01 Sep

Some things I’ve learned after eleven days without social media

On the 21st I mentioned I was going on Twitter vacation. I’ve seen a few articles from people who go on social media diets. They come back from down the hill to with their wisdom.

-The most obvious effect is that I’m a lot less distracted. I have ADHD, and I wrote about my last productivity hack on the blog (4 Hacks I’ve Used To Focus Harder While Writing on a Computer), but declaring I’m off social media publicly, while logging out of it and deleting all apps from my phone… has boosted productivity more. I’m super booked up right now, so this has been nice. I’m not wondering what’s happening because I know it’s not even a thing.

-Although productivity for my freelance and writing work is boosted, I only have so many ‘golden hours’ a day where I can throw myself at work. I’m not a machine. Twitter wasn’t using up all of those. Logging in to special working desktops let me partition out things over the last month or so. But I was flipping through twitter a lot in my down time. So I’m finding that, even though it’s only been 11 days, I’m redirecting my down time. I’ve managed to fit in more reading, which is good for the creative soul. I’ve started to blog more. Instead of responding quickly on twitter I’m storing up observations and making notes of them.

-Dragging back the time to read a book was awesome. I listen to a lot of audio books, but I was falling way behind on eyeball 2.0 reading. I wasn’t *not* reading, but I was way slower than I like. Getting two books read over the last 11 days feels more like my proper place. And those books gave me lots of ideas and fed into the ferment from where I will draw future inspirations.

-I can’t entirely escape social media. People who direct message me go into my inbox as I don’t want to miss those. That’s meant logging on to reply, albeit fast and briefly.

-Most people following me on twitter have absolutely no fucking clue I declared a twitter vacation or that I’m not on twitter anymore until October judging by the @ notifications unread number I saw when I had to log in quickly to respond to a piece of writing business.

This last one is the one I find the most fascinating. Right now I’m talking to writers and a ton of people are under the impression that it is *required* that we get on social media.

I keep saying ‘don’t do things you really hate doing.’ I say this to writers of all stripes because I truly believe the following. a) if you succeed at doing something you hate doing, you’re then stuck doing it, if not more, from then on. If you want to do something you hate doing, there are probably more lucrative things than writing you could grit through. b) if you hate it, I think it eventually comes out or shows through.

When I told one colleague about my plan to take a 2 month break, they were like ‘woah, man, that could be dangerous, you need to keep a presence!’

Sure. Maybe. What I also need to do is write more novels. In fact, that’s my primary mission.

But the fact that everyone missed my announcement, and talking about this break, and so on, indicates just how fucking full of static twitter is. You’re following so many people, who’re tweeting so many multiple times a day, that people have to post multiple times and risk annoying followers just to remind them that they have something important to get out (see book launches, etc). And then, even then, afterwards people will say ‘what, you had a new book out. I missed that!’

And the kicker is, I ended up having more of a presence on twitter by getting off of it. Because I wasn’t on twitter on the night of the Hugos batting reactions back and forth, when I saw the ballot I wondered what the alternative non-Puppy ballot was and quickly pulled it together. That link got 12,000+ hits on it, almost all of them from the link shortener t.co.

Which is to say: twitter.

I’m not leaving twitter forever. I will finish this current spate of deadlines. I love and miss you all and I will be back.

In the meantime, drop me an email. Or if you have my number, text or call me.

I’m still here.

26 Mar

Trawling social media to find a better picture of drug side effects

This is interesting to me: a group of people mining twitter to look at the lesser reported side effects of drugs that might not get reported on up to the FDA due to them being not as dramatic.

I recently trawled newsgroups to find out that I wasn’t alone in having a reaction to a drug I’m on that gives me the munchies something awful. After noodling around the medical sites and not seeing much about it, I found a ton of anecdotes online from people who’d managed to isolate that same drug.

It was nice to know I wasn’t crazy.

“We found 295 instances of adverse events in the top 10 categories on Twitter – a number higher than is reported to the FDA. In the last 12 months for which data is reported (Jul2012-Jun2012, data is only available through June 2012 at time of writing), there has been an average of 8 adverse events where Claritin was the primary suspect in reports to the FDA, and 265 total adverse events per month where Claritin was mentioned to the FDA in conjunction with other drugs. Almost all of the cases we found on Twitter were primarily due to Claritin, over 30X the number of primary events that are reported to the FDA”

(Via Discovering Drug Side Effects with Crowdsourcing | The CrowdFlower Blog.)

21 Mar

A website’s your best bet

Jeremiah Tolbert speaks truth here. I see more and more people falling back on almost exclusively using social media platforms. But what happens when they fall out of favor, fragment, go away, lock down, or fuck you over? Remember when everyone had to be on Myspace (I remember authors who bet everything on their Myspace presence).

It’s true, to some extent, that if you’re amazing enough all you need is to write. That’s the core.

But if you are putting your thoughts up online somewhere for people to read, to connect, then consider the long term consequences.

With your own website, you can easily add links to other things people can check out if they’re digging your words. You can build the traffic up and always keep it there, your own castle. And with RSS, you can beam out into Livejournal, tumblr, twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else. It’s the core of your spiderweb.

“A web­site (and thus your RSS feed) is some­thing you own and con­trol, for the most part (let’s not get into seman­tics about own­ing domain names and so forth).  It’s an out­post on that wild, untamed open web, a place where the rules are a lot thin­ner than Facebook and Twitter.  It seems safer to stay within their lit­tle ecosys­tems, and they’ve done a great job of mak­ing it seem easy and close to free;  but you’re not the cus­tomer there; you are the prod­uct, as Charlie Stross (and per­haps oth­ers?) famously pointed out.”

(Via Why a Website (and RSS) Is Still Your Best Bet | JeremiahTolbert.com.)

To this end I’ve actually changed a number of my behaviors. I’ve been testing out better ways to blog short snippets and thoughts while mobile and from my phone (instead of just going straight to twitter).

You can expect to see a lot more stuff just going straight to this blog first, and then from there everywhere else. It’ll mean more blogging, shorter blogging, and so forth. But with it all here, it will allow me to easily come back and find it (via tags and categories, and my blog’s search engine). So it serves as an outboard brain. And no matter what hiccups come with social media, I will be secure.