February 07, 2004

Oh, it doesn't look that bad, Jeneane...

Jon says...

Jon Husband has a good social networking post and thoughts from his panel at a Vancouver info forum (which I think is a meeting, but not the 12-step kind, well, but maybe). Anyway, read away. He gives props to Kev and Eu too (I just felt like giving them nicknames this evening) for pointing to Douglas Adams' time-honored How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, and how beautiful is THIS:

Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’ What should concern us is not that we can’t take what we read on the internet on trust – of course you can’t, it’s just people talking – but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV – a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.

That's why my orkut friends are my friends JUST AS EASILY, in some cases more so, than the converse.

Jon has noticed that I have been having FUN with orkut and I think he thinks that is important, which is one reason why I think he's smart.

He writes good too.


there are 8 ways i could have at six
said no:
don't touch me
i'll tell
slap not speak
and I mean no

8 ways I could have.


off the albino beach underwater ruins shade specks of coral dust turquoise made midnight under the hull of the lone boat floating.

nesting beatles earth dark mulch last autumn's leaves churned colorless under the ribbed bottom of the clay pot cracking.

miniature rivers etch fine lines across tightly stretched canvas wrap around slab cinders under the bed of her screams rising.

step down
step down
step down.

If I had a dime for every domain name I've had, I wouldn't be so poor

Nonetheless, I registered frontizo.com today, greek for mind, you know, minds, those things that connect across this hyperspaced place. Just in case google/orkut decides to roll out collaboration workspace, I'll be ready to recruit and launch in about ten short minutes.

It all started when I was playing around with basecamp earlier today, and I had to pick a name for my "company" and workplace, and I thought, well, if I'm going to pick another name, I might as well pick one with an available .com too, just in case it turns into anything.

voila: Frontizo!

While my exploration of basecamp left me wanting, it's always nice to have another domain name in the family.

Unless, that is, anyone wants to buy it. Has a classic consulting or communications company ring, no?

Quick Perceptions on Basecamp

From Benjy's pointer, I signed up for basecamp at the medium-priced subscription trial price of $39/mo (free for 30 days) and noodled around. While I hope Basecamp does well, it's not quite what we, the refugees from, and now providers of services to, corporate America need.

Basecamp's blog-based project discussion and tracking structure is nice, and would be a good way for project teams inside companies to communicate and better manage projects, it's not a true collaboration space because there's no server space, no inherent workspace, for the dispersed masses whose LAN is really a Global Area Network called the net.

I need a secure space, with multiple levels of permission, to upload files, to invite specific people per project, to talk about them online, to revise and track revisions, to share knowledge, stuff (media lists, templates, boilerplates, assignments) with colleagues I don't work with yet, and to invite clients.

That's not basecamp, unfortunately. So I unsubscribed and am hoping I don't get charged next month. I may be back once I actually have some projects I'm able to collaborate with others on, but first I need that digital workplace.

If you're looking for an easy to use blogspace where you can talk about, argue about, link to, and track projects, check basecamp out. If you're looking for a more powerful collaboration space that doesn't cost a fortune, and you find one, please let me know.

I'll see your campaign blog and raise you one President blogging

Jimmy Carter is blogging from Africa. Thanks to Sheila Lennon for the pointer.

what to do about this tooth thing

My tooth is still chipped. It's the lower right front tooth (my right, not yours). And the way it chipped is that a small piece of the top, and whatever shreds of amalgam remained (I have never used the word amalgam before, and I don't know if it's the right word, but I really enjoyed using it, so thank you), broke off the back (aka facing my tongue) part of the tooth.

So now the tip of my tongue has been rubbing the sandpaper backside of my chipped tooth for two days, resulting in an incredibly red, sore spot on the tip of my tongue.

If this keeps spreading, soon I'll have no neck.

I'm wondering if, and if not why not, you can buy some sort of mixture--kind of like cement, but less toxic--that you can use to fix your own tooth cracks, chips, etc. How hard can it be? I'm good with clay.

And I'm not so good with dental bills.

February 06, 2004

Budgets Approved, Check!

What is up with this week? All the budgets in the U.S. must have been approved on the same day. I have had no less than five new client calls/meetings and the potential for enough work to book 2-3 writers, if all pans out, for the next several months.

But I'm only one writer.

I see that Documentum bought e-room. It was something I was wishing google would do. To incorporate affordable--free would be better--collaboration space where good people can work with good people, no matter where they are, on projects that require that one precious thing that makes the word go round: Words. (Content if you'd rather.)

What about Groove? Anyone using it for collaboration? I lived in e-room for a few years at Ketchum, but haven't tried Groove. I don't know what kind of investment it would take for a small business. I sure wish someone really nice would comp me.

It would push me to do something really cool with my business. And the orkut writing community. And my blogger friends. You'd see. Make me your blogger/orkut lab rat.

It is possible.

Instead, I'll just hope all these projects pan out and work my ass off.

For now.

Orkut--another place to live and die online

It's grey, rainy, and 40 here today, and I'm thinking about death again. I think about death a lot. Most of you know this. It's one of "my things," a thread that's sewn through my inner community of ramblings, one of the things I think about, one of the things I write about, one layer of context for the me I am.

Naturally, then, I got to thinking about death and orkut, my latest online neighborhood, about orkut as another place where our virtual selves will outlive our physical selves. We've talked about this in relation to blogging before, many of us deciding that AKMA, maybe one day Son of AKMA, would the best person to tend to our online remains, our weblogs.

With orkut though, the tending is a little different. If it sticks, ten years from now how many profiles will belong to the dearly departed? What will orkut do with them? Will we be able to add dead friends as friends? What will it be like to go back and see their words and faces sprinkled among the communities our friends played in?

And what for our children, our grandchildren, if orkut sticks and continues to evolve? And they join in. Forget friend, or friend of a friend. How about child, aunt, mother, brother? What will jenna think when I'm gone and she reads my question about zombie aroma on the the zombie survival tips community's myth debunking thread? (for the record: dead zombies smell like leather.)

I love that orkut is another layer of my online legacy. I love that my child will one day get to see where I cried, lied, lived, and died in front of my friends, and perhaps more importantly, in front of those who are not my friends. I hope it makes her less afraid, more engaged, and more open to everything.

The reason the whole orkut-as-legacy question strikes me specifically with orkut, unlike the other social networks, is, frankly, that the google/blogger folks are powering it. Let's face it--if the net will outlive all of us, then google will be our self-crafted, hyperlinked eulogy, and perhaps even our reincarnation.

There's no reason to think that everything we say, all we are on orkut, won't be part of our eventual legacy. Serving up our individual comments in community threads, it would be fitting that we eventually go to a profile and see every snippet of conversation an orkuteer has ever added, whether funny, serious, asinine, or intelligent. Much like Shelley does here. From the intertwining of these threads and conversations--and potentially even collaboration, our legacies evolve, deepen, and last.

Is that heavy, or is it just me being preoccupied with death again?

February 05, 2004

Do people do this every day?

I went into the world today, again. I'm always amazed that this amazes me. Once I lived and worked in the world. It's been almost a year now that I've been doing the freelance thing, and aside from the occasional client meeting, I enjoy my life writing on my laptop from the living room couch.

Most days the closest I come to a meeting is meeting the mail lady at the mailbox to see if clients are paying fast (yay!), slow (boo!), or not at all (shit!). These meetings are much less complicated than the BigPRCo brainstorms of the past, the overnights at the office during RFP time, the sometimes hour-and-a-half commute. The mail lady is my best vendor, and I think I'm her cheeriest client.

So, me and my chipped tooth made our way into town. I really liked this prospective client. We laughed about my tooth when I told her why I was scanning the menu for something soft. She's cool. Lunch was delicious. I felt like one of those people who lives in the real world. That part was disconcerting. And yet vaguely, and I mean vaguely, familiar.

I've been to more offices this week than I have in several months. I've had one particular client for nine months. We met for the first time yesterday. They said they had been betting on whether or not I really existed. I wished I'd been in on the bet. I'm not saying which side I would have put my money on. We laughed.

I have, actually, only met three clients this year in person. Six of my clients from this past year I've never met. It's kind of like blogging that way. I know them as well as any client I've met, except I haven't met them.

Anyway, what I started out to write about was how strange it has been to be in an "office" this week that is 1) not a pediatrician's office, and 2) boasts beautiful office furniture and prized windows and doors, a commodity you forget about when you sit on a scratched up couch drinking water out of a ball jar glass in your pajamas most days.

I remember when those things meant something to me--windows, doors, and administrative assistants. Now, I'd rather have 102 friends on Orkut than a credenza facing Peachtree Street from 22 floors up.

Who am I?

I floated around these offices of the last few days (with one more to go tomorrow) feeling quite dissociated. I was sitting at a meeting table watching myself sitting. I forgot how much perfume is "the right amount" to put on for a meeting, and was overwhelmed by my own realworld smell. I smelled myself smelling myself.

The client's office yesterday was adorned with sleek dark wood, beautifully classic furniture, and high ceilings. I felt swallowed up and awkward in this vast, dark, roomy place. I was on the underside of floor 7 and 1/2 in On Being John Malkovich.

Today's lunch with the really smart, warm client reminded me, though, that sometimes -- maybe more often than I do... okay definitely more often than I do -- I need to get myself back into the physical presence of people who do what I do, or people who need me to do what I do, or hell, maybe just *people*, to connect in a way that pulls me back out of my net-connected mind and into my own wrapper, better known as my skin.

You want the truth though? The truth is that me, my chipped tooth, my portfolio, my business cards, my Heaven perfume, my empty coffee mug, and my kid swept up from art class were all happy to get home this evening, back here to blogland at the end of an unusual usual day.

February 04, 2004

chipped tooth oh great

So this week has been interesting. I'm spinning around the outer orkut like a top, had one meeting yesterday where I picked up some work, have another tomorrow, and another Friday.

So of course tonight I chipped my bottom front tooth on a frozen marshmallow.

don't ask.

i don't know.

it was on a stick and chocolate dipped and ended up here when it shouldn't, so I did what I do with all the food I don't want to devour, I stuck it in the freezer and forgot about it. That is until the chocolate craving hit and I remembered the drizzled coating on the marshmallow on a stick sitting in the freezer.

So I unwrapped it and nibbled it like an ear of corn and then I thought, my it's awefully gritty, and then felt the rough spot on the back of my front tooth and said something like, "Oh shit."

Great timing.

HI! I'm Jeneane, the bethteth writher in the Southeastht.

It only looks semi-bad, well, chipped.

It feels like sandpaper.

It's not who you know.
It's who you know on Orkut.

Google, please pay me for that one.

The secret life of the orkut busineess writing community

Well, it's not much yet, but it's still cool...

Part and Parcel

I blogged about Orkut a gazillion times yesterday. You're probably thinking, there she goes again, championing another online "thang of the week." It is kind of like that, but I'm not sorry for it. I really really like the place. I'm already seeing little changes here and there that make me think either (A.) some folks are listening to what we want or (B.) those working on enhancements have a pretty good idea where things should go.

And it's nice starting another community--I haven't done that since blog sisters, and goodness knows I've been talking enough lately about my recent disappointment with the effects of mainstream interest in "using" blogs that the distraction of Orkut is a welcome one for me.

Shelley has a great post on her Orkut wanderings and why she quit, which, if I follow her correctly, is because it takes up too much time that she needs to be spending writing.

I have the same dilemma and I've been mentally punishing myself over it. I have three client meetings this week, a kid getting over strep, a baby sitter coming this evening so I can keep an appointment I really need to keep, a house that I'm ashamed to have the baby sitter walk into for fear of disappearing her (I like using disappear as a verb--I never heard it used that way until I moved south, and this is the first time I've done it in print, and so anyway...)...

At the same time, without Orkut I would be approaching all of the above tasks with less energy, less enthusiasm, less of a rush, less hope for change, and less passion. The simple truth about me--the thing that's kept me blogging this long despite its incredible time demands--is that what I get from and give to the weblog community, bleed over into my realworld self and my realworld activities.

Orkut, so far, is feeding those good parts of who I am. Then me, the more alive me, the more connected me, is carrying that new-found, upbeat (or at least more alive) energy into the things I NEED to do to survive (namely working and mothering).

This, perhaps, is a justification of my spending the time I should be spending elsewhere on Orkut, but then, flip it over and just maybe some of the time I *was* spending elsewhere is better served on Orkut.

I just don't know yet, but I'm hanging on to my new-found enthusiasm with both hands and my front row of teeth.

February 03, 2004

Social Software Virgins

Another instinct I have is that many of those with experience participating in these social networks have come to orkut with baggage from previous experiences in tow, or have not come at all. They sound tired of these kinds of places. I think I understand why--because they've had their love affair with the idea, and it wasn't, shall we say, very satisfying.

On the other hand, lots of us who never caught the early hook-up bug from social networks have signed onto orkut with not much baggage (and maybe even fewer expectations).

Something to be said, maybe, for not giving up your social software innocence to early? ;-)

As if they planned it this way...

Another thing I like about orkut is that while many in the social software circle were at a conference discussing social software, the orkut buzz was taking off in virtual space, a "who-knows? and why-not?" community constructing itself at the hands of those of us left here minding the net.

That, my friends, is a well-placed launch.

Almost like when google bought blogger and Doc, who was present (and who is always "representin'") instinctively knew to say: "holy shit."

David, why so literal, my Friend?

David blogs some problems he sees with social software--orkut specifically--and binary definitions of friendship and relationship boundaries. But I think he's missing something. I think the literal interpretation is in our fingers, not in the software.

In his comments, I say this:

David, You missed something important, I think. Orkut is not asking you to choose whether Phil is your friend or not. Orkut is allowing you to ask Phil if he wants to add you as his friend.

I blogged at 4 this morning about what happened to Susan Kitchens -- we connected in a special and odd way (and odd for me at this point in the blogging game means odd) -- simply because neither one of us read the "add as friend" button as anything other than that: add as friend.

That could mean Phil's my friend; OR, Hey, Phil, I haven't seen you in ten years!; OR damn, I wish Phil were my friend; or, Phil, wanna be my new friend; or Phil, check out what communities I'm in; or Phil, you know David too?; Or Phil, wanna get laid?

It depends on the clicker and the clickee.

The missing piece is a comment field you could add a little message in when you "add as friend" to explain why. I for one am not going to bother sending pre-add-as-friend emails. Yick. Either be my friend or don't--but go read my profile and my blog and I bet you'll see why I clicked you.

As for the rating stuff, it'll change. Look at the login page. They assumed 20-somethings would jump on this thing by the truckload and run off into the peppy, skinny, way cool, california-blonde sunset.

What they got was US.

hee heee.

Paul Boutin Experiences "Orkut Friend Whiplash"...

...in his orkapalooza post. The condition results from the double take you do when you see people on orkut you didn't figure you would or learn something about them you wish you hadn't. I already ordered my neck brace. You?

viral invitationitis

Put this under the "why-by-invite?" microscope. Specimins here.

Gary Turner ponders Orkut and Friendship

Gary wonders aloud why he can't make friends that live 2999 miles away or closer. He thinks he may have intimacy issues. I think he's crazy as a bearded goat with a half empty dixie cup and frightens the nice people in the U.K.

And off of Orkut, the net still turns.... OR What Gary Turner Does Better Than Anyone Else

Synapse Satire.

This time AKMA gets the nod.

Don't forget to check out the blackboard. Gary, you FREAK!

Tom also wonders where "Annoying Asshole" is on Orkut.

Fear not. He's there.

Tom tells why we're all here in the first place

It's Hammer time.

Steve Fixes the Orkut Friend Rating System

A categorization system we can all live with.

Ray, start a Poets Community because I want to join it.

orkut thought of today

Orkut's like blogging, except different.

Scott Allen discusses the orkut vs. blog angle.]]

What's wrong with me? OR The five characteristics of Orkut friends.

I really like Orkut. I mean, I really do. I'm awake at 4 a.m. thinking about some stuff I want to add to the Writing community--stuff from my write resources site which is *down* because I hadn't paid Earthlink--and I'm sitting here thinking about how cool these communities could be.

What woke me up was one of those "Duh!" nudges, which often wake me up, that said the writing community shouldn't just be for writers, but for people who need writers. You know, a symbiotic kind of thing. So I added a line to the community description.

Poor Susan Kitchens. She must think I'm stalking her.

It all started yesterday when I added her "as a friend" because I found us in the same community *and* because I've bumped into her online (as in read someone linking to her), *and* because we share friends. Susan accepted and we started disussing the whole umbrella term "friend" over there, over here, in our past reincarnations, and so that got me thinking about what constitutes a friend on Orkut.

So far I've noticed the following:

1) some folks are trying to preserve the term "Friend" for someone they've met in person--someone with whom they have a personal and/or professional relationship.

2) some people consider a "Friend" as someone they know from a two-way exchange online--as in, they've emailed, IM-ed, been in a previous community or online discussion with, their "Friend."

3) Bloggers will often add you as friend if you're on their blogroll and/or have left them comments.

4) Some people will add you as a friend if they've ever seen your name before in their native language, or if they have a favorite aunt with your name.

5) some people [[ME]] will also add you as a friend if I find myself overlapping with you on Orkut and WISH you were my friend. That means we are (1) I find that you and I are in the same communities that are emerging there, (2) I look at your profile and laugh or cry as I regret I haven't known you all along, and (3) lastly, it will likely turn out upon further inspection that we do have other friends in common (FOAF).

I think I'm unusual this way. At least judging from a few emails I've gotten asking, um, do I know you? And then I have to explain to them, no, but you wish you did because obviously we've been friends for a long time. We just haven't encountered one another yet.

As I said to susan, I offer it as some strange kind of platonic valentine: Will you be my friend?

I'm really glad Susan said yes.

February 02, 2004

Oh hell's bells, I started a writing group on Orkut

Look, it's been a long time since I've dug on something online. So don't douse my newly-lit fire, kay? With that little disclaimer and/or request out of the way, I will confess that I just started a community for writers on Orkut.

Now, you will notice that the people on the login screen don't look like they've just finished writing a 50-page web site, a white paper on data management, NOR do they look particularly (a.) awed by or (b.) pissed off at the world. So you might think, what's writing got to do with that orkut thing, and how's a writing community going to work inside there.

Well I don't have a clue.

But I do know that some of the friends I've re-found and/or made already on Orkut have me jazzed by the possibilities. So, given my penchant for group weblogging -- or at least for starting them -- AND my vast experience as a harried professional business writer -- AND my rather harrowing journey leading writing teams in business -- AND my lack of anything better to do at the moment, THE WRITING GROUP HATH DONE BEEN CREATED!

If you want on, email me your first and last name and your email address. I need those to invite you.

Once you're on Orkut, the community is called Writing and it's under the Business category.

God bless us everyone.

Superbowl Blogger Ad

...for earthlink or any other ISP/phonecompany/cabledealybob pushing high-speed access..... here's an ad tailored for a target market of nearly a million nationwide. [[actually, what are the latest numbers for US bloggers--anyone know?]]

Anyway, here goes:


Guy sits down in pajamas with a cup of coffee in front of laptop. Dog comes up with a ball, wants to play fetch.

Guy pats the dog on the head absent mindedly, ignoring the dog because he's booting up.

Dog goes out of the room and comes back with a squeaky toy. Guy continues to ignore dog and is now looking at his screen alarmed.

Dog goes out of room and comes back with a leash. By now the guy is typing furiously, getting more paniced. (camera pans across screen to glimpse a 404 error page.)

narrator voice: Without a reliable service provider, you can't blog. And we know how bad that can be.

Dog tilts head looking at owner wondering what's wrong. drops leash and moves beside guy as if to calm him.

narrator voice: In fact, there's nothing worse than not being able to post when you need to.

But instead dog pees on a pajama leg.

narrator voice: Well, almost nothing.

Earthlink--reliable, lightning-fast access.
Because we know what you need.


Okay, the truth is, I just paid $87 I don't have to earthlink to get sessum.com (gesproductions.com) back up. COBRA due. Don't do it unless you've got change to spare, but if you do, spare away.

And if you're earthlink, can you comp me for a few years--you can use any or all of the above if you do.

[[Back to our regularly scheduled programing--something to do with Janet Jackson's pierced right breast.]]

the first thing orkut really has to do is very simple: change the photo on the login page.

I was writing to an orkut friend about orkut just now and figured I'd share some of my latest (as in five minutes ago) thoughts:

As far as social networks go, Orkut feels different. Maybe it's not a "social" network at all. I think that remains to be seen. I think it might be bigger than that. The social software people will tell me that social software and networks in fact are bigger than social networks, but they'll use different words to say that so that it makes sense. Orkut off the google toolbar could be something different.

As a casual observer (as in, someone who's been in a couple of days) Orkut seems different from the other social/networking homes I've signed onto (LinkedIn was one--what was the other??) for lots of reasons. First, the flow of who's coming on and through whom and with what bits of wit is fascinating. The velocity is something else. Every time someone pops up in my inbox, I'm saying, "Of course! Cool! I'm so glad he/she's here!"

It's the fun of not knowing what's going to happen next. Speaking for me and my homies, we haven't had that feeling around here for a long, long time. And that was part of the reason we started playing the blog game, so we've been craving something new.

I should be sleeping, and I'm writing about Orkut. That should tell you something.

Next thought: Orkut is not going to be a 20-something white kid's dating service; in fact I think easy job number one is to change the photo on the login page!

I sense a micro-interest based connection thing of cool people whose faces I'm happy to see in a place that feels open and uncrowded by complicated features--and that's enough for now.

For later I'd like collaboration areas (server space) for the communities--maybe business communities, music communities, whatever--have an e-room type setup where we can do more than talk and look at each other's mugs--but really
create something here in little bundles of communities.

I know that gets sticky with who owns what and why and how--but should it? Why not be able to have breakout groups of keen minds and virtutal white boards and folders, and *why not* reinvent the century?

Is anyone really happy with how it's going so far?

On the other hand, we can all just look at Joi hanging from an airplane. That's an option too.

Either way, it sounds like fun, so count me in.

February 01, 2004

freeze frame

when something happens to you as a child, something big and bad, like coming home from kindergarten to find out your father's dead, a piece of you freezes in that moment. A polaroid memory that is never a memory at all, not allowed to become a memory, because it remains present and endless. It is then and now and all the space in between. It is before and after. A left turn in your DNA strand. A fly ball that never sails over the fence, never hits the ground, never goes foul, and never lands in your mitt.

And there she is. Living her six-year-old moments, day to day, skipping and drawing, laughing and fretting, my girl. The age I was then. Because a piece of me froze there, I can see into her heart in a different way, feel it skip a beat when something frightens her or worries her, not as her heart, but a bump-bump--an extra bump for me.

Trust me when I tell you that I'm careful about projection. I am conscious about this state I find myself in and wary not to project my then/now age-six state onto her. Anyone who has gone through it will tell you they have to be careful not to blend those early fears into their children's fears.

And it's an effort to stay conscious of it. That's how I know I'm still living it. And anyone who has gone through it will tell you a piece of them is still there. Not every moment, but then yes, maybe so. Not in full glare every single moment, but somewhere, a gnat buzzing up high one day, a dry branch brushing your skin another day, and a stake through the left ventricle another day.

In that freeze frame moment of me at her age, it is the mind, eyes, soul of a six-year-old that turns on like a closet light, or surprises me like a flash bulb from a camera I never noticed was pointed my way.

It's like that, you see.

When she and I connect in that six-year-old space, really touch minds in the middle of a good book, noticing a quarter moon following us down a side street, finding a 1972 penny heads up, it's like an all-day Barnum and Bailey cirucus compressed into a single second.

And when I encounter her pain in that six-year-old space, I absorb it with her, and it's like losing everything all over again.