Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where Two or Three Are Gathered You Get Blogroll

bink's "power speed bunny" jacket,
bought for 3 euros on the street in Palermo, Sicily

I. Why We Might Be a Bit Dazed; Or, The Internet Is a 16-Year-Old
"Here's one of countless statistics that are liable to induce feelings akin to vertigo:
on New Year's Day 1994... there were an estimated 623 websites.
In total. On the whole internet."
--from "Forty years of the internet: how the world changed for ever", by Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, 23 October 2009. [Thanks for that link, Stefanie!]

623 Web sites...
I think we must add 7 zeros to that number now, sixteen years later.

II. And it's taking us for a drive on an expressway with no maps in a car with no brakes.

Thank you, everyone, for commenting on comments.
It was a great reminder that, as Femminismo says, "My blog is for me," and it's up to us how we want to be online. Everyone does it differently, and there's no right or wrong way.

Indeed, that's one of the challenges: We're making this up as we go along.

The Western world was just getting to its feet after the invention of the printing press when the Industrial Revolution knocked us sideways. Staggering to our feet, the atomic bomb blew the new norm away... and now this, this technology-on-the-hoof stuff.

It's just a lot.
It calls for a certain kind of bravery to take it on, the whole swirling mess of it. I mean, we really are going where no one has gone before.

If humanity survives, in a few hundred years someone will be writing about this time the way historians write about the post-Gutenberg era: how did those poor monks and scribes deal with their world turning upside-down and inside-out?

III. Blogrolls & Followers

So, if you're up for another question about What Are We Doing Here?:

How do you all feel about blogrolls and followers?
Like 'em? Not?

I used to list blogs on my sidebar here, but I ran into some social awkwardness.
One blogger started to write stuff that was distasteful to me; but I felt weird taking her blog off because she was a friend.
Eventually I displeased her, and she yanked my blog off her blogroll in a second.

I felt I was back in the high school lunchroom, with its social tension over who sits at which table. (Facebook is far worse for me, which is why I quickly left.)

As for "followers," I appreciate that option as a way to follow you all (on my dashboard) because I've never used RSS feeds.
*blushes and admits not knowing how to use RSS*

But I don't add the Followers gadget to my sidebar because I don't even know who a couple of the followers are.
Fair enough. It's important to me that blogging is an open system, not restricted (another thing I didn't like about FB)--but that doesn't mean I want to look at these people's pictures.

I'm just calmer if I don't list followers/blogs on my sidebar.

I do like it, however, when other people have blogrolls. Especially I like when the blogroll shows thumbnail photos of recent posts.
But mostly I find other bloggers through the comments they leave on other blogs. Comments give you a kind of fresh sense of who a person is.

Any thoughts?


ArtSparker said...

I've taken people off my blogroll on three occasions, I suppose all three because I became uncomfortable about recommending their content (the most recently removed had a post that was a character assassination of me). The followers thing is funny- in theory it has to do with how many people read the blog, but I have found I don't add readers when a new follower joins, I think people like to join something, and as I said yesterday, some people trade following. I would like to know the code for changing the "followers" title to "readers", which doesn't make much sense with what I just said, but it would make it look less like I had the secret of the universe.

Fresca said...

There's another topic:
dealing with hostility online. It really creeped me out the first few times I faced it (mostly on youTube). Still does, but less so.

A personal attack sure makes the decision to remove a "follower" easy, but how very unpleasant.
(Hard to imagine, as I can't think of a single thing to attack about you, ArtSparker!)

Great point--I don't like the word "follower" either--I wonder if you can go in and change it.

I do tend to "trade" if someone follows me, but now I usually wait a little while first.

ArtSparker said...

As far as hostility, I think the internet can make projection easier - the monitor is a mirror of sorts? One needs to listen as well as look.

Margaret said...

This is what scares me most about technology: you can't uninvent anything. Our world is changing in huge ways. We're the ones changing it, and yet we can't do a thing about it. There was a loss of control somewhere along the line. Just like you said: no brakes, and no stops to get off at and settle down. You can no longer function as a regular member of society without access to The Internets. Obama has Twitter. The world is changing.

As for blogroll, I didn't see the use in following people at first. If I read their blog regularly, I would just type in the url to their blog and check it like I check my e-mail. Now I tend to think of following someone as more of a sign of support. "Hey, I like what you're doing here," type of thing.

Fresca said...

MARGARET: New technology becomes scary for me once it becomes mandatory, which is right about now...
Like, I don't have a cell phone--I really don't need one, but now I can no longer find public pay phones, so I'm starting to think I have to have one.

I used to bookmark blogs so I didn't have to type in the urls, but I really like the "follower" notificattions, as many people don't post every day.
And, as you say, it's a sign of support too.

momo said...

I remember when I was anti-answering machines, anti-ATM, then anti-call-waiting, then anti-cellphone, but then adopted and now take for granted each one. I thought these technologies were interfering with personal contact, but they were just reconfiguring it, as all technologies do, in good ways and some not so good.
I used to have a pager so the childcare center could contact me while I was not in my office (since I'm a teacher and don't always work in an office). But when pay phones started to disappear, and I found myself trying to find one in subzero temps, I decided to get a cellphone to be reachable in an emergency or to reach others in an emergency as a parent. I have twice been called and had to drop everything to get my child in an emergency situation, once for stitches, once for a building evacuation in response to a threat of violence. But of course a cell phone then starts to play other roles and changes interactions in ways both good and bad. Now for me it is a device for checking email on the go (not while I"m driving!) so I can not be swamped by it. I do not text, however, and can live without it. But most of my friends either do not have cell phones at all, or use them very rarely. And very few of my friends blog, use twitter, or care to know anything about new social media. My mother, and other people her age, forward each other email jokes, but never remove any of the identifying images, and all have mottos or quotes at the end of their email. I'm fascinated by all these different usages.

femminismo said...

Artsparker touched on something and that's "followers." I feel so weird having followers, when I really wish the listing could just be "readers" too. Follow sounds so cult-like.

Ginga Squid said...

I had completely forgotten I even had a blogroll on my blog. I think I added a few and then forgot about updating. So it will probably just stay like that for the present.

I like the 'follow' thing so I can find more about who is reading my blog and then maybe comment and follow theirs. If its my cuppa tea. And I can just press one button to do it.

This week I got my first 'troll' - apparently that is what its called when people write horrible personal stuff about you. Hence the phrase 'Don't Feed The Trolls' on some blogs.
Next time I will handle it differently - I sought opinion about leaving the comments on display, because of the right to 'Free Speech' (etc),but in the end I deleted them all as most were just a personal attack on me & my kids and nothing to do with professional critisim of my work (which is fine).

deanna said...

Many interesting thoughts here, again. In fact, I will post about them and link to your posts. I don't think Wordpress has Followers, and I'm not planning to find out, unless it becomes apparent to me I should. I guess that's how it is with me and these techno things, as each comes up.

Thanks again for your stimulating thoughts!

Fresca said...

MOMO: I'm intrigued with all those layers too---both the layers of my own resistance to and adoption of high-tech (rational and not),
and the layers of different people's--and different segments of the population's-- use of the new communication technologies.

FMMNSMO: We really must look into getting that changed. I've never written to the Blogger administrators, maybe now is the time.

GINGA: Ew, ick---trolls. You so do NOT deserve that! A truly disturbing side to the nets, this random hostility.

How would you handle it differently? I 100% agree with what you did:
Delete, delete, delete!

DEANNA: I think "followers" is just a Blogger thing. You use RSS, right?
(I was glad to read I had not gilded your guilt!)

The Crow said...

Hmmm...I have your blog bookmarked, but I don't think I've added it to the Blogs I Follow list, which also means more than half of the blogs I read or check in with every once in a while weren't added, either, because I forgot about that feature of Blogger.

I am flattered whenever someone adds their name to the followers list - and also a bit surprised because I never expect anyone will want to come back for more.

As for dropping someone from your blog roll, you don't strike me as unkind or arbitrary, so if you were to drop me, for instance, because I have grown to respect what you have to say, I would ask you about it. In the end, I agree with the others, that this is your space on the Internet and you must run it as you see fit!

(Also agree with femminismo and Art Sparker - readers sounds better to me, too, instead of followers.)

(My mother's name is Evelyn. As soon as I can get my head together, I'll answer your other comments, too. Just haven't been myself, lately.)


Fresca said...

Hey, CROW!

Thanks for writing--I know you've been unwell, and I appreciate it.

I'm not at all surprised people would "follow" you, as you are such a good writer:
I'd follow anywhere anyone who can delight me with a post about pencil sharpeners!

I never drop anyone off my "followers" list, unless they drop me first, because I am co-dependent (joke, ...but also true). As long as they aren't looking at me from my blog's sidebar, I feel free to read them or not.

I drew a blank at first as to why you were telling me your mother's name--then remembered I'd asked on YOUR blog... : )
Thanks--that was an amazing photo of her.

Merisi said...

In the beginning of time, I had a blogroll. I literally lost it one fine day while trying to update it and could not mend the html again. I am glad now that I don't have to decide whom I allow on and whom not.

Margeret put to words beautifully, what I think about the "following" decision: I also chose to "follow" someone as a way of support, especially smaller blogs by people I see as earnestly trying to be out there for one reason or another. That is what I love about blogging, one can "encourage" another human who may have little support in the environment she or he lives in.

Btw, it was a great day when I discovered that I could "follow" someone by simply clicking on the "follow" word on top of a blog! It was like discovering America all over again, finally seeing what was there all along!


Merisi said...

P.S.: I have no idea what RSS is.
I know of someone who has 3,000 people on her mailing list. A little intimidating, but I don't sell anything, so I would be happy if only one person truly takes away some joy from coming to my blog.

Fresca said...

Thanks for "following" this blog, Merisi!

RSS means "really simple syndication" and is an option for getting updates on Internet sites...

3,000 people... That reminds me of a friend who has about a thousand Facebook friends but told me he doesn't even know who half of them are.

Jennifer said...

Um, I have to confess here that I have never known about the "Follow" option, lol. I only use RSS feeds! Hm, now Blogger makes a lot more sense--I've been feeling stymied by it because I have a hard time making connections on it, somehow. For some reason I always feel vaguely presumptuous leaving comments on blogs! Like, what would someone care what I think? I KNOW that's silly, and I've gotten over it entirely on LJ, and yet something about a blog--it looks so monolithic, so like an actual web page standing on its own--intimidates me.

I am endlessly fascinated with the social dynamics of the Internet and have been known to waste many an hour discussing them. Facebook--I was just talking about this with Rudyinparis about how Facebook sometimes feels like the icy-cold hand of high school reaching out to grab my throat. Play my game! Send me a heart or a hug! Good grief, I find it exhausting. I just had an old high school acquaintance inform me I used too many big words, and I felt like I was being throttled by rural Maine all over again. *shudders*