As web publishing possibilities grow, I become more and more overwhelmed. It seems impossible to keep up, and I admit — I sometimes I use that as an excuse not to. The rest of the time, I just muddle through the best I can to keep our web sites up to date, functioning, and performing to their best ability, which is directly limited to my abilities.
Several years ago, I used to obsess over my web sites and blogs, learning and experimenting and playing with what’s out there. That’s how we ended up with our Cafe Press store at www.twolaneshoppin.com, and sites like the one I created after the 2003 flood.
But while I worked as a newspaper reporter, my knowledge of web publishing stagnated while I focused on writing. When we launched Two-Lane Livin’, I realized my web design knowledge (and web design program) were severely out-of-date.
When we became involved with WV Uncovered, I decided to use WordPress as our publishing platform, and began to learn and play with it. That was a year and a half ago, and I just now am feeling somewhat comfortable with it. I don’t try to push my boundaries too much, and I admit — I’ve spent time I used to spend on web work and play now on learning to garden, can, make rugs, relax.
However, our continued involvement with WV Uncovered, and the appearance of a new “web savvy” friend in my life, I realize that I have been neglecting the web sites of our lives. When you have multiple web sites in multiple levels of completion, with multiple purposes, it seems that everyone of them has loose ends. On top of that, I don’t even know off the top of my head how many different domain names we own. I’d have to look them up. Some are parked, some are forwards, some are hosted — I have a hard time keeping track.
The two main domains I work with are twolanelivin.com and wvcottages.com. The first, of course, hosts the magazine online. The second is a domain name I’ve had since 1997, and I just have never let it go. It hosts this blog, even though the blog’s “domain” is twolanebloggin.com. Then, there’s our youtube page (twolanevideo.info), our scribed page, our payloadz page (twolanepubs.com), our etsy page (fralimi.com), and others long forgotten or yet to come.
Our web sites are full of “we could possiblies” and “yet to comes”.
Web design work is a time sponge, much like the internet that hosts it. I start tweaking one of our sites at 4 pm, and with a break for dinner, could still be tweaking at 2 am. That’s what happened the other night, and my sleep schedule is still out of whack.
The main page at wvcottages.com was completely outdated and served no purpose, so I created a new entry for that. I found a new Worpress PlugIn for twolanelivin.com that provided better meta tags and descriptions. This blog’s version of WordPress was outdated, so I thought I’d upgrade that too — and that’s where it all went down hill. The upgrade crashed the site, and at 2 a.m. I sent a frantic e-mail to the server technician. He replied within minutes.
See? Web work seems to draw (or create) night owls.
I think about our hopes to create audio and video features for our web sites, our dreams of having our own internet tv channel, of the interactive possibilities of the future.
And I think, “then I’ll never get any sleep.”
A new study has shown:
*68 percent of employed adults feel more comfortable when they have something on paper than on screen.
* 64 percent of employed adults say reading in print is easier than reading on screen.
Frank and I are entering our second year as participants in WVuncovered, a program of WVU that mixes print media with new media experiences. Most participants in the “business” end of the program are weekly community newspapers from around the state, and us – a free newsprint monthly magazine. We were recruited when I friended Mary Kay, one of the project’s leaders, on twitter.
Each month, Frank and I head to WVU’s Morgantown campus for an intensive day of learning new media. Audio, video, web, slide shows, social media. We’re learning how to implement these options to support and enhance what we offer in print.
Most marketing advice suggests that businesses have a social media strategy. Some kind of plan. When you’re learning as you go though, I don’t see how you can have any semblance of a plan.In fact, Now that we are entering our second year of “new media school,” I thought perhaps I’d better figure out what exactly I have going on in the field – especially social media.
Now, I have had a web site since 1997. I’ve had blogs since before they were really considered marketing. I skipped the myspace phase, but I have become a facebook addict, and have a twitter account – but I really didn’t take too well to twitter. Even so, that account is one of the most active outlets we have. How? Why? Well, I assure you, there was no strategy. It’s just how it all ended up working. But to explain how everything ends up at 2LaneTweet, I first have to tell you about some of our other online outlets.
HERE’s HOW OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS:
Two-Lane Livin’ has two main web sites: twolanelivin.com, and twolanebloggin.com. TwoLaneLivin.com includes features from the print edition, headlines from our columnists’ blogs, and headlines from twolanebloggin.com.Two-Lane Bloggin’ includes posts from behind the scenes, garden updates, news, etc.
Our Page includes delivery notifications so readers know when the print edition is available in their area, and updates from twolanelivin.com, twolanebloggin.com and updates from all of our columnists’ blogs. Anything posted on our Facebook Page is also sent to 2LaneTweet.
Only the posts to my personal Facebook Profile aren’t forwarded to something else. Why? Because for some reason, Facebook won’t allow it.
Now, if you want to call that strategy, fine. If that’s the way it should be done? Even better. I would say that it falls into the “chaotic overkill” category myself. I can’t even really keep track of it all, and I tire of trying to learn how it should be done because the teaching on the subject keeps changing with the trends and technology.
The best option I think, (to make sure you’ve got all of Two-Lane Livin’ outputs covered) is to either like our facebook page, OR follow us on twitter. These two options will lead you to anything else (blogs, online edition, etc.) you might want to check out.
Two-Lane Livin’ and two main social media options to follow. That makes sense to me.
Frank and I eliminated television from our lives in 2001. It wasn’t that difficult really, neither of us had, in our previously single lives, had time or the budget for television, so we weren’t completely accustomed to having it.
Without television, we gain a little more control of the information we take in. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions, sites we regularly visit on the Internet, radio. In other words, we aren’t idly sitting on a couch, taking in the information broad cast to us. Instead, we pick and choose and select what we read, hear and watch.
To be honest, we miss a lot. Hundreds of times we’ve been lost in conversations that discuss a memorable commercial or recent development in a reality tv show. I see headlines naming celebrities I personally have never heard of.
It’s a definite change of lifestyle for a former news hound/reporter. I was obsessed with news — especially local. I was immersed in it, often angry or frustrated by the negative aspects that made mainstream media so popular these days.
I do not mean to imply that I care nothing for the catastrophe in the Gulf. I do not wish to mislead anyone into thinking we’re not keeping up with important developments. We’re just not immersed in the demise of our world and society constantly, again and again and again.
Our lives are definitely improved.
In the 50′s and early 60′s, when television was cheesy and clean — before real images of the Vietnam War presented the first of “Reality TV” people’s lives were simpler. People were happier. People didn’t watch TV in the morning, it was an evening recreational activity. Their minds weren’t cluttered with the problems of the world, and their focus was on solving the problems of their communities. Their attention spans hadn’t yet been trained to the time frame between commercial breaks, and evenings were spent whittling, stitching, quilting, darning…
It’s amazing how much more time you discover in your life when television isn’t a dominant part of it.
Of course, once you learn a life without television, you soon discover you don’t really have time for it.
By the time we finish dinner, and pop in or download a movie, these days, we’re lucky if we can stay awake until the end.
I don’t know what I can do to save the Gulf. But when I pay close attention, the things I can do in my immediate environment become clearer. If rest of the world is – as mainstream media often implies – a victim of our destruction, the best thing I can do is focus on cultivating my world — the land and community right here, where I live.
There could be issues with genetically modified seeds and produce? OK, well, we’ll grow our own. Issues with processed foods? OK, we’ll raise hens and makes things from scratch with quality ingredients. Honey bees are at risk and are necessary for growing our own food successfully? OK, we’ll get a bee hive.
Every day, mainstream media presents you with images of war, extinction, violence, deception, corruption, disaster and death. All I need to do is scan the headlines to see this and get a grasp of society’s condition. But I don’t have to read the article. I don’t have to listen to the broad cast; I don’t have to listen to the video. Instead, I can go weed the garden, harvest herbs, collect eggs and focus on a local future — without the clutter of all the world’s problems in my head.
Can you go a day without television? A week? A month? Like anything else, the point is to be here now, be aware of your actions and intake, and strive for moderation. Break the connection that keeps you focused on whatever is put in front of you. Make choices, selections, about what influences your mind, and you may discover a whole new world — right here at home.