It’s rather telling that my search for “information abundance” is dominated by results with “Information Overload” in the title. This was my effort to find an opening to write about a friend/colleague’s desire to create a new online space.
This first hint of this came upon email notifications of what I missed in Mastodon. I have a number of colleagues who have found a home there more communal than twitter. But frankly I don’t check in very often. It’s not a platform difference, it’s just that I find very little time to engage in yet more conversation spaces.
In fact, I’ve been so buried in trying to get my work projects done, I’ve kind of slipped even out of twitter for a while. Heck, I had not even posted photos to flickr in more than three weeks, and the day I decided to post my catch up was the day flickr was down for their but cloud migration, and it took about 5 rounds just to updated.
And this blog too has sputtered to a stall. I have stuff to write about the wrap of #netnarr and a handful of more posts that just reside on open browser tabs.
Back to the topic. Geoff Gevalt had posted… er “tooted” in Mastodon about his idea to create a community space for artists. One free of the short length limits of social media as well as the trappings of views/favorites that drive behavior there (I have enjoyed Geoff’s recent sharing of photos and short story captions in Instagram) There was banter among quite a few people I knew, but Geoff had also reached out to me via email.
But you see, he had written fully about it in the space I think matters most- his own blog.
And from the perspective of an artist on his third lifetime — that is I write in the mornings (usually) and take pictures in the afternoon (usually) — I want a way to connect to people, to get feedback, to gain perspective and, and, and … to learn from others. It was how newsrooms worked. It was how journalism worked. And it was how the Web did, could and still can work.
I tire of the relentless push to get followers or reactions or some sort of response on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even Mastodon. Overall, a sincere waste of time offset by some of the links that I have followed to see work and ideas and writing and visual art and ideas that have been astounding. Uplifting.
But how does it relate to what I struggle with?
I suspect I am not alone. I suspect that, given that making art is a relatively solitary enterprise (even for actors and musicians and performance poets) having a community to connect with is a good and positive thing. It helps climb out of our own skin, to gain perspective, to see other ways of doing things, of resolving problems, of trying something we do not know how to do.
And Geoff wants to devote his tireless energy to trying to make this space, pretty much trying to start with the platform he built for his long running Young Writers Project.
I certainly do not see Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram as being “the place”, the conversations there, connections, enable the discovery of people worth “spacing with”… but my first thought was, do we really need another space?
And then I felt a bit like a cranky old person.
I still hold on to the idea that those old archaic, pre-social media constructs, a personal blog, is the main place, the home, to operate from. There are no limits or controls of corporations or data selling. What’s missing is people attending to them, we;ve been pretty much driven, led, or on our own, decided to spend most of our attention economy in the big spaces. Not to be shut in and never leave, but all the other spaces are somewhat secondary, maybe we visit often.
I’m not looking for the ideal space, to me it’s the entire internet. I wish to be above, to transcend, to hop across spaces (and we all do, unless we are talking about people who equate the internet with facebook).
The thing is, whenever I see a “gg” icon or ggevalt username, I expect the Geoffness I have gotten to know there. You see it was a mutual friend/colleague, Barbara Ganley who connected us, and got to meet Geoff at her house, leading to a visit to his house, and staying up int he freezing cold watching him process his home made maple syrup (which he has several times mailed by a jar of the precious stuff), we have collaborated on mutual projects.
All of this depends on multiple spaces, not one ideal one. And likely I am mis-stating Geoff’s intent, getting it wrapped up in my own angst of never enough time to follow all my interests.
But it’s exactly because of this shared, multi-spaced connections with Geoff, that I even set up an account on his new space, look around, make a post.
Do we need more online spaces? Sure why not, it’s certainly a bit better than spending our mind energy in scroll, click, favorite spaces. Will I be able to spend a ton of time there? Likely not.
It’s not the features of the space that would draw me, it’s the hospitality and shared stories with the person behind it. So where ever you go, rather than focus on the reads, views, likes, analytics, I suggest focus on making more meaningful, real connections.
Ok, Geoff, I’m in. Now you get to hear my complaints about drupal!