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I’ve been slowly sinking further into the Twitter lark over the past few months. Baby steps, you know? But I’m really quite immersed now. Which is another way of saying: if you’re actually curious about what I’m doing, seeing, thinking etc., you should probably follow me on Twitter these days. I show up over there a whole lot more than here nowadays.

As a sampler, just three things I’ve talked about, or tweeted about, or retweeted over there of late:

An Inventory of crap on the ocean floor.

A vaguely surreal, cumulatively creepy drive through the streets of the world capital of mad and sad: Pyongyang, North Korea. The longer I watched it, the more I found myself thinking ‘this is just … weird.’ So clean, so empty, so lifeless. So few people.

See what fun I’m having over there? Honestly, this is what fun looks like. Really. Anyway, feel free to follow my fun.

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It occurred to me there might one or two new visitors digging around here today and in the near future. So now’s probably a sensible moment to point out that as well as this here blog (to which you should 100% definitely subscribe if you use RSS), I can be found on Twitter, and there’s a page for my books on Facebook, where I not only hang out now and again but run occasional giveaways for signed books and such like.

On this particular site, you can find stuff about me, stuff about my books (including a load of bonus material relating to my Godless World trilogy), and the obligatory page of links to stuff around the web I enjoy. Although that last one’s a bit out of date, now that I look at it; should really give it a bit of a freshen up one day soon …

Well, what I’ve not been doing is kind of self-evident really. I’ve not been posting here. I’ve also not been twittering, or showing my face on the Godless World Facebook page, or really doing much of anything on t’internet. This, by all commonly accepted rules, makes me a bad blogger, a bad writer, probably a bad person for all I know. I’ve allowed my internet profile to slump into near invisibility. Shocking. Will my career – nay, my very life – survive? Who knows.

But boy, was it nice. It felt quiet. Restful. I didn’t actually mean to take such a sabbatical – initially, I just had rather a lot of stuff going on that needed my attention (we’ll get to some of that stuff, the stuff I have been doing the last few weeks, in future posts perhaps) – but the longer it went on, the more staying off the internet became an objective in itself. It became a pleasant habit, which I was disinclined to break.

As best as I can tell, the pleasure came from being reminded that I don’t actually have to do this stuff. It’s not that I dislike paddling around on the web, occupying bandwidth with my witterings. I’d hardly be back here posting if I really didn’t like it. It’s just nice to have a break, and to rid your mind for a little while of those nagging and ultimately pointless questions: ‘What should I blog about? Surely there’s something Twitter really needs to know knocking around in my head, isn’t there?’ Life, after all, does not in fact reside online. It pretty much all happens, all of it that matters anyway, offline.

Anyway, the sabbatical’s over for now. I will be paying attention once more to the world of Twitter. There will be more posts showing up here. The first of which will, I expect, be my reaction to Man of Steel, since I’m going to see that this weekend. So that’s something for you to look forward to, in the first half of next week. Bet you can hardly wait.

Quick note, for those as yet uninvolved with my other internet presences.  (You may wish to remain uninvolved, of course, which is fine!)

I’m gradually getting in to the swing of the Twitter thing, so if you’re so inclined please do stop by @Brian_Ruckley and hit the Follow button.

I have not entirely switched my virtual allegiance, so the Winterbirth page on Facebook is still ticking over very nicely.  I have a half-formed idea to do a little signed book giveaway over there if and when the number of folks attached to it hits a certain arbitrary (and top secret!) number, so feel free to go add your Like to the number if you wish.  You never know, you might push the total over the edge …

Coming soon here – i.e. in the next day or two – a post with the working title ‘Everything I’ve Ever Written is a Failure’.  Sounds cheery, no?

I’m a slow – or at least highly selective – adopter at the best of times. No cable or satellite TV, no Blu-Ray, no smart phone. It’s taken me a looong time to come round to the idea of Twitterising myself, but I’ve done it now. What made me take the plunge?

Facebook changed, that’s what. The Winterbirth page on Facebook has proved a really quite effective, efficient and enjoyable way of staying in touch with those who had opted in by proactively clicking the ‘Like’ button. The content of this blog shows up there; I run an occasional signed book giveaway; leak early items of news etc. etc.

Right around the start of October, the proportion of those signed up to the Winterbirth page who were actually seeing each individual post that showed up there fell off a cliff. As in, it went from something like 25-40% to currently less than 10%. Hmmm. A blip? A random variation? Apparently not. Changes are afoot inside the black box that is Facebook, and although it’s difficult to tell quite what’s going on (rumour and allegation and denials abound, largely centred on the whole issue of ‘Promoted Posts’ and Facebook’s increasingly desperate search for profits appropriate to a company of its size), I frankly don’t much care; all that matters to me is the effect. A handy communications channel between me and those who have self-identified as being interested in my books or (much less likely) me has become rather less handy.

So, given that one communications channel has been rather suddenly narrowed, choking off the flow of my boundless wit and wisdom on its journey out into an appreciative world, I unsurprisingly starting thinking about opening up a new one. Hence me on Twitter.

I’ll continue to use Facebook as I’ve always done (so it’s still worth you joining the Winterbirth crowd over there if that’s your main window on the social media world). I’ll still blog here. I’ll just tweet too. Some stuff will show up in all those media; some stuff will only show up in one or two of them. You can pick and choose what you get and in what form. Maybe I’ll do a post here sometime soon about what my attitude to Twitter is, and what can and can’t be expected of me in that arena (clue: as mentioned, I don’t have a smart phone, so there’ll be no ‘I’m getting into the dentist’s chair, and she’s looking mean’ tweets).

This whole thing did put me in my mind of something I try to keep in mind, but don’t always give the attention it deserves a as concept: Corporations Are Not My Friends.

I don’t particularly mind Facebook doing whatever it is they’ve done. It’s their technology, their system; they need to make money. They make their choices, I make mine.

But corporations exist to serve their interests and objectives, not mine. Those two sets of interests may well coincide much of the time – indeed that’s what the corporations fervently desire, and always try to give the impression is happening. They bend over backwards to present everything they do as being in the interests of the customer, the user. They wear the fixed smile of a friend, a companion, a benign presence in your life striving at all times to make that life better. Easier.

Cobblers. In their interactions with you, a friend has the objective of making your life better or easier or more fun. Because they’re your friend. In their interactions with you, a corporation has the objective of making – or appearing to make – your life better or easier or more fun. Because they want your money. The two interactions may, at times, appear similar; but they’re absolutely 100% not, because the underlying motivation is profoundly, pervasively different.

When a corporation gives you something – a great mechanism for staying in touch with your ‘fans’, immensely competitive book prices, attractive discounts to reward you for joining a loyalty scheme, whatever – it sometimes looks like, or is presented as, an event that’s happening in the context of a warm, mutual relationship. It’s not. It’s an event that’s happening in the context of an extractive relationship. Extractive of your, or somebody else’s, money sooner or later, somewhere, somehow.

I know it’s an obvious point, but I think now and again some folk (including me) lose sight of it.

Much of the interaction that goes on between corporations and individuals is indeed bengin, sometimes actively beneficial. I like discounts, bargains, opportunities, stuff as much as the next person. I don’t want the system to collapse. I just want to remain mindful of the fact that corporations are not – and should not be – my friends and cannot be expected to actually have my interests at heart. The apparently benign stuff they offer to me is nice but it can, on occasion, have not-so-benign consequences, intentional or otherwise. Rules and systems can change without consultation, devaluing my past investment of time or mental effort. Systemically discounted prices can ultimately endanger or transform industries in unforeseen (and, for me, undesirable) ways through the creation of quasi-monopolies. I can be suckered into buying stuff I neither need nor really want.

These are not things real friends would intentionally do to you. They are things corporations intentionally do to you all the time. Because they’re not your friends; they just want your money. It’s not their fault. It’s what they’re for.

Coming Sometime (whenever I get around to writing it): Why Authors Aren’t Your Friends Either. Or Are They?

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Drive-Thru Post Re: Twitter

I have a Twitter identity, thereby becoming at least in part a Real Person.

It’s here.  In Twitworld, I shall henceforth be known as @Brian_Ruckley.

That’s all I’ve got time to say just now, but I shall return in due course with more info, predictions for my likely Twitter-related behaviour, and dire warnings not to expect too much activity in the first week or three.  But do please go follow, if that’s your thing, since once everything gets into gear I’m sure it’s going to be a lovely Twitter experience for all involved.