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Posts Tagged ‘NBI’

Syp, the fellow who runs Bio Break and who spearheaded this whole Newbie Blogger Initiative, has a great summary post of the proceedings thisaway:

NBI: Month Wrapup

There are a lot of new blogs and plenty of advice floating around thanks to this bit of blogging fertilization.  I’ll probably make a post sometime in the next few weeks about some of my new favorites.  Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and participating.

If I might offer one final bit of pithy advice, it would be this:

Do good.

Not “do well”, since it’s not about your quality of writing.  Do good.

It’s not enough just to follow Wheaton’s Rule and “don’t be a dick“, though that’s a good start.  Make your contribution to the world something that will make it (and you) better.

As a corollary, when the temptation to rant or indulge in flame wars with trolls inevitably rears its head, resist.  That doesn’t mean you let them win.  Your blog is your corner of the internet where you’re a near-sovereign and you can delete comments from people who don’t understand common courtesy.  But even if you run a Wild West saloon of a place, where anything and everything goes, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of fighting.  You can’t cure stupid, you can’t fix jerks, you can’t correct the internet.

Save your righteous crusader energy for something you can actually fix and do good with.  This blogging thing isn’t worth the stress of dealing with idiots.  Spend your most precious time with your family and friends.  (Remembering that you can make friends online, certainly.)

Fair winds, all!

Oh, and some music for the road, courtesy of the Bastion folk.

Set Sail, Come Home

Edited to add:  Bastion is part of the newest Humble Bundlecomplete with soundtrack!  Seriously, that’s a sweet deal, and you get some other good games along with it like LIMBO and Psychonauts.  I cannot recommend Bastion enough, for both the game and the music.

Ooh, a nice live performance of a pair of the songs… very cool.  I’m a fan of acoustic performances.  That’s where you really see how much talent (or not) the artists have.

 

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I’ve played a wide variety of games in my day.  These MMO things tend to want to monopolize your time, but I’m just not wired that way.  Some might consider World of Warcraft’s Azeroth or RIFT’s Telara to be home, then, for the social roots they put down there.  Me, I don’t really have such a “home”, but no MMO feels more comfortable to me than Puzzle Pirates.

I have several characters there, but my “main” character and identity on their forums is Silveransom.  I’ve actually spent almost as much time on the forums and community art and game design projects as I have in the game proper.  To this day, my greatest “achievement” in the game is getting some of my art in as an Easter Egg, this little Croatian-inspired beauty.  It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of Life, but the game and the community have been good to me, and I’ve had fun chipping in.

It’s not a traditional DIKU-flavored MMO, but it’s the first one that really wound up capturing my imagination.  I actually made friends there.  I started playing more than six years ago, and it has consistently been the one game I can go back to and feel comfortable.  To be fair, I did try World of Warcraft thanks to a ten day friend pass shortly after trying Puzzle Pirates, so that wasn’t my only MMO at the time, but even then, the clear dichotomy between the DIKU level-grinding loot-heavy pedigree in WoW and the different design of Puzzle Pirates was very clear, and I had a strong preference for the latter, even though I really liked the sense of world that WoW offered (as I’ve noted a few times, especially here).

Anyway, as is so often the case when I’ve occupied a space for a length of time, whether it be mental space or physical space, I’ve developed habits and traditions in Puzzle Pirates.  The very first sloop I bought was second hand, one a crewmate didn’t need any more.  She left a piece of small driftwood up in the bow of the ship.  It’s technically furniture in Puzzle Pirates, so it was placed there on purpose sometime, but she had just forgotten it.  She let me keep it, though.

Thing is, that piece of driftwood, possibly the cheapest bit of furniture in the game, became a tradition.  That little sloop was my transitional vehicle from a newbie in the game world to a pirate, more or less in control of his own destiny.  That ship was freedom, and that little personality quirk of a piece of wood in the bow was inextricably tied to that phase of my Puzzle Pirates experience.  It was, in its own way, a symbol of my change from a lowly deckhand who might just have washed up on shore, clinging to a piece of driftwood, to a ship’s master, boldly sailing into dangerous waters.  To be sure, there are other, bigger ships (like my favorite ship, the Longship that I painted and renamed the Silver Dragon), and other transitional phases in the game, like when I scored my first Ultimate trophy (in Rumbling, on my alternate Silveransom character on the test ocean), but y’know, those “firsts” stick with you.

As such, I’ve had occasion to give a sloop to other pirates once in a while, and I always leave a bit of driftwood on the ship for them.  Is it silly?  Of course.  Is it fun?  Yes.  Will they remember it?  I hope so.  It’s the little touches like that that remind people of where they have been and why.  That’s important for charting a course to the future.  To be sure, the future will happen whether or not you’re ready, but if you know where you’ve been and why, you can position yourself better for when it does come.

So what does this have to do with blogging?  Well, tradition is a strong tool in maintaining information through generations.  It can also be a strong tool in reserving headspace in readers, carving out your own little niche in the blogging hivemind.  The human mind is geared to find patterns.  Traditions are patterns, ranging from the tenuous to the tedious, perhaps, but the whole point is that they are repeated events.  And people remember them, for better or worse.  If you do something more than once, especially with any sense of regularity, you may well be establishing a tradition.  Memes had a start somewhere, for that matter, but they grow because they are repeated and shared.  The tradition goes viral.

If you are trying to maintain a tone or tradition for your blog, maybe you use a particular “signoff” line like Mark Rosewater’s Magic The Gathering articles.  Maybe you just maintain a role or character for your posts, like Warchief Garrosh.  Maybe you post a random My Little Pony cartoon or a photo.  Whatever the case, you’ve done something patterned, consistent, and readers will remember it.

So go, have fun, and maybe, just maybe, carry over or establish a tradition.  You might have fun with it, and your readers might have fun with it.  That’s one of the best parts of blogging, when you share something fun with those people out there.

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This one’s simple:  Blogging is a social activity.  It’s not “social” like a FaceBook “cow clicker” pseudo-game, or “social” like raiding in an MMO, more like a good dozen-plus-player version of Frozen Synapse, with sparks flying between ideas as people connect thoughts and forge new conceptual links.  It’s asynchronous and persistent, both very useful for fostering communication.

Yes, it usually starts with just getting words in type for one’s own benefit, but blogs are, by nature, getting words in type out where others can see them.  At some level, socialization happens.  Bloggers engage in hobnobbing, rubbing digital shoulders with each other.  Ideas cross-pollinate, links sprout, groupthink evolves, and every once in a while, the pulse of the “blogosphere” actually indicates a strong interest or opinion on a topic that is relevant outside of the blogging circles.  (Case study: Blizzard’s RealID kerfluffle, where the voices in MMO blogging circles tended to be almost uniformly… concerned.  For good reason.  It’s not so much that bloggers drove opinion, more that they were a good cross-section of gamer moods, and near consensus among such a disparate group is usually significant.)

It’s even possible to forge friendships online.  Now, noting that it’s possible you’re befriending a persona instead of a person, it’s still true that social interaction online is still social interaction.  Those are people out there, not Turing-complete bloggerbots.  (Though in twenty years or so that might no longer be true.)  People with interests, feeling, histories, preferences, and sometimes even a sense of humor.  Over the years I’ve met a bunch of pretty cool people, like PsychochildProfessor Beej, Larisa, The Friendly NecromancerGordonCynwise, Ixobelle, Klepsacovic, Gazimoff, YeeboMBP, Dblade, Saylah, Nugget, Dusty, Syl, Thallian and Anton, Tipa, Ferrel, Pete, Victor Stillwater, AnjinModran, ZombiePirate, Void, Rog, Stabs, the guys at KTR and Word of Shadow… others I’m forgetting at the moment, and others that have dropped off the grid, like Wiqd, Mike Darga, Phaelia and Andrew of Systemic Babble.  Anyone I link to over on that Blogroll on the right is someone worth reading.  I might not always agree with any given one of them, but then again, I don’t always agree with my local friends or family.  Even when I don’t agree with them, there’s usually still something interesting there.

Blog writing often follows blog reading, and the two tend to positively reinforce each other.  Commenting on someone else’s blog is a great way to make the two work together even more.  It’s about communication, really, and as some are wont to remind us, humans out here in “monkeyspace” are social animals, for better or worse.  Thing is, with a blog, you can take it at your own pace rather than diving into a real time social gathering with real people around.  The ability to filter and react at leisure isn’t exactly a magic potion to make wallflowers into butterflies, but it does go a long way toward opening conversational channels that might not otherwise exist.  Blogging isn’t a FaceBook or Twitter pith contest, neither is it an Instant Messaging textspeak competition.  It’s not a Ventrilo cacophony or monkeyspace mosh pit.  It’s a more sedate matter, allowing for deeper thought and more civil dialogue.

In theory, anyway.

Practice, as always, varies as widely as fingerprints, but blogs really do offer a communication platform that isn’t quite of the same nature as some of the other big “social” media.  They are valuable as a result, and a crucial ingredient to the social stew that is the modern internet.  I’d even go so far as to call it a leavening ingredient, one that counters the leetspeak ADHD impetus of far too many “social” media outlets.  There’s great value in the long form of written communication.  There’s value in having outlets that aren’t controlled by big media conglomerates or corporations.  It’s important to have places where impassioned writers can make cohesive arguments and keep public records without being shouted down by troll hordes or censored by The Man.

You may not change the world in big ways with your blog, but blogging is changing the world.  If nothing else, it’s a good thing to be aware of and understand the potential of the beast.

…and sometimes, you don’t need to be a big force of change, you just need to be a good part of someone else’s life.  Blogs can help forge links that might not otherwise exist between people, and sometimes, that makes all the difference.

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Traditionally, these blog things start out with some sort of introductory post.  It’s sort of the text equivalent of a “hello, I’m Bob the Fish” that you might offer at a social gathering in real life before going on to the preconversation chatter about the weather or the hostess, then slowly weaving in to any other relevant topics.  Of course, this isn’t always necessary, as I’ve certainly had conversations in stores (hardware stores, usually… it’s a guy thing) where no names were exchanged.  Still, it’s nice to give a sense of who you are to begin with, if only to set a tone for any later writing.  A blog that starts with a “Hello World” post will read differently from a blog starting with a “Did You See What SHE Was Wearing?” post, though either is just fine.

Here’s my initial post, in all its rough glory, for better or worse.

I jumped into the blogging world by commenting on other blogs, like Big Bear Butt‘s place (he’s the one that really prompted me to start blogging, as he appreciated my comments, thereby making me think I might have something to offer… though I should probably post my rather verbose entries on my own pages), Spinksville, Wolfshead, Muckbeast, Stylish CorpseCapn’ John’s and I Has PC.  The administrators of these and other blogs have been gracious, engaging folk, and I think of them as friends that I’ve never met in person.  Their interests are varied, though there’s the common thread of MMOs that wound up leading me to each of them.  They don’t all get along with each other all the time.  They don’t have shared politics, philosophies or schemes for world domination.  (Not sure on that last one, actually.)  And yet, they all have great writing skills, strong personalities and interesting things to say.  And, well… I’m pretty sure I never read any of their introductory posts.  Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to just hit the ground running.  After my quick intro post, I wound up posting this juggernaut of an article: Apple Picking.

That’s fairly indicative of my style.  I’ve done a lot of writing in my day, and I tend to explore implications and dig into game design decisions and theory.  It’s probably a bit dry, a bit verbose, and the language is a bit esoteric and archaic in places.  In sum, though, that’s my “voice”, so that’s how my posts settle out of the mental morass of ideas that I itch to get in type.  Sometimes, it’s as much about getting thoughts down “on paper” as it is about offering some thoughts to the internet.  It’s my experience that the act of formulating thoughts into a cohesive bit of text tends to refine said thoughts and make them more easily remembered and more easily explained.

At the end of the day, writing a blog is something you do because you want to, and what you write should be a reflection of that.  If nothing else, you are your own audience, and if writing is a drudge or a bore, it’s OK to do something else.  If you’re having fun writing and engaging with any commenters who happen to wander by, hey, that’s icing on the cake.

So really, you don’t need to answer the question “who am I?” right away, or even explicitly at all.  Most of us operate under a nom de plume anyway, the digital equivalent of trucker or ham radio “handles”, and that’s how we are known.  That’s part of the beauty of this internet thing; I’m Tesh, the guy who writes this blog.  My real name isn’t important, nor are silly things like skin color, weight, clothing, or any of the other superficial things that people are judged and prejudged by.  My articles can stand on their own merit or lack thereof, my ideas and my writing have a purity of presentation that might not be possible in other venues.  To be sure, there’s a sense of common courtesy and even subtle undercurrents of online politics and agendas that one may run afoul of, but for the most part, this blogging thing is remarkably clear of a lot of cruft that other modes of communication deal with.  There’s just something… pristine about words on a “page” that makes for a nice philosophical playground.

Who am I?  I’m Tesh.  Who are you?  Well, that’s up to you. May as well make the most of it.

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No, this NBI thing is something Syp over at Bio Break pointed out to me.  It’s the New(bie) Blogger Initiative, and there’s even a sweet banner for it, and some forums for reference and rumination:

NBI

…yeah, I’m a sucker for dragons.  Might have to do with being one, according to the Chinese Zodiac (a Fire Dragon, no less).  Incidentally, quite contrary to the purported Fire Dragon personality types and such, I’m not a morning person, I don’t like Spring or Summer, I’d rather live in the cold North than the warm South (though I guess the extreme South is nice and cold), and I’m more like a sleeping dragon than a constantly raging one.  As in, I’m pretty calm and careful the vast majority of the time.  Then again, I’m fiercely independent, so there’s that.  Herds are for eating, not following.

Anywho, Syp emailed me and asked if I might chip in on this NBI thing.  I’m far from a mainstream blogger, and I just kind of do my own thing here, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be the most relevant voice in the auditorium.  Still, sitting apart from the chorus as I do, maybe that’s exactly the voice that someone needs to hear.  If my writing here can be useful and uplifting somewhere, hey, why not take part?

So, I’ll blather a bit about blogging here and there this month, as this is an all-month shindig.  Maybe it’ll flirt with navel-gazing, but I do that once in a while.  Introspection can be a valuable thing.

In the meantime, Zomblobs! is still under construction, albeit a bit slowly of late thanks to real life priorities.  As much as I’d like Zomblobs! to be a money-maker someday, I’m pretty sure it’s not the path to vast dragon hoards of wealth, so I need to work at my real job and spend as much time with my family as possible.  Priorities, y’know.  And then there’s the redacted project that I’ll move to after Zomblobs!… that one will be fun, too.

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