My Digital Playpen: Out of Site, Out of Mind

What's Up on the Desktop?

Promiscuous with my words, eclectic in my interests and tastes, I maintain a digital presence far too wide and unwieldy on the web.  

The effect has been a cumulative and disturbing bogging down of my attention;  an increasing disability to keep up any sense of participation in the various “communities” which I have “joined” so enthusiastically  at one time or another. 

To enumerate the sites where I have left my identity, maintained, if not curated profiles, and invested precious time, I am struck dumfounded by the actual count:

Let’s see:  

There’s Blogger: this is my mainstay, the blogspot where I began on a dare from a friend four years ago. There we started a writers’ collective we called Artist’s Wayfarers. (Too cute!) There we giddily blogged for the very novelty of the act, until we all ran dry.  Still scribbling, dismayed to lose the company of my friends on AW, I set out on my own to (a site from which I still launch all my posts).  Wild turtle crossing.  I own the domain, have yet to turn it into my own dot-com. That’s another story.

Open Salon: three years ago, I dropped into Open Salon by happenstance, after reading a rant from  book editor, Laura Miller, on the absurdity of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) On OS - as insiders call it, I discovered a chummy and chatty (sometimes deliciously catty) company of writers of all stripe.  Here I suddenly found I had “readers” with a running commentary, a social media site at its best. Here I had a community of “virtual friends” - though I’ve never met a single one of them in person. We entertained one another with with an endless supply of advice, accolades, opinions, recipes, photography, poetry and bouts of tribal wisdom. Our writing was sometimes rewarded with an “Editor’s Pick” that extended our audience to the Big Salon, a pet name for Salon Magazine, a site I have followed for years. 

Sadly, OS appears to be in shambles of late. Navigation is painstakingly slow, spammers are rampant, my “virtual buddies” are abandoning ship, fleeing to a new site called Our Salon.

Slow to rile, I’m sticking with Open Salon for now because I have hope that it’s not going down. (Please say it’s so.)

Our Salon: this one’s new to me. A robust site with lots of functionality (is that even a word)? Our Salon is “busy busy” as the most recent email from the site describes, listing the new tabs and drop down menus, all designed to ‘simplify my online experience.’ The site literally chirps, cheerfully indicating members online - a feature that compels me to hit the mute on the computer. Plenty of  “sharing opportunities” with Facebook Twitter and Pinterest, all good social media tactics make the site downright friendly . . . but a little too busy-busy for my tastes. Anyway, on I go, and here I am.  

Food52: this is a drop-dead gorgeous food site, arguably the best spot for food on the web. “Because if you cook, you’ll make others happy, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.” I remain in awe of founding editors, Amanda and Merrill - the heart, soul and brains behind this site. Lots of humor, beautiful photography and genius recipes. Then there’s the “crowd-sourcing" aspect of the site.  Cooks, pros and amateurs alike, are invited to post and maintain recipes and to jump into a biweekly recipe contests. Proud to say I've earned a “Community Pick” or two.  Below are results from the test kitchen for my Crab Mac, with photography a lot more polished than the photos I submitted. Fun stuff. 

LinkedIn:  I don’t spend a lot of time here, but it’s an invaluable spot for keeping track of colleagues, companies, jobs lost and found, gossip.  It’s astonishing how much useful information just flows into my email box on a daily basis just keeping pace on Linkedin. 

Facebook: Ugh. I resisted this one for a long time.  Now as a web content developer for a nonprofit, I’m now obliged to partake.  

Twitter: I was an early adopter, have been on Twitter before I had any idea what I was doing on the site. Truth be told, I still haven’t a clue, but sure enough, I have followers.

Smug Mug: A fine place to upload, store and share photos. Got a zillion reasons to use the site as it easily works with the Lightroom software on my computer. 

National Geographic: MyShots  My camera skills aren’t much, but I compensate with a good eye, a love of interesting faces and spaces, and the chutzpah to shoot strangers on the street.  I get lucky sometimes.  Just started posting my favorite shots on the site, for nothing more than the sheer pleasure of seeing my stuff under the National Geographic banner.

Library Thing: a great place to catalog a book collection.   Unfortunately I can’t and so I haven’t kept up 

Noting Books: another great place to track and document what you’ve read - with short reviews. As much as I (want to) read,  I have a bit of catching up to do on the site.   This is where I spend most of my time: my day job, writing and editing the community online pub, powered by the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. 
Visit if you dare. . . for articles on for every taste, from old Detroit to young startups  from urban gardens to Yeshivas kindergartens, from Eastern market tours to missions to Israel. 

That's it.  At least that's all I admit to following. My top 12 sites. And my 1000 words and pictures for the day.  Appalling!  Where does the time go?  

So, where do you live online?  What are you doing here?  And geeesh, isn’t it about time to get up and stretch, take a break, take a breather, go outside, enjoy the rest of your day, whatever is left of it?

Photos: Vhenoch
James Ransom: Food52
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