A troubling realization about my personal digital infrastructure

I just realized this afternoon that Slideshare is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

I suppose that should tell me something, that a platform that was so critical to my professional and career growth from 2007-2014 manages to dry up and blow away, and I didn’t even notice. I loved Slideshare back in the day. At first, it was a strictly utilitarian tool for me – I needed to share my PowerPoints with hundreds of students each semester under my terms, in a time where the LMS was just Horrid and Unusable, and I was committed to using Web 2.0 and social media tools for learning.

And then something glorious happened. The Presentation Zen/Slideology movement took off, and Slideshare became a great place to learn, share my work and network with other people. It was a lot of fun for slideware junkies like myself.

But from 2015-today, I hadn’t really had much need for it. The Wild West digital infrastructure I’d built for myself had decayed in the years since I left teaching. Wikispaces, Flickr, PBWorks, Slideshare and a dozen other sites all just sort of…decayed. And I had been too busy to notice.

Not to mention that Social Media has largely become a sewer. Twitter, which was so important to me for so many years (I joined in 2007), is almost unusable today. Facebook? Don’t even get me started. Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. All fairly quiet, except for the noise of self-promotion these days. Instagram is really the only service that keeps my attention anymore.

Other people I respect have had things to say about this recently.

  • M.G. Siegler: “My mindset about these networks these days is almost the opposite. In no way should you share the “real” you in these places. I’m not saying you should quit them — though for some people, that’s undoubtedly healthy — but instead you should use them with the full understanding of what they are: tools. You should go in knowing what you’re trying to get out of them. Maybe it’s news. Maybe it’s jokes. Maybe it’s promotion. Etc. But again, the one thing I don’t think you should be looking to do there is to put your actual life on display. There are just too many downsides to this.”
  • Anil Dash recently shared why and how he decided to unfollow everyone on Twitter. I’ve done a dramatic unfollowing on Twitter and started relying much more heavily on Lists. But, I’ll admit – I’ve been sorely tempted to start over with a new, professionally focused account and delete my original one.
  • Warren Ellis has been talking a lot about his changing approach to social media on his Orbital Operations newsletter the last 6 months or so. Warren was once Internet Jesus, seemingly everywhere online. Now, he keeps things much quieter, dipping in only when he needs to for work/promotional purposes.

So it struck me today: it’s time to start over. What got me here won’t get me there. What do I most enjoy these days? Newsletters, podcasts, artisanal blogging. Quieter, more intimate, more fulfilling. So, I’ll stretch and try some new things. Other channels, even long-standing ones, will likely be let go. It’s past time really.

Looking forward to what’s next.

Fragmented Blogging

This isn’t another one of those “Sorry for Not Blogging” posts.

I’m working out the editorial calendar for the next phase of this blog, where I intend to do a bit more long-form writing in support of my current research project. Hence, I’ve been a little less active until I work out my writing calendar.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow my ramblings elsewhere on the Interwubs. Here’s where else you can find me right now:

http://twitter.com/ricetopher – my Twitter feed: brainleaks at 140 characters per post. Posting thoughts and interesting links on a daily basis. I’m also beginning to migrate over to http://identi.ca/ricetopher (Identi.ca – an Open Source, Creative Commons alternative to Twitter) for this purpose, as Twitter is proving that it probably won’t be able to get over the hump and achieve reliability.

http://ricetopher.tumblr.com – my research/scrapbook tumblelog. I’m posting quotes, videos, pics, short comments there on a regular basis now because it’s so damn easy. A more multimedia look into my brain.

http://del.icio.us/ricetopher – my online bookmarks. I keep all my bookmarks online now, so if you want to catch what I’m saving for later reference, look over there. Also, my Google Reader Shared Items page is at https://www.google.com/reader/shared/05641067023515274229, if you want to see the items I want to share quickly out of my feed reader. Note: the Del.icio.us and Reader pages do not always overlap in terms of items.

I’m also logging into Second Life a bit more lately, as I begin to prep for two SL-heavy courses in the Spring 2009 semester. You can find me in-world as Ricetopher Freenote.

So there, that ought to be the bulk of it, for now. If you have any other suggestions for other services I should be publishing to, let me know.

Long-form blogging and other announcements will resume here shortly. Thanks for stopping by!

The Realities of Being a Writer in the Age of New Media

As always, Tony Pierce is the man. Here’s what he had to say to a group of young aspiring Journalists the other day (straight from the legendary BusBlog):

i said you might come into the office and they look at you and say, can you make it to LAX to interview the CEO of Virgin and review the Donnas playing right there in the terminal and do it with a flute of bubbly in your hand, and can you speed back to the office and write about something else, and help fix this person’s HTML and help fix Typepad, and help resize photos in a web based photo application thats not Photoshop and can you handle it all before it gets dark?


i said write when you come home from the club drunk. i said write when youre sad cuz your dude just broke yr heart. i said write when youre mad write when your glad write when you believe you dont have shit to say. all of thats practice. all of that is so that you can knock out one piece after another when youre getting paid to do it. but you hafta do it when youre young. cuz if you cant do it when youre young you will make up some lameass bullshit when youre not young and then you’ll realize you probably werent a writer in the first place.

I fucking love Tony. He lays out in better language than I could why I try so hard to get my students to blog, to use Ning and Wikis, to do journals about their Second Life experiences. You need to learn to use the tools, because as Tony points out, being a writer is more than just sitting down at the typewriter, like some romantic vision of Hemingway. Today, to bring it, you’ve got to have all sorts of mad web skills. Tony knows. He’s doing one hell of a job revitalizing the LA Times (and he has my eternal thanks for bringing me the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Blog). And this is why I try to get my students to write more, even when its on “frivolous” projects like Ning or short blogging assignments. Work on writing, honestly, the small stuff now. Learn the tools. Then with hard work, persistence and some luck, you can make a go of it. Just like my man Tony.

Now get out there and blog you bums!

Microblogging: Scoble Show Interviews Jaiku Founders

As many of you are aware, I’ve been interested in the various uses for blogging in an academic setting, and have experimented with a variety of platforms for this (I’m looking into using Vox for a social blogging experiement in a political theory class this fall, and probably WordPress.com for a groupblogging project in a Kentucky Politics class).

One thing that has really caught my attention over the last month or so is the growth of microblogging: short messages (often as short as 150 characters or so) that are shared socially through one’s network. Twittr has been the darling of this model of blogging since the SXSW explosion earlier this year, but other services – such as Pownce (where’s my invitation! I wants it, my preciousss!) and Jaiku – have emerged as potential alternatives.

As part of my own research on this, I ran across this interview with the co-founders of Jaiku on Podtech.com’s Scoble Show. If you know of any similar interviews with the Twittr or Pownce (the invitation, my Preciousss!) folks, please send it on to me. Thanks!

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/07/PID_011808/Podtech_Jaiku.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/3511/microblogging-comes-of-age-with-jaiku            &totalTime=2254000&breadcrumb=4f60f20ce9bf41079374b31cb9b3d904]

Open Left and other progressive blogs

I just wanted to give a shout-out to a new Progressive blog, Open Left. Open Left was started by Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller, formerly of MyDD. According to Chris and Matt, they left MyDD to start a site that would be focused less on party politics and elections, and more on building a broad progressive movement and , eventually, governing majority. Chris wrote an excellent article on the site here. I highly recommend the site for daily reading. It’s become one of my must-read feeds over the last week or so.

I’ve grown really bored with a lot of progressive and liberal blogs recently. Daily Kos, frankly, bores the hell out of me, and when Bill O’Reilly decides to take you on, you know that you’re not really subversive or relevant anymore. Bill only takes on the easy targets. Daily Kos, as a site, feels kind of fat, lazy and upper middle-class right now. I also get the feeling that Kos is spending more time on the new sports blogs network than Daily Kos itself. but, hey, that’s his prerogative, and I’m sure as hell not going to begrudge him the money.

I enjoy Eschaton regularly, but I sometimes feel as if Duncan has grown bored with it all. I don’t want to piss him off by suggesting what he should write about (one of his big peeves – about which, generally, he is Very Correct), but I just don’t feel the energy there. Huffington Post is nice, as is the increasingly excellent Talking Points Memo, but they just don’t feel very, well…bloggy. They’re Official News Sites now. Firedoglake is really exciting right now, and Digby’s Hullabaloo is always great for the commentary. But Open Left, as a combo activism and blog site…well, it just really grabs me right now.

Maybe I’m just picky, but I feel like it’s time for Progressive Blogosphere 2.0, with fresh names and approaches.

I’ll blog about Kentucky politics blogs tomorrow. Then I’ll really feel like hanging myself. Come back, Mark Nickolas, come back!