Friday, June 22, 2018

What's Blogging About?

Who Let the Blogs Out?
Biz Stone
Who Let the Blogs Out?, by Biz Stone has a lot of good information about when and why blogging got started from someone who was part it. I read the book several years ago, and know that now, while the history is good, some of the tips and tricks for bloggers are outdated. One thing I hoped to learn, however, is why the general public is writing and reading blogs. I know why I write one--it's considered a cutting edge part of web development. I have a variety of “web presence,” from Twitter, G+, to a personal FB page, an art and photo gallery as well as a website (that covers all of the above), so I felt I should have a blog. Stone says it's good for links, for search engine optimization, for credibility. (Credibility? Hmm. I'm not sure about that. Now that anyone can develop a blog on any topic, how can credibility be ascertained?)
        When I first got in the mix, I was (and am still) baffled by online Web sites and blogs that reveal the private side of the creator with pages of family recipes, pages on favorite pets, and so on. What, who, how can someone believe their life is so unique and important that they should broadcast it to the world? I imagine many of those insider looks were meant for family and friends, and the Internet was rather intrusive. Yet even with privacy choices on publishing a blog, the majority are open for all to read.
        An insight in the Stone book suggests people are gaa gaa about splashing themselves all over cyberspace because it means they're being published. Blogs are considered a publishing tool, and it seems the mystique about "being published" has made blogging a godsend for many people. MY WORDS ARE OUT THERE FOR OTHERS TO READ! In his introduction, Stone says, "Blogging is…a low barrier of entry to publishing that gives everyone a voice." So what are we seeing, a world full of remote and unimportant "everyones" who suddenly have a way to make themselves seem more significant?
Image result for picture of cell phone        Is that what the modern culture has come to in the industrialized world? And “selfies” fit into this, too. On this level, blogging parallels the cell phone and electronic communication mania. To me it smacks of some insecurity that a person can't even go grocery shopping without calling a friend, parent, spouse, or neighbor while they're at it. Certainly the electronics and communication industries are making billions from this, and therefore promote it heavily, coming up with new incentives: the camera phone, a joke of the day, top hits tunes, streaming live TV, eBook readers. Most of the newer ones have more computing power than the average laptop.
        But the blogging provider-industry doesn't have the same monetary incentive. Many blogs are free, apps are usually built in to Web design software, and the development software (if you don’t want to use an existing service) is moderately inexpensive. Because of this, I consider blogs a more curious happening than the Madison-Ave.-induced need for electronic paraphernalia. Also, with the nearly instant Print-On-Demand trends, including DIY eBooks, there are many, many ways to get published. Yet blogging continues. 
        Unfortunately, Stone's book didn’t satisfy my curiosity. Maybe someone reading this will have an idea to what blogging really means (or reflects, or implies).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hard Choices for My Book Picks

 A recent go-around challenge on  Facebook was to show the cover of  a novel you truly appreciated: one a day for seven days. I had a hard time making my choices. I'm not a prolific reader, but I do finish 30 - 40 titles a year (sometimes more, if there's a lot of bad weather). I also read a fair amount of nonfiction, so picking fiction titles was a dilemna.
       I strated by checking my bookshelf. Most books I read I get from libraries--online and in town. When I find a title I really liked, I buy it.
From my bookshelf:
Liar's Moon by Phillip Kimball
The Hunter by Julia Leigh
Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons

 That took care of three days.
The next four were: 
Masterson by Richard Wheeler

Bone and Jewel Creatures
by Elizabeth Bear

I could do 365 of these "favorites."
An enjoyable exercise, that showed the variety of my reading interests: History, thriller, fantasy, contemporary, and more.

The Girl who Wrote in Silk
by Kelli Estes

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simmons

Friday, June 15, 2018

Futurist Perception

A few decades ago a colleague had business cards made for each member of our writers group; each card had some words referring to that person's interests. On mine he put "Historian and Futurist" (I still have the cards). It seems quite a dichotomy, and I found it amusing. My published books, at that point in time, had been historical fiction, but he knew I was reading, absorbing and wanting to write science fiction. Now I've published science fiction, but to me, the futurist tag still didn't fit--until that past few years when I'd read traces of things I'd imagined in physics and neuroscience books.
One of my favorite authors, David Brin, is an affirmed futurist. Concepts and science happenings he wrote about in the ’80s are now coming to be or being proved. Christian Cantrell, is one of many young authors who have published books with some projected techno possibilities that have now become realities. My scientific background is minimal, so I sketchily created future technology on some standard foundations others had developed; I've always felt that my science fiction has dealt more with future social possibilities and conundrums than with any hard science.
Imagine my surprise when I watched a new episode of "Through the Wormhole" on the Science Channel and scientists told about a probable gene-mod future that would alter/advance the human mind and could lead to a world of Super Humans. It wasn't the Super Human part that rang my bell, but the gene modification references. In my first science fiction book, Daughter of the Stone, the people have had their DNA altered so that they have selective, perfect memories and abilities. It had been a project of another species who intended the humans to be a working class, and their intended jobs were programmed into their system to be passed down from generation to generation (through bio-nanotech) to alleviate the need of extensive training and education. The current gene-mod references given in the TV show, matched my imagined occurrence quite closely. (I veered from the science end to the social aspect, focusing the story on the problems when the "slaves" became autonomous.)
So with a tad of perception about a could-be future, I now feel comfortable calling myself a Futurist.