Monthly Archives: July 2013

#14 Twitter – what’s the point?

Despite the confrontational title, I am actually a big fan of twitter. Questions about twitter or about facebook versus twitter have come up thrice so far, which makes me think this might be a good topic for a blog post. Mostly, people I’ve talked to are of the opinion that twitter doesn’t provide anything that cannot be done with facebook. On the surface, this is true, but I am of the opinion that twitter fills its niche better than facebook and that in fact facebook is weakening its own concept by trying to implement all the functionalities of twitter. Let’s have a look at both platforms, strictly from my own point of view:

Facebook

The main reason for me to use facebook is to stay in touch with old friends. It’s great to see that Harriet ran for charity in the UK or that Stephen renovated his house in the USA or that Tobias left Gibraltar for a few weeks and is back in Germany. Sure, facebook also allows celebrities and their fan pages to show up in my news feed, but that is not my primary concern when I’m on facebook. In fact, when fan pages become too spammy, I change their settings to not receive updates anymore. Keeping in touch with people that are near and dear to me, but who are unfortunately not near location wise, is the point of facebook to me.

Twitter

Twitter on the other hand is more of a selective actual news feed. Main stream media doesn’t report what’s new with the band MANOWAR? No problem, I’ll just follow them on twitter and will get the latest updates about new songs, their tours and such. A friend of mine agreed that she has never been as up to date with what her favourite musicians are up to as she has been now that she joined twitter. I had my account for a while, but did not start writing twitter posts (tweets sounds weird, somehow) until 2013. To me, actively writing on twitter seemed pointless, if one isn’t famous, as only few people will read your posts. I still think it has value to passively use it as a filtered news source. Right now I have 18 followers on twitter, which isn’t much, but hopefully that number will increase. Also, I responded to a post by 2k games and they reposted it, sending about 40 people to my blog. Thanks a bunch!

That said, I do not understand why people sign up for twitter and then make their tweets private. If you only want people that you know to read your updates, facebook seems like the better address, despite the latest prism / tempora scandals and facebook’s frequent attempts to water down its own model.

Character limit

Some people also complained that posts on twitter are restricted to 140 characters, whereas there are no such limits on facebook. I think this is a “historical” restriction – before wifi and smart phones were common, you could still link your regular mobile phone number to twitter and write messages by sending a text message. That way, people could still inform their readers on the go about what’s happening. Granted, nowadays the restriction does not necessarily make sense anymore. For short updates twitter is still sufficient and anything longer can be tackled on a blog. The latest trend to simply post links to facebook on twitter is a bit disheartening, though.

Who do I follow on twitter?

Here is my list of arbitrary categories as determined by the number of followers. I’ll list the people I follow in each of those brackets:

0 passive user

For obvious reasons, I don’t follow anyone with zero followers.

1 to 9 family and friends account

Ge siik Dear friend of mine from London.

Mark Hillebrand One of my oldest and best friends in all the world.

Blauer Mango Code names are probably there for a reason.

Armin Herbertz My brother, who never posts on twitter :/

Rob Scientist, poker player, I’d say buddy of mine, but haven’t spoken for a few years. Oh well.

10 to 99 twitter noob

Kai Herbertz “36 year old scientist, emerging writer, game designer.”

without my echo “writer working on short stories, novels, M.A. thesis; passionate about books (Kafka, Hoban, Oates, Murakami), music (indie pop, twee, shoegaze), animal rights”

Sarah Sheila My good buddy from beautiful Canada.

Nils Herbertz My cousin, who never posts on twitter :/

Linda One of my online friends from the straight dope messageboard days.

Olivia Mcewan “Figurative painting and portraiture | Medieval art historian | Wine marketing | Freelance art criticism”

100 to 999 someone

Brooke S. Passey “reader, writer, horseback rider, daughter, sister, wife, friend, human. Student Editor-In-Chief @SuperstitionRev” Sister of Lindsey Stirling, writer, currently working on a biography with Lindsey.

Brit Weisman “Production.Science.Books.Films.Learning.Action. Fashion.Games.Photography.Sleep.”

Jan PS “Redakteur, Historiker, hier mit Nachrichten aus der Welt der Burgen und Schlösser” Journalist, tweets mostly in German.

Chip Power Play Twitter channel of a computer game test magazine that was popular in the 1990s and was recently relaunched.

Queitsch “Itinerant philosopher.” Good friend of mine.

Jenny May Nuyen German fantasy author.

1k to 10k-1 VIP

Drew Steen “Drummer to the tweeny stars (demi lovato, david archuleta, kris allen, reel big fish, victoria justice, ryan beatty, lindsey stirling,)”

Jason Gaviati keyboarder on tour with Lindsey Stirling.

Rachel Aaron “Author of The Legend of Eli Monpress series from Orbit Books.”

Tristan D Brand “Writer, Gamer, Musician”

Robert Clotworthy “Robert is a professional actor with over 1,000 credits. He is best known as the voice of Jim Raynor in StarCraft and the narrator of Ancient Aliens”

Heinrich Lenhardt Video game journalist and one of my childhood heroes.

10k to 100k-1 minor celebrity

Geek & Sundry Youtube channel founded by Felicia Day, featuring several different “geeky” shows.

Eppic “Rapper/Songwriter”

Xuan Liu “Idealistic Poker Heroine”

Amber Benson First noticed her as an actress on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but nowadays she’s better known as an author.

Brandon Sanderson “Fantasy novelist. Mistborn, The Rithmatist, The Wheel of Time, The Stormlight Archive.”

Guido Henkel “Award-winning game developer, and creator and writer of the Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter series of Victorian-era supernatural mysteries (http://www.jasondarkseries.com )”

Liv Boeree “Poker player, TV presenter, Metalhead, Physics-lover, Adrenaline Junkie and Member of Team PokerstarsPro”

Chris Moneymaker “The Official Twitter of Chris Moneymaker- 2003 World Series of Poker Champion.”

Dario Wünsch Starcraft 2 pro player.

Smudo Legendary German rapper.

Joe Hachem “Hey it’s me, that guy that won the @WSOP in ’05. Yep, still playin #poker and traveling all over the place and still tryin to keep out of mischief.”

Daniel Negreanu This account is merely for chip updates of Daniel Negreanu during the tournaments that he plays.

Jim Butcher Author of the fantastic Dresden Files series.

MANOWAR Dare I say the best band in the whole world? Yes!

Nika Harper “Your friendly neighborhood community geek and Riot girl. Prone to cackling and obscure music references. I write books, host vlogs, and love dinosaurs!”

100k to 1M-1 celebrity

Marie Digby Famous youtube singer.

Lindsey Stirling Violin sensation and youtube star.

Sean Plott Former professional starcraft player, who transitioned into being a commentator, video producer, CEO, inspirational speaker and all around awesome person.

Daniel Negreanu In my opinion, the second best poker player in the world (no, I’m not the best, that’s Phil Ivey).

Darth Vader Joke account that got his google+ account suspended. Hasn’t tweeted in a while, used to produce solid gold.

Natalie Tran Youtube comedian / actress from Australia.

Kickstarter Crowdfunding platform.

2k games “Official Twitter page for 2K in Europe”

1M to 10M-1 twitter gosu

Felicia Day “Actress, New Media Geek, Gamer, Misanthrope. I like to keep my Tweets real and not waste people’s time.” First noticed her in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it turns out she’s a powerhouse of creative independent film projects.

Brent Spiner Actor, who is best known for his role of Lieutenant Commander Data in Startrek. Went into a twitter hiatus on the 24th of June 2013.

Veronica Belmont “Co-host of @tekzilla, @swordandlaser. Host of #FactOrFictional and #TheSyncUp. Reader, writer, internet obsessed.”

Louis C.K. “I am a comedian and a person and a guy who is sitting here.”

10M+ supreme twitter entity

Avril Lavigne “Professional Rocker” Canadian Singer. I actually didn’t think she had that many followers. Pretty impressive.

#13 Writing sessions

Dear all,

it’s really difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when I started writing, but as I mentioned in the first entry, I took it a bit more seriously in the early 2000s, when Wizards of the Coast ran a few open calls for their AD&D book series. In those open calls, they told you what the book was about (one was “Maiden of Pain” about a cleric of some sadistic goddess and the other was “War-torn” set in the then newly created Eberron universe) and you had a month to write a ten page chapter and a one page synopsis of your whole novel. The winner received a contract with an advance of a few thousand dollars (can’t remember the exact figure, since I did not win. I think it was 5000$) and one year of time to write the book. Obviously the author would also get royalties once the amount of royalties exceeded that advance.

Anyway, those contests always invigorated me to write. Now that I think about it, I do remember that I actually started my novel before the open call. However, I also didn’t really start the novel back then. You see, in those days, some thirteen years ago, I wrote a few pages, decided they were crap, set them aside and didn’t look at them for another year. Next year I’d trash what I wrote and started anew. Still, for the sake of argument, let’s say that I started (late) in 2000, when I was 23 years old.

In the wake of the open calls, I came across the forward motion writing community and from there I found Holly Lisle’s website. She had a free e-book on writing called “mugging the muse” on her website, which I enjoyed reading. It contained a lot of useful advice presented in an interesting way, which compelled me to look at her other books on writing. I’d link to it, but after she redesigned her website, she decided to bundle it as a free goody with every purchase :(

Anyway, I then bought all her stuff on writing (my #1 recommendation there is “how to write page turning scenes”).

With my passion rekindled I made the first real effort to finish my book in 2008: In three months I wrote 25000 words. Unfortunately the workload of the PhD picked up, so I had to set aside the book once more, adding a few hundred words here and there.

In June 2011 I’ve made a deal with my best friend that we would meet up regularly and work on our respective hobby projects. Originally we wanted to meet every other week, but sometimes one of us didn’t have time, so we decided to meet once a week. That way, we figured it would work out to every other week, due to the need to cancel every once in a while. Instead, we’ve gradually increased the amount of sessions. If you have someone else to spur you on like that, I highly recommend those weekly sessions. The other person doesn’t even have to write a novel. In our case, my friend is working on his poems.

So disregarding the false starts, I’ve worked on this book since 2008 (more or less), but due to the interruption of several years, I would consider 2011 to be the actual start date.

For about a month now, we’ve added more writing sessions during the week, to complement our regularly scheduled weekend sessions. However, since I am living in Wachtberg and my best friend is in Düsseldorf, these are “remote” sessions: each of us logs in to Skype from 20:00 to 22:00 and works on their projects. At the moment it is a bit tricky, as there are urgent deadlines at work, preventing me from attending the sessions (I need to do some sensititve measurements that I can only do in the evenings), but in principle I do not want to let this become the norm, as there is always an excuse not to write. It’s important to stick to the planned sessions, if I want to finish the first draft of the book this year.

Long story short, the old piece of advice that if you want to be a writer, you need to sit down and write, still holds true. As for the “how”, considering the above story, I suggest to start slow: Pick one day every two weeks and write for two to three hours on that day. Once that is comfortable, keep adding days until you’re on a daily routine.

If I manage to stick to the schedule, I would finish the first draft of the book in late November: There are currently 22 chapters left to re-write. I do have between 500 and 2000 words each on paper for those chapters, but assuming I need to completely rewrite them, that’d be 22*3000 words. If I’m writing at a slow pace, I get about 250 words done per hour, so that’s 264 hours. Afterwards, I have to revise twice: reading 300 pages means another 15 hours and writing ten thousand additional words would take 40 hours. In total that’s 374 hours, to which I’m adding an arbitrary margin of 26 hours.

With the daily sessions and some extra hours on the weekend, I may be able to sustain an effort of 20 hours per week. That would mean I’m done in late November. I’m assuming worst case stats, except for the hours I put in every week. Those might be a bit optimistic, but we shall see :)

All the best,

Kai

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