Avoiding the Emily Gould Effect: Blogging, Narrative and Transparency


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Presention with Susan Mernit at Arse Elektronika, San Francisco, 2008.

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  • We’ve entered an age where over sharing is routine
  • As the legions of bloggers sharing personal stories of sexuality, erotica and adventure grow and as sex & relationship blogs become big business we hear both stories of bloggers who regret what they've shared and others who survived a tawdry outing. There are also those who've parlayed sex & erotica blogging into far more mainstream careers. We’re going to talk about how to manage your online persona so you’re in control of your story—and share tips on managing your privacy as well.
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  • “ The blog became hugely popular: it has had more than 6 million readers over the last four and a half years and now averages 150,000 unique visitors a month. It also won the Bloggie Award for Best British/Irish Weblog in both 2006 and 2007 and the Observer newspaper recently ranked it at number 24 in their Top 50 Most Powerful Blogs in the World list. “
  • Do you really want to say that? Don’t be passive aggressive – don’t post when you should have a conversation Know when to take it offline
  • Avoiding the Emily Gould Effect: Blogging, Narrative and Transparency

    1. 1. Avoiding the Emily Gould Effect: Blogging, Narrative & Transparency Susan Mernit & Viviane September 26, 2008
    2. 2. “ Of course, some people have always been more naturally inclined toward oversharing than others. Technology just enables us to overshare on a different scale.” .—Emily Gould, Exposed, NYTimes magazine, August 2008
    3. 5. <ul><li>What is this talk about? </li></ul><ul><li>Putting your sex & relationships stuff out on the web </li></ul><ul><li>Oversharing vs. Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>How the real time web changes things </li></ul>
    4. 6. The internet is forever <ul><li>If you’re thinned skinned or sensitive, don’t do it. </li></ul><ul><li>What if a date or prospective employer Googles you and finds your writing? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the agreement with your partner or the person you’re dating? </li></ul><ul><li>How will you feel when you read your narrative years from now? </li></ul>
    5. 7. <ul><li>Case Studies in Notoriety : Julia Allison, Emily Gould, Xeni Jardin, Zoe Margolis </li></ul>
    6. 8. Julia Allison, 2007: Girl about town heads to Silicon Valley….
    7. 9. Julia vblogs with the start up boyfriend, hits high tech parties, twitters about clothes… they break up …in public. Reblogging Julia happens.
    8. 10. <ul><li>What do you get when people laugh at you? Attention. </li></ul><ul><li>146,000 Google links </li></ul><ul><li>500,000 + views on YouTube </li></ul>
    9. 11. Julia Allison, August 2008: The Paris Hilton of the Net gets the cover of Wired, sets records for newsstand copies sold.
    10. 12. 2006 : Emily Gould starts blogging about her dating life in gossip rag Gawker —and tells everyone in the office about dating a co-worker.
    11. 13. “ I’m going to try to never write about you,” I whispered to the boy whose shoulder my head was on two nights ago. … Oops.”
    12. 14. “ I had made my existence so public in such a strange way, and I wanted to take it all back, but in order to do that I’d have to destroy the entire Internet.” --Emily Gould, Exposed, NYTimes
    13. 15. 2008 : Emily Gould sells a cover story to the New York Times on her blogging regrets , gets 1, 216 comments and a reported $1MM book deal
    14. 16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJLjfJgrqIU 2008: BoingBoing editor Xeni Jardin removes blogger Violet Blue’s posts from BoingBoing— 1,500 people comment . .
    15. 17. Xeni tells the LA Times: “I just wanted to take this material down for a host of reasons that I don’t want to talk about in public…” Violet Blue responds on YouTube— quoting Metafilter commenters.
    16. 18. Show first part of Violet Blue video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJLjfJgrqIU
    17. 19. Girl with a One Track Mind Zoe Margolis first blogged about sex in 2003. In 2006, she published a book and got outed in a UK paper . Life as she knew it crumpled.
    18. 20. “… I lost all trust in dating, and men in general, removing myself from the dating arena entirely. The months after my 'outing' in the press were spent mostly on my own - ironic for such a previously 'active' sex diarist.” Zoe changed her job , moved to the States, and continues to blog, but her dating life is forever colored— badly -- by her fame.
    19. 21. Provoking questions : Are women who blog about their sex lives punished for being’ sluts’ ? Is a guy writing about his coke habit okay, but a woman writing about sexuality isn’t? Are we all sex-phobic? How could this story be different?
    20. 22. <ul><li>Making your narrative work : Melissa Gira Grant, Rachael Kramer Bussel, Rex Sorgatz, Nick Douglas </li></ul>
    21. 23. Melissa Gira Grant Blogger, feminist, sex worker advocate, former sex worker. “ No one can blackmail you with the truth.”
    22. 24. : Rachel Kramer Bussel Writer, editor, cupcake maven, event impresario, performer “ Once you get used to sharing in a certain way, whether it's via blog or Twitter, and you do add a level of openness, it's hard to back down from that without people thinking something is wrong.”
    23. 25. Rex Sorgatz, Blogger, author of NY Magazine’s The Microfame Game “ Countless other people are trying to manufacture microfame, over and over again.”
    24. 26. Nick Douglas Writer, comic, performer, twitterer “… A professional writer can't overshare, they can only waste good material or put something out there before it's polished enough”
    25. 27. So how do you strike a balance between oversharing and transparency? Observations….
    26. 28. It helps to have a process <ul><li>What is the agreement you make </li></ul><ul><li>with yourself about your narrative? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t post in anger </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t blog drunk </li></ul><ul><li>Is fisking your art form? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you snark, bigtime? </li></ul><ul><li>How much do you share? </li></ul>
    27. 29. Create Your Narrative <ul><li>Build strong public persona/image on the web </li></ul><ul><li>You are what you write or link to </li></ul><ul><li>Comment and reblog </li></ul><ul><li>Build relationships online and IRL </li></ul><ul><li>Be consistent in your presentation </li></ul>
    28. 30. Monitor chatter <ul><li>Egosurf: What are they saying about you? </li></ul><ul><li>Google News alerts – comprehensive (web, groups, news) </li></ul><ul><li>Search your name, domain and email address </li></ul><ul><li>Technorati linking </li></ul>
    29. 31. Audience feeds on you <ul><li>Communities want to help or may tear you down </li></ul><ul><li>Mob mentality/piling on </li></ul><ul><li>If you get into conflict, don’t keep replying – you’re building content for the search engines </li></ul><ul><li>Raise your hands and step away from the computer </li></ul>
    30. 32. Pick your Platforms <ul><li>Function follows form </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some platforms are more conducive to discussion, finding shared interests than others (Livejournal, Tumblr) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some are better at protecting privacy and limiting discussion to friends (i.e locking posts on WordPress, entire blogs on Blogger), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real time: Twitter, FriendFeed </li></ul></ul>
    31. 33. Privacy <ul><li>NEVER give out personal identifiable information </li></ul><ul><li>Use a proxy server so site owner can’t analyze where you’re coming from </li></ul><ul><li>Moderate comments </li></ul><ul><li>Block users and IPs? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t let Google index you </li></ul><ul><li>Get out of the cache </li></ul>
    32. 34. Turning it back to you <ul><li>How do you manage transparency ? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you WANT to be transparent ? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this generational? </li></ul>
    33. 35. References <ul><li>&quot;Exposed&quot; by Emily Gould http://tinyurl.com/3tfuxs </li></ul><ul><li>Emily Gould http://www.emilymagazine.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Julia Allison http://www.juliaallison.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Jakob Lodwick http://jakoblodwick.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Reblogging Julia http://baugher.tumblr.com/ &quot;The Dangers of Blogger Love by Joshua David Stein http://tinyurl.com/4qrkn5 </li></ul><ul><li>Xeni Jardin Personal site: http://xeni.net/ &quot;That Violet Blue thing&quot; http://boingboing.net/2008/07/01/that-violet-blue-thi.html &quot;Lessons Learned&quot; http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/18/lessons-learned.html Violet Blue Personal site: http://www.tinynibbles.com Zoe Margolis Girl with a One Track Mind http://girlwithaonetrackmind.blogspot.com/ </li></ul>
    34. 36. References <ul><li>Melissa Gira http://www.melissagira.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Rachel Kramer Bussel http://rachelkramerbussel.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Rex Sorgatz http://www.fimoculous.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;The Microfame Game and the New Rules of Internet Celebrity&quot; by Rex Sorgatz http://nymag.com/news/media/47958/ </li></ul><ul><li>Friendfeed http://www.friendfeed.com </li></ul><ul><li>Livejournal http://www.livejournal.com </li></ul><ul><li>Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com </li></ul><ul><li>Wordpress http://www.wordpress.org </li></ul><ul><li>Proxify http://www.proxify.org </li></ul><ul><li>Tor Project </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.torproject.org/ </li></ul>
    35. 37. Contact Us <ul><li>Susan Mernit </li></ul><ul><li>www.susanmernit.com </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Viviane </li></ul><ul><li>www.thesexcarnival.com </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Note: This talk will be posted on SlideShare