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by nmw

Authorship, Authority and Authenticity

2016-03-21 in Uncategorized

I think many people place a great deal of trust in print. Pages of printed text, published between a hardcover binding, with impressive dustcovers screaming out exclusive elucidation to be had for the mere inconvenience of a small price to pay for the luxury great revelations and fantastic knowledge.

While some might say this seems far-fetched, I myself am often prodded to publish my writing. Why should I?

I know no one who would pay for it. I think most of my readers are not so attached to pulp brain dumps. They are more inclined to simply register my point of view and then move on. The so-called “rest of the world” — those with a fetish for tomes of printed words — are far less inclined to follow my reasoning, abstractions, descriptions of immaterial nature, philosophy, and similar assorted amusements. The vast majority desire a plot, a story line, good storytellers capable of awesome storytelling.

I can’t — or perhaps simply refuse to — get from here to there. My world is a static zero-sum game. There is little action, almost no surprise, the narrative is as dead as a doornail.

Even worse: I expect you to think. You are supposed to come up with ideas, make plans, engage in collaborative efforts. It’s all a huge PAIN.

Why bother?

The real world is usually not a very big page-turner. Reality is what avid readers attempt to escape… rather than embrace. Our eco-system is dirt cheap and mundane, not awe-inspiring.

Yet in my humble opinion this is a rather limited world-view. From my perspective, both the future as well as the past are fictional stories that need to be „filled in“ with concrete details. We are moving through time and space, we see various intersections up ahead, we can steer this way or that way. We can close in and move together or we can go our own ways and drift apart… – to a degree.

Anyone who thinks they are self-made is only deluding themselves. You are the product of your own choices, decisions and circumstances (and also the choices, decisions and circumstances of all other things and beings). Each and every one of us are embedded in our very own context – every now and then our contexts may overlap a little. We can sieze the day every day, and every day we act upon our glimpses of opportunities we turn tomorrow’s possibilities into today’s realities. Every moment, we create our own lives from the pallette of fictions at our immediate disposal. We are constantly reaching out to grab them and bring them into the present.

We can either keep our stories to ourselves or we can share them with each other. In our authenticity, we enable ourselves and others to grow and we thereby also become co-participants of shared experiences, we engage in collaborative storytelling, we help each other to build the real world together and we also help each other realize the dreams and goals we envision for ourselves and others alike.

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by nmw

How to Tell Whether Someone on the Internet is a Real Person / Human / Not a Dog

2015-08-01 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying that goes something like “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”. Well, IMHO there is a way to know when someone is not a dog. This is something I wrote about a while ago in a little piece I called “Authenticity Guidelines“. I was reminded of it today in part because David Weinberger wrote a post about something I consider related — he called it “Restoring the Network of Bloggers“.

Many people (apparently including David Weinberger) continue to consider a site to represent a person. Personally, I feel it represents something more like a title. In my opinion, a page title is subordinate to a site title much in the same way that a chapter title is subordinate to a book title… and the author of any online web site (be it a blog or whatever other kind of website) is the site’s registrant (and/or owner and/or admin).

The easiest way to tell if they are a real person (or whether they are a corporate entity or whatever) is to look at the “whois” entry for that site (this is the online equivalent to the property owner being registered in a town or city’s land records). If the entry is not bogus, then the person behind the site is most probably not a dog.

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by nmw

Authors, Publishers and Publications: What is the Difference Between an Author and a Publisher?

2015-04-06 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I wrote about publishers on one of my “personal” blogs (see “Zen and the Art of Giga Om“), and I treated domains / websites / domain names as individual publications (many other people view them as outposts or shingles for people or companies; but I see them as quite analogous to the role book titles have had — especially insofar as each book title also needs to be associated with the author or authors and other publication information [such as details about the publisher, etc.] ).

Today, I thought more about these distinctions — especially the difference between authors and publishers. In my view, the most authentic form of publishing is “self publishing”, because that way there is nothing in between the author and the finished product (the publication)… and this is usually the case online — but not always.

There are some websites — many of them are quite “popular” — where authors submit their content, and then a separate entity (in this case, it makes sense to identify these entities as “publishers”) publishes the content (or not — according to the publisher’s discretion). All of what is commonly referred to as “social media” uses this publishing model. If someone were to sign up as a “member” of this website (nooblogs.com), the situation would be quite similar. I also have other websites in which I publish content from various authors automatically (i.e., as “RSS feeds”), and then I also post my views on those (or similar) topics of interest to me. In this case, the model might be more along the lines of an approach used by “Readers’ Digest” or similar collections (another similar method is sometimes referred to as “content aggregation”).

Although I do feel that such methods of “content curation” (a sort of meta-content) will become more widespread over time — and here I wish to emphasize the important role of human intelligence, which will probably not be equaled by artificial intelligence or simple “brute force” algorithmic bean-counting machines within the foreseeable future (quite certainly not within decades, and perhaps not even within centuries)… nonetheless the vast majority of content — insofar as it might be deemed authentic (cf. “Authenticity Guidelines“) — will be self-published.

Therefore: Increasingly, in the vast majority of cases, authors and publishers will be one and the same person (or entity).

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by nmw

Managing your own content

2014-12-19 in Uncategorized

Using WordPress, managing your own content is relatively easy.

For example: When you add a link to a post, that link is precisely the link you intend to add. In contrast, when you post a link to “social” websites like facebook.com, twitter.com or even google.com, those links are actually “recoded” to go somewhere else (so that those social sites can more easily track you, your readers, etc.) — for example, you might have seen links to “t.co” or “bit.ly” (or any of a wide range of many other sites) instead of the link you wanted to add. When people click on these links, the “social website” companies record this activity and then forward to the link you had originally intended to add.

On another level, downloading “your own” data is also easy with WordPress. Note, though, that these days it is really hard to define what is “your data”. Of course, if you are an administrator of a blog, then everything on that site is your data. (many people seem to believe that when they post something to facebook, it is still their own content — they probably never consider that it might then also be facebook‘s content). But what about if someone writes a comment on your post — whose content is that?

There seems to be a convention that says this content is part of the author’s post. There have been several attempts to develop “commenting systems” that keep track of comments (these are usually linked to the email address tied to the profile making the comment)… but this is usually considered “overkill” when considering what is “my content” (probably only very few people wish to know about all of the thousands of comments posted to Mark Zuckerberg’s posts — perhaps Mark Zuckerberg himself doesn’t want to know about that level of detail).

Personally, I feel comments are more or less “throwaway” remarks — they are relatively inconsequential. If I have something important to say about something someone else has posted, then I will write a new post about it, perhaps I will quote an excerpt from the post (to point out which particular part I wish to reply to), and then link to the original post.

This goes back to the original meaning of a link — it is the electronic version of what was referred to during the paper era as a “footnote”. Today, marketers usually don’t even think about how a link is related to the footnote — so called “search engine marketing” (SEM) is all about paying for links (which Google usually says is prohibited — unless you’re paying Google! 😛 )

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by nmw

Guest Blog Posts

2014-12-16 in Uncategorized

Today one of my friends mentioned a “guest blog post” — well, actually: They linked to a blog post that mentioned in a self-referential way that the post was a guest blog post. I guess they were then going to introduce the author, but I had already lost interest and didn’t read any further.

Why would anyone post anything on someone else‘s blog? This seems to me to be based upon a fundamentally flawed sense of identity. The idea that someone copies and pastes someone else‘s content into their own blog post, and then says “this was actually written by someone else, I’m just fooling the software into thinking I wrote it” is completely absurd. It shows that the blog’s author is not familiar with blogging software.

Every blog (website) can have multiple authors. If you don’t know that, you need to learn more about blogging.

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