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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Live Links, Spheres of Influence and Mafia Wars

I have begun to see phrases in common conversation underlined in an imagined blue script, implying that there is an active link that will take me to a definition of what the speaker really means when he says something that initially puzzles me.
It happened yesterday when a man who walked me into church while jovially declining to carry my book bag that looks like a purse with the laughing over-the-shoulder comment, “I’m not comfortable enough with my sexuality to tote that.”
Lugging my purse and heavily-endowed book bag while attempting to carry a linen jacket without wrinkling it, I smiled, amused, while my mind darted to the translation of what he was trying not to tell me:  a. my back’s out and I don’t want to admit it; b. I don’t like you enough to help you though I pretend to; c. you’re pretty strong; carry your own book bag.
While I may not ever learn the true translation of something that doesn’t really need to be translated, I took note of the idea that body language that I used to read as casually as I assessed books by their covers, has evolved for me to read spoken words in this new ways: as if it is highlighted in a world that is neither virtual nor physical and as if my mind contains a cursor that I can use to tap on the search string and follow my curiosity to a place where meaning and translations of puzzles exists.
I still believe in conclusions like that, a real understanding of casually typed search strings though I do not always think that the web is the best source for that wisdom.
It is, however, the place where our language is evolving and we are integrating that evolving language in new ways in our lives.
Blogs are monetized.  That means that people who write online daily journals have several ways now to make money from these journals and it is called monetizing.
Our respective spheres of influence have supposedly expanded though I am not sure that the phrase “sphere of influence” denotes as much influence as I had previously thought.  Marketers use it now to indicate that the web can take people who have something to sell outside the physical boundaries that encompass the people they know and who might buy their product.  Outside the sphere of influence is the new and improved phrase to mean that your territory for sales or developing contacts is unlimited.
But the dynamic is still the same.
You can have knock on a lot of doors (Adsense) and you can have plenty of word-of-mouth (and now lots of word of mouth is competing with lots of other words of mouth) and you still have to match a consumer with a product that he/she needs and can afford to buy.
I have bumped into these words lately because I have just published a new book of short stories feature a Southern church lady who has been showing up outside her fictional sphere of influence (Montgomery, AL) in Canada where ostensibly people have liked her well enough to invite her back many times.  I have published this collection and now sell it through Amazon and am wrestling with the different strategies one uses to announce to the world that there’s something new to buy in paperback and as a Kindle book.
I started blogging, making sure I had found my voice and my niche before letting my sphere of influence know what my extended sphere of potentially influenced people already had access to—one person took note.
That makes me grin.  It makes me grin because the World Wide Web is touted as the magical avenue to some destination called a bigger sphere of influence and I imagine that others have found their way to a destination more easily than I have.
Presently, I am still thinking about what to write next, whether I need to buy the Writer's Market anymore because the way I sell my work is different than it used to be, and how many blog entries do you need to post before the world wide web takes notice and the news gets back to your sphere of influence that is supposed to already know you and care meaningfully about what you are doing?
Mine doesn’t, mostly.
I posted the news of my new book on Facebook and the news slid by in that regional feed that plays night and day like an ongoing conversation on what we used to call a party line where anyone with a phone—a computer—can pick up the receiver and listen in.  Not much goes on.  Black widow spiders show up in people’s cars. Some guy keeps posting the lyrics to songs about love lost.  And my niece is winning or losing at Mafia Wars, I’m not sure which.

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