In which I ask an actually serious question in a straightforward way

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Who’s read Saga, either in whole or in part? What do you think of it and is it worthy material for a pop culture blogger who needs to buy one set of texts and get a lot of mileage out of them?

saga Cover

The reason I ask is that I need a large, rich text to fuel the next phase of my blogging. Puppies and personal problems are going to get old quickly, and the stand-alone photography has pretty much played out until spring.

I need books or comics to write about, and I have Amazon money to spend.

What I need is a relevant, significant, contemporary, ongoing thing that I can approach from different angles and write about for several blogs.

Saga seems to be the best bet, and my closest friends are telling me to pull the trigger on this one.

What do you think? Worthwhile, or should I order something like Civil War and go hard at Marvel?

I am at a crossroads here. Big decision, because it’s going to determine the content for most of my blogging through the end of March.

Advice, plz!

In which I pose a serious question in a roundabout way

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My family has two puppies under our care. One, we adopted because we have a seven-year-old boy living in the house and he’s been begging for a dog since he was three. The other adopted us because we fed him at a time when he was down on his luck and we obviously know how to take care of puppies.

Their names are Diesel and Ren, but I call them “Lil’ pup” and “Big pup.”

Big pup. He likes to guard smaller creatures. He doesn't guard food and seems to not understand toys at all. He's quiet unless he has something important to say. And he doesn't jump up on people even when they're waving meat at him.

Big pup. He likes to guard smaller creatures. He doesn’t guard food and seems to not understand toys at all. He’s quiet unless he has something important to say. And he doesn’t jump up on people even when they’re waving meat at him. Has the makings of a super-sweet working dog.

They get along well. Ren is six or seven months old, based on his size and dental development. Either a German Shepherd, or a GSD mixed with one other related breed, we’re pretty sure. And we’ve done our best to make sure no one’s looking for him. It seems that no one is.

Lil' Pup. She's a monster, and a connoisseur of fine paper. That's Mr. Chicken she's gnawing on there. She loves Mr. Chicken, but they are not friends.

Lil’ Pup. She’s a monster, and a connoisseur of fine paper. That’s Mr. Chicken she’s gnawing on there. She loves Mr. Chicken, but they are not friends. Diesel is a bit of a terror.

If I ever figure out a way to migrate my consciousness to some surrealistic fantasy world and become a not-so-evil overlord, I’m bringing these two with me. They will be my gargoyles. If you happen to wander into my fantasy domain unbidden, Big Pup will pose you a riddle. If you are unable to come up with a satisfactory answer in a reasonable amount of time, Lil’ Pup will eat you alive, starting with your face.

So, on to the serious question. These doggies love, love, love some paper. It makes interesting sounds and tastes enough like food to satisfy. And it is so. Very. Shreddable. Cardboard, wrapping paper, tissues, toilet paper. Just doesn’t matter. Ren mostly sniffs around and forages for little bits of paper, but Diesel seems to be on a holy quest to sample every type of paper that ever existed. We have to watch her around the books. This is totally normal behavior for a three-month-old puppy and we correct it often enough that it’s not a long-term concern.

I have a computer desk with a floor-level shelf, and until we got puppies, I was accustomed to storing documents on that shelf. It’s very convenient. They are out of sight and I know where they are if I need to refer to them. One of the documents stored on that shelf is my Master’s Thesis, shrink-wrapped and nestled snugly in a Kinko’s box.

Those of you who are familiar with the academic meat grinder will get this. A master’s thesis is a thing you sweat over, and if you’re a flighty person, maybe you go to therapy to get it done. Then once it’s done, unless you’re a genius or were at least smart enough to use the master’s training to do exploratory work that you can build on, what you really want to do is disavow it and pretend someone else wrote it.

So, anyway. Lil’ pup has worried and worried at the Kinko’s box for weeks now. The entire lid is gone. She really truly wants to get into that box and rip the plastic and sample some 25-lb linen paper seasoned with 9-year-old ink.

Given that I’ve never taken that document out of its box even once since I published it, it’s probably the least favorite piece of writing I’ve ever finished, and it’s archived in an academic library for posterity in any case . . .

. . . Should I go ahead and let her have her way with it?

They like to help the boy study his spelling words. That is great fun for EVERYONE.

They like to help the boy study his spelling words. That is great fun for EVERYONE.

Weekend Coffee Share: On Metaphors and Liminal Spaces

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m glad to be chatting with you again. I don’t know what all I’ve missed and I don’t have a lot to say about how things are going in my life because I said it all earlier this week. So I’ll just get weird today.

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Diana and I have used a lot of metaphors for social media interaction over the last couple of years. I framed my kickoff posts as a startup announcement and played it for laughs. I often think of Sourcerer as a ship — that’s why all the pirate humor. When we talk about building a social network while we figure out how to get big web traffic and make things go viral, it’s a plan for world domination.

These metaphors are important, because they allow us to communicate serious ideas in non-serious ways. They turn what could just seem like a big bunch of work into a sort of game that anyone can join in. They help us stay (somewhat) organized without an actual organization.worlddomination

Since I’ve got a background in political science and I’m also a fantasy geek, I tend to think of social media networks most often as territorial units. In one sense, a social media account is just a communication tool. But they often feel like places. Here’s how I conceptualize my three favorite social media networks.

Facebook is a huge dystopian metropolis ruled from above by a remote, arbitrary government. Personal timelines are domiciles — glass-fronted tenements that lots of people can see into but few people actually look. Because when everyone’s living under glass, the transparency becomes part of the background. Groups, depending on how they are constructed, are like neighborhoods, clubs, or in some cases, venues for public events.

Standing on a streetcorner and yelling at everyone doesn’t get you much on Facebook, because every streetcorner has dozens of people standing on it and screaming. The communication on Facebook that matters happens in out-of-the-way places. Foggy alleys, dark corners, closed rooms.

Twitter is almost entirely exterior. It’s like a massive arena or a noisy commons. It’s also governed from above, but the powers-that-be on Twitter either rule with a lighter touch, or are a lot better at hiding their manipulation. A Twitter account is more a persona to be worn than a space to be inhabited.

Image via Suzie81's Blog, 2014.

Image via Suzie81’s Blog, 2014.

There are no streetcorners on Twitter, and being noisy there will get you a lot more if you do it right. But there’s a catch. Because of the character limit and the way tagging works on Twitter, the more people you try to communicate with in a single tweet, the less you can say. This is one of the things I like most about Twitter.

Blogs are all sorts of spaces. The potential for diversity in the construction of blog space is limited only by the imaginations of the people building them. A blog can be a kingdom, a city, a commune, a salon, a meeting hall . . .  The possibilities are endless.

And blogs have borders, oh yes they do. Part Time Monster, Sourcerer, and this blog are contiguous territories. Well, this one is probably an island in some small body of water bounded on all sides by the other two. There are shared borders with Comparative Geeks, Infinite Free Time, Things Matter, and several other blogs there somewhere. And all those other blogs have other neighbors. Given enough time, I could put several dozen blogs on a fantasy map, and it might be pretty cool to look at.

Getty stock image.

Getty stock image.

During our first year of blogging, I thought of Part Time Monster as the crown territory of a larger unit. Not an empire — a confederation, perhaps. Sourcerer was the one and only duchy. My personal blog has never been anything more than a private estate, and that’s probably all it will ever be. Sourcerer has since emerged as an independent state, but what sort of unit it is, I can’t say. It doesn’t feel like a kingdom, but it’s more than an estate.

And every blog can be conceputalized this way — in terms of neighbors, friends, allies, visitors, antagonists. It’s an interesting metaphor, and it only gets more interesting as you push it logically toward absurdity. What this has to do with anything, I don’t know. I just felt like sharing a little geekery with you today, and I am interested to see what, if anything, you think about my metaphors.

It’s good to be back to the coffee share. Don’t forget to add your coffee post to the linkup at Part Time Monster and share it with #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter. And if you’ve not noticed yet, the Monster has a new look. Do take a minute to poke around and let Diana know what you think of the redesign and the new logo.

Have a great weekend!