Friday, January 14, 2011

My History of Internet Haunts

So Magnetgirl's got a question:
The internet, it is vast and busy, and as I attempt to navigate it I wonder — how do YOU do it? I know I am not the only one out here in netspace with accounts every which where and I am curious: which do you really use, how do you use them and why do you use them that way?

Tony Stark isn’t available to explain social media to me. Can you?

I've been thinking about posting on that anyway, because my Internet habits have morphed a bit over the years. When I was a teenager, my first online outlet was ranting on message boards. I started because I'd read posts by people that made me think, and made me want to put things out there. I made a habit of it because I fit in fairly well, there was a group of people who encouraged me to post more, and it gave me a space to think through ideas, work them out with feedback, and come up with more and more ways to seem clever and have people tell me I'm clever.

After a few years meeting fans on message boards, I spent an evening searching the internet for comic character background for a series I was reading and stumbled across my first personal blogs. Just like with the message boards, I saw people who got me thinking and made me want to put those thoughts out there. I started up this blog and have been so happy with the format I always come back to it. This is a great place to just spit out my thoughts and refine them through followup posts, cross-blog interaction and the comment section.

A few years back I also kept a livejournal for non-comics thought and fandom interaction, but I found that the format was simply too safe for me. I had a false sense of security with the friends-lock, which made me think I could write anything and not expect it to go back to anyone. I found myself doing two bad things there: 1) ranting excessively about coworkers and family, and 2) complaining about other people on the internet in my cozy little spot where I could expect not to be challenged rather than confronting them directly. When the ads got to be too much and it changed hands and terms of service, a lot of my friendslist migrated to other journal services. I just deleted my journal and decided not to go with anything that locked again.

That's when I made Twitter my primary outlet on the internet. I picked the option to be entirely public, making it the exact opposite of my livejournal. Twitter back then had no delete button, and the ease and shortness of the format made me more likely to shoot my mouth off and have to immediately deal with the reaction. I like it because it is so very unsafe that way. It sharpens me in the way that livejournal dulled me.

Twitter is also good because I'm so naturally long-winded. The 140 character format forces me to shrink and streamline my thoughts. That improves my communication skills all around.

Lately I've found myself using Tumblr a lot. I started because it is simply easy to do, but it became my primary blogging method during my deployment because it loaded more easily than Twitter or Blogger on the base network. I keep with it now because it's easier.

I'm generally willing to try most social networking sites for at least a little bit and see if they offer me anything. There's a few services I keep coming back to:

Stumbleupon, which is just freaking brilliant. You load a toolbar onto your browser and pick topics you like. Then you press a button and it takes you to a random webpage you can rate or review. You can submit new websites to the pool, too. I leave this inactive for months at a time but I still come back. I love it for days when you just want to wander around the Internet aimlessly, and for just putting a website into the ether because I think people should read it.

LibraryThing: I have a lifetime membership and every book I own loaded into this. I sometimes check the boards, I sometimes review, but mostly I just use it to catalog my books.

Goodreads: I never thought I'd get into this, but it loaded well when I was deployed so I used it to keep track of my reading (previously I'd been tagging by year on LibraryThing) and put some of my thoughts on the page. My reviews still suck, but I've found it to be a useful service.

My latest playgound is GetGlue, which is a fairly unique site. It offers lists of books, authors, musicians, topics, movies and TV shows and you mark which ones you like. Then it gives you suggestions based on that, and you can like or dislike those. And more suggestions. And the option to stop on an item and write a review or just "check-in" with a thought about it. And there you interact with others. And you get little stickers as rewards. And you can become a "guru" and make suggestions and it is just so weirdly addicting.

As with all things, I can't tell how long I'll stay on it. It could be my new Twitter, or it could be like Newsvine which I loved for a few months and just got sick of.


  1. The only thing that I don't like about GetGlue is that it could use another two levels of rating - a "Love" for I can't live without it and an "I dislike this but not everything like this". Of course, that might make it too complex.

  2. I've finally figured out how to sign on and off from a computer, and now I'm expected to master all thes OTHER forms of technology?