Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going emo over emoticons

Smiley face 2
Smiley face 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 
When I was a kid (shush!), it was the rage to dot your i's with hearts, and punctuate most things with smiley faces.
Somehow I did end up with a pair of yellow smiley face earrings, and a rather large metal smiley face necklace. I'm not sure how that happened-- must have been a gift. Probably from that person who always used to tell me to smile.
I was a serious holdout. In my weaker moments, I played with the bubble writing, but natch. To this day, I've never used a heart as the dot over an i. Or a flower.
What I do go all curmudgeon about is the smiley face.
The logic is simplistic: Readers can't always glean the substance of the personal written word, and need a hint to understand the emotional overtones of an email. Hence, the proliferation in the use of the emoticon; i.e., the emotive icon.
Yes, I use the :-) quite a bit, and I cringe each time. Actually, I tend to use :) . The big yellow ones didn't have a nose, and it's easier to type. :P
I do have a certain fondness for :P .
But what are we conveying by punctuating our emails with smiling emoticons? Are we saying, "Hey, don't take it personally"? I think sometimes we are.
Just as frequently though, I think that little emoticon is an attempt to pull the wool over the reader's eyes, as in, "Yes, I just said something really nasty, but I'm going to put this little smiley face here so we can both pretend I didn't really mean it that way." Who are we fooling?
I wonder why we feel so inadequate in our written communiques-- both as scribers and as readers-- that we must resort to using a visual representation of our meaning.
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WoW Librarian

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm No Chatty Cathy

Working in social media is a bit of a paradigm shift for me. The fact is, I'm one of those people who can go a very long time without talking. I worried that my children would not learn how to talk, because no matter how good my intention, I would stop vocalizing. My internal dialogue would be going full steam, however.

I'm not much for small talk; I'm capable, but it's not an enjoyable exercise. One of the primary goals of a social media strategy is to engage people in conversation. Now, one might think that the 140 character tweet could circumvent the small talk issue. Um. No. Not for me.

For example, the pundits advise not merely tweeting the link to an article you've found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy, but adding a few words to say why you found it noteworthy. My inner voice says, well, I wouldn't have forwarded it if I didn't find it of interest, now would I? Then I sigh and remind myself that ESP is not an ability shared by very many people, and someone else may not find said article as enthralling. Save the time of the reader, whispers Ranganathan.

It's not that I don't have anything to say: I do. My internal dialogue is very busy, and can be very opinionated. Perhaps I censor that inner voice a little harshly.

By this time, if you've stayed with me this long, and you haven't been living under the rock next to my cave, you might suggest I have the classic symptoms of an introvert. And you would be right.

But here's the paradox. A social media platform can be a wonderful mouthpiece for the clown behind the curtain. "I am the great and powerful Oz!", one could bellow, and no one (except that confounded little dog Toto) would know that the voice comes from someone who dreads the prospect of going to a gathering of more than five and having to exchange small talk.

A Google search for "social media introverts" results in a wealth of hits-- 1.4 million. Who knew there were so many introverts out there expressing themselves through Twitter, blogging, and curating content?

I had one of those Chatty Cathy dolls. The novelty wore off with astonishing speed. It was a small talk nightmare. Those eleven sentences were not at all entertaining after the third or fourth repetition.

And that just might be the cause for my silence.
WoW Librarian
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Trending in LinkedIn Today

LinkedInLinkedIn (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)
A quick snapshot of my "LinkedIn Today" for March 30 at 11:24 am:
By the time I finished putting this together at 11:32 am, the top story rose to 1527 shares.
Hm. It's all pretty social. 'Magine that.

WoW Librarian
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An ex-pat finds a home in a bookstore cafe

I've joined the forces of those who use the neighborhood bookstore cafe as their home office. We hover around the electrical outlets, plugging in our laptops so that we can work at full power. We pay for our seats with extra large coffees and bookstore memberships so we can access the wi-fi. We ask complete strangers-- our office mates-- to watch our things while we head for the restrooms and do a quick browse on our way back.

What brought me to my office away from home? Mostly it's the realization that once I'm home, the distractions are overwhelming and chaos seems to reign. My creative output slows to a trickle, and even dries up. And so I've fled my refuge to find a place where distractions are more easily shut out, including my neighbor who is singing while wearing headphones. I'm an ex-pat from my house.

The ambiance here is casual but studious. The piped-in music is soft. I’ve learned that eavesdropping can be fun. The typical drivel I block out by second nature. But every now and again, the most fascinating conversations tickle my ears; quiet discussions between complete strangers who are just whiling away some time, relaxing and sipping their coffees.

The new strategy is working out thus far. I've set up a schedule, and I'm ticking things off my to-do list. I've updated my LinkedIn profile, and re-written the About page on my website. I've caught up on some other writing; I've made notes for some new blog posts.

I look forward to my nights in the bookstore cafe. Do you have a special place where you find you are more productive? A bolt hole to escape to? Tell us about it in the comments below.