A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Technology...why it's both a good and bad thing

Yesterday, a very lively discussion was started on another blog because of Hannah's post about the whole "blogosphere" phenomenon for the YA authors.

I even weighed in a little during the conversation, though I'm not a YA writer.  One thing Hannah, and other commenters, brought up is that the "blogosphere" as it applies to YA writers - and, I'm assuming, to a lot of other groups as well - is how clique-ish the online communities are.  They're not as welcoming to newcomers as they should be.  In fact, in some places, they're downright hostile.

Why?  When did this happen?  I know the whole "Net Neutrality" talks are generally about the rights of the companies who provide us with the service, but I think that at some point the general feeling of "Net Neutrality" among those of us who use social networking, blogging, fan sites, etc. to connect with like-minded people has also disappeared.  Many of us have become net snobs, not wanting to welcome new people into the fold.

The internet is a valuable tool.  It can help us with our research.  It can connect us to other authors, fans of the types of books we write (or art we create...or games we enjoy...you get the idea), and it can open up a whole new world of opportunities.  It can lead to the making of new friends and reunion with old friends.

A good example of this is Twitter for me.  I've always been interested in writing but believed I'd never really get much of a chance to meet any authors until I was well established in my own writing career and maybe have been invited to a con or two to do a presentation (yeah, I know...not likely...but hey, it's still a dream!).  I've met the wonderful @GeneDoucette, @hannahmosk, @leapetra, @katrchrdsn, @caitkitt...the list goes on.  In fact, I have an entire set of lists designated for the YA writers, the SF&F writers, the general (or genre unknown) writers, and the UF writers that I've met and have the pleasure of chatting with.

I may not know these people in person.  I may not know them face to face.  But I'm getting to know more about the personalities of the people behind the printing on the covers of books.  In fact, I might never have picked up Greywalker by Kat Richardson if not for the fact it was tweeted about and I got a chance to read some of her Tweets.  I was very impressed by her writing, and I'm now after the rest of her series about Harper.

Hannah's book Break has also made it onto my list of books to read, even though I'm not much into the YA literature.  The reason is because the person BEHIND the book is interesting enough to make me want to check out what she wrote.

The point is I'd never have even heard of these people, let alone picked up their books, without a little prompting because I'm not around people who share my tastes in reading material.  I've also never given genre distinction much of a thought since I tend to write epic fantasy and soft sci fi.  But what about my Fallen story arc?  What about my arc that I cheerfully refer to as "Fang Faces" because the darn thing still doesn't have a working title?  I didn't know, until a very interesting discussion with some of the others in the #UF_Chat last night that both of those arcs can be classed as urban fantasy.  I also got some good ideas on how to resolve some plot blockades that came up.

I'm also very aware of how dangerous the internet is.  I know the stories of the predators who stalk Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other online social sites.  They try to beguile the unprepared into different kinds of trouble - which can even lead to the deaths of their prey.

Pedophiles, murderers, identity thieves, data pirates...we know the stories.  Just like with the benefits of the internet, the list can go on and on.

The truth of the matter is the internet has become one very large, very public info dump, international marketplace, and social club.  You can find just about anything online that you want, you can talk to people halfway across the world for a lot less than it would be if you called them, and if you need to get information on the breeding habits of the platypus you can find it.

I'd like to see a more welcoming environment for people new to whatever it is they're interested in.  I'm not saying they aren't there.  For writers, Absolute Write is amazing.  For artists, I can highly recommend Elfwood and DeviantArt - although DA is more commercial than Elfwood is.

I think part of the elitism we're seeing on the internet is because of trolls and data thieves, but part of it is also human nature.  We're naturally suspicious of each other and not trusting someone we can't even see face to face seems very reasonable.  But this can lead to a lot of difficulties.

I'm not saying spill your entire life's story to the person - although if they look hard enough they'll probably find something on you - but offer them a little bit of trust.  Offer a cautious hand.  Let them see that you're willing to be friendly.  You may be surprised at what you learn.

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