12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“The Class Boundaries of Veronica Mars.”

Why the Body Image Advisory Group’s voluntary code of conduct didn’t work.

Rachel Hills on the internet, artifice and being fake.

“The New Middleton Class”.

Speaking of the Middleton’s, Melinda Tankard Reist takes issue with the admiration of Pippa’s ass online:

“The FB site provides an opportunity for men everywhere to share their sexual fantasies for the young maid of honour. Knock her up, bash her in, cause her injury such that she would not be able to walk. Wrecking and shredding a woman’s anus is a popular porn script.

“And all this is supposed to be accepted as a compliment. Of course there are no ‘Pippa the Wonderfully Supportive Sister Appreciation Societies’ or other pages lauding her gifts and character and other non-body related attributes.”

Bret Easton Ellis on the spectacle that is Charlie Sheen.

“Filling the Gaps” in the online feminist community’s “call-out culture”.

In what was Elizabeth Taylor’s last interview, with Kim Kardashian for US Harper’s Bazaar, she divulges her thoughts on living like a queen, the Krupp diamond and Twitter. I was never a fan of Taylor, but this interview made me one.

What does it mean to be a feminist today?

Is the male body “Repulsive or Beautiful?”

Ever been hollered at in the street as you walk past a construction site? “Why Men Cat Call” sounds interesting, but is disappointingly dismal.

Amélie sex (noun): intercourse undertaken in the classic missionary position which, by itself, is not objectionable—during which the male is impervious to the female’s lack of enjoyment.”

The bromance VS. Bridesmaids“Homance”.

Don’t give up your day job: “Freelancing on the Side.”

Images via I Just Have So Many Feelings, Sydney Morning Herald.

Magazines: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants?

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Mia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo, Madison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age & Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like Jezebel, Cover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

[MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Images via ABC, MamaMia, Teacup.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

It’s hard out there for a pimp male model. MamaMia profiles “Male Models. Inside Their Straaaange World”, and how images of “buffed” and “ripped” men on magazine covers might affect male body image.

Hannah Montana is the superhero of the modern generation.

“Freelancing means being so poor and so hungry for so long that you ‘eat’ a bowl of soup that’s just hot water, crushed-up multivitamins and half your spice rack…”according to Richard Morgan, in “Seven Years as a Freelance Writer, or How to Make Vitamin Soup”.

Sex in the Digital City writer, Kitty Tonkin, details how she unplugged her iPod on public transport and had a good, old-fashioned conversation with an elderly man on the train. He talked about the old days, and the kinds of values they had back then. While some of his views were certainly outdated (“women need to learn and remember that it’s a man’s role to fish”), Mystery Train Man did drop such gems of wisdom as “feminism has warped views in society” and “romance is so cheap [wine, fish and chips overlooking the ocean] people have no excuse”.

Rachel Zoe literally “dies” for US Harper’s Bazaar. Death by Marc Jacobs? Yes please!

Tiger Beatdown has some interesting views on the “Love The Way You Lie” video. While I think both the song and the film clip accurately portray the cycle of domestic violence, author Garland Grey asserts that both glamorise the situation. View the video and the article, and you be the judge.

Any LOSTies out there still mourning the end of the series? io9 hits it right on the head in “12 Theories About Lost That Were Better Than the Actual Show”, acknowledging that half the fun of watching the show was formulating our own hypotheses about its mysteries.

The Thought Experiment writes about “the cinematic discourse established by director Rob Luketic employs the consistent rhetorical metonymical device of synecdoche to psychologically reinforce the theme of a woman’s appearance…” in Legally Blonde. Or, in layman terms, the film deals with “the constant breaking of the women down in to digestible parts when they are focussed on Warner. This is important because, to a man like that character, taken as a whole, what are we ladies? Too much to chew on, it seems.” Great article.

While our country might be in the midst of a hung parliament, Mia Freedman exerts her feminist stance on the issue in her profile of Julia Gillard: “Would she describe herself as a feminist? ‘I would. All my life I’ve believed that men and women have equal capacities and talents. That means that there are as many smart women as there are smart men and it means there are as many dumb women as there are dumb men. So we’re equal and consequently there should be equality in life’s chances.” Now go bag that Prime Ministership, Julia! (You can also read Freedman’s journey to interview Gillard here.)

Jezebel loves herself some Mad Men. This time around, the feminist blog profiles the show’s stance on “The Psychology of Women”.

Elsewhere, on the “psychology of men” stratosphere, “Can Superheroes Hurt Boys’ Mental Health?” When I said to a male friend that I wasn’t really into superheroes, he said I mustn’t have any daddy issues, ’cause people with daddy issues love superheroes. Well, I have no shortage of daddy issues, and I am dressing as Cat Woman for my Halloween/birthday party, so I guess that proves his point. And so does the article.

Johnny Depp has pulled of many a character, which is no mean feat. The fact that he’s managed to be “doable in pretty much every role is an even bigger accomplishment”.

Once again, women just can’t win. The latest study to prove this shows that “men whose wives make more money than they do are more likely to cheat”. Take a bow, Jesse James, Ryan Phillippe et al.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Taking inspiration from Gala Darling: These stunning pictures make me nostalgic for summer days at the fairground… oh, that’s right, I never spent summer days at the fairground. And certainly not in a playsuit with balloons. Via The Cherry Blossom Girl.

Jezebel really has it in for Facebook, doesn’t she? My favourite anti-FB post from the site this week is “When it Comes to Women’s Issues, Facebook Still Hasn’t Figured Out How to Play Fair”.

I absolutely LOVED Through a New Lens‘s post on “How Your Audience is Like the Mogwai”! While I’m certainly not a Gremlins fan, Joey Strawn draws some good points from the film and how they relate to blog audiences. Will be keeping his thoughts in mind.

More Gala goodness; it’s an oldie but a goodie. Gala counts down her “Top 5 Fictional Female Style Icons”. I have to confess, I’ve never seen The L Word or Henry & June, so I’ll have to take her word for it. However, I am totes down with Cher Horowitz, Blair Waldorf and Carrie Bradshaw as 3, 2 and 1, respectively.

Following in the vein of her workaholism posts, Rachel Hills uses Zen Habits’ assertion “that, instead of scheduling our days and weeks and months with small tasks that eventually lead us to whatever place we’re trying to get to, we should just go with wherever our will takes us on any given day.” Like going to bed at 8 o’clock on a Monday night, sleeping through til 8 o’clock the following morning, doing a spot of blogging, and watching 90210 for the rest of the day? Definitely worth a look.

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, Hills looks at the Kyle & Jackie O rape scandal, as well as the Matthew Johns group sex scandal (which continues to get my goat), and the issue of “grey rape”.

In other GG news, this circa-season one post perfectly encapsulates the addiction to the show its audience faces. Admitting it is the first step, right? More on this post here.

Styleite lists “6 Things Elle Magazine is Doing Right”, three being their heavy online and television presences, and their intelligence section, which I couldn’t agree with more. Half the reason (okay, more than half) I continually buy Elle is because of their great articles and book reviews, and their book blog Lit Life is on my blogroll.. “Think Vogue meets Vanity Fair“.

Still with magazines on reality TV, The New York Times profiled Teen Vogue, which you may remember from (other than the newsstand/agency) The Hills.

Postcards to Alphaville “is a project dedicated to film characters featured in guest-made illustrations”. Below, my favourites.

Finally, try an enlightening personality test this weekend, with the Myers-Briggs test. I got an INFJ result, which means I’m Introverted and expend energy in social situations; iNtuitive and focus on the bigger picture and the possibilities; prefer Feeling to thinking and give more weight to emotions than logic; and I’m Judgemental and like to have my plans made well in advance. Oh, how accurate!

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Frock & Roll has some poignant points on how to “network, promote and get your blog out there” aka “hustle”. I’ve only read part one of the series, but you can find part two here, with part three on its way.

Who do you write like? Apparently, from the sample I typed in to the analyzer, I write like David Foster Wallace, author of one of Time magazine’s All-Time Greatest Novels, Infinite Jest! Not too shabby!

It’s no secret Prince is one of my favourite musicians, but according to Fajr Muhammad of Stylish Thought, he’s also a style icon, assless pants and all!

Edward Cullen sparkles, but feminism certainly doesn’t. Amplify Your Voice discusses “What Twilight Teaches Young Girls”.

Author Marketing Experts suggest “Seven Powerful Ways to Find New Readers For Your Blog” (there’re actually eight!).

An oldie but a goody: Inappropriate Woman Rachel Hills muses on Gossip Girl, Serena & Effortless Perfection”.

In the vein of last week’s “In Defence of Taylor Momsen” comes the case for Lindsay Lohan as she is released from jail and shipped off to rehab for the umpteenth time.

On Tuesday night, “I Went to See Killers, and It’s All Your Fault”, Jezebel!

Girl with a Satchel has two (here and here) fab pictorials up of this year’s September issues. Here’s just a little taste…

On the (Rest of the) Net.

It’s shocking to know there are other blogs out there on the net besides this one! So I urge you to check out my favourite posts this week (and in the case of some, this year!). I hope you likey:

While I can’t exactly understand this site (it’s written in Dutch!), it’s oh-so-pretty to look at. And I love blogger Nenz’s links to other quirky sites. Below, she lists blogging as one of her fave pastimes (duh!) and THX THX THX blog for its sweet notes. More on this one coming soon!

“In Defence of Taylor Momsen”, over at Jezebel, tells us why we should just leave the 17-year-old the bloody well alone!

Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is subjected to a scathing profile by The New York Times.

I’ve been humming and hawing over whether to write a blog response to this article, but instead, check out Mark Sarvas’ blog, The Elegant Variation, and this article, “Advice for the Lovelorn… I Mean Writers”.

In other Momsen news, Jezebel reports on “the biggest feud of our time week” with Miley Cyrus.

One of my favourite bloggers, Rachel Hills, struggles to marry who she feels she is with who people perceive her to be. I feel ya, sister!

There’s been a bit of unrest in the Facebook ranks of late, and this Jezebel post“Why People Really Hate Facebook: It’s Complicated”asserts why it generates so much hate.

Sex & the City permeated the zeitgeist and defined a television-watching generation. Can Mad Men do the same?

US Vogue worked very hard in 2009 trying to boost its image, what with The September Issue and Fashion’s Night Out. Maybe “Vogue just might be culturally relevant” again?

Sarah Ayoub interviews impending Cleo editor, Gemma Crisp, about where she intends to steer the mag. Exciting!

And everybody’s been raving about Fashematics, which has been around for over a year, but is somehow only just coming to my attention now.

Internet Fog

Following on from yesterday’s “Workaholics Anonymous” post, I stumbled upon this poem, originally called “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas and “remixed by Carolyn Kellogg” on the L.A. Times book blog, Jacket Copy.

While it is in essence “a plea… to the Poetry Foundation” not to scale “back its blog in favour of Twitter and Facebook,” essentially becoming “not quite a blog anymore,” it can certainly be applied to blog fatigue and internet overload.

Do not go gentle into that internet fog,
Writing should burn and rage complete
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

Unwise men think sentences do bog,
But what can be said in just a Tweet?
Do not go gentle into that internet fog.

Good men at laptops watch agog,
Their words sucked into a Facebook data sheet
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

A wild man who drinks the German grog
Leaves updates, a 4G phone — he’s indiscreet!
Do not go gentle into that internet fog.

Grave men crave followers and flog
And flog for more with desperate heat
Rage, rage against the dying of blog.

And you, dear poets, know writing is no slog
The ebb and flow of words is sweet
Do not go gentle into that internet fog,
Rage, rage against the dying of the blog.

Related: Workaholics Anonymous.

Elsewhere: [Jacket Copy] On Ceasing to Blog: Do Not Go Gentle.

Workaholics Anonymous

Back in April, sex and gender blogger Rachel Hills wrote about workaholism and its relationship to the internet.

“My name’s Rachel and I’m a workaholic. And I think the internet may have something to do with it.”

Well, hello Rachel. My name is Scarlett, and I, too, feel your pain.

While I wouldn’t say that my workaholism stems from my actual paid job (customer service is not exactly an occupation you “take home with you”; at the end of the day, I couldn’t think of anything worse than continuing to put on a happy face when disgruntled patrons have been telling you where to shove it all day, you’ve got a sore back and feet and all you want to do is go home and lapse into a coma), I definitely need to be busy. If I’m not, I become unmotivated, and that unmotivation facilitates more unmotivation. Which then festers and turns into guilt. Even when I’m “not doing anything”, I’m actually doing something; catching up on reading, TV shows, movies etc (see photo). If I have a block of free time in the foreseeable future, I will plan the crap out of it, ensuring that I maximise my time by fitting as much as I possibly can into it. Kind of like the spaceor lack thereofin my wardrobe.

Hills says the unremitting stimulus of the internet “serves as a constant reminder of all the things I could be doing and thinking about… Every day I come up with more ideas than I could ever have time to pursue.”

And such is the drawback of being a blogger; we do it out of passion and a need to stimulate others and be stimulated. Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t stimulate cash flow much of the time.

My workplace is in demand at the moment, so here I am weighing up the integrity of this here blog and how much time I’ll have to work on it versus paying the bills, not mention a social life and my über-important “me time”. Hills touches on this in her post, and references the similar dilemmas of Girl with a Satchel Erica Bartle and Wordsmith Laner Sarah Ayoub. Personally, I don’t know how Ayoub balances her paid job, blog, thesis, novel writing, freelancing and wedding planning with day to day banalities! I’m having a conniption just thinking about it!

Hills suggests that a way to lighten the load, personally, is to narrow “my focus to the work I think will have the greatest impact” which “helps me manage and prioritise my load.”

Beyond that, we need to “be confident in our own choices.” For me, it’s a balancing act between being confident that what I’m doing is the right path for me (for about a year I went through a post-quarter-life crisis when my dream of having a magazine career fell through and I faced the possibility of being a check-out-chick for life!), and what others’ think (ie. family who wonder whether blogging is financially secure. FYI, it’s not).

Hills really sums it up nicely, saying that:

“I may wish I was doing more work (like I said, workaholic), but I’m also pretty secure that the work I do choose to focus on is the most important and effective for the ends I’m seeking. I’m also secure in my ability to choose which people I want to spend time with, which events look like they’ll be the most fun, what time I want to get there and what time I want to go home.”

Most of my friends will say I’m a stickler for a schedule, but I’m working on becoming more flexible with my time; it’s not heart attack-inducing material if I don’t get everything I wanted to do done. (Although, as a type A personality, I’m not so sure…)

However, like Hills says, confidence is key in having the courage of your convictions and not having to apologise to anyone for doing what you want to do.

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] My Name’s Rachel, and I’m a Workaholic. And I Think the Internet May Have Something to Do With It.

[Wordsmith Lane] A Great Piece of Writing… And My Personal Thoughts.

It’s Time to Use Your “Library Voice”.

Sung J. Woo writes in The New York Times’ Complaint Box about the “lost library voice” and how she reminisces of a bygone era when “the only sounds [in the library] were shuffles, whispers and the occasional shushdelivered with an index finger crossing the lips of a bespectacled, cardigan-wearing librarian.”

She wonders, “when did libraries become a cacophonous combination of café, video store, music store, computer lab and playground?”

I feel ya, sister.

Recently I went to the Melbourne City Library in Flinders Lane, thinking I would spend the day catching up on reading and preparing for the launch of this blog. Oh, how wrong I was.

For some unbeknownst reason, there is a café next to the entrance, the sounds from which carry up the stories and into my cosy (and by cosy, I mean not-so-cosy; air-conditioning in winter? I don’t think so!) little study bubble, permeating my concentration. If I wanted to listen to the clatter of a restaurant kitchen, I’d go to one. Next time, I think I’ll just stay home.

Woo relays the story of “two teenage girls” who “clamped on headphones and proceeded to talk to each other while enjoying their music. Have you ever tried conversing with someone wearing Princess Leia-like headphones?” No, no I haven’t. ’Cause when I’m hanging out with friends, I want to hang out with them, not their iPods.

Hilariously, this problem transfers to adolescent internet usage at the library. “… they log onto the public computers to watch their favourite YouTube videos while opening up 15 windows of Instant Messenger. They may be quietly typing ‘LOL’, but they are also literally laughing out loud.”

Another phenomenon libraries have been experiencing is the “urban sprawl”, where the homeless move away from the big cities and to the outer suburbs to utilise their facilities, namely libraries. While this is all well and good if they’re being used for educational and legitimate recreational reading/listening/watching/internetting purposes, the majority of the time libraries are being used as a sleeping place, a place to look at inappropriate web content, and a place to come in from the cold.

I have personally experienced this at my home town’s local library. I had an hour or so to kill before meeting a friend, so I decided to duck into the library to read an online magazine. I picked a computer that had two free ones on either side, which was a mistake in itself. I should have picked one in between two normal-looking folks. So I’m happily absorbed in my magazine, when a shabbily-dressed, low attention-spanned young man in need of some deodorant sat next to me. We each stole glances at the others’ screen; he gawked at pictures of models on my screen while I grimaced as he audibly attempted to secure an online date. Oh, the people you meet, hey?!

Again, I have no problem with libraries being used for the purposes they’re intended for by a wide range of people, but to borrow a phrase from a psychologist who recently ran a “Dealing with Difficult Customers” seminar at my workplace, libraries “are not your home/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom” etc., so you shouldn’t be having sex/eating/grooming/having domestic issues in them!

However, I have been guilty of not using my “library voice” a time or two. At the aforementioned home town library, I happened to bump into a friend whilst visiting for the weekend. It was very serendipitous as she now lives only blocks away from me in the western suburbs of Melbourne. As it was almost closing time and not many people around, we chatted about work, love, life for a good 15 minutes, throwing caution to the wind. Were we abusing the purpose of the library? Perhaps, but what about the children?

This is a common argument between the haves and haves not (children, that is); remember on Sex & the City when Samantha was at a restaurant on her cell phone, when the waiter asked her to put it away as they don’t allow them inside. Samantha obliged, but retorted with “well, what are you going to do about that?”, pointing to a child slopping around his pesto. The waiter responded, “that’s a child”; basically, there’s nothing to be done about a child. I believe this was also the episode in which Carrie perceived she was being punished for not havingnor wantingchildren when her $400 Manolo’s were stolen from a baby shower.

Woo continues: “… Tykes are burning up the carpet. I cannot remember the last time I went to my library when children were not playing hide-and-seek in the stacks, shrieking as they chased one another.”

And where are the parents? “Nowhere to be seen.”

Oh, I hear you! My life revolves around a good book, in a nutshell, so whenever I get the chance to peacefully sit down with one outside my home, I do not want to be overhearing my carriage-mate’s iPod, especially if it’s a song I recognise (SexyBack, anyone?). I do not want to be sitting in a café, trying to tune out when a mothers club meeting is commencing at the table next to me, especially if one of the children has the same name as me. And I certainly do not want to be approached by the crazies on the tram/train/bus/library/park bench seat/cafe table/anywhere basically, especially when I’m trying to read!

Elsewhere: [City Room] Complaint Voice: The Lost “Library Voice”.