave – so they’re flooding you with more information. Here’s a constant stream of your friends’ interactions! Here’s your chat bar! Here’s your reason to make this your home page, to constantly refresh the page and flood them with advertisement views! Why go anywhere?

That’s great. I bet if I was a college student with 120 friends, most of whom were family and my drinking buddies, this would be awesome. I’d constantly see what people I loved were up to, and I’d chat with them, and when they commented on someone’s post it would be news I wanted.

Problem is, that’s not who I am. I’m the guy who shows up twice a day and skims a friends list that is probably more cruft than content. And it does an awful, awful job at actually picking out the interesting facts at what these people are doing so I can get to know them better.

You know where I do get to know them better? Twitter. Straight-up Twitter, where I may miss something, but it’s all in chronological order and I see everyone in a nice, democratic fashion – you posted last? Well, here you are. Nice to read you.

I’m not at Facebook to collect clever demotivational posters or to play Farmville, which means that Facebook has become an unmanageable mess for me. I literally can’t use it. All it provides me with is crap.

Does that mean Facebook is bad? No. It means that for many kinds of people, I’m sure it works. But I’m an edge case – not a horrifically unusual edge case, one suspects, but still not the main audience – where Facebook breaks down. It’s an active annoyance to me. It’s like a annoying spammer I have to visit.

Yes, I could clean it up via filters and selective weighting, I know, but a page that I actually have to treat like a job is not a page I want to be a part of. I’m not here to be caretaker to my social network, I’m here to have it work.

I’m on the verge of declaring Facebook bankruptcy and just not visiting it any more. Why don’t I? My Mom’s there, and she reads my status updates to see how I’m doing.

See? it works for her.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

One of the things any blogger of note learns to deal with is Audience Creep.

Which is to say that as more people read you, the chances that someone is going to tell you, correctly, that your ass is showing expand exponentially.  And as more people flood in from inbound links, the chances that someone is going to misinterpret that poorly-worded sentence of yours also expands exponentially.  And the chances that your comments threads will explode in a ball of flame expand exponentially.

(…The chances that someone will even point out that you are using the word “exponentially” wrong expand exponentially.)

For some, this isn’t a problem.  “I just write what I want, and fuck them,” they say.  And that’s great.  But the rest of us write these passionate blog entries on meaningful topics to try to convince others.  We want to have people going, “Yes, what a fine point,” not Duelling Blog Posts back and forth from outsiders debating What She Really Meant.

So your blogging starts to take on a distinctly accumulative method.  You start getting that Spider-Sense tingle of “Oh, this is dangerous territory, I best step carefully,” because you know this entry is a container of gelignite if you don’t handle it properly.  And you’re not looking to create flame wars, but productive discussion.

So you write the entry, and that Spider-Sense is saying, “Oh, people might think I’m saying this, so I’d better clarify here.  And this is perhaps not the most enlightened gut response, so I’d better change that.”

This has three results:

1)  You write better blog entries.
2)  That are a lot longer.
3)  That take more effort.

And then when those blog entries hit, they tend to generate such discussion that you need to monitor the feedback to ensure that people aren’t axing each other in the head in the comments.  (Because really, as your blog-moderator, you’re responsible.)  And it’s good, but it takes more effort.

Not every blog entry is like this; your life updates aren’t, your musings on your core competency aren’t (I can dash off relationship entries like there’s no tomorrow), your silly humor pieces aren’t.

But if you want to discuss Feminism or Politics or even trends in the industry you work in where people read you, you slow down a bit.  Stop.  Make sure that you’re not just going to make a fool of yourself, but that by writing this you will come off as the sort of person who others think of as well-spoken.

This takes time.

Between my novel and my job and my wife and girlfriends, I feel bad, because I literally have more entries than I have time to write, and manage.  I still want to get back around to the Gay In YA thing, and I have some more musings on Occupy Wall Street, and of course a thousand other weighty entries that would take time to do properly.

I do about one “serious” entry a week, and that takes me an hour (including reading it to Gini to ensure that I’ve gotten it right).  I know other bloggers have done the same.  If you’re going to make a big stink in public, you mise well make sure it smells the right way.

But that is a slowdown.  And it means your blog becomes more work, less “Let’s go here and play!”

Is it any wonder why people head towards Twitter?

It’s not like that for everyone, of course, and if you have nobody reading you or if you’re the sort of person who can naturally sound good on the first draft (Scalzi comes to mind as someone who’s quite excellent at that), then fuck it.  Go.  But for many of us, it’s as though our blog has become this bubbling stew of things we’d like to write about, but don’t want to do the topic the dishonor of doing it improperly.

I’m not sure how you fix that.  if you can fix that.  But it’s there, and it’s probably another part of LJ’s slow fade.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

FetLife gave me a sad reminder of what a vibrant social network looks like.  Or, more accurately, what LJ used to be.

On Thursday, I posted my essay “So I’m Going To Be A Dom” to FetLife, a light little humor essay I tossed off in fifteen minutes.  After some consideration, I cross-posted it to my blog – and, more relevantly, LiveJournal.

What happened was that it went up on LJ, got 36 comments (a third of which were mine), and promptly hit the black hole of Yesterday’s Content.

On FetLife, it got about thirty comments (each expressing “breadcrumbs,” the Fet term for “I make a comment here because I think you’ll want to read this,” as each comment posted shows up on someone’s friends feed unless you specifically mute comments) before it hit Kinky & Popular on Friday.

Kinky and Popular is Fet’s automated “Best Of Fet” collation system, where once a post/picture/video hits a certain popularity it gets to their global feed.  I went viral (for the second time).  By the time Friday was over, I had 220+ comments and 163 people “loving” it, each getting it out to a greater audience.

Now, the popularity is, in part, due to audience.  I mean, it is a kink site, and since I’m mocking the Dom stereotypes, writing something that reflects their annoyances means that it’s going to be a bigger hit in a kink-focused community than the more-scattered audience of my LiveJournal.

But part of that’s due to LJ’s lack of social networking infrastructure.  Yeah, friends lists were great back in the day… But LJ’s lack of a “trending topics” or “share this post without reblogging it entirely” or a “User <3s this essay or comment” means that basically, there’s no inherent mechanisms for easily sharing your love of a given topic.  (I mean, you can add a “+1 on Google+/Reshare on Twitter/Link on Facebook button manually, but that’s something each user has to manually do.)

LiveJournal’s stagnated technologically.  They used to be the leading edge; now, it seems that they’re behind the curve.  And you can go, “Oh, but I like the fact that it doesn’t spam me with all sorts of muck I don’t want!”, which is fair, but it means that some really good gems of writing get completely lost unless someone chooses to make an entry specifically linking to it.

Add that to the fact that LJ’s audience seems to have wandered off in search of better options. Yes, I obviously love the long-blog topic, but the fact is that most people seem to think that writing five paragraphs is onerous.  You can hate Twitter’s popularity – but really, that 140-character limit works because most people don’t have that much to say.  “Here’s a photo I liked.”  “I’m sad because I got fired today.”  “You know what’s still awesome?  Buffy.”

This vomiting of words and shaping them into an essay seems kind of antiquated.  Maybe it’s time to admit that the vast majority of people see writing as a task and not a joy, and for them putting their thoughts into an essay is a painful and trepidacious project.  As such, a huge text field is a lot more intimidating than a tiny status box.

Someone once posited that LJ was in part dying because of all the x-fail shitstorms flying around the Internet – that once everyone saw how many people could be pointed at a poorly written blog post to be dissected by angry people, folks said, “Shit, I don’t want to be in the middle of that” and skedaddled.  I don’t know if that’s true, mainly because I don’t think most people are aware of the X-fail shitstorms – and of those who are, most of them were long-form blog writers who were already aware of the dangers.  Still, it’s a lot easier to make an ass out of yourself in a Facebook status post, where the worst that happens is that your friends mock you and maybe someone takes a screenshot with blurred names and faces and posts it to a Facebook FAIL site.

I think that’s a contributing factor, though.  LJ, unless you go friends-only, is out to the world.  Facebook’s just for your friends.  People would mostly prefer to just talk to their friends.  I’m baffled when someone’s bent out of shape by one of those mean comments when a stranger wanders across their essay – I mean, you don’t know this dude, why should you give a shit about whether he’s angry at you or not? – but I’ve seen it enough to know it’s a phenomenon I can’t dismiss.

I dunno.  The English side of LJ seems smaller these days, held together by a handful of bold (and old) personalities who keep people here by force of will alone.

I mean, I remember when I could toss off a silly essay and return to 150+ comments back in 2006, simply by dint of more people being here.  And comments don’t equal love, or quality, but it certainly does match my level of interest – I’m on here to interact with people, dammit, and there are a lot fewer people hanging out, for whatever reasons they may be.

I’m still enjoying my time here because I love the people who are still here with a fierceness that surprises me.  But I can foresee when this becomes the mySpace of the Internet – some backwater place where folks are surprised to see anyone there.  It may be there already.

Meanwhile, on Fet, I’m interacting a lot more.  There are more pictures, more posts, more local people I know.  Maybe that’s the kinky nature of it.  But at least on Friday, it felt alive in a way that LJ doesn’t, and that bothers me.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So really, I’ve needed to update my website for some time – it’s never that wise to hitch your author-star to a site that could go MySpace-up at any time.  Hence, “making a real blog” has been on my agenda for months now, rather like replacing the screen in the front door or really scrubbing the grout out of my tiles.

In any case, if I’ve configured this right – which is not guaranteed – and if LJ is sufficiently returned to form that it will allow cross-posting – then this single post should be here, Dreamwidth, and LJ all at once, hence throwing Google into recursive fits as it sees three pages with the same content.  If not, my wife will be desperately entertained by the melodious sounds of my cursing.

More posts will be forthcoming, natch – I have new stories never before seen on the Interwebs!  But let’s try this first, k?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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