“Have a look at the smaller Book Festival sites and take a lead from there” was the suggestion made to me today when I mentioned that I was trying to increase my presence on the web. It sounded like a valid point, so I spent the morning doing just that. It is amazing, don’t you think, where the click of the mouse can take you when doing an internet search? Mine today was no exception and my journey began when I opened up the blog for the Wigtown Book festival in Scotland.
The post was written by a journalist; Victoria MCEwan. She was quoting from a Mr Tahir Shah, an author himself , who states a belief that books should be presented as if they are works of art; not printed on cheap paper, nor left graphically uninspiring. I was hooked… interested… I read the whole post I suppose because it was saying the sort of things I want to hear. From here, I went on to check out his website, where he continued to speak my language. He was encouraging writers to write for themselves in the first instance and not to accommodate an ego desire to self-promote. However, keeping my initial objective in mind, sadly there was no obvious… to me anyhow… space to leave a comment, which is when I went to move on. But not before my eyes had picked up a statement he made about his novel marketing approach. He mentioned that he had left electronic copies of his latest book in geocaching boxes all over the UK. An inspired idea I thought, but, skimming his list of interests which included trekking through exotic places, I suppose not unduly surprising.
Maybe I lost my concentration after that a bit because my next series of movements led me to start reading an unrelated article about the Hubble telescope. Apparently, in 1990, the lens it was fitted with had been made wrong; a mistake put down to human error. Can you believe it? The notion of it made me smile, as I used the example to reassure myself that even the best of us get things wrong. No one is perfect. My dyslexia condition often makes me feel out of kilter with others, so any little self reassurances I can give myself are most welcome. It helps to keep those self doubts in perspective. ‘Good enough’ is a mantra I adopt these days when little things start to feel as if they are going awry.
Moving on, I was probably still smiling to myself when I jumped ahead in my search and began reading a press article. It was covering the story of an archeological site in Llanbedrgoch in Wales, where an ancient skeleton, over a thousand years old, had been found buried with several bronze and silver military artefacts. These items were three hundred years older than the skeleton itself. The experts have concluded from this rare discovery that even our ancestors used and recycled tools from previous generations. Interesting news is as maybe, but not especially taken to digging up ol’bones I clicked away from the world of the Vikings and found myself fast forwarded to 1851 or thereabouts. The date perhaps was not particularly relevant in this case, as I was reading another news headline of a few months back. The article covered a story about how several oil painting, once rejected and left in the basement of the National Museum of Wales for the last fifty years, had recently been re-examined and subsequently deemed to be genuine paintings by JMW Turner. These landscapes, one I recall named ‘The Beacon Light’, had literally overnight gone from being worth a few thousand to millions of pounds.
So what did I learn from my mornings endeavours, apart from the obvious…. that I can be easily distracted and the internet is a wonderful tool? The latter is a major bonus for me as I do perceive myself to possess a poor memory. This exercise has shown me that I don’t really need to remember facts, because the answers are all there and retrievable. The world-wide web is undisputedly a wonderful and vast resource that connects all our collective knowledge and cognitive outputs together; available to anyone to share, recycle and reuse. But as more information is being loaded up in an increasing variety of forms, I can envisage that many so-called experts, who previously won their reputation by holding up a piece of paper, who could know and retain a bit more than the rest of us, could now be seriously challenged. But, alas, that is not a problem I will have.
So apart from being in awe of the internet and it’s capabilities, this morning’s efforts have showed me that the internet can be a valuable teacher. It has helped me to understand myself a little more from the symbolism I see and the metaphors I create. For instance, flitting and reading about the Hubble Telescope helped to reassure myself that I am not alone in making mistakes. It helped me to put my behaviour into context, as well as giving me the insight that it only takes a little adjustment in our viewpoint to improve our overall outlook on life. The ancient skeleton helped to reinforce to myself that, although there is some merit in looking to our past, we should be mindful that the assumptions we make and the conclusions we draw are, with few exceptions, likely to be crooked and certainly not the whole truth. But of even greater value, the skeleton of the elite warrior showed me the futility of trying to preserve our identity, our status and the possessions that we collect to represent them . If we do so it is at our peril, for we not only deny ourselves the pleasure of giving to others in life what gifts we have to give, we also rob future generations of a valuable resource; loaded with tacit experience and knowledge that is hard to replace. And the paintings made me question the importance we place on things by the labels we choose to give them, because in doing so we run the risk of missing out and appreciating the quality and beauty of what is.
But as for making contacts and increasing my presence on the internet, I am not any further ahead. Maybe I can make this internet-thingy-process easier if I think I can achieve more by doing less. Do you think it could work if, rather than imagining the internet like a massive highway where, to get found, I have to physically stow away in enough cars, I could instead imagine the internet like a huge spiders web? In that case I could justify hanging around on the side lines, twanging away, knowing that eventually someone will notice me and come and find me.