Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Botgirl's Top Five Tips For New Avatar Bloggers (Whiskey Day's Blogger Challenge)

Whiskey Day's InWorldz Blogger Challenge this week asks us: What advice would you give a new InWorldz Blogger?
After more than 650 blog posts on the avatar experience, I'm probably as qualified as anyone to play pundit on Whiskey's question. But my guess is that bloggers' experience varies widely depending upon the purpose of their blog, their primary areas of interest and their own special idiosyncratic blend of intellectual, emotional and creative gifts and vices. For instance, some people blog in conjunction with a virtual world related business so their main aim may be to connect with (and sell to) existing and potential customers. Others blog as amateur enthusiasts of a particular sub-culture or hobby interest such as fashion, role play, art or music. Their purpose may be to share information of mutual interest such as new products, exhibits or venues. Still others use their blog mostly to vent vitriol at companies, people and issues that piss them off.

My blog is pretty much a public journal of my thoughts and creative work related to virtual life. So the tips I'm going to share after this long-winded introduction relate to my own limited experience. Your mileage may vary:

1. Discover the sacredness of the empty page.
Most posts I've written start with an empty page and no preconceived idea of what I was going to write about. Although I do my share of whining about being out of ideas for new posts when I'm not in the process of writing, I've never actually sat before an empty page and left empty-handed. So if you don't have an idea, sit your ass down in front of the keyboard with an open mind and give your Muse the time and space to whisper in your ear. He or she is probably straining at the bit to take you in some new interesting direction.

2. Don't let your ideas get away. Always write them down.
There's no telling when the Muse will grace you with a fresh idea. So when something comes to mind, be sure to capture it or it will likely slip away. I recommend Evernote as a great multi-device notetaker for text, voice and visual note taking.

3. Write to understand rather than to convince.
Few endeavors will challenge your thinking as consistently and constructively as the process of trying to write a few hundred clear and honest words on a complex or controversial topic. Although many of my posts come across as opinion pieces, the particular ideas I end up expressing are often quite different than what I started out with. The key is to be more committed to discovering the emergent truth than in promoting any particular fixed position.

4. Shorter is better.
If you can't clearly get your point across in a few hundred words, it's unlikely that five thousand words words will do anything other than kick up a smoke screen to hide your lack of understanding. Piling on disconnected anecdotal evidence is neither persuasive nor interesting. And since no one will actually read a blog post of that length, it's not really worth the bother. Of course, complex topics can not be fully discussed in a short post. But both you and your readers will be much better off if you break complex issues down into a series of short and focused posts. 

5. Pseudonymity is never invulnerable. Don't write anything you can't afford to connect to your atomic identity.
At first, blogging under an avatar pseudonym is pretty easy. But one day you may wake up and find that your dozens of hits a day are up in the hundreds and the social network, e-mail and content sharing presence needed to support the blog requires juggling separate web browsers and multiple accounts on all of your devices. So it's very likely that one day you're going to mistakenly type the wrong information into the wrong place and inadvertently out yourself to the whole Internet. When that happens, you don't want to have anything out there that will jeopardize your job, marriage or other important aspect of RL.
Whisky also asked us to: ". . . go into your InWorldz inventory, choose snapshots, and sort by date. Show us the first snapshot you took in InWorldz."
I never save images to inventory since I always capture them to disk. But I did find this old video clip from InWorldz, shot with an iPhone:


Anonymous said...

Love the video. Is it just me or do your pants look like an x-ray? :) thanks for the post. Good advice. Don't forget the advice I gave you. :)

Sean Kleefeld said...

Excellent points across the board. But I think #3 stands out as one of the least recognized and/or discussed. I tend to blog using a variation on that same notion: I write with myself as the sole audience; that other people happen to read along with me is largely incidental. At some level, that does speak to "author sincerity" but that strikes me more as a result of writing to understand or writing for yourself than as a goal in and of itself.

Mera Kranfel said...

Very good advices. I forgot to mention nr 2 myself but I often use that method.

And nr 5, yes! I have several friends who know me irl and one who actually work at almost the same place so Im not very anonymous. And thats a good thing. I have to be careful with what i write and cant roll myself in drama or other unpleasant stuff that way ;)

You are very good at one thing thats important. And that is answering comments you gets. Although u have a lot of comments you take your time to answer them. Thats a very nice thing to do..

Anonymous said...

I think there should only be one blog, and it should be mine, and every comment would agree with me, and every one would want to be me, and at the SL conventions people would throw me in the air with shouts of "jolly good fellow". But the truth is, anyone who starts a blog for peer recognition, will not only never achieve it, but will lose interest within a month. My only tip would be: if you find yourself annoying the hell out of everyone around you by constantly talking about something your passionate about, spare them the lectures and write them down instead.

Botgirl Questi said...

Whiskey: Thanks, and I'll remember. :)

Sean: Although I do write as a process for personal insight, I'm always quite aware of the imagine audience. The main impact is that I end up making explicit for the reader some of what is implicit for me and therefore would have been omitted in a purely personal journal.

Kranfel: Thanks. If someone takes the time to read a post and comment, they certainly deserve a thoughtful response!

Taamon: For sure. Realtime communication is totally over-rated.