Here’s an interesting article by Tracy Coenen called “Facebook is Not Satan’s Spawn,” weighing in on Facebook’s new privacy settings.

Where do you stand on keeping your public postings private?


Facebook has unveiled its plans for the newer service “Facebook Lite” in an attempt to streamline the Facebook experience.  There will only be links to see walls, your friends’ walls, profile info, and photos and videos.  This sounds like a fine idea… But then, it also sounds like what Facebook used to be before the endless stream of changes that have taken place since 2008.

Remember the days of yore (because 2004 is so old-school now), when a bare-boned Facebook captured your heart, mind and credit hours with the simplest user interface out of all the social networking sites? There was no live feed of friends’ updates, there wasn’t even a home page initially.  Even at its simplest, Facebook was able to build a loyal following that grew beyond 200 million strong this past spring.

The situation feels like MTV2 revisited.  MTV brought The Box (a viewer request channel that aired music videos commercial-free) in 1996.  They turned that into MTV2 to have a place to show more music videos and a wider range of music genres. Because it had focused so much on developing reality TV shows and teen dramas, it was as if MTV literally ran out of space to fit music into its own channel. 

Facebook seems to be running out of space to fit… “facebooking.”  Now Facebook is overwrought with outside applications, Zuckerberg bought FriendFeed for who knows what reason.  And Facebook seems a little obsessed with Twitter, especially since failing to acquire Twitter in March.

There’s no longer any room for the charm that made Facebook what it once was.  So they have to start over on a new site.  But will one site be enough? (There are 5 channels of MTV in the US alone). For more info on Facebook Lite, check out the ever-useful Mashable and TechCrunch.

People say great things on Twitter.  It’s the short format… It forces you to really think about the efficacy of 140 characters.  So as I said before, I’m starting a tweet-log of some of my favorite tweets, by myself and by others.  Below is one of my all-time favorite tweet exchanges from my earlier days on Twitter. If it’s ever happened to you then you know how exciting a reply from a Twitter-lebrity is.

A brief exchange with anti-PR celeb Amanda Chapel on March 6th:

 BobbyPens RT @TDefren “This Blog Post is Not About Skittles” Gotta say this Skittles gimmick does not excite me.

amandachapel@BobbyPens “Gotta say this Skittles gimmick does not excite me.” Excuse me, but for most social media vagrants, Skittles is high art.

BobbyPens@amandachapel Those vagrants need to be put in their place on this one… Skittles are fruit-flavored candy for cryin out loud!

I still remain unimpressed by Skittles, for the record. You need to have a Website. I don’t care how Web 1.0 that sounds!

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  I’ve just completed a challenging week of final exams and if everything goes according to plan, I will be a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication in 8 long days…

While I was taking a break from blogging, I’ve been working on some new ideas for Bobby Pens.  It took me a few weeks after joining in February for a class assignment, but I am now completely and totally addicted to Twitter. I had just a basic personal account when I first joined, but about a month in, I suddenly “got it” and became the micro-blog within the Bobby Pens blog.  You can and should use your Twitter account as an extension of your blog. I’ve found it doubles the interactivity.

  • A micro-blog is the same idea as a regular blog but it consists of much shorter written, audio, or visual entries (there are also macro-blogs, discussed on Bobby Pens as well).  The recommended length of a blog post is 250-500 words.  A micro-blog can be one sentence, 140 characters, a three-photo photo essay, a ten second video clip, a text message, or a quick status update on a larger social networking site, for example.
  • See: Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Jaiku, Plurk for examples of micro-blogging platforms.

There are some great Tumblr “Tumblelogs” out there ( and, but Twitter is my micro-blogging drug of choice.  It forces me to confront my problems with brevity (you are limited to 140 characters per “tweet”).  It also reminds me how profound writers can be when they use their words (and multimedia) judiciously.

So I’ve decided to start tweet-logging, yet another term that I thought I’d invented, but to which someone already beat me. Life goes on… I suppose.

  • Tweet-logging is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a log of your tweets.
  • You don’t have to do it on your own.  There is software that automatically updates your regular blog with your tweets for the day (for example, LoudTwitter).
  • I will be manually tweet-logging, to showcase my favorite tweets on Bobby Pens and elsewhere. You can see a full feed of my tweets on the left-and side of this blog, or of course by visiting my Twitter page.

Unfortunately, there are no formal tweet-logs that I could find to share with you… Tweet-logs pop up in various forms on plenty of blogs, but always part of a larger blog, like this one.  But this is the internet. Give it some time!

Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in yesterday’s business section on the growing numbers of Americans who make money by blogging.  This includes people who blog on their spare time and professional bloggers for corporations (assuming it is now safe to call blogging a standardized profession?).


Mark Penn (the article’s author) has a rosy outlook on blogging, suggesting that it could be a product of the Information Age with the most profound effect on American culture.  As exciting as that is, I’m not sure I want American society being shaped by some of the top-rated blogs: Perez Hilton (#26), I Can Haz Cheezburger (#21), or TMZ (#13).


Well actually, that’s manipulation of statistics. The top ten blogs (as rated by Technorati) cater far less to prurient interests.  But, unlike much of the information cranked by the Fourth Estate, they are more opinion-driven than fact-driven.  So it seems to me that blogs are affecting our opinions more than anything. Because now I can type my opinions out and blast them to most regions of the earth, without earning journalism credentials, or even changing out of my pajamas.  And you know what they say about opinions… Everyone has them. 


So… as much as I love the blogosphere, I hope it doesn’t impact American culture, so much as it impacts the state of American opinion. You know, making it researched, fully-fleshed and well-rounded.  (This is by no means a critique of Americans or our opinions, I just think we can always stand to be better informed, you know?)


Here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting parts of the article:

·         One out of three young people reports blogging, but bloggers who do it for a living successfully are 2% of bloggers overall

·         It takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year

·         In Washington alone, there are now 79% fewer DC-based employees of major newspapers than there were just few years ago (At the same time, Washington is easily the most blogged-about city in America, if not the world)

·         For sites at the top, the returns can be substantial. At some point the value of the Huffington Post will no doubt pass the value of the Washington Post 



Click here to read the article: America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire





Today I was honored at a reception for Boston University Student Employee of the Year nominees.  I intern in the education department of the Huntington Theatre Company (a Boston University partner), which is a huge, huge organization. So it feels special just to be noticed in the first place.  But to be counted among the students that won the award at the reception today was very special. 




These students were exemplary employees at any age or academic level.  There were tutors, student managers, and resident advisors in the group. Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore stopped by the event to thank us for our work and share his own experiences as a student employee. The reception was a great way to begin wrapping up my internship with the Huntington, which has brought many unexpected opportunities my way.


The reception was also a perfect way for Boston University to acknowledge National Student Employment Week. Hopefully, you show some love to your student interns and let them know how much you appreciate their work!

Every day I receive at least 10 direct messages via Twitter, inviting me to click a link and find out how so-and-so got over 16,000 followers in less than 90 days, or how so-and-so got 15,625 followers in 30 days, and so on. “Dominate Twitter!” they write, as if that’s supposed to excite me into a clicking, re-tweeting frenzy.  Why would I try to dominate Twitter? I love Twitter! Besides, Facebook couldn’t even do it…

I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings, “@SocialMediaGuruExtraordinaire,” but I will never click your link. I don’t want a million followers. And more importantly, I do not want that many followers in 30 days.

I would never get to meet them!

Sure, like every blogger I want people to visit my blog. It’s almost as important that they like it. But the fun of Twitter is the people (my tweeps). And how is one supposed to get to know their followers if they just blindly collect them like Beanie Babies? I know it’s been said that there’s no one way to use Twitter, and I agree. But man, there are plenty of awful ways to use it. Depending on your reasons for creating an account, Twitter relationships should purposeful. The tacky follow-mongering is really not a good look.

…I don’t see how anyone does it. I can barely remember Comcast channels to get my morning Golden Girls fix, let alone words and sentences and grammar and syntax and punctuation


I have some new posts planned for the week, which for me should kick in around Tuesday:

·         Ode to the Sims 2, top-selling, awesome-est video game of all time

·         Live-blogging from the ER, how I spent my Saturday night


I am still trying to get into the Bobby Pens groove. Every time I want to focus on PR or social and new media, Tyra Banks does something fantastic on her show. And I get the urge to write about it. I appreciate singularly focused blogs, so it keeps me on the edge of my seat when I think about the many courses this blog could run. But blogging is exciting and I’ve had so much fun starting this blog and getting involved in the Twitter-sphere ( I’m meeting awesome people and learning a lot. My next goals are to buy a domain name or two and to try my hand at website construction. Any pointers you have, I’m all ears! Seriously. Nothing but ears here, folks.

[This post will far exceed my self-imposed limit of 300 words… I couldn’t help it! This was a convergence of two of my favorite things in the entire world and it is all I can do to keep myself from writing a book.]



I’ve said many times before that I think the universe communicates with me through the Tyra Banks Show. Every time I’m going through drama in my life, Tyra does a show on it. And when I need some general catharsis, this show provides it in 60 minutes or less. The universe delivered AGAIN. Tyra did a show on Twitter (and Facebook). Message received, universe: spend more time online.


I’m going to recap some of the many highlights of this episode, in hopes that you appreciate this show’s dedication to thoroughness. They left no stone unturned in getting some thoughtful commentary…  Well at least for Facebook anyway.


“So everybody’s on Facebook, right?”




A lot of the show was dedicated to discussing Facebook and by the end I realized I was one of the “haters that are lovers” of Facebook—a complicated emotional state that only Tyra could put into words so eloquently. The audience was audibly impressed by news of the social networking site’s 100 million user growth in just eight months.  (For more on that, read this).  Tyra gave a shout-out to her Facebook fan page (I’m so upset I knew nothing about this before).   And we were introduced to Julian Smith, creator of a pretty awesome YouTube clip “25 Things I hate About Facebook” (which borrows from the plague-like viral Facebook meme “25 Things About Me.”


Discussion of some of the awful things we put up with to use Facebook (like being “poked” by strangers) prompted Tyra to give us the “Five Rules of Facebook,” a comprehensive guide to Facebook etiquette:


1)      Only tag a photo of your friend with their permission

2)      Only make friend requests of people that you actually know (Don’t they know “to friend” is the correct verb here?)

3)      Relationship status changes must be mutual

4)      Do not write inappropriate stuff on your friends’ walls

5)      Do not over-poke people, especially strangers



Other Facebook-centric segments included: a Tyra Show staff member who changes his coworkers’ pages when they leave their computers, a woman who broke up with her boyfriend by changing her relationship status, and a girl meeting her brother for the first time after first connecting on Facebook. By this point, I was tired of Facebook all over again. Move on to Twitter, please!


Again, the universe obliged.




 “Are you obsessed with Twitter?”


About 6 people in the studio audience cheer at the mention of Twitter as the next segment rolls along. How sad… You could tell Twitter sounded like the geekiest waste of time on the planet to the women in this audience.  They responded with horror and possibly disgust upon learning you can Tweet from your phone. Um, it’s 2009. How is that a foreign concept, people? 


Ugh, never mind. Cut to Tony and Ashley, a couple experiencing a romantic downswing because of Tony’s Twitter obsession (the audience was like, “Geek!” I was like, “I feel you, brother.”).  Leave it to Tyra to host “television’s first ‘Twittervention.’” Does everyone recognize the genius here? Okay, then I will move on…


I later “bumped into” Tony on Twitter, who was—what else—monitoring conversation about the show. I felt guilty Tweeting back and forth with him after seeing the show. That’s what you just got in trouble for, Tony! 


Anyway, Tony gave me the green light to share his experience on the Tyra Banks Show, which he wrote about on his blog. You can also see a clip of the segment.  You’ve got to love a man that gives his mom a shout-out! The only thing they were missing on this segment was a couch. They really needed to conduct the Twittervention with Tony sitting on a couch.


No matter, the last of my observations before I begin to wrap things up is a correction. “Tweet” is a noun AND a verb! We can’t go confusing non-Tweeters like that by not properly discussing the grammar involved in sending “tweets” or getting all “twitterriffic” (err, maybe I’m the only one who uses that).


Potent Quotables


Alright, can I just share some of my favorite quotes by one of the most quotable women on one my favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows of all time? Okay great, thanks!


·         “Haters that are lovers on the internet”

·         “Does the building look like, like, the homepage of Facebook?” (She asks Julian, about his visit to the Facebook studio)

·         “…So you don’t even want to date her? So you’re gonna be celibate and not date at all?” (This was directed to the guest whose girlfriend broke up with him via Facebook relationship status. I was so with her on this. His lost: to the left, to the left!

·         “If you are creepy, you must suppress your inner-creepiness!” (When writing on Facebook walls)

·         And lastly, this AWESOME description of Twitter: “Twitter allows users to let people follow them all day long by constantly updating their status and answering the question ‘What are you doing? What are you doing? …I’m sitting on the Tyra show. What are you doing?  …I’m scratching my ankle. What are you doing? …I’m feeling for naps in the back of my hair.’” (Stir, simmer, and stew in the awesome, won’t you?)


This was by far my second favorite episode in the history… of… the Tyra Banks Show (my first favorite was “Black Men in America”… and incidentally, my third favorite was the one with Patti Labelle and Brandy. Yes I keep track of these things!) I’ll just politely ask that The Tyra Show covers this topic like once a month. So I can keep finding excuses for the time I spend doing the things I do.



So what’d you think of the show? Comment, and let me know what you think of the recaps, xoxo

So I’m still fumbling around this blog, getting into my guh-rooove thing. I really like the concept of live-blogging because I love taking notes. (Yes, you should sit near me in that 8 a.m. lecture on communications law).

I watch pretty much every episode of the Tyra Banks Show now that I’ve been blessed with a DVR. Before that, I just scheduled my classes around it…

Why not do something more productive with my “Tyra-Time”? Haha, okay, well something that at least makes me feel productive.

Some notes on how I plan to live-blog:

· I know… this isn’t technically liveblogging because I’m not watching a live event and I’m not in actually in the studio during taping (weep). So I’m just going to stick that “semi” in there and go on about my business.

· My timestamps are somewhat arbitrary, I have no way of knowing when each aired segment really happened, so I instead give the place in the DVR recording. Six minutes into the program is 0:06, and so on. Not exactly military precision, but it gets me by.

· My method: I take notes on the show as I watch, and type them up. Then I clean it up before I post. Again, I think this goes against the true nature of live-blogging, because it’s not a live recap of what I’m seeing, but it makes for clearer, more concise reading. I can always share my “live” notes on the show with whoever wants them, if that helps matters any.

Alright, so check back often for my semi live-blogging of the Tyra Banks Show. Especially if you miss Tyra because you work or go to school, and don’t yet have a DVR. I feel your pain, and I feel strongly that no one should go without his or her Tyra fix. Ever!

This entry is perhaps not technically live-blogging, since I DVR’d the show and watched it the next day. But post-show-live-blog I must when Tyra compels me so!

A while ago (scroll down what? two entries), I wrote about Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appearing on the Tyra Banks Show. The quasi schadenfreude I experience when watching this talk-show continues, as Tyra continues bridging worlds that are as diametrically mismatched as ketchup on cornflakes. It gets so uncomfortable on that set that I often bury my head under covers, just watching from my sofa.

Levi Johnston, father of Bristol Palin’s baby Tripp, went on the Tyra Banks Show to talk about his experience dating Bristol and dealing with media scrutiny during the campaign… But it got awkward. Fast.

I’m not going to fixate on Levi’s explanation that he started dating Bristol because her family hunts, or Tyra’s probing about the safe sex practices between Levi and Bristol. I will, however, commend Tyra on getting to this interview first. Is Katie Couric somewhere, kicking herself?

How does Tyra, still a budding executive producer get these exclusive interviews? I wonder less about Tyra’s prowess in TV production and more about the family’s motives for choosing the Tyra Show as a venue to “set the record straight.” Who are they telling their story to, and how does a show aimed at a diverse audience of young women meet that goal? We’re going to see more from this family and it might not be pretty…

So my involvement with Twitter has forced me to confront my age-old enemy: Brevity. Those 140 characters are a total buzz kill when you’re suddenly struck with the urge to pour out your soul on the topic of seafood bisque, as I often am. (I like mine chunky. Why must chefs blend it to a pulp so that I’m forced to drink my shrimp? Is that someone’s idea of cuisine? Because from where I sit, it’s just a glorified, aquatic-life-based protein shake.)

I’m not the biggest fan of conciseness. It does nothing for me. Eclecticism? Cool. Specificity? Awesome. Give me any topic, any story, but by all means, do not skimp me on the details. And for the love of Office Suite, don’t ask me to keep it short either.

You may not know me, oh, but you know someone just like me. The kind of person who tells a story that starts in one time zone and ends up just like that time my Grandma took me to see a taping of Wheel of Fortune, only Vanna White didn’t look anything like I thought she’d look up close, you know?

But I can’t function that way anymore… I start to write a blog entry that looks like a FAFSA application. And for what?! I can’t even tell by the end how the beginning got there. And it keeps me from saying all the things I’ve got on my mind. WHO OTHERWISE WILL SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT SEAFOOD BISQUE??

So I’m going to limit myself. I have to. For the sake of sanity, Bobby Pens is becoming a macro-blog. 200 words or less, per entry. For the next 5 posts (it’s trial run). Maybe 250 words if the topic moves me. Hey, you don’t get to make the rules! And you don’t need to count the words in this entry, either. Nope… no need.

I once had a communications professor who told a class of undergrad and grad students some “sad, unfortunate truths” about the world of communication. Please allow me to paraphrase a few of them so you can see the exact moment my heart sank and broke into a million, tiny, disillusioned pieces:

1)  Journalism is dying at the hands of apathetic consumers
2)  People will not take you seriously if you speak with a Southern accent
3) Today’s college students are tomorrow’s illiterate fops: We can’t write worth a lick

Disheartening, right? How’s a college student supposed to enter the world with all that fresh-faced optimism when people say things like that to you?

But it’s okay. I think communications students are fighting the good fight when it comes to sifting through the mish-mosh of traditional media and new media changes that get harder to keep track of every year. There’s so many different ways our skills can be applied.

The only sad, unfortunate truth I’m seeing is that people will get left behind if they don’t learn to adapt and to grow and to maintain the same level of dignity for new media that made traditional media so effective. Even in the face of economic recession and spirit-grinding professors, it’s hard for me to feel like there’s no longer any good content to create. Or that I can’t create it.

Today, Bobby Pens got a dose of:

Tyra Banks with Mike Huckabee

And my blog may become better because of it.

In trying to achieve a more professional tone on Bobby Pens than on previous blogs, I was almost willing to forgo all discussion of one of my favorite topics in the whole, entire world: The Tyra Banks Show. You may laugh, but I can’t be dissuaded. Tyra Banks sets the agenda for young girls, tweens, teens, and young women in this country. Watching the entertainers, authors, politicians, businesspeople and companies that come knocking on her door to promote their products and services on her show is always fascinating to me.

But even more fascinating is watching how just about everyone that goes on that show falls into Banks’ world. You might be turned off by the glaring cognitive dissonance created when, say, Mike Huckabee makes an appearance on The Tyra Banks Show. But that is what makes PR so interesting to observe… How are you going to re-package the same item you just sold at the RNC, for a room full of Tyra Banks Show audience members? I think whoever coordinated this appearance on Huckabee’s presidential campaign team was hedging on the right idea of how to do just this:

See clips of the show, here. In particular, the second one.

Huckabee was likable, Banks was poised. It was a strange and beautiful convergence of two opposing worlds that completely geeked me out… And in light of this, I may need to reevaluate my goals in creating this blog. There are so many exciting topics to discuss that don’t traditionally fall under the category of “professional.” But I’d feel so stifled if I didn’t digress every now and again. The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I see how PR professionals have come crashing the social media party with claims that they have all the “secrets” about how to further your business through social media. What secrets are there? There’s something for everyone in social media, so anyone can do it.

Social media is supposed to be about SOCIALIZING. Not selling! Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that companies can connect with customers and communicate using various social media platforms. But it’s also obvious (to me, anyway) that social media is like any other huge social function. If you don’t want to end up lining the walls, you have to be saying—or doing—something worth paying attention to. And if all you can say while at this function is, “Buy my book!” “Check out my webinar!” “Look how much money I’ve made doing X online!” …Well, you might get a few dance partners but at least I know I’m going to be doing my best to avoid you. And so will most other reasonable people. How tacky!

I think surely that has to be some balance in using social media to further your business. Some of us still want to be human in the age of technology.

Facebook f  Time Magazine says Facebook is now for old fogies… And I’m inclined to agree with a select few of their reasons.

Because Facebook surely hasn’t appealed to the college student in me for quite some time. Maybe they want to address the needs of their fastest growing age group, but I do think they are doing so at the risk of losing favor among their loyal subjects who were there from the start.

Time Magazine’s 10 Reasons Facebook is for Old Fogies

# 4. Facebook isn’t just a social network; it’s a business network.
[These two worlds really have no place intermingling. Adults who have practice at separating their work lives from their personal lives may fit right in. But for college and high school students, this is still a new concept. We kind of feel cheated being told to not use Facebook to put our lives on display for everyone to see… that was the whole point!]

# 7. We have children. There is very little that old people enjoy more than forcing others to pay attention to pictures of their children.
[This is true. .. Whereas a lot of college students have pictures they’d rather people never saw in the first place.]

# 10. We’re not cool, and we don’t care. There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook. That time has passed.
[I could not have said this better.]

For the complete list, click here.

I joined Facebook five years ago, within the first three months of its creation. I had attended an early college orientation and incoming freshmen were already talking about this cool “thing” called Facebook, where you could add your (one!) picture and tell people about yourself and meet other freshmen ahead of time. It was simply revolutionary.

Over the years, I watched as Facebook added new features, like photo albums (which they initially imported from Photobucket- remember?), group pages, event pages, and the earth-shattering news feed. But I’ve also watched Facebook do some strange things like invite people to create applications for the Website, then soon after push them off of a person’s main page. And let’s not even get into the “We own your information,” kerfuffle.

Look, I love Facebook. But I don’t think that the platform itself is all that’s been changed. Facebook is no longer conceptually the same as when I joined. I’m not really sure who Facebook is for anymore. (But I also can’t imagine my mother-the archetypical Fogie- having her own Facebook page.)

After a short break, I’m returning to the (legitimate) blogosphere. I needed some time to reclaim my life as a college student. I don’t know that my grades will be any indication of this, but… I think I’ve managed to re-establish school as a top priority over my job and television (my two greatest loves).

“Bobby Pens” is a pet project I’ve wanted to get started for a short while and I’m excited to finally be giving it a go. It’s going to take me a while to get into the groove of things, but such is blogging. You feel awkward because at first you are speaking to no one and yet, you are potentially speaking to anyone and everyone with an internet connection. And you really hope they pay attention… It feels a little like reliving your first junior high school dance all over again. “Will those people like me? What if I say something stupid?”

But like I’ve said before, LiveJournal has fully prepared me for that. If LiveJournal doesn’t epitomize every aspect of the massive and evolving blog dominion… well then nothing does.

Anyway, I’ve gotten some useful feedback on Bobby Pens from my PR professor, but I’m hoping to get feedback from anyone who passes by, too. So feel free to comment with whatever’s on your mind, especially if you feel like I could be explaining something better.

I’ve added some more links to the Bobby Pens Sidebar in light of social media Websites I’ve been using for years, but initially overlooked when I started this blog. These include: Yelp (I love this site) and LinkedIn (my mom loves this site). You should definitely be familiar with these Web sites, too. The sites I categorized as social media may not be “classic” social media networking sites, but they are social media nonetheless. They unify people with a common interest and provide multiple forums for them to share information and opinions. In Yelp’s case, the commone interest is food and dining. In LinkedIn’s case, the common interest is Human Resources and  networking across every job industry imaginable.

I just think we should start re-working our opinion of what defines a social media Website, since humans (even bloggers in their pajamas in the middle of the afternoon) are sociable creatures and will find a way to create strong social bonds in any situation.

Websites originally intended to provide a basic service of question answering now have elaborate systems in place for visitors to establish relationships with other users. I love that. It’s exciting to watch social media sneak into traditional, “Web 1.0” models of Website construction and completely change the way information is shared online.

Maybe it’s just because I like hearing the sound of my own voice, but I’m really intrigued by podcasting.

I actually thought (up until last week when I read some more of The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott) that you needed an iPod to participate in the fun. I thought, “No way am I buying one of those things, ever, awesome ads be damned.” Then I shook my fist in the air for emphasis, except no one around me knew why. I can be a total laggard when I feel like it, solely for the sake of being loyal. I’m just coming to terms with the grief I feel for storing my CD player indefinitely in an unmarked bin with the rest of my reject gadgets (I’ll come back for you yet, Lite Brite). I swear that CD player gave me the saddest face you’ve ever seen on a faceless object.

As an aside, I actually got my first mp3 player six years ago, when mp3 players were still fairly new. It was a 20GB Rio Karma and cost well over $300, twice as much as a flash version costs today. It was a hard drive model and within two months of owning the thing, it froze and refused to reboot. Will you judge me for crying that day? Because I did. It took me three more years to be able to trust an mp3 player again. And even then I went with a 2GB model just so I wouldn’t have to get too attached.

But that was the (tragic) past. Could there be podcasts in my future?

CNET thinks so. And as part of their Weekend Project series, they are offering to walk us through the basic process. The steps they cover in this how-to article are:

  • Breaking into podcasting
  • Tools for podcasting
  • How to plan a podcast
  • Podcast-recording software
  • Actually recording your podcast
  • Editing and saving podcasts
  • Publishing your podcast
  • Testing your podcast feed (This is where you quiz listeners on everything you podcasted that day. You know, what you ate for breakfast, that sort of thing)

Here is the article. What do you plan to do with it?

I have learned almost everything I know about blogs by using, a 10-year-old, community-based, online journaling system. LiveJournal (LJ) has what I feel is a very distinct culture, and can best be described as individually and collectively-maintained blogs coexisting in a tight-knit blogosphere. Like other blog platforms, LJ now has sophisticated editions of blog formatting tools, like video embedding and HTML coding, however LJ is unique in that it is built around LJ “friendship.” Each entry an LJ member writes can be public, private, or friends-only, much like a Facebook page. Friends, in turn, customize their “Friends Page,” which lists recent posts in their entirety on one page.

Collectively-maintained blogs are called “Communities” on LJ. These are groups of LJ members interested in a particular topic, some or all of whom have posting access to the group blog. These communities become extremely active. The celebrity gossip LJ community “OhNoTheyDidnt” recently had comments suspended because in just four years, the group has reached the total maximum of user comments LJ servers could handle (16,777,216). LJ has the combined feeling of social media and a totally customizable RSS feed. However, because of the restrictive nature of commenting on the website (a person must be a registered LJ user to comment, or face comment deletion and banning from users) LJ is not right for a blogger who wants to generate a lot of non-LJ traffic.

Bias acknowledged, when compared to LiveJournal all other blogging platforms feel unexciting and similar. WordPress and Blogger, my initial choices, seem painfully similar in design and function. Blogger has the advantage of mobile phone posting and better layout customizing design options. These speak to the needs of a blogger to feel completely able to express his or her self, at any place or time. However, WordPress wins with its spam comment-blocker, hits tracker, and an interesting comment tracking feature, which allows you to keep track of comment threads you have entered. This last feature is helpful in blog networking, which can be a bigger help in driving traffic to your blog than tagging and hyperlinking.

Tumblr was difficult to get a feel for, however that seems to be intentional. The landing page is minimalistic and focuses on personality rather than selling the features of the website. The company is still young compared to more established platforms and seems to want to compensate with quirkiness: A basic blogroll on Tumblr is called a list of Tumblr Crushes, users don’t blog, they “tumblelog.” Tumblr is geared towards microbloggers who create short media-rich posts with little text, often to show off artwork. The overall design of the website is bold and colorful compared to more understated design themes of WordPress and Blogger. However, it seems that the lack of recognition keeps Tumblr blogs from receiving much traffic or attention, defeating a lot of the purpose in blogging.

The last two blog platforms I considered seemed the most visually compelling, professional and strong in technical support: Typepad and SquareSpace. SquareSpace provides website design for businesses like the Marc Ecko clothing line. In addition to keeping track of site visitors, SquareSpace has professional preset layouts, a data collecting form builder which converts data into emails and Microsoft Excel files, and advanced photo gallery support. Typepad seems more geared towards bloggers, but business-minded ones. The design is much simpler and all blogs have a plain, white background. Among the features, there is a lot of focus on the money that can be earned by e-commerce advertising on Typepad-supported blogs. There is also a blog traffic measure, a spam blocker, and there are tools for search engine optimization.

Overall, SquareSpace offered more interesting blog hosting services than TypePad, but both sites were pay services. Even though the most basic version of each website costs less than $10 a month, having to pay for the services removes the informality of blogging that some bloggers enjoy. It seems the five years I have spent on LJ have clouded my judgment. I remain unsatisfied by these other platforms even though, as a whole, they offer more features than LJ. The very social nature of LJ is what makes the blogging experience more meaningful with that platform.

Well you can see which one I’ve chosen.  Feels good to be starting something new after so much time in LJ land.

This Month in Bobby’s Penning

July 2018
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