October 7th, 2009

This is probably a pretty dull entry. Just gathering my thoughts.

 Some random thoughts on blogging tools and social media:

It's only been about a year that I have had a decent enough computer to really involve myself seriously in the wonders of the internet. I did have a high-speed connection before, but I was using an incredibly old and decrepit PC that really didn't have the processing capability for power-use of the interwebs. I couldn't even download files or play any videos without some kind of glitch or crash occurring, and this was after I actually installed more memory into it (and an ethernet port) from cannibalized remains of yet another dead computer. But about a year ago, my dad kicked in a bunch of money toward the cause of upgrading my tech, and I got this MacBook that I do all my work on now. That's about when I launched the M-Brane blog, also, and started the run-up to publishing the zine. I wouldn't even have tried any of that with the old machine. It was a good word processor and email receiver, but that was about it.

So I now have experience with three of these free blogging platforms. I started M-Brane on Blogger, where it still sits. I have this Live Journal, started just a couple months ago. And I am an admin on two WordPress blogs, Outer Alliance and GreenPunk (poor GreenPunk, how I've neglected you lately--new post coming soon!). My experience with WordPress is still fairly limited. I'm still learning its capabilities, but overall I feel good about it and think it's a quite good way to go. I have to say, however, that Blogger has really stepped up its game lately. The new post editor is fantastic, with a whole bunch of new and/or easier to use functions, not the least of which is easy placement and sizing of pictures within a post. It's much easier to lay out a post with more than one pic in it than it used to be.  On the other hand, Live Journal, where we are right now, is the clunkiest one as far as things like pics and layout go. It wants pics to be either linked to the post by URL from elsewhere on the web (like a Flickr folder or something) or linked from one's LJ Scrapbook. This is different than both Blogger and WordPress which allow for easy no-hassle uploading and inserting of pics directly from files on one's computer.  Also, it is very difficult (at least for me)  to achieve satisfactory placement of pics within a post here. Blogger, if using the new post editor, is hands-down the best nowadays for this, even easier than what I have experienced on those WordPress sites so far.

But that doesn't mean that I don't like LJ. Quite the contrary, it has its own kind of appeal. It has a social network feel to it that is a thing all its own, and I like that. It's fun to click on my friends page and be able to scroll through everyone's journals all on one page. Its aesthetic failings are compensated for, at least for me, by a sort of casual rough-and-ready ambience. This is probably partially a thing in my head caused by my own segmentation of my venues: when I started this Region Between journal, it became a kind of catch-all for thoughts that I wanted to express that did not really fit that well at the M-Brane site. So now the M-Brane page feels to me a bit more businessy and formal than it used to, while when I open up this LJ I feel like like I am kind of kicking back and being real casual.  This may be somewhat to the detriment of the other page, however, if it becomes too dull. But I have some thoughts on that and will be trying to get some more user-interactive content on there, like more discussion topics and guest bloggers and things of that nature. 

As for the social media stuff, I have become a lot more engaged with that than I ever expected I would, but the utility of it for supporting M-Brane and my other interests has become undeniable. So many more people know about me and what I'm doing because of Twitter than anything else.  Also, I have really been warming to Facebook. I really didn't like the look of it at first, did not want to get caught up in it, didn't really see the point of it, but bit by bit I have been getting more used to using it.  Also, it is very easy to use in a sort of auto-pilot mode by making it pick up your blog posts and Tweets (though there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when it picks up a new LJ post, so I usually end up making a specific entry on my wall for those or sending them to Facebook via Twitter, using the Selective Twitter Status app).  I am now kind of glad that I was a bit late in coming to social media party, thereby missing the height of the MySpace period and the feeling that I ought to use that as well. I understand that it's still a very active place for some kinds of activities like music, but I find that I have less and less patience for it when someone gives me a MySpace link as their website and I have to wait and wait for the page to load because there is so goddamned much crap on it. I have a fast computer and a fast internet connection, so if it's taking an excruciating amount of time to open a page, it usually means that there is all kinds of crazy graphics and embedded music and a hundred big photos and fifty embedded YouTube videos and a lot of streaming marquees and the like. So I'm glad that MySpace is for what it's for, but that I don't really need to set up in it as part of my Media Empire.

And then there's Linked-In, which I know nothing about yet. I have an account on it and some people have friended me on it, and that's it so far. I haven't even looked at it for more time than it took to accept my friend requests. I keep forgetting about it (note to self: look at Linked In and see if you can figure out what's up with that.)

Wow. That was really boring in a real talking-about-websites kind of way. I wonder why I have so badly needed to write that for the last few days. Well, it's out of my system now!