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Preview: The Newbie

The Newbie

The adventures of a wide-eyed innocent in the digital world

Updated: 2014-10-03T00:45:52.179-04:00


Why Newbie Took Such a Long Blog Break


I can't believe I haven't posted here since the beginning of the summer! I know, I know, I'm a negligent blogger. Shameful. Partly this summer was really really busy (I was traveling for most of July), and partly I just needed an extra-long blog break... But mostly I was working on this.

So for those of you who wondered where my blog energies have gone -- now you know!

Newbie Unplugged Again


It's that time of year again -- my annual unplugging! We're heading to the cottage for a much-needed vacation. And by "cottage" I mean the commune I grew up on (see earlier posts for the whole sordid, raised-by-hippies story), which is in Ontario's Dead Zone -- no cell phone reception, no internet access, and we're staying in my mom's old commune house, which has no running water and no electricity. Yeah, it's pretty Amish.

The upside to this primitive living is that I'm forced to actually take a vacation -- no checking voicemail or email, no calling work, no blogging or tweeting. For two weeks I'm actually focused on spending time with family, and relaxing.

The big bonus however, is that it REALLY makes me appreciate the mod cons that we take for granted. Like the internet. And toilets. :)

I'll see you all on July 13th when we re-enter the 21st century!

Newbie Ponders Digital Life After Death


Never before in human history has communication been so widely enabled. There are so many communication tools available to us these days, it can be overwhelming. Most of my friends and collegues have profiles on multiple social media platforms -- Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace; most have a blog or more than one; most have more than one email address (gmail, hotmail, work email) and two or more phones (home, office, cell). Many even have multiple cell phones. Some even use the post office to send old-fashioned greetings using pen on paper or cardstock.

As human communication tools have evolved and multiplied, so too has the social infrastructure to maintain them, the apparatus that allows the government to be aware of your whereabouts. When you move or change service providers, there are clear and organized methods for communicating this change of address, phone, etc to those who need to know. Also, when someone dies, there's paperwork filled out by the next of kin or executor that indicates what is no longer valid, or the change in ownership of certain contact points -- address, phone number, cell phone account -- that typically pass to the next of kin or executor. But there's no official way to communicate this change of status to our digital selves.

A very close friend of mine passed away two years ago, after a long, brave battle against breast cancer. She's gone, but her hotmail, her blog, and her facebook page are all still alive. Her next of kin (her mother) and her executor (her partner) don't know what her passwords were, and there are no clear tools for communicating to the authorities in charge of those online properties that these accounts should be legitimately deleted on her behalf, or ownership of the accounts passed to those who might be in a position to update her status.

So where are the infrastructure tools for tracking our digital lives, and deaths? We all talk a lot about managing your personal brand or brands online, which is all well and good if you're alive to do it. But who manages your personal brand after your death? Have you planned who is going to update your multiple online personas and profiles? Have you communicated your passwords and login info to your next of kin or executor?

Newbie's personal brand - or lack thereof


I've been feeling guilty that I haven't put much effort into creating or maintaining an online personal brand. Sure, I have this blog, and this blog name is what I use as my Twitter handle; but that's about the extent of it. Everywhere else -- facebook, myspace, LinkedIn, I'm me -- but different aspects of me.

I use MySpace exclusively for staying in touch with my far-flung family; facebook for keeping up with friends and some professional contacts; and LinkedIn for professional contacts. Except for my LinkedIn widget here, I don't cross-promote, either. I couldn't help but feel that maybe I've been doing myself a disservice by not having a more cohesive online presence.

But this recent post about personal brand from one of my fave bloggers, Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist, has me thinking differently. Maybe what I'm doing -- using different social media for different aspects of my business and personal life -- makes sense! What a relief. Isn't it gratifying when a smart thinker you admire validates your instincts?

Also, I've always felt guilty about how choosy I am when it comes to adding friends in any of these spaces. I don't add friends on MySpace -- my family are the only ones I want reading that. Typically I don't add friends or contacts on facebook unless I've met them at least once in person and face-to-face. And I don't add contacts on LinkedIn unless they are, in fact, professional contacts.

I work in publishing and I get a lot of friend requests on MySpace, facebook, and LinkedIn from authors whom I may have corresponded with on a professional basis in the past, but have rarely actually met in person. I almost always turn them down, or add them on a "limited profile" basis, especially on MySpace and facebook, and then end up feeling guilty, like I'm spurning them. I've yet to find any validation on this point.

So for all you smart thinkers out there: what do you do when you get friend or contact requests from people you don't really know? Do you automatically accept everyone who wants to link up with you? Or are you more choosy?

Newbie takes offense


I read Mitch Joel's Twist Image blog every day and 99.9% of the time my reaction is to nod in agreement. But today his latest post, "My conversation can beat up your conversation," specifically this portion of it, stopped me cold [emphasis added by me]:

"There's a strong case as to why all of us need to be spending more time on Technorati and doing everything in our power to build both our ranking and authority. Let's be honest: what's the point in Blogging if you're not building readerships, conversations and exposing your ideas to a growing audience?"

Wow. I don't even know what to say. What's the point in blogging?? Maybe it's me but that last sentence really touched a nerve. I realize that Mitch Joel is talking to (sorry, "conversing with") a marketing-centric audience, and for that audience alone I do agree with his statement -- if you're blogging for marketing purposes, on behalf of a brand or corporation, numbers count, and growth is a key measurement of success.

But it's such a bald, bold statement that I think the context is lost, and that's a shame, because out of context the statement comes off as... kind of arrogant. And, in my humble opinion, it's not true outside of a marketing context. There are plenty of reasons to blog for a small, stable audience: to keep in touch with friends and family; to chronicle an experience or evolution of thought; to share your ideas with a small, select group.

This is primarily why I started this blog. I'm chronicling my experience as a newbie; my ideas and thoughts about my adventures in social media aren't new -- but they are new to me at the time they occur to me, and like most humans, I'm following my instinctive urge to share my thoughts with friends new and old.

Let's face it, nothing I've posted is going to be of much interest to a larger audience. My goal is to share a conversation with a small, select group and I have. I've never made any effort to grow my audience, and as a result my audience has stayed small. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Newbie discovers Skype!


Someone just asked me how much time I spend in Second Life on a weekly basis. My immediate answer: not much, hardly any time at all. My thoughtful answer: about 1 hour minimum, maybe 6-8 hours max when I'm attending author events. That doesn't seem like a lot until you type it out like that, but it also doesn't *feel* like a lot. Maybe because when I'm in-world I'm so engaged with other people I don't notice the time passing.

For example, I spent a delightful 2 hours in-world last week with Kate, Connie, and Eden via their avatars, shopping (of course) and just generally gabbing via Skype.

I have to say, the Skype experience absolutely made the outing twice as fun. There was a little bit of overtalk, but once we found our rhythm it was so much easier and faster to share thoughts, ideas, reactions, etc. via voice instead of stopping to type it out in local chat.

We'd tried the in-world voice option before, but gave it up due to insurmountable static and volume issues. Skype worked smoothly and the four of us chatted freely and easily as never before. As Kate put it:

Once you go Skype, you'll never go type!

Newbie witnesses first Second Life "griefing"


Yes, it's true; my SL cherry has finally been popped. I've been griefed!

Well, not me personally, but an event that I set up. While co-hosting an author book launch for Gena Showalter's The Darkest Night (first in her Lords of the Underworld series) in Second Life last Friday night, the event was unfortunately marred by a couple of unwelcome visitors. I hasten to note that the agency we're working with to create and run these events had many staff on hand, who quickly and smoothly defused the situation and banned the offending avatars from the parcel. But I can't help but feel a little more grown-up, a little more... experienced in Second Life now.

Anyway, Chloe had a great time and so did the author! Here's a snapshot of our avatars dancing with the demons:


Chloe is the one on the left with red hair and big black wings; Gena's avatar is the pale-skinned beauty in the denim skirt on the right. (Clearly she's already found out that the shopping is the funnest part of Second Life!)

Newbie will MESH you up


Wow, it has been a LONG time since I posted. In my defense, it has been a crazy month. Among the highlights, I attended the MESH conference -- my first, because for the first time MESH was not at the same time as BEA. And not only did I attend -- I was a panelist, on Social Media and the Enterprise. Oh, and in a random drawing I won a free copy of Microsoft Ultimate Office! W00t!! Best. Swag. Ever.

I have to say, the experience of being a panelist was first-rate. I really felt welcomed and taken care of by the entire conference staff, from the Tuesday appreciation night at the Drake to the MESH after-party on Thursday. Our esteemed moderator, Michael O'Connor Clarke, did a fantastic job of guiding the conversation to encourage meaty questions and divergent points of view. I appreciated that my fellow panelists had a different take on social media for business, and I'm glad I could provide a counter-point.

With free wifi and multiple electric outlets, it was amazing to look out from the stage and see a sea of laptops; and gratifying as a panelist to know that every time I referenced one of our online properties as an example, half the room would be looking it up right away. Talk about immediacy of impact!

It's incredible to see amount of Twittering that goes on at these digital-themed conferences. On two occasions I found that a panel was veering away from the topic I'd hoped they'd cover; both times all I had to do was check the tweetstream or the live blogs and I was instantly in touch with what was being covered in other rooms, by other workshops and panels. (I confess: once I even ducked out to catch the last half of another workshop after a hot tip via Twitter.)

Needless to say, as both an attendee and a panelist, I enjoyed myself immensely. The entire event ran seamlessly, which as a natural-born organizer and planner, I always deeply respect and appreciate as I know how much work goes into that appearance of seamlessness. And of course, I found the workshops and panels interesting and engaging, many of which sparked ongoing dialogues with many more questions raised than answered.

I have to confess though, that like many digital-themed conferences, my main takeaway was not anything I learned during the keynotes or panels, but the connections I made during the breaks, lunches, and after-parties. I met some truly fascinating people doing innovative work on both the technical, product side and the marketing / social media side. I look forward to maintaining the connections I made through Twitter and other means!

My final note about MESH: This is absolutely the LAST TIME I attend a conference without a laptop. I'm sick to death of being the only one scribbling on a notepad while all around me people are connected, live-blogging and twittering. Big shout-out to Eden Spodek for allowing me to read Twitter over her shoulder!

What Linden Labs Isn't Telling You... Or Anyone


For various personal reasons I won't bore you with here, I've been spending a LOT of time in Second Life lately, mainly as an easy means to escape reality. (Don't worry, I'm feeling much better now.) I've been registered in Second Life for over a year now, but only recently have I indulged in binge behavior -- and by binge I mean logging into SL at 11pm on a Saturday and not coming up for air until 5am on a Sunday.

In the course of this binge period I noticed quite a few things about SL. Now, you've probably already reached these conclusions yourself, but bear with me, I am the newbie after all.

1. It's about the people
Every time you log in to Second Life there are chipper little updates from Linden Labs announcing this or that upgrade or improvement to the grid. Some are noticable (a recent forced update did result in smoother avatar movement, a better chat function, and a more easily-accessed search function, for me at least), some are not. These improvements are all very nice, however, the true value in Second Life is with the people. What good is a better chat function if there are no people logged on with which I can chat? I'm not just talking about my contacts list either -- I wasn't surprised to find that everyone I know has better things to do than hang about in SL for six hours early Sunday morning -- but just folks in general, to meet, chat with, interact with.

2. Where are all the people?
Which leads me to my second observation: where the heck is everybody?? Linden Labs touts SL membership as being in the millions, but I've only ever seen about 40-50K logged on at any given time. During my binge period, I met someone new almost every time I logged into SL, which is great -- that's partly why I was there -- but in subsequent visits, they were nowhere to be found. I met probably half a dozen brand-new SL members and happily showed them around, helped them out -- and never saw them come online again. So where are these millions? Is it as I suspect -- people are joining, checking it out once or twice, and never coming back?

Is that why Linden Labs won't say how many registered users are actually using SL? What is the login ratio to registered users anyway? I'm just curious. Because I do still think that Second Life has great potential as a social network; it's just not quite there yet, and all the minor upgrades and improvements Linden Labs is committed to making won't help it to tip into the mainstream -- people will.

Newbie becomes Twitter convert!


After much encouragement from such cool chicks as Eden, Connie, and Kate during a raucous and rowdy geeky girls get-together last week (martinis may have been involved), I decided to give Twitter one more shot.

And I am SO glad I did! Wow, I HAVE been missing out! Thanks to a few tips from my new Twitter friends on how to use it I totally get it now. Count me in among the throngs in the pro-Twitter camp.

I still don't kid myself that it's mainstream -- or even close to approaching the usability that made facebook and myspace household names -- but it definitely has that potential. And I'm excited to be watching its development from the user perspective!

Newbie is Twittering: I don't get it


At PodCamp Toronto back in February, and in fact at any social media-related meetup or get-together in recent memory, the buzz has been all about Twitter. Twitter, it seems, is the Next Big Thing in social media, the app that everyone is talking about. Most of the folks who led me into the social media space -- Mitch Joel, Michael Seaton, Eden Spodek, Kate Trgovac -- are ardent fans of Twitter.

But I just don't get it.

I have tried, oh how I have tried. I joined Twitter about 6 months ago when hardly anybody I knew was on it; I quickly gave it up as not relevant to me because, as anyone on Twitter knows, it's only as valuable as the people you're following.

Recently, when everyone I know was exhorting me get back on it and follow them, I did... for about two weeks before I lost interest again.

I have no explanation for this except that it's just not for me. I'm really just not all that interested in brief snapshots of what people are thinking about at that moment. Oh, I can definitely see the appeal, and I can definitely understand the incredible value for anyone who can access Twitter via their mobile or handheld, especially those who travel a lot and find themselves stuck in layover and wanting a quick meetup. In fact Twitter was invaluable in the hours after the presentations had wrapped up on the Saturday at PodCamp Toronto -- thanks to Twitter 3 separate groups of people shared notes about their relative locations, and successfully connected at a restaurant that could accommodate 25 people.

But I don't have a handheld, or a mobile with web access, and I'd really rather read the reasoned, fully thought out musings one finds in blog posts than off-the-cuff thoughts on Twitter.

All of which makes me feel oddly disconnected from the social media crowd. Usually I'm among the first to embrace, then evangelize these kinds of tools. So tell me: am I missing something? am I using it wrong? Worse, am I missing out? Or am I just part of the larger mainstream that hasn't caught on to Twitter, and won't until it tips into the popular consciousness like facebook did?

Become a Second Life expert in just one year!


About a year ago I attended PodCamp Toronto. I was just getting started on the web 2.0 path and wanted to learn as much as I could about all things new and digital. I was a blank slate, ignorant but keen to meet folks who knew more than I did and absorb information.

Trust me, I am not overstating things when I say that my attendance at that first PodCamp Toronto would turn out to be a pivotal event in my life.

At that PodCamp I attended a session led by Jay Moonah on Second Life. I'd read about Second Life in various old-school print media, and I was curious. Jay's informal talk made Second Life sound so fun, so cool, and most of all, so easy, that I immediately signed up.

And the rest, as they say, is history. I've been in Second Life almost every week since then and I still find it a fascinating social and promotional tool. I came to work on the Monday after PodCamp yammering on and on about Second Life, to the point where my boss gave me the budget to hold some author events in Second Life in 07 and 08, possibly just to keep me quiet.

And now things have come full circle: I'm co-presenting a session on Second Life at this year's PodCamp Toronto! Amazing, from ignorant know-nothing to PodCamp presenter in just a year. Hopefully I can inspire one or two people to try out SL, just as I was inspired a year ago.

But that's not the only profound change in my life thanks to PodCamp -- in fact it's not even the most significant. At that SL session in 07, I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me (as I am inclined to do at conferences; it's a bit out of character for an introvert like me but it's the best way to meet new people). We chatted a bit, and I learned that she was the brilliant Kathryn Lagden, then of AIMS Canada. I managed to sufficiently disguise my starstruckness so that through her I later had the privilege of meeting the awesome Kate Trgovac, and the equally awesome Eden Spodek -- who by the way will be my co-presenter this year! -- and I'm happy and proud to say that I now call all three of these wonderful, brilliant ladies my friends.

So... yay for PodCamp!!

Newbie forced to make time to update blog


Once again I find myself apologizing for a long absence from this blog. I haven't posted in so long because I've been so very very busy. My job has finally caught up with my hobbies, so instead of blogging for fun and killing time in Second Life, I've been blogging for work and spending loads of time in Second Life organizing and attending a series of author events.

Ok, so I did make some time for an After A Fashion outing in Second Life just before the holidays. We bought Xmas-y outfits from Total Betty and went skating:



Who would have thought that skating in Second Life was just as much fun as in real?

But after that I was all business, in Second Life every week in January with Deanna Raybourn, the charming author of Silent in the Sanctuary, doing a live-audio reading and Q&A, hosting a fabulous (and very well-attended) Victorian ball, and hosting a more intimate group of aspiring writers for a writing workshop. All of which required a collection of new, fancy, Victorian gowns for my avatar, but of course! A lady must never be underdressed.



All of which was way fun, but whew! Glad to get back to RL for a while!!

Return of the Newbie!


Happy New Year! Tag, I'm it! Kate tagged me for an "8 things" meme that seems to have been kick-started by my fellow Girl Geek Maggie Fox, and as much as I normally dislike memes, I can't think of a better way to kick off 2008 than by the oversharing of personal info. And awaaaay we go!Eight things you might not know about me:1. If you didn't start reading this blog at the beginning then you might not know that my parents co-founded a commune in 1971. Yes, it's true, I was raised in the woods by hippies. We made our own cheese and had no indoor plumbing. We had a communal garden and a shared cow, and in the summer we wore no clothes. Some of these tenets have fallen by the wayside in the ensuing years, notably the nudity, but the commune is still very much a going concern (in fact I am regularly courted by the current members to join). 2. And that crunchy-granola upbringing perhaps explains why in high school I was a full-on goth. Black clothing, white makeup, lots of Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees... the whole iconoclastic shebang. You can't get much less outdoorsy than goth culture, so I suppose in my way I was rebelling by embracing a subculture dependent upon urban living. There aren't many goths in the woods.3. I'm an only child with 6 siblings. No, not a riddle -- a result of a broken home. After their divorce my parents both hooked up again (and again, in my Dad's case), so I have 2 half-brothers and 3 half-sisters plus one bonus stepsister -- but no full-on sibs. It freaks me out a little bit to think that the people I think of as my brother and my sister could get legally married since they're not related except through me. It gets even freakier when my mom talks about how my sister Alix and my brother Steve have SO much in common and would make SUCH a good couple... (All together now: EW.)4. I'm distantly related to the King of Sweden. My Dad is second-generation Finnish-Canadian, and is still in contact with my grandmother's family in Finland. They are fond of telling the story of the Crown Prince and our great-great-grandmother, who used to work for the Swedish royal family... until she got pregnant, left Sweden, and moved to Finland, settling down in a small town on the coast to raise her young son alone, speaking only Swedish. (All together now... Hmmmm...)5. I'm epileptic. It's not a secret, just not something I tend to publicize. It's easy to forget that I have this chronic, incurable condition because my seizures are controlled by medication -- in fact until a couple of weeks ago, it'd been 6 years since my last seizure. Then I had a seizure on Jan. 2nd. Quite a way to usher in the new year, wouldn't you say? There's a fairly lengthy recovery period involved, and now you know why I haven't posted until now.6. I have a 3-year-old daughter, Zoe, whom I absolutely adore, even though she is single-handedly responsible for turning me from a jaded sophisticate into a pajama-wearing marshmallow who cries at the barest hint of sentiment.7. When I was young, I wanted to be an actress. I took acting lessons all through high school and minored in Drama in University. My career peaked with a one-time appearance on Degrassi Junior High and I eventually realized that to be a successful actress one needed to get used to baring either one's soul, or one's boobs, or both. I chose modesty and baring my soul only online in blog form. 8. I have a deep and abiding love for good single-malt Scotch. I used to be strictly a wine-or-beer-or-cooler girl, with the occasional G&T thrown in on special occasions, until I went to Scotland on our honeymoon. After touring a few distilleries, I spontaneously and somewhat accidentally entered a blind-nosin[...]

Newbie on hiatus


If it isn't already obvious, things have gotten really hectic for me these past couple of weeks, with the result that I've completely forgotten about this blog. And the next several weeks look to be about the same, what with work, holidays, and all the festivity associated therewith. So let's call it a holiday-related hiatus, and I'll rejoin the blogosphere in 2008 refreshed and renewed and full of sagacity and fascination for all things digital!

Happy holidays! See you in 08!

Plugging back in, ready to... party with the pervs?


While we were, as my darling husband put it, "vacationing in the 19th century" during our bathroom reno (ie living without internet or TV -- if you call that living!), I missed the episode of CSI:NY that featured Second Life. Luckily, our home is equipped with a PVR, so upon our return to a 21st century lifestyle I fired it up and watched the episode.

Wow. Did anyone else see that piece of dreck? My first impressions are that Gary Sinise is way slumming on this show. Leaving aside Second Life for a moment, the plot relies heavily upon technological contrivances that beg disbelief, and the dialogue ranges from wooden to cliched. But whatever. At first I was mildly excited that Second Life would play such a big role in the plot of such a popular show. "Finally," I thought, "I won't have to explain to people what Second Life is, and how it's not a game, and it's not populated exclusively by weirdos, freaks, and pervs!"

Well, no such luck. Anyone watching CSI:NY that night would be left with the strong impression that Second Life is all about gameplaying (eg fighting monsters, air surfing) or meeting up with weird, freakish, pervy avatars controlled by friendless, loveless losers. What a disappointment.

Disappointing for me especially, not only because the portrayal was wildly inaccurate according to my own experiences within Second Life, but also because the negative impression engendered by the show is going to make it that much more challenging for me to convince various holders of purse strings that Second Life is a worthy markting venture.

I can't help wondering how Linden Labs feels about this!

Newbie Unplugged -- not by choice, but by necessity


The good news is we're having our bathroom renovated -- totally gutted, and rebuilt from the studs up. The bad news is, it's our only bathroom. No powder room, not even a water closet in the basement. So, we've moved in with my mom for the duration; and if you've read my previous posts, you know that her household is not exactly enabled for the 21st century. So if I'm not posting much in the next few weeks... you'll know why!

I'm choosing to look at this as a golden opportunity to catch up on my reading. So if there are any books out there right now that I should be reading, please let me know!

Reconnecting with friends... Well, their avatars


Monday October 1st saw another After A Fashion social-shopping get-together in Second Life. Check out the the AAF blog for details of the amazing outfits and free hair fat packs I picked up!

Every time I get together with the AAF girls in Second Life I'm amazed at how the virtual world enables me to reconnect with people that I seldom see in RL (real life). Even though it was ages since the last AAF excursion, we quickly fell into an easy conversation. Of course it helps that the social shopping aspect gives us an activity to share in, so there are few awkward pauses in the conversation; but even when I encounter utter strangers in SL, the chat seems to flow, and folks are just generally more friendly and approachable than anyone I've encountered in RL.

I find myself musing about this more and more, and wishing that I could put my finger on the element of Second Life that makes for such easy interaction. What do you think? Any ideas as to why this is so?

Newbie is now "Second Life expert"


Ironic, isn't it? But true: to a big group of former skeptics, I'm now their go-to person for info on virtual worlds.

On September 25th an event that I've been planning for months finally happened: a live-audio reading and author Q&A in Second Life, organized by me, in a gorgeous sim designed and built by the good folks at purplestripe. By all measures it was a successful event -- attendance was good, and we got some decent blog buzz before and after; but to me, the real measure of success was that the folks I work with are now, finally, starting to get it. A large part of the planning process involved selling the concept of an in-world author event to TPTB where I work -- no small feat considering the deep-seated skepticism around all things digital and SL in particular.

On the day of the event I arranged for my office PC to be moved into a boardroom and hooked up to a projector, so that anyone who wanted to could view the event as it happened, live. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when people saw SL for the first time and realized its implications. "You mean to tell me that each avatar represents a real person?" "So these people could be anywhere in the world right now? And they're all hearing the same audio we can hear?" "You mean I can chat with more than one person at a time, in real time?"

One small event for an avatar, one giant leap for the Great Unplugged. :)

A few snapshots from the event:
The build:
Chloe looking studious:

Second Toronto Girl Geek Dinner


This past Wednesday saw the second Toronto Girl Geek Dinner. This time I hosted, solo, as Maggie Fox was out of town -- but thanks to her thorough prep work everything went smooth as glass. In my humble opinion, of course. :)

The event's defining principle seems to have engendered quite a lively debate over on the TGGD blog -- interestingly, the most enflamed comments have come from those who weren't able to attend. Huh.

Maybe I'm naive, but when I co-founded the TGGD with Maggie, we weren't thinking of excluding men at all -- having attended a few testosterone-heavy geek dinners, the whole point was to encourage any guys who wanted to attend to bring a girl with them, to encourage the ladies (particularly female students) to come out more and network.

Anyway, the whole thing is a minefield of misread intentions, so I'll say no more. Except to ask this: do YOU think it's exclusionary? If so, what's the solution -- a merge with the ad hoc Geek Dinner crowd? Suggestions welcome!

Speaking of breaks... and tweets


Wow, I'm horrified to realize just how long it has been since I posted last! Talk about taking a break! Oddly, I do have lots of thoughts to share and ideas that I want to seek feedback on -- I just don't have a lot of time these days. Now that summer is over, work is on like Donkey Kong, as the kids say. But I will try to make time to post when I am moved to do so, rather than putting it off and putting it off until I forget what it was I wanted to post about.

One thing that's happened lately is that I finally (FINALLY) signed up for Twitter successfully. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: I'm about 5 months too late. It's true! I was momentarily thrilled that I finally managed to get our corporate IT department to modify my firewall enough so that I could sign up... only to find that Twitter is akin to a desolate ghost town. Maybe I'm just not following the right people. Or maybe I've missed the boat completely. Either way, I gotta say that there doesn't seem to be much action there, and when there is, my reaction is mostly: meh. I think I prefer longform blogs to the micro-thoughts posted on Twitter.

So I'm hoping someone can educate this naive newbie. What am I missing? Has Twitter jumped the shark? Or am I using it wrong?

Breaks and Blogs


Confession time: my "annual unplugging" lasted only 10 days, but my break from blogging has been, well, significantly longer than that. Yes, it's true: I've been back in the land of the Internet-capable for 2 full weeks now, yet haven't blogged. I could say that I was busy getting caught up on work and social duties, but that would be a half-truth. The fact is, I was enjoying my blogging break.

Last night I attended the Geek Dinner organized by the supremely awesome Mr. Mitch Joel and was somewhat surprised to learn how many other dedicated bloggers felt the same way. Both Michael Seaton of The Client Side and Kathryn of That Kathryn Girl copped to also extending their vacays when it came to blogging.

And I say: good on them! Not just because knowing they felt the same way eased my own guilt, but because I think it's too easy to fall into the trap of "blog obligation", which can sap your creativity. If you need to take a break from blogging, so be it. Maybe you'll rediscover your love for the medium; maybe you'll find you don't miss it. Or maybe you'll discover, as one of my formerly-favorite bloggers posted for the final time: "I discovered I hate blogging."

Newbie Unplugged


Doesn't it feel like forever since I posted? It does to me! My excuse is that I was out of town attending a writers' conference in Dallas, then I was back in the office trying desperately to get caught up, and then I was trying to get ahead because I'm going away for 10 days starting this Thursday. Yes, that's right, it's time for The Newbie's Annual Unplugging! We are heading back to the The Farm (ie: the commune) where there are no phones, no TV, no Internet, not a single luxury... Like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be. *wink*

So naturally I'm ODing on all things digital before I go. My iPod is freshly loaded, my DVR is set, and I just dashed into Second Life for a quick shopping trip and snatched up some lovely ballet flats from Shiny Things! Here's Chloe hovering in mid-air modelling her pinkety-pink outfit:


And here she is contemplating the abyss while showing off the cutey-cute bow on the back of her dress:


Clearly I'm still learning how to use Katicus' modelling stand to its full effectiveness. And I haven't mastered the fine art of lighting, either. But hey, I wouldn't be much of a newbie if I had, would I?

New Second Life Skin and Swimsuit!


If only shopping IRL (in real life) were as easy...

Not happy with your skin tone? Buy a new skin! (Or, if you're an impulsive shopper like me, buy a 4-pack for a volume discount!)

Swimsuit shopping is a breeze when you don't have to use a fitting room, and you can change the size and shape of your *ahem* assets to suit the suit. ;)

Here's a pic of Chloe in her new swimsuit, with platform straw wedges and platinum hair to match:


And here's a pic of Chloe chillin' on the beach at Playboy Island:

As always, thanks to the After a Fashion gang for a fabulously fun shopping excursion!

Redefining Friendship


Last post for today. I promise! I haven't had much time to post lately, so I guess I'm making up for it today.

I'm stoked to be going shopping in Second Life twice in the next few days -- tonight for skins, and Monday with the After a Fashion gang for bikinis. Not just because I've been hankering for a new skin, and a bikini to properly show it off, but because it gives me a chance to socialize with my dear friends Eden and Kate.

This got me thinking some more about how social media and web 2.0 are redefining friendship for a large proportion of the online world. To me, shopping in SL with my After a Fashion friends is the same as shopping in real life (except that I'm much less likely to do it in real life because I hate trying on clothes). To me, the fact that Mitch Joel posted a link to an article in his is the same thing as if he'd emailed me the link or the article directly. To me, my sister posting on her MySpace blog about her house purchase is the same as if she'd IM'd or emailed or phoned me personally to share the news.

My offline friends don't feel the same way, however, and much as I try to explain it to them, they don't get it. To them, my telling them that I have plans tonight to shop online is akin to my telling them that I'm going to move to a small cabin in the woods like Ted Koszinski.

Is it just me? Has anyone else had trouble trying to define, or redefine, the new boundaries of friendship for their loved ones who aren't as plugged in?