Monthly Archives: March 2012

I really liked this guy’s shoes


Who Owns the Story? Pt2 – being sold

The problem is once people have bought you, in this case becoming regular readers with the metrics and clicks and whatnot that brings, well they feel they deserve something.  Two recent examples come to mind (strangely both involving divorce):

1)  As I’m sure most of you know, Heather Armstrong and her husband Jon (of Dooce) are getting divorced.  Dooce is by far the most popular personal blog and the news hit far and wide (even in the NYT!)  garnering thousands of people’s opinions.  Heather is no stranger to sharing her private life with the world; she shared her difficulties with post-partum depression for example.

The responses to the news were widespread and ranging.  There was a lot of sadness, of “I knew its”, and even joy – one of the top results for dooce and divorce is a post “Dooce is getting a divorce.  And I’m glad” But, in reaction to a request for privacy and understanding, there was a lot of “why do they think (they deserve) get privacy now”?  In some ways, since Heather had been open before, she was seen to have lost the right to be private now.  Her life was assumed to be public content and  although she provided very little information, people constantly analyzed, cited, and demanded more.  I’d love to know how she navigated that, giving just enough information for her audience/customers but not more than she could personally handle.

2) Chaviva (who I once hired for a job a bazillion years ago) also recently got a divorce, inpacting how she viewed and acted as a Orthodox Jewish convert.  She got a fair amount of negative feedback on some of her life decisions leading her to take down her entire blog – years worth of posts.  This is particularly notable since, like Dooce, she makes her living off of social media and blogging (although to a much lesser extent).  She, in essence, trashed her resume.

Her life was public enough where people felt like they could comment and judge her on her behavior.  She’d set it up that way – becoming a public voice on converting and being an Orthodox convert, but her posts didn’t divert from that – they were on the new religious difficulties that she faced.  But her narrative didn’t match what people expected from her even though it was still coherent, it still made sense to who she had been and who she was becoming.  It makes me think of the out cry when Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together and makes me wonder if there’s a convergence between real people who seem more fictional/narrative and fictional characters who become more real in our lives.

Either way, for both of these women, they lost control over their stories to their audiences – their lives became public consumption to be critiqued.  The reader became the consumer, feeling free to demand something for their attention.

Who owns the story? Pt1 – learning how to sell.

I’ve been having a conversation with Alex recently about the role of the internet, social media, and blogging in our lives – the good, the bad, and ugly   In her case, its internet behavior – she channels Emily Post like no one’s business.

For me, it goes back to who owns the story.  If many bloggers are writing about their lives and are marketing themselves (which many are) and if consumers own brands (which I believe heartily), then well who owns the story?

No one owns my story – at least now.  My three regular readers (I love you guys!) includes probably my sister and others that I’d tell the same things to, email the same pictures to, who are invested in the story but only because the story is ‘me’.

This hasn’t always been the case.  A long time ago, in a land far away (LiveJournal), I was involved in a clique.  For the people I knew, ‘the’ clique.  It was a ratings community, choosing its members by their writing, power struggles, and whim.  There were expectations of us, to write certain things and ways, to lord, just a bit, over those who didn’t make it but tried and tried again to get our approval.  And to some extent my story stopped just being about me but my performance.  What would ‘sell’ in Peoria, in LA, NY, and hundreds of computers in between.

I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to you, but what I was doing wasn’t so different from what a lot of other bloggers are doing now – tracking which posts get the most hits, comments, track-backs.  They do it for the potential cash (and yes, there are really that many people trying to make ‘it’ whatever that is from their blogs), and I did it for the ego rush during a bad time in my life, but at the base it’s the same.  We work on our marketing, packaging, and PR to sell our product (our stories) to the consumer.  And once it’s sold, well that’s where the problems are….

Pinterest legals and ethics pt 2 – ethics

So Pinterest ethics.  The biggest one is that it is so easy to take an image or idea away from the original creator and leave it either un-cited or cited to someone else.  That’s one of the first things they taught us in grade school, right, to cite the original source?

Not citing correctly sucks for both pinners and pinees because: a) everyone likes to get credit for their own awesome idea; b) it’s hard to find more information if you’d like to learn more about the picture/idea; c) it makes it a lot easier for people to… borrow ideas.  This isn’t just about Pinterest – Allison reports that she had issues before, but Pinterest made it like “trying to put out a wildfire one measuring cup of water at a time”.  Can you imagine seeing your stuff everyday wandering around without you?  It’s especially horrible because Pinterest is otherwise such a great source of exposure for bloggers and artisans.

So credit for original materials check.  What other ethical responsibilities do we have as pinners? Frolic suggests (though not specifically for Pinterest) that we cite not only the source but how we found it.  I have to admit that’s something I’m particularly bad at – mainly because I’m often not sure where I found the link (I’m a bit of an open tab pack rat) and that I’m not sure how to do so gracefully.  I feel like it would just be a long path of x via y via z, via a, b, c…. It’s something I’m definitely going to now try to keep an eye on.

Killa b gives several more suggestions on ethically pinning – going beyond crediting to suggesting that we should add solid descriptions and hashtags.  I feel almost though like that’s going a little too far – where is the line between promoting others and also making sure that Pinterest is working for you?  I.e. I hate hashtags, hate how they look, and don’t use them.  If I would never use them, do I still have a responsiblity to use them for other people?  I’m not sure where that line is and I think it might be different for different sources – maybe not for a picture from Anthropologie but maybe for a tutorial from an independent blogger?

Further reading:

My previous post on the legal issues

What if it’s private pictures you don’t expect to see other places? (Instagram)

definitely a topic for another ethics post – do you post an item for sale as a DIY? (do it yourself)

A bit of morning inspiration

“Everyone takes pictures of that” said the old man soaking up the unexpected March sun when I pulled out my phone.  I understand why – this is just the little unexpected message I needed today.  I get so caught up in trying to be the better me, the perfectly organized me, that I forget to be, well, me.become who you are

Pinterest – legals and ethics pt 1 – Legal implications

There’s been a lot of chatter about ethics and Pinterest recently.  While following the discussion, I learned some surprising things about the copyright rules and legality.

I’ve been following a long conversation about the ethical responsibilities of Pinterest – how to pin, how to credit, but I hadn’t really thought about the legal implications until I read this from DDKPortraits.  In short, Cold Brew Labs technically owns the copyright to anything you pin.  You can be held liable for anything you pin that you don’t have rights to and anything you do they can use. (if you want more legal details, definitely check out the link).

I find this particularly interesting since Pinterest is the new big thing for companies.  Everyone wants to be on Pinterest, being re-pinned over and over.  It makes sense – it’s really good, free publicity right now.  But for companies that are so  paranoid about intellectual property, it seems odd.  It epitomizes the issues that companies have sometimes with social media – they’re so desperate to be there and using it that they don’t think it all or even some of the way through. Notably, smaller places/individual artisans are thinking about these issues, so it’s even more of an oversight imho.

Pinterest is clearly aware of and interested in the use of it as a sales/influence tool with the release of Pinerly – a tool to track the influence and spread of pins. Pinterest also called DDKPortraits to get her suggestions after the linked post so it’s probably safe to assume that changes are to come.  (which is awesome since I’d hate to have to delete my own boards).

Pinterest ethics to come on Wednesday.  Until then, here’s some more links on the legal issues of Pinterest.

Pinterest calls DDKPortraits

Pinterest editing pins for (their) profit

Another take on the legality of pinning

And for a bit of self-pimping – my Pinterest boards

Quick hit – branding in politics

Obama was, arguably, one of the best branded presidential candidates of all time.  The visuals, the message of hope and change, it was all one organized package.  So it’s surprising that this is almost the anti-branding campaign year, epitomized by this quote from today’s NYT:  “I voted for the more electable not-Romney,” In case you were wondering, that’s Santorum who should have enough brand identity of his own.  But particularly this year, it’s all who people aren’t, not who they are.  Romney is the not-Obama, Santorum and Gingrich are the not-Romneys.  I’m hoping that Obama returns to his brand and doesn’t follow this year’s pattern, otherwise this will be a particularly unfortunate mess of not-not-nots.

Things I’ve been reading – lists

I love lists – not only because they make me feel like the organized person I long to be, but I also think that they can teach you a lot about how people think and dream.

Top 101 goals in 1001 days – Most popular goal is to give blood – wonder if that’s because it’s so public and thus performative, or is that really one of the most common goals for people?

How I Became My Own Mentor – To this end, my strategic plan features all kinds of useful lists: work that’s in process, work I’d like to do in the near future, people I’d like to work with, kinds of work I realize I hate, kinds of work that really lights me up, skills I’d love to learn.  Brilliant!  I need to do this in my next coffee shop time!

List of Lists that People Make – Lists are the butterfly nets that catch my fleeting thoughts. Yes!  I have way too many ideas to keep all of them in my head at any one time.

Using Trello to Organize – Look at that page of lists!  So pretty!  I like paper though so I’m not sure how well it would work for me.

Pinterest Board of Creative Journaling –  Part of why I like paper so much – can doodle, paste things in, make it 3-d.

The Most Amazing Journal EVER – A picture is worth a 1000 words here – you should go check it out!  I ordered a moleskin and washi tape just to see if I could use this to add a little more organization to my life.

Creating Community, excitingly!

My blind proposal (as mentioned here) was successful and I’m in the whirlwind midst of a project on community on web boards.

I’ve always been fascinated by how people create identity, off-line of course, but online as well, where you have full control on how you are, how people see you.  You can be whoever you want to be and while there’s certainly a lot of that, the internet is full of people being, mainly, themselves.  Community seems like a natural offshoot of that, how people create genuine interactions and then relationships.  So excited about this project, plus I’m getting to help a non-profit and it feels like I’ll really be improving something.  Plus it’s great experience for my big project/business model thingie.