Adventures in Social media; about.me and Nutty Party Productions

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When I first fell of the edge of the world with illness it was a long time ago, but it was within the first stirrings of the internet. I’d done a couple of courses for artists, and made some digital art (probably all lost forever, there’s an animation that still exists on video, but not in digital form, so – *waves goobye*) and I’d taught multimedia to adults and teens, so when the crash came one of the things that floated up with me on my life raft was a computer and an internet connection.

I started my social media life just with emails and found a site called Citynoise where I could contribute photographs and a few words. Most of what was then the beginnings of social media was a thing called message boards, which I wasn’t attracted to, being of an Alice in Wonderland turn of mind (Before the rabbit hole, her sister was reading a book with no conversations or pictures, and Alice found it boring) anyway I’d found a community, one which was so small that I could just be called elaine – yep, I’m still there! Buried in the ‘authors’ list.

At some point early on a friend pointed me to Livejournal where I made myself at home, and in fact, I still have friends IRL and on Facebook from that time.

Pretty soon I realised I could create what I was calling to myself a ‘virtual website’. I didn’t want to make an actual website, it wasn’t so easy to do at the time, and I wasn’t well for a major project, but I did know two pieces of html that would allow me to connect my Livejournal, my Citynoise and my Myspace – I could make links and pull pictures from other places. I was all set for my life online.

Over 10 years later, and I find that the world has caught up with me somewhat. It’s becoming more important to have social media presence than to have a website. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if you don’t drive traffic there it’ll just be a Mrs Haversham of a site, sitting there in it’s wedding dress with mice eating the cake.

Nowadays, of course, I blog here and I use Facebook and I have twitter and whatnot. Does Myspace still exist? I think it does, but I think it’s become a niche thing for music.

I talk a lot with Ken who is launching himself as an expert in social media professionally, as we speak, and at one point in our conversations he sent me his about.me page. We’d been talking about landing pages and how I was helping my friend Angie create an integrated social media presence for her party business, and how I’d decided to use WordPress for a landing page because flavors.me looks so awful on a smartphone – here’s mine so you can see, if you have a smartphone handy; elaine4queen.flavors.me. Looks fine on a laptop, so it’s fine if all you want is something to put as an email signature which will point people to your Facebook or twitter or whatever, but when you look on a phone it’s nasty.

So! I liked the look of Ken’s about.me page anyway, and I thought I’d rather have one as a landing page than flavors.me. It’s not a lot of work doing a landing page, and I hooched one up in about half an hour – here it is about.me/elaineaxten.

If you’re reading this on 3G and you don’t want to click through, here’s a screen shot;

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I liked it fine just for that one purpose – it looks great and it handles better than flavors.me, and so I thought, since it was taking a while to make the WordPress landing page I was helping Angie make look nice, that we’d quickly put together one of these for her. But wait! It has a USP! (Unique Selling Point – marketing speak) about.me has an app, and this app works as a sort of e-business card. What you do, when you set one up, is to install the app on your own phone, and when you meet someone you would otherwise give a business card to you type in their phone number or email and it sends them your landing page – with all your blurb and contact details. (By the way, if you ask me to refer you I get featured on their blog, for whatever that is worth, and then if someone else shows interest in having one you can refer them and get featured – again, for what it’s worth, I have no idea if this is valuable since I don’t have a business and I haven’t been featured, but it nevertheless exists.)

As a pleasant extra, you get a choice of graphic signatures, so your emails look a bit fancier than just your name with your website.

Angie’s about.me looks lovely already, but because I sat and taught her how to do it instead of doing it for her, she can go in and tinker with it herself. One of the advantages of having control over your own web presence.

Here it is about.me/nuttypartyproductions

The Future of Text, the Visit to Munich, and Some Social Media Stuff

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So much to catch up on, you guys!

If you read me on Facebook you’ll know that I am just back from visiting Ken in Germany. There was cake and there were doggies and there was the Englischer Garten (English Garden – did you guess?) and so many things. And one of the things was a week long conversation about where we are going in our virtual lives. Here’s his take on the convo Having Cake and Discussing Which Direction We’re All Going

Since I got back we’ve been Skyping and continuing the conversation. There’s an element of collaboration as well, since in the intervening time I went to the Future of Text conference here in London which he’d wanted to come over for but couldn’t and then he hooked me up with Frode Hegland via Facebook and I got an invite, so we have been hooching up some sort of a text on that, which is still in the oven.

On the hot plate, though, is a slice of netiquette that he asked me to blog about because he thought it was interesting. In a kind of dry way, but it makes my fb experience better, and I get to see more of my friends’ posts there because of it. I’ve done it so often now it was kind of hard to find an example I could use, but here’s one which will serve as an example.

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What I’ve actually done is, rather than hiding friends or letting fb drop them for me, which I don’t want to do, I just hide some of the stuff that people share. Not that I never want to know which US state I should live in, just that I have done those quizzes a million times and I now never ever see them in my feed, thus freeing me to enjoy the other content that people who I’m talking to are sharing without having to see the quizzes I’m not interested in, and at the same time, because of that, seeing more content that I do want to see.

So, see how, for instance, Shaun has shared a thing from Comedy 103.1 and say there was a lot of their content in my feed and I wasn’t interested in seeing any of it, rather than stop seeing Shaun and all of his posts I get to just hide all from Comedy 103.1.

In reality, I can’t remember if I have ever seen any Comedy 103.1 material before, or whether it would clutter up my feed if I let it, but if I wanted to, as I did with the interminable quizzes, I could just scroll down and hide them instead of hiding Shaun.

Given that FB has decided to do friend culling for us with their evil algorithms, it’s nice to be able to exert some control beyond installing Adblock and making sure notifications are ON for specific friends, rather than actually creating groups, which, thus far at any rate, I haven’t been interested in doing.

So that was that.

Here’s a picture of Ken and his dogs in front of a Peace Monument.

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One of the Good Guys

I have so many photos from the trip, and that’s another thing I’m thinking about. I’m kind of reassessing my entire virtual presence. Where should I post my photos? Should I go the Instagram way? I do have an account, it’s just that it’s only got two pictures in it so far. Should I post photos in tumblr, even though the people I follow are artists or art curators? I just don’t know right now. It’s a thing I have to think about.

So yeah, this is a place holder to tell you I am going to tell you about the Future of Text soon, but not right now, there are photos and thoughts, so many thoughts, from Germany. I’m pretty sure there are other things as well, but I’ve had rather a roller coaster health horror since I got back and I’m only now having a moment to reflect, and I’m on some new medication, which seems to be helping, but for now it’s making me a bit stoned, too.

So, that.

Ach! Language! So much language stuff. And music. The cakes, I told you about the cakes. Talking of that sort of thing, if you follow this blog in Facebook through the button there you really only get the blog, I don’t put incidental stuff there. Go ahead and friend me if you want that sort of ephemera – I’m Elaine Axten, pretty easy to find, not many of us to the pound.

Breakfast of Champions – Referendum, Writing, and Travel

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Yesterday I finally weighed in on the Independence debate. What do you mean, last minute? There is a WHOLE DAY to go yet!

Anyway, I wrote about it on Facebook, and then on tumblr. Then, for good measure I copied it onto a site I’d not seen before, WriteHere.com which is easy to join and format free for those who can’t be bothered with the fiddlearseing you have to do on WordPress and have to do a bit on tumblr.

Apparently we will know the outcome ‘breakfast time’ on Friday.

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As a Londoner for more than 25 years, clearly, I don’t get a vote. I am, however, happy that this debate has happened whatever the outcome. As Josh White puts it in his post Free of London in Souciant

“The independence of Scotland would also humiliate the Cameron government, possibly beyond repair, showing up the Conservatives as a vulnerable force. This is likely the case even if Scotland gains greater powers and remains within the UK. The Left should be asking itself, “Why haven’t we been able to undermine the Con-Dems in this way?”

Whatever the map looks like on Friday morning, the terrain is already changing.

***

Speaking of blackberries (oh come on, we all know that was the elephant in the room!) it’s been a year since I read out Pattern Recognition at Have a Word and I’ve written very little since, I’ve barely even blogged, and that is a SAD THING for me. So in the summer I started a Facebook group First Thursday Writers and The Like with the idea of holding a salon at home. This was possible to consider because my new flat is large and central, and I got the idea from having had hopes dashed of doing a course in Narrative Non Fiction at City Uni. I had to recognise that I am really not well enough to do a full time course. After I recovered from the inevitable soul crushing I looked at short courses, and I noticed that, for people who had done a short course, they were offering a monthly meet up course for people who had completed one of the term long courses. I was attracted to that but thought HANG ON because I know enough writers and creative people with writing projects to drum up a group myself and have them come to me, which, in my quest for less travel to events literally couldn’t be easier to get to. So I started a Facebook group and invited people who either lived in London or who might be likely to visit once a month, and got started. We had our first meeting this month and there was only three of us, but we had a really productive session. I read out Pattern Recognition again, and also some other snippets. First of all, it had been some time since I’d looked at it and I thought it would have sort of ‘gone off’ and would need ripping apart, but it actually hung together quite well. The other thing I got as feedback was that the other snippets I’d read out, which I’d been seeing as random beginnings of other projects also hung well with that piece. It gave me some heart to carry on, even though it will inevitably be very slowly.

Today I opened up the Facebook page to anyone anywhere who is writing and wants to get posts from the group – it’s mainly me posting in it just now, and I have been sharing stuff about writing, mainly to remind people that the group still exists, but someone commented that they liked the posts and I thought, well then, why not make the page open to anyone to follow, even if they will never make it to London for a meeting, after all, isn’t that what the internet is good for?

***

Between moving house and messing with medication I’ve not traveled further than Brighton this year. This is a pisser because I really benefitted from extra warmth last year. One way and another I haven’t been able to get a shot of warmth this year, beyond the hot spell in London, and, being unwell I’ve not wanted to travel alone. I had a shot at meeting a friend for a holiday, but for the past few months I’ve not been able to walk for more than ten minutes at a time without a river of pain down my shoulders and back, and that’s without carrying anything. I’d be miserable being abroad if it didn’t make me feel more well, and with hotels as well as flights I felt it was too much of a financial risk, too. Enter Ken with an invite to Munich! Exactly NO hotter than here, but equally, a cheap flight away, a change of scenery, and staying at his makes this a less scary prospect. We have 24/7′d before, and I know he won’t mind if I can’t manage more than a bit of dog cuddling, epic conversations and cake eating, and if I have it in me he knows all the local walks, the cultural stuff, and *whisper* if I am well enough I want to go to Weimar and see the Bauhaus museum.

IF.

 

Eye Eye!

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Forgive me, readers, it has been some time since my last confession. If you are friended to me on the face book you will know that I have been moving house and beetling up and down to Brighton, to boot. And that I have had horrible deprivations on the broadband front. I’m still tethering, here, so bear with.

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I’ve moved to Old Street, just round the back of the eye hospital.

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And just round the corner from the Ironmonger Row swimming baths. I haven’t gone yet, but I’ve taken the precaution of buying a voluminous swimming costume so as not to frighten people.

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This isn’t really the East End as such, but it is safely back in the warm embrace of Arsenal. Even though I don’t give a rat’s ass for the footie, it was still odd being in the realm of Spurs. Why should it matter? It doesn’t. It doesn’t matter.

Still.

Even so.

So I decided that I was going to style myself as being ‘in the eye of the storm’ being the still point that I am, and living round the corner from the eye hospital and it’s lovely bonkers clock, and on my way to photograph it I saw this monster of a building.

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I wouldn’t mind, apart from the general fright it gave me, but it turns out this is the children’s eye hospital! A whole façade dedicated to the sort of thing that could put your eye out. THE TRAUMA. And it isn’t even right next to a psych wing.

This deserves a lot more time than I’ve got right now. Because YOU KNOW HOW BUSY I AM! Anyway, I’m not busy, but I am knackered, so. As you might imagine a few people took photos at End Of. and this is a snippet of Alison Moyet!

Alison. Moyet. YO!

It may be Messy but I do it all for You

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Made a little tumblr for ya, on elaine4queen.tumblr.com/day/2014/01/18

And I’ve been updating the Mnemonic Mujer blog weekly, although it took a couple of go rounds to get it set for GMT, but I’ve done it now, and the next one will be Monday at 11.11am. Most pleasing.

AND, and, I have made a MM tumblr to complement the main blog. The blog posts are featured, but there will also be extras, and you can follow either or both or neither or whatever you damn well please. Both this blog and the wordpress MM blog are going through to the elaine4queen facebook page. And twitter. There are tweets. I have it mostly covered, but there is always room for improvement. My online presence is frankly messy.

Now Wait for Last Year

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…was the first Philip K Dick book I ever read. Kenny McBeth lent it to me. I was somewhere between 14 and 16 years old, and had never read science fiction before.

This seems as good a time as any to break it to you that I am neither going to give you a round up of last year, nor am I going to tell you what I’m planning for next. No. We do enough time travelling as it is. Lets take a while to stare out the window.

My current view. Lovely, isn’t it?

And what a lovely view it is and has been for the past week and a bit. Julie generously gave us her house for a fortnight while she Xmassed and New Yeared up in Scotland, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time staring out this window. Or less staring and more gazing. It has been a very literal change of scenery.

Also good for staring/gazing at is fire. There is an open fire in the sitting room and Julie had left us logs and kindling.

This is not a stock photograph. IT’S A REAL FIRE!

I used to know a fireperson. I say ‘fireperson’ advisedly because she was a lady fireman. And this was years ago, and even now, you don’t get many of those kicking about. I didn’t know her well but I found myself sitting next to her at a party once and decided to tell her about a house fire I’d seen in San Francisco. She was, and very well may still be a very quiet woman, but she was suddenly VERY interested. Her immediate question was “How many engines?”

Here’s a pro storytelling tip. Try and notice shit. This is my worst quality in story telling skills – I have a dreadful memory and no eye for those sort of details. I was far too busy watching a big building MADE OF WOOD go up in flames to count fire engines, but her question made me realize that would have been a good thing to have noticed, too.

***

We did NOTHING for NYE. Not unless you count going to see a flat, walking on the beach, getting underwear and shoe soaked on the way home, spending the avo with Collins and Collins, two of our Brighton Besties, and being in bed by 8, listening to The Midwich Cuckoos on iPlayer til about 10 when I zonked out and Ten left me to it to go commune with the Hackspace via hyperspace.

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The evening before we’d had a few people over and the Gorgeous Gregorie brought over all sorts of bakery.

Gregorie CLAIMS he is a ‘shop girl’ but really he is a BAKER (Well, REALLY he has a show where he does Judy Garland’s audio diaries)

My ‘cookery’ involved doing things like putting a lot of pretzels in a bowl with chocolate peanuts. DON’T JUDGE ME.

Do you think I should teach cookery? Maybe I should. The world needs to know all about chocolate peanuts and pretzels

Alice told travelling yarns, and at one point Chim and Ten took the dogs out and I demonstrated how I get Pops totes excited about going out through the medium of whispering and saying key words. Gregorie, who is proud to be ‘Bri’ish’ (he’s French) was appalled.

Anyway, that was our social event. I literally invited people to come at 7 and leave at 10, which is, in fact, what they did.

I take my bedtime seriously, yo!

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So, back to yesterday. The flat we went to see involved going past Julie’s first Brighton house. Much as I like the blue, her house was known as ‘The Pink House’ so it was kind of sad to see a change of colour.

Don’t it make my pink house blue?

The Pink House parties were legendary back in the day. I believe the neighbours all pretty much loathed her. Not just for the prodigious partying but also for the fact that she punched a hole in her roof and built a balcony which, due to a mixture of the height of the building and the location of the house on the brow of that bit of hill, looked down over everyone else’s gardens.

The flat we saw was very small and a serious fixer upper, but the location was perfect, and also there was a bonus of a shared well kept garden. For the win, but we have to wait for him to see the Camden flat for a possible three way swap. Tenterhooks!

We took the route avoiding the worst of the hill, something I’m making my business to do, since the whole place is rather more aerobic than I am used to. Passing the trees I mentioned in m’last post we spotted a notice about the flotsam trees.

You can clicky through to the website of ONCA gallery and find out ALL THE THINGS

When I shared the post on fb, Trill told me that they were there to raise consciousness about the rubbish on the beach. Depending on what you are reading this on you might not be able to read the text, but the three trees worth of flotsam was collected in one day by one person.

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Today we start getting ready to go home. Julie gets back on Friday, and we have appointments and stuff to get on with in London, so we’ll need to get on. It’s been lovely here, the time has flown.

THANK YOU JULIE!!! SORRY ABOUT MELTING THE PAINT ON YOUR SUGAR JAR BY PUTTING IT IN THE DISH WASHER!

And finally…

Bob found a sponge and brought it all the way home.

Poppet is entirely confused by these sponges. I think she thinks they should be edible, I also think they seem a bit like salted soft toys, which, putting it that way, I can see the appeal. At any rate, she brought this one all the way back to the house and wouldn’t let go of it til we were indoors and Ten picked it out of her maw.

More Blogs about Buildings and Food

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In which Ken and I spend a week looking at buildings and eating food. Yeah, we went into museums, but that’s really not why we came.

Ken has won at blogging this holiday, and that’s a fact. Over the week he’s blogged about our first encounter with an arancino in Oranges aren’t the only meat, about how we have fabricated an entire cultural history of Palermo based only on talking to each other in A backstory for all of Palermo and our eventual sit down encounter with cake in Winding streets and churches and finally cake. I, on the other hand have posted a couple of photos on friendface and have saved up so many photos I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN.

These students didn’t know that I was from the home of rioting since 1982, but they did a little welcome protest for me. Bless them.

The people from the internet were very keen that we should have cake, but it took us a few days to get around to it.

Ken giving ‘our’ dog some sausage skin.

We watched this dog from our window. He seems to spend his day herding traffic. After enjoying the sausage skin and saying hello to us some guys were pushing a van to get it started and he hared off to ‘help’.

This morning’s weather.

We slept like nuns in our little skinny beds.

The room was nice. And the people looking after us were kind but not in our faces. It was an easygoing scenario.

There was some sort of cooking going on behind this scruffy exterior.

The guy saw me taking a photo and waved and got his friend/brother to get in for another shot, but this one was better, so.. sorry friend/brother, you didn’t make the cut.

These trees are not good for making tree lined avenues. Rogue trees.

I think I read about these trees in Kew magazine years ago. Some city, not Palermo, I think, since they don’t seem to go in for avenues here, decided to use these to line a street. The thing is those ropey tendrils come down from the branches and then take root and grow into trees, so the trees just colonize the space over time. Not good municipal planting.

The puppet museum had a full set of Punch and Judy puppets.

It was the least tempting museum for me, but actually I liked it the best. I don’t suppose anyone comes to Palermo to go to museums, but we felt we should.

A couple of holy fellas.

Ken’s last day we stopped in a tailor’s and had an impromptu jam.

I would have walked past here, but Ken saw the instruments and went in. They made us welcome and we had the best time. And the most interaction we’d had all week with local people. Here’s a piece of advice for you – musicians make good travelling companions. Ken brought his uke out a lot, and played to various people, but even without it, music brought us together.

The guy eating biscotti taught Ken a choon.

Simon, the guy in the red jacket, said it was a ‘magic moment’ which it was. He asked if we had an electronic address, which we did. Hopefully he emails and I can send him the link to this post.

Ken leaves in a couple of hours, then I will have 24 hours on my own before my flight home.