Screen Names vs. Real Names

Do you use a made up name for your online presence, or do you use your real name? When I got started on the Internet, back in 1997 or so, no one used their real names. Unable to think of a good handle, I was dubbed “SpiritGod21” by a friend, based on an inside joke, and began my foray into telnet and talkers. That became my identity for a while–my email address, handle, and eventually a Geocities page all used the same name. But what worked for me in junior high didn’t work as well in college, and I began casting around for a nickname that fit my changed personality better.

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Blogging at PAX

I’m flying out to PAX in Boston in a mere seven and a half hours, and the only electronics I am taking are my Kindle and my iPhone. I’m going to try something new this time around and blog exclusively through my phone, but I won’t be doing it here.

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Is it worth maintaining multiple Twitter accounts?

Do you have more than one Twitter account? Why?

Usually when people maintain more than one Twitter account, it is for reasons of branding. Let’s say someone owns a hotel and a hardware supply company. They’ve taken hardware supply to the Internet and ship all over the world, and that means they need an online presence and identity. They need the same for their hotel, but they don’t want these two identities to mix. The easiest solution is to create two Twitter accounts.

But for those of us who are writing online, and particularly when we’re starting out, is it necessary? I have my personal Twitter account, which displays on the right side of SilverPen, and then I have the echo linux account which shows up at the top right of that site. These two sites have different focuses and audiences, but I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile for me to have two accounts.

What do you think? Are multiple accounts for freelancers and bloggers worth starting early? Or should we pool our resources and use these tools to get the word out to as many people as possible?

It makes sense to create separate online identities for different brands, but what if the brand is ourselves and what we do?

Sore in all the wrong places

I can’t say I didn’t know the muscles existed. I’ve studied enough of the human form to know the major muscle groups. I’ve just never been sore in some of these places before–it’s a new experience, and not entirely to my liking.

Yesterday didn’t afford much of an opportunity for blogging. I woke up late so my walk was shorter than usual, and then the work day was ridiculous and busy to the effect that I only took a 20 minute lunch and then worked an hour late to get everything fixed and done. After work, I picked my bicycle up from Sunshine Bike Shop (who fixed it for free!) and bought a new helmet (since my old one was damaged) before coming home. It was worth it.

I was even more sore and slower today than I was yesterday.

April and I are heading up to Omaha, Nebraska today to visit her brother Eric and his girlfriend. I’m excited to get away for a couple of days, and then I have big plans for Monday (we’ll be back on Sunday) that will include some home improvements and maybe a photo blog.

I’ve disabled my work email on my iPhone for the weekend, so if you need to reach me, use the GMail address or text. (Note: the contact form on this site goes to GMail). I’m not sure if I’ll fitness blog while I’m in Nebraska, but if you’re really curious, my Runkeeper activities go to Twitter automatically so you can cheer me on there.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Making a custom Twitter background

Like most everyone I know, I wasn’t sure what to make of Twitter when I first began using it. I didn’t know anyone on it, and I wasn’t sure I’d really use it all that much… and now I’ve sent well over 4000 messages through it, it’s my only means of communication with PAXers, and I’m not sure I could survive without it.

What’s more, Twitter has become an extension of my website. Whenever I publish a blog entry, it pops onto Twitter. It’s primarily through Twitter that I keep in touch with people from PAX, and for many, it is only through Twitter that they know me. Like my site, it ought to reflect my personality a bit more than a stock background, and perhaps more to the point, it ought to match up with my site.

I’ve written before about the importance of branding, so even though I don’t run Twitter, I should put my personal stamp on it. The first place I turned for help was Google, and it led me to the article Make a Good Impression with a Custom Twitter Background on Twitip. This article has some excellent advice, so if you’re looking to make a custom Twitter background, this is pretty much all you need.

I would offer one additional tidbit, though: Darren writes about the potential screen resolution your visitors will be at, and how that can affect your Twitter background–while taking this into account, also take a look at your Google Analytics results (which you ought to have set up) where you can see what resolution visitors to your site are using (see screenshot). I ended up going with a 200px wide branding spot; 120px was simply too narrow, and I think it’ll work for enough people to be worthwhile.

Microblogging

Not much homework done today, and every time I looked at a blank page to write I felt unaccountably weary. Too many memories floating around
about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

dmmagic
Matthew Stublefield

This is about all the greater Internet is getting out of me these days: Twitter messages. I haven’t blogged since I got home from vacation and I’m not sure I’m going to blog anytime soon now that work and class has re-entered my life.

I’ve got a test Friday and a paper to write this weekend (due Monday) in addition to work and trying to not burn out. My method for staying sane includes a decent amount of gaming during what one might term “free time,” and it is… that’s sort of the point, I guess. Part of me points with frustration at this time and says, “Look! Look how much writing you could be doing! You played WoW for what, 8 hours over the weekend? 9?! Why didn’t you spend that time writing?”

I could have also been storyboarding, recording podcasts, doing book reviews, etc. etc… but that would all be work. As I have lamented before, it’s work I enjoy, but it’s tiring nonetheless, and when I’m already tired I’m afraid piling more work on will only break me.

Therefore, I’ve been “microblogging,” something I’d never given conscious thought until Steve replied to a comment I sent him on Twitter. He’d been tweeting a lot in a short period of time (admittedly, his overall tweetage is higher than mine–where I average about 8 tweets a day, Steve’s at about 20) and I suggested that some of them might make good blog posts. He replied back that one blog post a week was about all he had time for, and looking at my own schedule, I can sympathize. I haven’t even managed one in the last week.

I’ve considered turning the feature on in Twitter Tools to have it make a daily digest of my tweets, but that seems a little overboard. If you want those updates, you can either sign up for Twitter and follow me or grab it via RSS. My updates are also on the right side of my homepage, if you prefer to check them there.

Someday I’ll have the time and energy to write again, but getting myself to accept that and just be is difficult. I keep wishing I could live comfortably; just play games without the feeling of guilt for whatever else I could be doing. On the plus side, when I get some balance back to my life and start writing again I’ve got over 50 notes with ideas and starters in Evernote, and that’s just going to keep growing. The larger my note pile becomes, the more uses I find for those tidbits. Rather than turning each into a blog entry, as I would have in the past, they’ll now become pieces of stories, off-handed comments or observations, and other spice for larger works. I’m excited to note this development in my thought/planning process and look forward to seeing how it works out.

One last, unrelated thing. I slept on my stomach last night for the first time since my bicycle accident. I’ve got another x-ray in a week and a day, hopefully my last, and I’m now able to walk/stand pretty much all day (compared to 15-30 minutes just a month ago). All-in-all, I seem to be on the mend 🙂

I Tweeted

There is more openness to new words these days than there once was. People seem more apt to jump to the argument that, “Hey, if I understood what he was saying, then it works!” and worry less about proper words or grammar. Whether the cause is a failure of the public school system or the rise of the Internet and text messaging, the general populace (and of particular note is the inclusion of those with some or total completion of a degree in higher education) are coining new words regularly that gain such traction they enter the popular lexicon. Dictionaries have added google as a verb and are considering lol. It’s only a matter of time.

As for me, I resist these trends. I continue to say that “I searched for something on Google,” and I avoid using acronyms in everyday conversation whenever possible. When I send a text message, I type it properly, character count be damned. Despite my best intentions, though, Twitter has broken my will.

I love this stupid little service, and it has been invaluable to me. Whenever I post a blog update, my Twitter status is updated. My Twitter updates are pushed to my Facebook status, and I have been able to follow a great many people attending the Penny Arcade Expo so I can communicate and connect with them. It has helped me professionally as I have received assistance on technical issues, and it has certainly increased the feedback I have gotten on life events and writing. In general, it has helped my communication with others online.

With a limit of 140 characters per message, though, space is at a premium. I realized early on that if I had something to say, or wanted to make note of something important (say a news article I had read), it was better to write about it on my blog and have Twitter post a link to my site. This not only earned me more traffic, it cut down on Twitter spam as compared to some people who just post message after message. In addition to this realization, however, I have also been working on concision in my messages and learning where I can cut unneeded words and characters. I maintain writing proper sentences (most of the time), but certain phrases are creeping into my vocabulary.

Hence the title of this post. For months I have kept on with the phrase, “I posted on Twitter,” or, “So-and-so posted on Twitter,” but I just don’t have the space for it anymore. Modern technology and its emphasis on concision and time-savings is wearing on me, and I must bend to its will.

I haven’t decided how this will affect my other writing yet. I lean towards concision as a general rule and don’t think a book need be 500 pages to be considered a novel. My rule of thumb is to shoot for 100 pages, and most blog posts are around 500 words where once they were over 3000. I focus on keeping things shorter and to the point, but will I take it even a step further and cut things down more? Only time will tell.