Google Buzz Day 3

I was already an avid Gmail fan and Gmail user so I didn’t have to do anything to join Google Buzz except click a large blue button when I logged into my email account after a very long day updating Apple iPod Touch devices.
The ease with which one can join Google Buzz has meant that in just 3 days lots of the people I follow on Twitter are already on Buzz, which if it were a human baby would still be struggling to breastfeed and may not have even had it’s first ever bath. Instead Buzz has grown up very quickly and become more like a grumpy teenager who looks to be developing into a far more promising adult than anyone would think on first appearances.
What am I talking about? Well I have to be honest. When I first saw Buzz and tried to interact with it I wasn’t exactly blown off my feet. It was great that Buzz is just one link below the inbox in my Gmail account but in aesthetic term sit looked more like an early 2000’s internet chat client full of text and blue underlined links than something new and fancy. Yes I could share links, photos and comments, but I can do that with all the other social networking sites I already use and they all look much prettier.
However, and this is the big but, I have grown quite fond of little Buzz in just a few days. It still needs more people to join the network for it to rival twitter as the first place I post a link or comment, but I am starting to see things about it that make me think I may have to reconsider my lack of enthusiasm on day 1.
For starters you can type more than 140 words. That may lead to long, meaningless diatribes plastered all over my Gmail page but I can always “Mute this post” if something looks unappealing. It is important to be concise, especially in these time poor times (excuse the lack of skilled prose on my part), but sometimes I have something to say or post that is just a tiny bit longer than 140 words. This is often the case when one tweet turns into a conversation and that is where Buzz gets interesting.
Twitter lets you reply to tweets and displays them on the Twitterstream but trawling through all the tweets clogging up my Twitstream looking to see if anyone did reply to a comment I made is not the most user friendly or instant experience. With Buzz the comments are posted below each Buzz post so you can get a conversation going about a link, comment, photo or whatever you buzz about, and it is easy to follow and join in. This functionality of Buzz is what I think will promote more involved social networking, where little posts can spark a long and enriching debate. I have always wanted the web to be about sharing useful knowledge and debating ideas and thoughts, and I still think it is one of the best ways to share ideas and develop one’s opinions on many subjects. A conversation full of links to articles, pictures, blogs or sites that reference the topics being discussed is a godsend for the less intellectually enlightened members of society, such as myself, who need to be directed to some evidence or references to know what we are talking about.
I also like the ability to post a picture directly onto a Buzz post, and not into another photo sharing site like Tweetpic or somewhere else on the web that distracts me from the post I was originally looking at.
Google was also quick to sort out the supposed privacy issues about other people seeing who you follow and chat to on your profile, which was a good sign from them.
Anyway If anyone else is starting to warm to Google Buzz and has any more hints about how to get more from it then please leave a comment! The more ideas we share the better.

I was already an avid Gmail fan and Gmail user so I didn’t have to do anything to join Google Buzz except click a large blue button when I logged into my email account after a very long day updating Apple iPod Touch devices.
The ease with which one can join Google Buzz has meant that in just 3 days lots of the people I follow on Twitter are already on Buzz, which if it were a human baby would still be struggling to breastfeed and may not have even had it’s first ever bath. Instead Buzz has grown up very quickly and become more like a grumpy teenager who looks to be developing into a far more promising adult than anyone would think on first appearances.

What am I talking about? Well I have to be honest. When I first saw Buzz and tried to interact with it I wasn’t exactly blown off my feet. It was great that Buzz is just one link below the inbox in my Gmail account but in aesthetic term sit looked more like an early 2000’s internet chat client full of text and blue underlined links than something new and fancy. Yes I could share links, photos and comments, but I can do that with all the other social networking sites I already use and they all look much prettier.

However, and this is the big but, I have grown quite fond of little Buzz in just a few days. It still needs more people to join the network for it to rival twitter as the first place I post a link or comment, but I am starting to see things about it that make me think I may have to reconsider my lack of enthusiasm on day 1.

For starters you can type more than 140 words. That may lead to long, meaningless diatribes plastered all over my Gmail page but I can always “Mute this post” if something looks unappealing. It is important to be concise, especially in these time poor times (excuse the lack of skilled prose on my part), but sometimes I have something to say or post that is just a tiny bit longer than 140 words. This is often the case when one tweet turns into a conversation and that is where Buzz gets interesting.

Twitter lets you reply to tweets and displays them on the Twitterstream but trawling through all the tweets clogging up my Twitstream looking to see if anyone did reply to a comment I made is not the most user friendly or instant experience. With Buzz the comments are posted below each Buzz post so you can get a conversation going about a link, comment, photo or whatever you buzz about, and it is easy to follow and join in. This functionality of Buzz is what I think will promote more involved social networking, where little posts can spark a long and enriching debate.

I have always wanted the web to be about sharing useful knowledge and debating ideas and thoughts, and I still think it is one of the best ways to share ideas and develop one’s opinions on many subjects. A conversation full of links to articles, pictures, blogs or sites that reference the topics being discussed is a godsend for the less intellectually enlightened members of society, such as myself, who need to be directed to some evidence or references to know what we are talking about.

I also like the ability to post a picture directly onto a Buzz post, and not into another photo sharing site like Tweetpic or somewhere else on the web that distracts me from the post I was originally looking at.

Google was also quick to sort out the supposed privacy issues about other people seeing who you follow and chat to on your profile, which was a good sign from them.

And finally, Buzz doesn’t seem to have any of those pointless and irritating time wasting games that clog up Facebook and make me want to get up and slap my friends who are grazing virtual sheep on pixelated binary grass. The less irrelevant apps on Buzz the better.

Anyway If anyone else is starting to warm to Google Buzz and has any more hints about how to get more from it then please leave a comment! The more ideas we share the better.

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Google Buzz

Having just spent the whole day syncing various corporate PR videos and apps onto lots of Apple iTouch devices (not for fun, but for a large multinational company’s annual conference in case you were wondering), I came back home to a googlemail account that was covered with this “supposedly exciting” message and uninspiring logo:
Google Buzz Logo
I had just read about Google deciding to “invade” (or should that be join) the over-burgeoning world of social networking gone mad. I actually read about it on Twitter and even though it did excite me for about 10 nanoseconds I did start to wonder how I could fit yet another social networking site into my already social network crammed life. And I don’t even have a job (yet).
I do love the internet, the web and all things tech, but even I have my limits (which will surprise many). That said I obviously joined, as I already have a Gmail account so I was already Buzzed up anyway. I am intriugued to see who will come out on top in the Social networking wars (here’s me hyping the mundane up again). I personally like Twitter the most as it basically gives me access to lots of links on articles about Technology, Culture, Politics and the news from a wide variety of sources. It would take me ages to trawl through all these various news and story providers but Twitter makes the job easier. I can also access it via my iPhone, and, not to put too crude a point to all this, since I spend a lot fo my time on the loo (I couldn’t think of a more sophisticated way to mention this) Twitter on my iPhone means I have access to the world and all its different events from different angles in the one place I need it the most. What else would I do on the toilet? I am always loathe to take a good book in there as books are sort fo sacred to me, and it would be like defiling literature. Anyway, my Irritable Bowel Syndrome problems aside, social networking does serve a useful purpose in my life, given my specific lifestyle. Yet even I don’t spend that much time locked away from civilisation to be able to go through every Plurk, Tweet, Facebook status update, Flickr update or Buzz that comes my way. I wish I did. I really love the way that social networking on the web connects like minded people who would otherwise never meet as they are separated by geography and other traditional barriers.
I was planning to write a blog post about social networking anyway, before all this Buzz commentary. The angle I planned to take was to discuss why I have more than one Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail account and how that connects with the myriad of different aspects of my personality. Social networking and the web in general allows me to share different parts of my life and personality with a diverse range of very different people. This gives me and my thoughts a great deal of freedom to express themselves. If I did not have this option all my thoughts would fester deep within me, like a swirling vortex of pent up frustrations, boiling and bubbling with rage until they erupted and offended all around me.
So maybe buzzing in addition to tweeting may help keep me a sane, normal, and probably more dull person in real life?
Who knows, I probably won’t have the time to even update my Facebook status with the fact that I am buzzing about twitter.
A lot of people have commented on how social networking has become overbearing and gone into overkill. To an extent I agree about the overbearing comment.  With all the social networking sites around one could spend all day every day just reading status updates (half of which are exaggerated half truths or designed to project a specific self image people want to create). I am already singed up for Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, Moolto, MSN Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, WordPress, Blogger, Library thing and Goodreads! They need one service that combines all of these!
I feel that it is up to the individual to act in a balanced and sensible manner (some might say I am expecting too much, given how humans often abuse advances in technology), when picking which services they use to communicate different types of messages and ideas. Of Course there are some geeks out there locked away in a room with wires attached to their internal organs from their computers who live for the next status update and electronic hit, but most people just use it to share their thoughts and ideas with like minded people.
It is hard to find like minded people who you click with in the real world. It always had been. Most of the people we are surrounded by are with us out of pure chance. They happen to be our neighbours, school friends and family. We have geography and maybe blood or language in common but often we don’t have much else.
Personally I have found sites like TED and Mashable to provide me with a very rewarding experience. I would never have discovered them were it not for Twitter. I have also got back into listenign to more music, and the joys of discovering new bands through sites like Spotify and last FM. I haven’t even joined MySpace but I know it has helped a lot of good bands break through. Twitter has also been a great place for aspiring and struggling writers to network with other writers and get useful tips and make valuable contacts. Like many things social networking can be a positive as well as negative force, and both those forces are at work in our lives.
I hope that I can find the right balance in terms of sensible social networking use, which I think I can, and use it to enrich my life instead of distracting me from facing life.
With all this in mind I will now post this blog onto WordPress, link it to blogger, post a link on Twitter, Buzz, Facebook and Plurk and check any comments on my iPhone, when I should really be finishing “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

Express Yourself – Behind the Masks

So why am I composing a blog post when I have no time or energy and so many more important things to do?

The answer is I need to express myself. It is no longer a case of wanting to express myself. I have suppressed most of my inner feelings and thoughts for too many years.  I need a platform and audience to vent my increasing confusion, thoughts, bewilderment and increasing disillusionment with life.

Not to depress you too much or put you off.

My problem is that although I am surrounded by lots of people, and always have been in my life, I have come to the realisation that none of them actually listen to me. The ones who should and do care the most, my parents and family, are there when I speak to them, and ask me to fill the void of silence between us with words when they question me about my state of mind and feelings, but when I fill that void with my true thoughts and feelings it is as if the wind blows away the words in a sudden gust over their heads and not one if the words enters the heads of those who love me. This happens on occasion with my wife, but she is perhaps the only person who actually listens to what I have to say and hear what I am saying, by absorbing my speech into their mind. My parents and everybody else just talk at me. They regurgitate their own fixed, narrow views and are convinced that they have the solutions to all my problems, even though they never come to understand what my true problems are because they do not listen to me. It is like talking to a brick wall, except that brick walls can be broken and can provide solace by at least appearing to listen to you, because they don’t talk back and provide proof of their deafness.

It is not only my parents who exhibit and posses these qualities of inertness when it comes to my myriad tangled web of issues. It is also my in laws, extended family, friends and society in general. Every new psychical ailment or psychological problem I develop leaves me full of anxiety and frustration as half the people do not believe me and the other half are so confused they stop caring. People don’t want to hear what I have to say, even though I listen to them, and I need someone, in fact more than just one poor soul (the role currently filled by my poor wife) to provide a sensitive, thoughtful ear. This was always the case, and I found ways of getting through life and rising up the social ladder, even though I was pulled down by inner turmoil, ill health, my inability to be good at any sports or display any artistic talents, and my lack of co-ordination. How did I get by? In a nutshell, I lied. I created a set of masks for different people and ended up becoming a walking masquerade artist. I lost my true self in the process and now that my career coach and CBT therapist are trying to unearth that poor unloved soul deep below the piles of masks I am suffering in the upheaval within.

I can feel the swirling vortex of bitter, twisted demonic thoughts brewing and boiling in the vat within me. I have a lot of issues. 30 years of suppressing my true self and thoughts has taken its toll on me. I was always encouraged to live out the dreams and lives that other people felt I should be living. I always told people what I thought they wanted to hear, not what I really felt inside. This is how you live in life, I was told. It is partly a cultural thing, where true self expression is frowned upon, as a selfish trait of individualistic corrupt societies, in favour of “group social cohesion” which is the best demonstration of a communal society.

I never got over my lonely, volatile, turbulent, “permanent battle ground” childhood, which altered my adrenaline production so badly that I have been suffering from stress related illnesses ever since. I am also still exposed to that fiery, tense, confrontational atmosphere, though less often than before.

The more people that came into my life, the more I hoped that I would find someone I could connect to, engage with, and open up to, finding an outlet in a group of likeminded people with whom I could connect with and share my insightful thoughts and unique experiences with. With the one sole exception of my wife, and teetering hope son the horizon, this has never happened. Instead, the reverse happened. I did become absorbed into a world of ever greater numbers, with more “friends”, “family” and people than I ever knew, but they were all as bad, if not worse, than what I had before. I could not relate to, or engage with any of them. There were, and still are, some who touched a hopeful nerve or 2 along the way, but they are not in my immediate sphere of influence. They live abroad or are perpetually busy. The actual real people always in my life are just more people who do not listen, have fixed, narrow ideas they seem unable to break free from.

All this means is that my Oscar winning performance of the happy, stable, professional, obedient, conformist half-wit man with the smile, the artificial facade I walk around with and project when faced with other people, has to be worn even more often.

When there were less people in my life, and less responsibilities, I at least had lots of alone time, where I could escape into the world of Fiction, History and Sci-Fi books, music, films, writing, strategy computer games and art.

Instead, I now have to face legions of dull, shallow people who make me feel like a desperately small man, a failure in life, and to whom I have to lie, put on the mask and pretend I am a happy, stable, equally shallow, emotionally inert, narrow minded undeserved success. They lack the depth, sensitivity, breadth, empathy or sympathy to function as a positive source of hope and light in my life. They keep the plug hole rattling over my mouth firmly closed, as all the steam within my bubbling soul increases the pressure to burst the hole open.

I want to let it all out. Vent my feelings, tell all the shallow, hypocritical, narrow minded people around me what I truly think of them and the way they live their lives. I want to stop having to live the lie that I am a contented professional with the temperament suited to being the accountant he never really wanted to become. I want people to accept that I have a creative imagination, a whole load of internal emotional problems and am constantly on an emotional rollercoaster that even I have no control over.

There are times when I feel like the king of the world, able to achieve anything, then suddenly the rollercoaster carriage falls down the abyss and i sink so deep and into dark places I dare not even speak of here. I have been having the most frightening flash image sin my head of doing things to myself I thought only really crazy people thought. Something very troubled and angry within me, a parasite that is feeding on my suppressed rage and bitterness, is taking over my subconscious and it scares me to think what he will do to my rational, conscious, ever determined self.

This blog is my only outlet. All the friends I like and trust, and who may have a modicum of sensitivity are abroad. I am surrounded by people here, but have never felt more alone. All the people around me are a source of stress and lack the open minds, trustworthiness and sensitivity, as well as time and energy, needed to be true good listeners. They would only kick me if they knew I was down.

All I want to do is knuckle down and finish the 11 short stories I have been working on, but until I clear my head and start to unearth the truth within me I will keep having anxiety induced panic attacks and psychical/ emotional problems. I need to let of the steam in reality and re-connect with positive influences and people in reality before escaping into fiction writing, where I may just lose myself forever.

I created an alter-ego, an avatar in Second Life, so that at least a part of me could engage and connect with other people and express himself, and when that was working it was great, but these days, as I have had less time to log into Second Life, and as my sanity has waned, even he is feeling lonely and frustrated. He also has a Twitter account, but is even less socially connected than the real me! Salvation will not come, it seems, from cyber space.

My CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) practitioner told me to sign up for more long term psychological therapy. I agree with her but it is a crying shame. It is not even on my “To Do” list and that is now so long it has found its way onto page 2. All I probably need is some drinks down the pub with good friends, a long walk in the park, hand in hand with a wife who does not have a never ending doctoral thesis hanging over her liek a death sentence, or some fast food gratification.

mardi_gras_mask-12020

Instead I have found solace in a very strange place indeed. It is in my iPhone. The iPod bit of my iPhone to be precise. I walk around from one chore to another listening the a deep voiced man describe the horrors of world war 2 as I find distraction from my own problems and get perspective whilst learning from an audio book version of Niall Ferguson’s  War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred, that I downloaded onto my iPhone months ago. It is fascinating stuff and like all those World War 2 documentaries that seem to be the only thing capable of calming my near panic attacks down I must thank it for being there for me when very little else is. Thank you History. And thank you dear iPhone, you are always here for me. Except when your battery runs out.

I would summarise my current situation as:

Cash poor, time poor, energy poor, health poor, and sanity poor. Frustration, anxiety, and insanity rich.

Medium Blogging

It has been a tough week. The week before was tough, but every week gets harder, and the number of outlets to sink my throbbing head into are diminishing as each day passes. I need more positive influences in my life, less stress and responsibility, and more channels for all my pent up anxiety, stress, frustration and disillusionment. Yes, all the madness within me is a great well for creativity and my story ideas and fictitious ramblings have been flowing like the Colorado Rapids but I also need some sanity and order in my life. Order, that is, that leaves me feeling fulfilled and content, not empty, lost and in a psychological state of mind so scary I won’t recount it here in cyberspace. Suffice to say I have hit some very dark places deep within me and had a few chilling experiences.

Composing a new blog entry is not one of the 42 items on my to do list that I need to complete by close of play this week in addition to normal household chores and routine stuff like shaving, eating and sleeping. The fact that I have struggled to complete even 10 tasks is more reason not to waste what little precious time and energy is have typing up a concise, relaxed, non-confrontational account of my current thoughts. So I will do it anyway.

I do, however, feel that I need a medium of expression on the web that is somewhere between Twitter and the micro blogging limit of 140 words, the limitless cyber sheath of electronic viewing that encourages me to babble on incoherently for eternity. I need more than micro blogging, and less than blogging, I need Medium Blogging. Surely I must be able to conjure up a better description than that. My mind is elsewhere. I am in the middle of a blood soaked muddy field under a smoke filled black red sky with a raging inferno that I was the cause of crackling before my eyes. At least the protagonist in mew short story is. He has some issues. He also has a lot on his mind. I won’t explain any further as the more time I spend on this blog the less i spend on the actually story. Even though this blog will get published in a few minuet sand that short story may never see the light of day as anything other than binary codes etched into the memory of my temperamental overpriced computer.

Back to reality.

The plus side of this week is that I finally managed to sit down and read a few short stories. I joined the local library last week and took out 2 short story collections. One is by Anton Chekhov, the king of short stories and the other is a collection called Fascination by William Boyd, which I started sifting through early this week, in an attempt to gain control over my increasingly erratic and anxiety ridden mind. I was glad I too k the first steps on the journey into the world of reading and writing short stories, the first steps being the hardest to take in many cases, mine being a prime example. Just as I cannot justify wasting tie blogging I also cannot justify wasting time reading short stories or trying to write them. However, after reading through 3 William Boyd Short Stories, I was so impressed by them, and the way he managed to develop and project rounded, 3 dimensional complex characters in just 13 pages, that I immediately slumbered upstairs to my pseudo-study and composed my own short story, actually finishing a work of prose that I had started. Yes, that was the great achievement of the week. I actually finished a story I was working on, I never finish my stories, Once I start them, they develop a life of their own and decide to take over and become more complex and run off on their own self created arcs, ignoring my signals to slow down and fit into a small, easy to read and understand box of a plot, so that I will actually be able to hand in a completed manuscript to someone, somewhere and at least pretend I may have a chance of becoming a published fiction author one day. The book demons usually never let this happen. On Monday night they must have been sleeping. I rarely even finish the blog posts I start composing; I am trying desperately to keep this one short to ensure it actually gets posted. Half my problem is my typing is so atrocious I spend needless hours correcting it. I need an assistant, or a typist, someone I can dictate my thoughts to and let them do the hard work. Then I would not be a writer, I would just be a professional rantmeister of wacky ideas. I like the sound of that. Suffice to say I am thoroughly enjoying my trip into the world of short stories and will blog more about it when I actually invent a device to increase the amount if time and energy I have.

Links of the Day 24062009

I should be balancing the heavily reddened books of our personal family finances and updating the bank account balances and setting the budget which shows just how dire my current financial situation is. As this is not only very depressing but also very dull I have decided to escape back to the world of blogging and share the few interesting articles I have come across.

I also wanted to let you fellow blog addicts now that I actually managed to spend 3 hours away from a computer and in the garden dealing with nature by mowing the lawn, trimming (actually butchering) the hedges, and learning about butterflies from my neighbour, who also proceeded to tell me about how she went to Sloane Square to buy a Baguette Baking tin, as she is into baking bread, and she gave me half a white loaf of freshly baked bread which melted in my mouth instantly, even the slices not smothered in Nutella.

I did not take a picture of the Nutella covered bread but here are the links and the garden post clear up.

Guardian article on slow death of Blogging:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jun/24/charles-arthur-blogging-twitter

Libraries Tap Into Twitter:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jun/24/libraries-twitter

JG Ballard Obituary from the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/19/jg-ballard-obituary

Link to the Guardian Book Blogs:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog

Revolutionary Road – Iranian Blog

http://shooresh1917.blogspot.com/

Official Website of the excellent documentary I watched last night about Virtual Online worlds, such as Second Life. They even interviewed Philip Rosedale:

http://anotherperfectworld.submarine.nl/

What will the literary archives of today’s authors look like?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/jun/22/literary-archives

Sam Toman’s blog about his travels to the land of his forefathers, Ukraine:

http://samtoman.wordpress.com/

Before my return to manual labour:

Garden Before

The garden after I pulled myself away from blogging:

Garden After

One final link, to a blog that is a taking life more seriously than me, with a different perspective on what is happenign in Iran at the moment:

http://socialist-blogs-news.blogspot.com/