Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It all started in an AOL chatroom

it began in a room lit during the day by sunlight through three windows, by the blue-white screen of my friend's first computer at night. he took the week off. we rotated on and off the AOL chatrooms in shifts - napping, working, and eating around the silent hum of his over-heating hard drive.

only the rooms have changed since then. now, i'm in a coffee shop sitting behind a laptop and a smoking cigarette, wired into the internet via a wireless network card and my headphones. surrounded by people, yet still in a different world - i can hear their them laugh and chat through the beats in my head, but i am not a part of it - i'm in the room, but unavailable...leave me a message and i'll get back with you. this is after the AOL chatroom craze.

i sat for an hour staring at this computer screen trying to think of a way to start this post, realizing typing out an introduction is as easy for me as initiating a conversation with a supermodel. at least on screen i can backspace my way out of hundreds failed conversation-starters. in the original AOL chatrooms, it was as easy as a simple "hi...". but, those rooms now employ electronic strippers with shaved wormholes waving porn-site hyperlinks in front of your face.

when i left my home behind five years ago, i took my AOL screenname with me and braved the chatrooms in the bedroom of my first apartment to "meet" any one. i'm a shy person. i don't meet new people...i just can't do it. the internet lets me hide behind a keyboard and allows me to see what i say before i actually say it. now, two weeks before i return to the home i left behind, i no longer have an AOL identity. i do, though, have a MySpace personality. that is not a link to it. that is a link to a story on Kuro5hin about the simplicities of MySpace and its users.

i'm sitting in a coffee shop on fry street in Denton, arguably the second-best college bar-strip in the state of Texas (second to 6th Street in Austin), writing this post on my Firefox browser - three tabs, my gmail inbox, this post screen, and my MySpace home page - and i feel completely at-home - it's not about interacting, these days, it's about being seen. you don't have to be "available," you just have to be accessible - cellphones, instant messengers, blogs, text messages - they are all forms of this media mentality.

within the scopes of these media, we are adopting anti-social personalities. not multiple personalities for an entire culture, but numerous personalities within each person. we interact differently through each media. we adopt different faces and expressions - emoticons - and different looks - avatars. we're taking our selves and putting them into text and computer graphics. i'd like to think all the walls we're putting up to distance ourselves from each other somehow makes it easier to be honest with each other.

my love for AOL in the beginning stemmed from this separation, though, i couldn't label it then. naively, i thought it was because it didn't matter what you looked like. appearances were only as different as the default fonts and colors AOL offered. you could say whatever you wanted. you could lie and no one would know. maybe profile pictures remove some of the mystery. or, maybe they replace it with intrigue. the truth remains, however, that we longer hide behind screennames.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

News for the News...Internet for the People

Maybe it's sinister to find a twisted connection between nature - both human and Mother - to product marketing. Undoubtedly, this year will go as one of "nature's" most devilish. The globe mournded London's heartbreak, and it's hands reached far to comfort the sufferers of Dennis. The reach of the world surpassed only by the survival instinct of those left behind.

The first images from London to the world had been text-messaged and e-mailed by cell phones to the major news networks. First-hand images, jittery and nervous and scared, taken when the smoke suffocated even light.

Cuba, mocked for its Western-world locale and third-world inteligence, and renowned for a national bravery that rivals that of countries 5- and ten-times its size, stood tall, tip-toed even, as Dennis made land. Within hours, the first reports of Dennis' failure to blow down their pride came from Cuban-own blogs.

Since their emergence, these internet-linked technologies have become both a forgotten window, and it's over-looked curtains. They are our new view of the world...it's personalities. Yet, they also substitute first-hand experiences with multi-media excursions. Some continue to fight for less intervention. Some protest these technologies reveal too much. Some claim the government has already gone too far. Most, were just introduced to their powers this month. The scope is just being understood by all. What happens to the media giants when the little voice is amplified by millions of others?

Enough with the syndication!
Enough with the Big-media!
I'm tired of hearing what I should do or what I should think by a talking-head business man who's traded in his Microsoft swimming fish screen-saver for a rolling screen of red and green minute-by-minute AP f-ing reports! When was the last time you reached for your pen and notepad before reaching for your make-up artist's direct line? If you spent less time talking to 6-digit sources and spent more time talking to the guy that cleans their bathrooms, you might get to know your audience; the audience that matters to you and to your advertisers...the mass public.

Ever get the feeling the mass media is reaching down for us, open-palmed and concerned? Ever wonder why you're "down" there to begin with? You're down there because you are the "underground." From their gucci shones, armani suits, and white-collars, they are reaching, trying to pull you from the gutter they call your lives. The avarage American lives under a mortgaged roof, the smoky cloud trailing their sky-rocketing student loans, and the dilusion that they can share everything at a neighborhood barbeque in complete earnest and trust. Yeah, that's what we have that the talking-heads do not - conversations with trusted friends.

It takes a special village to not only talk in-person and via e-mail, but also through daily web diaries. Some spin the gossip-mill, some boast of parties, and others just let their minds wherever they may roam. Sometimes it's easier to say "I hate this" or "I love you" to a computer screen. Sometimes, it just comes out.

Some media are less-threatened, others are more defensive. They blame blogs and the internet for inaccuracy and sub-par professionalism and make tongue-in-cheek "compliments" to bloggers behind hidden chuckles. Laugh if you feel it funny to laugh at those that have come to be known for their echoing chatter. The demographics your advertisers fear slipping through manicured fingers, can hold hands with one another. From this vantage, you cannot see who i am or what i'm wearing. You cannot see the cigarette sitting comfortably on my confident, strategic smile. Do your research, do your "reporting"and you'll see I'm the young journalist looking up at you from the underground, passed your professionally-styled haircut, straight into the future. Do you really think it wise to pull me up? I don't know, if I were you, I'd shake my hand and let me fight to get my own grip.

Expose me. "Deep Throat" revealed himself only when he was ready to be found. Expose the voice of the people, and you may find yourself humbled, asking us to mind your injuries. Know your role. Remember you are the middle man. Either amplify the voice of the common man, or we'll just side-step around you. As a journalist. I'm both.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Are bloggers too revealing too much?...How else do you propose we get to know a complete stranger?

There seems to be no shortage of criticism surrounding the bloggers. all total, i have 5 or 6. i have these blogspot blogs and one on another site. the blogspot blogs were a virginal attempt to join the blogging community, an opportunity to build a writing portfolio, and a chance to see how or if, my writing voice meshed with readers. eventually, all three have failed. i haven't kept up with it so i haven't built-up a readership or a decent selection of posts that i can pinpoint as my "classic" style. my other blog, however, has had an alternate reaction and lead me to re-create this one in its image.

the difference? distance. if you read through the older posts on this series on blog, there's a "voice-of-God" style of writing that separates me from the reader - one where i come across as having a superior opinion on everything media. the other, i write about what interests me (still, it's the media), but i include the crucial "why."

instead of trying to avoid bias, i wallow in it, but it's explicitly stated. my readers may not agree with my perceptions, but at least they know why i feel the way i do. bias is a funny thing. it's everywhere, and people, now more than ever, look for it. i think if you're honest with the readers, then they are more open-minded. they know what to expect and rather than seeking out your bias, they can focus on content.

Anyway. if blogs are considered "too personal" and if this can be viewed as dangerous, then what's the alternative? we live in a era defined by the internet, tivo, cell phones, and the ipod. if we're not distracting ourselves with one of these, we don't know what to do with ourselves. it seems as if we're evolving into a race unwilling to meet new people unless we have to because we were dialing while driving and forgot to check our blindspot.

i'm one of those people that value quality friends as opposed to quantity, but i leave myself open to meet new, quality people. blogs - they allow this opportunity on a whole new scale. it's the reason i got such a great reaction out of my other blog that i decided to change this one - people can associate with one another on a whole new level.

after reading the article, mentioned above, numerous valid arguments were re-introduced: kids blogging about weekend drinking/drugging binges, rants about teachers and the like. as much as i'm an admirer and advocate of the 1st amendment, maybe there should be some age-restrictions, but, honestly, kids are smart, it's only a matter of time before they circumvent the obstacle.

for me, though, it's the personal nature of my blogs (as seen in future posts) that only aides my writing. write what you know. what you know affects how you view different sights. if you can get someone to see the world the way you see it, even if for only a second, then maybe you're opening them to seeing other things they've never seen before...and vice versa.