For you, the dress code is casual.

Monday, April 28, 2008

About a Browser, Writers' Mojo, and Archiving

I should be racing off to work but this coffee is too good, and I'm in a mode, so instead I'll pop in and write.

I need to report on my new browser: I downloaded Flock Saturday night as something to distract me after the funeral and all. Boy, did that work!

It's based on the Mozilla platform, and it's so fucking useful for someone like me who's using the net for research and media. It's called the "social" and the "media" browser because of its built-in tie-ins to Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and more. But it's got phenomenal plug-ins, too, some that just blew me away.

Later this week, I'll have to start using Zotero, its most mindboggling resource. It's an organizing program for web-based information. Like me, I'll be needing to do more and more research as I get more into political sex blogging again -- you know, about things like STD transmissions, the sex trade, the AIDS plight, violence in relationships, things like that-- things I have very, very strong feelings about and a desire to be a part of the solution for.

I need facts, research, and I need things annotated. I do not blow smoke out of my ass when I write about such tragic things as AIDS. One of my great strengths is my ability to put a human spin on stats. I don't want to have to do the same research over and over again, but bookmarking pages is useless since the web constantly changes and always becomes obsolete in short order, but statistics and research are interesting in historical context, too; as new research becomes available and older stuff fades away, having a comparison can make for really great fodder.

Zotero offers a library sort of facility. You can click on the link in the address bar, save it to Zotero inside a filing system you create with folders you designate. You can click and get a screen shot that will save attached to that link. You can write notes and comments, which will also attach to the document. You can create tags and "related to" fields that allow for smart-system scans. It's fucking brilliant. It's the kind of organization I need that I would have had to use at least 3 programs to make happen before now. It's magnificent. The system viewing process is easy, too, so you can see the rooted linkages between topics and tags.

In the short term, there's Flock's built-in web clipboard. I can highlight a passage and drag it to the clipboard, and it'll remember the link. I then can click on any of these tabs: view, email, blog, or delete, and it'll instantly make that happen, since it has a built-in blog publishing platform so you never have to go to your blog's edit page, if you like that kind of thing.

Smart software for smart people. I like it!

Zotero will make me a better writer and a better blogger, and I'm excited to see what comes of it. I especially love the way I can use Flock's web clipboard for quick-n-dirty archiving for immediate use, or for what I'm trying to do, build an archive of my better written sentences/lines/passages to use for marketing means.

I remember a writer co-worker of mine who sputtered rather passionately "You can't quote yourself!" in commentary regarding someone else, and I kept my mouth shut, thinking, "Why can't I quote myself?"

Bullshit, says I. Who else knows your work as well as you do? Who else really knows the great lines you've nailed over the years?

Writing's not like everything else. If you're a painter and you have a great stroke, one can easily focus into that, or you're a photographer and you print your best work, well, people will notice it then. If you're a writer, you can have a millisecond of brilliance, create one perfect sentence, and the rest of what you've written for weeks could be shit. Should that one sentence die a death because you had the lack of wherewithal to hang onto it for a better day, a better piece?

I say no! I have a plan to use some of my best lines as graphic art to make my blog look cooler, hipper. It's all about appearance, and, frankly, some of my lines have the edge and humour I'm trying to market myself as having.

I want someone new to be able to log on, skim down my sidebar, see a couple of my quotes, and know right away that they've entered an intelligent, argumentative realm of free speech and sexuality.

I want people to know, right off, that I'm very, very political. I want people to know I'm not going to say what they want to hear, that the opposite is probably far more true. I'm tired of being delicate and toeing the line.

In fact, when my blog was at its most popular was when I was most angry at politics, most belligerent towards the right wing, and most intolerant of intolerance. Why, then, have I been being careful?

Ha. There's a fucking realization it's worth working till a later hour to have had. "Stop worrying, just shoot your mouth off, and the public will follow!"

I'm not courageous enough right now to be THAT Steff all the time. Not sure I can go there just yet-- mounting what's tantamount to ideological throw-downs. I need to be in a pretty confident space to be that rant gal there. I need to feel that my angst is justified. I think my angst just got too heavy to carry for a while, but now I feel it bubbling and wanting to come to the surface.

A piece I wrote about Lenny Bruce
way back when on the other blog is what's had me thinking of that time. I just read it a few minutes ago and its eloquence startled me. Very well written, I thought, a great homage to an underrated man and his landmark battles against obscenity. That piece was in the same month I wrote a manifesto telling the religious right that my sexual preferences are NOT who I am. That month, those postings changed my standing on the web.

I guess the thing is that I know what I'd written that got me noticed. I know the headspace I need. I'm getting there. What I wrote last night is probably my best on-theme writing for Smut & Steff I've done in a while, so it makes me feel like I'm headed back to my earlier success.

Mostly, though, it makes me feel like I'm getting back on the right path, and it's all about the path, man.