For all the wonderful ways that smartphones make life easier and information more accessible, they’re also adding a whole lot of unnecessary distraction to our lives. After all, why walk, sit or simply wait when you could be tweeting or surfing Pinterest at the same time? But the truth is, we’re not programmed to be constantly in “go” mode, and this overstimulation can have some seriously negative health impacts, including higher stress levels, lack of focus and creativity, and technology addiction. Our solution? Good old-fashioned boredom.
“Who would have thought being bored can be so productive? Slowing down and turning off all of the technology in our lives can be a great thing! Sometimes when we turn off our phones, computers and tv’s, we can actually feel ourselves turn off or wind down.”
Do you ever give yourself time to be bored? Do you find that slowing down helps you feel less stressed? What do you think are the benefits of putting down the iphone for more than a few hours a day?
Without reservation I say that Heather Blakey through her work at the Soul Food Cafe launched me on the road to daily writing and navigating the realm of the blogosphere.
Prior to 2006 I was plugging away at writing on my own static website. No one in my world knew diddly-squat about these things called “blogs” and certainly no one was reading my website. Then one day I fell into Heather’s magic Chocolate Box and started writing. One turn in her labyrinth led to another and then another and I ended up blogging on a regular basis with a delightful group of women (and a few men).
I have moved on to my own work here at the Perch, but I still keep in contact with many of my SFC buddies. Many of them are actively engaged in their own writing projects. I urge you to take a click on the links in my Blogroll on the left and see the handiwork of these wildly creative individuals.
I was, and still am.
It has been some time since I have worked collaborative blogs at the Soul Food Cafe but the material is all still there, documenting a rich, creative period applying blogging technology to build a community well before social networking had become so popular. Tania Pryputniewicz found some of the work and has written about it. It feels like she is describing another life that I have lived in another time, another space.
“You’ll remember that Chaucer’s group of traveling pilgrims–including among others the Knight, the Miller, the Cook, the Wife of Bath and the Parson–compete to recount the best tale in hopes of winning a free meal at the journey’s end. Chaucer’s question to us: Who tells the best tale? The pilgrimage becomes incidental; in fact, the tale in some ways becomes secondary to what the tale reveals about each storyteller.
For our purposes here, notice Chaucer uses pilgrimage as a frame as a way to feed us tales from the point of view of multiple pilgrims traveling the same road. Someone who has taken this concept into blog-land with far-reaching and beautiful scope is Heather Blakey, through her project at Soul Food Café , where in part, anonymity of participants fosters sanctuary over competition and allows for blossoming across forms (blogging, artwork, collage, etc., all while playing with available technologies that interface with the internet).
Through the sublime timing and hopscotch of connection the blogosphere invites, I just now stumbled upon Heather Blakey through Edith O. Naullain, a writer who blogs at In A Room of My Own. I am in awe of Blakey’s project and skill as moderator–she has been working with bloggers for years—if nothing else, read Zen and the Art of Team Blogging for direct testimonials of Blakey’s online node like this one: “She gives me a place to open up along side others who may journey for different reasons. We journey together in a virtual world that allows us freedom to dream.” (Luna Eternally).
One page that exemplifies what I mean here by creative frame and delivery or reinterpretation of pilgrimage is a page called “the Rookery.” You, in your role as visitor, are greeted by an image of a tree, branches weighted by the bodies of rooks, trunk base circled by a few standing rooks on the ground and a few wheeling midflight. Not a single word appears other than the title, the Rookery, each letter etched white across a blue sky.To enter the space, you must select a bird, and thus are transported/winged to another page. Each bird represents a view, a voice.”
Heather Blakey has had over fifteen years experience building online communities using web based technologies. She first began to blog in 1999 when she was a columnist for Cathy Atherton’s Prairie Den and went on to demonstrate the potential of blogging. She wrote articles such as Zen and the Art of Team Blogging and worked in schools across Victoria, Australia, promoting the use of blogs to engage students and enable them to meet and be heard by people with similar interests. Global 2 is phase two of Global Teacher/Global Student, a pioneering blogging environment built by Heather Blakey, for the Victorian Education Department, in 2006.
The Wild Garden Advent Calendar, created in 2007, explored the use of web based technology and amazingly, much of it is very current. The creative work of women who Heather Blakey has mentored and guided reveals just what can be birthed in this environment.
Perhaps you still don’t know what a blog is. Maybe you don’t know a tweet from a widget or how to link to others. It could be that you simply need the hand of a creative midwife to help you realize your creative potentiality. It so happens that Heather is offering private mentoring for those who want to use blogging for educational, artistic or business purposes. You can work with Heather and become familiar with all those tools people are using. You can learn about
- Basic blog construction using WordPress
- Creating digital portfolios
- Discover diverse, imaginative web applications to meet individual needs
- Monetizing Your Blog and promoting business
- News-gathering and Research Methodology
- Building niche communities and online groups
- Link-building Strategies
- Social Media Optimization
- And much more…
- Contact heatherblakey at fastmail dot fm for more information
The World of Soul Food
This wonderful, free resource, remains online and is a testimony to collaborative work: THE SOUL FOOD CAFE
Roads Well Travelled
The Wild Garden AdvenTURE Calendar takes people through twenty five steps towards understanding how the internet can be used as an interactive publishing tool. The Wild Garden introduced Soul Food community members to the potential of the web. This was made in 2005 and while there have been rapid developments in social networking in the interim, the Wild Garden provides important insight into the history of what became known as Web 2.
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