Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weaving on the Web 1 by Ruthe Stowe

Weaving on the Web 1 by Ruthe Stowe - (w/ Margaret Stowe)
as published in Fibre Focus Magazine Toronto Apr 2009

Times have changed. Language has changed and the new language of technology and the internet is certainly upon us. When I first heard the word "blog" it sounded like an insult! But it's not. The purpose of this column is to try to make some sense out of the new words that we come across almost ever day on the computer. The words that I have chosen, to start with, are: Social Networking, Blog, Podcast, Video, YouTube, Ravelry, Weavolution, WeaveCast and WeaveZine. You see what I mean? Do you understand what they're saying? Ravelry (sounds like what you do to knitting when you made a mistake two inches back!) is a knitting and crocheters community. The last two, WeaveCast (a podcast for handweavers) and WeaveZine (an online magazine for weavers), are the brainchildren of Syne Mitchell, who also writes for Handwoven in a column called Weaving the Web. Weavolution is a new social network for handweavers.
But down to business.

Online Social Networking
I want to start with online social networking because most of the other words fall into this category. Everything we do online to publicize and talk about our work and interests involves social networking. We might define social networking as the interaction of people according to some common interest or goal. Online social networking is when we interact on the internet, that world we all seem to live in these days. It’s an exciting world for sure and if you have a special interest, online social networking can greatly expand your knowledge and enjoyment.

There is a growing amount of online social networking about weaving. You can discover some of it by following the links at the end of this article. Types of online networking include email, subscribing to a mailing list (like the Weaving List), joining a discussion forum, making a website, creating a blog, creating a Facebook and/or MySpace page, putting videos on YouTube or subscribing to a podcast. We can take advantage all of these online tools to pursue our interest in weaving. We all use email and some of us have Facebook pages. These are great for personal exchange but most often websites and blogs are used when you want to call attention to your work, interests or ideas.

There are tools we can use for social networking, regardless of our skills. However, before we talk about these tools let’s look at how your social network may develop. It could result from a contact you make in your real-world social life. For example, you may meet someone at an art show with whom you have interests in common. This may lead to an email exchange; or you might check out the person’s website or blog to find more about them. Maybe you are on a committee and in between meetings you discuss your activity or upcoming issues on a listserv mailing list or blog. While searching the internet for interesting things, you may discover some beautiful pictures of natural dyes from the Far East on someone’s website or blog. Learning, investigation and exchange; that’s what it’s all about!

So there are various ways we can use online social networking to further the fibre cause! You might have noticed that I have used the word blog quite a few times already. A blog is an excellent example of a social networking tool, so it’s a good word to look at next.

Blog" is a contraction of the term "Web log". Simplified, it is an online journal, or diary, that you write in which is stored, on the internet, for public viewing on the Web. It can also be a collection of information or pictures. It is used as both a noun and verb; "to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog". A blogger is someone who does that.

Tell the story of your life, post your travels, post book reviews, display our work, publish your own articles, stories or anecdotes or expound your ideas and opinions. These are some common uses for blogs. The great thing about a blog is that it is so easy to create and use. The blog is the website of the people, so to speak. Any one can make one. You don’t have to have any special coding skills. A blog can be just text or can include pictures, videos, slideshows etc. Most blogs have a similar look, with a menu column and a content column. To create one you simply go to one of the popular blog sites (links at the end), click on “create a blog”, then after registering simply click on buttons to create, and post to, your blog. Posting is when you add a new entry to your blog and posts are usually shown chronologically by date. You can also make your blog interactive by inviting comments and ideas. Blogs are “social” things, you want people to come and read it.

Special interest blogs are blogs built around a topic of interest. People from all over the world post special interest blogs and there is a large blogging community of weavers and fibre people. That’s because blogging offers the weaver or fibre person a place to show your work and exchange ideas with an “easy to use” interface. One way to find blogs about weaving is to do a google search. To avoid coming up with thousands of websites, focus your search on your main interest. ie: handweaving, weavers' blogs, spinning blogs, knitting etc. Try going to a popular blog site (links below) and do a search there. You could also go to a blog you’ve heard about (like the one below) and look for links to other weaving blogs. At the Weaving Finlander blog you would be in luck!

The Weaving Finlander
Website address: Below is a screen shot of a blog by The Weaving Finlander, Kaisu, a textiles design student, living in Lapland, Finland. She displays her work, writes about textiles and invites comments. It has a typical 2-column blog layout. This blog has a comprehensive list of weaving blogs so be sure to visit and bookmark this page! And leave her a comment. Now, that’s social networking in action!

If you’re curious about blogs, just go to one of popular weblog sites and create a blog for yourself. Why not? It’s easy, and fun! Who knows what creative ideas keeping a blog might inspire in you, or someone else. Whether you create your own blog or whether you read and enjoy other people’s blogs, good luck and happy blogging!


Popular blog sites:

A couple of blogs about weaving and spinning:


See you next time for Podcasts, Videos, and YouTube.

Ruthe Stowe

Ruthe Stowe is an active member of the Burlington Weaver’s Guild and has been the editor of the Guild Newsletter since it began. She is an avid weaver and creator of the website which she started in 1996 especially for weavers.

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