Time

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My life is coming to a fairly significant crossroads. In just over a month, I commit myself at 50 to becoming my own arbiter, attempting to create a new career as a 21st Century Nonconformist. In a World where so many shout their mantras into the ether, which some believe rotates far too closely around circles of electronic Hell: will I be seen as any different to the heretics and fools that embrace diversity, speeding us all towards the World’s end? This historical period is as close to chaos as many will remember, but for me I am reminded first of the early 1980’s and before the 1970’s: the Cold War and the Three Day Week are memories I carry a world away from what now passes for normal daily life. If the last few days of dreams are any indicator, my subconscious grasps only too readily that these are turbulent times ahead.

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I have always been considered as a troublemaker: however, I never really wholeheartedly embraced the concept of rebellion until I hit my late twenties. I’ve come to most things later than others, I realise now because of the ability to properly grasp implication behind those actions involved. With the benefit of time, an environment was created which allowed me to both develop and evolve at a pace that suited mind and body, and that was not dictated by circumstance. Only now is it becoming apparent how useful that has become in order to be able to see a larger picture. It is also a daily reminder of just how lucky I am as a white, middle-aged woman to have the opportunity to begin with.

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If I went to the Bank on June 1st and asked for a loan to become a full-time digital writer, they’d laugh at me. I could submit articles to a hundred online sites and be rejected for every single one. This is a profession that is so subjective as for it to be impossible to quantify what matters on any given day: the way in which we devour, create and even transmit our communications alters sometimes on a daily basis. My online newspaper of choice doesn’t simply provide written commentary any more, there are short video ‘articles’ peppered amongst the headlines. If you want a novel to be a success, having robots recognise your website is as important as a set of good reviews. My ability to communicate in 140 character bursts is as important as long form mastery, and textspeak. It isn’t about being ‘down with the kids’ and more either, there are languages for every part of the Web. If you don’t know your Deplorables from the Untouchables? You won’t last long in the Digital Wild West.

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What I bring to the table in this Digital relationship is time: not only have I been here since inception, but I’ve grown with trends and diversification. I am very much anti Facebook and pro Twitter, but it doesn’t mean I don’t grasp the commercial implications of both. I may avoid SnapChat because of the filters and vanity, but it doesn’t take an idiot to grasp how significant the platform is for a generation of users, for whom instant information is key. Learning how to be a better person might seem a waste of time in a place where nobody needs to know who you are, but when you’re willingly giving away personal details to anyone with a contact form? Consequences will matter. In fact, there will be a generation of Internet users for which the repercussions of digital immersion will only truly become apparent if we can survive the next forty years without the Planet disintegrating around us, mostly because lots of people failed to pay attention to Science when it mattered. Of all of this, in the digital world around us, a grasp of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and every sub-branch in between is more important now than it has ever been.

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I’d love to say that telling stories is the real reason I want to be a writer, and although that is true, I’ve realised in the last few years it isn’t all that now matters. I can still spin fictions in the manner I choose, but not at the expense of ignoring bigger stories. The Internet of Words is my way to do many things at once: fulfil my dreams, yes, but also expand the potential of others, because without learning to better communicate as a planet, we are all doomed to failure. It cannot just be any more that you work towards your own ends, making individual success matter. Without everybody being able to win, frankly, there’s not much left to live for. If you think the future is living in your own, safe and consequence free bubble, I suspect there’s some major shocks coming very soon indeed. One of the races in my favourite computer games have a phrase: ‘Time is money, friend’ and this morning I realised that’s more true on an intellectual level than I’d ever previously grasped. The time I have lived is indeed worth something, what I have left to use so precious that not a moment should be wasted.

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I’m now sitting on a lovely pile of CoPromote reach and on Monday I’ve decided to use the IoW site to officially launch my concept to a bunch of total strangers. I have no idea how this will go down and frankly, I’m not that worried if the interest is minimal. What matters most is having the confidence to stand and fall on an idea, and nothing else. Bringing unique perspective is what I’ve always done best, and I’ve ever been afraid of being unpopular as a result. After all, as I never grow tired of reminding anyone who’ll listen, the reason why you fail is to learn how to succeed. Once you know what not to do, the options become less complex to grasp.

Then all you need is courage to take that first step.

The Politics of Dancing

There’s a temptation to just spill the beans completely on my future plans, as I’m totally useless at suspense or keeping secrets, but because I understand that people get interest by drip-feeding information, it is time to say just this. The URL  internetofwords.com now points at my writing site. It’s a play on words (unsurprisingly) from the Internet of Things:

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I decided that, if I’m going to explore all aspects of how language online works, why communication has transformed our lives via social media plus all points in between, then the Internet of Words would be a great umbrella title for all of these ideas and more, including my own writing on the subject. That means my noun needs a definition:

‘The interconnection via the Internet of thoughts, ideas and writing styles embedded in social media, blogs, mobile apps and web pages, enabling new forms of communication.’

I realise this is going to get a bit cerebral for some people, but the plan in the first instance is to stick with simplicity and to explore what already exists on ‘paper’ and ‘online’ as a starting point. It also means I can include my own writing work legitimately as part of the project, as I’ll be using the Internet as marketing and advertising combined. It seems really rather lofty at Ground Zero, but I really hope I can make it both engaging and interesting at the same time. Only time will tell, I suppose, but I am insanely excited at the possibilities thus far.

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It also allows me to offer merchandise as tier rewards, but to do that I’m going to need a logo. The irony last night of me announcing this need was being followed by a number of Twitter bots offering design services, which is how life works around this parish. I think I’d like to do something myself with type and a simple graphic element, and I’ll be taking the weekend to looking for suitable fonts, that will also translate onto the webspace. I don’t want to spend money on things I can do myself if possible either, because I’m quite a frugal soul when it comes down to it. Mostly, the look of my project does matter a great deal, but not nearly as much as the content :D

There’s a lot to think about, but this I feel is a solid start.

High and Dry

Two jumps in a week
I bet you think that’s pretty clever, don’t you boy?

I knew for a while that I wasn’t happy writing for other people. Once upon a time it was legitimisation, that being employed by somebody else meant that it was true, I could write, because I’d get a small monetary recompense every month that proved it. After a while, however, something quietly sublimated within. If somebody else would validate this, that could mean others would too, perhaps enough to sustain my own projects. The problem with sites such as Patreon however is that so many of the people I respect and look to think they’re a con. By becoming a user you are effectively asking your subscriber base to pay for shit that you could really do for yourself. The one that always gets brought up is the ‘please pay for me to go to this Convention so I can continue to provide content for you’ and yes, that’s where I’d draw the line too. Take the holiday for yourself, don’t expect others to pay for that, and THEN make your content separately.

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I have Mick Montgomery to thank for my rethink on crowdfunding, which happened just before he got accepted for a dream gaming job last year. He made me realise that if we focussed solely on content generation and never looked past the job in hand, that there was justification in asking people to fund. He was trying to get me to accept a wage, which at the time I can remember being quite hostile to the idea that I’d be paid for a project that was pretty much 90% of his effort: I just turned up and read stuff! It made me consider the possibilities, and make a key distinction between why you ask for money and then what that money does. The key, ultimately, is transparency. It has to be very clear, right from the word go, what people will be paying for. Once that was reconciled, I wanted to be able to put 100% effort into the process. That meant yesterday, I handed in my notice on the weekly column with a clear conscience.

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I’d love to build my part up by saying I don’t have a clue what happens next, but that would be a big, fat, dirty lie. There would not have been the cutting of all these cords unless there was a goal, and there is. What I’m planning to do is make a unique profession around what and how I write, but not expect anyone to pick up the tab for the extras. That means when I offer tier rewards they’ll be exclusively around content written just for Patreon. This isn’t me asking you to fund a book, or send me on courses. If I want to learn to write, that’s my cost to cover. What you will do however is allow me to begin a journey from scratch, and if I can do that right then it will be easier later on to get other people to invest and believe in me. I’ll be filling in details on what happens next when we get into May, and the Patreon will launch June 1st.

I promise you, it will be worth your attention.