New thoughts on Twitter use

I love Twitter.

I truly love this particular social media property. Twitter is the thing that lets me stay in contact, asynchronously, with my friends and communities. I work weekends and odd schedules, I’m busy, my friends live across the world — Twitter is how I keep in contact.

And yet, I’ve been avoiding Twitter for a few weeks now.

I think it’s clear that something has happened that I was not expecting. Something new to me. There are so many people on Twitter that I want to follow, want to stay in touch with, that I can’t keep up. I have to stop following so many folks.

I’m not particularly pleased with this. I like being up on the conversations that my intelligent friends have with their other intelligent friends, even if I am only slightly acquainted with the other party. I like getting to know people I only see once or twice a year at conventions, I like seeing the shape of their lives. And I like keeping up with local friends I never see. But as interesting as all y’all are, I can’t keep up.

So I’m trimming my follow list on Twitter.

This is kinda weird.

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The uses of social media

I’ve been posting things to Google+, things too long for Twitter. The kinds of things, frankly, I post here in lists. Which is leading me to ponder what to use this blog for.

I think I’d like to use it for longer essays and more reflective pieces. But, frankly, those don’t come about that often. Maybe once a month, if I’m lucky. And blogs that don’t post very often don’t thrive, as it were. Not that I think I have a huge following or anything like that! But I know that SOME people read my blog. And, would they, if the post rate went down to once a month or less, but the kind of thing was longer and more thoughtful essays?

I have to say, I am enjoying posting the little blips of stuff to Google+. There are FAR more people reading that, it seems, and I get little replies from many, many more people. There must be something about the difficulty threshold of Google+ that is significantly lower than on this blog. I mean, if I post a little snippet here about a kid being sick, no-one says anything. I post something there, and three people say something. NOT that I am looking for the comments or feedback on whether M is ill! But it is interesting. Is it that following a blog is done via an rss-reader, and that increases the difficulty threshold of making comments? (You have to click on a link to go to the website.) Is there something psychological, wherein a blog is more “serious” and one doesn’t post minor comments? Is it that a blog feels like someone else’s territory, and Google+ feels like a common, shared space? I’m not sure.

In other news, I killed my Foursquare and LinkedIn accounts this week. I never use them.

One more day to get things done

1. In advance of the Memorial Day rush, we visited the Fort Snelling National Cemetery yesterday and put flowers on J’s father’s grave. I find all cemeteries solemn, but the national ones more so. All those who have served …

2. I got a new phone yesterday! The Nexus S 4G. It’s Google’s personal version of an Android phone, running on Gingerbread. So far I think it’s going to be a contest between how much it CAN do and how badly those capacities eat the battery. We’ll see.

I kept my Palm Pixi, though. If I don’t like the Nokia, I’ll go back to the Pixi. I love that little phone!

J asked me why I was getting a new phone, if I loved my old one. The thing is, I’m not an early adopter of tech, by any means. But I am in the closer second waves. There’s no one specific thing that makes me want the Adroid phone, it’s more an accretion of little bits of information about what the Android can do. After a while, I think, huh, there’s a lot out there I could use.

3. I finished Matterhorn! I won’t by any means finish all the books I wanted to before Wiscon. That’s okay, though. I still feel prepared.

4. I got NONE of the cleaning done yesterday that I wanted. NONE. Instead I ran errands and spent lots of high-quality time with my family. I’ll take that deal, yes please.

New things I am trying

1. I made a paper.li for my Twitter feed — this will aggregate all the links my Twitter-stream posts into a newspaper-style post every 24 hours. I’ll see if I read it.

2. TweetDeck. I am using Lists more and more, so I am trying TweetDeck. So far the new-interface-learning is making me grumpy. I am a creature of DEEP HABIT, and learning to look in a different place on my screen is an irritation to my slight compulsive tendencies.

3. Body of Proof is a new tv show about a medical examiner. As such it combines police shows with hospital shows. And it stars Dana Delany, who I fell half in love with ages ago when she played on China Beach. Also, Jeri Ryan plays Delany’s boss. Also, it is damn nice to see a woman who looks like she’s past 40 as the lead on a drama.

4. This isn’t new, but Wiscon preliminary panel assignments are out. I am very excited about this. A bit.

You don’t even want to know

Last night, while I was helplessly asleep, my sinuses and throat and the extremely dry air all conspired to do …. something really, really gross. Gross enough to wake me at 3:00 a.m., and I was too unnerved to fall back asleep.

So, anyway, I took today off of work. Head colds lead to losing my voice ANYWAY, so I am resting in. However, I feel vaguely guilty — like, am I REALLY sick enough to not be at work? REALLY??????? — so I’ve done two loads of dishes, cleaned the kitchen counters, and taken out the garbage.

When I’m home sick I tend to watch a lot of documentaries. It’s okay if the kids wander in and out, you know? So this morning I watching a National Geographic special on the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and then I watched Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices. I will simply say that I still loathe Wal-Mart, and leave it at that.

I figured out something to do with my Tumblr account, besides follow people and reblog occasional items! I’ll use it to post things I’ve learned about history, that are too long for Twitter and too short for a blog post here. The idea is not mine, I got it from super-librarian Jess Nevins.

Grumpy and querelous

The day after an event, such as a visit from grandma, the kids are usually a bit off. Today this is compounded by the fact that both kids and I are headachy, tired, and generally feel cruddy. Meh. Blea. After some behavioral altercations this morning (which I did not start! I was being good!) we appear to have gotten on the right track for school.

I got a Tumblr account. I’m sigridellis over there, as I am in most places on the internet. God, I *love* my nearly-unique name. (There is one other Sigrid Ellis in the U.S., he-or-she is an elderly person living in Tennessee, I think, and does not have an internet presence.) I am not certain of the purpose of Tumblr in my life, yet, but … But it seems to be taking over some of the function LiveJournal used to have.

I’m not sure which functions, exactly, though. I think — I suspect — that a lot of the back-and-forth conversation among large groups of people who only sort-of know each other is taking place on Tumblr, now. And while that was never the Critical Part of LiveJournal That I Loved, I do find that it was a part that I noticed and liked. Twitter does a great deal of that sort of thing, and it’s one of the features of Twitter I revel in. But Twitter can’t do longer, more involved conversations. And I don’t want it to try, dammit. I don’t want Twitter to try to be everything to everyone and get big and slow and tedious. So, Tumblr.

But already the one thing I’ve tried to feed into my Tumblr, I can’t figure out how to do it. I tried to feed my GoodReads reviews over there, and couldn’t make it work. Ah well.

It’s snowing here, again.

Last night’s gaming was lots of fun. We played Munchkin Bites, which started off at a cut-throat, vindictive level of play, and continued in that line. I do not normally like that sort of thing, but Munchkin games are a good vehicle for that. It’s hard to take it seriously when someone is playing a Schadenfreude Slip, or A Really Big Sword That Cuts Through Everything Just Like In That One Movie. (Those are both real items in Munchkin Bites.)

All right. I must go take out the garbage, and then get the kids geared up for karate and haul them over there. It’s a short drive, and the kids love the class, so all of that should be just fine. I’m just grumpy, and querelous, and don’t wanna.

The last few days

So, Monday I worked the early shift, 5:00 am to 1:00 pm. I came home, slept from 2-5, and got up in time for dinner. After dinner I took the kids to K’s first circus class on the term.

K’s class was Multiple Trapeze II. The first class was largely review, giving the instructor a chance to see where everyone was at. There are three or four other families there during that time slot that we know from previous terms, so I said hello to everyone and caught up about the summer. M, who has to play in the lobby during this class, has at least two friends to play with.

Speaking of the lobby, man is the building crowded at 7:00. Really, really crowded.

After circus, N took the kids home and put them to bed while I headed to work.

During circus, though, I got a message on my email saying that I had been locked out of Gmail for Terms of Service violations. I don’t even know. I couldn’t do anything about it overnight, though, besides worry and fret.

The mid shift was fine — completely uneventful, which is how we prefer things to be at two in the morning. Uneventful. I actually finished up my half of the shift at 2:15, and decided to head home. I mean, I was going to sleep on the break room couch until 5:30 anyway — why not head HOME and sleep? So I took some leave and headed out. I drove home and finished listening to The Invisible Hook, the book about the economics of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries. I then started The Poisoner’s Handbook, about the start of forensic medicine. Awesome.

Got home at 3:15, slept fitfully (having anxiety dreams about my email lockout) as my family got up and got ready until 9:30, then got up. It was time to get ready for M’s birthday party, right after I set up my computer and dealt with Gmail.

I logged in and everything was fine. I have no idea what’s going on with that.

M’s birthday is actually the 20th, but yesterday was when we could get everyone together for the Kid Party. M invited a few friends to a place to play laser tag, minigolf, and other assorted indoor recreation things. The party was entirely successful, and everyone enjoyed it. The best/worst part, though, from my point of view, was that the minigolf course had a weeping angel statue. I nearly shrieked.

It was a small statue, only about three feet high. But STILL.

After the party we came home and M opened his presents. Today, during school, M needs to start on his thank you notes. Then J agreed to feed the kids dinner so I could go see Resident Evil Afterlife.

The Resident Evil movies always do a few things well. Milla Jovovich is always good. Her character of Alice is well-written, and she does a good job performing said character. I was also pleased to see Ali Lartner return for this movie, reprising her role as Claire Redfield. The two women are good actors, and they act well together. In addition, the supporting cast was racially diverse, the people of color were not killed first, and at no time did a woman strip off her clothes in order to be killed.

I feel that it is appalling that I should even need to mention that. But it is visibly different, that there is no naked murder. I can’t tell you how much I approve of this.

The dialog was good, the story was solid. I love that the franchise constantly refers back to events occurring in previous films and expects the audience to keep up, without lots of flashback montages.

On the other hand —

On the other hand, the points where the worldbuilding is good only remind me of the points that go unexplained. Where is all this airplane fuel coming from, seriously? But the worst feature of the film was the chief bad guy, who was doing an APPALLING job of channeling the villain from the Matrix films. Ugh. Terrible, terrible acting choices, there.

I did like, though, that the franchise bought-back some things that would have made Alice an unplayable character. Oops. Erm, that would have made it difficult to construct plots for her. I do tend to think of these things in terms of RPGs — how the HELL would I GM a game with THAT power set in it, etc?

After I got back from the movie I put the kids to bed. J and I then watched Bring It On: Fight to the Finish. I do love a cheerleader movie. I mean, I love sports movies, and I love dance movies, and I love musicals, and cheerleader movies are at the intersection of these things. I love that the plots are so predictable that I can sort of zone out during them, yet not so predictable that I can actually guess which fork of the Likely Ending Tree the film will take. And I love, deeply love, watching the spectacular dance-athletic scenes.

God, I do love a training montage.

Today, well, today is going to be another busy day. Up, heading to the Y, running a couple crucial errands, lunch, school, dashing off to circus. The kids have five classes between them in three hours this afternoon and evening. When we get home I will put the kids directly to bed, oh yes.

An inauspicious start, April

My friend Caroline has a thing she says when life gets hectic. “Survive and advance.” This weekend has been tedious. Not disastrous or even merely a crisis, but a little tedious.

1. M is having another round of behavioral issues. He keeps growing out of these, but the handful of weeks during which he tests all the boundaries and gets in a lot of trouble are hard on all of us.

2. My computer broke yesterday. Cavorter took it apart, and there were scorch marks on the main board, surrounding the north-south bridge. That, my friends, is one dead computer.

So I am now shopping for another netbook. Yes, netbook. I love them, I love the size and portability, I love the ease of use. I just need one that is a weeny bit more powerful than the one I had previously, with a more robust chipset. Sadly, no-one is yet making a true netbook with an i7 chip. And I just don’t want a 13″ screen. Waaaaay too big.

Shopping for a netbook is stressful in and of itself. Weighing all the factors is time-and-brain consuming. How much RAM — do I really need 3 GB, or would 2GB and a better processor be fine? Do I want to take a chance on another Atom processor, now that the second gen is out? Or do I insist on a different processor, and hence a much larger computer? Questions questions questions.

In other news, I know smart thinky people. Anika posted a spoilery discussion post about Fringe, Peter, and the nature of parenting. And Caroline posted her musings on Julius Ceasar, Marc Antony, and Marlon Brando. And we of Fantastic Fangirls have posted part one of our Strangers in Paradise book club discussion. Check ‘em out!

This is NOT the big post

I’m in the midst of two very long posts, the Best in Fandom 2009 post and the Music of 2009 post. Not the best music of 2009, you understand, just my music of 2009. Both of those are going to be long, and in the meantime, I have Vitally Important Life Events to share with the internets.

1. I am still pretty happy with the Palm Pixi as a phone. It does exactly what I want — it texts, runs a Twitter app, checks and sends email, and looks up webpages. On Thursday morning while I’m teaching school to one kid while the other is in swim class, I can read the latest Fantastic Fangirl essay posted by one of my compatriots! From my phone!

2. The Christmas presents are arriving at the house, ready to be placed in stockings. At my house, we give gifts with a couple rules. No more than $50.00 can be spent by the household on any one person. And ALL the gifts for a person must fit in their stocking. So this means a selection of small, thoughtful things for each person each year. (Larger requests from the children are parceled out among family and friends.) So, I think everything is here. Perhaps tonight, after the kids go to bed, we’ll fill their stockings. It is, after all, only twelve days until Christmas.

3. This week at work I’m running the non-radar problems I was talking about designing a few weeks ago. This means another controller and I go up to the lab and set up the problem, then try to see if it’s possible to do. We’re getting through about six problems a day, which puts us ahead of schedule.

4. I am obsessed with a playlist I made. Here’s the tracklist:

“Rude Boy,” by Rhianna
“Bad Romance,” by Lady Gaga
“Rockstar 101,” by Rhianna
“Monster,” by Lady Gaga
“Weekend Without Makeup,” by The Long Blondes
“Dance in the Dark,” by Lady Gaga
“Night Watch,” by Tegan and Sara
“Once and Never Again,” by The Long Blondes
“The Cure,” by Tegan and Sara
“Te Amo,” by Rhianna
“Heaven Help the New Girl,” by The Long Blondes

In my head, this is a narrative. A story. Which is what I do with all my music, makes stories out of it. In this playlist, the protagonist falls for a guy because he’s powerful and possessive and controlling and he wants her. He wants her because she’s beautiful and talented, and she slowly recognizes that he wants to possess those qualities in such a way that prevents her from owning her own life, her own self. Then the abandonment and emotional abuse kick in. During this time of decision, the protagonist of the playlist is invited by one of her close female friends to leave the guy and be with her. The protagonist turns that offer down, but does leave the guy and goes off to get over him with the female friend — who may or may not be controlling and possessive as well.

This, this is what my head is doing when I am listening to music. When I’m driving to and from work, listening to Lockheed on Random Play, I am doing this. Putting the songs together and trying to make sense out of unrelated things. Humans are pattern-making mammals — we’ll make sense and meaning where none previously reside. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the definitions of art.

Friday links and miscellany

1. WordPress.com has stopped working in Google Chrome. After contacting WordPress about this, they said it’s a known problem. I am a bit torked off about this, because of the way I Use The Interwebs. Firstly, I am torked off because it had worked fine until they “improved” something. Grr. Second, I am torked off because now I have to open Firefox in order to post. I know, I know, this is a trivial gripe. It’s still a gripe, though, because the only computer I have is an Asus Eee PC 904. It’s a wee little thing, with wee little Ram. If I run Zune in order to update Lockheed, I close all my other windows. I can run Twhirl and Google Chrome with about six tabs open, as long as I don’t try to stream video. To watch Hulu, I close Twirl and I turn off Google chat — they use too many resources. So, to be in Chrome, checking Google Reader and writing and glancing at LiveJournal, and to see something I want to blog about, I have to go boot up Firefox.

I’ve gotten used to Chrome, dammit. Firefox seems horrifically slow and clumsy to me. And let’s not even discuss the paroxysms of rage that I undergo when forced by my job to touch an IE browser. They are all so damnably slow.

So here I am, in Firefox, writing this. Meh. WordPress? Fix this, please?

2. Did anybody else see this article about the new Knx.to service? Here’s the key paragraph:

“To enable the application, you sign into your Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr accounts via oAuth, Facebook Connect and more. When a friend calls you (or you call a friend), the technology will automatically scan all of your social networks, identify if the contact is a friend, and will pull all the most recent photos, Tweets, status updates, and more into its search pane. The idea is to give a social context to all of your contacts, which is definitely useful information for both professional and personal contacts.”

So, you are a professional recruiter or headhunter. So you add in to your 17 social networks the names and i.d. information of every resume you get, everyone you are scouting at colleges, all the employees in your specialty at other companies. And you plug in all into Knx.to. And you contact them — which gives you an instant picture of the things they are saying about theirs lives, jobs, and friends at the moment of your call. Wow. That’s a tool.

I can’t say I’m shocked or surprised. And . . . . and I’m not even really opposed. I mean, the difference between what we had available eighteen months ago in terms of social stalking and what we have now strikes me as the difference between the illegal mix tapes everyone made when I was in college and the illegal downloadable mixes people send via SendSpace. It’s a matter of degree, not kind.

3. Ariana Osborne is delivering a lecture series on the Get Excited and Make Stuff Movement. I highly recommend it.

4. Warren Ellis is putting a human face on the internet. Photos of people who read his board, get his email newsletter, and follow his blog. Hundreds of people. Because, as he says, the internet is made out of people. Behind each comment, each photo, each torrent, each blog entry, there is a person. And they all have faces.

5. M is over his cold, but K now has it. We’re hoping she’ll be well enough by tomorrow to do her two flamenco performances.

6. M lost his third tooth! One of the top front ones, so he now looks EXTRA goofy and cute.

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