You may recall that I tried my hand at a Friday Five entry back in July, when that week’s theme matched with the NaBloPoMo theme for the month. Since then, my Friday Five participation has been, uh, a bit lax — as in, I haven’t done any.


But my friend Dawn has challenged the Pittsburgh group to answer a series of questions surrounding next month’s PodCamp Pittsbugh. She said we should do it on Friday, as in today. This one I think I’ll try.

1.  What brought you to Social Media and what keeps you hanging around?

I was doing this stuff before I knew it was called social media. The online version of my life will celebrate its fifth anniversary in November, but for the first few years I was writing Uncle Crappy, I wasn’t really aware of the broader scope of what was out there, what other people were doing. I was simply interacting with my friends who were scattered around the country, and I was keeping up with some new friends — some of which I still haven’t met — by reading and commenting on their blogs, as they did with mine.

I attended just a few sessions of the first PodCamp Pittsburgh. I remember being terrified; my technical knowledge was eons behind that of my fellow podcampers — and it still is, by the way — so those sessions were at once intimidating and enlightening. That Saturday gave me just a glimpse of the possibilities of social media, but that was enough to keep me looking for more.

By the time last year’s PodCamp Pittsburgh was ready to go, I was ready, for two reasons — my personal involvement in social media and the notion that I could bring back some things that could help my newspaper take a few steps towards online relevance. The latter goal is only partially successful; I still struggle to convince my editors that we should be doing much more than we do. But on a personal level, I’ve found new ways of connecting with the people around me. I’ve built new friendships. And although I still struggle with some aspects of the technology behind the tools we use, I’ve opened a door that I don’t intend to close.

2.  Which social networking tool gives you the shakes when it’s not updated or is experiencing down time?  (Podcasts, Blogs, Micro-blogging, etc)

I’ve been irritated when Twitter takes one of its frequent vacations. I check Plurk almost to the point of obsession. But this here is the one, my primary tool. The free service at WordPress has never given me any trouble — in fact, I’m the only cause of downtime at Uncle Crappy. But even on those days when I open up the admin side and then slink away because I have nothing to offer, I still feel guilty.

3.   What kind of insight could you offer to others on a topic at PCPGH3?  If none, then what do you most want to hear more about?

As I noted before, I’m not sure I have the technical knowledge to present something in a PodCamp kind of setting, but I can — and happily will — offer this to anyone who asks:

You can do this.

Technical knowledge and experience is nice, and certainly helpful — but it’s not necessary. If you have something to say, say it. Visit Blogger or if writing is what you want to do. Open an account on Twitter or Plurk. If you want to get in deeper, there are tons of easy ways to start audio or video podcasting. In the last year, I’ve taught myself audio and video editing, and I’m an acknowledged idiot.

You can do this.

I can’t speak for social media communities in other towns, but if you’re in Pittsburgh, you’ll find plenty of people who are willing to offer help, advice, expertise — and you might even find yourself on a softball team. There’s help out there — all you have to do is ask. PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 would be the perfect place to start, too. Everyone I read, watch and listen to will be there — and they’ll be just as willing to help you as they did with me.

You can do this. And next month would be the perfect time to start.

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