the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


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The Community of WordPress (Zero to Hero Day 4)

I didn’t really give a full post for the Zero to Hero Day 4 challenge, so I am coming back to it.

Now the assignment reads:  follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

I wanted to write a bit first about how I came to WordPress, and started following bloggers, and how that’s evolved since I’ve been here.

The largest LJ community to date is Oh No They Didn’t, which focuses on celebrity gossip and pop culture. Some things never change, apparently.

My time at LiveJournal was mostly tied to pretty specific communities.  There was the LARP group (the Camarilla) that introduced me, and then there was the online BBS community I had come from (Grex/cyberspace.org).

LiveJournal did have gathering spots called “communities”.  I guess they were precursors to what WordPress accomplishes with collaborative blogging features, but they were a little more like forums.  It was a mixed bag– as I posted earlier, one devoted to the Homestar Runner website brought me a stalker.

It was simple, it was short-lived, and sometimes, it was cliquish

VOX had a similar concept called “Groups”.  What is now jak & Cimmy’s Journal Jar was a VOX group Cimmorene started.

VOX didn’t have collaborative tools, but I did get introduced to the concept there.   The first blog I was invited to collaborate on was We Heart Music, and Vu had some HTML wizardry to distinguish all the writers.  My understanding is he’s still doing that at their new home on TypePad.  (TypePad does not have collaboration tools.)

TechsWrite was another blog I was invited to collaborate at during my time at VOX, until Michelle lost interest in it (and got very busy with work again) and turned it over to me.  Actually, the blog was one of hers that she turned into a collaborative project after a discussion we had.

When VOX closed on September 30th, 2010, many of us scrambled to find a place to keep our blog archives.  TypePad (another platform from the parent company) and WordPress were among our options.  I decided to export to both platforms, but decided WordPress was the better option in the long run.

Some looked to Google Reader, which didn’t last too long after that

This closing DID split a lot of our community, and some of us that flocked to WordPress looked to feed readers to keep touch with friends that had gone elsewhere.  This is one reason why I don’t like WordPress’s native Reader feature: it’s specific to WordPress.  There are other reasons, which I’ll save for another time.

Also, the Reader never has been a big source of new blogs for me.  I guess it’s maybe been a starting point, but it’s never quite been something I remember.

The Freshly Pressed spotlight has brought my attention to some blogs, but, it’s difficult for me to really connect in the scores of comments that can bring.  I’ve never been Freshly Pressed (and those scores of comments would probably freak me out– honest, I don’t like THAT much attention).  I’ve gotten a [this is good] spotlight at VOX– again, another story for another time.

You remember this one, right?  I heard it's coming back for Valentine's Day

You remember this one, right? I heard it’s coming back for Valentine’s Day

What has really brought me into the community more is stuff like Come for Company (previously known as Company for Christmas), and haiku challenges at Rob’s Surf Report.  I reblogged To Madame Weebles. Love Garry Weinrib today as it introduced me to even more bloggers even now (I got to know Madame Weebles herself at C4C).  These resources just keep bringing more blogs to look at.

In a way, things have come full circle.  Some of these things have been like LiveJournal’s communities, and VOX’s Groups, and some things have been memes, sort of like the lemmings I knew at LiveJournal, and the memes I knew at VOX– but WordPress bloggers have done more with them.  They wrote more stories behind the answers, and engaged their readers just a little bit more.  5 Truths, 1 Lie prompted me to dig down into the archive and share some things with new readers.

Maybe I cheated a bit on this challenge– but honest, I’ve been exploring blogs a lot, pretty independently of it!

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!


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About a Catfish: fresher than my local area

Based somewhat on my thoughts about Steve Betz’s post on a film called “Catfish”.

It’s about friendships and other relationships by way of the Internet, to give you the gist of it. Personally, I am preferring these online interactions to local stuff, as of late. Just to reference a thread on the post:

Hangaku Gozen wrote: Having lost the close ties of a small town or extended families, perhaps we have now the internet to create new ones.

I wrote: I think it might be a two-way effect, but I’m not really sure. I think societies, particularly affluent Western ones, are becoming much more insular. Are we coming online because local communities have broken down? Or are communities breaking down because more people are online?

HG: My primary-care doctor said she thought people who spend too much time online were depressed. That might be true: as you start shutting down emotionally, you may start turning more and more to the internet partly to escape, and partly because it’s easier to chat or email people than have to talk to them face to face…But I find my internet relationships stimulating and fun…And because of the internet, I’ve gotten more active in my community: it’s easier to find out what’s going on, and what opportunities are out there. So it’s like so many other things we have at our disposal: it’s what you want to make of it.

Steve: …It’s funny, but when I travel I find myself wanting to go see my blog friends maybe more than some other “old school” people that I know…

Me: It seems sadder the deeper I try to look at it. I was talking with my therapist/counselor yesterday. I *do* have a mental illness and some trauma issues I’m still working on, but basically, it is getting harder and harder to connect in my local community. I have been working with her to get involved as such. I noted that my local area does NOT have very much of an Internet presence, and joked, “They are probably all on Facebook.” She strongly agreed: “They are!” and we talked more about how residents just seem so… insular. I mentioned what my gamer/geek friends and family had said about our local convention of late… The consensus seemed to be that the local community is in a rut and doesn’t seem to want to climb out. Many are becoming weary of being involved in the con as it’s growing too big, but there is no branching out to separate conventions, the community seems cliquish and not doing much to recruit new folks, etc.

There is more to the conversation, but I’ll let you read more on that, dear readers. In short: I like where I live. I come down like a ton of bricks on hipsters that dis my area as The Ass End of Nowhere and shit like that, but… sadly, I must admit the reputation isn’t totally unfounded. We can’t help that we’re off the beaten path right now (read: I-5 freeway), but… people are INCREDIBLY insular here, and I would bet that a majority are INDEED mulling on Facebook and won’t branch out into anything more exciting the Internet has to offer.

My therapist is trying to get a men’s group started at Bethel church. I balked a little bit, mostly because I am wary of mainline Protestant churches that have a big, “feel good” presence. I fear … well, I fear the taint of authoritarianism and the Moral Majority. But she’s got a good idea going: I’m just not getting what I need at my own church. I don’t mean I’m going to leave the LDS faith, but I do mean that my ward, my local congregation… it’s not enough. They are in a “when is it going to be someone else’s turn to help?” phase as of right now and I’m just not wanting to ask them for any more assistance.

As I just said… the gaming/geek/SF/fantasy/etc. community here has a similar problem. My wife badly wants to start gaming in RPGs again, but, the last player we had at our games was TERRIBLY flaky.

Generally… I am spending a lot of time online because I don’t have many options offline. I don’t think it has to be that way, but I am digging and not coming up with much.

Please note: once again, as this is a more personal post, it will be handled in the usual time-sensitive manner. (Please ask if you have arrived here on my invitation and didn’t get my explanation on that.)


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On LJ: ^Devil Duckie^’s Dice Icons

Dice Icons! by ^Devil Duckie^

As I've said, I have some girl gamers in my family, and the folks at girl_gamers have been gracious enough to allow my company (they have a few other guys there, too).  They are primarily oriented towards video gaming, but every now and then there is an old school reference that really puts a smile on my face.

These were my favorites:

Dice12Dice16Dice20Dice24

Now I've got to figure out where to get groovy dice earrings like that for Cimmorene.

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On Vox: From Side Niche: The Two Faces of Blogging

If you haven’t read this yet, but are very interested in thoughts concerning the blogosphere, this is a must read.

There is a LOT of socioeconomic and sociological commentary in the links he references.  I see echoes of the concept of radical transparency with The Cluetrain Manifesto, which concept I referenced here in reference to the WIRED magazine articles on it in issue 15.04.

Originally posted on jaklumen.vox.com


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Death of the BBS era.

Such a dim memory that I was all too unacquainted with.

The only BBS I had contact with, really was Grex– everything else, I managed to miss. Of course, some of my readers know exactly what happened there and are probably much more conversant with the details.

The big BBS here in our area (at least among my friends) was Crystalline Dreams. There’s a record of it out there in a corner of the Web, on a list– as long as you don’t stalk me 😉 then a quick Google search will quickly reveal where I live as well as some details about the BBS.

This seems to be a bygone era that was beginning to fade out just as I was grasping hold. My parents are not technophiles, so BBSes from the beginning were totally inaccessible to me. For the longest time, they had an Apple //e that was quickly becoming obsolete, and they didn’t get an IBM-compatible until the middle of my college years. Just recently, they got a more recent model computer with an LCD monitor and Windows XP– they’d been hobbling along with Windows 98 and a remanufactured computer for quite some time.

But my views on the latest hardware and OS tech is another discussion. At any rate, I didn’t know about vt terminals, VAX servers, or even GUI browsers (my first exposure was to Netscape Mosaic) until about 1994. I vaguely recall baud modems and that BBS communities were out there, but this wasn’t available to me until shortly thereafter, and then I stumbled on M-Net and Grex trying to find somewhere to get e-mail for free. (I was banned from using Prodigy at home because of bills– I spent hours online.)

Forums (Invision, vbulletin, ezForums, phpBB, etc.) seem to be the successors of the BBS structure, but it’s a totally different ballgame, and I would imagine the Grexers reading here remember that discussion. An ex-girlfriend of mine referred to CD regulars as ‘modemers’ and I quickly became acquainted with more folks on the system than what I had previously known about. As best as I can tell, that was the old BBS community– local, accessible by dial-up, and people generally met face-to-face. Many forum communities are not like that at all.

I’ve read a bit about local Wi-Fi access being provided to poorer communities that otherwise would not have access to the Internet, but that still seems to me to enforce the detached and physically separated presence on the Web. This isn’t quite like microwatt radio broadcasting (or ‘pirate radio’ in some incarnations) where coverage is limited and enclosed to a small area, that I can tell. If it was set up more like a LAN, then it might make sense.

There has been a lot of discussion on ‘Internet neutrality’ in recent years, and concerns about the telephone and cable companies regulating access to the Internet, and I can’t help but wonder what would result if it actually happened. Would poor folks revert to using older technologies and revive old BBSes? It’s possible, but I tend to think that this would remain the purvey of ‘Simple Living’ folks as some of us have seen.

Wi-fi tech, then? Hard to say since I don’t fully understand it. But it seems like the days of local communities are gone– and the remnants of such are rather isolated and sparse. (Sorry, Marie, but I would say FB fits this criteria.) The BBS graveyard seems immense– and the only active ones I could find seemed dead as well.