May 05, 2010

What a Tangled Web We've Weaved

There was a time when I felt I was generally caught up with technology and its associated effects on how the mass media is distributed and beamed into people's cerebrums.

That time was 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2004.

Ever since then, I think I've basically been watching the technology/mass media bus leave me behind in a choking plume of diesel exhaust and helplessness

I'm not sure what happened, exactly. One day I felt all hip and with it, with a blog--A BLOG!--and I was writing for a business IT magazine and everything. Now, I'm basically totally confused and out of my element.

It's not like I haven't TRIED to keep up. I have a FaceBook account, and a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn account, and even a Tumblr presence (which I don't much like because it feels like the blogging equivalent of "Meh). But maintaining all those different social and professional networking presences is like trying to juggle kittens: sure, it's amusing, but the claws hurt and it just seems cruel somehow.

It doesn't help that I've never been much of a multi-tasker, and each social and professional networking offering that blinks into existence tends to have its own unique audience, at least for me: Facebook is for friends and family, so watch the effenheimers, if you please; Twitter is for 140 character missives that challenge me to make very tightly wrapped poop and fart jokes; LinkedIn is where I sheepishly ask current and former colleagues to keep me in mind for any writing/editor positions or freelance opportunities and always reminds me of Russell Crowe passing the hat around the bar for donations in "Cinderella Man;" Tumblr's where I post whatever Web flotsam I find amusing on any given day; and of course through it all there's this eternal blog. Oh, and also, YouTube, which I primarily use to upload baby videos.

That's a lot of crap to keep straight in my head, and it's supposed to be FUN, but there are times when it feels an awful lot like work.

And that doesn't even begin to address the world of digital gadgetry, an area that I've had almost no interest in whatsoever. Texting has always struck me as a completely pointless exercise to engage in when I've been writing professionally for over a decade. . . you know, with real WORDS and everything. In those rare instances when I do dabble in LOL-speak, I consider it the equivalent of kicking a dog turd down the street a piece.

I have a cell phone, but I don't really want anything to do with a "smart phone." I have a Microsoft Zune and Flip Video camera, but I only even knew about those because I won them via Pepsi Sweepstakes. I mean, I LOVE the Flip camera, but until I was informed I won one, I had no clue what it was. And, of course, the Flip camera has only led to my further immersion into YouTube.

With the exception of LinkedIn, all the preceeding stuff I dabble in for personal entertainment and archiving purposes. The professional world of the Web has left me completely mystified.

I've been writing freelance articles and humor columns now going back to 1999, so I like to think I have some understanding of freelance writing gigs. But searching for freelance writing opportunities online is like diving naked into a pool full of worms.

I mean, there are a ton of freelance writing opportunities available online, but most of them offer writing gigs that are the literary equivalent of a Chinese sweatshop that requires a single worker to churn out 900 Air Jordans a day for the price of a chicken and a smile. I've seen online content requests asking for 500 word product reviews for $10. At that rate, I'd have to write 23 hours a day, seven days a week, just to pay my mortgage.

And even those 500 word $10 gigs come with their own challenges, including writing for search engine optimization (SEO), which is just a bitch of a way write content. If you read something crafted to appear high in search engine results, you'll notice it's alarmingly similar to listening to the automated voice on the Weather Channel.

Also, perhaps you've already heard, but "Content is King," which is an encapsulated way of saying "throw as much crap against the wall as you can in the hopes that some of it sticks." Those online freelance gigs mentioned earlier? The companies that offer those gigs aren't much interested in general written quality; they just want something--A LOT OF THINGS--they can upload and attach ads to. Which of course just means the Web is getting ridiculously bigger and louder and messier every single day.

And every day it just gets more and more complex, and more and more niche. And I honestly don't know if I can keep running along behind this technology bus much longer, because diesel smoke is just murder on the lungs.

Posted by Ryan at May 5, 2010 08:45 PM | TrackBack

I have noticed this problem as well. Chris Pirillo's answer is to make a portal. He created a thingy called the Wicket Pixie WP theme that allows your content on multiple social media platforms to be seen in one place. I'm using it (but not very cleverly) at Crossword Bebop.

Posted by: Douglas Bass at May 9, 2010 07:59 AM

same here. no desire to have a smart phone glued to my hand, barely keeping up with the rest of it. 90% of it's for entertainment value only, but i do actually use some these tools for work (and as i'm the only one at my work who even vaguely understands how to use them, i'm the IT Goddess! me!! hahaha!!!).

mostly though it's sort of scary that part of the reason i try to keep up with things is that i don't want to be aged out of the workforce...and i'm not even 35.

Posted by: amy.leblanc at May 10, 2010 04:40 PM
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