Tuesday, December 02, 2008

About transparency and personal evolution.

About transparency and personal evolution.

Man, it is way to early to be up, but up I am. I just woke up on the couch after falling asleep mid-Daily Show earlier this evening and now I just can't get to sleep. The beagle is bundled in blankets and snoring softly just behind me while the kitten scratches at her new post in the hallway a couple feet away from me. It's too early to really do anything though. Can't go to the gym. Don't wanna eat. Can't even think about heading into the office for another eight hours or so ... so I'm just left here thinking.

The other day GalPal looked at me and asked, "How do you live your life so, what am I trying to say ... publicly?" She's also a writer but has a hard time understanding how I can be so open about so many things online. I realized I didn't have an easy compartmentalized answer for her since I don't really feel like I'm that public in my thoughts. But of course she's right and I am. Part of it is that I'm a writer, and enjoy sharing my thoughts with folks I think will enjoy what I have to say. And I've had an online presence since 1995 -- which is when the early regular Tankboy emails that were the predecessor of this current site started going out -- so I've sort of developed my "brand" over a long period of time in a pretty natural manner. I've maintained a certain transparency over that time so folks tend to trust what I have to say. And that is even with the caveat that I'm not blindly honest. This isn't a journal ... it's a repository of things that interest me and others, and sometimes those things are events in my life and sometimes they're my thoughts on a new record or book, and sometimes it's just a dumb stream of consciousness short story.

What GalPal's question really made me think about is how much I've adapted to different online trends over the years. I'm not a total believer in all Beta or 1st Generation ideas but I am a pretty early adopter of things that seem like good ideas ... and they tend to stick. I'm a Generation X guy who understands the online community pretty well because I've been plugged in for a pretty long time.

(A REVEAL: I used to belong to a Commodore 64 users club in the '80s, and before that would play with pals' TRS-80s and VIC-20s and save stuff on tape and then floppies. I tried my hand at programming when I was in grade school -- BASIC, heh -- but just never had the mind for that discipline ... but I've been fascinated by communication via computer since as long as I can remember.)

While lots of folks are struggling to get their heads around trends or try to suss out just what the hell is going on in our ever evolving communities and interactions it seems pretty natural to me. And the amount about myself that I reveal to other people feels pretty normal. It's kind of an old school trust exercise, actually, in that I let you in enough to see how I work and why I think the things I do so that when I say something you listen and don't have to waste time wondering what my motivation is, right? It's always been that way, but folks have had to adapt to different iterations of that basic principle as new forms of community interaction have developed.

So to answer GalPal's original query -- how can I be so open about myself to so many people -- it comes down to the simple answer that I've been around a long time and have learned that when you want to gain any sort of influence or the right to even have your opinions considered in the court of public opinion then honesty and transparency -- and even a unobstructed occasional look behind the curtains -- have been and remain to be the best ways of doing so.

Oh yeah, and then there's the writer thing ... and that contains a certain amount of ego presupposing people even have an interest in what you have to say in the first place. But if it were just that then I would be the only one reading anything I ever had to write. Ego is a good starting place but if you don't have anything to say or build any relationships, nothing but ego tends to lead you into a vacuum.

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