Starting Off Blogging Right!

No, not politically right, but in tune with resolutions to improve my blogging and keep on top of resurrecting blog efforts such as TrueGrit, etc. I wrote a little report on a few changes I made in my wordpress sites. This site and the garden website Ilona’s Garden, are my earliest efforts at blogging with the wordpress platform. I have many posts accumulated from years of writing, so the sites have gone through many changes in templates, plugins, etc.

In keeping with the new year I have worked hard to improve the blog experience by getting the sites to run more smoothly… as well as slowly starting back into more posting (such as this). In the WebHelp blog I decided to post tips and helpful things that relate only to those who are running their own sites. Little tips and leads to save time and effort.

The latest is my report on new Favorite WordPress Plugins . For those which work well I intend to implement on all my wordpress installaitons. And some of the ones I listed I am super happy with.

Be Back Soon- What I’m Doing Right Now

Among other projects I’ve been designing on Zazzle. Remember all those past New Year’s Resolutions I posted on this blog? Well, I’m finally getting to the “making art” part. I even have made a studio for creating some hardcopy original art. Tat will make it to the net in the new year 2013.

Here’s my ever-improving work at Zazzle:


make custom gifts at Zazzle

I also had to deal with a particularly bad hacking job on my sites which are hosted by Netfirms. I am very put out with that host, as this has happened in milder ways often this year. But this last time I had to completely reinstall software and recover and rewrite all the articles.

I’m going to deal with this in such a way that I won’t have to stop my writing to recover from such things… in the coming year. I am determined to keep my blogs alive.

Be Careful Who You Listen To

This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)

jekyl and hyde

You might be interested in reading “Things I learned in Forums” and “I n The Spirit Of Harmony

There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…

Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.

Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.

I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.

How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium. Jekyll and Hyde

This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.

The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.

Those people speak into our lives and we let them.

That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.

As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.

Advent, Thoughts on Peace

My friend, Rusty, has written an Advent essay,Third Sunday of Advent, 2011 – Peace.

“Imagine all the world, living in peace.”

“I have a dream!”

Noble sentiments, yet the authors of those statements died unexpected, violent deaths.

So true, and so sad.
Thoughts on true peace for this season.

This Will Get Me Blogging Again

Ok, I’ve been lax, lame, and what-have-you about actually getting a post up on my garden journal and here. That is ok for me, although it means real setbacks for the blogs… because who wants to wait forever for the odd post to come out? I mean who has time for that? Well, there is the rss feed ( sign up for blogs like mine… real people who singlehandedly try to keep these things going). And comment, please… nothing invigorates a blogger like some good conversation 🙂

Anyway, I came across a fun video, and thought I’m going to try that!

Pre-blogging Exercise routine: Get Your Blog On

Welcome Back, Blogging Again

There is a type of process that many bloggers go through, and some of us can totally identify with the stages that Samantha describes, although I do think it depends on how many different types of online social interactions you have engaged in. “I have at times been kind of obsessive, feeling like I need to somehow document every thought I have…..[later] it began to seem like a duty to produce something for them to read. I hated when I would get caught up in whether or not there were comments, or whether people agreed with what I had written. Sometimes I would allow that to dictate how I felt about myself that day. It can also take a lot of time, and be a distraction from other things that need to be done. ” However, this is mainly to re-introduce Samantha, who has blogged indifferent venues, but always with creative panache and a clear, individual voice.

Check out her 42 Things, part 1 for an introduction to Samantha,”No Spring Chicken“.

Read her blog… for however long she decides to share with us, and maybe encourage her to keep her voice in blog form for us to engage with 🙂

No Spring Chicken

Web User Data

Forrester Research data —

– 19% of US internet users are Creators, who publish blogs, maintain websites, or upload self-created photos, podcasts or videos on social sites.

– 25% of US internet users are Critics, who post ratings and reviews of products and services on user review sites, comment on someone else’s blogs or contribute to online forums or wikis.

– 12% of US internet users are Collectors, who create metadata that’s shared with the entire community, by aggregating RSS feeds in a feed reader, by saving or tagging URLs on a social bookmarking service, or by voting for websites on a social voting site.

– 25% of US internet users are Joiners, who visit and maintain profiles on social networking sites.

– 48% of US internet users are Spectators, who read blogs, online forums and customer ratings/ reviews, listen to podcasts and watch peer-generated video.

– 44% of US internet users are Inactives, who do not participate at all in social media activities.

So which one are you?

Things I Learned In Forums

If this seems like a strange post out of nowhere- although on my blog who could tell?) I decided I would go through past drafts and try to work on them if they still seem to hold some interest. So here for your reading pleasure are thoughts that something in the past inspired. Originally posted 01/04/06

Lots of bloggers end up running into the social dynamics of large groups interacting in dialogue. Some feel bruised and discouraged. Some give up, or close down, because the group changes the initial intention of the blog. One thing for sure about knocking up against lots of different people: it will change you in some way.

Watch out when the wrath of the pack has been aroused. The pack is something I learned about in online forums. Along with observing affiliations and finding the profile of the “Big Dog”. Forums were[are] a great source of human psychology education.
Continue reading Things I Learned In Forums

Sarah Palin Shows the Hiccups in Social Media

When blogging came into its own, I found it quite exciting to have a platform to share conversations on religion and politics with the world. In my real world life I found too few interested or comfortable with that sort of conversation, the topics being either too controversial or wrangling for most peoples taste. (At least among those here in a Midwestern, and certainly Church circles). Social media developed a place where those who liked to talk and debate for sake of thinking things out were welcomed,… and yet, as the saying goes, “Something’s rotten in Denmark”.

As Twitter came along, I adopted that, as well. The internet has become an intellectual stew for creating new recipes of thinking, and connections across the world have become congealed. News flies fast, and rumors with their lightweight coverings, faster. It changes how politics on the grand stage is done, now, too.

But here is where the hiccups show up in the way the system of communication is utilized; and I think it is because in politics the personal mores have most easily broken down. The goal is everything, the means nothing in that world, for many.

The latest manifestation of this, and what inspired this little diatribe is the rumor of a Palin divorce which spread through Twitter finding source in an obscure Alaskan bloggers pen. This, according to Mashable. Which also, by the way, shows the clumsy way that social media is used to create and diffuse rumors and news. I suppose the idea is to fight fire with fire, but it also exposes how the manner of democratizing the ability to publicize also has degenerated its accountability to a moral standard of delivering things with truthfulness and responsibility to facts. I never thought I’d say that. Perhaps it is the lightning quick run of Twitter which has broken through the accountability barriers of blogging.

I think we are going to have to reassess some of our views of how social media is used and what it is good for, because right now the rot is threatening to undermine what has been a grand experiment in expanding our freedom of expression.

Another lesson in contrasting true freedom with license, and how human nature will revisit these definitions time and time again.

Does New Media Make Us As Powerful As We Think It Does?

I followed a twitter link to Unveiling the New Influencers from the PR2.0 blog. It was the usual (well, better than usual) ‘social media’ empowers us post. But the caveat offered in the comments highly interested me (quoted in entirety below).

I think that new social media does empower many of us in ways that were not imagined previous to the explosion of blogs, and twitter, etc. Yet, I also agree that once the main power brokers negotiated the ways to manipulate these forms of communication, things have not changed so much as they appear.

That is not a complaint, by the way. Not complaining because more empowerment of individuals and freedom to speak is always a benefit, and not to be scoffed at (not that I think anyone is doing that, just saying). Blogging has changed, as one person observes,”do you spend an hour reading an in-depth piece on the Net? Not a chance, this kind of type and display is really hard to read (which is why Net articles are now really, really short).” We are no longer looking so much for information with which to do critical thinking as short bytes of commentary on what the guys at, say, NYT present to us. Two steps forward and one step back, you might call that.

Read Lelia Thomas’ comment and tell me what you think.

Lelia Thomas:

As much as I agree with the ideals of posts like these, I think one is choosing to be ignorant if he or she actually believes consumers have changed the world through social media, or that communication is really as open as this post suggests. We have certainly altered the world. There is no question of that. That is how a free market economy works (and most of us in OECD nations have at least some small form of that, though we all have a fair bit of Keynesian economics at work, too).

What we experience today is most certainly more democratized, personalized and customized; however, the most-visited news sites on the web, at least in English-speaking OECD nations, are owned by the same companies that have existed for decades, some even before the foundations of the Internet were laid in the 60s. If our information economy was truly democratized, I could mention citizen journalists and citizen journalist websites, indie musicans and artists, and people would know what or who I’m talking about. However, at age 22, most of the people even in my demographic are largely unaware of what exists outside of the main players and their products (for news or otherwise). This is clearly evident, as well, when one looks at the top-followed users on sites like Twitter.

The conversations we have on the web largely influence us and our feelings about each other, but the influence we have on powerful conglomerates, which undeniably and unfortunately dictate much of what even becomes law, is negligible. If it weren’t, we would not have groups like the RIAA suing the pants off of people at the tune of $80,000 to $150,000 per illegally downloaded song, flying in the face of all just processes. No matter one’s opinion about filesharing, most would agree that the results of these trials are not fair, and most have been vocal about that…and yet the law stays the same, because our voices, online, off, etc. are not as powerful as the lobbying men and women in Washington.

My point is that a lot of these services are indeed great, but I sometimes wonder how much they just placate us, leading many to believe that we have a lot more control than we really do. I would definitely say that of all the services that have come out to date, Twitter comes the closest to decentralizing and liberating everything. I love that. We have a long way to go, though. Companies may be listening, but most often it’s only halfheartedly. Surely most of us, as consumers, are aware of this.

One way, that homeschoolers and then later the political campaign machine of President Obama, people have utilized the power of these new media forms is in what I heard called “the lightning fast” alert and delivery system of massing opinion quickly to put pressure on a political concern. That is still one application of these means to increase individual power and say. But just as marketers have quickly caught on and spread their message virally, so too, the political institution will be as savvy at mimicking the independent voice of the common man. And it will be “the Man” again. Until then, blog on… and twitter freely.