Thursday, April 24, 2014

Power Trippin' - or, "Less FB, More G+"

Writers are power freaks. Don't ever let any anyone tell you differently. Paid or unpaid, the real deep-down reason for taking pen in hand or setting hand to keyboard - not the reason for the person who just tosses off Facebook statuses willy-nilly, but the reason for the person who says, "I love to write," the person who cannot imagine *not* writing, whether paid or not - the real reason, I tell you, is because they want to control you. From the moment you set eyes upon their first word, they want to make you feel certain ways, or to make you think along certain paths. Or both.

Sometimes we pretend to lesser ambitions. When we do, we lie.

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I had a hard time focusing yesterday; don't know why. I did manage to order some supplies from LegalShield, and made one other call following up on an email to an HR officer. But I spent a good part of the day fighting sleep, and a lesser part losing the fight. I spent too much time on Facebook, although I'd like to think that I delivered value for at least some of my Facebook friends by sharing a couple of articles: one by +Mathew Ingram  at GigaOm about a Florida appeals court ruling that affirms bloggers as journalists, the other a strong opinion piece on BuzzFeed by +Daniel José Older, challenging everyone involved in the book publishing industry to pursue, not just diversity, but something beyond:

Maybe the word hasn’t been invented yet – that thing beyond diversity. We often define movements by what they’re against, but the final goal is greater than the powers it dismantles, deeper than any statistic. It’s something like equity – a commitment to harvesting a narrative language so broad it has no face, no name.

The word that came to my mind was "wholeness," but I wouldn't argue against "equity."

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When sharing those articles, I wrote longer introductions to the links than I usually do on Facebook, to give folks more of an idea what was in them. That behavior is influenced by +C. Matthew Hawkins, who sometimes writes such lengthy commentary for articles that he posts links for that I find it unnerving. Not because I have issues with his writing, but because I consider his writing too good for Facebook. Whenever one of my Facebook friends posts something of substantial length and thoughtfulness there, it makes me feel like I'm watching someone who could marry any woman he wanted bed down with a $5 whore.

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I've never cared much for Facebook. I signed up for it after +Colin Dean and +Justin Kownacki (among others? I forget) led a session at the Post-Gazette about social media - actually, I may have signed up for it during the session, as a guinea pig. Anyway, I joined Facebook and Twitter at about the same time, and immediately liked Twitter much better than Facebook. I still do, and seeing Twitter become more like Facebook annoys and saddens me.

Much of my early enjoyment of Twitter arose from my use of a third-party application, TweetDeck, which allowed one to log into Twitter, AND Facebook, AND Foursquare, AND LinkedIn, through a single interface. But Twitter bought it, gradually disabled the Android app (I loved using it on my phone), and killed the functionality with other social networks.

HootSuite is my desktop TweetDeck replacement; I use it to monitor and post to Twitter AND Facebook AND LinkedIn. And to a lesser extent, G+

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Ah - G+ (I prefer thinking and saying "G plus," rather than "Google Plus". Weird, huh?)

G+ has become my favorite online cafe, salon, or word-you-use-for-a-place-where-you-meet-for-engaging-conversation-with-people-who-enjoy-thinking.

That's largely because of the people I have connected with there, which is in turn because Google has made Communities such a large part of the G+ experience. Communities allow and encourage connecting with people around shared interests, as opposed to to simply connecting with people whom you already know. The former approach has always been the big attraction of online interaction for me, since the days of America Online chat rooms, and I am glad to see Google revive it. The Conversation community alone, created by +John Kellden, is enough to light up my brain for hours.

But Google hasn't just revived that dynamic, it has put it on steroids, with Hangouts on Air, which give everyone the ability to record and archive a video library of conversations of whatever topics they like. Get the right people to talking, and you can have some fascinating stuff.

If you haven't yet tried G+, I strongly encourage you to do so. And just skip past the part at the beginning where they try to get you to connect to your friends (yawn), and go straight to Communities to find one about a subject that interests you. Hang out there, and get to know people who share your interests, and even your passions.

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I used a word just now that I consider key to the whole thing, a word that I believe elevates G+ far, far above Facebook AND Twitter AND LinkedIn.

Archive.

You see, the reason that long thoughtful posts on Facebook make me wince on behalf of the posters, is because I believe they deserve better than their Facebook fate - to appear at the top of someone's news feed for a brief moment, then to be cast into the yawning chasm of an undifferentiated timeline, an entropic verbal-cognitive soup, at best half-remembered, at worst wholly forgotten and undiscoverable.

They deserve to be archived. To be curated. Or at the very least, to be SEARCHABLE.

G+ is searchable (DUH), and I find that hugely important. Because I'm a power freak. I want the power that I wield over others with my words to last for more than the few minutes during which my status may appear at the top of someone's Facebook or Twitter feed. I want to wield power over others forever.

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There - I've said it, and I'm glad. When anyone, ever, searches for anything about which I have written, I want my words, my phrases, my sentences to bubble up to the top, or near it. This, this writing thing, this stringing together of words, is the one thing (I tell myself) at which I have the best opportunity to excel in my remaining days and years on this rock. I want to make work that lasts and lasts.

For that, I place more trust in the Googleverse than in Facebook (although, in the tradition of tying up one's camel, I may start backing up all of my writing locally). So Facebook will see less of me, and G+ more, in months to come.
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