Dot Com Boom

I finally caved and bought www.maggiedebarra.com!

Notes

For a long time on my About Me page, I had written “Maybe one day I’ll buy my own web domain and stop doing everything for free. But that day is not today.” Well, my friends, that day is today. Well this year really. I bit the bullet and bought www.maggiedebarra.com and www.maggiedebarra.ca! Using my fantastic computer skills, I even re-directed MaggiedeBarra.ca to MaggiedeBarra.com and I mapped my WordPress blog to MaggiedeBarra.com! Does this make sense to you? It does to me! I owe it all to my many hours spent back in high school hacking websites to copy and modify their code.

I really do enjoy the structure and style of WordPress and I am happy to continue using their publishing platform. I used GoDaddy as a host because Diggnation brainwashed me many years ago. In addition to these new matters, I even updated my Theme to give it a mini face lift!

What’s in a Name?

This blog has been Paper Clips for so long. Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra. It just makes sense to me. It sounds and feels so familiar! I couldn’t bear to change it. I did run through many other possible names (I wanted to call it In Medias Res back in third year, though I couldn’t seem to make it work…) but I kept coming back to this one. That or simply calling it MAGGIE DE BARRA, which sounds ever more pretentious and narcissistic than owning a website that is simply your first and last name dot com. And so, I will continue using Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra as my go-to until another name strikes me, or I get a cease and desist order!

To Blogue or Not to Blogue

I think one reason why I waited for so long is because, in addition to being extremely clumsy, I’m really shy! I am. With minor online exhibitionist tendencies in the form of public tweets and private instagram photos, but at the heart of it, I am shy.

I remember reading somewhere: It’s not personal branding, it’s just living your life online. And yes, my generation is doing just that. Your online presence is a mural, and every tweet, photo, and post is another brush stroke.

I thought for a long time that if I could hide behind maggiedebarra.wordpress.com it meant that I was projecting to the world that I was not really serious, that I could stop at any time, and that I’m simply indulging an odd, online hobby. But, attaching my name, and throwing a few dollars consideration at it, that means I am proclaiming, loudly: Hello, world! This is really me and I am serious. I am still shy, but I’m working on it.

Type-Casting

For a long time this website had been a “student life” blog, documenting my experiences as a college and university student between 2008-2012 (what a nice time capsule!). Since I am now a young, urban, working professional, it has really morphed into something totally unique. It is not a millennial blog, or a fashion+beauty blog, or a foodie blog, or a music blog. As much as I’d like it to be, it is not my dream Modern, Moderate Feminism Blog (#modfem). I write about my life and experiences and things that are interesting and important to me. I write a lot about Canada and Toronto because they are the centres of my universe.

One term that I have always loved is “hyper-local”. I came across this term when it was applied to a few Ottawa blogs back in university. They would cover all the local goings-on: restaurants, concerts, cafes, shops, and local politics. They weren’t exactly travel blogs, but they’d be worth checking out if you were going for a visit to learn all about the cool local spots.

And so, I think in 2015 I think I will try to write more about the people, places, and things I love, and to embrace the hyper-locality of it all!

Advertisements

O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

I just wanted to show off my new flavors.me homepage. I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while. I wanted a splash page that was stylish, user friendly, and easy to navigate. Flavors.me is all of those things.

I like Flavors.me for three reasons:

  1. It looks great.
  2. It was easy to create.
  3. It is efficient.

It will take less than ten minutes to craft and design your Flavors homepage. The customization options are very simple and easy to use. And it collects a bunch of your most important links and puts  them all in one really good looking page.

I changed my homepage url on Twitter from this blog to the splash page. This blog shows off my work and what I’m doing, but not everybody who clicks through from Twitter is interested in that. Maybe they want to see my photos or foursquare. Using the Flavors page let’s the user make the decision, instead of forcing something on them.

It also presents a more varied display of what I do and what I’m intersted in. Right now I have collected my blog, flickr photos, twitter stream, my tumblr and posterous accounts and my foursquare feed in one spot. Mine is pretty basic, but you can look at what some other users have created for inspiration in their design gallery here.

Flavors.me seems to be catching on. I read about Flavors.me while reading Amandalyn Ferri’s blog a while ago, and today I noticed that Lifehacker did a little write up about it here.

I’ve started using a lot of new services in the last month or so: Flavors, Buzz, Foursquare and Posterous. More on those later.

“You Should Follow Me On Twitter Here.”

Marching to the drum of Dustin Curtis.

Last night I came across this post by Dustin Curtis about Twitter and click-through rates. Curtis studied the click-through rates based on different prompts to readers, urging them to follow him on Twitter.

“Follow me on twitter” is the phrase I usually use. Curtis discovered that he got a 7.31 per cent click-through rate with this prompt. “You should follow me on twitter here” raised the click-through rate to 12.81 per cent. This is an impressive increase.

According to professor Wikipedia: click-through rates are calculated by taking the number of times a person clicks on a link or ad and dividing that by the number of times that the link was available for viewing. For example, if my About Me page was viewed one hundred times, and five people clicked the link to my Twitter page, then I could have a click-through rate of 5 per cent.

There are a couple of cool things about this study:

  • Curtis uses a lower-case t in twitter instead of a capital T in Twitter. This is something new to me. I think it works because it slips in the command seamlessly. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the sentence by having Capital Letters throwing off your GROOVE. Also having a capital Twitter just seems a bit overpowering, while lower-case twitter seems nice and friendly.
  •  The command is a bit stern: You should follow me on twitter here. It just sounds so tough. But, if you think about it, a lot of people may have no idea what Twitter is or what you do on Twitter. If you sound like you have authority in this area, the herds may be more willing to follow you. It’s 10 per cent what you say, and 90 per cent how you type it.

I’m going to follow his lead, and I am already following him on Twitter (@dcurtis). I’ve put that command in my About page and I look forward to seeing if there is any change in my click-through rates. One more thing:

You should follow me on

twitter here.

Schmap Cambridge Guide

Great success.

Almost a month ago I mentioned that one of my photos was nominated to be included in an online guide to Cambridge. Very happy to say this arrived in my inbox over the weekend:

Hi Maggie,
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released ninth
edition of our Schmap Cambridge Guide

You can see it live on the guide right here, and you can also see it featured on their iPod app here.

Schmap Cambridge Guide Short-List

What a beauty.

Pretty cool email this morning:

Hi Maggie,
I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has
been short-listed for inclusion in the ninth edition of our
Schmap Cambridge Guide, to be published late November 2009.

River Cam

I’ve never heard of this guide, but they want to use my photo and that’s pretty sweet. As long as they give me credit, I say go for it.

Update 11/15/09:
My photo was picked! See it here.

New Maclean’s OnCampus Post

A text message that could save your life.

I just hit publish on a new Maclean’s OnCampus blog post about my school’s new Emergency Notificaiton System. Check it out here.

Big Thoughts Hurt My Brain

When Free Association meets Stream of Consciousness.

I was lying in bed last night and I had one of those moments when you start thinking something simple like “I wonder if there are any good movies playing this weekend.” and it mutates into “I wonder if I should buy my own website domain.” 

My mind just started to wander through all the things I have to do and things I want to do and two hours later I was still thinking. What kind of leaders will my generation be when we are all grown up? We live our lives on Facebook and YouTube and have no concept of privacy but a great understanding of popularity and the power of view counts. What will we do in 30 years when somebody pulls out a cached store of Facebook photos of the next Prime Minister? What is wrong with us? I could go on. Uhh the internet. It freaks me out sometimes.

Things I was thinking about last night that I still remembered when I woke up this morning:

  1. I sold a textbook at Haven!! I was cleaning my room earlier this spring and I was just transfering my big textbooks from my side table to my bookshelf to my desk to the floor. After a while you just have to be honest with yourself and admit that as much as you loved your Intro to Archaeology class there is no way that you will ever pick up that thousand-page book for a little light reading any time soon. So I put them all up for sale and now when I get back to Ottawa I will have a little surprise waiting for me in the form of a cheque. Money in the bank.
  2. I want to start a podcast. I get about this far into starting in and then I get distracted. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
  3. I want to try Tumblr. They say it’s “the easiest way to blog.” And they give you 21 reasons why you will love it. They make a convincing argument, but then again, I am easily impressed. What is up with Tumblr and Flickr and why don’t they want to buy a vowel? Ahh! Ok I just did it. I feel like I am spreading myself too thin. I would rather be really good at a few things than mediocre at a lot of things. I am going to justify this venture by saying that I want to try out a new blogging platform.  (I’m sorry WordPress. Don’t cast me out just yet. This is field research. Archaeology remember?)

Welcome to the World

Real World. Not WOW.

Just posted my intro to Maclean’s OnCampus. Check it out here. This is just a little note to say hi. Like dipping your toes in the water before you cannonball. (or bellyflop) 

I have many ideas floating around in my head and now all that’s left is to just do it. Like Nike.

Update 08/02/09:
Woah. I just came up on my own Google Reader. This is surreal.

“hotmail.com

You thought driving on the other side of the road was hard.

I’m bad at proofreading my emails on a good day. But I’m all backwards in this little city of Cambridge. This is going to take some getting used to: my @ sign and ” button are swapped on the keyboards. Is this a universal UK thing?

Honourable mentions:

# is hanging out next to enter.

Shift + 3 = £