If you ignore them, they won’t go away, they’ll take over

I am so sick of Sarah Palin.  She is a dimwitted fool who holds no political office.  She is a racist, a bigot and completely insulting to those feminists who actually know what that term means.  I have often thought, with regard to the excessive piling on that the left does at Ms. Palin’s expense, why bother?  Why give her any more attention?  That’s exactly what she wants.  Just don’t pay any attention to her and that will be the end of it.

But one could say the same thing about Facebook – why complain?  You don’t like it, just leave it alone.  But if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you know that I’m not inclined to leave it alone.  There are too many people on Facebook.  It has achieved a firm foothold, like a tick that is dug in deep, and ignoring it can lead to dire consequences.

After the absurdity of Ms. Palin’s own tweets over the past few days, I feel that the same is true.  We ignore her and her ignorance at our peril.  These two pearls confirm it.  Talkingpointsmemo has the complete analysis, but the two key points are that (1) any Muslim who wants the mosque near ground zero is not peaceful, and (2) refudiate is obviously not a word.  Whoever among her handlers that is allowing this woman to use twitter should be fired.  But, like any experienced tweeter, Palin deleted the above, but rather than admit she did anything wrong, we got the following.

I want to know which works of Shakespeare this woman has read, that she would compare herself to the greatest writer the English language has yet known.  And please, gentle ex-governor, do tell which words the bard made up, so that we might learn from you ample knowledge.

But when I read about young Ryan Murdough, running for political office in New Hampshire, I realize there is good reason to worry about ignorance and hatred.  If there is no effort to make note of these frightening politicians, their influence will spread unchecked.

So, on I rant.

Tumblr makes me want to be a better blogger

My recent update (I can’t call it a redesign, since I didn’t really design anything) to the WordPress site makes me happy.  It doesn’t have the clean look of the old MPomy.com, but it makes use of a lot of the new gadgets that can easily be implemented onto the WordPress platform.  So, yay!

But content is a different story.  All the beautiful widgets and plugins don’t add up to squat if the content sucks.  My personal blogging history has been up and down and up and down.  Usually, some new technical toy or fancy application tends to drive my desire to supply more content.  That’s where Tumblr comes in.  It has taken the interface and sociality of Twitter and packed it (tightly) into a lightweight blogging app.  You can post pretty much anything and the ‘pages’ can be modified quickly to give the user a personalized look.  Like WordPress, it’s kind of up to the user to determine who deeply this personalization can get.  Out-of-the box themes are available, but code can be accessed for infinite variety.  And all the posting on Tumblr goes through a really slick interface that is fast, intuitive and easy.  So the use can very easily post a picture, text, quote, music, whatever.

But the social aspect is, perhaps, what I like the best.  Just as with Twitter, you have a stream of other users that you ‘follow’ on your dashboard or home page.  This includes all of your posts and any posts created by those you ‘follow.’  Then, as with Blip.fm, there is a currency that promotes more use and more connections – ‘Tumbularity’.  You can use Tumblr just like Blogger or even WordPress and not give a rat’s ass about Tumbularity, but if you get sucked in, you will be rewarded for getting other users to follow you and reblog (like retweeting) your posts.  There is also a ‘like’ button, which is a nice borrow from Facebook.

Just as with Twitter, the feed can quickly get out of hand and I’ve had to get used to yet another flood of information.  The desired skill is filtering.  Tumblr doesn’t have a list feature, but if it continues to expand, that may be something that would be useful.  Currently, I follow 31 other users and it’s a very manageable flow of information.

Other stuff about Tumblr that has caught my interest: cross-posting is pretty easy to set up; Android and iPhone have nice apps, although the Android piece needs a little more work; the demographics I have discovered so far are a bit younger and more introspective.  I haven’t found any news or activist feeds yet.  I think it’s a bit more of a vanity project (even though it aggregates so easily) and it would be a bit unnecessary for a journalist to set up a Tumblr feed.

So, after using Tumblr for a few weeks, I’m inclined to bring some of the more impulsive habits to bear on my WordPress blogging.

Hello, Brizzly. You seem to work just fine.

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Starting to mess around with Brizzly a bit.  I’ve never loved Tweetdeck, mainly because it’s a pain in the neck ti have another application to sift through on the desktop.  I had tried widgets and just depending on the actual twitter page, but the beauty of twitter is that it’s not about the page.  Indeed, the functionality of  Tweetdeck, running Adobe Air, is far beyond what can be done on the so-called twitter page.

So, he cool thing about Brizzly is that it’s not a separate application – it’s a webpage, reminiscent of a super-dumbed-down Facebook page.  Still no ads.  Very easy group management, including new group formation and simple add/remove options for all ‘friends’.

But the Twitter page stuff is here too, but enhanced.  Trends each have their own ‘why’ function – which is actually now available at your Twitter page.  But a Twitter page does not have built-in instant messaging that even allows for a Google-chat style conversation.

Brizzly has a way to go.  There is no customization of the user’s home page and you can’t access a list of your followers or who you are following.  That wouldn’t be such a problem if you could get to a Twitter page in another browser tab, but you can’t.  It seems that working in Brizzly locks you out.  That’s a big difference compared to something like Blip.fm, where you can have several windows open at once.  I realize that’s all within one web app, so maybe the issue is on Twitter’s end, but it’s no problem to have a Twitter page and Tweetdeck open at the same time.

One other early impression is that the group management system is nice and simple, but doesn’t go far enough.  I would like to be able to highlight certain groups (as I can now) but also exclude certain groups, basically a filter that lets me save values.

In following certain Blip.fm DJs on Twitter (which is highly recommended) I notice that my ‘in-box’ is almost always full.  I imagine others who follow several thousand accounts must exponentially larger problems.  The answer is to be able to make a defined group or set of groups disappear with the click of a link.  Allowing the user to see only the most important messages.

You can do this now if you think about your Twitter in-box in groups or categories whose importance is arranged from top down.  But that’s not how I classify the accounts that I follow.  There are music feeds, news feeds, personal friends and family members, people I follow from Blip and random follows that I have had interest in along the way.  It’s easier for me to group out things that I don’t want to look at.

But all this may be part of the premium service that is being offered to help convince Twitter’s high clientele that they should pay huge sums for monthly service.

So, Brizzly is nice.  I;ve only just started messing with it, but I’m impressed by the  interface.  Photos and videos are embedded right in the timeline – which is terrific to look at.  I’d like to see a built-in bt.ly resource, or something like it.  Tweetdeck’s automatic service is really nice.  But photo upload is just the same and it seems to work just as well.  And the ‘mute’ button is helpful for temporarily suppressing the tweets from a particular user.

Best thing to do is play with it for a while.  See if (maybe) more features come along.  See if (when) another interface by a competitor comes along.

Time to come clean about my new addiction – Blip.fm

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The idea of social networking mixed with music is something I’ve been doing since before the Internet existed.  In high school and college, I often made connections with people based solely on a shared love of music.  And then we would start the process of sharing and educating and expanding.  It goes on and on to this day and, hopefully, for the rest of my life.

So the idea of a computer-based social network platforms based around music is a no-brainer.  But I’ve also been a bit slow on the uptake for how these platforms work.  I never had a MySpace page and my troubles with Facebook are well-documented.

Things changed a bit when I got brave enough to start posting on the Progarchives forum.  This was a great idea for (a) wasting time and (b) getting news about prog fast.  I wasn’t looking to make friends and didn’t.  Some of the other posters had a display at the bottom of their posts which showed what they were listening to.  In order to do the same thing, I got an account with Last.fm.  This looked a lot like Facebook, so i dodn’t get into the social aspect – no friending for me.  But at least it cataloged all my listening habits, which I thought was pretty cool.  But there was one more step getting that information integrated with the ‘signature’.  Apparently, I had to join something called Twitter.

So, in March of 2008, I created a Twitter account, solely for the purpose of making images like this one.  Between March of ’08 and June of ’09, I tweeted exactly ten times.  Since then, it’s been about 560.  Suffice to say, I like Twitter.  It’s beautifully disorganized; the users make the rules; there are no ads; and it’s a good syndication tool for blog posts and other important pieces of information.

So this brings me to the recent discovery of Blip.fm.  It’s not perfect.  It has ads (ugh!), it runs slow, the musical selections are surprisingly limited, and the posting of track on my various websites (and Twitter) is not nearly as elegant as what I can do with Grooveshark.  But where as Grooveshark is useful and more comprehensive, Blip.fm is downright fun.

It’s a game.  You’re a DJ and you’re trying to get listeners.  In that regard it’s a bit like Facebook and Twitter with ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, but there is an extra element of silliness at Blip – ‘credits’ and ‘props’.  In addition to seeking listeners, I’m also seeking props.  Other users (DJs) give me props if they like my selection.  I can get credits by getting props (1 = 1) or by getting other DJs to reBlip my selections.  So, I’m looking for artists with similar taste, or with taste I want to learn more about (I’ve discover Chali 2na!), and I’m bouncing around, blipping selections, re-blipping, giving out props, adding listeners to my favorite DJs list and hoping to get added to others.

So far, I’ve connected with some pretty impressive musical tastes and I’ve even accumulated a few props and listeners.  It’s all good fun, and it’s built to look like Twitter, so the interface is pretty easy for me to get started.  I still need to have continuous playing (listen while you search) and an iPhone app and more complete selections (like Grooveshark), but I’m still having a blast.  Wanna see what I been blippin’?

Check it out!

OK – that was a colossal waste of time

The way this theme is set up, the Twitter feed was hard to follow; every time there was a mention or a hashmark, I got one of those gray squares, and it was impossible for the reader to tell where one post began and one post ended.  I decided the answer was a flash-based widget and just auditioned every got damned one out there.  They all suck.  I have temporarily settled with the ‘official’ badge, which looks more like an advertisement – that thing is not staying.

I either have to find a way to monkey around with the code for theme (there is an update, but I’m afraid to loose my customization), or I can go back to the old way, or I can just bag the whole thing.

The Twitter profile does not really serve any useful purpose, other than to give the visitor an idea of how often I update and what kind of garbage gets dumped there.

This idea of broadcasting updates is going to need its own post, as I have been asked again (for the first time in a while, actually) why I am not on FaceBook.  The short version is that there is no ‘good’ answer – but more on that later.

Tonight Em and I consoled each other after a Phillies loss with a classic episode of The X-Files – Jose Ching, of course!

The Blame Game

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I guess it started this spring, when Andrew Olanoff was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Well, he’s a Philly guy with plenty of attytood, so he started to lay the rap on cancer for everything, inventing the ubiquitous Twitter hashmark #blamedrewscancer.  Needless to say, it caught on, as it’s f-ing brilliant.  Today was the Blame-a-thon: a 24-hour party at the North Star Bar with co-sponsorship by Taco Bell who sent the taco truck to serve chow to the revelers.  There was also an auction every hour for those tweeting and blaming.  If you follow my Twitter feed, I blamed quite a few things on Drews cancer today.  Strangely enough, I was the winner of the most bizarre prize of the day – a $99 at-home DNA test.  Hey, how about a nice t-shirt or something?!

Anyway, it was incredibly fun Getting swept up in the blame-a-thon.  Everything was the faultof Drew’s cancer, from the fact that the new iPod touch has no camera, to the loss of loved ones taken by cancer.  Over 12,000 different people got in on the act and all the proceeds (raffle tix were $9 and there a cover charge to see bands and party at the North Star) benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation.   I didn’t make it to the party (busy listening to Obama’s speech), but based on the tweet, there was a lot of fun had by all – in fact, it’s still going on.

Twitter and #racistpool

I’m happy with recent Twitter integration, but not exactly thrilled with how it has come about.  If you don’t already know about the latest shame of the city, here’s an excellent video posted on Philebrity, and The Inquirer has more conventional coveragePhilebrity tracked the progress of the story as it spread outside of the local interest by, in part, reviewing the comments posted on Twitter.  So, as I watched the story spread over the course of the day, I saw how people communicated, a little bit of how the @ and # symbols are used, and how a story can spread exponentially.

Currently, I’m tracking (not the pool story, but) lots of Phillies stuff, some music stuff, a few friends and some political things.  It’s a little like the Google Reader, but I’m able to tolerate higher volume because the content is so light – the fabled 140 characters.  With Google Reader, it’s hard not to get sucked in.  Even if the site’s feed is abbreviated, I still can’t help but wonder what I’m missing.  With Twitter, I’m actually seeing the whole thing, because that’s all there is.

I’m afraid of Twitter

AND, I don’t understand all the functionality.  But that’s not the only reason for my fear.  I have the Facebook-style fear of being hounded by those I don’t know or don’t want to know.  As far as functionality, I’ve had a Twitter account for some time.  I only got it because I wanted to ‘paste my taste’ with Progfreak.com.  It’s supposed to be a place for rating music, but I gave up on that pretty quick.  What I really wanted was to show off what I had been listening to.  Somehow Twitter picked up info coming off last.fm and generated this:

I have no idea how that works, but it does work.

I’m now interested in getting and giving ‘updates’, as I see the way those 140 characters have insinuated themselves into mainstream communication.  And it’s simple and clean, unlike Facebook, which I find complex and annoying.  I think I understand what the ‘@’ is for, but I still don’t understand ‘#’.  I also don’t understand what other things I might be able to do, beyond just making asinine comments and reading other people’s updates.