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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Blog Comments and the Internet

blogging bug image A bonus today: two posts in one. The first is a bit of nuts-and-bolts information on commenting.

Email and RSS Subscriptions
Many more people read Time Goes By via email and RSS subscriptions than visit this website. As a result, I field 10 to 15 emails each week asking why they cannot comment. So this is a self-serving explanation intended to reduce the number of those messages I have been answering individually. Let me explain.

When a day's post arrives in your email inbox or RSS reader, it contains the entire story. Many bloggers send only the first paragraph or so which requires you to click “Read More” to see the rest of the story at the website. That does wonders for visitor statistics, but I figure you subscribe for convenience – we all have too much to read – so if you subscribe to TGB, you get the whole thing.

Then, if you want to read comments or leave your own, all you need to do is click the title at the top of the email or RSS feed. Your browser will open on that story at the Time Goes By website. To comment, scroll down to the bottom of the post, click the word “Comments” to read comments and/or leave your own. (It works identically at The Elder Storytelling Place.)

This is not unique to my blogs. All email and RSS subscriptions work this way. You can always tell what words are links; they stand out by being a different color from the rest of the text and usually become underlined when you roll your cursor over those words. Sometime, if the site is designed that way, the words change color too when you mouse over them.

One person who emailed this week asked why there are no instructions explaining this. Except for the story, I don't control what the email and RSS service includes in the mailing, but linking is the lifeblood, the essence of the internet whether it comes to you by browser or email, so I suppose they assume everyone knows how linking works. And if you didn't before, now you do.

Isn't the Internet Wonderful
The graphical browser, which is what made the internet easy for anyone to use, has been around now for 15 years. The web is commonplace enough today that I think we forget how wonderful it is. I remember decades of going to the library for research, plowing through Readers' Guides and other listings, writing down names and dates of publications I wanted, then waiting for the librarian to deliver microfiche rolls. When I was lucky, I didn't have to wait further for a machine to be free to view them.

Dozens of reference books that once lined my shelves are gone now (although I still use my favorite print thesaurus because the online versions are limited in scope and number of synonyms). If I can't remember what year a film was released or who starred in it, for example, or when Frank Sinatra died, it takes less than 30 seconds to find out. A few keystrokes bring up hundreds or thousands of stories about anything I want to know.

There is no way to count what I have learned by following links. Often it is information I didn't know I wanted, but it expanded my knowledge. When I don't understand something – toxic derivatives come to mind – there are hundreds of explanations. And if I need instructions for a do-it-yourself project, it is on the web.

And then there are the services unique to the web, that didn't exist before. Turn-by-turn driving directions; detailed descriptions of products I might want to buy with reviews from real users; email; blogs and Skype are just a few examples.

And now we are in the middle of a transition to all internet all the time. If you missed an episode of a favorite television program, it's online. If you can't attend a lecture because it is in another city or halfway around the world, it is likely to turn up on FORA, YouTube or TED. More and more news events, such as the Senate hearings on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court this week, are broadcast in real time on the web.

It would take a book (or, these days, a book-length blog post) to list all the terrific things the internet has done for us and when I stop to think about it, I'm thrilled. Among the best is how it gives elders, who might otherwise become isolated and lonely, a worldwide social life.

I was wondering recently if I could I identify a single thing the internet has taught me that I would value above all others. After a good deal of thought, I have come to this: that no one is unique. If I am thinking about it, believe it, question it, wonder about it, love it, hate it, want it or care about it – so do others.

What that means is that no one is alone. No one needs to worry that he or she is weird or a freak. No one needs to be afraid to speak up. Somewhere online someone else is already writing about it, someone who can answer questions, console, help you understand or simply share a rare interest.

Isn't that wonderful?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, polkadot22: Parts of a Man


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:37 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Yes! That is wonderful, Ronni.

I agree with every word you have written here. Indeed, the Internet, and blogging in particular, enriched and enhanced my life in indescribable ways these past five years. And I am always grateful that you were one of the people who supported and encouraged me, way back in the beginning of my blogging days.
Great post!

I keep seeing, in my mind's eye, the beautiful image of Indra's net - one of the most ancient of all human metaphors. The Internet is making it visible.

And I wish that all those naysayers who claim that they are too busy, have no time, or find the Internet a wasteland, would read your detailed description of its wonders. That is, if they'd consent to read your description. Which suddenly makes me wonder, Would you submit this post as an op-ed piece to a "traditional" newspaper or magazine with an online presence?

It is good that we don't have to feel alone, and I am sure that no matter what I think or feel there is someone who has thought or felt that before. But I still believe there is no one else quite like me.

I have said it before and I'll say it again - the Internet has kept me from living a lonely existence. I have met so many friends on line. My blogging friends are closer to me than my neighbors. Bless the Internet.

bill...

By no means did I mean to imply that each of us is not unique in our way. But I've come to believe we are more alike than we knew we were before the internet.

Taking nothing away from my "Ronni-ness," I am humbled several times a day to find someone else got there first in regard to the "original" thought or idea I just had.

This is not a bad thing...

I find that some blogs do not have RSS feed and won't work with the Blogger 'follow' thing and it annoys me greatly. Might I suggest that Virginia address how to set it up in her excellent Elder Geek column?

Oh I agree, Ronni! The interwebs are the great equalizer - the essence of Democracy naps here and occasionally wakes to give birth to yet another amazing miracle. (The election of Barack Obama springs to mind) Like the libraries in our lives we are empowered by the internet to be anything we want to be - be it degenerate or humanitarian. Hope and possibility become part of our American dialogue once more. I, too, am very thankful to have this tool. Thank you for reminding me!

Your post resonates with that article in 'Wired' about the long end of the tail...a metaphor for something for everyone no matter how strange. I find the Internet a wonderful replacement for the encyclopedia that my generations used as a reference tool. The caveat is that the Internet is full of half truths and incorrect information, so researcher beware.

http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/18/internet-usage-rises-despite-recession/

"Americans would rather keep their Internet connections than keep their cell phone or television service, a new study found.

Despite the souring economy, more and more Americans are buying high-speed Internet service, the study found.

More than twice as many people surveyed said they had cut back or canceled cell phones or TV than Internet service."

Whoever is an internet naysayer is in an increasingly small minority of people.

I agree with Ronni. I used to look up all kinds of info for people as a librarian. The looking up part is now done by individuals. Think of this as empowerment. I just looked up the article I cited above.

I cannot imagine living without the net.

"The Internet has kept me from living a lonely existence. I have met so many friends on line. My blogging friends are closer to me than my neighbors. Bless the Internet." DARLENE

What Darlene has written is true
and to prove it, Darlene and I live almost 3,000 miles apart and we have become dear friends because of the Internet, but mostly because of you and this site,Ronni. We met right here!

For me, the internet has given pure joy. To go looking for one bit of history only to find a web of other sites relating to that bit, amazing.
Better still is all the time in the world to follow the leads.
I don't have to 'dumb down', or be polite and wait for the next guy, or listen attentively. I can accumulate knowledge as fast as I can move one finger.

i too owe my friendship with many elder bloggers to TGB and Ronni's blog list.
I also remember going to the library and researching when now it is all at my fingertips with the click of a mouse.

Thanks "Al Gore" :)

Yup, it sure is. Meantime, I'll eschew RSS feeds, subscriptions, and email blogs. If I have time to get here, I do. If I don't, oh well. What I do want is less email....now there is a priority. :)

What a wonderful metaphor Marion has drawn our attention to - Indra's net - about the connectedness of the universe.

I find it exhilarating and little bit scary when I read several blogs that voice feelings, opinions and doings similar to mine - as if they have peered into my psyche.

It's truly comforting that we can forge strong links with people living thousands of miles away, whom we'll never meet, but nevertheless care deeply about.

What a great article! I shall add it to my favourites.

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