Reaching Out To Your Audience

As a weblog column writer I get a number of return contacts; spam, emails from people who admire one or other of the posts, and offers to help me increase my popularity with my readers. I do inspect each new contact, and have actually added one weblog column to my daily reading as a result of a comment, but by and large that is it.

It is not that I do not want to increase the ” traffic ” of my columns – it is just that I do not want to be writing or dancing for the audience on their terms. If that were the case I would take up Instagramming or Twittering or Facebooking on a serious basis and fire off memes like machine-gun bullets. It may sound selfish, but I write my own thoughts here…and I am happy to have you read them whenever you’ve a mind to. I can’t write yours – I am not you. And I know some of you are not you, either.

When I try to entertain I fail about as many times as I succeed – that is the fate of most Catskill comedians. The best I can hope for is that you read through to the end of any particular column – in some cases to see if I mention your name, Bill – and do not send in a complaint to your ISP about it. If you laugh or ponder it is a bonus. I will already have done so while writing it.

I do want your readership, and appreciate the likes and replies – at least the ones that do not want me to buy Viagra in an online Russian casino. If some days are less enlightening, be patient – eventually a zeppelin will crash outside the front door and I have a camera ready. In the meantime reflect that all of our lives are somewhat similar, and what happens here in Perth also happens where you live…with the possible exception of the venomous snakes coursing through the local hospital car park. We actually do have that as a real thing here on the south side of the river and it pays to look carefully when you get out of the car. Not all humorous Australian memes are just exaggerated jokes – not in the springtime.

Note: These are not kindly snakes…Google Dugite.

Advertisements

Oh, It’s A Lie…

A lie, I tell you. A damned lie.  I mean the advertising line that some particular product, service, or workshop make digital easy. Nothing makes digital easy…and if anything slightly eases the burden, you can be sure that someone will spot it and quash the improvement.

The closest to making things easy is the Apple business. Your iMac or Macbook is probably nearest to a seamless experience that you’re ever going to get…provided you are prepared to play it entirely the Apple way. You’ll need to surrender yourself to somewhat of a mom-and-pop spinster schoolteacher level of tech, but if you can do what you want to do in those boundaries, you can do it without having to panic.

Okay. I lied. You’ll have to panic a few times a year as the Apple people update something or someone else in the electronic kingdom tries to usurp power, but you can have confidence that Apple has more lawyers, geeks, and possibly assassins than the rebels, and it will all end soon.

I’m not proud – I am prepared to be mom-and-pop. I’ve been pop for about 40 years and it is a fine thing. And if Apple can make the engine start every morning and get the computer out of the garage and onto the road, I’m prepared to pay for it. I do not need to be cutting edge – in fact cutting edges are anathema to me as I take aspirin.

But what I DO want is the other players in the game to stop indulging in electronic dick fights and let simple things that work continue to exist as those simple things. I’ve yet to get the WordPress/Facebook link to start up again properly and it is proving frustrating.

And I digitally frustrate easily…

The Wonderful Weblog Column

Allow me to pour praise upon the WordPress organisation and the wonderful works of charity they do. They have enabled me to have the time of my life for the last six years for essentially nothing at all.

I write four separate weblog columns. I’m paid in money for one of them ( not a lot, I assure you ) and in pleasure for the other three. I’ve tallied the statistics from them and find that I’ve been able to bend people’s ears, so to speak, 5260 times, and on each occasion I have been given the floor exclusively – no one has interrupted me. I hope I have not abused the privilege.

I am a little saddened to read other weblog columns that seem to have gone nowhere – ventures that looked to be so promising, yet faded within a month. I guess there may have been good reasons, but it is still frustrating to see someone who probably has something good to say go silent. Unfortunately it leaves the Facebook parrots to meme whatever they find on the net and then think that they have made an intellectual statement of it. I have never been so glad of a snooze button in my life, and the unfollow lever is kept greased and in good working order too.

People decry weblogs as minor affairs…but they then praise other artistry that may be just as obscure  – merely on the chance that it eventually will become known. Goodness sake, people – read and praise what is fresh before your eyes and recognise the talent that is out there. I’m not saying that the talent is me, but occasionally I get off a good one and it’s worth wading through the rest of the stream to be there when it happens.

The future? I will still write using the free themes until the picture storage capacity is used up – then I’ll pay WordPress for an elegant revision and combine all three columns into one. It will not be a case of cutting down on content, but it will have multiple sections each day. No-one will be deprived.

I receive prompts to ” monetize ” the columns, together with impossibly complex social networking plans and strategies. None of this interests me, as I have nothing to sell but thought. And that is generally going at very low prices anyway. Bring a paper bag and I’ll fill it up for you…

Dancing The Facebook Hornpipe

Yesterday I got a message from the WordPress people saying that the current links between the weblog columns I write and Facebook was in peril – FB apparently change their play today for some arcane reason. The explanation was suitably vague, but the end result was another three hours of computer churning to create a ” page ” as well as a ” profile “.

Well, the electrons flowed back and forth and eventually it settled into the new pattern – but with all the old people and pictures. I suspect it is a ploy to make another platform to sell advertising in sidebars and pop “suggested posts ” into my stream of consciousness. As long as I can throw ’em out as fast as they appear, I’m happy. I need all the consciousness I can get here at home.

The all-pervasive nature of FB and the sudden peremptory announcements – caged sometimes in gobbledygook – are starting to make me nervous. I recognise the follies of some of my friends on the service by the memes and propaganda they push – they can recognise mine by the weblog posts that drift over. As long as we do not engage in arguments, all is well.

But must everything be the province of Facebook?

I Talk And We Listen

I’ve been taken somewhat to task recently by a reader of another weblog column who complained that I did not write what he wished to read. I suspect that what he wanted to read was what he had written – and that if I had written to his mind I should equally have displeased him…for I should have stolen his story and portrayed it as my own.

And there it is for many authors…if they write their story they risk the wrath. And yet, in the end, their own story is the only one they can honestly tell.

This is no bad thing. Consider – if I tell something I know to you, you are not required to hear it – you can turn away unheeding. But I can’t tell you without telling myself, and in many cases I am the person who needs to hear that story. I need to get something straight in my own mind…to remember or to understand. The rehearsal of the facts helps me where it might just bore you.

The WordPress weblog columns can be therapeutic instruments for many people and I am impressed that they are made available to so many for such a little cost. I think mine have done me a world of good in the last six years and I would readily recommend the writing of one to anyone upon a trial basis. There may be no more Hemingways out there, but there are certainly writers who can toll their own bells.

 

” Hello – Put Me Through To Spell – Check, Please…”

Okay. Then put me thru to spelchek, plz.

Look, just go get the goober in your office with the dictionary and put them on the phone.

Okay, now listen. I’m an author of four daily weblog columns and I use your service all the time. It’s the one up at the top of the WordPress dashboard with the ABC and the checkmark, right? Well, I want to know why you are objecting to my grammar and spelling and then letting glaring errors creep through unchallenged.

Like hl. I just typed that and pressed the ABC button and it came out approved. At the same time you red-lined WordPress and goober. WordPress is your own name and a goober is a peanut. The word hl isn’t a word at all – it might have been a typo for ” hole ” or ” hale ” or anything.

I accept the fact that my fingers and sticky keyboard will put out rubbish at times. I welcome your caution about most things and assiduously correct what you flag for me. But you let some howlers through nevertheless, and I’m starting to become worried about he stuff you do approve.

Is there a way that I can register my own style with you – my age, history, and likely speech patterns? Then when I end a sentence with ” eh? ” or use the phrase ” my own whatever ” you need not scold me for it. That’s who I am and that’s how I speak.

I promise not to use bad words – not because I am moral, but because I do not know many of them. I cannot promise to use gender-neutral words and phrases because I have observed for a long time that this has more to do with politics and power than it does with effective communication. Plus I like genders – they can be soothing on cold nights.

 

 

The Experiments – Part Four – Final

The heading image placed on this last experimental page is a conventional representation of a one of the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860’s. Recently it has become the centrepiece in a storm of controversy in the United States and has been used in a number of deplorable political and criminal acts, as well as for theatrical presentations.

It was also an extremely small part of an image on a weblog column dealing with die-cast toy cars – fuzzy and pixellated though it was, I suspect it triggered a mechanism in Facebook that blanked the image. I determined to see how that mechanism operated. The previous three posts on this column ( go back and read them ) detail the experimental means I employed to see if the thing could be set off again.

If we don’t see an image up there on Facebook today – or if it’s a generalized image of my studio card – we’ll know the trigger mechanism is the entire, coloured, detailed pattern. Every other combination has been ignored. If you do see the flag pattern, then the whole episode was just a flash in the social media pan.

The flag pattern won’t be shown again – not for political or moral reasons – but because it is just not relevant to life and thought here in Australia. And that may be a hard thing for anyone in North America to accept…that this is another part of the world with people who lead other lives. The distresses that the North Americans encounter or engender within their own borders are theirs to deal with amongst themselves. To put it succinctly – it’s none of my business.

Readers can be as proud or as ashamed – as busy or as idle – as high or as low as they wish. No need to howl at me with either rage or approval – my opinion on North American matters is not relevant. The only thing you might care to do is to share some thoughts:

If you can’t see an 1860’s flag on the top of a Facebook post…what other things are you not permitted to see? What price constitutional amendments or bills of rights ? Who decides the let and hindrance of your life?