We have about a buck twenty, but there haven’t been any results

Once upon a time, a small town discovered a social media site. What started out as something that was used exclusively (or at least so we thought) by students in school, had turned into the digital version of community centers. A group online could be started at a moments notice and required no physical location to facilitate the flow of thought among a group of peers. This would not be anything that could be defined as a group of like minded individuals, though a more closed off group could be located without much difficulty. Private groups require membership forms, initial inquiries into one’s commitment to the groups core values. In a town trying to find it’s place in the current century everyone has the perfect plan to solve all of the woes and strife. The area is the most urban city in the county within which it resides. The average citizen has little awareness of the goings-on of the county they live in and the county is aware of this. The story is almost comical in the way that it sounds like a television drama when laid out.

I’ve described the area that I live in previously, but for those that are just following life and jumping in wherever they feel like it here is a small recap. At the confluence of two rivers, a city and a town formed. The town became an industrial and transportation center which developed a sprawling suburb that devoured the surrounding farmland as the population began to concentrate in the town. The town itself was deemed of value because of the narrowness of the river at that specific point. Crossings had been made there by rope guided ferry before the bridges were constructed; bridges for cars, that once carried trollies, and bridges for trains that still run as active freight lines. Before the trains, there were canals powered by the numerous rivers. The area has always served as a facilitator of transportation and commerce, and has always done well for itself. Despite what some would describe as a negatively perceived reputation, the school system provides an excellent education and now modern facilities. There is municipal trash pick up and the option to go with an alternative services provider in most places. The town is divided into more boroughs than necessary and maybe that’s the problem. Like I said, everyone thinks they have a solution, I’m not exempt from that.

Which brings me back to the social media network communities that had started to form. During the last election cycle I became even more politically involved that I had before. To lay out roughly what I mean by that I would start by saying I have for most of my late teenage to current adult years been interested enough in politics to read news articles, research topics in encyclopedias, read through textbooks, pay attention in social studies, and once wrote a paper criticizing the very education that I praised in the previous paragraph rather than write a paper about James Joyce or bother to develop a quality educational work ethic. Someone offered to publish that in two local papers and I turned them down because I was already worried about the repercussions just of turning that in rather than turning in my turn paper. But I had things to say. or, I guess I have things to say. That hasn’t faded much. Deciding then to not publish is why now I have made the choice to do the opposite. One of the social media groups that I found was announced as leaning to one direction. I joined this group because of my personal affiliation with them. The town had previous held a meeting where they invited the denizens to discuss what they thought should be done to improve the town itself. There were engineers and project managers and local business owners and plenty of regular townsfolk who had gathered because they wanted to try to make the area better. Apparently, leveling the waterfront to make it more appealing to people from out of town would do that. That design forum served as my introduction to community politics. Working for the town during the summer when I was in school and simply participating in public school introduced me to community involvement. Crowdsourcing feedback isn’t new. This town is in danger of falling behind the curve and being taken advantage of forever. And that’s why I joined a group on a social media network.

As a bubble does, the group itself tended to be rather focused. Everyone had their suggestions or their gripes and the various members would send praise or commiserate in scorn. One gentleman in particular was full of ideas that the town could do to improve. He had a tagline with each idea that implied his ideas only cost a couple of pennies. Idea after idea flowed in the group and a lengthy chat and chatter would commence and then people would move onto the next thought completely failing to realize that simply discussing the idea on the internet doesn’t actually bring it to life in the real world. The mayor wasn’t sitting there reading the page taking notes other than to get a little boost of dopamine for whatever praise the group decided to shower upon him. Or if they rose to his often unearned defense. One day, an idea was proposed that landed near to my interests and background and so decided enough was enough. There has to come a time where we stop suggesting and start doing and down with the idea that we have to wait for the government to get around to keeping up. You want to do this community group in real life, then let’s go do it. We don’t have to do much, but we should meet in person because in person is where the interactions that will affect our day to day lives will likely occur. And so they and several other people agreed to meet in the back of a bar to discuss what we would want from a specifically oriented community group. I brought a white board and markers and we brainstormed. We discussed the difference between actionable ideas and delusions of grandeur which we decided to refer to as step one and step two. You can’t get anywhere without figuring out if what you are trying to do is step one or step two and it’s amazing how many are the latter. Everyone wants a building, no one wants to pay a guild fee. Our meeting was visited by town council who offered us business cards and open assistance, and a phone call that offered us sand castle promises and wanted to lead us toward their vision for our group.

We continued to meet several times to discuss how to spread the word of our group and what we could do in the area to make genuine improvements and impacts. What we wanted to offer was an inclusive space for people of like-minded output based interest and to offer an open opportunity for people unfamiliar to the practices to give them a shot. The town exists next to a city with a similar thriving community, but it seems to serve as a larger draw. No one is looking at the town partially because the town doesn’t seem very open to people from outside of it. Our group flourished to the point that I had to question what I was getting myself involved in. There are already so many draws that require the time that I have available that I was starting to feel as though I needed to choose between a few of them and decide what was really important. My goal had ultimately been realized. Point proven, build it and they will come turned out to be the nonsense that happened. One meeting in bar turned into another in a restaurant where people who knew what they were doing showed up and managed to turn the group into a functioning entity. Perfect. That was my primary intent. Just to make it happen, I don’t even really care about the credit. The area now has a specific output based community group which is supposed to improve the area through the invitation of inspired minds, but making crafts that cheer people up is also dope.

Most of us feel some compulsion at some point to try to make a change even on the smallest scale. Sometimes when trying to do this we get so caught up in the end result that we forget to figure out what action we have to take to earn the dream we thought up. So much can feel so far out of our reach simply because so much of what we think we are pursuing as action amounts to no more than pure thought and fantasy. We had so many ideas for what to do with that group that eventually panned out well. A building was located for the purposed of hosting collective output creation events and participation in town events was coordinated. The idea of starting with step one isn’t exactly ground breaking, but sometimes I have to remind myself to take those first steps. We all get a little lost in our ideas and forget to actually pursue them from time to time.

Don’t do it that way, you’ll never make a dime.

This one can also be called, how to make the transition from saying that you are starting a blog into actually trying to run one. I started this one with the idea to write as often as possible. Offline there are numerous hardcover, leather (or pleather) wrapped notebooks and journals that I use to document various musings, dilemmas, and ideas for general improvements. Some of the time, I brought that into my computer and started just typing 3-5 page papers to nobody in particular. As most people brought up these days, my thoughts can be translated into readable forms much quicker with a keyboard than a pen and paper. At the insistence of a few people and my own self-nudging, I decided to take the first step and make a free website. The domain was free, as was access to the tools needed to blast my obscure thoughts out into the internet.

Mind you that jump from people insisting that I should do this, and my actually doing so was not an immediate process. As with any project, research must be done to understand what is it that needs to be done. There’s also a fair bit of dilly-dallying, getting distracted, deciding that maybe a podcast would be a better format, more rambling into my voice memos, and typing more letters to myself that would all probably make decent blog posts but they remain locked away on my computer. Mind you, this isn’t my sole career function. I work in a warehouse for my primary income, and believe me I have plenty to say about that experience. This is something new for me. And some of the things that I have to say might cut across the grain for some people in person, but in person that doesn’t typically hold me back. There’s something about branching out into this vast cyberspace that both excites and frightens me. This is coming from someone who grew up with it as it developed into what we see now. At some point though, as I have said, I’ve got things to say. The graphic artist who married me would say that is an understatement. So here we are, typing away and just hoping that someone will stick around through all these meandering trails. I swear, it all leads somewhere.

So, research. There are definitely times were just looking stuff up is way more entertaining than actually doing anything. There’s so much redundant information available that you can spend weeks looking through other blogs trying to find out what exactly you should do to start one and always feel like you are finding some new twist along the way that keeps you from taking any definitive action. At the same time, discerning helpful information from advertisements disguised as help articles becomes a challenge. Which, to be fair, if the intent of the author is to create useful information to direct people towards a website-based income stream dependent on people who visit the site or click on through links then ultimately they can’t be faulted. I’d be a hypocrite to do so. The difference comes in the content itself. Most of the websites about trying to start a blog that one encounters are just an instruction manual for navigating the wordpress.com site with a casual suggestion to use one of about 4 hosting services. All of the time I spent looking up how to start a blog just put off the actual doing so. Every time I got into the math of trying to put thoughts on a website so that people could read it, I eventually lost interest and just moved on to something more rewarding than trying to figure out whether you really need domain information privacy or why someone would pay for that when others are just including it.

Eventually, I took a step. That’s the key point in anything. Once you have information, make an action. You can’t really have too much information, but you can also simply have enough. I had fallen into a loop of thinking there was something I was missing, some secret that hadn’t been uncovered, and the secret was that I was telling myself that looking all of that up was doing what I needed to do. And so I figured out the common first step and I downloaded wordpress. And then I found out that I misunderstood how that worked, and I went to the .com and started a free blog. And now I’m telling you this without being paid for it. I just wanted a thing to type out thoughts and hit enter and make them appear on a screen that wasn’t my own. All that was required was a typing interface, and a url of my choosing. Simple and straight forward. And it helps to have something to write about which all of the how to start a blog websites did not have much to say about other than “Use your imagination!” The first blog was launched under a URL that I did not look up as to whether anyone had the .com for it. In all my due diligence, actual research was overlooked. This is the danger of searching for the wrong information when starting a project. Lost in the process of just getting the website established, the idea of the website itself was left to atrophy. My lens had gone stray and for a brief period it caused me to just give up on this entirely while I was left trying to rename the website.

That held up my progress here because it happened at a critical step. After the first few posts, the lack of control over the site itself had become irksome. When the blog was first published, an email was sent that suggested not to delay a proper subscription because statistically people that waited simply never would. Marketing tactic that it was, there was no reason to take the step. Free access afforded me the trial needed to determine if this was something worth pursuing. Would it be something that I could routinely stick to? Or would I find myself drifting away from it and begrudging the notion of sitting down to write something? That happens when I write code. I tell myself and others that I’m learning to write code. And I am. I’m just learning code really, really slowly. And most of that is discipline, which is something that I am working on. That’s part of why I’ve tasked myself with learning code. It’s something I want to do, but don’t possess the drive to commitment required. All that can be overcome it is just a matter of my holding myself to it. Fortunately, blogging doesn’t seem to require that dogged forced behavioral adjustment process. This is just something that I do, maybe that means it plays to a strength of mine. Finding out that my url was taken threw a wrench in the works and really forced me to decide if this was something I wanted to keep doing. And it was. Everyone emphasized how crucial it is to have a good name. There’s probably more wisdom in that camp than the newly established, just get a url and start writing because otherwise you are wasting time camp, but really. If you are trying to figure out how to game traffic onto the site then you should revisit your intent. Unless that’s your thing. I’m not here to kink-shame.

At the end of the day most of the options were comparable within a few bucks, and rather than learn how to migrate my site, I just decided to proceed with the .com I started with. The interface is clean and usable for as much as I know what I’m doing. I didn’t need to back anything up or transfer anything. And I got my own .com url which is now my primary domain name. Faced with roadblocks I find myself taking the time to overcome them without having to force it. Things like this aren’t always easy to see, especially when you aren’t looking for them. This entry at least mentioned code, so I’m on topic as well, but I did say it was mostly about nothing. I guess I meant nothing in particular. Now that I have some more options available the look of this site might change, so if any of you are really committed to this aesthetic I apologize out of formality. Anyone new joining will have no idea what they were missing out on, enjoy being part of an incredibly exclusive club.