Thursday, February 21, 2019

Broowaha Connections. In The Flesh


Interesting Broowha connections, from Craigslist to my first in-person meeting.

One of the best things about Broowaha—aside from it giving you more hits than your blog—is that it’s got enough clout to get you on Google.  And make it to the top of a somewhat common search, and interesting things can happen.  My last article, The Unspoken Rules Of Group Conversation: Learn Them Or Bore, was a fun example.

While checking hits on the article, I noticed it’d been linked (my favorite Broo feature).  The link turned out to be from a NYC Craigslist post. Wha?  The post turned out to be from ‘The Brooklyn Conversational Soiree’, a group trying to organize in-person group conversations in the Brooklyn area. My article had been linked to give people an idea how to behave.  What a compliment!  Assuming they’d found me on Google, I googled ‘group conversation rules’. Sure enough, my article was #1!

My most interesting Broowaha connection however, came from a more obscure search.

Several weeks back, I got a message from Philip Sherwell, U.S. editor of the Sunday Telegraph (a major UK newspaper).  He’d found my Broo article, ‘Another Drug To Be Scared Of: Salvia’, while googling Dr. Mendelson, the director of the salvia study I’d participated in and written about in my article.  He was coming to San Francisco to interview Dr. Mendelson for a story on salvia, and wanted to interview me while he was here.  Wow.  Old media meets new, in the flesh!  How could I say no?

I suggested we meet at Kilowatt, a Mission dive bar.  Over several rounds of beer, we had a really interesting conversation.  We talked about salvia. Then moved on to politics (he’d covered Obama since the beginning of his campaign), drug laws, the media.  As you can imagine, the newspaper business had him pretty down.  To an extent, I could sympathize.  But as a “citizen journalist”, working for free, my sympathy had its limits.  He was working right now!  His job was to fly to San Francisco and research salvia.  I just worked a ten hour day editing technical documentation in a cubicle.  In San Jose.

“But the technology is amazing!”, I counter.  “Once it comes together it will be so good for journalism!” Sure, 99% of it—“citizen journalism”, “user generated content”, or whatever, is crap.  But that remaining 1% is huge.  And the filters are there.  Put up quality content, and Digg or YouTube, or some other site finds it.  Creators aren’t getting paid yet, but the money is coming.  It has to.
He waves the notion away.  Can’t really blame him. If I’d spent years working to get where he was, I wouldn’t be excited about the technology threatening it all.  And really, until people start getting paid, it is good for journalism?

Take salvia.  Who’d write the better article?  An Oxford educated journalist with chops honed over hundreds of articles, who flew to San Francisco to interview interesting people.  Or an amateur who wrote the article in their spare time, whose research consisted mostly of smoking salvia.  If the layoffs continue (and they will), you can guess which article you’ll get.

The next day, sitting in my cube, I got another call from Philip.  He had one more night in town and had yet to see someone smoking salvia.  Since I’d mentioned having some salvia laying around and curious roommates, he was wondering if I was game.  Now that’s investigative journalism!  One of my roommates was up for it, so I invited Philip over.  He didn’t end up smoking, but I think we showed him a pretty representative salvia trip for his research.  No hysterics like in the YouTube videos.  Just a couple guys sitting on a futon, mildly tripping out for a few minutes.  

All in all, a very interesting experience.  I think that’s what citizen journalism’s really about for me.  Aside from the slightly greater exposure (and the rare possibility of Digg glory), the main thing Broo and other sites do is connect you to people you’d not otherwise connect with.  Mostly to the other hacks in your network, but sometimes beyond.

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travelingseth is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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11 comments on Broowaha Connections. In The Flesh

Log In To Vote   Score: 9
By AmyO on January 21, 2009 at 05:54 pm

Very interesting article! Crazy that someone across the world came out to meet you based on something you wrote here! The power of the internet... Which is also killing the media at the same time... Kind of ironic!

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By travelingseth on January 21, 2009 at 06:37 pm

Making the Broo rating system like Digg... interesting idea.  I like how you get more detailed feedback through the Broo rating system.  But I could really care less about my 'popularity rating' .   

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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on January 21, 2009 at 08:45 pm

congrats on your accompliment... you just never know what great things can happen when you least expect it...keep punchin'

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By Anonymous Party on January 21, 2009 at 09:11 pm

Crazy, huh?

(Maybe if the only things you've ever written for this publication graded out at a third grade comprehension level, and only for other partisan, political party groupies, then I guess it would be.)

I know of several Broo authors who have had this experience.  Congrats to you Seth, and all other Broos who have had this happen for themselves. 

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By Ellie M on January 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

What about capitalism?  Isn't that kind of the cornerstone to the foundation from which our Nation was created?  This is all well and good, but when does it stop being well and when does it stop being good that this "FREEDOM" of service you are providing through your citizen journalism actually breaks down the economic system in reporting the news? 

I do believe it's a great thing when opportunities present themselves through the use of such forums, but I can see the reporters point.  The information he obtained was published freely by you Seth, but reporting the news is the interviewers economic livelihood.  Of course he's going to have an views that opposes giving away something he has worked so hard to maintain.

And if the site is meant to provide writers an opportunity for honest and objective feedback then why is it popularity based?  Popularity negates abject opinion by creating a social hierarchy based on ones ability to socialize within a cyber environment (ie. voting on someones comments, how is that relevant to critiquing the writers article, especially when the comments are completely OFF topic?)

Unfortunately I don't agree with Friday, it's not all worth it when the very vehicle with which you are giving away your services is not netting economic opportunities that stimulate our nations economy as well as our own livelihood (unless of course you are independently wealthy and choose to your works away).

Hey but that's just me. (and to the Naysayers who are criticizing me for waiting two years before expressing my opinion as a reader, thanks!)

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By travelingseth on January 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Wow.  Love it when the comments exceed the article in word count.

Ellie, I do think it's bad that this service I'm providing through citizen journalism breaks down the economic system.  This IS bad short term, but it's making way for a much better future.  And I'm not looking to work for free forever.  As soon as a vehicle presents itself that gives me an audience AND pays the bills, I'm outa here.  This is already happening to some extent at places like HubPages and Helium, but as far as I can tell, you have to write for search engines (worse than an editor?), and the pay is peanuts unless you get massive traffic.

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By Ellie M on January 22, 2009 at 02:15 pm

I guess it's just a different method (that what I prefer to use for myself).   I do like your article and I agree that the comments make for interesting reading as well. 

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By Bonnie Wilson on January 22, 2009 at 04:24 pm

Write On Seth.

Reno’s New Dimensions Realty has generously paid for a postcard that was distributed to all residences in Reno-Sparks.  On this post card was this printed reference:

The post card was in support of the point of the article that was published in Broowaha., a Call For Action For Service Disabled Veterans.

Morgana was kind enough to help veterans, others saw the article in Broowaha, and added their voice to helping veterans.

Craig was kind enough to publicize my awful situation in Cheaters Among Us, Sickler.

God Bless Broowaha and those compassionate ones who freely give of their  time to help others in need.

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By travelingseth on January 22, 2009 at 05:35 pm

So, two instances here where people found Broo articles and used them for their own purposes.  Interesting.  Occasionally I think we are contributing the the 'ol economic engine, albeit unpaid.

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By Ellie M on January 22, 2009 at 06:58 pm


You don't think the news media hasn't had any significant impact on stimulating our nations economy?  Maybe because I worked as a paper girl. 

My grandfather also worked as a reporter who would take me to the newspaper and showed me around the different departments from the distribution to printing centers (during the late 60's).  Maybe it was the way he explained how people were influenced by what they read the impact that the power of the pen has on society. 

But the fact that people are voting down my comments because I'm not regurgitating their personal views just validates my point about the virtual socialism of the site.  That's unfortunate. 

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By Ellie M on January 29, 2009 at 01:02 pm

Maybe Broo is addicted to diet pills and not even the OTC stuff, but the illegal stuff you get from Canada, Mexico, or Europe, because she's been a particlarily skinny harsh nasty bitch to me when I finally decided to step up and participate. 

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