Category Archives: Social Media

Free eBook: Shua Peters’ and Jacob Morgan’s New “Social Media for Authors”

I love to plug great content that is overlooked, and Josh “Shua” Peters and Jacob Morgan have given us gold so that I, thePuck, can in turn pass on to you. Their ebook covers both of my pet subjects (writing and social media) and addresses issues like:

  • What is social media?
  • When Should I get Involved?
  • Why Should I get Involved?
  • Where’s the Action?
  • The Tools

The best part is the tools sections, where Shua and Jacob give a quick and simple run-down of the major tools of modern social media promotion focused towards authors. They cover:

  • Blog
  • RSS Readers
  • Twitter
  • Twitter Search
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Analytics
  • Red Room (a social network just for authors that they are managing to share with you before me! See how awesome they are?)
  • and more!

The ebook is free (as in beer) and you can read it right here, on Shua’s site Shuaism (which you should subscribe to) or at Scribd (which you should have an account on, as Shua and Jacob will inform you) here:

Social Media for Authors

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How To Find New People On Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Well, as everyone has been noting, Twitter is now thoroughly mainstream. Once you have Oprah and her legions on a service, it has definitely left the exclusive realm of geeks and early adopters. Unlike some of my peers, I do not resent the presence and arrival of the celebrities and their virtual entourages. However, I do recognize that all these newcomers might be a bit overwhelmed. While Twitter itself is simple, the assorted applications and services built around it are most assuredly not, so newcomers might not know how to find new twitterers to follow. While there are many services out there trying to build a business model on top Twitter, many of them are poorly conceived or poorly implemented and are of little help. Since I have been through most of them and seperated much of the wheat from the chaff, I decided to share my favorite services for finding new people on Twitter.

Mr. Tweet

Mr. Tweet is a simple service. From their site:

Mr. Tweet is your personal networking agent who helps you expand your network easily. To do that, he helps you regularly:

1. Get relevant followers by recommending you to them
2. Discover great people relevant to your current needs
3. Improve your Twitter usage via useful statistics

All you do is follow Mr. Tweet on Twitter and a few days later he sends you a direct message with a link to a page with suggestions for you to follow. The app keeps various statistics on different users so you can intelligently decide whether or not to follow. Every few weeks thereafter you will get another DM with new users for you to follow. Mr. Tweet also works together with Topify, a great service for dealing with the abundance of email that a strong Twitter account can generate.

WeFollow

WeFollow is a user driven directory that uses hashtags to classify people and organizations on Twitter. It was started a little while back by Kevin Rose and already has a strong following. There you can add yourself under three tags (such as #writer #socialmedia #tech) and others will find you, or you can search for others based on their hashtags. The site also shows you top twitterers according to various standards and give links and details for their accounts.

Twitseeker

Twitseeker is a very simple search engine that allows you to seek out users based not on how they classify themselves, but what they are tweeting about. From their site:

TwitSeeker is basically an alternate search engine for finding twitter.com users – “twits” – and browsing the results all in one combined control panel. It works by using the twitter.com API, and finds twits not by what’s posted in their bios but rather based on what they’ve been tweeting about lately. It uses a custom tag cloud generator written by the author, and was created as an experimental tool to help users quickly build up a twitter community around specific topics.

As people find you and you find them, the service send you an @ reply which plugs them, you, and the person you found or found you, which is a nice what of spreading your social presence around.

TwitterPacks

I have written on TwitterPacks before, but I wanted to plug them again because of how awesome their site is. TwitterPacks is a wiki that allows people to add themselves and their information to packs sorted by location, interest, profession, company, and topic. What makes the site so awesome is their AutoPack script which allows you follow an entire pack at a time. A few caveats: the site is user-driven and thus can be a little slow and disorganized. The AutoPack script is sometimes slow, and if you don’t take yourself out of any pack before following it will cause an error. Additionally, because TwitterPacks is user-driven and hosted on a shared server, when there is a lot of traffic the site or the AutoPack script might simply fail to be served. Just wait a while and try again.

Twibes

Twibes is a neat little directory that allows you to form groups on Twitter similar to a social network like Facebook. You connect your account and you can either start or join a “twibe” (twitter tribe) based on similar interests. This is simple in concept, but is powerful in social media as it allows mini-communities to form within the larger community of Twitter. While this post is aimed at new Twitterers, old hats will recall that we have been asking for groups for a long time, and this service grew up in response to that demand.

Add your favorites to the list

I know many of my readers are already very involved in social media and probably are gnashing their teeth that I left out their favorite service…so make your voices heard and list your favorite way to find new twitterers in the comments and I will add them to the list.

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Find Twitterers by Topic, Interests, Company, and Location with TwitterPacks

Well, it finally had to happen. Twitter is mainstream.

Twitter, and social media in general, have become mainstream. It gets talked about on international television, reported on in the mainstream media, and the service is enjoying the surge in users that all this attention has brought. But there remains a problem for all these new users…how do you find who to follow and gain followers yourself who are going to tweet about things that interest you? The answers are out there, but being new to the social media scene, many of these new users get disillusioned quickly and end up leaving in frustration. Abandoned Twitter pages abound with 8 tweets, all along the lines of “Hello? Is anyone out there? Is this thing on?”, leaving a ghost-town where new microbloggers could have been.

Always use the right tools for the right job.

There are various tools out there for automatically finding new people to follow and to list yourself. Recently @kevinrose released WeFollow, a user-driven directory of twitterers using hashtags. Another popular tool is Mr. Tweet, which uses various methods for suggesting followers based on their streams. These tools have their place, but I dislike their simplicity and passiveness. I like to browse, and sometimes hashtags, however useful, are just not good categories for finding what you are interested in. Because of all of this I like Twitterpacks a great deal, and wanted to do a little write-up on it because I don’t see it mentioned or discussed very much and it really is a nice little project that deserves some mention and respect.

What Twitterpacks is.

TwitterPacks is a wiki (built on PBWiki) where users can register and add their own link to their Twitter page and a short line about who you are (if you wish). The wiki breaks people up into categories like topics they cover, interests, location, company, and whatever other categories people want to add. Like any wiki, it is what the users make it, and this wiki has a community of users that have built a simple directory that they keep as neat and clean as possible.

By itself, this would be nothing more than a list of links and, while better than just blindly following people, makes the task a chore, especially when you are getting started and want to follow a large group in a particular region or industry. However, TwitterPacks has dealt with that, supplying a script they call Autopack, which allows you to select an entire category and follow them (or unfollow them) all at once. While the script does require your password, it passes it off directly to the Twitter API without creating any kind of account or login on-site. I have used the site for months with no issues and no one has ever said a thing about security problems, so I don’t have a problem recommending the site, but be aware that any application that requires you to use your password can be a security risk. Be careful.

What TwitterPacks is not.

TwitterPacks is not a flashy, pretty, AJAX-driven service where you “set it and forget it”. It takes some work to find all the places you wish to be listed, make the entries, and save the edits for each page. You do have to actually find the topics you are interested in and use the Autopack feature manually. The Autopack script is also limited, as it is being served from a donated server, and can very slow in returning large requests. On very large follow or unfollow commands it can time-out, and if you don’t make sure your own account isn’t somewhere on the list it can produce errors. As a user-driven community, TwitterPacks is funded by donations, and we all know how problematic that can be. All of these things make Twitterpacks a bit of work, and while I highly recommend it, know that it is by no means perfect.

Any others?

Tools like this are invaluable in building a strong social media presence and personal brand, an ongoing concern for anyone who wants to be able to make it in new media. I mentioned a few of my favorite tools, but I know of dozens I didn’t mention and I am sure there are many more. What are your faves?

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Dynamic Fiction Through Microblogging

Twitter over-capacity image.As a follow up to my last post, “Picking a Genre in New Media “, where I listed out several of the major genres of writing common in blogs and other forms of new media, I thought I would approach some of the genres and try to share some writing tips. Then I saw this post over at Techcrunch: “Can Twitter Authors Capture The Magic Of LonelyGirl15?“, and decided I would start with my favorite genre: fiction.

Many readers might think that the online medium is not suited to telling a good story, but this is not true. Techcrunch cites the classic tale of LonelyGirl15 as a perfect example of the possibilities on online fiction. For those who are unfamiliar with the tale: LonelyGirl15 was Bree, a fictional character created for a series of YouTube videos which eventually unfolded into a rather epic tale of secret government conspiracies. This was a remarkable example of viral marketing: it turned out a creative agency created the interactive story. This highlights what is possible with fiction when the internet is used as the medium. What begins as a single person’s story can take on a life of its own, remixed, revamped, and expanded by other creative minds working in concert.

So let’s consider Twitter and other microbloggers. We have the possibility for small bursts of tale, added to and changed by followers and retweeted across the net. We also have the possibility for the return of the “serial” and “periodical” in a new form, where a string of updates over time can serve to create tension, invite speculation, and cause readers to experiment with their own explanations of events in the story.

So how can you write the kind fiction that would work through a medium like a microblogger?

  1. Consider your limit. 140 characters per update. You could consider posting a whole string of updates in a row, but each post should be complete and move the story all by itself.
  2. “Murder your darlings”. This quote from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch tells us to get rid of every word, every phrase, every bit of writing that does not move the story and is not the perfect words to express what you want to express, no matter how clever or pretty. While it is always good advice (and never easy), it becomes even more important in this medium. Never fall back on empty phrases, no matter how elegant, and never write platitudes or cliches. In the online world, anything that does not move the story is simply ignored.
  3. Allow for the responses you receive from followers to influence the story. This is perhaps the greatest strength of the online world: ease of collaboration. Thanks to the medium you can adjust your tale and answer the desires of your readers like no “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel could ever hope for.
  4. Allow for ambiguity. Part of what made LonelyGirl15 compelling was that no one was sure for awhile whether it was real or fiction. By the time every one knew it was fiction, no one cared and followed the story out of interest.
  5. Update regularly. Your followers need to know when the next installment will come, and they need to be able to pass that knowledge along. If you must miss an update, work the delay into the story.
  6. Avoid explanations. Explanations of the story don’t move the story and prevent it from being open-ended and ambiguous enough to draw virality.
  7. Avoid plot-twists. Plot-twists are cheap when done in serial form…consider the “cliffhangers” of old movie serials, where each episode placed the hero in some deadly danger…only to have it explained away in the first moments of the next installment. People see this tactic a mile away, and will quickly lose interest. Instead of going for overt plot-twists, go for lots of ambiguity where any number of explanations, twists, and turns could happen and make sense, causing your readers to attempt to figure out where it will go next only to be endlessly surprised. Think “Lost” rather than “The Village” and you can’t go wrong.

Final Word

These are only suggestions about how to tackle fiction through microbloggers…I have only begun considering the possibilities. I am very interested in seeing where people go with this as a medium and will be following mylifein140, the account mentioned in the Techcrunch post, as well as looking into “Twittories“, a group creating crowdsourced fiction using Twitter.

Questions for my readers:

  1. Are there any other writers attempting a similar experiment?
  2. Any thoughts on the possibilities of fiction in new media? Perhaps something I haven’t considered?
  3. Are the possibilities for pursing other forms of writing in this way, perhaps poetry or philosophy?

Two Key Concepts for Staying Sane in Social Media

A whole lot of FriendFeed subscriptionsOne of my readers made a request for a sequel to Ten Steps to Being Everywhere in Social Media, which is now (thanks to all of you) my most popular post and responsible for about a third of my total traffic.

XIII writes:

I’m looking forward to the sequel; How to keep up with reading everything.

While I can’t help anyone read faster or be able to concentrate on more content than they are capable of, there are a few tips and techniques that I use for staying caught up. As before, this is a tentative guide, as the technologies are always changing and no large scale solution exists as of yet. One of the things I am working on is a project to do exactly that, putting all of the data in one place for people who interested in this sort of thing. If any of my wonderful readers and friends are interested in a new project with serious potential, please let me know…thanks to my social density I am very easy to contact!

Now, on to how to stay sane in the world of social media!

1. Attitude

Having the right attitude about social media is the first step in managing it. This is because many people have weird expectations and thus get overwhelmed or turned off. Even worse, some people end up feeling that social media is “invasive”, as I saw mentioned in a tweet the other night. Social media does not have to be overwhelming or invasive, you just have to remember a few things:

  1. The internet is not a physical space. It is not necessary for you to simply accept every interaction that comes your way in order to avoid being rude. If you don’t like what someone has to say or has on their profile, then don’t interact with them. Out of all the people online, one less won’t hurt you or them.
  2. The internet is not a bunch of little places (websites and services) any more than the universe is simply a bunch of things that are in it. Both of these realms are actually made up of the interactions that happen between the “things” that are in them. Remember that no one technology or website is the “world”…always the whole internet. Move through the internet like it is your world, and move through specific sites and services as if they were neighborhoods.
  3. It is important to see your movements through the internet as being continuous with your normal life. In normal life your interests, needs, likes, and dislikes guide you and lead to you interacting with others in certain ways. Similarly, on the internet you can trust a large part of social media to do the work of connecting you with other people. Trust the tags and the searches to connect you with others and don’t stress about finding an “in” crowd. Crowds form around interested and passionate people doing what they love, not people trying to form crowds.
  4. You are not alone. If you are having a problem, it is likely other people have had the same problem, and it is also likely that some of those people found solutions. When you get frustrated, do a search or ask around. Social media is new, and everyone is “just learning”.
  5. In physical space, your identity is unified because you can only be in one place at one time. Online, your identity is distributed among all the different places and times you interact. You are everywhere you make a change, and because of the archiving nature of the net, you are everywhen you have made change, as well. Thus you can be lazy when you need to be, because the posts, feeds, forums, and so on will still be there for you to get to. While it is important to strike while the iron is hot when you are trying to create something new, reading and staying in the loop can happen at your leisure.

2. Managing the Flow of Data

As with the entire internet, staying caught up and keeping the information useful depends on certain technologies. Optimizing this process isn’t about interacting with the information faster, but managing how you interact with it.

  1. Friendfeed‘s Imaginary Friend Feature– Yeah, everyone loves FriendFeed, but few people use one of it’s most interesting and scalable of features: Imaginary Friends. This feature allows you to create a “fake” stream. Just go to “Friend Settings”–>”Imaginary”–>”Create Imaginary Friend”. Name it something useful, like a category such as “Social Media People”, “Photographers”, or “News”. Then A feed of feedssimply add services or feeds. The best thing about this is it allows you to categorize your feeds and then follow those in your own RSS reader or FriendFeed subscriptions. And yes, you can make an imaginary friend from FriendFeed Atom streams, rooms for your imaginary friends, imaginary friends of room feeds, and so on. The FriendFeed structure is so scalable you can implement ever higher levels of categories and get as fine-tuned as you want.
  2. Technorati‘s Connected Pings From Favorites – A lot of people bag on Technorati, but look at it this way: they ping so you don’t have to. Set up an account just for this purpose, and favorite the blogs you want to follow. When they ping, you will get an update. The reason this is better than just subscribing to their feed is that you will be able to see the pingbacks and favoriting from connecting blogs, which allows you to expand your interaction with the blogosphere in incremental steps rather than huge numbers of new posts to read. Part of managing your flow of data is making new information come in bite-size chunks, and this technique allows for that.
  3. Focus Your Attention – Pick your favorite services based on your needs and temperament, then live there and automate the rest. For example, you can aggregate your friends and follows from less used services like Jaiku and have them stream to an Imaginary Friend in FriendFeed, then just live in FriendFeed and use Ping.fm to post to all your less used accounts. I personally lived primarily in Twitter and FriendFeed before I got into Plurk, and now I live in Plurk, Twitter, and FriendFeed. I use Twhirl to get my updates in nice little bursts and reply to @s and direct messages, and use SocialAddict to scan through everything it carries and to post to Ping.fm. Between that and my feeds, I have no problem staying on top of everything.

Final Word

I hope this helps get the information flow under control for some people. I find that these techniques really help and that I have no problem staying on top of my different connections. As all of friends on my various services can attest, I respond to just about every shout, @, and direct message, am active in conversations on Plurk, Twitter, and FriendFeed, and read and comment on many blogs and sites. I am also working on several other projects and I guest-blog on various sites. My fiance, cats, and clients can also attest that I manage to get my work done and attend to my personal life. I even manage to have some leisure time every once in a while. This level of combination of attitude, aggregation, categorization, and automation is how I do it, and with similar techniques I am sure others can get similar results.

Coming up!

I have gotten some really good feedback on the idea, so I am going to be launching a new blog in the next day or so on social media philosophy. It will cover all of the philosophical angles of social media and the changes it is causing in the way identity, meaning, and knowledge is perceived. My degree is in philosophy and (like most geeks) I was a very good student, so I hope to be able to bring some new ideas to the table. Stay tuned for the launch announcement!

Also, tomorrow (July 28) is my birthday. In lieu of presents, please send traffic! 😆

Ten Steps to Being Everywhere in Social Media

So you want to be everywhere?Social Media Service Logos

I think that to succeed in the social media world, a key concept is social density. I work towards this by constantly looking for new sites and services to maintain a presence on and being active in many different microblogging communities. I also manage to at times have a life and do the writing that pays the bills. I do this by using a few different techniques to streamline my interactions with the virtual world.

Recently I got a comment on this post and realized that it would be helpful to some of my readers to learn how I do this until something better comes along (any venture capitalists reading? :P).

1. Make a profile document

You are going to be entering certain information again and again for awhile. Get used to it, and get used to changing it. You can get a plugin for Firefox called Sxipper that can automate this process and also automate your logins. I very much recommend it.

Make a plain text document (use Notepad) and list the following information:

  1. First name
  2. Last name
  3. Nickname/Username (you won’t always get what you want, be prepared with alternatives)
  4. A single sentence that explains who you are and what you do
  5. A short bio that explains who you are and what you do with no links to your work or other profiles
  6. A slightly longer bio with links to your work or other profiles
  7. An even slightly longer bio that is pretty much your online resume
  8. Address
  9. IM accounts
  10. Main email account
  11. Three interests (separated by commas)
  12. Three musical genres or artists you like (separated by commas)
  13. Three favorite movies (separated by commas)
  14. Three favorite books (separated by commas)
  15. Three to seven tags (simple words or phrases people looking for a person like you might use in a search engine; for example, I commonly use “writer, freelance, social media”) (separated by commas)

2. Make a picture or logo

You will need a pic for many sites. Prepare three versions, one big, one small, one thumbnail.

3. Make accounts pt. 1

Go to the following sites and make accounts:

  1. Friendfeed
  2. Ping.fm
  3. Profilactic

4. Make accounts pt. 2

Go to Friendfeed and look at the different services they have that you can aggregate. Pick at least one site from each of the following categories:

  1. News (if you make just one choose Digg)
  2. Bookmarking (If you make just one choose StumbleUpon)
  3. Microblogging (if you make just one choose Twitter)
  4. Pictures (if you make just one choose Flickr)
  5. Social Profile (if you make just one choose Facebook)
  6. Business Profile (if you make just one choose LinkedIn)
  7. Music (if you make just one choose Last.fm)
  8. Video (if you make just one choose YouTube)
  9. Commenting (if you make just one choose Disqus)

5. Make accounts pt. 3

Go to Ping.fm. and there will be a list of services to which you can post updates. Go find each and every one of them except the blogs and make an account. That’s right. Every single one. Fill them out completely.

6. Aggregate your accounts

Go to your Friendfeed, Profilactic, and Ping.fm accounts and connect up all of your accounts. Make sure to put a feed from all your blogs on the lifestreams.

7. Downloads

Download and install:

  1. Adobe Air
  2. SocialAddict
  3. Twhirl

8. Use

Use SocialAddict to connect to Ping.fm. Use it for all normal microblogging. Use Twhirl to connect to your FriendFeed and Twitter accounts. You will then get updates from everyone you follow on both services and be able to interact with each service. Either put your Profilactic badge and lifestream on your blog or point people at them in your profiles so people can see what services you use. (The reason to use Profilactic is because it will aggregate services FriendFeed doesn’t).

9. Network

Use the search function on FriendFreed to find rooms and people you are interested in and follow them. Go to their profiles and add them on whatever you share in common. Some will add you, some will not. Get used to it. Do this at least once a week.

10. Be social!

Now use the service you have accounts with. When you read a post you like, submit it to news sites or vote for them. Peruse the news and bookmarks sites to find things you like and vote for them. Listen to music on your music site and favorite or scrobble or whatever the process is. Favorite your favorite videos. Comment on blogs. Live your online life in this social way. And most importantly, use the microbloggers.

Final words

This guide is tentative. The method is not as clean and easy as I would like, and the technologies and services offered change far too quickly for any guide to be definitive. Nonetheless, this is what I do, and I hope it helps at least the reader who asked the original question.

If you have any tips on further streamlining this process, please share! If you have any other similar questions, ask away and it might lead into a new post like this one!

Good luck and remember to be social!

Update:

I was reminded by Pamir of another great service that allows you to aggregate your services and create a dynamic online business card called Retaggr. Even though I have an account with them, I had completely forgotten about how useful it is. See, this why we need to be as social as possible: none of us can know everything or do everything, but working together we can succeed as if we do, and that is all that matters.

Update 2:

It occurs to me that a lot of people would like a Google link for searching for FriendFeed rooms. I got this from Andy Beard here so if you like it, give him some positive feedback.

Thanks for all the great comments and questions, everyone! Keep ’em coming!

Update 3:

Unless you are aching to be on every possible site, you can safely ignore my earlier advice about Profilactic and use FriendFeed for all your lifestreaming services. In the time since I wrote this post, FriendFeed has come leaps and bounds while Profilactic (sadly) has not. Sorry, Profilactic team, but I have to recommend the right tools for the job, and FriendFeed has most assuredly become the best tool.

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The Value of Networking: The Aftermath of the ProBlogger Love-In

Business PartyYesterday I blogged on Darren Rowse’s “Social Media Love-In” over at Problogger. In the aftermath of a few hours of clicking, I have a massive number of new social media connections in every field remotely related to mine.

Now, I thought about this because I remember the business culture of the 1970s and 1980s. I remember the notion of “networking parties” where a whole bunch of people in a given field would get together, attempt to drink and have fun, and furiously exchange business cards. Then they would go back to their offices the next day and give the stacks of cards to their secretaries, who would then file them. These parties would have about 50 people and be of a single field.

Let’s compare that to yesterday, where we had hundreds of people (if not thousands at this point, I haven’t gone back…my clicking finger is numb!) from related, but not the same fields, able to interact through social media systems that keep them sorted and searchable with no secretary or overhead. I made connections with people who span every part of what I do. I met people to get hired by, hire, start new projects with, make friends with, and learn from, all in the space of a few hours. All for the price of an internet connection and some clicking. We just have to do this again!

This is the power of social media. When it comes to building your writing career in new media, an opportunity like this can’t be passed up. Head over to Problogger and get in on the social media love, and you won’t regret it.

Who else made great connections from the love-in? Share some of your social media love stories for us!

“Plurk” is the new “smurf”!

Plurk SignupI like Plurk.com. I have completely moved to it from Twitter, though I am still on Twitter thanks to Ping.fm. One of the things I have noticed is that, as opposed to twitter’s verb, “tweet”, which has a specific meaning and is used in a practical way, the word “plurk” is becoming the equivalent of “smurf” a fun-to-say, all purpose word that can mean just about any verb or adjective.

I am in favor of this, because it is absurd and I enjoy absurdity.

To that end, I have attempted to collect what I have seen of our new plurktabulous vocabulary:

to plurk – to login and start following your plurks for the day, to post a plurk, to hang out on plurk, and generally spend too much time having conversations on plurk

plurky – good, fun, silly, and all things pertaining to plurk

plurktastic – fantastically plurky

plurktabulous – fabulously plurky

ROFLplurk – a plurk that made you…well, ROFL

deplurk – to close the window and stop following your plurks

drive-by plurking – to quickly plurk once and then deplurk

guilty plurking – plurking when you should be doing something useful

plurking in privates – having a private conversation in plurk, or naughty plurking

morning plurks – a flurry of plurks that come when each timezone wakes up

plurkstorm – a huge amount of plurks on the same subject (new iPhone, anyone?)

attention plurking – talking about how sad, lonely, otherwise emo you are

This was all I was able to come up with at the moment, but I’m sure there are more for others to contribute. Feel free to add me at thePuckPlurks, and have a plurktastic day!

Web Presence: Profiles, Lifestreaming, and Microblogging for the Freelance Writer

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of...Image via Wikipedia

So, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a microblogging and lifestreaming fan. Like many of us who live our lives online, I want to be able to connect all the various social networking, semantic web, and bookmarking services I use. One of my goals as a modern netizen (I have never liked that term, we need something else) is transparency, and if you are serious about making money on your blog, making money writing online, and being a part of this new stage in human evolution, then it should be your goal too.

Total Transparency

The general trend in the web is towards what is sometimes being called “Web 3.0” or the “semantic web” is towards a distributed form of identity that has touchpoints all over the web that allows individuals and groups to share information, make social and business connections, and promote themselves. The primary thing to understand about the new web, and hence the new media for us writer types, is that it is bottom up and it is personal…people care about what other people care about.

Web Presence

Back in the early days of personal computing, a new genre of science-fiction came out: cyberpunk. It envisioned a dystopian world of transnational mega-corporations who essentially ruled the world and a class of information pirates and activists who were trying to claim the new technologies for themselves. They did all of this through cyberspace, a distributed system of computerized exchanges where information was the only currency. Sound familiar?

In these stories, people “jack in” to cyberspace and interact with a virtual reality. They take on an avatar, a virtual manifestation of themselves, that would interact with cyberspace and others in it. This is web presence. You exist in the net in different way than you do in the physical world. Here you are a series of touchpoints, points of web presence, and that is where social bookmarking sites, blogs and other forms of the semantic web come into play. They are touchpoints of web presence.

Profiles

The first form of web presence, profiles, are now well-known. Sites like Facebook and MySpace allow for nodes of web presence in the net, places where your different touchpoints come together to make a picture of a person. People get led to these nodes by places like social bookmarking sites, forum postings, blogs, microblogs, and lifestreams.

Lifestreaming

Lifestreaming is the process of aggregating all of your points of web presence into a single web presence. This stream is, in a sense, you. The more accurate this stream is, the more “transparent” it is, and the more points of web presence you have, the “denser” it is.

Microblogging

Microblogging services such as Twitter and Plurk allow for a different form of presence than normal blogs. They allow for a connected and distributed form of personal exchange which is incredibly dense. A serious microblogger can tweet or plurk their whole day.

Web Presence and the New Media

Writers who exist and work primarily online are said to be in the “new media”. That means me, and if you are reading this site, that probably means you, too. We exist in a different way from writers in the past. Gone are the days of huddling over a typewriter penning the Great American Novel in isolation…now we are connected and working together in a way never possible before. This is an incredible opportunity for writers, because like no other field of work, we traffic in information. By having a properly dense web presence, we are constantly advertising our skills, creativity, and interests to other who might want to hire our services. To be completely mercenary (hey, even great writers need to eat) about it: for writers, web presence is ongoing advertising to everyone and anyone who might care about what you have to say.

The simple fact is that most of the world is on the internet now, the internet is mostly text, and most people can’t write. That means that writers are in high demand. People keep telling me there is a recession on, while I am swimming in work and offers for more work. I get that work not just because I am a writer, but because I am writer with a web presence.

For the Artiste

A properly dense and transparent web presence will not only allow for profit, but will allow for connections with other writers and people who can collaborate with you. If you are dead set on writing the “Great Internet Novel”, having a dense and transparent web presence will allow you to connect with the people who want to do the same. Writer’s communities like Sunoasis are springing up all over the place and are based on the same social networking principles as the rest of the semantic web.

Conclusion

If you want to write online and succeed in the new media, then it is necessary to understand and utilize the concept of web presence. If you want the work, build up your presence and make it both dense and transparent. If you build it, they will come.

Stay tuned!

Next post will contain a review of two new next-generation web presence applications, Profilactic and Ping.fm, as well as an Adobe Air Application called SocialAddict that brings it all together in a convenient IM like interface. Shoot me a message if you would like a Ping.fm beta key.

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Twitter as Social Aggregator and Lifestreamer

Make Twitter Your Social Aggregator: Create An Extended Profile

I am a big fan of Twitter, and until now I have been living with FriendFeed, which doesn’t really meet all my needs, for a lifestreaming service. I am going to be trying out this template for making an extended Twitter profile I found at Mashable (of which I am also a big fan). I will present my findings. Hopefully, this will finally solve my lifestreaming issues.

Also: stay tuned for more changes in the website!