Digital Raven (digitalraven) wrote,
Digital Raven

Web Presence

I have two domains. Originally, I had a plan for each of them, but that didn't pan out after I a) started writing for money and b) moved to Edinburgh. And now, I wonder what to do with them.

Warning: Long and opinionated.

The Past

I registered for reasons that should be obvious. Originally, it was going to be the home of any entertaining or insightful (in my mind) crap that I'd originally shat out to this 'ere Livejournal. In other words, a site mostly full of the contents of my Fiction tag, but passed through a basic editor that got rid of errors inserted by creating directly into a client window.

Yeah, that didn't last. Oh sure, I tried to dig it out of the mire and update things a while back, but I'm not an editor and too much of my time is spent lying for money0. Part of me wants to go back over the same idea; dragging stories and articles out of the tagcloud of a journal that's mostly there to be flist-filler and a place I can empty a sleep-deprived brain. At a rough guess1, I've got over 100,000 words of fiction freely available here, and I'd like for it to have a dedicated home.

So why don't I do that again? A few reasons. First is that I really, really hate editing. At least when redlining someone else has picked my words apart to show the glaring holes hiding between innocuous consonants and the dangerous subtext hiding just between rogue lines. Self-editing isn't something I can do with any degree of ability. Most of it's sub-publishable grade, the few scraps that aren't have already been published (here, natch), so getting anyone else to look them over is out of the question. Plus, y'know, it's boring. Throwing stories I've already written up somewhere else isn't the sort of thing that grabs me.

The real handicap was always the platform. I foolishly tried to hack WordPress into a bare-bones CMS (because a feature-rich blog is a CMS with a few bits hardcoded). That was a bad idea; even with all the comment stuff turned off I still got way too much spam and ended up disabling the site to avoid spending large chunks of my day deleting links to malware sites.

On the other hand, I never really used to its full potential. I stuck a bare-bones blog install on there as a place to dump interesting links; a sort of affair. Which worked just fine when I was at my own machine, but when forced to use one of the NT-running affairs at $JOB[-2] I had a hell of a time using just the "social bookmarks site". Again, it's going over old ground, hunting through bookmark lists to work out what needs uploading and what's just clutter.

The Present

I need to shape up my online presence; a Livejournal and a whole bunch of unused services (Twitter, frex) just ain't enough. As a part of this, I want to use those two domains for something useful.

I've tried using a lot of the stuff that Cool Modern Kids use, and they're all bollocks. Twitter, for example, is entirely useless. Why sure, it's great if you're a cloud-surfing freetarian who has well and truly consumed the Web2.0 Kool-Aid2. For those of us with day jobs—or, in my case, two day jobs—it's entirely useless. Why would I use it in preference to Livejournal? I wouldn't; on those incredibly rare occasions that I'm not sat at a keyboard (usually on holiday) I've time to bash out a quick update into LJ2ME. Twitter, then, has no utility.

Indeed, that rings true for most "social network" sites. The network isn't enough of a draw, without a function on top they have no use. This is the reason I've not paid any attention to Ning since... err... last October, despite being a "member" of several networks there. After all, what can I do? Write blog posts? That's what I'm doing now, thanks. Upload photos? No, thanks. I've never understood the need to photodocument every moment of one's life—and see above, my life isn't exactly photogenic. Likewise, this is why I'll never have a MySpace or a FaceBook or any of these stupid things. I have an LJ because it's a blog with a network hanging off the back, and that is good.

But... I need to re-evaluate. Am I wrong? Would I get actual benefit from dropping my label as "Last man alive without a Facebook"? What do people with real jobs who spend a lot of time in front of keyboards use Twitter for3?

The thing is, any new web service or whatever has to present a viable alternative to the current way of doing things. How do I keep current with news? By having around a dozen websites that I check every day. Use of RSS reader? Fucking lifesaver, son.

Ultimately, I'm after stuff that that innovates and makes it easier for me to do things that I already do, or that give me new and interesting things to do at the beginning. From what I've seen, most social networks don't make things easier, and don't offer anything beyond playing games with people I know (and for that, I have City of Heroes thankyewverymuch).

The Future

So, yeah. My current thinking is all up in the air. Trying to operate a "main" site that sees regular, high-content updates will work for a month, two months tops. Then boredom sets in, and it just ain't work it.

I need a site that isn't currently just whining and characters, as a starting-point for people who want to pay me to create lies. That's the role of A writer's resume, a couple of chunks of decent stuff from the tagcloud here—but with the understanding that it's as much a set of writing samples as anything else, and that digging everything up isn't going to happen. It'd be nice if it did, but I know what I'm like and I want something that'll look good if I neglect it for six months. Probably hand-cut the HTML and CSS to start with, simply because I'm burned out on blog platforms.

I've no idea what to do with It appeals to my naming sense, and I want to do something with it, but I can't quite think of what. A linkblog with editorial sarcasm was great back in 2004, but doesn't work any more. For every blog or journal creating stuff, there's currently three different linkblogs constantly regurgitating the same memes with the same snarky comments attached. That leaves me with no real concept to build around.

tl;dr:'s becoming a new fairly-static professional site with a couple of old articles and stories tidied up and used as writing samples. I want to do something with but I don't yet know what, and am interested in ideas.

I'm also up for recommendations of services and web2.0ish sites that either give something new to do4, or that give me better ways to do the things that I already do.

Hell, I'm also up for re-examining the way that I use the web in general. Fire it all out there.

Anything to take my mind off the fact that seven out of the last ten people to start reading my ramblings are Russian.

0: From the t-shirt caption: "Professional writer: Will lie to people for money."
1: I've got on the order of 75 stories here, varying in length between 500 words and 4000. If the average is 1500 words (and that's taking a low estimate), then 1500*75=112500, round down because some of it is total and utter crap, and I've still got... a book's worth of stuff.
2: I know it was Flavor-Aid, but that hasn't made its way into the vernacular.
3: Having used Twitter for a couple of months, apparently the answer there is "verbose circumlocution"—taking a lot of words and a lot of entries to say precisely nothing.
4: Something concrete, at that. "Keeping in touch with friends" is too fuzzy. "Posting short status updates to the web" is more like it.
Tags: ideawhore, lazyweb, rant, site, tech, thinking aloud

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