: views from the Hill

Friday, December 01, 2006

[WR] Characters

in re the dooces of the world and my comment, "She'd make a great character in a book," someone commented,

And as a character, such a one wouldn't interest me much. Not unless they had something else going on, and the blogging was just a quirk.

I wasn't thinking of the bloggers as blogging characters but as characters, characters who don't necessarily blog but who have a certain personality, the personality that's shining through on the blog.

Folks on m.w and elsewhere strike me in a similar fashion. Not to mention any names, of course.

That's part of why I like the WWWorld out there. There are people and personalities I would never have experienced otherwise, folks I never would've met up with or talked to IRL -- the braggarts, the drug cases, the nuts, the folks who can quote Nietzsche (or can merely spell his name) without having to look it up, the self-involved editors with their ups and downs, the folks with hearts as big as Texas, engineers who sing a capella, legal secretaries who write torrid romances and all those sorts.

My insular engineer-techie sort of world and my insular Telegraph Hill-dwelling world don't really intersect with the down-and-out folks down on Market Street, f'rex, unless I make a conscious effort to do so, and even then we don't necessary connect and have a conversation.

You meet a whole different sort of character standing in line to pay your phone bill at the phone office than you ever meet at a Commonwealth Club meeting.

You meet a wide variety of folks on Muni. Well, maybe not meet them, but certainly see them in action.

Plus it's fun to make up stories about people you just catch a glimpse of.

In the WWWorld, you don't even have to talk with folks to get an idea of what makes them tick, or to see enough of them that you can bounce off that to a character who acts a certain way because of their background or personality or history. You can read their blogs, follow comments they make on other peoples' blogs, watch their antics in Usenet newsgroups or other networks.

We were at a Commonwealth Club meeting 6-8 p.m. yesterday (more on that perhaps later) that was a panel discussion: Online Personas: Defining the Self in a Virtual World, although, of course, the reality was very different from the proposed subject. Participants were

SHAWN GOLD, Vice President of Content and Marketing, MySpace
ROBIN HARPER, Vice President of Community, Second Life
REID HOFFMAN, Founder and CEO, LinkedIn
MARK ZUCKERBERG, Founder and CEO, Facebook

The event was sold out. The average age hovered around the mid-twenties, I think.

The woman next to me was up from LA, worked for Sony (she said) worrying about international distribution of Sony product, was interested in exploring the people and content available in online networks and working up some proposal for Fox (she said), had a son who was interested in film and looking at film schools (she said), and so on.

She also had never heard of Brookers, although she had seen Carson Daly speak and knew he was interested in all this online community/networking stuff that she was claiming an interest in. ... and she'd only heard of mashups like a day or two before. And you have a seventeen-year-old? I thought, and have a job in the entertainment industry and are interested in all this stuff? I thought.

We decided she was a real-life avatar. Sure she'd flown up from LA. Sure she worked for Sony. Sure she had a college-applying teenage son.

She'd never heard of mashups? She'd never heard of Brookers? Who was this in-the-belly-of-the-cutting-edge-creative-beast person? Really, I mean. Was she who she said she was and just did not pay attention or was she something/someone else altogether?

Shawn Gold, btw, is dead cute and funny. Sharp. Mark Zuckerberg seems sharp and smart and incredibly shy up in front of a crowd of people, answering questions posed by a moderator. Reid Hoffman was about as far toward the business side of things as Robin Harper was toward the opposite. But more on all that later.

As we were walking to dinner (more on that too), we commented that there'd been no discussion of avatars IRL, but perhaps there should've been.

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