Maintenance Update

Apparently the PDF in my journalism post a couple back isn’t appearing properly. I’m going to work on fixing that.

Also, I need to get the AddThis widget to stop appearing in the “excerpt” portion of the site, and only appear when you actually click on the entry.

Both of these things are probably beyond my meager programming skills, so between that and my time at the SFL Conference this weekend, it will likely be done by the end of the century.

Facebook, I don’t understand you

So to allow people to comment here with their Facebook accounts–so they don’t have to go through the trouble of getting yet another stupid account–I have to enable Facebook Connect. But that means I have to get an App and an API key and all this nonsense. And I have to wonder: why? Why do I have to get an “app,” and thus ask Facebook users if I can download or access their profile information? I don’t want any of that, I just want them to be able to comment here without trouble. I don’t want to have this “canvas” thingy or do all this sort of advertising stuff, and hell, my privacy policy is simply “Yeah I’m not going to tell anybody any of your private stuff.”

And then there’s the new profile layout. Now, I’m not one to really complain about Facebook’s profile changes. It’s their product, they can alter it as they see fit (and considering that membership has continued to climb at a fantastic rate, it appears to be quite fit), and before, they always seemed to make it more efficient, better, in many ways. But the most recent change I just can’t quite grasp. First off, those pictures up there? Yeah, maybe we don’t want them all up there for someone to see right away. Yes, I know you can delete them. I still think they don’t belong there. But secondly, and more importantly, what is the point of a status update anymore? It used to be it was at the top of one’s profile, where it was quite visible and could serve as a sort of “broadcast” to anyone visiting your profile as to what your status really was. But with all that personal information up there, your status gets pushed downwards, muddled with all your links, videos, notes, Farmville pleadings and Mafia Wars gangbanging, and your friend’s writings (which now you can’t filter out anymore; another dumb decision.) And so it makes me wonder why we even really have the damn thing anymore. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we do, but it still feels almost extraneous.

Before I used to think the same of Twitter. Since virtually the entirety of my social network was on the social network, what was the point of using Twitter? It was a status update, just limited to 140 characters. I was rankled by the inane length constraints, being a burgeoning novelist, and besides, it seemed redundant. I had status updates, who cared about Twitter. (Lots of people, yes, but I certainly didn’t.) Eventually I got over that and started using it, although still not on a truly frequent basis.

Now I’m starting to reverse my ideas. I’ve grown annoyed with Facebook lately, not only over its recent batch of befuddling design choices, but also over its security flaws, its unnecessary expansion and intensified complexity of its privacy policy, the arrogant attitude of its creator, the idea that Facebook seems to dictate all forms of internet interaction, and finally the sort of atmosphere that it’s becoming the social media Borg Collective, assimilating everything else into it. All my friends say “send me a Facebook message” instead of text or–god forbid–email. It’s as if this one company dominates and sets all of their communication protocols. I prefer to have diversity and choice, I’m no fan of monopolies. Seeing this occur is just unsettling.

So I’m thinking of using Twitter more often in my social media sphere. I won’t actually ditch Facebook–it’s like really think syrup, you just can’t get out–but I will shift my usage to a different service. And then, maybe Facebook would have to compete to get me back.

Reality check on aisle 9, please….

The Beginning

All texts have a beginning. Whether it is a story of some fictional land and the heroes that must traverse the threats within it, a treatise on what is the path to  enlightenment, a screed calling for more government boondoggles here and less involvement there, or even a silly piece to make one chuckle, all texts have a beginning.

And if you got this far, there’s a fairly good chance you know what this entry is supposed to be.

My name is Jeremy Kolassa. I’m a writer (as I’m sure you guessed.) I intend for this blog to be not only a showcase, but a place where I can discuss the finer points of writing. Whether that writing is a press release, a novel, an op-ed, a screenplay, a technical manual, or some pompous literary avant-garde hypertext foolishness, I want to take it apart, analyze its innards, see what makes it tick, and maybe suggest some upgrades to make it work better.

I should probably point out a few things before we get started. First, I’m a science fiction aficionado, and my writing and other preferences reflect that. Science fiction is a subset of speculative fiction, which I feel best embodies the entire point of fiction: helping us escape our mundane lives in the here and now and travel to places far beyond the realm of comprehension. The traditional word for this is catharsis, defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

1   : purgation
2  a : purification or purgation of the emotions (as pity and fear) primarily through art
   b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
3  : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

What is proper fiction but a purification of ourselves–a removal of our mundane fears and wants and other things niggling in the back of our minds–and a release from that tension, that teleports us to another plane and we feel “renewed?” Some may not think of it as a spiritual thing, and in general, I would agree. But I feel the point stands.

Which means, for all those literary types who write stories of what is going on with these old ladies drinking coffee at a diner down on Fifth Street and trying to find the “truth of the human condition” through blunt realism, well, my honest opinion is: ¬†“Fiction: You’re doing it wrong.”

I’m also a huge fan of technology, especially anything relating to space development, green energy, computers, or mobile phones. I am intrigued by the fantasies woven by the advocates of transhumanism, but frankly I feel that a lot of what they say is pie-in-the-sky fantasy. (I won’t say nonsense, I will be generous.)

I’m also a huge fan of technology, especially anything relating to space development, green energy, computers, or mobile phones. I am intrigued by the fantasies woven by the advocates of transhumanism, but frankly I feel that a lot of what they say is pie-in-the-sky fantasy. (I won’t say nonsense, I will be generous.)

Politically, I’m a libertarian. I am not a fan of giant corporations eating babies with Tabasco sauce, as I’m sure half of you are thinking at this very moment, and I am not a fan of ripping down all the borders and firing our soldiers and letting those pinko Commie bastards from Ottawa form an alliance with the illegal immigrants to our south in order to form a North American Union. I merely believe that the only just society is one that exists without coercion and is based on voluntary association in a free market, allowing individuals to exercise their own judgement rather than being dictated to from on high. I’m a fierce individualist and oppose collectivism at all costs, since it is the origin of nearly all of the ills the modern world faces today.

I’m also a humanist. I believe in a human centered existence, without some other force creating our destinies–in fact, being an existentialist as well, I don’t think human beings have any sort of destiny whatsoever, other than the ones that they manufacture for themselves. However, I do not entirely discard the concept of a “human spirituality,” and I think there’s room for it in our modern lifestyle, secular humanists and Hitchens be damned. I’m also not a traditional “atheist” that you’d expect: while an atheist would say “I don’t believe in god,” my view is more of an ignostic one: “The question of whether or not god exists is irrelevant and meaningless.” And it’s true, it doesn’t really matter either way. As long as you don’t try and shove your teachings down my throat, I will not try and sway you from whatever you believe.

However, do expect a lively discussion every now and then, just for fun.

Good beginnings do not take too long; they do not get in the way of the story which is found in the middle. And thus, I will close out my beginning here, and let us get on to the meat of this blog.