Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Our Tech/Lit Spaces

By Levi Asher on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 08:25 pm

As hard as this is to believe, this summer will mark the 19th birthday of Literary Kicks. I really have no idea why I've been doing it this long. I once had a reason; I forgot it. I guess I'm still having fun, though sometimes it's hard to tell.

Because I make my living as a software engineer for websites, I've been able to use Literary Kicks as a platform for technical experimentation as well as a means of literary expression. I follow trends closely, and I select my technologies very carefully (for the past four years, I have been heavily into Drupal, though I'm sad to be missing Portland DrupalCon 2013 as we speak).

I specialize in content management software development, and Literary Kicks has migrated through quite a handful of CMS's in its long life: flat HTML, Jive Forums, WordPress, Drupal 6 and now (freshly rewritten from scratch just last year) Drupal 7. At the various day jobs that have handed me paychecks and coffee over these years, I've also built platforms with Vignette, ColdFusion, Velocity, .NET, Web Objects, Java Struts, Interwoven, Autonomy, Tridion (yuck), Wicket (yuck), Day CQ5 (yuck) and, happily again, Drupal.

I've seen every scientific approach to content management software come and go, along with quite a few fads: Object-Oriented Databases, RSS, SOAP, Design Patterns, Model-View-Controller, Flash, AJAX, REST, Agile, NoSQL, Cloud Computing, Semantic Web, Responsive Design. Through all of these twists and turns, the content itself is what matters, and the format of content itself -- good old Unicode text, wrapped in XML -- has really not changed much at all. Looking back on nearly twenty years of web content management drama and error and trial, I can at least happily report this: we web developers haven't usually damaged our content too much. We tried to keep it simple, tried to just keep the Apache servers running. About half the time we managed to avoid crashing and burning.

The biggest trend in content management software today, as I see it, is the cloud of enmeshed social content driven by five electronic media giants. I'm talking about Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple -- five companies that are already so deeply embedded into the various worlds of literature, entertainment, art, media and publishing that these worlds could not currently exist without them. From innovations in social networking and authorial identity to search engines to e-book publishing to the art of presentation and interface, these five companies currently drive the progress of web publishing -- that is, the progress of publishing and media as a whole in 2013.

I consider Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple the big five, though I'm aware that various other ventures like Yahoo, Tumblr, Microsoft, the New York Times, Samsung, Pinterest and Goodreads are trying to break into this winner's circle (none of them, as I see it, have broken in yet, and most probably never will). As for the five giants, I have mixed feelings about the power they wield. I'm totally unpsyched, for example, about Google's ill-conceived Google Glass project, since it has never been my wish to have humanity become more robot-like.

More often than not, though, I like the innovations these companies offer, and I always welcome these innovations into the routines I follow as I evolve the Literary Kicks website. I have been having a blast on Twitter since joining as @asheresque in 2007, and I sometimes think I put as much thought into my tweets as I put into my blog posts. Only a few months ago I launched a new Facebook page for Litkicks, and this has also become an absorbing new focus of my attention.

It occurred to me recently that both Twitter and Facebook have become for me essential components of Literary Kicks. The litkicks.com website itself is now only a part of a larger space. I can't imagine running Literary Kicks without Twitter and Facebook today.

If you are a Litkicks reader and don't know about the Facebook page or Twitter account, I'd like to invite you to check one or both out. By following either one, you will be informed of every blog post I publish. I'll also post links of interest and quick updates separately to each place, with two separate readerships (and attitudes) in mind.

The Litkicks Facebook page is where I post quick links of interest about new developments in classical, modern, postmodern, experimental or transgressive literature. I'm now also displaying these Facebook updates on the Litkicks front page (if you go to this site's front page now and scroll down, you'll see some of these new links on the right panel).

My official Litkicks Facebook page still feels new to me, and I'm really having fun with it so far. I love the fact that many people who've clicked "Like" are from different parts of the world. If I can be reaching so many different countries and societies, I must be doing something right. (I also take this as a reminder to keep my own literary awareness international, and I hope the interactions on Facebook will help me do that.)

My Twitter account (which represents me, Levi Asher, not Literary Kicks) is something completely different. This is for my private opinions, my observations, my jokes, my bullshit. I also retweet links that I personally find interesting -- not necessarily literary links, but general culture links, political thoughts, song lyrics, silly weirdness, anything I like.

Since I use Twitter to interact with many of my literary critic/lit-blogger friends, I handle a lot of insider-ish stuff of Twitter: publishing industry gossip, new Drupal modules of interest, complaints about Philip Roth being overrated, arguments about whether or not writers should always get paid. I'm always up for a response or a dissenting opinion when I tweet my opinions or ideas.

So, to sum up: Facebook and Twitter are part of the "content space" that is Literary Kicks, and can be used as entry points to follow this blog. If you're interested in literature, please follow my Facebook page by "liking" it. If you're interested in me, hit me up on Twitter. And, of course, please keep coming back to this blog, where the main action will always be. Maybe we'll even figure out what to do with Action Poetry next.

11 Responses to "Our Tech/Lit Spaces"

by wjwiippa on

Twitter still seems che narcissitic, like a public diary; yet I can't imagine life now without checking Facebook--not just for the updates to Suicide Girls and Playboy--but because almost all my contacts have drifted to onto it and I am in touch with some cousins that I haven't seen for decades!

I just bought the Idiot's Guide to Facebook marketing.

I read that Bexar County, Texas opened the first paperless library where you can check out e-readers. I can't imagine the plan having success.

I come to litkicks.com for the content, something that not all websites have, viz., websites worth reading. I believe fewer people read and more skim and writing for most is less than the length of a tweet.

I haven't figured out how to cancel my Twitter account or log onto it and that makes me sound like a Luddite.

I still read regular books and graphic novels but I believe that I am out of the reading demographic now but still discover gems from the past, e.g., Zorba The Greek and Last Exit to Brooklyn, but the new titles that I last bought have been philosophy light. Three of the last four graphic novels I bought I didn't read and just sent them to my brother.

I have stopped going to movies and just watch what I catch when I am staying in hotels. I do not like the sound of that either but I just don't have the time, i.e., I don't make the time because I hate feeling cheated now if a movie is less than first rate.
That sums up the new technology for me. Too often my reaction is: so what?

...as someone who is a recent user of twitter, i think it's a kick. not a huge poster, although i steadily send out links to my scribblings. a few go check it out and they get a random tune thrown in on my blog, which is linked to a widget from my music site. of course, this had to be done. this venture into glow media. a month from now, i'll release glowface, a ten song project that reflects literal, generational, and spiritual themes. had to have some outlet, especially considering the content. facebook is banned. just ain't got any more time. as with anything, i'm very careful as to what i create, song, story, poem, or tweet. never want to be burdensome or common. want to exploit the positive elements. and deliver truth, as i deem it. not to preach, but to express. not to get attention, but to create. it is a needed vitamin for my soul. whatever medium can be utilized. published at the touch of a screen. and temporary freedom for my mind. til the next explosion...

What's the deal with MySpace? I stopped going there a long time ago because every time I did, my pc "froze up" or, at best, got really slow.

by wjwiippa on

On April 19, 2008, Facebook overtook Myspace in the Alexa rankings. Since then, Myspace has seen a continuing loss of membership, and there are several suggestions for its demise, including the fact that it stuck to a "portal strategy" of building an audience around entertainment and music, whereas Facebook and Twitter continually launched new features to improve the social-networking experience.
Around midnight on Sunday January 13, 2013, new Myspace entered its open beta phase.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace
I thought everyone had quit myspace.

by Levi Asher on

Um, yeah, seriously ... MySpace is long gone.

Facebook built upon MySpace's success, but did many things right that MySpace did wrong. For all its flaws and questionable practices (there are many), Facebook does seem to me to define the state of the art in Internet community right now. Also, as a techie, I really admire their API's, such as Open Graph. By building the software right, Facebook has been able to build the community right, and maintain critical mass (which is the key to community).

by WIREMAN on

Thanks for keeping things fresh and changing Levi. jIt would be nice to see Action Poetry be more interactive, it had a flow all it's own in the old days. Nuff said, I' m grateful for the action that remains.......

by Wojciech on

Levi,

I don't mean to sound crass, but what is the point of liking litkicks on facebook? What does that offer me that I cannot achieve by simply visiting the site when i want to see new updates?

There is an astonishing amount of information and wisdom on this site. A lifetime of reading, in addition to almost 20 years of writing. Phenomenal resource.

by Levi Asher on

Alan, thanks!

WIREMAN, I actually have big ideas along these lines. I just need to get off my ass and make it happen.

Wojo, basically, if you like the litkicks Facebook page, you'll get updates on Facebook from activity here, so it's a way to keep up without having to remember to return to the site. Twitter will do the same thing. Some prople prefer to keep up this way, but for those who don't, you won't miss much. Like I said, the site is still where the best stuff goes.

LitKicks was one of the first websites with a community I "discovered" when I got the Internet back in '96 or '97, and it's the only one from that time period I continue to come back to. Thank you for all the hard work you've put into it all these years, Levi, and thank you to the community here for all the thought-provoking comments.

by Levi Asher on

Thank you for all these nice comments, everybody. The fact that I'm reaching a few people is what keeps me going.

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