Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Please consider blogging or tweeting

We've got a snow day in greater Houston and no snow to show for it.  As soon as the public school districts began announcing closures yesterday, the domino effect began in earnest.  Commercial cancellation announcements began pouring into my email box and visual voice mail account.

If you're wondering what to do with a bit of unanticipated free time today (or any other day), please consider starting your own blog or Twitter feed, especially if you might be able to see yourself participating in some kind of a community connective role.

There are 300,000 people in Galveston County, and very little community-oriented citizen journalism that I can find.

There are 200,000 people in "greater Clear Lake", which overlaps with north Galveston County, and the same observation applies.

We have a couple of notable exceptions, the most prominent of them being Island Drumz, which is the Clear Lake Shores blog.
Clear Lake Shores is about the size of a postage stamp.  Seriously, about 1,000 people live there, which is probably less than the population of Centerpointe subdivision with its 438 single family homes, most of which contain multiple-person families.  And yet Island Drumz has 68 subscribers and usually receives over 1,000 hits per week.  Do the math.  
If you do the math on that one, what you find is that Island Drumz is an effective mechanism of local social connection and information-sharing.  It represents a phenomenon that is rare in our area.

Bay Area Houston Today is another local example, but many of its posts promote ideological positions to a degree in which neither Island Drumz nor Centerpointe Communicator engage.  I do my share of editorializing - that's one of the perks of being a blogger - but it's not my primary focus.  And if I want political information, I tend to cut to the chase and go straight to The Texas Tribune rather than any given blog.

Our area's original blog was The League City Blog, which once again had a political focus, but at least it contained some hard information about what was going on around here.  Real Scary League City Politics was a similarly-themed progeny, but as of this writing, both have been dormant since 2012.

In sooth, the local blogging field is wide open.  Ditto with Twitter, from what I've seen so far.  Seven days ago when I announced that I was going to supplement blogging with tweeting, I made the statement "I was reluctant to begin this initiative" (Google Chrome has a sense of humor with cut and paste formatting, apparently).  Three days ago, a New York Times blogger neatly explained the reason for my reluctance in a piece titled "Valley of the Blahs:  How Justin Bieber's Troubles Exposed Twitter's Achilles Heel".  Simply put, Twitter is degenerating into a forum where people are trying to be noticed more than they are trying to be useful, which was Twitter's original purpose.   And in fact, much of what I've found in perusing Twitter fits into that category.  Nevertheless, it's still one of the best connective options we've got right now.

There is a HUGE latent demand for local information and connection with the other people who surround us.  We know this with absolute certainty.  Humans of New York recently proved it to us in spades.  HONY is essentially a forum through which local people communicate their individual stories.  They do it anonymously but viscerally, and they do it in a way which is less self-promotional and navel-staring and more in the style of sharing their wisdom and life lessons learned.  And people can't get enough of it, because that is exactly what is so missing from our social universe.   The blog has two million followers and the book that followed the blog was an instant #1 best seller.

When I conceived of this blog in 2011, I added a tab called "Neighbors" and I foresaw including content that was very similar to what HONY has since invented (this post from November 2011 best reflected my original intent for that post category).  But I didn't develop it because the idea was such a different paradigm that I was afraid it would creep people out.  I saw an acute social need for that kind of content, but as a small-scale contributor to the communicative universe, I wasn't sure that I would be a suitable person to try to re-set that precedent.  HONY has now smashed the old paradigm on behalf of us all.

Particularly if you are an older person, what are you planning to do - die with all your empirical wisdom still trapped inside your own head??  What would be the sense in that?  What if you were to share some of in an accessible format such as a blog, within the context of your life here in our local area?  I'm not talking about the navel-staring and self-promotion that characterizes so many individual private blogs.  I'm talking about sharing useful information.

Useful sharing benefits everyone, including the sharer.  A few months ago, a senior member of my scientific profession lamented in a public editorial that he had lost his enthusiasm for his career.  After about thirty years of doing essentially the same things, it had become stale to him, and he wondered what in the hell he could possibly do to keep himself engaged in the gap that he now dreaded, the ten-year gap between the onset of staleness and the final relief of retirement.  He hit upon an increased focus on mentoring junior members of our field, and suddenly he found himself filled with joy and renewed drive.

His story of typical of how life works.  Connection is good.  Sharing is good.  Mentoring is good.  Transmitting accumulated wisdom is good.  So, yeah, there are a lot of people out there who absolutely do not want to know about toilets that don't function properly.  Fine - they can enthusiastically skip that particular blog post.  But rest(room) assured, there's someone else out there who is looking for some guidance on that and literally a million of life's other small challenges.

Think about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.