Online persona and navel gazing

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/06/12 02:51 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/06/11/626293.aspx


Years ago, I had a friend who later admitted they first 'met' me in the virtual world (at that point it was CompuServe forums), and their initial interest was to meet the person behind the online persona I had -- to see if I was actually that person. She and I actually ended up dating for a while after we met in real life, so I guess it was mostly me. :-)

I often describe my online personality or persona as being "exactly like me, only more so".

By and large I think that has been pretty consistently true, though blog posts have added a new wrinkle to the question, since in individual posts I am showing different facets of me. I look at some of the posts I have written and realize in retrospect that I have actually been experimenting with different personas in some of them. This can actually work against me since it does lack a bit of the consistency that many readers would probably prefer.

And I know that certain kinds of posts get more comments than others, and certain kinds get more page hits based on either links from others or some type of (for lack of a better word) 'searchability'. But I have been resistant to trying to change what I post based on those types of metrics -- I'd rather have 10 readers who were going to enjoy the whole blog than a fragmented list of subscribers who ignore most of it. I have never gotten anything but grief from having higher visibility.... :-)

I am actually reminded of a shtick from Bob 'Bobcat' Goldthwait from seeing him live (I think it also showed up on his album, too):

Guy who walked up to Bobcat: Bobcat! Hey, I used to like you! You used to be funny!
Bobcat: Yeah, well, I just met you, and you suck.

It is something I have actually experienced a few times over the last 18 months, though I have not had the nerve to pick up his line. Maybe I should; I mean, you may have really not liked as particular post, but I can say the same. And (out of the 1128 posts I've done to date including this one) I can only think of two that I can sincerely say I wish I had not posted, and both of those were due to the fact that they have been so badly misunderstood (with negative consequences for me).

The other problem I have had is people commenting (or even mildly complaining!) about the fact that they like certain kinds of posts that are in a minority here (like stuff about music I have been listening to or seeing live, or more personal stuff). Now the balance (or lack thereof) for these issues mirrors my actual life to some extent, which means that I am (unfortunately) not nearly as interesting as some of my experiences would indicate -- the ratio of backstage conversations with the likes of Kathleen Edwards to geeky code inspirations/internationalization issues that I find interesting is not nearly impressive enough to make me seem cool....

I am embarrassed to admit that I have ducking John Stewart (not the Daily Show guy, the Infinitely Blue guy!) since he is wondering in email if he will be seeing me on Aimee Mann's latest tour and I am sad to say that none of the dates really seem to line up this time. Though the San Fransisco gig next weekend is close enough to be tempting, and I do have the frequent flyer miles to make that show the cost of a BART ticket (at gimp rates, no less!)....

(By the way, I just noticed that Aimee's new site no longer seems to directly link to her old site that linked to me, and I really embarrassed to admit how disappointed I was about that, even though I originally was embarrassed that the link was there at all, when it was her main site!)

I've had two cats pass away since I started the blog, and one was very public here while the other I told no one about, and I can't honestly say that either of the two approaches made the experience any easier than the other.

Unfortunately for some people, posts like this one will still likely be very rare. Even though they probably generate more email than any other kind, they are much harder to write and it is hard (for me) to be hosted on MSDN Blogs and have too many of these wandering navel gazer posts showing up...


# bg on 12 Jun 2006 3:27 PM:

I think the content you produce, technical or not, is just about right.

If someone doesn't appreciate that you are a human being who occasionally (rarely) feels the need to write something other than technical content. Then they should f**k off. After all there's always the unsubscribe button - no one is forcing them to read.


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2006/07/24 Blogging is stupid, sometimes

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