Twenty years ago I loaded a Mosaic browser on my PC and began a new adventure in Internet exploration. A few years later, I took my first baby steps creating and loading content onto the World Wide Web. By 2001, I became part of a web of relationships, interpersonal linkages, that we now call “social networking.” One of the people I met then was Maria Benet, a woman who blogged and wrote poetry, most definitely not in that order. Today, Maria’s twitter page says she’s an ex-poet. What can that mean? If you write, wrote, or in some cases if you intend to write poetry, you’re a poet. A poet is a poet and there’s no there there in Oakland, I think you must agree.
Today I’m musing about links and personal web presence. I’m not going to talk much about Facebook, Google+, twitter, or any of the other social networks that provide people with opportunities to share their thoughts and their work on the web. Maria is an interesting person, and an interesting study in public web presence. She had a blog called “Alembic.” I think I asked her one time if she’s related to the Alembic electronics family that emerged in Marin in the late sixties and she said she was not, but I appreciated the synchronicity none-the-less. And of course everybody’s only a few degrees of separation from everybody else. Consider Kevin Bacon….
Tidying up links on this blog, I saw that my link to Maria’s blog (Ashladle.org) had rotted. Rather than delete her from the list here, I looked for another public web address where she is active and found her blog (small change blog), and I found her on twitter. Also, I found a project she started last winter, a photographic journal called “A Year of Mount Tamalpais.” I lifted this picture from that location…
Photo by Maria Benet
The project I lifted the above picture from is over. Maria still blogs at small change blog where she migrated after her ashladle.org domain name expired, and she’s working on a WordPress site called Marin Bytes. She tweets as @Alembic, and her friends can find her in the walled garden that is Facebook. Amazing the number of ramifications a web-head’s personality requires in the new age of social networking….
Time goes by and our virtual back fences get more and more convoluted, sort of cyber-Christo projects that require the participants’ engagement on a different level than we have known before. How many people actually click on the links they find in a tweet or a posting? The author put them there for a reason, but whether pressured by time or only superficially engaged, most readers fly right by the links and miss some of the allusive content that lends value to what they are reading. In the good old days, missing links were something else entirely, an evolutionary thing. “Missing lynx” of course refers to a lost bobcat, but that’s neither here nor there. In the old days, one could listen in on the party line (ask your grandma what a party line was) or a couple of neighbors could gossip over the back fence. People wrote letters and sometimes got replies. People read newspapers and magazines. Kids at camp and vacationers wrote postcards, usually with pictures on them, and no reply was really expected. All of those mediated conversations were well bounded. The same can not be said for conversations on the web.
I sent off a message to Maria letting her know that I was writing a post about her and asking for her permission to use the above photo. She got back to me faster than a letter in a bottle, faster than teh pony express, faster than airmail, faster–in fact–than the US Post Office could possibly manage. She got back to me so quickly you’d have thought we were connected by a series of tubes or something! I like the Internet for that and for the fact that so many talented people can make their work accessible. Thanks Maria, you’re a poet and , well… the conclusion is self evident.