Question: Why Do You Blog?

Ok, I have a question for you.  I want to know why you blog.  The reason I want to know this is because I’m preparing a lecture on autobiography and blogging, and I want to know what the medium of the blog uniquely offers those who choose to blog.  I am particularly interested in why people choose to blog about their personal experience of the everyday, rather than those who blog for professional or business reasons; however, I do appreciate all thoughts, opinions and perspectives on this topic!

So, what does the form of the blog do for your writing?  Do you blog to help you reflect and articulate, or do you blog to share, connect and build a community?  If both, which is more important to you?  Would you blog if no-one was reading?

I will be using a selection of responses in my lecture, which is as part of an undergraduate unit at Stirling University on Digital Media, and I will be feeding back to this blog too with results and conclusions.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

Teaching With YouTube


A while ago I presented a paper at a conference concerned with the teaching of contemporary women writers at Brighton University.  My paper was about how I teach using YouTube as a way of enhancing my tutorials.  After I presented, I received a lovely email from Dr. Nicole King inviting me to turn my paper into an article for the magazine WordPlay, which is the English Subject Centre publication for Higher Education in the UK.

Today, I received a copy of the magazine with my article in it, and words cannot express how happy it makes me to see my words in print 🙂

Here’s the introduction:

The screen on the laptop becomes animated as a figure of a woman fidgets awkwardly in front of a microphone.  The camera takes in the mocking scepticism of those sitting in the audience and the cynical raised eyebrow of the critical music mogul judge.  The background music begins and the woman starts to sing, her voice soaring with a clear resonance evidently astounding to the attendant crowd.  The clip lasts only minutes, streamed directly from source to computer, and yet it has been watched by millions and has generated a media storm leading to international news coverage, tabloid frenzy, Oprah interviews and a week’s retreat to ‘The Priory’.  Surely this is the power of the Internet, and, more specifically, the power of YouTube.

And yet, the power of YouTube as an educational resource is still largely underestimated, as it is currently more famous for its facilitation of Britain’s Got Talent singer Susan Boyle’s hyperbolic rise to international celebrity than for its usefulness to the university teacher.  However, the video-sharing website surely deserves recognition as a valuable tool in the university teacher’s arsenal, rather than be disregarded as a fame machine for the talented few and the talentless many.

If that’s whetted your appetite, then you can download the magazine as a pdf document here: WordPlay.

If you like what you read, and you would like to approach me to write for your publication, please get in touch with me at amypalko [at] madasafish [dot] com.

Pointless Babble?

Branching Veins

According to recent research carried out by Pear Analytics, 40.5% of all tweets are classifiable as ‘pointless babble,’ which the researchers defined as  ‘the “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets’.  You can read their full report which is downloadable as a white paper from their website; however, the BBC sum up the percentages here stating that:

it found that 40.5% could be classified as pointless babble, 37.5% as conversational and 8.7% as having pass-along value. Self promotion and spam stood at 5.85% and 3.75% respectively.

To be honest, I am dissatisfied with the classification of certain tweets as ‘pointless babble’.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it is those tweets which inform us about your choice of sandwich, the weather in your area, your indecision over which shoes to wear or your confession to treating yourself to a sneaky glass of rosé that brings the necessary level of humanity to your twitterstream.

It’s these small insights into the ordinary everyday that offer necessary points of connection; they offer a degree of commonality which others can relate to and respond to.  Following the sharing of the quotidian, conversation naturally flows, and it is from here that one can then go on to self-promote or offer those tweets defined as having a ‘pass-along’ value.  By offering up small, seemingly insignificant details, communication is sparked and friendships are born.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t follow bots.  I’m not interested in the firing out of information regardless of how relevant it may be to my interests.  I would much rather follow those that tweet about their everyday triumphs, struggles, decisions, disappointments, appetites.  I would much rather follow human beings with all their wonderful foibles, idiosyncrasies, oddities and failings.

For me the ‘babble’ is far from pointless – it’s the glue that sticks a community together; it’s the unapologetic celebration of human conversation.

How about you?  How do you feel about the classification ‘pointless babble’?  Do you think there’s too much of it on Twitter, or are you like me & revel in these invitations to connect?

Announcement: New PeopleMaps Role

Leaf By Leaf

I have a bit of an announcement to make today.  For the last month I have been working with a fantastic company as their online community manager and as a contributor towards their social media strategy.

PeopleMaps is a company that provides personality profiling technology through their creation of a Personality Power Widget.  In their own words:

PeopleMaps builds Personality Power Widgets to provide psychological profiling (sometimes called personality or psychometric testing) products to businesses and individuals across the globe. We are experts in psychology, technology and marketing and make affordable profiling available to everyone with access to the Internet.

I am so excited to be working with them, not only because they are at the cutting edge of developing innovative personality products, but also because of their Philosophy Manifesto.  Who wouldn’t want to work with a company which states:

As a philosophy, we believe that one should alter the environment to suit one’s individual personality, instead of bending the individual out of shape to suit the environment. This could be a work environment, a home environment, a romantic environment; it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that to be productive, to be inspired, to be happy, to be successful,  to be at your best, you need to be operating in an environment compatible with your personality. We need the world to relate to us – and communicate with us in a personality centric way.

Pretty cool, hey?

So, what exactly is the service that I’m providing PeopleMaps?

Well, my role as an online community manager means that I am setting up and maintaining Ning communities, so as to facilitate collaboration and co-ordination within the company, as well as managing PeopleMaps’ participation in larger communities such as those found on Twitter and FaceBook.  I’m also creating training documents for a number of social networking sites, such as Ning and Twitter, to ensure that all those within the company are comfortable and capable of participating within the PeopleMaps online community, and to that end, I offer ongoing support and advice when needed.

I have also helped to develop the social media strategy for PeopleMaps, and I will be helping to deliver that strategy over the coming months.  This will mean that I (along with others in the company) will be growing, contributing & promoting the PeopleMaps twitter account, @peoplemaps,  and the PeopleMaps FaceBook fanpage.

If you are unfamiliar with PeopleMaps, then I thoroughly recommend that you check out their brand spanking new website.  It’s got some fantastic content on it already, and they have just launched a private beta of their Power Widget.  Also, if you’re looking for some free fun stuff, check out the PeopleMaps Playground!

NB  If you are interested in working with me, please check out my About Amy page for more on my skills & background, and my LinkedIn profile will provide you with more on my professional activites plus recommendations etc.


On the 25th of June I graduated with my doctoral degree for my thesis Charting Habitus: Stephen King, the Author Protagonist and the Field of Literary Production. It’s been a long and, at times, arduous journey, but I got there eventually, and the celebrations were a lovely way to mark the end of my time as a student in higher education.

Here’s a short clip of me collecting my degree:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Graduation“, posted with vodpod

Thanks go to everyone who helped me on my way. I appreciate you all more than I can possibly say.

Landing Tweets Results

Floating Feather 3

Living life in the fast lane recently has resulted in a delay in sharing the fabulous landing pages that were created & improved throughout the month of May.

Take a look at those who contributed!

A quick recap of posts on Twitter landing pages in case you missed out on the writing project, but would still like to produce your own landing page:

Thanks to all who contributed – your participation was much appreciated.  And to all those who didn’t manage to get round to it in May, if you leave a comment along with a link, I’ll update this post to include your new landing page.

Also, would love feedback on this group writing project – did you find it useful/inspirational/motivational?  What writing projects would you like to see here in the future?  Do get in touch!

Up To Speed


This is a rather newsy post to get you up to speed with everything that’s been going on here.  It’s been all go!

  • Thesis – My thesis was submitted on Friday in electronic, softbound & hardbound versions and my degree has now been conferred.  It’ll be formally conferred on the 25th June when I graduate with my doctorate; however, I am now officially Dr Amy Palko.  If you are interested in reading my thesis, it is available here.
  • Location Independent – Lea Woodward has asked me to be the resident photographer for Location Independent, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of my photos over there.  On top of that, she has interviews up with me and the other team leaders talking about the concept of Location Independent & our experience of it.  I thoroughly recommend you click through for a read, as there are some really interesting views on living a life location independent.
  • The Calm Space – My photo for the month of June is available as a desktop download from The Breathing Space now.  In addition to this, however, Karen Wallace has also asked me if I would like to write for The Calm Space too, so as from this month you can find me in The Nature Space.  My first post there is called Waves of Kindness and looks at the difficult period post-submission of a phd thesis.
  • RedBubble – In other photography news, I have added some new images to my RedBubble shop and I have been selling some prints.  Please do go and have a look at them and let me know what you think!
  • Landing Tweets Project – Lastly, the weekend was the deadline for participating in the Landing Tweets group writing project.  So if you managed to put together a landing page over the month of May, or you reworked the one you already had, please do add a comment here.  I will be collating all the entries in a post later this week!

Right, I think that’s everything for just now.  Would you like to share some of your news?