life online

I’ve been thinking about blogging recently and how it’s changed over the years.

Image representing LiveJournal as depicted in ...

I started blogging on Livejournal ten years ago. The thing I loved about it was the sense of community that existed – I’d arrived there along with a bunch of others from another online forum, and before long I’d made some really good friends there. In the early days there were times when the conversations going on in the comments on a blog post were often more entertaining than the original post itself.

But a few years ago something changed – people started drifting off to other sites, predominantly Facebook. The one thriving hub of activity that was my LJ friends page started to drop off.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

I was as much to blame as anyone, I’ll be the first to admit. The lure of the shiny meant more time on Facebook and the weird kid on the block Twitter, with its odd insistence on 140 characters or fewer.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

It made sense, in a way. Livejournal was a place where groups of friends would congregate for a chat. Facebook made it easier to share photos and find your real-life friends to go with your online friends. People who’d never have gone near LJ in a million years were now online. It had the now ubiquitous ‘like’ button, which meant that you didn’t need to actually interact with the poster, a quick click to show you’d been there and move on. Times were changing.

I miss the old days of LJ. My friends are now scattered across different social networks. Some now live exclusively on FB, some go between that and Twitter, some still hang out on LJ and some have ventured into the side new world of Google+

Me? I’m all over the place. Facebook for people I know in real life, or who only live there – often for them Facebook *is* the internet. Twitter for the random stream of consciousness. LJ for the occasional post. Flickr for photos, GoodReads for books, the list is ever-growing.

I’ve also been tinkering with G+ since it started and am starting to get a real feeling of community there. Could it be the next LiveJournal? Should it be? G+ has its quirks too – it doesn’t like you cross-posting content *out*, but is more than happy to pull content in. I can’t use automation to post to G+, whereas I can to Twitter, WordPress, Livejournal and many other sites. My posts on espressococo get automatically tweeted out and cross-posted to LJ. I have to manually add them to Google+, for now.

G+ seems to have the most potential in terms of posting significant content (like blog posts) and interacting with people. I get a few people posting comments or likes here on WP, but nowhere near the level I used to see on LJ.

So, dear reader. Where do you live on the internet? Are you a digital nomad, wandering from site to site? Or have you set down roots?

blogging quick, blogging slow…

I was reading Liz‘s excellent post the other day on ‘slow blogging’ and some things she said really struck a chord. Trying to find a schedule that works for a blog can be tricky, when you have to squeeze it in amongst Real Life, work, family and so on. There’s always something else to do, somewhere else to be.

Take tonight[1], for example – by the time the kids are in bed, the dishwasher loaded, the house straightened up, school and work stuff sorted for the morning, it’s half ten and all I really want to do is slump in front of Game of Thrones (OMG HOW GOOD? Two more episodes! WOE!) with a large mug of jolly hot tea and maybe a snackerel of something tasty and highly calorific.

I’ve sometimes wondered if this blog could do with a proper schedule – regular readers (well done for keeping up, you’re all lovely people) may have noticed that I tend to blog in little flurries at various times of the day and week. This is usually down to me trying to be clever (stop laughing at the back) and scheduling a bunch of posts spread out during the week. Of course, then I promptly forget I’ve done this, and schedule a bunch more, or spot something on the way into work which requires immediate sharing with the world (I have a post brewing about a solar-powered bin I spotted this morning. More of that later).

And thanks to the joys of mobile internet (and good coffee shops), one can quite happily blog  at lunchtimes, on the train, in the post office queue…

So I end up with some carefully-scheduled posts, some not-quite-so-carefully-scheduled posts, and some utterly random posts all jostling for position and attention. Some of these come with automatic twitter postings too, which result in a bombardment on social media. Though oddly, not Facebook. But there’s another post waiting to happen.

See? They’re like rabbits, these blog posts. Take your eye off ’em for a second…

Then I got a lovely comment over on the ‘My first job‘ post from Ofglassandbooks

Loved this post You should write more often and longer posts, dear Espresso coco, although I do like the pictures too

Perhaps I should take the slow blogging advice and work on one (or two) longer-form posts each week, interspersed with the photos and the hodge-podge of shorter stuff.

What do you think, dear reader? Slow and steady, or all higgledy-piggledy brace-yourself-he’s-off-again?

 

[1] though I’ll probably schedule this for autoposting tomorrow morning. Which will be this morning when you read it. Or even tomorrow evening. Time travel is confusing. Speaking of time travel OMG DOCTOR WHO! HOW GOOD WAS THAT? *cough* sorry.

Never judge a book

(originally seen on  http://cheezburger.com/7426380800)
(originally seen on http://cheezburger.com/7426380800)

It’s interesting how we so often judge books by their covers, isn’t it? I know I do when I’m browsing in a bookstore. Interesting cover, pick it up, check out the blurb. Sounds interesting, buy it.

Speaking of covers, I highly recommend checking out this article: Coverflip: author Maureen Johnson turns tables on gendered book covers. It started with this tweet:

Maureen threw out a challenge –

1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.)
2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there.
3. Now, COVERFLIP! Make the new cover and put it online. Tweet or Tumbl it with the tag #coverflip.

The Huffington Post picked up on some of the entries. Go have a look and see, the results are absolutely fascinating.

I’m completely certain that I’ve missed out on a great number of excellent books this way, so it’s nice to have the backup of recommendations from friends, either in person or on a site like Goodreads. I’ve also been fortunate to get a variety of books from various lovely publishers via the magic of Twitter. See a book competition, enter it – I could fuel my To Read pile from Twitter-sourced books alone!

Which leads me back to the brilliant photo above – what books might you be missing out on purely down to them having a cover which doesn’t catch your eye?

Also, with the advent of the Kindle, we’ve lost (or are starting to lose) that link between book and cover – no longer can you sit on the train and peer at what your fellow commuters are reading, and I’m sure we’d be surprised at some!

Have you read any great books despite the cover?

follow the humming…

I present for your consideration a new blog I’ve started following, followthehumming | Then and now, and some bits in between.

Andrew is using the 10 years of diaries he kept from 1985 to look at what’s changed between then and now. Looking at such things as Elite, why a Kindle is more than just reading and why we used to call places, not people. It’s an interesting blog, well worth following.

You can follow him on Twitter too, at @followthehum. Ten points to anyone who gets the reference in the blog title.

All this talk of diaries made me realise that I missed my ten-year anniversary of starting a blog. It was on 13th March, 2003, to be exact, over on LiveJournal. I’ve had a variety of blogs in a variety of places since, but the LJ blog is still going.

I’ve made dozens of friends around the world, and posted an awful lot of stuff.  In fact, it’s 10,109 journal entries, with 34,840 comments posted and 62,420 comments received. I know that’s over ten years, but, like whoah, dude. That’s totally a lot. </Keanu>

Anyway, via the wonder that is LJ Archive I’ve, well, archived it all to a handybendy archive on my PC, dropboxed it up so I don’t lose it, and can use it to see what I was up to, ten years ago. Full credit to the Chief Hummer for the idea. *hat tip*

Back in 2003 we were down in Kent, visiting the in-laws. We’d gone to the beach and Ed was communing with the sand and eating ice cream. I was laid up in bed, watching Kind Hearts and Coronets. Brilliant film.

Ten years on and young master Ed still likes nothing more than a good day out down the beach, more or less irrespective of what the weather is doing, and, of course, ice creams, and  I still think Kind Hearts and Coronets is a fantastic film. So, not much has changed in that respect. Hopefully future entries will be somewhat more enlightening.

So, dear reader. I give you a shiny new blog to follow, and a new blog series from YT.

Watch this space. And follow the humming…

Twitter’s magic number

twitter follower wordcloud

wordcloud of the twitter bios for people I’m following

Last night, as I was surfing the stream of consciousness that is my Twitter feed, I stumbled across a problem.
I’d seen someone I wanted to follow, but got a message telling me that I couldn’t follow them. I tried again, with the same error.

I had a poke around, and realised that I was following 2,000 people. Once I’d recovered from the size of the number, this rang a bell – wasn’t there some kind of limit?

Ah, yes. Twitter says:

Every account can follow 2,000 users total.
Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter and everyone is subject to limits, even high profile and API accounts.

I’m quite careful who I follow – I don’t randomly follow people back just because they add me. I know some people do this, and treat Twitter as a numbers game. This baffles me, but that’s a topic for another day.

I have a look through recent tweets and see if they post interesting stuff. I’m a listener – I follow interesting people, without necessarily expecting (or needing) them to follow me back. I’m quite sure there are some defunct accounts in there. but who has the time to weed out unused accounts?

For me, there are a couple of categories of people on Twitter that I follow:
People I know, either in real-life, or via interacting online. A lot of local Leeds/Yorkshire-based folks

Now, I can realistically expect that the first group may well want to follow me back. I interact with a fair number of them on a daily basis and have made some good friends online via Twitter.

Same with the second group – small local indie places build up a following and again, interact with their customers. My day wouldn’t be complete without seeing what the coffee guys are up to.

The third and fourth groups though? They’re the broadcasters, spreading a message. They’re not (usually) interested in following, and there’s no particularly compelling reason for them to do so – they’ll see any  @-replies mentioning them and can interact with their fanbase without following individual users.

There are some exceptions, obviously. I’ve chatted with a few of my favourite authors via Twitter and some do follow back. Others purely use twitter as a broadcast medium (which is fine) and don’t respond or interact at all.

Anyway, I digress (slightly). Twitter has some advice on what to do if you’ve hit a follow limit:

If you’ve reached the account-based follow limit (2,000 users), you’ll need to wait until you yourself have more followers before you can follow additional users.

That’s not really helpful though, is it? At time of writing, I’m being followed by about 1,390 twitter users. Now, I’m not sure what the magic ratio is to be allowed to follow more people, but say, for example, if I hit 1,500 followers, I can follow a few more people.

For that to happen, I’d need to get another 110 people following me, and this is the crucial bit, without me being able to follow them back, should I wish to do so...

What are my options?

  • Have a cull of people I follow.
  • Suddenly become really really interesting and magically get more followers.

I’ve had a go a the first one using one of the plethora of twitter ‘unfollower’ tools (I tried ManageFlitter) and trimmed off about 100 accounts. But I’m sure I’ll hit the magic 2,000 limit again before too long and I’m back in the same boat. And, as I said earlier – I’m following these people and companies because I’m interested in what they have to say.

So, Twitter. Sort it out. Do you really need a limit on the number of people someone can follow?

I’m @dakegra on twitter. Feel free to follow. 🙂

Daily blogging

Regular readers (hi!) will be aware that today is the final day of #DaBloPoMo[1].

It’s been an interesting month and whilst fun, there have been days where it’s been hard coming up with something to talk about. There are other days where it’s been hard to find time to talk about something.

But, I’ve made it. Day 28. Woohoo!

Interesting to look at the site stats too – I’ve seen a *massive* jump in traffic to the blog in February.

Feb site stats.

Partly due to the volume of posts, I’m sure, and partly due to me pimping the posts via Twitter. More on that in a second.

I also got a massive spike in visitors from The Pen Addict. and more specifically, their Ink Links post on the 9th, which contained a link to my stationery geek post.

As for promoting the blog posts on Twitter, I’ve been setting up scheduled tweets to go along with the automatic tweet which goes out when a new post is published. I’ve tried to tweet early evening, late evening and first thing in the morning, to try and pick up different audiences. It seems to be working, though I had some (possibly tongue-in-cheek) feedback the other day that I did nothing but pimp my various Skyfall-related posts.

I’ve tried to vary the tweet wording slightly as well to see what works best.

If you’ve seen a tweet from me over the month, what time of day did you see it? Or do you subscribe to the blog via email? Read it in your RSS newsfeed reader?

Tell me more, dear reader. And thanks for staying with me through DaBloPoMo.

Who knows what March will bring…?

[1] Dave’s Blog Posting Month.