Friday Five: Pet Peeves Edition

This week’s Friday Five is going to be of a different nature. Instead of links, I’m going to address some of my pet peeves…mainly because they’ve all come up one time too many this week.

1. This one has actually come up one time too many over the last few months, but that may be because I’m starting to hang out around more writers who are either convinced they’re revolutionizing the writing world by serializing their stories, or who hate those who are jumping on this newfangled serialization bandwagon. (I’ve seen some polarized discussions in my time, but this one… Whoa.) Serial writing in not new. Not by a long shot. This shouldn’t seem like such a revelation, given the long-time existence of literary magazines, but apparently it is.

2. We live in a world where marketers are trying to make everything “go viral”. I guess they all missed the part where our society tends to react to viruses by trying to eradicate them with antibiotics and such. But this need to make sure everyone sees everything leads to people being exposed to the same ideas, the same news, the same everything. Many of us have our own mix of interests that we pursue, which helps us differentiate our own experiences and knowledge from others, but at the end of the day, being exposed to that much sameness can lead to an apparent hive mindset. Among writers, this can look like someone has stolen your work, when really they’ve just drawn similar inspirations from the same source material and produced their own take on it. And honestly, everything’s a remix anyway.

This is not to say there aren’t legitimate cases of plagiarism, but it’s not quite as rampant as some would have you believe. This is part of why I’m writing the Copyright Primer. The more you know, the better you can respond appropriately to things.

3. In that same vein of trying to produce same experiences, your way onto a path is not necessarily the One True Path. This is especially true in creative endeavors. And again, it comes back to that whole “we each have our own interests which leads to a differentiation in experience and knowledge” thing. And it’s good. It’s how we get a diversity of perspectives on a set of ideas, knowledge, and experiences. It’s fine to offer your origin story or advice based on your own experiences, but to behave as if your way is the only way says a lot about you as a person and as a creator.

4. Fairy tales were never meant to entertain children. In fact, they were never meant for young children. They developed as part of the oral tradition, providing education through warnings to older children preparing to face adulthood. So, the originals can be a bit…scary…and definitely inappropriate for your average seven year old. However, one of the signposts that a child is shifting into their next phase of development (known to educators and psychologists as their second sensitive period) is the child seeking out stories that scare them. Children in this phase are realizing that there’s a big world beyond their front yard, and they’re scared of what that might mean. So stories that show other people, especially kids closer to them in age, meeting something scary and moving past it brings them a bit of comfort as they level up.

There isn’t a fifth point this week, but I will offer this advice. Consume what you want in terms of entertainment. Create what makes you happy. Develop your own goals, and your own steps, and your own learning path. Consult everyone from beginners to masters, and then take what resonates with you and use that to strengthen your own path. Don’t worry about what someone else is doing unless you’re collaborating and trying to make sure your parts intersect well. And don’t worry too much about being “original” because it’s all been done before. Find your own voice, and don’t hurt others in the process.

See you next week!

Find Five Friday – Stealing From Greats Edition

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve kept coming across materials, new or old as I’m both trying to keep up with my information streams and trying to clean out old bookmarks and out-of-date notes, that touch in some way on identity performance and management and personal productivity. So naturally, I thought I’d pull some of my favorites into a single post for y’all.

1. danah boyd’s Master’s thesis Faceted Id/entity is over a decade old, but it had been lost in my Kindle for a while and I only just got around to reading it. She talks about how we perform different facets of our personality offline by necessity and practice of social conventions, and then looks at how we try to mimic that behavior in online spaces. Despite being a decade old, it’s a discussion that really never falls out of style as we wrestle with creating and managing personal and professional profiles and social spaces online.

2. Another gem (which has apparently been updated) from my old bookmarks, this slide show encourages librarians and ed tech professionals to incorporate Lady Gaga’s approach to identity performance and management as they think about how they can create a more engaging, magnetic presence for their own programs. Really, many disciplines can benefit from the information.

3. PBS Idea Channel, which you should subscribe to if you haven’t already, recently took a look at Taylor Swift’s control over her own identity and body of work, and how she constructs her identity through her body of work. (This video really spoke to me because I have long believed that our body of work reflects our own experiences and beliefs, and that focusing on chasing trends is what leads to mediocre or bad work. You can’t convincingly create what isn’t yours to create.)

4. And on this topic of bodies of work and being productive in a manner true to yourself, I stumbled across this article on Joss Whedon’s productivity and how it influences his body of work. Being the little Whedon fan that I am, I found it interesting. But what I found most interesting was how he gets things done because he breaks out larger tasks into specific, actionable bits. I’ve done that forever and had “friends” mock me for it. (I’ve since learned that’s a sign of jealousy, to which I say if it bothers you that much, then why not adopt practices that will give you what you feel you lack when you see me working?)

5. And last but not least, Writing Excuses about a year ago shared Mette Ivie Harrison’s tips on how to be a more productive writer. Otherwise known as how to make time to write when you think you just can’t. While this may not be the right time to throw this at you…it’s the absolutely perfect time to throw it at you. But in all fairness, you can throw it back in my face, too.

And that’s it for this week’s links. I had so many link built up from the last couple of weeks that I’ve already started working on next week’s post. So, you have that to look forward to.

Find Five Friday: Audio Edition

If you’re seeing this the day it posts, Happy Halloween! If you aren’t, Happy Halloween anyway. I’ve lived in haunted houses off and on throughout my life, and I can tell you there is never a wrong day for being completely spooked by things that aren’t there.

You’re probably expecting a Halloween-themed Find Five Friday, and I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you…mainly because I just haven’t had a whole lot of Halloween fun this week. But I did go to the trouble of putting on a costume for the day. Well…a costume T-shirt anyway. (There are only so many times during the year I get to wear my Rogue costume T-shirt and not feel terribly self-conscious about it.) Hopefully, you’re doing a better job of getting into the spirit.

Anyway…onto my Five.

#1 – First up on the list, a pair of audio dramas! I realized a couple of weeks ago that I was going to have two audio dramas come out this week, and was just praying they wouldn’t come out one right on top of the other. They didn’t! Monday saw the release of the Misfits Audio Halloween special “Devil’s Night“, which is a bit creepy. It’s always nice to get to work for Misfits. They were the first audio drama group to take chance on me, and they’ve taken pretty good care of me in the nearly two years I’ve worked with them.

#2 – Wednesday saw the release of the newest Seminar episode from Pendant Productions (another audio drama group that has been very kind to me as I learn the audio drama scene). It’s important to note that we don’t get a whole lot of information when we receive audition notices (nothing unusual about that, really), and so I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I was selecting roles to audition for in this episode. The story I’m in, “Reimagined Moments in Radio”, is a comedy. I’m…not good at comedy, to say the least. If I’m funny, it’s often by accident. I have this problem where I’m absolutely horrible at telling jokes because I start thinking about the punchline mid-joke and start laughing. So imagine my horror as I read the script and discovered my character delivering the punch line. I muddled through the recording, and hopefully I didn’t muck it up too badly. But that was a nerve-wracking afternoon.

#3 – Yesterday marked the seventy-sixth anniversary of War of the Worlds (which is in the Public Domain). Audio dramatists have been trying to organize an audio drama appreciation day, at a national or global level (they really aren’t picky), to both commemorate the anniversary of this panic-inducing radio broadcast and celebrate the resurgence of radio drama (known more frequently on the internet as audio drama because…well…this isn’t radio). I suspect they’ll accomplish this; there are enough voices talking that if they can get talking in the same spaces, they’ll pull this off.

#4 – While we’re on the topic of space invaders…sort of…if you consider humans invaders…NASA has released some dope beats to SoundCloud. What? You don’t like space sounds? I love them! (I’ll just assume that laughter isn’t at me or my gnarly use of the English language.) These are free to use, but make sure you follow their media guidelines.

#5 – Last but not least… Geek & Sundry has been releasing Halloween videos all week, and this one was kind  of cool…mainly because I had a good time watching decktonic announce this on Twitter. (It wasn’t until Day responded to him that I realized he had done this music video for Geek & Sundry). So, it was this cool little collision of worlds, and it’s just fun to watch and listen to.

There you go. If you made it all the way through, what is wrong with you? These aren’t even that interesting. I’ll try to do better in the future, but I make no promises.

Creating Editorial Calendars

Creating an editorial calendar has always seemed like a good idea. Write down key events you need to be aware of as you’re working, and then plan your work to coincide with those events. It gives your work a structure, a deadline, and a theme…all in one little calendar.

My problem, though, is that sometimes I work toward something going on, sometimes I work to my own little themes because I realize I have something really on my mind, and sometimes I just write in response to something going on. Not only do I have these random bursts of meaningfulness, but I also keep a backlog of ideas for those times when I’m not inspired by something at the moment.

The first three groups are often added to my GQueues task list as I think of them, and they’re dated with the date I want to write about them, which then changes to the date they’re going to post when I’m ready to share them. But that last group has no dates because they’re “filler” ideas, something to do when I’ve got nothing better to do.

How do you account for those on an editorial calendar when you’re tying yourself to a dedicated calendar or integrated calendar/task list situation? I haven’t figured that out yet.

At first, Springpad looked like it might offer some hope. There is a Blog Planner app… that keeps track of your blogging archive (pretty sure that’s what your blog is for), your ideas for future posts (good), and what claims to be a schedule for your posts…but doesn’t actually link to anything that would help you keep track of when things are supposed to happen (bad). There’s a calendar that should integrate with Google Calendar. I haven’t tried out the integration yet, but each new “event” creates a new note, and I’m already trying to manage nearly 2,000 notes. (No, I’m not making any apologies for that.) You’re also only aware of upcoming events (if you choose to not integrate) if you set an alarm or if you continually check the calendar.

That doesn’t exactly simplify my situation.

WordPress also has a plugin to set up an editorial calendar in your Dashboard, but again, it only deals with those posts that are drafted and have publishing dates assigned to them. Not terribly helpful, either, especially when some of my posts have to double-post to my website and my dA account. Scribefire, which I relied on quite often when I was using Firefox, doesn’t have the ability to handle multiple posts (and refuses to recognize my blog, anyway) in Chrome, so that’s no good, either.

For now, I suppose my current set-up on GQueues will have to suffice as the best possible set-up. It’s really frustrating, though.

Who Wins At Social Media?

I love social media gurus.

No, seriously! I do! They can provide hours of entertainment, and miles of character development notes.

Social Media Gurus are a special subset of the people I talked about on Wednesday. They’re just a little more insidious. They’re not necessarily going to attack you for how you’re using the tool they feel is their domain, but they will be only too happy to publicly rant about how you’re doing it wrong. They’re concerned you won’t “win” at social media, and they really just want to help you…as long as you credit them with your success.

With very few exceptions, though, many of these “gurus” (or un-guru, as the current trend is becoming among them) are meeting their own definition for failing at social media. The only relationships they’re interested in cultivating and maintaining are with the other social media gurus in their circle.

If social media users resemble preschoolers exploring their world, social media gurus resemble high school cliques setting the rules for who gets to be “cool” and who doesn’t.

No, Do It This Way!

One of the main problems with social media (as I see it) is that it’s such a new communication form that there are no real “rules”. Traditions haven’t had a chance to really become established or accepted. When there are no rules, no traditions, people are more likely to explore and find their own way. Some people want others to do it their way, though, regardless of whether or not their way makes sense to others.

In some ways, using social media is a lot like hanging out with a preschooler. You’re confronted with someone who’s learning about the world she’s interacting in. She’s forming rules about how that world works and how to make things happen, and she’s convinced she’s right. Never mind the fact that you were playing just fine. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t match how she’s playing, and she really wants you to play the same way because it confirms her view of the world.

The preschooler, though, is often amusing and harmless. She’s just exploring and trying to make sense of a big world.

The social media user…is often neither. She’s just trying to validate her way of using a tool by making sure someone else is, too.

Back when I was still active on LiveJournal, I actually watched this happen. Occasionally, everyone would agree to a rule set by one person because everyone felt it made things better. Inevitably, someone wouldn’t go along with the crowd because it didn’t work for them, and the person who initially crafted the rule launched an attack. I don’t know how it resolved because the attacked user started blogging behind a security level. A few years later, someone held a poll about whether or not I, someone who only posted her tweets and quiz results publicly, should be allowed to use LiveJournal. Meanwhile, she hadn’t posted anything publicly in months because her public posts had made a mess of her husband’s life just a few months earlier.

That poll was a few years ago, and was hands-down the worst type of this behavior I saw on LiveJournal. Now, I’m starting to watch people on Twitter attack each other (or try to incite others to attack a user) simply because the person doesn’t tweet the same way the attacker does.

I get that we’re all preschoolers trying to make sense of the social media landscape, but do we really want to promote homogeneity? Some of the more interesting uses of various tools has come from one person trying to make a tool conform to how they see the world, how they interact with it. Why would we want to stop that?

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I think we can all agree that the social media landscape is vast. That might actually be an understatement, as there are tons of options if you want to dip your toe in the pond and more are arriving all the time. I myself have probably tried out over twenty different tools in just the last couple of years, and have an active presence (that I’m now tying to bring under control) across ten or so. I don’t think twice about giving a new social media site a chance because sometimes I find something that does exactly the job that one or more other sites I was using almost did.

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in one learning curve or another. But I enjoy learning and I enjoy tinkering, so it’s just another opportunity for both.

For others, though, just trying to pick a social media starting point can be daunting. They’ll sign up for two or three sites in an effort to keep up with friends or family, and then become frustrated in trying to master two or three different learning curves at the same time. Finally, they’ll hit the point of being overwhelmed, decide that one or two of the tools are too confusing, and focus their efforts on just one or two tools.

What’s interesting, because I do get to hear a number of people justify giving up a social media site, is what site is abandoned. Most people I know concentrate their initial efforts on Twitter and Facebook. (Some start at MySpace and then abandon it for Facebook, but those people are becoming fewer and farther between.) They’ll then feel like they have to choose between the two.  Some will choose Twitter. Some will choose Facebook. The reason they give for their choice is always the same, though: They choose the one that seemed easier to them. It either made sense to them or it was less confusing, but it was the one they felt they could actually navigate without looking like a loser.

I think I find that interesting simply because there are so many attempts to analyze people who use various social media, and in the end it’s really often decided by what feels more usable. There are fights over what social media is better, and it’s decided by which one more easily matches how the user operates. Sites are created to be the next, better thing…and the decision on what to use is decided by, “Can I figure out how to make this work?”

You Know…

It really shouldn’t surprise me when I find someone from television in my inbox.

Seriously.

But tonight I told a friend I was slacking off and watching Superstars of Dance, A little while later, I saw that I had a new follower on Twitter, and I recognized the name immediately. It was Maria Kochetkova, who had just danced brilliantly as the second Russian soloist.

She apparently set up a Twitter account for her appearance on Superstars of Dance. (She already had a blog, where she writes about being a principal for one of the San Francisco ballet companies.) I sent her what I guess would be considered a fan tweet.

It was just weird.

And this was after my model/actress student threw a fit that I wasn’t teaching her (because I was going home without my voice), and then informed us that she was leaving when her little sister did. She’s becoming very assertive and intolerant in her old age. *laugh*

Please note: This is not an invitation for the voice actor who shows up in my inbox periodically to do anything. Just so I have all my bases covered… Cool? Cool. (He wouldn’t, anyway. Thank goodness for finite amounts of time. *grin*)

It’s a new world, and I guess I’d better catch up. Lines aren’t as defined as I keep trying to make them be in my head.

Making Use of Twitter

I don’t actually recall what led to my finally deciding it might be fun to try Twitter, and I’ve had a devil of a time trying to remind myself to update it periodically. Thankfully, I have the IM bot set up, and I’m doing much better at thinking, “Hey, this would probably be a good Twitter post.” (Somehow, I just can’t make myself call these posts “tweets”.)

A couple of weeks ago, I read some newbie guides to Twitter and realized I could actually have some fun with it. While I definitely drop random thoughts and complaints into my Twitter stream (Is that actually a word?), I’m also realizing I can use it for so much more.

I can leave a note to myself. I can take note of what I’ve done and what I’ve learned. I can share my current status on a project. I can let people know what class projects are coming upand if class has been canceled. I’ve even shared when I’ve posted a new article to eHow.

I’m thinking I can use it to show off what books I’ve just read, when I add jewelry to my Etsy shop or new designs to my CafePress shops. The possibilities are almost endless.