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Creating an Online Persona

Suitable for my inaugural post here, I’ll briefly discuss the work I’ve been going through to enhance my online persona.

As an Internet denizen of a number of years (going back to 1993,) I’ve established personas on various Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs,) bulletin board systems (BBS,) newsgroups (Usenet,) various flavors of Instant Messenging (IM,) and a plethora of web-based or email-based forums. Now I’m looking to break into the “blogosphere,” understanding that I’m joining 50+ million other people of the same mindset.

But, the web log phenomenon seems an outgrowth of the original personal website movement, which started for me in 1994 while attending college. At that time, we didn’t have such frequent posting as ‘blogs today, but we did accomplish generally the same outcome by diligently updating our websites with events, low-res images and links to our buddies and favorite external websites.

My urge to publish lives, but is weak. For me, ‘blogs lowered the barrier to frequent publishing by inserting automation between myself and the process. What drove me to set up this persona was a desire to participate in the larger “blogosphere.” My audience are the people I know; those who know what I do for a living, what interests me, how I behave and what I may contribute. The material is available for viewing by all, and I recognize the caveats of becoming a public speaker on record. The desire is to contribute to my audience ideas and shortcuts to other ideas which may interest them, but not always convenient to communicate in a conversation or email.

I chose Typepad after noting that three out of my four most favorite ‘blogs used the service. I had a number of alternatives on the table, but I was looking for shortcuts. Typepad offers easy integration with Technorati, as well as a very cool mobile phone ‘blogging program. Load the program on your mobile phone and you can go around posting from anywhere!

In addition to Typepad, which is not a free service, I signed up for Flickr, Meetup.com, Technorati (a blog search engine which seems to play a big role in the blogosphere,) and then tied my weblog back to my existing personal website at http://www.williamward.com.

Flickr provides a semi-collaborative space for sharing photographs, which is a big deal for me. As a hobbyist photographer, I snap a lot more photos than I sell, and part of the joy of snapping photos is sharing your art with someone else. It’s another means of communicating and one that should be encouraged, practiced and supported by everyone.

Meetup is a social calendar system, permitting folks to set up and maintain clubs and ad-hoc gatherings. At present, I don’t see a tie-in with the ‘blog infrastructure, but you’re likely to participate online with the same folks you get to know through these gatherings.

I’ve intentionally shunned MySpace as I don’t agree with their policies – but that’s another realm of socially-enhanced websites, munging together both ‘blog and semi-static online billboard. Some of my friends keep their content exclusively on MySpace, and I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll find a connector that I can leverage to share information and ideas between the two systems.

I also have a presence in Second Life (SL.) Many of the movers and shakers of the blogosphere that I admire have learned to use Second Life as a new media for expressing rich ideas not available over text and images. SL adds a simulated spatial dimension to communicating, along with the expression of ideas through text, imagery, and behavioral mechanisms. At present, I have an ephemeral presence there, but if you want to connect online, look me up in the form of “Williem Leandros” and we can chat or explore there.

As I expected, about the time I got my business together and started ‘blogging, I’d forget what all I wanted to write about, but I hope to contribute interesting things with regularity.

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