Getting inspiration from childhood

Getting inspiration from childhood

Childhood

Ah, childhood. What is it about our younger years that gives us such feelings of nostalgia? Is it because things were so much newer then? Or were they simpler? We had fewer responsibilities.

Yet plenty of people don’t have lives like that. For those who lost a parent, or were abused, attaining the age of majority must have come as a relief.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call a person an adult on their eighteenth birthday. It’s just easier that way.

School Days

Education is a somewhat separate topic and is addressed elsewhere on this blog. So let’s, instead, talk about the other trappings of being children.

A Lack of Impulse Control

Why don’t we let young children drive? It’s not just because they can’t reach the pedals. Rather, it’s really because they tend to lack impulse control. Patience is more than a virtue; it’s a mark of maturity. While people mature at different rates, and there are some kids who are very patient, the child population tends, as a whole, to be a lot more impulsive.

While this means triggers are pulled more often, and faster (and sometimes quite literally), it also means younger people are more likely to take chances. They aren’t as set in their ways, and they are not wearing golden handcuffs.

Taking it all too hard

Passions can often run hot and hard for minors. Hormones are directly responsible for some of this. An overall lack of impulse control may also be causing it. Or maybe it’s due to many young people not having too many good bases of comparison. Whatever it is, first loves and first losses hit very hard.

Flexibility

Some of this is certainly physical. We tend to be in better shape. Our joints are younger. And we might be thinner, even if that just means we haven’t yet had the chance to eat all of the things which are going to make and keep us fatter later in life.

However, flexibility also goes to being able to bounce back more quickly. So maybe the term is actually resilience. None of our experiences or relationships has terribly long track records. Even if we fall in love with a toddler playmate, it’s still not a lot of time when compared to couples who have been together for several decades. While we might flit by and not know what we’ve got till it’s gone, we are still able to (usually) move on.

Of course there are exceptions. And there are plenty of depressed teenagers out there. I am not discounting their experiences!

Takeaways

Nondepressed teenagers can often be rather resilient. Impulse control generally takes longer to develop, so adjust your characters accordingly. Younger people can also, at times, take things a lot harder than more mature folks do. Again, adjust your character traits accordingly. As for very young children, read up on everything from child care theories to the development of the brain, in order to really nail it. And not every little kid lisps. Please, please bury that cliché once and for all.

Thank you.

Creating a Facebook page

Creating a Facebook page

How do you go about creating a Facebook page?

Adventures in Career Changing Facebook Page
Adventures in Career Changing – Facebook Page

Pages versus Groups

Why do you want one over another? Why does it matter?

Groups, as might be expected, allow for more discussion. However, everyone is on a more or less equal footing in terms of presenting content. And if that is what you want, then of course that is perfectly fine. However, if you are looking to essentially market your own wares, then a group is not going to help you very much. Instead, your own messages will be lost in the shuffle of everyone else’s content and messaging. As the administrator, though, you can eliminate any discussions you do not wish to see. This can get tedious, plus you lose the entire discussions.

With a page, you are the site owner/administrator. You create the content, which others react to, which can include commenting, and those comments can include links. If you want those comments and links gone, you can eliminate them – an activity which is also bound to become tedious. But at least the generalized discussions would remain.

Look and Feel

We have all noticed branding for our favorite commercial ventures, whether it is the shade of green for Starbucks and its products, or the use of a mascot/spokes-character like Flo from Progressive Insurance. Or it could be the backward ‘R’ in the Toys ‘R’ Us store signage. For your Facebook page, your website, your Twitter stream, and your background image, it pays to brand these items. Branding can be subtle, such as a color scheme, or more sophisticated, with the creation of a special logo for your page.

How to Create a Facebook Page

Facebook is constantly changing the means of performing tasks, as it is continuously A/B testing (e. g. it tests which layout or color scheme, etc. gets you to click more).  Currently, the way to make a page is, click on Pages on the left side of your feed and then click on Create a Page. Then select the page type. Select Artist, Band, or Public Figure, and pick either Author or Writer. Add your name and then click Get Started.

Seriously, it’s that simple.

Now go make an author page!

Getting inspiration from education

Getting inspiration from education

Education

JR Gershen-Siegel Adventures in Career Changing - Getting inspiration from education
Getting inspiration from education

Education is of course something anyone in a wealthier country, who is over than the age of five, has in common with everyone else.

But what does it have to do with writing?

The Process

Consider the process you go through, and even the rituals which accompanying schooling. You get up in the morning. Then you often eat something and you usually leave the premises, although not always. You read a lot, and answer questions. Plus you might perform mathematical operations. Some of these tasks may be simple. Others may be grindingly difficult.

Then at some point you knock off for the day. You might have assigned homework. And then you go to sleep so that you can do it all over again. It’s a little different if you’re home schooled. But a lot of the activities are the same.

The Subjects

After primary classes, you start to see variations. French instead of Spanish. Physics instead of advanced Biology. College-bound students tend to track one way. Those who are going to stop with a High School diploma or GED tend to track another.

Interactions

There are some interactions with home schooling, but not as many as when you leave your domicile and go to a school. There may be bullying. Students may self-divide into cliques. Some join clubs or teams.

There may be divisions made based upon athletic ability. Or academic ability. Another group might be artists, or musicians. Some students know what they want to study. E. g. they know what they want to be when they ‘grow up’. Others take longer to find themselves.

Takeaways

If your characters are in school, what is it like? Both Harry Potter and The Lord of the Flies allude to scholastic pursuits. Are your characters failing? Teacher’s pets? In trouble? Coasting?

Bechdel test in Writing

Bechdel test

What is the Bechdel test?

JR-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing-Bechdel Test
The Bechdel Test

The Bechdel test is best defined by the Bechdel site:

… sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel‘s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject please check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on feministfrequency.com.

Okay, But What Does it Really Mean?

Films have shortchanged women for decades. The test is not necessary for cinema, and it is certainly not necessary for prose. However, it’s still a helpful gauge.

Walking the Walk

Consider the following. These are bits of my prose. These are the points where my three (so far) NaNoWriMo novels passed. First off is a sentence from Untrustworthy, and it is the first dialogue spoken. It is in the first chapter, page 1.

“Good morning, Ixalla,” Tathrelle said…

And the second one is from The Obolonk Murders. It is in the first chapter, page 3. Selkhet (who is a female robot) is speaking to the main character, Peri Martin.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” said Selkhet…

Finally, the third is from The Enigman Cave. It is in the first chapter, page 3. The speaker is the main character, Mariana Shapiro.

“Yeah, Astrid? Can you patch me through to Jazzie and Trixie?”

The Point

I don’t pretend to always write stellar prose. Yet all three of these works pass the test. And all they do so within chapter one. Rather than making the reader dig, I lay it all out quickly.

For other writers, though, it may be more difficult. Lewis Carroll takes longer to bring Alice together with someone named. And even then, the name is ‘The Red Queen’. But does that count? Beyond the name question, does it count because Alice is a child and therefore probably would not be talking about men?

And what happens if the piece is about lesbians? If they discuss the objects of their affections, does it count?

The Bar is Set Low

Talk about setting a low bar! The two women don’t need to be strong. They do not need to be intelligent. A film or book can pass the test if two named women discuss crocheting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

However, my point is, passing the test doesn’t automatically turn anyone smart. Or kick ass. Or anything else. Instead, it just means two named female characters spoke, however briefly. And their subject, however briefly, was not a man.

Return to Prose

Let’s go back to my three examples. The speakers in Untrustworthy are married to each other. The ones in The Obolonk Murders and The Enigman Cave are colleagues. While Selkhet is subordinate to Peri, and Astrid is to Mariana, they are still addressed respectfully. Especially relevant, the interactions are professional ones. However, Mariana is more informal than Selkhet.

Do the interactions have to be meaningful? Not really. Ixalla and Tathrelle could be beating each other for all the reader knows. At least, given the one sentence, above. Maybe Peri smashes Selkhet to bits right after the above statement. Maybe Mariana fires Astrid.

So the test doesn’t ‘fix’ any of that. It doesn’t guarantee heroic characters. It just guarantees names and the power of speech. And they, at least one time, don’t talk about a man.

More Issues with the Test

The test is imperfect. It’s very hard to pass it when writing historical fiction. Of course women of the past could be named. They could speak of something other than men. But the time and place dictate something else. In the 1880s (for example), men drive most of the action outside the home. That’s not sexism; it’s reality. Still, since Scarlet O’Hara and Prissy discuss Melanie Hamilton Wilkes’s baby, then yes, Gone With the Wind passes. So it’s not impossible. It’s just tougher.

Social Media and Writing Part 3

Social Media Writing Part 3

Social Media Writing Part 3? Well, it’s more like Social Media and Writing Part 3. Good lord, I do write when I get going, eh?

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing Social Media Writing Part 3
Social Media Writing Part 3

These posts are related to a Chuck Wendig post on these topics.

When we last left, I was talking about some things not to do. Here are a few more.

You don’t have to be everywhere online

Don’t become a one-armed paper hanger online. Just like with athletic training, rest (e. g. taking breaks) is a weapon. Furthermore, too many posts will burn you out and they will probably end up hurting each other.

Now, this does not mean you take three years between blog posts. It does not mean you never tweet! Rather, the idea is to say what you want and need to without overdoing it. You do not need to get back to people in five minutes. Even big-time professionals take some time. And yes, I am including big-time professionals who have people to do all of this for them. If it bothers you, you can always set an expectation on your blog or Facebook page or the like. But do yourself a favor: don’t be too specific, so as to allow for the occasional weird hiccups in life. If your laptop is damaged during a vacation, you’ll thank me for this.

Don’t chase the shiny stuff

Here is a corollary to the previous tip. By shiny, I mean new platforms. Hot platforms are fun and they can be exciting. Furthermore, it can be helpful to get in on the ground floor, as it were. Or that can be a waste of your time. Most of us remember when MySpace was big, and Facebook was an upstart. But here we are now, years later, and we can be killin’ it on Facebook without having been there at the very start. So relax. And do some research. Maybe the shiny thing would fit your work and your readership perfectly.

Timing is everything

We have all heard that expression, and it’s true on social media. But it’s also true in writing. When a big zombie television show stops making new content, for example, readers might be interested in almost continuing the story (I don’t mean fanfiction; rather, I mean similar works in the genre but they do not infringe on copyright). That could be an opportunity to ride the wave. Or maybe people are sick of those stories, and that’s why the show was cancelled. Without further information, either theory is plausible.

Use your spots but don’t be annoying

What? While you should not be a 24/7 advertising channel (nobody likes that, not even born advertisers), you can and should take advantage of certain spots and placements. For example, when you add a picture to a blog post, what do you put in the alt= attribute? Nothing? Sacre bleu!

Excuse me for a moment while I swoon in horror. At the absolute minimum, put your blog post title in there. Even better, add your name or your blog’s name.

Or, are you published and your work is available on Amazon? If it is, then you need to take possession of your author page. Make it so that, if someone clicks on the author name (that would be your name), then they get somewhere. Somewhere with a bit about who you are, and what you are working on next.

When people click on the author’s name, they want information. So feed it to them.

But don’t force-feed them, by providing a Twitter stream that is a nonstop ad for your work. That brings me to my next point.

This is a community. Act like that

Way back, when I was a kid (so, the late 1960s, early 1970s), suburbia was where you could borrow a neighbor’s hedge clippers. Or they would come over for coffee and bring a cake and you would temporarily take possession of the plate it was on. In both instances, you would return the articles as soon as possible, cleaned and ready for reuse. If you broke either, you told the owner, you apologized, and then you presented them with a brand-new one. Or if their kid had a recital and they invited you, you did your best to go. If your dog got loose, they helped find the beast. You get the idea.

People still help each other, of course. And I grew up far from Mayberry. So the concept here is: build each other up. Don’t break each other down. Got praise? Then tell everyone. Got criticism? Then tell the writer privately. Don’t lie on your public reviews, but don’t tear people new ones, either. Even bad writing can be considered unique or ambitious.

And that reminds me: if you get someone’s book, either free or cheap or used or at full price, review it!

Don’t sacrifice writing time for social media

This one is important. Yes, you need to promote, and social media is a part of that. Promotions can also include holding book signings, or donating your book to your local library, or handing out bookmarks. But don’t lose your writing time because you’re out socializing (or in. You know what I mean). I use my calendar program and I just make a weekday appointment with myself. Now, I don’t always keep that appointment. And the one hour I set aside sometimes means 2,000 words and sometimes it means 20. But the appointment is still there. I urge you to make a recurring appointment so that writing is as important to you as visiting the dentist or changing the batteries in the smoke detector.

And finally …

Hard work is everything.

Overnight success stories take years.

You are worth it.

This has been Social Media Writing Part 3. Now back to you, in the comments section. Did I leave anything out of Social Media Writing Part 3 (of 3)? Do tell.

Social Media and Writing Part 2

Social Media Writing Part 2

Social Media Writing Part 2? Er, I mean Social Media and Writing, Part 2.

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing-Social Media Writing Part 2
Social Media and Writing Part 2

More about the Chuck Wendig blog post, and my take on it all.

Recap

Let us return to our discussion. In the first part of this post, I talked about the current state of social media, more or less. Numbers are high. The avalanche won’t let up.

Now is the time to talk about you.

Yeah, you.

Your definition of success will define your book-related happiness. Choose it wisely

What am I talking about?

What I mean is, if you go into writing thinking you’re going to become wealthy, stop right there, turn around, and go to actuarial school or something.

Actuarial?

I don’t know. Bear with me, okay?

Just, don’t consider writing as a super-lucrative career. That is rare, which is why most of the people who have become wealthy from writing are household names.

Furthermore, two of them, JK Rowling and Stephen King, both started in grinding poverty. They both played what I like to call Bill Roulette, where you have five monthly bills but only enough money to pay four. So you mentally spin a big wheel and choose who you’re going to stiff that month. Although they probably both dreamed of making it big, I imagine their initial goals were things like paying all the bills or getting the transmission fixed on the car.

Icons

Think you’re going to become iconic, like Harper Lee? You might, yes. It’s not wholly outside the realm of possibility. But don’t go into writing with that as your primary goal. For you will surely be disappointed. Furthermore, before your death, how do you even measure iconic status? If it’s by number of books sold, then you’re back to the fame and fortune dream, supra.

Instead, try defining success in bite-sized terms. And try defining it objectively. Usually that means books sold or reviews obtained.

Goal: sell 50 books. Get 20 reviews. Average 3 1/2 stars or better on the reviews.

There. That’s reasonable, attainable, and measurable. You may or may not want to add a time component, but I personally would not. Why not? Because you’ll just make yourself crazy with a self-imposed timeline. What if, for example, your most devoted and reliable readers end up being middle schoolers? They might not have the time to read during the school year, so if you limit your goal to the school year, you could end up feeling like a failure. And then summer would save you. So avoid the heartache and just excise the time element. You’ll be a far happier person.

Nobody wants to see or read a nonstop advertising stream

Seriously. Stop doing that. That’s why people are on the Internet in the first place. If they wanted ads, they would be watching network television.

If the only thing you have to talk about is where to buy your book, I’ve got news for you.

You’re boring.

So please don’t do that.

Instead, divvy up your time. And spend 30% or less of it on self-promotions. For your other time, take 40% for promoting others. And no more than 30% providing more personal information. Don’t talk about the weather or your lunch, but if you just broke through writer’s block, I bet your audience would love to know that.

Egad, I had no idea I would write this much! Time for part 3!

 

Social Media and Writing

Social Media Writing

Social media writing? No, I mean both of them. Not the combo.

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing-Social Media Writing
Social Media Writing

Social media and writing go together.

Kind of.

I read Chuck Wendig’s post on the two and I want to comment on it.

Basic Info That Can Help Anyone (Really!)

Let’s start with the basics.

Social media will not save a bad book

Unfortunately, it’s true. We have all seen the Twilight tropes, e. g. “still a better love story than Twilight”. My apologies to Stephenie Meyer, and to the people who enjoy her work. She caught fire because she hit a particular market extremely well. Social media did not fuel her success, at least not in the beginning. Although it probably did later, as people shared their joy on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Rather, her work did well, at least in part, because it hit the teen/tween girl market like a bull’s eye. Ever wonder why Bella Swan is so undeveloped with such a bare bones description? It’s so any young girl can dream of being her. Any girl of any race or height or weight or hobbies.

Her publisher, Hachette Book Group, also marketed the Twilight novels very well. At the time the fourth one came out, I received it (it’s called Breaking Dawn) as a bonus because I was working for Hachette in their IT department.

Some people get Thanksgiving turkeys. Some people get ….

Er, sorry, Ms. Meyer. I don’t want to turn this into a bash session.

Rather, the point I am dancing around is: what if Ms. Meyer had blasted everything on Twitter and Facebook? What if she hadn’t had a good marketing department behind her? Then she probably would not have gotten so far.

Social media did not improve her works. It did not worsen them, either. Her success arose, for the most part, outside the realm of social media. And it did not save critics from savaging her work.

Converting from one platform to another is exceptionally difficult

You may be fantastic on LinkedIn but stink on Twitter. You may be killin’ it on Wattpad but limping along on YouTube. Or you may even have tons of Facebook friends but few followers on your Facebook page.

True story. I read a lot (duh!). It’s all sorts of stuff. I read fanfiction, I read original writing, I read free stuff, I read NaNoWriMo novels. And I read the classics. What often interests me is seeing works which are highly rated on GoodReads with so few sales on Amazon that they don’t get recommendations. But with enough sales, your book gets mentioned in those, “If you like __, you might enjoy ___” kinds of notifications.

I see people who are Wattpad gods and goddesses, cranking out tons of super-appreciated chapters and adored by hundreds of thousands of (presumably) screaming fans. Then they try to monetize their work, and it falls flat. New York Times bestselling authors, for real, only sell a few tens of thousands of works in any given week and they make the cut. So why don’t these Wattpad writers with phenomenal read counts to an order of magnitude ten higher than that end up on bestseller lists?

Social media is a daily tsunami

Part of the reason? This right here. We are all inundated, every single day. Users upload over twenty-four hours of new YouTube content every second of every day. They have over one billion users. Facebook has over 1.7 billion registered users and over one billion of those people access the site on a daily basis. Therefore, Facebook considers them ‘regular users’. The average number of Facebook friends currently hovers at around 150 or so. Twitter’s users also number in the hundreds of millions.

Given all of these big numbers, you can’t blame organic reach decline on a platform trying to hide posts so you’ll pay for the privilege of advertising (although that’s part of it). It is also a sheer numbers game. If you have 150 friends on Facebook and it’s your sole platform, you still can’t keep up with it all. If you go on Facebook for 150 minutes (e. g. two and a half hours), that won’t be one minute per friend, as you will inevitably read a headline, take a survey or quiz, like a comment, post a picture, or watch a video.

How does this apply to you, the indie author? Does social media writing matter? Stay tuned; I’ll cover it in part 2.

A Day in the Life of a Community Manager

A Day in the Life of a Community Manager

A community manager tends to have some fairly similar tasks, whether paid or volunteer. Community Management can be a piece of Social Media Marketing and Management, but it doesn’t, strictly, have to be.

The community manager : a jack of all trades
The community manager : a jack of all trades (Photo credit: La Fabrique de Blogs)

A Community Manager’s time mainly divides up into three different modes:

  1. Discussing
  2. Nurturing and
  3. Disciplining

Discussing

The discussing piece involves creating new discussions and shepherding them along. Users will not return, day after day, without new content. While the users are, ultimately, responsible for the content in a community, the Community Manager should create new content as well. This is not always topics as it can also encompass changes to the site’s blog (if any) and Facebook fan page (if it exists).

The discussing piece evolves as the community evolves. In a tiny community of less than one thousand users, the Community Manager’s content may turn out to be the only new content for weeks! As such, it can loom very, very large, but can also have a much stronger ameliorative effect if the other content being created is overly snarky. As the community grows, the Community Manager’s contributions should proportionately diminish but there should still be some involvement. Otherwise the Community Manager can be seen as hanging back a bit too much. It is a Community, and that means that the users want to know the Manager(s). An easy and relatively safe way to do this is by creating discussions.

On Topic/Off Topic

And the discussions need not always stay on topic! Lively discussions can be almost spun from whole cloth if the Manager can get the people talking. An automotive community might thrill to talking about cooking. A cooking community might engage in an animated discussion about the Olympics. And a sports community could very well bring its passion to a topic like politics.

In particular, if the community is single-subject-based (e. g. about, say, Coca-Cola), going off-topic should probably at least peripherally relate to the overall subject. Hence Coke can branch out into cooking and, from there, perhaps into family relationships. Or into health and fitness. But a push to discussing politics may not fly unless the discussion is based on a major recent news item or if there is precedent for it. Finally, if a member is ill, or has passed on, getting married or having a child, an off-topic discussion can spring naturally and effortlessly. This happens regardless of the community’s main subject matter. Corporate management may not absolutely love off-topic discussions but they keep a community together, and keep it viable.

Nurturing

The nurturing piece relates to the discussing aspect. However, it tends to encompass responding to and supporting good discussions on the site. If the Community Manager should identify certain superstar users who are good at making topics who the community likes. And then nurture them to promote those persons’ discussions over more inferior ones. Use nurturing power to encourage newbies and members who might be on the cusp of becoming superstar users if they only had a little more self-confidence, and a track record of support and positive reinforcement.

Relationships

Nurturing can also take the shape of developing relationships with members. The Community Manager doesn’t have to be friends with everyone, even if the site is very small. However, they should get to know the users. Private messages (if available), writing on a wall (if possible) or otherwise somewhat intimately communicating with the membership can accomplish this.

Furthermore, the Community Manager can use private messages, etc. as a means for heading off potential problems at the pass. Headstrong members might be perfectly wonderful if/when they write on topics not related to their overarching passion. The Community Manager can encourage those members to participate in those other discussions and also to reach out to other community members. Friendship can help to minimize flaming.

Disciplining

And that leads into the disciplining part, which is often the first thing that people think of when they think of community management. That includes things like pulling spam. It also includes giving users timeouts or even outright suspending them when their actives contravene a site’s Terms of Service. And it also includes shunning and ignoring. These can be extremely powerful. The Community Manager can help to mobilize other users.

But Do It Right

An email or private message campaign is almost always a very poor idea. Rather, the Manager must lead by example. Don’t take the bait when challenged, unless it’s absolutely necessary (rare). It’s the Community Manager’s call when to take it, particularly if personal insults fly. Often the best tactics include: (a) get offline and cool off and (b) ask another Community Manager or Moderator to determine if it warrants disciplinary action. And then enforce that if it is.

One thing a Manager should never forget: there is far more to the community than just the people posting. There is often a far larger audience of lurkers, both registered and unregistered. They are watching events unfold but rarely comment. By leading by example, the Community Manager can influence not only active posters but also the community at large.

During a typical day, new members register. And members lose their passwords, start and respond to topics. Furthermore, they answer older topics, and people engage in private communications (if permitted on the site). Members may disagree on something and they may do so vehemently. The site may get spam.

The Community Manager should mainly become involved as a content creator if content creation lags or goes too far off subject. He or she should discipline difficult members if necessary. However, generally, a Community Manager’s main task, both daily and over the life of the community, should be to carefully nurture and shape relationships.

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky, A Book Review

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky really has something here. Because I have to say, I just plain love this book. I am a fan! In addition, this book ended up tying with Groundswell for being my favorite of the six books that we were assigned to read in my first Quinnipiac University social media class, Social Media Platforms (ICM 522).

Clay Shirky: Here comes everybody!
Clay Shirky: Here comes everybody! (Photo credit: ChimpLearnGood)

At the time, I started classes thinking I would only get a certification and nothing more. However, I ended up staying long enough to get my Master’s of Science in Communications in Interactive Media (social media). And a part of that decision can be traced directly back to reading this particular work.

Philosophy To Go

Furthermore, I really liked the philosophical and sociological aspects of his work. Essentially, what he ended up saying was – society is changing. It’s not just the Internet; it is happening to humans ourselves. We are in the process of becoming new, and different. Hence there is a seismic shift going on, in our society.

Of course, that is likely to just be the wealthiest slice of society. Because heartbreakingly poor people in Third World countries simply aren’t going to be adding to online or offline content any time soon. Or, if they are, it is far more likely to consist of content that is survival-based. Hence this would be items for sale, rather than the products of truly creative pursuits.

Amateurs vs. Professionals

In addition, I really love what he had to say about amateur participation. Because in Chapter 5, on page 154, Shirky persuasively writes:

“As more people come to expect that amateur participation is always an option, those expectations can change the culture.”

So here’s to amateur participation. Because it is here to stay and I suspect it will never, truly go away.

Rating

Review: 5/5 stars.

… And Facebook for All — Offsite Sharing

… And Facebook for All — Offsite Sharing

Offsite sharing is a fascinating concept. Perhaps the most compelling feature of Facebook consists of the availability of the Like Button.

The Like Button

Because the offsite Like Button dovetails beautifully with its presence on the site itself, i. e.,

“The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website.”

Drag and Drop

Adventures in Career Changing - Facebook | Offsite sharing
Facebook likes can sometimes be hard to come by.

Furthermore, the site certainly tries to make it easy for even novice programmers (and people who can really only do drag and drop) to place a Like Button on their own sites for offsite sharing. The premise is irresistible: you add the Like Button, people “Like” your own site, and that information transmits back to Facebook and to the Likers’ friend lists. In addition, their friends, who may not have know about you at all, suddenly do, and the offsite sharing spreads even more. They, hopefully, check you out, Like you, and the process repeats on and on, ad infinitum, or at least in theory. And with enough intersecting friends with enough non-intersecting additional friendships, a few Likes could translate into dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands, of new people who know about you.

Engagement and Reach

However, engagement and reach are both going down. And Facebook actually has the gall to try to get people to pay for what it does! Quelle horreur!

But, seriously folks, how do you think Facebook pays its bills? They do it with advertising. If the users won’t be charged (and Facebook would be mighty foolish to start charging all of those free sources of detailed consumer data), then advertisers will be. And of course that already happens. What gets a lot of people’s undershorts knotted is that the freebie style of advertising is becoming harder and harder to implement. Facebook seems to push everyone with a page to start buying likes to get more offsite sharing.

Thumb on the Scale?

Whoa, Nelly! Because that would be kind of unethical, if the site was deliberately putting a thumb on an imaginary scale and making it harder for people to reach their fans without paying for reach and engagement.

So, are they doing that?

While the jury is still out, I’m inclined to say no. After all, the site grows by leaps and bounds on a minute by minute basis. And engagement and reach dilute without Facebook having to do a damned thing.

Finally, does the site benefit from making it harder for page and group administrators to connect for free? Absolutely. But do they have to work in order to create this condition?

Nope. Life does it for them.

Next: Facebook: All the Rest of It