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The Brave New World of Blogging

Act Like a Professional

My father bought a home computer, the Texas Instruments 99/4A, when I was 6.

Dad taught me LOGO programming to command virtual turtles to move around a screen; and he showed me the fundamentals of connecting our dummy computer with an acoustic coupled modem &mdash like in the movie “WarGames” &mdash to remote bulletin board systems on Prodigy and CompuServe networks for the purpose of transferring files and interacting in online forums.

An attorney with an exceptional mind for innovation, he networked his law office with computers, printers, and modems in the mid-1980s &mdash an unprecedented move among suburban law firms, mainly because his peers didn’t understand the technology.

He’d be amazed at today’s innovations with technology, the Internet, personal gaming systems, and more.

I remember sitting with Dad in the fall of 1994 in the refurbished basement of the Clark University library as I showed him what I could do with the in-house VAX computer system. His mind boggled watching me type in an IRC chat room to Dara, a pre-med Purdue student in Indiana.

The inclusive society of the Prodigy and Lexis-Nexis networks that he knew were getting larger as notions of the soon-to-be blossoming Internet were getting bigger. Like the physical world, the online world was no longer flat.

Dad died on May 14, 1995 and so it was fitting, albeit not intentionally planned, that my first blog entry on ariwriter.com was May 14, 2007.

This is the 335th post.

I started blogging in 2004 on LiveJournal.

Thanks to Gilly, Mare, Spence and Rob, among other actors of Theatre@First, I was persuaded to join their online community.

I liked the social networking but I wanted to write and share my views with more people beyond the LJ world, so I carelessly deleted my 200+ entries and moved here.

I never cease to be amazed when I meet people who don’t know what blogging is all about.

At a potluck dinner last week, I was surrounded by numerous local writers, editors, and media professionals including historical novelist Anne Easter Smith, fiction novelist Aine Greaney, book publicist Skye Wentworth, and children’s book authors Jennifer Karin and Donna Seim.

Gillian Swart, a fellow blogger here in Newburyport, had invited me.

As different people spoke about their craft, I mentioned my writing background and this blog.

I soon found myself engaged in an intellectual conversation about blogging and generational differences, how older Americans on average are out of touch with new technology and prefer working in the ‘good old days’ when life was simpler.

Former PMK/HBH managing director Lois Smith didn’t understand the Internet. She emailed and apparently went online to this website or that, but wasn’t attuned to the idea of blogging. She knows writing. She knows acting. She knows what she knows best.

And she’s not alone.

It’s not a necessary age gap either, evident by peers my age who don’t have cellphones. If people in the 30-40 age range do not have cellphones, it’s no wonder they don’t know, or care, what blogging is all about.

Bloggers are not a typical group either.

San Antonio pastor Gordon Atkinson is a regular blogger, as is Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, Variety New York reporter Michael Fleming, Internet marketing consultant Seth Godin, personal finance frugalist Trent Hamm, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center President & CEO Paul Levy, and U.S. News & World Report editor-in-chief Mort Zuckerman.

The line between ‘writer’ and ‘blogger’ is quickly crumbling as traditional print, radio, and TV media are converging with the Internet.

It is no surprise that the New York Times employs a staff of about 12 people whose job is to screen incoming comments for web stories to ensure the sometimes anonymous comments don’t contain cuss words or libelous remarks.

Like the online forums of the early 1980s, there is a community behind every blog today.

Blogs are no longer flat online journals for reclusive kids to put their personal journals on the Net, but comprehensive affairs written by experts and junkies that include comments, backlinks, syndicated subscriptions, and reviews.

If I struck a chord with you, post a comment below or seek me out via the social media sites I linked off to the right.

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