Why I still blog?

Its been over 10 years since I started blogging… I actually started in 2003 after I started working for Ravensbourne College. Here’s my first post (as such). I forgot to celebrate 10 years but I forgot, plus I originally started blogging offline then uploaded posts from the past about 2004ish. I’ll celebrate when I hit 25000 posts maybe?

I saw Suw’s piece on blogging in 2014., which is reply to David Weinberger’s (yes one of the writers of the Cluetrain) blog titled slightly sad elegy for blogging. Suw was one of the early bloggers in London. Chocolate & Vodka was famous in a small early community and hit the mainstream quite a few times. It also elevated her into circles only available to the elite, and happily Suw kept it real and called bollox when it really was (who could forget WeMedia!)

I owe my current career to blogging. Without it, I would never have developed an interest in how people connect through technology, and never would have met all the people who helped me turn that interest into a job. It is not an overstatement to say that without blogging — and without #joiito on Freenode — I would not have founded ORG, would not have met my husband, would not have started Ada Lovelace Day, and so on. I am incredibly grateful to blogging for all that.

I also owe a hell of a lot to blogging. My jobs, promotion into BBC Backstage, BarCamp, lifestyle, reputation, confidence, etc… I didn’t meet my ex-wife through blogging but as a side effect of reading a book (design for communities) recommended by bloggers. Things like the Cluetrain only came on my radar due to the act of reflecting back via my blog aka in a public permanent way. Heck I met Suw through her blogging, united with Kevin (Suw’s husband) through blogging values and spoke at their wedding years later!

You only have to look at the different New Years Resolutions which I’ve been doing since 2008 to get a glance of the act of being public has had on me personally.

But as both have noted, there has been a massive decline in long form blogging. I say long form because remember Twitter is meant to be microblogging but to me and many others it feels like its leaving the world of blogging long behind. You could also say the amount of bloggers (in the traditional sense of a person who writes a blog, or weblog) has exploded. But then also has the community of blogging?

The decision between tweeting and blogging are distinct in my mind. But the lack of time is also a issue. However the big issue is the lack of reading I’m doing now I’m on the scooter again. I actually look forward to the times when I’m on the tram, as I can read some RSS again.

I wonder too if my lack of blog writing is related to a lack of blog reading. My RSS reader became so clogged that I feared it, wouldn’t open it, and ultimately, abandoned it. And then Twitter and now Zite arrived to provide me with random rewards for clicking and swiping, showing me stuff that I had no idea I wanted to read. Instead of following the writings of a small cadre of smart, lovely people whom I am proud to call my friends, I read random crap off the internet that some algorithm thinks I might be interested in, or that is recommended by the people I follow on Twitter.

To be honest, I never really heard of Zite till recently. That and Quartz all seem interesting but I never use them. I do use Feedly but only as a place to sync my own RSS feeds since Google reader shutdown. I know there is the filter bubble effect but frankly I’m not too bothered at this moment. The people I want to read and follow are much more interesting that what some algorithm (which thinks it knows me) throws up.

I personally use feedly in chrome on the rare occasion that I’m reading from my laptop otherwise I’m using gRSSreader on my tablet for straight up RSS reading. Instapaper has come into its own for me over the last few years with me being able to just stack interesting things together in a queue for later consumption and further thought. So much so, that I feel like I lost a big part of the experience when my kindle broke. Now I’m scanning ebay looking to pick up a basic Wifi Kindle paperwhite, so I can read instapaper on the go. Amazon’s free email service is unbeatable and I can’t imagine having a ereader without it now.

I do wish I had more time to read and write back in my own blog. So in my new years resolution

Surround myself in higher thinking…

Is a direct plan to tackle that.

Ultimately I’m going to keep blogging for years to come, maybe heck I’ll celebrate 20 or 25 years of blogging. My views online for anyone to read is still something which kind of blows my mind. Jon covers most of the points in the early part of his blog.

Presence, Community, Disruption.

Blogging was just one of mechanisms for delivering the promise of the Net that had us so excited in the first place. The revolution is incomplete.

We media wrap up and coverage

So We Media 2006 has finally closed its doors and a lot of tension has died down now. This gives me a chance to go over some of the low and highs of the conference

A couple of highs to get us started, Suw Charmans talk at the We Media Fringe event in which she explains why We Media 2006 sucked filmed by James Cox. Robin for setting up the Fringe event with help from a couple other people. Kevin Anderson for staying true to himself and pointing out this classic from Helen Boaden I want to know who checks the bloggers… There is something very tricky or even dangerious about writing about people who you work with or for but in my honest opinion Kevin did a great job on this.

Some lows now. Although the We media fringe event was in full swing by the time I got there (7:30pm) and had attracted quite a few people, it seemed to lack the tightness of a well planned event. I actually left half way through because I needed to get something to eat. But even then I would have left pretty soon anyway. Nico Macdonald does a good job explaining where things started to go wrong. But lets not get ahead of ourselves here. The biggest fundimental low was the lack of conversation in the we media conference its self. Not only did it lack conversation but it also stuck up an even larger wall between the mainstream and pro-amatures (bloggers, etc). I won't even go over this issue again, because honestly Suw has this so covered in her post Where's the we in WeMedia? I have to dig out a couple of quotes.

The lack of understanding of blogs, bloggers and participatory media shown was astonishing, and the false dichotomy of journalists vs. bloggers was emphasised by the speakers throughout the day. It was very disappointing indeed, because I had hoped that we had moved beyond these sorts of non-issues and into the real substance of when, why and how you begin participatory media projects.

Now although I'm on tricky ground here, I wanted to at least put up the point Suw makes about the digital assassins section of Wemedia.

And a new level of embarrassment. Halfway through the day, the BBC trotted out 25 'digital assassins', primarily young people (I think to show that they were hip wiv da yoof) who were brought in to talk to the attendees and give them the opportunity to interact with a real live blogger. Oh, please. Could that have been any more condescending.

It reminded me of a story a friend of mine told me about a comedy show that he went to once in Chicago, where one of the comedians asked the audience, 'Who's never met a gay man before?' and then went up and introduced himself to whomever raised their hand. It felt a bit like the BBC were saying 'Who's never met a blogger before?' and then helpfully provided some specimens for attendees to look at. Cringeworthy.

My experience of being a digital assassin was very bad due to there being no BBC facilitator on the table, a group of guys from Qualcomm who didn't seem that interested in anything I had to say and a generally very quiet bunch of suited men around the table. Others like Rachel Clarkes seems to be much better. But before I go on, I have to say thanks to the guys who arranged the section and did a good job of getting us all there on time. But back to the table with the Qualcomm guys. One of the things which strikes directly with my thinking is this from Suw

All in all, the day was very insular and introspective, with a lot of people appearing to think that they are doing very well, thankyouverymuch, without the input of anyone who knows what they're talking about.

The Qualcomm guys asked me if I knew who they were and at that point I should have realised what was coming really. So I said yes, and replied with you guys build that brew platform for mobile phones right? One of them pipe up and says, yes and said very happily So our job is done, because you've hear of us and brew. I was seriously dumb founded and proceded to say the only reason why I had heard of Brew, was because it failed where Java/MDIP succeded. And honestly they really did not care about that, they seemed to think just because I had heard of it for good or bad reasons was enough. While on the subject of questioning at Table 13, some more classics. I was asked about my blog and if I had advertising on it? My answer of no, came to shock them. Why would you spend some much time writing if your not going to get paid for it? I said about it being my authentic voice and talked about social capital but they were really struggling to understand any of it. I guess these things simply don't translate to the business world easily. You can imagine the questions I got when geekdinner was mentioned by myself. One of the questions was something like Why would anyone go to a social gathering of people in London? I think by then, I had all but given up. However their minds changed ever so quickly when Rachel Clarke stood up and started talking about Geekdinner on another table. Me and Sarah Blow owe her one for that.

So getting back to higher level idea of the conference. I totally missed thursday at Retuers for personal reasons but heard things didn't get much better with the change of venue. Sara at work told me that she had gone over there and was equally amazed as Lisa Goldman, that a session about the Middle east only included Arab men.

During the lunch break at today's We Media conference, I discovered that the first post-prandial panel was going to be about media in the Middle East. I happened to be talking to a Persian-British woman journalist, who is half Jewish and half Muslim, at the time; when we discovered that the panelists were all male Arab journalists in their fifties, we looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

And honestly you can't make this up…

The panelists included Rami Khoury, the editor of the Lebanese Daily Star; Jihad Ali Ballout, Director of Al Arabiya's corporate communications; Saleh Ngem of BBC's Arabic service; and from Iraq by satellite Zuhair Al-Jezairy of Aswat Al Iraq.

None of them had heard of blogs. None of them was interested in the fact that Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Lebanese and Saudi bloggers are writing and talking to and about each other and, linking to one another. None of them was interested to learn that quite a few of us are discovering that the Middle Eastern media is doing a pretty crappy job of getting beyond the cliches, the slogans and the dogma, and that we made that discovery through blogs.

On the plus side I heard very good things about Dave Sifrys session and Rachel from North London's session. From Rachels own blog, you can't help but get a little emotional about how she got into blogging.

This blog is dedicated to the victims of all bomb attacks. It's also dedicated to two men who changed my life when they told me I was a writer and must keep writing

This is the real side of We media, the people whos lives are changed forever. Sometimes Mainstream media and even some bloggers forget this. I'll put up my own hands and say I sometimes forget this even. There are real people behind the stories and they would like us all to know them a little better that we do right now. During the time I was listening and attending We media 2006, I didn't hear much in the way of an authentic conversation. Its such a shame because there is great opptunity on both sides if we stop pointing fingers and just start talking. Mainstream media needs us and in turn we do need them too. I guess that is actually what the word we in we media is all about.

Oh by the way, there's a Global party at 7pm this Sunday (7th May 2006).

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number 9 – Hate crimes and We Media

Digital Assassins

Me and Sarah discuss a few things in this 1 hour podcast. I'm hoping to expand on these subjects in further entries but for now here's the basic outline.

So first up me and Sarah recieved some Racist and Homophobic propaganda/mail yesterday (3rd May), you can catch the complete image here and close up's here. Sarahs done a really good job of covering this one in the podcast and her blog entry so I'll simply point there instead.

Then we talk about the We Media and We Media Fringe events. I spend quite a lot of time on the digital assassins section of the event and I'll write up a full account of my experience soon. Oh by the way don't miss Suw's Why We Media sucked talk recored by James Cox. James also filmed a whole load of other really interesting stuff before the Digital Assassins session and afterwards at the Wemedia fringe event.

Then finally we finish with Sarah talking about her painful experience with Plaxo and we touch on Calendaring. I expect Calendaring will pop up again in the next podcast because theres tons to be said about this.

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We Media Fringe event this Wednesday

We media 2006

Robin and a few other people have been working hard on the unofficial or better known as Fringe event for We Media this Wednesday (2006/05/03). Unfortually its a guest ticket only event and the tickets are only being given out to friends of friends, who will turn up and will find the event very useful. i have a couple more tickets which can be given out if you let me know really soon.

Currently the confirmed guests are…

The location of the event is still top secret, but not that hard to figure out (Soho will pretty much tell you everything you need to know). Anyway for more details check out Robins blog. Hopefully I will see you there….

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