Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wednesday on the Web

Sharon Wildwind

Wednesday is supposed to be tidy up, post new stuff on my web page day. I got to tell you, it just isn’t happening, and I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about that.

Okay, I know web pages are passé and I should have a social media page, but that’s less likely to happen than updating my web site. I trust my web page provider when he says that he won’t sell, share, or do any of the other things with my information that social media providers brag that they exist to do.

I am so paranoid about putting personal information on social media sites that I almost rate my own code in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s like when I’m in the grocery store and the person in front of me in line doesn’t have their saver’s card, so the clerk asks them their phone number, which they blithely rattle off.

I have this almost uncontrollable urge to grab my cell phone, use the reverse directory to find their home address — I know they aren’t home because they are in the grocery store with me — race to their house; see if they are one of those trusting people who leave spare door keys under flowerpots or over the door sill, let myself in, and leave a note saying “Never give out your phone number in public,” in the middle of their dining room table.

The only thing that stops me is 1) I don’t have a cell phone and 2) Doing that is likely to lead to a more up close and personal relationship with the city police than I care to cultivate.

When someone comes to visit my site, I want them to spend their time looking at my material. I don’t want ME crowded out by photos of followers, blinking ads that they may already be winners for some electronic gadget, dancing hamsters, or an overabundance of advertisements, most of which are for products that I don’t use and certainly don’t endorse other people using.

It’s passé, but my head still hasn’t made the leap from web site to social media, which brings me back to my continuing problem of updating my web site.

My problem is that the dull life I lead isn’t great web site fodder. I write, I exercise, I connect pieces of cloth at my sewing machine or slap other art together at my project table, I go to my day job, I spend time with my significant other, I read, I go to bed.

While each of those activities is fun in its own right, none of them lends itself to exciting web site posts. Personal photos are out — it’s that personal information paranoia again. I don’t have a book tour schedule. I don’t teach on-line classes, though I would if anyone asked me to do so. Respecting copyright means I don’t post anything that someone else has written or photographed. What’s a girl to do?

All that seems to be left are my chance encounters with art, like these two photographs, which were taken about 4 months apart. I have no idea where the blue leaf came from, though I suspect a leaf blew into a bucket of blue paint, was plucked out by the painter and the wind carried it into the gutter. The blue rubber band is as I found it. It had apparently curled itself up into a heart shape, which I thought was a lovely thing for Valentine’s Day.

My friends who are artists have it so easy. They can slap together a short video on how to gesso a canvas or drape a standing collar. Bingo, instant web site content. The best I could come up with for writing would be a short video on how to diagram a sentence.

Yes, I am one of those practitioners of the arcane art of sentence diagramming. The nuns made sure of that. Just in case you’ve never seen a diagrammed sentence, this is what one looks like.Longer, convoluted sentences actually become beautiful designs when diagrammed. On the other hand, protracted sentences by Henry James, a 19th century American author, often resemble a London Underground map.

And once you've diagrammed one sentence on line, you've pretty much exhausted that topic. So I’m open to suggestions. What should I be posting on my web site?

Homework for the week:
1. Diagram the sentence given below.
2. Compare your diagram to the Standard Tube Map of London.
3. See the similarity?

It may be affirmed without delay that she was probably very liable to the sin of self-esteem; she often surveyed with complacency the field of her own nature; she was in the habit of taking for granted, on scanty evidence, that she was right; impulsively, she often admired herself.
~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

The sentence I always remembered from Portrait of a Lady was that Isabel Archer "had an unquenchable desire to think well of herself." You mean Henry James said the same thing twice? The sad part is that Isabel's self-esteem is crushed by an emotionally abusive marriage. I didn't figure that out when I read the book in college--and I suspect my professors didn't know it either. I finally got it when I saw the movie (many years of life experience and professional training as a therapist later). Diagramming sentences fails to illuminate literature, alas.

Sandra Parshall said...

Although printed telephone directories are becoming obsolete, we had them for 100 years. All anybody had to do was look up a person's name and get his/her street address and phone number. A phone number remains one of the easiest things to find out about a person, so I think it's kind of pointless to be paranoid about it. It's a fact of life and has been as long as we've had telephones.

What makes me cringe is the very personal stuff some people put on their websites and, more often, their Facebook pages and blogs. Some people blog every single day, in detail, about everything they do. Who reads that drivel? Not sure it's dangerous, though. The only real risk is that the readers might die of boredom.

Marilynne said...

I like your post. I have a web page and three blogs. Don't bother to go to the web page - it's just a place to hold my blog. I blog about the things I do and what I'm thinking about. It's like a journal and I have a few nice people who read it.

I do go to Facebook where I have my permissions locked up as tightly as I can figure the rules. They keep changing the rules so you have to keep going back and making things secure again.

I do make "friends" with authors. I enjoy hearing their thoughts. I empathize with them when they're in a writing slump. I feel happiness when they pull it off.

My advice. Be the person you are. Me, I'm not a multimedia person, if I sold my work in progress I'd probably gripe about doing book signings.

You can blame this long post on chocolates before breakfast.

Markin said...

When asked to give a phone number to someone I saw no reason to have it (like for a discount card), I'd routinely give the number of the DC Library's Tell-a-Story line ... Let those burglars case that, if they list! ;-) And, no, I'm not in the phone book, never was, never will be.

Mario Rups

Sandra Parshall said...

I'm sure the folks at the DC Library appreciate that, Mario. :-)

We're not in the telephone directory either and haven't been for decades. Telephone solicitors are enough to drive anybody to homicide.

BTW, folks, do NOT put a Facebook app on your cell phone. When you do that, it gobbles up all the information stored in your phone -- other people's numbers and so on -- and transmits it directly to FB's servers.