Sunday, January 06, 2008

Because Communication is a Good Thing

Wait for it. I'll get to the sunset photos later in the entry.

Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation. --from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

I never actually agreed with this ironic quote from H2G2, but I thought of it tonight as I contemplated tonight's blog entry, and then put it off for a few more hours. In my experience, lack of communication can cause conflicts (but doesn't always), and miscommunication causes conflicts rather a lot. But making it easier for people to communicate? That's a good thing. Isn't that what the Internet is all about?

So I was pleased last night when, while answering an email from a potential Round Robin Photo Challenges participant about how to leave a comment, that I discovered an upgrade in Blogger's comments screen. Under the box in which you type your comment, it says,

Choose an identity
using [Blogger/Google]

The Blogger/Google part is a drop box. If you toggle the downward error to the right of it, it offers the following options:

Any OpenID

What this means, essentially, is that if you're signed up with just about any blogging service, you can use that ID to sign in to Blogger and leave comments. The same is true of Ficlets, by the way, which is where I first saw OpenID. It's a big improvement over AOL-J and Blogger and the rest maintaining their own separate little blogging worlds, where nobody can comment without signing up on their service specifically.

In Blogger's case, there are two more options. One can leave a comment under a nickname (to be typed up in a box), or just go the Anonymous route. Unless there's a glitch, then, anyone who is willing to take a moment to read the screen (and is not so freaked out by technology that they're afraid to try it) should be able to leave comments now, whether they personally blog on AOL, LiveJournal, WordPress, or nowhere at all. And that's as it should be.

Then there's the issue of RSS and alerts and such, so people can easily find out when something new has been posted to each blog they follow. I find that subject a bit more daunting and complicated, so I won't tackle it tonight.

The point is that it's getting easier all the time to stay in touch with other people, their blogs and their memes, their movie preferences and even their minute-to-minute activities. Today (which I define as whatever day it was when I got up and started my day, in this case Saturday), I responded to someone's invitation to join Flixter, a movie-oriented social networking site. What my correspondent didn't realize what that I signed up with Flixter last March. I had a lot of fun on there for a short while, but it ate up too much time and I stopped using it. Another fairly useless Internet communication doodad, Twitter, I use intermittently. And last night on AIM, someone tried to claim I was on his Buddy list and tried to chat me up. Since he was a total stranger who lived in New York City, I was dubious. When he got around to saying his marriage was an unhappy one and asked me about mine, I wished him "Good luck with that!" and blocked him from future IMs with me. Communication is good, yes, but I have my limits!

So now, in our communication-enhanced virtual world, I find myself at a minor nexus at the moment, where Scalzi fans, Weekend Assignment and Monday Photo Shoot participants, Robins and other regular reader to this blog may be reading this entry over the next day or two, despite that fact that the spike in Outpost readership really only lasted about a day. Before this communications mojo deserts me entirely, I'd like to introduce you all to each other, at least vis-a-vis several memes that may interest you. Here's a quick roundup of the ones that matter to me:

Weekend Assignment - This weekly essay topic was invented by John Scalzi. As you probably know, I'm doing it now, with his permission. The assignments are posted on Thursdays, and you have basically a week to leave a link back to your entry. Current topic: how is the Writer's Guild strike affecting your life and tv viewing habits?

Monday Photo Shoot
- This was the second of John Scalzi's weekly memes. I'm experimenting with continuing this one as well. My first MPS entry ("What's New?") is here, and you have until Sunday night to participate if interested.

AOL Community Photo Challenge - this one was started over the past day of so by Marie and several other photobloggers, as another successor to Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot. They're made some interesting innovations in the set-up of it, including letting people vote on their favorite entry. Their first topic is "Beginnings," with a deadline for participation of January 11th. This is already getting a good response, and time will tell whether my direct continuation of the Scalzi meme goes by the wayside in favor of this other one.

Round Robin Photo Challenges - Carly, Steven and I have been doing this one for a few years now, and it's definitely a fun time. It's a little different from the others in that it's biweekly instead of weekly, draws its topics from a pool of suggestions by the various Robins, and announces that topic nearly a week in advance of the date on which people are expected to start posting their photos. The current topic, with a target posting date of Saturday, January 12th, is "Railroads." I'm starting to get a little miffed with the freight train that sometimes goes by near the power station as I drive home from work. Now that I have an extra incentive to photograph the thing, it seems to be hiding from me!

Okay, now on with tonight's sunset/dusk photos, because that's a form of communication, too.

When I left the house for the first and only time today it was well after 5 PM. I'd assumed that I'd already missed sunset, but when I stepped outside, I saw this, only a little darker. Naturally, I rushed back into the house for my camera.

Pointing my camera south, I got this intriguingly blurry shot. I think I like it better than I would if it were sharp and clear.

After that I rushed over to Safeway to see whether I could get any more nice shots, and because I was headed over there anyway. It actually wasn't as dramatic as the shots taken from in front of my house, in park because dusk was pretty well advanced by then.

From there I went to Cato and spent the $50 gift card that John bought a year ago. (Yes, Duane, it was still good for the whole value.) In the interest of communication I will post a correction to a previous entry about it: John pointed out tonight that nearly a year after the gift card slipped down a crack in my dashboard, he managed to retrieve it by opening a panel meant to replacing fuses. Somehow I managed to say "spark plugs" when I wrote about this before.

Ah, well, sometimes the brain doesn't manage to communicate things correctly, no matter what the technology has to offer. That's especially true late at night when I'm tired. And guess what time it is!



Shelly said...

It's not just blog services that use Open ID. Any site with an Open ID login will work. Technorati for ex, says it uses Open ID. Many people probably have an Open ID without realizing it and more and more will sometime soon.

Twitter isn't all that useless. I use it to put widgets on my blogs which show constantly updated entries from feeds from 2 of my other blogs.

At least one fire department has used it (I think Los Angeles County) to update all interested users on conditions brought on by forest fires.

One blogger uses it to send people an opening line from a book so they can guess the book (TwitterLit).

The uses are limited only by the imagination. It's faster, easier, and better to spread a bit of info to a wide audience quickly as you can get it in email and on your phone and from many feeds at once.

Imagine being able to quickly send people who have Twitter accounts your photoshoot and assignment topics via a Twit! They won't have to read your blog either on the blog or through their feed reader. They can catch it on their phone while they're out with their camera taking pics of other things. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just wanted to remind you about my photo shoot. It began in Oct. 2004 (it predates Scalzi's!). It has a new look and a new name. Here is the first challenge having the new logo:

The name of the new photo shoot has been shortened to The JLand Photo Shoot. The instructions are given in this entry:

I hope you will take a look at this photo shoot, as to my knowledge, it has been the one that has been around the longest in JLand. I have always invited other blogs from outside AOL to participate also.

I know there were some weeks that there was not a photo shoot, and that was due to the fact that I was taking care of my husband while he had cancer and a stem cell transplant. I also know that during some of that time, the photo shoot was run by one of my sisters.

Thanks for considering taking a look!

Krissy :)