Love the email comment updates on LiveJournal!

I have an account on LJ which I set up just for keeping in touch with a friend who posts there. Was really really pleased today to see that if I comment on a post on LJ and someone replies, I get an email not just telling me there’s a new comment, not only giving me the full text of the comment, but also telling me who the comment is by, and also giving me links for all these different things I might possibly want to do:

  • View the thread starting from this comment
  • View the thread this comment is a part of
  • View all comments to this entry
  • Reply at the webpage

Top marks to LiveJournal – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such excellent comment updates anywhere else! Nor have I ever seen a platform that enables you to actually view just one thread on a post – that’s just fabulous!

One thing that sucks about Blogger

If you blog on Blogger, I’m highly unlikely to comment there.
Why? because if I choose anything other than my Google profile, I am not given the option to subscribe to comments, which means if you reply to my reply I simply won’t know about it.
I don’t want to comment on blogs using my Google profile. When I comment on blogs, I want to comment as a blogger – and my blog is on WordPress. The option is there to comment using my WordPress identity, but as soon as I select that option, the box for subscribing to comments disappears.
So, if you’re on Google+ and you post links to your blog posts there, I’ll comment there. If you aren’t – I don’t know, I really don’t.
And no, it’s not your fault that Blogger has this annoying setting.
fwiw, on WordPress you can subscribe to comments on a post no matter which identity you choose to use. just sayin’ :)

Multiply and Google Plus – each has its pros and cons

Having been over at Google+ since July (and been very active there), I feel that whilst Multiply is a little better for maintaining closer friendships, G+ is so much better for actually meeting new people and making those initial connections which can result in a close friendship.
Google+ is very much what you make of it, it’s up to each person to choose the way that works best for them – you can choose to follow all sorts of tech gurus or writing gurus or cookery gurus or whatever, you can choose to follow pages that provide news on specific subjects you’re interested in, you can choose to follow people who just seem interesting/fun/friendly, you can choose to engage with others or to just quietly read stuff, you can choose how many people you want to try and engage with (we each have different levels that suit us), you can choose what sort of stuff you’re going to post there and what level of privacy you set each post to (just like here)… but unlike here, you have amazing opportunities to (a) get exposure for your own posts if you want that and if you post publicly (b) find interesting people to engage with – and by “interesting” I mean whatever kind of person you personally find interesting. I have consistently ignored the “what’s hot” section, because I’m really not interested in whatever the masses are clicking on, I’m interested in finding people who are interesting to me, and I have – and have been building relationships with some of them. Yes, it’s perfectly possible and yes, I get plenty of deep conversations there – otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed. For me, frivolity is important but depth is essential, without deep conversations I just kind of shrivel…
Yes, there are some things on Multiply that make deep conversations easier, in terms of the technology. The ability to quote a comment, for example, so you can easily show who you are responding to. (And threaded comment view, for those who like that – I don’t.) But G+ is still new and being worked on, and from a recent conversation there I get the feeling they’re going to work on some kind of threaded comments feature, they’ve seen how it gets in long discussions.
The thing is, here I can come over and post something just to my friends and we can end up having a good chat – but other times I can come over and post something and get no response from anyone. And getting to know new people here is not easy – it’s either through groups, so if there’s a subject you’re interested in you can join one and hope to meet people who are also into whatever-it-is; or you can meet people through mutual friends. I think most of the people on my contact list here are people I met in groups – but joining a group is a very purposeful, focused kind of way. On G+ I don’t have to go through that, I just post stuff and it’s immediately available to a huge audience, so the chances are that someone somewhere will be interested (and now they have an internal search box and even hashtags, it’s really easy to find posts of interest to you); I read posts that interest me and comment and discover people who are on a similar wavelength. And doing that sort of thing here is just so much more complicated – it’s not what Multiply is geared for.
One of the people who is now on my contacts list here is someone I had met in groups here but only started to really connect with over on Google Plus! Because here, you have to invite someone to be your contact, and in doing that you are inviting them into your personal space, and also asking them to let you into their personal space, it’s a lot more of an issue – whereas when we found we were both on G+, there was no risk or cost to adding one another there, all it meant was that she was going to see my posts in her stream and I was going to see her posts in mine. (Because of the way the Circles there work, you can easily keep private info private even from some of the people you add.) And so we found ourselves getting to know each other, and at some point decided to become contacts here. It’s like G+ is a sort of massive club where you can hang out and meet people, and then the ones you get closer to, you can invite them home to Multiply. but they might not like Multiply – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s not really necessary in order to maintain a friendship. All the necessary privacy options are available on G+, you can make a post private just for two people or just for ten or just for 300 or whatever.
One of the features that makes it really easy to build connections there is the ability to tag someone in a post or a comment – it’s a way of inviting them into the conversation. So for example there’s someone I recently met there who seemed to be struggling a bit with the feeling of being new there and not knowing many people yet, and I noticed a post of hers about a subject that I know Meg is interested in, so I just commented saying something like: my friend Meg is into this – but using the tagging feature meant that Meg’s name became a live link so this girl could check Meg’s profile out if she wanted to, and it also meant that Meg got notified and could come over to that post and reply, and they could get to know each other. (Obviously she was under no obligation to do so, but I kind of thought Meg would.)
Another thing that makes it easy to get to know more people there is the reshare feature – under each post there’s a Share button and you can really easily pass it on within Google Plus (subject to the post’s privacy settings, of course), so you can introduce interesting people to other people. If someone you follow reshares a post by Joe Bloggs and you find that post particularly insightful, or well-written, or whatever, you can click on Joe Bloggs’s name and go check out his profile. I’ve discovered lots people that way. Or I see someone making a really good comment on someone else’s post, so I go check them out. The whole atmosphere is very conducive to interacting with people you don’t know yet (which is really what a stranger is) and so you can get to know new people – but at the same time, there are good privacy settings so that if you want to have a more private conversation, you can.
And, you know, when I post stuff there, I get reactions. That’s why I keep posting stuff there – because I actually have an audience, whereas here it can sometimes feel kind of echoey. Multiply is nice (very nice) for the times when all I want is a quiet chat with some friends over tea and biscuits – if those friends turn up. On G+ I’m getting to know more people with whom I feel like having tea and biscuits. I’d love to be able to drag them all here… but, you see, it takes time to get to that level where you’re ready to let someone into your private space, and on Multiply there’s not much of that in-between space. On G+ it’s much more grainy/granulated/what’s the word I’m looking for – you add someone as a one-way thing and it’s not even an “I want to get to know you”, it’s just an “I want to read your public posts” or “I want to share some private posts with you” (or “I want to spam you” – that also happens, but there is a block feature). And if that person adds you back and you communicate with each other over time and start building a personal connection, you don’t have to make it official in any way, the other person doesn’t know which circle you’ve put them in, so they don’t know if you’ve advanced them from “strangers that seem interesting” to “people I click with”. Which makes it a lot less awkward.
so, yes, I think G+ is pretty brilliant.
p.s. I haven’t been posting much publicly here but I’m making this post public, as a kind of public service announcement. But then, how many people are likely to see it even then? How much exposure is there here for posts by people you don’t already know? See what I mean?

Reasons I like blogging on WordPress #25.3

editing tags.

it’s just so easy to do a mass change there, you just go into your tags list and edit the tag itself, and it’s changed for all the relevant posts.
here on Multiply I started a tag sort-out ages ago, but it’s so tedious, so time consuming. yes, you can re-tag a whole bunch of posts at once in the media locker but you have to know which ones, and you have to tick the box for each one individually. the only way to get at all the posts that have a particular tag here is by clicking on that tag on your homepage, and then you get the posts in full, so it can take forever to go through them all.
have I mentioned that I really like blogging on WordPress? ;)

Starting over

Ok, that’s it. As of yesterday, I’m blogging on WordPress and that’s that. I did post links to my first couple of posts but I’m not going to keep doing that, the idea is to keep my blogging life separate from here, so here can be more for chilling out with friends and less for soapboxy stuff. I know I’ve said this before but then I hadn’t really worked out a good system, I had places for specific types of posts but not for everything, so it didn’t work that well. My new blog is an Everything blog – rants, thoughts, ramblings, whatever.

So if you want to keep reading my rants and ramblings, head over there and click the Follow button to subscribe. You don’t have to have a WordPress account – not for subscribing and not for commenting, so don’t be shy. (Well, obviously you’re allowed to be shy if that’s how you want to play it, I’m not going to tell you what to do. All I’m saying is, you can comment there without having to sign up for a WordPress account.)
End of advertising. We now return to our normal schedule. The next programme will be Has Meirav Gone to Sleep Yet, starring Quentin the Penguin.

Jews don’t… or do they? A spam-inspired rambling


The other day I posted a rant about spam on G+ and ended it with the tongue-in-cheek comment that “I don’t eat spam, I’m Jewish”. Later I saw someone comment that he’s Jewish too but that’s not why he doesn’t … Continue reading

The New Deal (or: What Do You Expect)

a rambling on social networking and what humans expect of each other

I was going to write something about shopping and then I found myself wondering about whether there’d be people feeling I was oversharing a bit, and then I found myself thinking about some of the discussions that have been going on on Google Plus about how much some people feel is ok to share. I’ve seen there that different people have very different ideas about what is or isn’t reasonable, with people like me saying stuff it, I’ll share what I want to share and you’re welcome to ignore the posts you find boring, and if you really hate it so much then just drop me – this is me, what you’re seeing is what I’m choosing to present to the world and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep reading it. Just don’t tell me that I’m doing it wrong, I’m doing it my way and each person is going to do it his own way and we’re each of us free to choose whose posts we want to read, so can we stop judging one another and trying to prescribe rules about what is or isn’t acceptable.
But here on Multiply it’s a bit different, isn’t it? Because on G+ we can add total strangers just because we choose to subscribe to their posts, the whole dynamics there are different, much more about interacting with strangers and a lot less about friendships – though friendships can and do develop there, and it’s great, but the stress is less on that side of things, and if you add someone it doesn’t automatically translate into any kind of relationship, you don’t even have to like them, you might add someone because they post informative techie stuff or they know a lot about, I don’t know, bee keeping. Multiply was set up originally for the purpose of keeping in touch with people you already know, it has gradually changed over time but the mutual relationship structure still reflects that – when you add someone here you invite them to confirm a certain type of relationship, and even the relationship type they added later for people you don’t know from your offline life is called “online buddy”, with the word “buddy” indicating some kind of friendly connection. (I’ve heard different people interpret the word “buddy” very differently, some seeing it as even closer than “friend” and some as less close, etc. I even heard someone once say she thought it was a strictly male term. For me it’s a specifically Multiply term – the word “buddy” isn’t normally used in England, and I can’t imagine calling anyone a “buddy” in normal conversation. /end digression) Of course there may be people here who use Multiply differently – the ones who go around inviting everyone they see – but people I’ve mixed with here have generally tended to be a bit more selective, and the general feeling I get is that here we add people when we do, on some level, like them as people and want to interact with them. We might not think of each of these people as a friend (depends on our personal definition of that term) or buddy, but we’re doing more than just subscribing to their posts and allowing them access to ours. It’s a social thing.
And also, here, we have viewing history, with its blessings and its curses. On G+ there’s no equivalent, so the only time you ever know that someone has read your post is if they’ve reacted to it in some way. The downside is that there can be tons of stuff you post and people probably read but you’ve no way of knowing, so you could get despondent, thinking no one is reading your posts – I know I read lots of posts on G+ without reacting. But the flip side is that people feel more free to read your posts, knowing that they aren’t leaving footprints. This is why here on Multiply I’ve sometimes logged out to visit someone’s site, because I’ve had all sorts of reactions from strangers whose sites I visited, you can get people taking your one-off footprint as a declaration of friendship and they come over to your guestbook with gushing responses, or you get those who are suspicious of anyone who has dared step on their [public] territory, or those who tell you off because they think it’s rude to visit someone’s site and not leave a message… *shrug* humans are weird creatures…
But I wasn’t thinking so much about strangers as about friends – and I’m using the word “friends” here in the general sense of people you’re to some extent connected with socially, people you’ve added as contacts here and there’s some level of expectation that you… what? This is where it gets tricky. We each come into these situations with different expectations. We don’t sign a contract, just as in normal life we don’t sign a contract when we become someone’s friend, it just happens, but different people have different expectations and I’ve had some interesting rows with friends over the years as a result, with people accusing me of not being a good enough friend because [fill in the blank] or vice versa – not living up to each other’s expectations of friendship.
I see the same dynamics here on Multiply.
An example that I particularly remember, from a long time ago: someone I knew from a group context invited me to be her Online Buddy. I would see her posts in my inbox and I’d read her posts and now and again I would comment. But I found that she never responded to any of my comments. and no, I’m totally not saying you should always respond to everyone’s comments – that’s just impossible. but never responding to my comments – to me that says: not interested in dialogue. Combine that with the fact that she never commented on any of my posts, and I never saw her in my viewing history, and, well, my general impression was that she wasn’t really interested in friendship with me. Then there came a day when I was going through difficult stuff emotionally and I posted something about it and got some supportive comments from friends here and it really helped and then later on I posted a thank you, saying how much I valued being able to get support from friends online, and she commented saying something along the lines of you’re welcome and I was staggered! she was so not one of the people I was thanking, she had totally not been there for me, not ever, not in the smallest tiniest way, and how dare she… so I removed her from my contacts list. I then got a private message from her saying: I’m sorry to see I have lost you as a friend. I’d love to know what her definition of “friend” is, but no, I didn’t ask, I just left it.
So, does that mean that if you are on my contacts list you must be ready to be supportive when I’m going through difficult stuff emotionally? No. Absolutely not. Just because I have a need, it doesn’t mean that you personally have to supply it. Each of the people I’ve chosen to be friends with is a unique human being with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of you may be better at empathy than others – that’s okay! Some of you may have more time on your hands than others. Some of you may be more articulate than others. Some of you may be able to understand what I’m going through and some may not. I hereby explicitly state in our virtual contract that you are not bound to offer the right kind of emotional support as and when I need it. I’m pretty sure I won’t always be able to come up with the sort of support you will need whenever you need it. That’s just the way it is.
But leaving aside the issue of emotional support – that’s not always relevant, not everyone goes through bouts of depression and not everyone shares their deep emotional stuff here – there’s the issue of actually reading and responding to people’s posts: how often do people read? how often do they comment? that sort of thing.
I know I’ve done this sometimes: stomped my feet and ranted because people were not living up to my expectations. I think I’m learning. Maybe I’m growing up a little. Maybe I’m beginning to accept that I’m not the centre of the universe… or that, hey, guess what, people have other things to do, work or family or other friends or whatever…
Some will feel you’re not being a good enough friend if you’re not showing up in their viewing history often enough. Others will say: I saw you in my viewing history but you didn’t bother to comment! (By the way, here’s an interesting angle on this: if someone gets email alerts and if they have their email set to not automatically open images, they can read your posts and not show up in your viewing history.)
We humans sometimes place huge expectations on others (and sometimes on ourselves too). My natural inclination is to try and be there for people, to try and be a good friend, to show empathy and caring – but my experience of life has taught me that I can’t always be the perfect friend and I can’t always be there for people and I can’t always come up with a helpful response. I’m only human. I will sometimes let people down – especially if their expectations of me are unrealistic, and sadly I find humans tend quite often to have unrealistic expectations of others. Like everyone else, I have a limited amount of time and of energy. I might see a post in my inbox and think: I can’t deal with this right now, I’m too tired/rushed/hungry/emotionally drained/whatever. (And I might show in your viewing history because what I saw in my inbox wasn’t enough to alert me to what kind of deep post it is. The inbox doesn’t come with a depth filter…)
So, what’s my bottom line? I’m going to try and be more grown-up and realistic about my own expectations of other people. I’m also here to state clearly: whatever your expectations are of me, please remember that I’m only human, and I definitely will not live up to them all the time – not unless your expectations are very minimal, maybe something like I expect her to sometimes read my stuff and sometimes comment and sometimes say something that’s helpful but sometimes not and probably sometimes to respond in a totally unhelpful way because she’s human, just like me.

If it’s not staring me in the face, I probably won’t get round to reading it

In the constant battle with interesting posts I see online and want to read but not now, when I discovered Instapaper I thought it was the answer – so easy to just add a post to my Instapaper so that I can read it later, it even lets you set up folders so you can organise the stuff in a meaningful way, and it lets you add a description so you can make a note to yourself about what this post is about, why you want to read it, even how you came to stumble upon it – all well and good, but how often do I actually open it and read the stuff I’ve put there for later? When exactly is this “later” that we’re talking about anyway? There just isn’t enough time to read all the stuff that I’d like to read, so I glance through what’s new and I pause and read the odd thing that seems interesting and then I see something interesting but I’m running out of time/mental energy so I find some way of keeping it for later and… whichever way I’ve tried, I find that I hardly ever get round to reading them. If I leave a post open in a browser tab, it stands a better chance because I’m actually seeing some kind of heading which reminds me of it – it’s not quite staring me in the face but at least I notice it now and again waving at me.
I’ve found a similar principle with my emails – I have subscribed by email to a whole load of blogs, and at some point I decided to create folders for them, so for example I’ve got a folder for WordPress blogs, and I’ve been putting the updates in there, but that means these emails are filed away and it’s a lot easier to ignore them. Yes, I see the name of the folder in bold and the number of unread items, but, a bit like dust, once it gets past a certain level you stop noticing it. (I recently had a long period of hardly finding time to read blogs because of being busy with proofreading, so a lot of stuff has accumulated.)
So, no, I don’t really have an answer to this, all I know is what I’ve found not to work for me…
And one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that there are never going to be enough hours in the day for reading everything I’d like to read. I just wish I could feel I’m making wiser decisions about what to read when – I feel that a lot of the time I’m just going with the flow, but there is so much stuff that I don’t even know how to decide, so letting the flow decide for me is the easy route…

Yom Kippur memories

This evening is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and I find myself thinking back.

One memory is from my childhood – my sister walking into the kitchen and asking our mother to show her some chocolates. Not the most obvious way of coping with a total fast, but hey…
Another memory is from later – my very early 20s – a rebellious meirav going to the beach and having a picnic, wanting to make my rebellion totally public. Just as I had a habit for a while of going to a non-kosher burger place in Tel Aviv during Passover and ordering a cheeseburger so that I could break three rules in one go: eating non-kosher meat, eating meat and cheese together (combining meat and dairy products is not allowed), and eating bread during Passover, when we’re supposed to eat only unleavened bread.
Why such rebellious acts? who was I rebelling against? not against God – I didn’t even know he existed. against my parents? not against my dad – he was a devout atheist and would have probably been proud of me. and I don’t think my mum would have been all that bothered, she has kept these customs mainly because that’s the tradition, not out of a serious belief that it’s important. so who was I rebelling against?
When you grow up as a Jew in Israel, you grow up with the tension between the religious minority and the secular majority, and if you are – as I was – part of the secular majority, then there’s a sense of injustice at how the religious minority force their customs onto you. This is down to our voting system – proportional representation is a great idea in theory, but in practice what it means is that no party has a large enough majority to form a stable government, so they’re at the mercy of the smaller parties; so after the elections we have a period of unpleasant horse trading, in which the religious parties, representing a small minority of the population, are able to dictate terms to the larger parties. So in the interests of forming a government, they agree to pass laws which the majority of the population do not want and did not vote for.
And so this afternoon a whole load of secular Israelis will have been rushing to get their shopping done before the shops close, and the shops are obliged to close whether the people working there observe the Yom Kippur fast or not. The same goes for every weekend – Friday afternoon the shops close early, and stay closed for the duration of Saturday. Public transport stops, so if you don’t have a car you can’t take the family on a fun day trip to enjoy the sea or the beauty of nature, so families stay cooped up at home getting bored. (Am wondering if now that there’s cable and satellite maybe at least there’s the option of watching TV – in my days we had only Israeli TV and that stopped for the Sabbath.) Lots of restaurants and cafés are forced to close for the Sabbath not because of a legal requirement but because the rabbis threaten to revoke their kosher certificate if they don’t comply, which would mean losing the custom of anyone who won’t eat in a place that doesn’t have a kosher certificate. And there’s a whole load of complex issues as a result of marriage regulations – if you’re Jewish then you’re under the rabbis’ jurisdiction for anything to do with marriage, and there are all sorts of reasons why they won’t allow some people to marry, so some couples end up going off to neighbouring Cyprus to get married there.
Looking at all this from where I stand now, it saddens me because of how this stuff gets in the way of people getting to know God and finding out how wonderful he is – because forcing stuff onto people is a sure way of getting them to rebel, to turn away, to want nothing to do with any of it.
My prayer for my people on Yom Kippur is that some will, despite all the obstacles, come to know God for real.

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement

Start: Oct 7, ’11 6:30p
End: Oct 8, ’11 6:30p

I plan to be offline for the duration.

“in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work… for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” Leviticus 16:29-30

Thank you Jesus, Yeshua, my Saviour, for coming to earth and dying as atonement for my sins, once and for all – for me and for all mankind. No more need for animals to be sacrificed year after year – one perfect sacrifice, once and for all. And I, even I who have done so much wrong, can be clean from all my sins before the LORD. Thank you, Yeshua!