Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Mom asked me, "Why haven't you run the photo of Kayla's son?" That's Common Ills community member Kayla's son Brian. He was born last week.

Why haven't I run the picture? C.I. was going to wait and run it on Thanksgiving and I figured I'd wait and run it the day after. Rebecca ran it Sunday morning when C.I. couldn't get it to post at The Common Ills. To post pictures not online, Rebecca, C.I. and Third Estate Sunday Review use this program called Hello. That's how C.I. posts Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts.

The Third Estate Sunday Review ran an article and wanted the photo in it, not above it or below it. To have it in an entry, you need to be using a photo already online. C.I. kept getting error messages from Hello (which is why Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts didn't go up until Monday morning). So Rebecca tried and after a few error messages, finally got it up at her site. Then it was able to be put inside the article The Third Estate Sunday Review ran.

Elaine ran the photo in a post at her site on Monday and Rebecca reran it then too.

Mom wasn't concerned about C.I. She figured it would go up at The Common Ills and that the Ted Koppel thing had C.I. running behind as well as the holidays. But in terms of me and Mike and Cedric, I heard about it.

Mom said, "What is with you three guys? You're too 'manly' to post a photo of a baby?"

I laughed and pointed out that Kat and Betty hadn't posted it either.

But so Mom won't think that I think I'm too "manly" to run a photo of a baby, there it is.

Cedric posted yesterday and he did a great post but I think he was just trying to get it up and be done with it and sometimes you try to put a photo in these things and it's nothing but problems.
Like in the article for The Third Estate Sunday Review, Brian's photo runs three times in a row.
They only inserted it once. Sometimes you can play with inserting a photo over and over before you can get it to show up.

What's the point of all this?

Well a lot of times when I'd read The Common Ills and the other community sites, I'd see something and wonder about it. Like when Isaiah's comic didn't go up Sunday, if I wasn't there helping with Third Estate Sunday Review, I might have thought, "Is Isaiah sick?" or "Did Isaiah do a comic that's been censored?" or "Is something wrong with my computer?"

Or maybe I also wouldn't get why a typo wouldn't be corrected. C.I. will correct a name that's spelled wrong but otherwise doesn't care. Beth's offered her opinion in her columns that she thinks C.I. makes a typo or two intentionally to keep that "do-it-yourself flavor."

I don't care about typos as long as I can understand what someone's saying.

But doing The Daily Jot I really get that time is limited. And like Jim always says about typos at The Third Estate Sunday Review, if we make a mistake, we do a correction, if we make a typo tough crap. He feels that way because you don't see a newspaper running corrections on typos and they make them too.

But doing The Daily Jot, I'm a seasoned pro now with a month under my belt ha ha, I see that you have to think about what you're going to say, then you have to write it and then you have to make sure you like it. All of that is probably obvious. Then comes hitting the "publish post" button. And sometimes Blogger, the program we all use, takes the post right away. Sometimes it takes a few minutes. You're not done then though. You need to "republish index" and "republish blog" which are two more buttons you have to click on. If you don't do both, your latest post might not show up when people pull up your site.

I usually go fairly quick. But to "republish blog" for C.I. takes around ten minutes.

Rebecca's asked everyone to do tags. Technorati doesn't read my tags or my site but I keep tagging. It doesn't take me too much time. I usually cheat and copy the tags from a post by C.I. or Mike or Kat. But if you've got a lot of stuff in, like C.I. usually does, it takes awhile to get those tags in.

And like yesterday morning, C.I. posted the thing on Ted Koppel. That was tagged. But it didn't show up at Technorati searches. So C.I. had to keep "republishing blog" over and over and estimates it probably took an hour of time to keep doing that throughout the day.

So my point is that if you do several posts a day and go through all that crap (Jim calls tagging crap), there's not all this time some people might think there is.

And there's a bigger point that I'm getting too. I got an e-mail about my blogging yesterday. The guy was nice and I won't name him because I disagree with his e-mail. He said he was afraid I was getting lazy like some other bloggers that don't blog regular. It's a lot of work sometimes. Like if Rebecca's doing an entry with a lot of links, she has to hunt down everyone of those and that takes a great deal of time.

I do a "jot." This is my entry for today and tomorrow so it's longer and consider it my holiday entry to so it's probably going to be the longest thing I'll do at my blog.

I'm the newest of the community bloggers so I wanted to talk about what I've learned. Mike and everyone else is good about helping me out when I don't know how to do something and talking me though the technical aspect. But I know sometimes they have to think about it because it's something they've been doing so long that they've forgotten the mechanics of it because it's natural to them now.

So if someone in the community or outside is thinking about starting a site, I feel like I might have something to say there.

Here's my list of things I've learned.

1) Typos won't be avoided. That's true even if you use the spell check. If you mean "too" but type "to" the spell check won't catch it. Accept that typos will happen (and Jim would point out that they happen in newspapers all the time).

2) You want perfection. That's fine if you're going to do one entry a month. If you're going to try to blog regularly, you need to remember Kat's motto: "It is what it is." Depending upon your level of perfectionism, you may never be satisfied. If you have people reading, they're waiting for new content.

If you subscribe to a paper, Mom subscribes to three, think about it like that. You've got your coffee brewing and you're waiting for the paper. You don't want to wait and wait. You want it to be there. You can obsess on your end but on the other end, people are waiting. So if you're a big perfectionist, you may never be pleased.

Ava and C.I. aren't perfectionists in terms of spelling. They could care less. And Ava points to studies where people recognize the word if it has the letters or most of them in it. But they would love to have more time to do their TV reviews. Not for spelling but to make their points and to polish. They usually have about 20 minutes to write those reviews. They're great reviews. (And check out their latest review which is on Commander-in-Chief.) But they don't go back and reread them.

I can't believe that because the reviews are so damn funny. If I have time to play on the net, at least once a week, I'll read one of their reviews. "Make Room For Bully" and "Threshold" and "Prison Break" are probably my three favorites.

But it's true. They loathe those reviews. They can tell you the points they're making but they can't quote from the reviews. Now everybody else can and will when we're all working on The Third Estate Sunday Review. But they get those things done and just want to never look at them again.

Betty is that plus spelling. She is as much a perfectionist about how she says it but she also cares about spelling. And Betty has about thirty minutes to an hour most nights after she gets her kids to bed that she can work on her posts. She works on the same post over and over trying to make it say just what she wants. And she does one post a week. She wishes she did more and is trying to figure out some sort of a balance. Today she'll be blogging with an entry that she's going to try to spend no more than an hour on.

So you need to think about what level of perfectionism you want.

3) Why are you blogging?

C.I. turns down interview requests. And there was one that Jess was talking about, but wouldn't name, that came in Friday and Jess saw it when he was helping with the mail. (Jess and Ava both help C.I. with the e-mails.)

Not everyone would turn down interview requests.

If you're doing it to get famous or make money, chances are it won't happen.

The internet has already developed their star systems and few will probably break through. (C.I.'s broken through - Jim, Dona and my opinion and I'll talk about that on another thing.)
If you're looking for fame and riches, you're probably going to be blogging in vain.

The smartest thing to do is figure out what you want to do before you start.

If you're just trying to have a conversation with people who might be interested, you're probably going to be happier than you would be doing it for any other reason.

4) There are no rules.

A supposed still indymedia-er angered the indymedia community with a trashing indymedia article that ran in LiP magazine and then got distributed online by a non-indymedia organization.

You'll read a lot of people telling you what to do. Don't listen.

Write what you want, the way you want, and make it true to you.

That's how it will reach anyone (even if it's just one person). A lot of people forget that and you go to their sites and just yawn.

They're all trying to copy the big dogs and trying to cover the same hot topic and they've got nothing to offer that you can't find somewhere else.

Rebecca's stayed true to herself and built up quite a following. If I go to any of the community sites, I get a unique voice. They're all of the left because it's a community for the left. But they'll look at something in their own way. You can see that with Elaine and Mike's posts where they'l work out which two headlines from Democracy Now! to note each day and they'll both have a left opinion but they'll both notice something different in their comments.

Jim's had a hard time accepting that C.I.'s going to do things the way C.I. wants. Gina and Krista argue that C.I.'s style at The Common Ills is "a private convesation taking place in public." That means C.I. may be noting something to members instead of working on the "big lead" at the top of an entry. Members love that. Jim's always wanting more recognition for The Common Ills and will argue that an entry should have started four paragraphs down, without comments that are to members.

But as interview requests have come in and Ava and Jess have seen them and as people on Jim's campus have stopped him, people he doesn't really know, to talk about something up at The Common Ills, Jim's grown to realize that the community feel C.I.'s created is more important than journalism rules.

On my campus, I see it too with people who read The Common Ills. They aren't even members but they read it and feel like they've had a conversation. It's casual and it can be funny or pointed but it's not, "Oh no! I had to read the New York Times" or whatever stiff, lifeless thing you might think of.

Stephen Hadley is now in the news re: Plamegate. C.I. wrote a thing this summer that was talking about Hadley's role. There wasn't a lot of attention on that from the "news community" online. But in it, while C.I. was talking you through it, C.I. provided examples. One was using Matt Damon. That led to people seeing it that wouldn't normally. (Mike got e-mails on that and ended up with a reader specifically because the woman came across C.I.'s post as a result of the Matt Damon ref.)

If C.I. was trying to take on that "serious" attitude, many of the people in the community would never have noticed The Common Ills.

When C.I. was on the phone with me helping me set up this site, I kept asking about "the rules" and C.I. said there are none.

I think if you approach it that way, you're better off.

If you're a copy of someone else, you're just a copy. Be you and that's something different.

4) I want to talk about something but no one's talking about it.

Probably somewhere, someone is. They may or may not be talking about it online.

But if it matters to you and you think you can say something about it, do so.

Rebecca's found a huge audience by talking about stuff other people wouldn't think to or wouldn't talk about if they did think about it. C.I.'s led the charge against Dexter Filkins.
Dexter Filkins is becoming a joke. When C.I. first addressed it, C.I. was a lonely voice. For moths after, C.I. was still the only one questioning Dexter's rah-rah Falluja reporting. That's less the case today.

You can be one more person trashing Judy Miller today. To me that's a bit like bringing green bean casserole to a Thanksgiving lunch. Usually you have four to five people bringing that same dish. Everyone playing safe and bringing the same thing.

You don't stand out doing that. You don't look brave doing that.

You look like you're going for the easiest thing.

And now that I'm back at Mom's and catching up with friends, that's one thing I'm hearing over and over. A lot of laughter at the bloggers going after Judy Miller, after she's left the paper. A lot of laughter at the fact that these "brave" voices think she was a solo writer on every piece. My buddy Tomas laughs at four bloggers who are trying to be "big" by joining in the dogpile on Miller but don't know their facts.

5) Are you a blogger or are you trying to be an official voice for the Democratic Party? (If you're a Republican reading this, substitute "Republican Party.")

One of the other big laughs these days is in watching the war cheerleaders on the left try to rewrite history and act like they haven't been advocating "stay the course" nonsense. There's one in particular that's a joke on Mike's campus, on Third's campus and on my campus who lied about Cindy Sheehan when she was camped outside Bully Boy's "ranch" and tried to argue that Cindy Sheehan wasn't for bringing the troops home. The blogger looked like a fool.

The blogger looks like a bigger fool now writing things that try to imply she's always wanted the troops pulled out. She hasn't. She's been the unofficial voice of the Democratic Party. She's followed the party line of "we have to stay!" She kept doing that long after the public wanted the troops home. She only changed her party line when the party started to a little.

Now she's putting up posts acting like she was for this all along.

She wasn't. She was wrapping herself in the flag and insulting people who wanted the troops home now. She was a tool for the party and she's now a joke on campuses.

If you're going to parrot whatever your political party says, you probably don't need to do a blog. Political parties have their own sites.

If you're going to ask the questions that need to be asked and raise the issues that need to be raised, you should probably do a blog.

But if you exist to celebrate your politicians, call it a "fan club" and not a "blog" so people know what to expect.

6) Drop the "I live above it all" tone.

If you're angry, be angry.

Quit trying to prove your maturity. Mature adults are not robots. They have feelings. They may be sad, they may be happy, they may be angry, they may be inspired.

There's a dork who trashed C.I. for writing "Focus on the Fool" in January. That was a post ridiculing the idiot James Dobson. This dork, on the "left", said we had to be fair and welcoming of Dobson. The idiot didn't know what he was talking about. I doubt he'd write the defense of Dobson today.

But back when it was all about pushing the lie of "values voters" dork needed to prove he was with the program. Dork is a dork. Dork will always be a dork.

Dork may as well put on a long dress to go with his school marm "style."

Dork thinks he looks rational and mature. He just reads bo-ring!

Elaine noted she was really depressed on the anniversary of the slaughter of Falluja. She got more response from that than anything else she'd put up prior. Adults have emotions.

People respond to emotions. They don't respond to robotics.

Dork is a robatic.

If you're going to hide your own emotions, don't expect anyone to relate to you or to respond to your writing.

7) When something feels important to you, go with it. Listen to yourself.

When I kept asking for the "rules" from C.I. that first night, C.I. told me a story about how there was an assignment in an English class C.I. took. The person C.I. was living with ripped C.I. off.
"What are you going to write about?" C.I. told. Then the night before the paper is due, the person announces, "I wrote it." C.I.'s response was anger and then to note, "Fine, but it happened to me, not you. I'm writing about it and mine will be better because it happened to me." The person was trying to copy C.I. C.I. ended up with the A and the copy cat ended up with a C.

No one can talk about your life as well as you can because it means something to you. Be yourself and listen to yourself.

That's how C.I. has broken through. That's why Jess and Ava keep reading the interview requests in the e-mails.

Nobody is ever going to e-mail the Dork I talked about earlier and ask for his opinion. That's because you find it at 50 sites with bigger audiences. You be you and you will be noticed in some way. Maybe you'll break through the way C.I. has, maybe you won't. But you will be noticed by some people.

Dork never will. He's a copy of a copy of a big dog net star.

Originals stand out. Copies just make you think of the people they're copying.

So tomorrow's Thanksgiving and I hope everyone who reads this has something to be thankful for.

I'm thankful that despite Hurricane Wilma coming through, we've survived. I'm personally thankful that my family is okay. I'm thankful that we'll be getting together tomorrow for some fantastic food and sharing. I'm thankful that I do have memories of my dad. A lot of people lose a parent much younger than I did and are left with no memories. I can remember Dad and my family's been real good about talking about him and helping to keep him alive. I'm thankful that I lived through the car accident and that my mom did too. I'm thankful that the country has caught on to the Bully Boy even if the big media hasn't. I'm thankful that I have friends who are there for me. I'm thankful that I'm part of a wonderful community that's supportive and really cares.

I'll end with Mike's motto:

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

How long did this entry take? About an hour to write. The links I have above? About an hour and 26 minutes. Now I'll swipe tags from Kat. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'll jot on Friday.