Nothing

There has never been a better time to have an opinion than RIGHT NOW. Social media allows everybody the opportunity to not only hold a point of view but be able to express it, regardless of any ability to do so either well or politely. Once upon a time, if you disagreed with a review of a play or film, the only means to ensure that the writer was aware was a green pen and some A4 lined paper (if you were a certain type of complainant) or Basildon Bond and a fountain pen, at the other end of my cliched, stereotypical scale (for effect only.) Now, if you don’t like what’s been said, it is simply one click to make sure that your opinion is registered. If you’re lucky and that burst of righteous fervour catches the right wave of popular algorithmic indignation, you’ll be viral just before tea.

A lot has changed in a very short space of time, and language is struggling to keep pace with this evolution.

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It is apparent that the issues in most of these short lived, inflammatory discussions is how one person uses language and how that is subsequently interpreted by others. I am reminded of a fervent debate over quest text in my favourite MMO as a perfect example: one person saw casual racism, whilst I understood a historical reference that was based in definition from hundreds of years previously with no relevance to an insult. Then there was that time where I used the word ‘inclusion’ to someone who decided I meant their grasp of a related concept and not the strict dictionary definition… and the list goes on. It is one of the main reasons why the Internet of Words was born as a concept, that how we use language online is often vastly different to the manner in which we both communicate and exist in the Real World. When all you had before was paper and a pen, you had to make every word matter, and interpretation was perhaps even more of an issue.

Now you can delete your words, except the smart Internet users will happily inform you that never happens. This place remembers everything. If you don’t want your awful tirade to be remembered, never type it to begin with. In twenty years, a huge swathe of early internet content might have supposedly been lost to time, but you’ll be amazed what remains, or what others will keep ‘just in case.’ Then there’s the increasing trade in image manipulation, how a basic understanding of how webpage markup can be accessed and then altered can make it look like the President actually said that. The bigger irony, of course, is that certain people’s comments remain ridiculous and hugely ill-conceived regardless of the ability to paint them otherwise.

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There is a wonderfully simple answer to all of this, why suddenly the opportunity to have more than five seconds of fame matters so much to so many. The Internet is not a place to game or play, is so large as to make it virtually impossible to control outright. Many companies may like to think they can do just that, but the sheer nature of this beast means that anyone still can be the hero, or the overnight sensation. There is a chance for everybody, regardless of their sex, race or anything else to become the Next Big Thing. If you are to be remembered on your brief and often painful stay upon the Planet, this is as good a place as any to start. However, there’s no guarantee that it will work but at least while you are alive you’ll be known as the person who topped 10 million subs of You Tube or who condemned civilisation to robot servitude in the 22nd Century as the inventor of Facebook.

Mostly, you’re here for the validation. I totally understand that feeling.

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I have written my fair share of complaint blogs in my time, and I stand by pretty much every one of them. At that moment my indignation was enough to temper a response I wouldn’t have written if it didn’t matter. That’s my mantra for all of these things: if it’s important enough to spend time on a blog, then press send. There is an important caveat now to those rants, and that is if I cross a line drawn only recently, as a result of my adventures on Social media. I’ve learnt the important lesson of personal involvement only too well. You can never plan for the stalker, anybody has the potential to become that obsessive individual, but there are certainly means by which you can a) not make things worse or b) inflame already confrontational situations. Very rarely now will I get into discussions with total strangers on contentious subjects. Far easier to write a blog post on the subject and stay friends with everybody, than risk losing someone over a difference of opinion.

This is where people end up mattering more than principles.

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I need my opinions heard because it is the way I can judge whether what I think is worthwhile. I’m not here to be right, or to win. I’ll leave that to other people to control and dictate. For now, I’ll simply continue to say what I feel, without attempting to antagonise too many people, and see what happens. For the record, my complaint letter would have been created using a typewriter. I would have handwritten it several times first, then redrafted until I was happy, before the blue A4 paper would ever have been stuck in the machine. Because I wasn’t using white paper, correction fluid would have been a safety net I didn’t have. It would have taken HOURS, a letter at a time.

That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to find a public voice.

Every Day is like Sunday

Ah, Easter. This is the time in our house where chores get done, shit gets thrown away and long-overdue promises are finally fulfilled. Today therefore is a fairly typical day of Resurrection: the garden is now cleared of all the rubbish from last week, and we have a man scheduled to come properly remove the last two stubborn tree trunks and roots, so that’s a boatload of progress. Husband is recovered enough from his second bout of elective surgery to go ride a bike, and with the kids at my parents, I have the house to myself. As the end of the Easter break looms large, I find myself thinking about how much has changed in the last four months because, like it or not, I’m in a vastly different place YET AGAIN to where I was this time last year.

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I love the life I have. It wasn’t awful before, but now there’s a measure of real control and confidence that simply didn’t exist previously. There’s been a couple of genuinely fuzzy days since last Thursday, I won’t lie, but coming out of the back of everything there remains an optimism that I don’t ever really remember owning. Having cast the die on the Patreon, I’m ready to order the Tier rewards to offer to people to sign up with, because I’m absolutely determined to make this entire venture as professional and polished as possible. That means four tiers of participation, from Casual to Hardcore (and yes they’ll be named after game styles because HEY I CAN IT IS MY PATREON) and a real excitement of what this could mean long term. I’m still quietly stunned that with the minimal amount of advertising the @InternetofWords Twitter account already has followers in double figures. That alone makes me think this whole amazing thing MIGHT JUST WORK.

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Then, there has to be content, and there’s already lots of ideas on the table. I’m going to be consulting with some trusted people in the next week as to whether they think these ideas have merit long term, and which should be developed as a priority. Once that’s all in place, starting the beginning of May it is time to just dive in and work on as much as possible so when everything goes live in June we’re future proofed until the end of the year. I hope I’ll have some of you along for the journey, and the plan is to use CoPromote as a means to see if there’s new followers to pick up along the way. There’ll be other means to generate interest too, if it all works out. Only time will tell.

For now, it is time to enjoy a lazy Sunday for all it is worth.

There There

This week has been tough. Mentally I’ve coped pretty well but physically, my digestive system is a mess. Having to lose what I’ve become reliant on in terms of high fat foods was a wrench my body initially wasn’t at all happy about. However, a week in and I’m beginning to cope. The other major loss is what counted as rewards on Treat Days are effectively out of the window too until I can get the all clear on my scans. I’ve been living on coated nuts in small portions, the occasional flapjack and luck, mostly. I wondered if I was doing this right until I got on the scales: my weight’s dropped consistently this last week, and I’m almost two pounds down. The key here is that there’s been only light exercise, because again I’m on orders not to strain my trunk area too vigorously.

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It is more than a year now since my last period. The night sweats remain, but are slowly tapering off, and I don’t seem to get hot in the daytime nearly as much as was the case before: *gasp* I’ve felt genuinely cold on a few occasions this last week, which is a distinct change. The biggest difference is my skin, which used to be really greasy: now I’m almost permanently dry, but the skincare routine is taking care of that. Oh, and body hair’s stopped growing, which means that I’m brushing my hair less and it is undoubtedly thinning. If genetics isn’t lying I won’t go bald, but even if I did I think that’s a hurdle I could tackle. I love my long hair now and I’ll be making the most of it for as long as I can.

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It seems odd at this stage to be undergoing so much change, but I’m quite sanguine about everything that is happening at once. I’ll be doing a session at the Gym later with weights but only light Cardio, just so I can keep momentum going. I don’t have a PT on Monday as my trainer is away so I think going forward I’ll plan to do *something* daily in order to keep the weight loss moving but not get too stressed if I don’t break goals. I’m certainly not in a mental state of panic or unhappiness over anything related to weight or exercise right now, and long may that continue.

In fact, everything’s looking just fine.

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.

The End

I’d like to announce to the room that as of today, I’ve formally resigned as @MMOGames’ Warcraft Blogger.

I’d like to thank all of the staff that I came into contact with during my time at the Magazine, which is coming up for two years. During that period I think I matured considerably as a writer, and I learnt more about editing work than I ever grasped at any point previously. With the intention of launching my own Patreon in the Summer, this seemed like exactly the right moment to depart.

I’d like to wish everyone Good Luck as the site enters the next chapter of its existence with new German ownership, and may your /roll always be 100.

Thank you, and Goodbye.

Idiotheque

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That definition is over a decade old, but is still the best description I can find of what it feels like sometimes to live Online. It is the reason why I pick my friends with care, and don’t hang around in the same places too long. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a digital nomad when it comes to interacting with others. My homes are many and various, are as close to a constant as is possible but are only visited by those who know the way. The rest of the time I’m out here in the fields on the digital cargo bike, moving from place to place, trying not to cause too much trouble.

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Lots of people seem to think they know what is wrong with Modern Society. Each of them is only seeing part of the equation however, as has been the case since man came out of the caves and realised next door’s dweller had already invented the hut. Avarice existed well before money was invented. That other caveman’s club is always pointier saying only got properly defined for humanity when that Moses geezer got fed up of his tribe’s incessant bickering over what was right and wrong, escaping for some peace and quiet to think up a mountain. With time to reflect, as he honed his stone tablet carving skills came revelation AND LO we were given 10 Simple Rules to Live your Existence By (and you won’t believe Number Seven!) or as the old folks liked to call them, Commandments.

The rest of humanity wouldn’t have been handed THAT definition of what made ancient society tick unless a bunch of storytellers had written it down (with numerous interpretations of what you couldn’t covet, just as happens on the Internet.) Then that guy had to be nailed to a plank for teaching it as a better way to exist before two centuries of modern history turned the whole package into a series of often questionable lifestyle choices. The biggest single issue for modern society, pundit types, is not how soulless kids are today or how fucking grumpy the older generation have become. It is refusing to accept that somehow, a Holy Grail remains somebody else’s cup to provide.

Humanity has always been the problem.

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Hand people rules, they ignore them. Tell them to worship your God and they’ll refuse. Tell them how to dress, off come the undercrackers as people protest. If you’re foolish and enslave, kill or repress them for being different you will feel revenge with the tenacity of a cornered beast, for that remains what we are. Please don’t tell me anyone is better than the Animal Kingdom that is farmed, killed and culled for our own notions of vanity and necessity. Mother Nature, who has existed here long before we crawled out of the ocean and even considered a cave, is ravaged by us with a brutality that demonstrates that most people don’t have a fucking clue what it means to live in harmony with anything. Everybody is the problem, even the Green warriors and the UN Special Ambassadors and the lovely old lady that gives you extra filling in your daily Subway because you’re a top lass yourself. Nobody gets off scot free from blame: there is no point in letting the women and children go first when you discover it was the 12 year old girl who hacked the wi-fi and then sent your boat into the rocks.

The next few years therefore is gonna get really tiring as everyone decides they get a swing at who to blame.

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The nodding dog of Science cannot save us this time. It is probably too late for a lot of things, including the polar icecaps, unless some pretty major about faces take place. What can we do as a race to stop this assault upon the existence that has only very recently in planetary history terms been afforded to us? If it is sweet Fanny Adams, should I not as my mate suggested stop trying to express my anger and indignation and just focus on taking care of myself? Well, I COULD do that, but that’s how the planet got in such a fucking mess to begin with. Don’t worry about it, someone else will fix it. NO THEY WON’T. The only way change is going to happen is if you make it happen.

The only way to make a difference is to start caring, and so many people don’t.

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Maybe, JUST MAYBE, if I say it enough times, people will listen. If enough of us volunteer, things get better. If enough people complain, stuff does change. What we absolutely, definitely and positively do NOT need is those of you who have already decided that this whole game’s already ruined for you before you even start playing. It’s already someone’s fault and they need to be blamed. Most importantly of all, when the World is burning around your ears, it won’t matter how many subtext messages you sent on Twitter or the number of shitty abusive DM’s you posted to diss that person on your Friends List who took the piss out of your outfit choice. What everybody needs now is a sense of proportion, and the understanding that at this rate of self-destruction, Humanity’s gonna be lucky if it makes it to the end of the Century.

Don’t take, people, Contribute. Don’t expect, be surprised.

Stop complaining somebody else is ruining your life and start living it for yourself.