by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Internet”

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

Posted 31 March 2009 in by Catriona

I know. I know. And I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.

Well, myself and a combination of the following:

  • my parents visiting this week, which necessitates scrubbing out the spare room: it hasn’t been slept in since they visited last December for my graduation, and the dust levels were fairly bad—as you’d expect from a largely unoccupied room containing some thousand-odd books. It also contained the entire contents of the office that I had to give up last semester, so cleaning it wasn’t just cleaning it, but also involved finding space for eight years’ worth of office clutter. But I succeeded! Mostly. I still need to dust and vacuum.
  • a hideous cold, which I suspect I caught from either the wizard or the other ranger at last weekend’s Dungeons and Dragons session—I don’t know which, so shall mutter mild imprecations directed at both of them until I feel better. [Slight update: the wizard blames the halfling, but I have my suspicions about the veracity of that.] In the between-mutter spaces, I shall panic about how I’m going to lecture tomorrow, and what the chances of infecting my students are.
  • technically, the weekend’s Dungeons and Dragons session was another interruption to ordinary blogging activity, but it was such excellent fun that it doesn’t count.
  • interrupted sleep patterns. I think I know, largely, what’s causing them, but last night’s bad night (I didn’t get to sleep until well after three a.m.) was down to this hideous cold’s first symptom, a sore throat beyond any that I have previously experienced. After spending hours trying to beat it into submission with hot tea and my other favourite sore throat remedy (hot water and honey with a tablespoon or two of vinegar), I eventually had to take Panadol—Panadol! for a sore throat!—so I could snatch some sleep.

So now I’m snuffling, feeling sorry for myself, and drinking enormous quantities of tea, but the tidying of the spare room has at least turned up some odd stuff on the shelves.

I see a real post in the future . . .

My Day On Twitter; Or, How I Blatantly Recycle My Own Material

Posted 26 March 2009 in by Catriona

I’m very new to Twitter: I’ve not been using it for much more than a week. And, like many people, I was driven to it by Facebook.

Not by the new Twitterised Facebook design that so many Facebook users are denigrating, but by the fact that I really enjoy writing my Facebook status update. I started worrying that I was changing my status too often, and that this wasn’t giving people a chance to comment—and the ability to comment on status updates is one of the better changes Facebook has made in the time I’ve been using it.

Twitter seemed like a useful alternative: I could minimise my rewriting of my status update and yet still indulge my desire to frequently describe what I was doing in 140 characters or fewer.

That’s what delights me about both Facebook status updates and Twitter: that severe restriction of the word limit. I’ve worked with restricted word limits before—almost everything I write has some kind of word limit. But never, ever as restricted as this.

And I love the challenge. I love the way it forces me to sharpen my syntax, to think of synonyms that are equally effective but shorter, to make my point clear while removing all the pronouns from a sentence.

Oh, I’ve seen the arguments against Twitter, but that challenge is why I’m enjoying it—like my live-blogging over the last year, it’s a form of writing like no other I’ve ever done. With live-blogging, I have to be able to write quickly but succinctly, to be accurate and descriptive but also to provide commentary, to be able to keep the shape of the plot in place, to decide immediately what can be omitted without losing the reader. With Twitter, I’m forced to think constantly about the shape of what I’m writing, to compress it to a smaller, neater form.

But what’s an argument without examples? Since I’ve been writing on Twitter more often today than usual, here are today’s tweets in chronological order, earliest first:

Wondering what the “remember me” button on Twitter log-in page does? (Except for reminding me of Futurama episode.) It’s not remembering me.

Forced by presence of giant moth in garage to climb into car through passenger side. Hand brake really inconveniently placed, in my opinion.

Then nearly hit garage door on way out, because was for some reason obsessively checking whether moth moved, even though was secure in car.

Couldn’t get parked at uni, and had to drive home frantically and try to catch a bus that would get me in for my AFS hours. Success!

But had to leave car in driveway because of running late. If anyone drives though fence, may implode like Jagoroth ship in “City of Death.”

Then sat on bus behind teenage boy who had exactly the same haircut as I do—only it may have looked better on him. Strange day.

No students have come to see me. Such odd work, this: hours of frantic marking activity followed by stretches of silence and self-doubt.

But at least I’m not pursuing either a real or metaphorical Minotaur through stretches of labyrinthine programming code beyond my ken.

Nearly sideswiped by red Mazda with “That’s so sexual!” decal. Feel presence of such a decal cannot but cheapen my tragic, untimely death.

None of this is great literature, of course. No immortal thoughts. No “Eureka!” moments. Just anecdotes about my day in 140 characters or fewer, each one a tiny, unique writing challenge.

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