Archive for the 'The Web' Category

About blogging

May 22, 2008

ByJane has a thought-provoking blog on, well, blogging. “Blogging is just another genre of writing, not inferior or superior to any other in and of itself,” says Jane, who advocates for good, well-considered blogging and against any mentality that would make blogging some kind of ugly stepchild of “real” writing.

May I commit a sort of sacrilege and paraphrase Annie Dillard, who should know about such things, in The Writing Life?

Putting a [blog] together is interesting and exhilirating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. It is life at its most free. Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let rip. It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to be able to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself… Read the rest of this entry »

LOLspeak: KMN

May 14, 2008

Freelance writer and tutor Mary Kolesnikova, writing in the LATimes, and I are desperately afraid of the same thing: cellphones and the Web are killing the English language (and probably most of the others as well).

The cause for my earth-shattering depression is an April 25 Pew Research Center study that polled 12- to 17-year-olds on their attitudes about writing. A heart-stopping 38% said they let chat-speak — such as LOL (for “laughing out loud”), ROFL (“rolling on the floor laughing”), BRB (“be right back”), TTYL (“talk to ya later”) — slip into essays and homework.

Also last month, the U.S. Department of Education released the Nation’s Report Card on Writing 2007. The results suggested that only 33% of eighth-graders demonstrated abilities at or above proficiency level. James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, introduced these findings with a comment about “the slow destruction of the basic unit of human thought — the sentence.” ROFL, James, the sentence is dead and buried. AOL Instant Messenger is dancing on its grave.

“Linguistic butchery while texting is one thing. In school assignments, it is quite another,” says Kolesnikova, who even takes on that sacred site, icanhascheezburger, with its silly pictures and LOLspeak captions, as aiding and abetting the crime. (Actually, I sort of like ICHC, but I don’t look to as a grammar or style guide, either.)

Perhaps this is an overreaction. I have all kinds of “speak” that I use in all kinds of situations: Church speak, chat speak, e-mail speak, work speak, friend speak, with all their individual emphases and vocabulary. But at least I know the difference when it comes to actual writing, IMHO.


Adventures at Midlife:

April 28, 2008

In lieu of a post today, I’ll gladly refer you to the excellent byjane and her new child, The site — which is the result of a long conversation on Blogher — is still deciding what it wants to be, but several interesting mid-lifers are on board hoping to be regular contributors. (Me! Me!) If you are interested, please give Jane your input.

Adventures at Midlife: Is ebay worth it?

April 14, 2008

Freakonomics, one of my favorite sites (even though I don’t always get the point), is warning that the tax-free era for online shoppers may be endangered, despite the fact that Bush signed a bill last fall that extended tax-free moratorium until 2014. (In a nutshell, New York State is looking at taxing Amazon et al, and I’m sure other cash-strapped states like California are thinking about it, too.)

Which leads to my question: Is selling on ebay worth the trouble, especially if we’re going to have to figure in sales tax? BusinessWeek noted that the online seller lost some of its luster since it raised fees for its sellers, and I’ve heard a lot of grumblings from various corners that the site has gotten big, expensive and clumsy. (Try googling “ebay complaints.”)

I’m asking now because, while I’ve bought a lot of things on ebay, I’ve never gotten around to selling anything, even though I have a few interesting non-junk items in the corner earmarked for sale. I throw this question out because, at midlife, a lot of us have a lot of stuff. A WHOLE LOT of stuff, collected over the course of our interesting lives.

I’m at a point where I’d like to scale back, and I like the thought of recouping some of my expenses. And I suspect I’m not alone. Oh, sure, I know I could have another garage sale, but my last experience was pretty unpleasant. (I was overrun by cranky old men who wanted me to GIVE things away.)

If you have stories about selling things online, I’d like to hear them.

Update: According to this AP story, my scenario is already a reality.

Blogging ourselves to death?

April 7, 2008

For those of us who are trying to come up with interesting things to blog about on a daily basis, (thanks, Jane) and who may be wondering if we want to put in the effort to make a blog profitable, the NYTimes offers this:

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

The article lists a couple of heart attacks, a near death and this:

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.” “This is not sustainable,” he said.

Indeed. The technology and entertainment blogs would seem to be the most competitive, with the spoils going to whoever gets the latest info up first, so I imagine their casualties would be high.

But what about those of us with more modest aims, who use our blogs as a form of therapy or mere communication? I haven’t made the commitment to blog every day, although I try to, and sometimes, if something comes up, I blog more than once during the day. (And I’m just about ruling out any income from this meager effort, particularly since WordPress is a little stinky on that point.)

I guess I don’t want this to become one of those sites that I sometimes find when I google a topic. The topic is still there on the blog, often written in lively prose by an interesting blogger. But the site has been long abandoned, with the last post dating from December 2005 (or some forlorn date). Sometimes it’s the clear the blog has evolved into something else, but often it just dies. From what? A lack of interest? A motocycle accident? A stroke? A jealous spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend?

I’ve worked in news/media/PR for 25 years, and perhaps when I started this blog I understood the terror of the blank page (or the blank screen) better than most. It’s difficult to sustain a conversation without reverting to the latest cute thing my toddler said or a complete travelogue of my trip to the beach/mall/hospital/bar. But I also remember someone once saying that anyone who has made it through four years in an American high school probably has enough material for several books. True enough.

Thanks, Blogher!

March 31, 2008

images3.jpeg I neglected to get back to Blogher to see if a post I made a few weeks ago got any traffic, and I was pleased to find quite a dialog underway. Thanks to all the midlife bloggers who responded. There is indeed a healthy community (or at least a healthy start at a community) of women of a certain age who want to share ideas and experiences. We have a lot to talk about!

A new republic!

March 14, 2008

images-1.jpeg Prepping (read that “desperately googling”) for materials for my discussion of Sense and Sensibility for my Jane Austen Book Club tomorrow, I came upon a most delightful find: The Republic of Pemberley, advertised as “your haven in a world programmed to misunderstand obsession with things Austen.”

We, all of us, remember only too well the great relief we felt upon discovering this haven for Jane Austen Addicts. If your eyes did not widen, if you did not gasp in recognition, if you did not experience a frisson of excitement when you discovered a whole campful of soldiers — er — a whole websiteful of fellow Jane Austen Fanatics, then this place may not be for you. We are The Truly Obsessed here and have been known to talk for weeks about Jane Austen’s spelling quirks and Mr. Darcy’s coat (“No, no — the green one.”)

Among its treasures are “Bits of Ivory “— Jane Austen sequels by Pemberleans — and an advice column called “Lady Catherine & Co.” (Horrors!)

Given all the gar-BAGE on the Web, what a delight to find such a refined little corner. RIP?

March 8, 2008

One of my favorite blogs has been hacked, perhaps fatally. It is a well-designed and well-maintained site, and represents hundreds of posts and eight years of work by one of the liveliest literary voices on the Web. I’m devastated on her behalf. Why would she be targeted? Is there any way for those who’ve created substantial content in a blog or a site to back-up their material? What could she and her Web host have done differently?


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