GSME Special :: Baby I Don’t Care

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Normally I’d wait until Monday for an update on the GSME, but I feel that this needs to be written now, whilst the revelation is still fresh in my mind. I woke up to a mass of emails this morning, happily informing me that I’d almost exhausted the 500k’s worth of CoPromote shares I’d stored in three days. The results of that share, when you look at them, are pretty spectacular:

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50 plus retweets and 482 thousand people. WOW. That is indeed impressive, right up until the moment you translate that to my web stats:

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That post was read 100 times. 31 times on Monday, 37 on Tuesday and 33 on Wednesday. Not a single person signed up for web updates, and (possibly) one person joined my Twitter account. I stopped the boost this morning because, honestly, I think there’s no point.

CoPromote’s entire business revolves around the understanding that if you’re willing to share someone else’s work, there’s a benefit to yourself. The problem, of course, is that many individuals simply won’t care about anything except what they stand to gain from the equation. As long as you can be seen to be doing something that appears to benefit others, it doesn’t matter about whether you take an interest or not. Looking at the people who shared me, and I have a long list, many undoubtedly did so so just in order to add my reach to their totals. How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what I’ve needed to do myself, sharing content that is not appropriate to my feed just to keep the numbers ticking over.

The truth of ‘sharing is caring’ is, in this case, pretty much a lie.

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There’s a deeper truth here to be considered: I can see on my list people who shared my work with (it appears) nothing in common with me, except the fact I shared their posts previously. One assumes therefore their reasoning goes along the lines of ‘well if they did this for me and I do that back, maybe they’ll do so again.’ This is the moment that my husband would accuse me of being overly cynical and I’d look at that glass of water over there and know it is both half full and empty simultaneously. It would be lovely to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, right up to the point where you’re proved correct in your outlook. Assuming most people will be using this service for free, that means an awful lot of sharing to allow you to do the same. That means a feed full of stuff that could effectively be curated without you ever having to write a word. I can totally see the appeal of that for certain people, and then it stops being about one person hand curating their output and becomes something completely different.

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What you have then is a Twitter account full of other people’s work making your output look both relevant and vibrant, that nobody effectively reads. The problem with CoPromote for me, like it or not, is that it’s not a network that meshes with my interests long term. I could use it to float the occasional general interest piece, maybe with lots of pictures or a lighthearted subject matter but honestly, it is not what I need to sell my extremely niche interest project. Fortunately to discover this only cost $40, so there’s really no harm done. If I’d have gone full out with Twitter I would ironically have a far better chance of reaching the exact audience I want, because I can specify the particular type of user I’m trying to reach, but if I attempted to spend the same amount of money doing so? I’d undoubtedly have gotten about the same return, probably less. Effectively, if I want to sell the IoW, I’m going to have to do so for myself.

When I sit here and think about that conclusion, it isn’t a surprise at all.

I Saw the Light

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I spend a lot of time hanging around artists. It has become something of a cause célèbre for me: however, if there was less time admiring others’ work and more time perfecting my own, shit would get done far faster. Right now, however, inspiration is lacking just about everywhere: art provides that fix, vicariously reminding that passion can be seen and felt in pixels and pen strokes. Encouraging others is, like it or not, a greater source of satisfaction than staring at my own inadequate efforts and finding the means to become better. This is, I now realise, a writing slump. Non fiction fortunately does not seem to be suffering from the same malaise, and when critical thinking is applied to the reason, an answer as to why isn’t far behind.

Fictional worlds currently are not required as ‘escape.’

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Time for some brutal honesty: those imaginary spaces were created in my youth, more often than not, to run from from the less than happy domestic situation I found myself within. Only when my kids were born did circumstances dictate that imagination could be used just as it was: the work I have stretching from 2000 until now does, in nearly all cases, exhibit the same basic qualities. There are great ideas but never the ability to complete on them because the confidence in my work simply did not exist. Last year, I found the means to move forward with the help of Ian Fleming. The temptation would have been at this point to go full on fiction projects but in my heart the words now exist in two places where before only one mattered.

I’ve really started to gain pleasure in objective writing away from fiction.

That’s why this new project was born: it allows me to effectively continue therapy for myself using the written word. Where that leaves fiction however is both nebulous and uncertain. Last night after a family row I began and subsequently made worse, I sat alone in the bedroom and grasped that sometimes, there is a reason why everything needs to happen in a certain way. My desire to write has at no point diminished, in fact it grows greater with every passing day. However, what is written has become as significant as my favourite colour or most essential piece of music for relaxation. All the fictional ideas remain part of what I am, but with the practical skills learnt through non-fiction work there is now the means to re-invent each one as something better.

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The best way I can find to describe this is what I would imagine the process an artist goes through when learning the fundamentals of their craft. Learning to ‘see’ and draw people realistically might seem a waste of time to the Anime nut, but that basic grasp of anatomy and proportion, when learnt, allows you to think outside the constraints of accepted norms. Once you learn how to do something so well it can happen in your sleep, then comes the ability to step outside the restraints set upon a mind that looks simply at one thing alone. This, it is becoming apparent, is where I am now.

There was other stuff last night that surfaced, things as yet there is discomfort thinking about or even writing down. I want to mark yesterday as a watershed, moment when the reality of what sits in my head was finally reconciled with how I act when things happen that are out of my control. Words have give the chance to explain feelings, but until there’s clarity on exactly what those are, all that remains is silence. Some days, a lot of money would be offered to find the means for every feeling and emotion not to happen simultaneously, yet that’s where I am. Once everything can be sorted, then there’ll be the means to explain, but not today.

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I still need writing as therapy, but not in the same way this journey began. As I move forward, the desires have altered, needs sublimating into something more complicated than I’d first grasped. This isn’t just about telling stories any more: I am the story.

There is a lot more here to be considered.

Mission Statement

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I’ve been alive for half a century, which has seen change at a rate which, for some, is frankly staggering. I’ve lived through massive political and social upheaval, watched history play out around me and though all of this have relied on written media to inform and educate where personal experience was lacking. Newspapers, magazines, television providers, radio stations and all forms of educative sources… my entire life has been moulded by the words I’ve read, heard and seen. Since that British bloke ‘invented’ the Internet in 1989 words have begun a transformation: no longer do you have to wait for news to be reported, or hope you can find an objective or relevant viewpoint. Now, more often than not, history happens around you and is immediately available to dissect. The way everybody both perceives and absorbs information is altering, often at a speed that some find confusing and concerning.

This is why the Internet of Words had to happen now.

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Once upon a time, when there were no words, one assumes that communication could be quite fraught. Yet now, with the wealth of information available, so many myriad forms of conveying a message, people still misinterpret what they are given. I watch it happen every day, across all forms of media. The faster your delivery method, as a rule, the more a chance exists for misinterpretation (often followed shortly by some kind of altercation.) Once upon a time it could take weeks for news to reach across the planet: now, it can take seconds. It is no wonder that so many people are confused and often unable to cope with the sheer weight of data presented to them. As delivery systems become increasingly more sophisticated, the average brain is struggling to cope with keeping up. That’s why I’m beginning this journey, and in the months that follow hope to use the Internet of Words as my platform for investigation and (hopefully) enlightenment.

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From http://www.i-scoop.eu

I’ve been inspired for this project by the Internet of Things: the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. On the Web right now, and all across the Globe, I see and sense an emerging Internet of Words: if I had to define what this project is about, it seems like a good idea to use that definition but with the scope of language and communication as its heart:

INTERNET OF WORDS: 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.

Of course, one could argue this is already restrictive, that there is an Internet of Images
that might be considered more important, but I’m smart enough to know you learn to walk properly before running anywhere. Therefore, we will begin our journey with the tools that form a vital part of my everyday existence, that have saved me from myself on too many opportunities to recall and (most importantly) present the means by which ideas can be communicated and discussed.

I took a University degree back in the 1980’s that many of my peers considered something of a joke: Radio, Film Television Studies and English. It has taken thirty years for me to realise that this was probably the best preparation I’d ever have for living in the Internet Age: words are not just carriers of understanding, but can be weapons and symbols. The power of information is not simply understanding what you are given, but grasping how that shapes the existence around you. Learning how to see, hear and read with an objective eye is a life skill that I am staggered remains lacking in so many people, regardless of age, social status or circumstance. This is not a Millennial failing, or a CIS Male issue, it is everybody’s problem to solve, regardless. Comprehension and understanding matter more now than they have at any point in humanity’s existence as the dominant species.

Every day is a School day, after all.

The Internet of Words is a project that will include my own fictional take on the changing world we live in, essays on the issues I see as being important as we proceed into the 21st Century, plus observations on how words themselves are changing and evolving, often at a speed that some of us can find hard to keep up with. There will be spaces in our Internet for the ‘visual’ words too, and how language is used for vastly differing ends, plus how as individuals we can try and understand the more objective side of discourse and response. Thanks to the unique way the Internet now functions I will be asking people to help self fund this endeavour, via the medium of Patreon.

If you wish to become part of the Internet of Words with me when the project formally launches in June, please

on Twitter or subscribe to this WordPress site, where all future announcements around the project will be made.

GSME #7 :: The Old Songs

Last week, as those of you who follow my other blogs will know, was not exactly me on top mental and physical form. As a result, you would imagine that my experiment might suffer. Instead, I’m beginning to see some genuine return from the good foundations being laid.

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The bars may be down, but in reality engagements are up, coming close to 25k a day. Slowly but surely that rate is staying above a certain threshold too. It is a combination of curation, sharing and an increased use of the visual via artist sharing and Instagram that has helped, but also understanding that if you pitch the right things at the correct audience, amazing things will happen.

The bald guy top left in the picture set here is my mate, and he opened the shop named after his hobby at the weekend. His son is in my daughter’s year at school, and we had many conversations on the School playground before Secondary education sent our children their separate ways. I know he’s given up his old job to make Retro Gaming his full-time profession, and as a result deserves as much help as I can give him, so on Saturday I took some pictures on the phone and sent this out onto the Internet, making sure it hit a few of the right people along the way. This is now my third best performing tweet of the last 28 days, and is living proof that a) pictures sell posts and b) they gain more views if you ensure the right people see them.

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I screenied this last night, yet this morning people are still picking this up and bouncing it around the Retro Gaming community. I get nothing at all out of this either, which is the bigger point to make: I have only a passing interest in Retro but I’m more concerned in getting @TheRetroHunter the exposure I can offer, being at the intersection of where past and present overlap. As of time of writing, this has topped 6k views and at a point on Sunday was exceeding an almost mythical 20% engagement. Having one in five of your audience being interest is truly the stuff of legends, people. If you know the right people to talk to and the correct places to target? Twitter really is an incredible tool for advertising.

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The key here, of course, is that nobody paid for anything. It is proof, if it were needed, that the best advertising is word of mouth and altruism. Having said that, paying for the right things also does have benefit. Behold my boost on CoPromote from last week, which I managed to generate without any purchased ‘reach’:

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Up for 3 days, it bounced around for a while and got me 130k views but, yet again, the physical return for my effort appears to have been negligible in actual interest. This week, therefore, it is time to look at what content I can provide that will retain more of an audience, including a greater use of Twitter Cards in my ‘advertising’. This is one part of the free advertising toolbox I’m criminally underusing, and as a result we’ll be all over the process until I see you again. For now, if you like a retro game and wanna help my mate out, go visit his Facebook page 😀

Days Go By

You and I need to have a chat about how my creativity’s effectively vanished.

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It isn’t like it has disappeared completely or anything, and there’s a distinct vein of fictional thinking going on in my head right now. The problem, such as it is, lies with the amount of work I currently consider ‘in progress’ that’s not finished. As I begin the process of sorting out everything else (and on that front, things are going remarkably well) this is the place that suffers not because I don’t want to write, far from it. I just can’t work out what to put to bed first. I have, in various states, nearly a dozen long form projects and about the same in short form. This is the problem when you get seized by an idea, commit yourself to it, and then lose confidence in the ability to complete something worthwhile.

The first step I realise in dealing with the problem is to not write anything fictional, and then realise how much you miss it.

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Using the Mindfulness ‘concept’ I’ve been learning in the last week, I write fiction for sensation and problem solving. Once the issue I had has been dealt with, that the ‘story’ in my head was created for to deal with, it is left aside. Going back to work that was written therefore with this in mind, it can sometimes prove difficult to recreate the same enthusiasm for the project I had at the time. What now has to happen, I realise, is for me to look critically at everything sitting unfinished on my hard drive, and make some tough choices on what I can and cannot complete. I also needed to write this down somewhere public too, so I can’t pretend this revelation didn’t happen. Now I’ve grasped that? Time to start sorting through the files.

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I’m going to, whilst I do this, admit defeat and take out the links to the non-fiction essay page, and my Erotica selection. Part of my issue right now is pressuring myself into things that simply aren’t happening with the timescales available, especially with the push I’m making to being truly organised elsewhere. Yes, I suspect they will happen, and when I have enough pieces of work to justify filling them, they can be re-introduced. However, what I want to do now more than anything else is write long-form, and that means re-arranging my workplace to accommodate the change.

Thank you for understanding, and for continuing to support me on this journey of discovery.

 

Moving On Up

Three posts a week still isn’t happening, but the last seven days has been an important step forward. Adapting my brain to this more structured way of working is far tougher than I’d anticipated. I’m also very good at not doing things that need doing. That pile of paper over there, that I’ve been trying to sort and shred for a month now, is just getting larger and it has become a metaphor for shuffling old and new together. Having taken on the decision to remove items from the house every day for a month, I made myself drive to a recycling spot yesterday to prove I can make good on promises. Tomorrow, that pile will be dealt with and vanish. Tonight, I’m not skipping a Gym session but going late.

Promises made are going to be kept, and that means it is time to decide what I can do in writing terms and what will be put aside.

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I want to finish all twelve of these, and I have outlines for several already planned. The initial idea was once a week, and this is still doable. Therefore, starting next Friday (10th) I’ll start with Sellers and then cover everyone else in no particular order. This gives me a regular weekly third post for the next two and a bit months, and hopefully time to sort my fiction projects. These are a bit of a mess at present: not because of lack of time, but a basic inability to organise the ideas needed to move forward. That requires a fairly herculean effort to unscramble, but I have provisioned for that moving forward. What is needed at this point is a better set of objectives than previously existed, and that’s why I can now plan and commit with impunity.

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There’s also at least five short stories in various states of completion in this series as well. As confidence continues to rise, you can expect to see these as well, plus I suspect the story already up will have a tidy up.

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I’m spending quite a bit of time thinking I should write more about how mental issues affect the work I do (or mostly, the stuff I don’t) I am considering another ‘series’ under this umbrella, especially in light of how exercise and organisation are allowing me to be more focused. This one is still in planning, so I’ll be back with you on details.


That’s the major stuff to deal with, and once that’s moving forward, I’ll look at the other stuff on the table. I’ve also factored in a couple of Back End days starting next week, where I finally address the issues behind layouts and content that never made the switch from Blogger. There’s still a bit of it to finish but when it is done I hope to be more completely organised than I ever have been before. If I can accomplish these simple tasks, I have decided, then I truly will be capable of anything.

Okay, less chatting, and down to work.

The Great Social Media ‘Experiment’

I’ve been considering for a while what I could do as a regular ‘feature’ to keep this blog ticking over whilst I work on fiction, and for a while the plan was to feature the best Tweets I’d seen over a given week. Except, if I’m honest, this is just another excuse for a News post, and I have that side of things fairly comprehensively covered on the Personal site. However, I want to do more with Social media than I do, because the organic nature of relationships continues to fascinate me. For instance, this morning I made a connection between two people, neither of which either know me or each other, but needed to be united for a common cause. As a result of thinking and connecting the right dots, everyone stands to benefit in the long term. So, it occurs to me that what I need to be doing right now is not dissing the power of social media, but learning to better use it for good.

Therefore, the GSME has begun, and I invite you to join me on the journey 😀

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Right now, the Experiment has only one aim: to see if it is possible to maintain 20k engagements a day by making no effort at all. As you can see by the last 28 days worth of ‘work’ I’m pulling in a shade over 30k already without even considering how to improve. My numbers show a consistent and steady increase in popularity. How can this be possible when my blogs combined are lucky on any given day to garner 500 hits? That’s a good question, and I am going to try and understand (on your and my behalf) exactly what is at play here to make these numbers look as attractive as they undoubtedly are. It gets even better when you look at my ‘front’ page for Twitter interaction:

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I realise I’m quite prolific in the Tweet department (169,133 tweets and counting) but I’m not doing 3k a day, so the first part of this Experiment will be to demystify what some of these numbers really mean: I’m guessing that 3041 is the number of times my user handle gets picked up in a unique place during a 24 hour period. Also, I find it amazing that TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE will have looked at my Profile page in the last month, but it makes me realise that having a decent picture and details in place there might matter more than some would previously believe. Then there’s the all important (and many say vital) followers count which I know is up this month due to the two Contests I’m running being prizes that have generated a lot of interest. That’s how you do this, guys. If you want people to come, incentives do work. However how you then get people to stay is quite another matter entirely, and that’s why I’m here doing this Experiment to begin with.

It also becomes an exercise in translating what is normally dry as fuck and extremely uninteresting information on how the Internet works into something that people will have a passing interest in, and as that’s one of my jobs as a writer, I reckon this whole endeavour might have some mileage. You can expect to see my Experiment posts every Monday starting next week.

Here’s to making sense of stuff most people have no interest in.