Occasional Thoughts on Educational Technology and Life by Judy Brophy

Friday, May 20, 2011

Writers' Houses

Sometimes two good ideas add up to more than their sum. Authors and Homes are two such.

Writers’ Houses (with the apostrophe in the correct spot, of course), a website/blog that explores authors’ homes and writing places is a place for stories and pictures.  It is interested in preservation and has an attic feel to it.

The site’s beauty draws you in and its writing keeps you there. This month the featured home is Steepletop, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s home near Austerlitz, NY.

You can browse by author, state, city or international, but the archives are the best place to look for the substantial writing. Some entries are little more than a picture with a web address. The Press page is a bibliography of writings in books and journals on the writers’ homes.

Their twitter feed printed on antique mailgrams is amusing. You can follow them on twitter @writershouses. Delve in to read here or search it before a trip to see if there is an author’s home you might visit.

Thanks to @Paul_Lisicky for tweeting this site.

Google Lit Trips are virtual trips to places that authors wrote about or where they lived. A special project on author's homes includes maps in Google earth and homes you can move around in.   http://www.googlelittrips.com/GoogleLit/Special_Projects/Entries/2009/9/10_Author_Homes_by_Beryl_Reid.html
Seeing Willa Cather's home in Red Cloud Nebraska gives you a feeling for author's frame of reference. (Google Earth needed to view) 

PS. If you love books and architecture, check out this slideshow article on The World's Most Inspiring Book Stores.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finally Getting Facebook

 Even though my job is in educational  technology, I have been slow to adopt Facebook.  Last year I finally set up a page because I was doing a workshop on social media and felt I needed to have a page to be mildly competent. I limited my “friends” to my nieces, nephews and son. I checked it once every couple weeks. I just didn’t “get it”.   My thoughts about Facebook mirror what people often say about Twitter: I don’t want to know what you had for lunch or what your “status” is. (An erroneous characterization of Twitter, by the way.  I'm an enthusiastic Twitter user and stay up to date with my work colleagues and network through Twitter all the time.)

Gradually, though, I have seen that for a lot of folks Facebook is their “home on the net”.  It’s their personal web page and it allows them not only to communicate with friends and family, but to be creative—post  pictures and videos, for example.  It is a place to share something of themselves.  I have a blog if I want to write something to the world. Others use their Facebook page for that.  I am in favor of anything that increases people’s ability to be creative, so I started seeing the value of Facebook.

I didn’t get the real power of Facebook until recently, though. My eighty-something mother-in-law asked my husband to set up a Facebook page for her so that she could communicate with her grand children and children.  In helping with the process I “friended” my mother-in-law.  Within a day or so… in some cases within minutes… I had invitations to be friends with that whole side of my family.  I made the leap and said yes, to broadening my friend-base.  Within hours of becoming friends with them, my son had reconnected, through me, to his cousins on the other side of the family.  That I count as a real benefit.  

I’m still negotiating how much I want to get into the Facebook culture. I’ll probably never run to update my status with every little life occurrence but I can check every few days for family news and stay in touch, add the odd thought or question. I find it’s not so much about faces as it is about hearts.