The internet can be a wonderful thing.
I went to an Independent Authors Fringe festival this morning – in my pyjamas.
The Festival is one of the three run each year by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) in conjunction with three major international book fairs/shows. It consists of blog posts and videos being released continuously over twenty-four hours, and can be permanently accessed – because they’re blog posts available on the ALLi website. And you don’t need to brush your hair to attend!
If you’ve ever wanted to write, now is a wonderful time to do so. The resources available with a few words in a Google search are almost endless. Tips, how-to’s, guides, cheat-sheets, online courses – almost anything you need is freely available. There are even websites that offer images and online programs to create covers. Even publishing on Amazon or Smashwords is simple and available to all.
I’ve had to do a ton of research since I started writing and I can’t imagine how I would have been able to gain the information I have if it weren’t for the online environment. Not only can anyone access websites and articles, but email has made contacting people and organisations directly and simple and fast process.
Back to the Festival. Online communities such as ALLi are one of the biggest bonuses that have emerged from the internet. Online communities mean I communicate daily with writers from all around the world, and it is a wonderful and supportive environment.
This post was originally only going to be about the Fringe Festival, but the ease of attending had me thinking about the internet as a communication and community-building tool. It’s not all sunshine and roses, the rise of online bullying is horrific (only one of many examples), but I know it to be a way of connecting people in a positive way.
Take my own family. After watching ‘Who do you think you are?’ one evening, I jumped onto the Ancestry website and started to build a family tree. I didn’t persist for long and soon gave it up. Several months later I was contacted by a man in the UK who was researching a friend’s family tree and had come across mine. His friend turned out to be my mother’s half-sister, who no-one in the family knew existed.
Before you say anything, there was some fairly in depth discussion and to-ing and fro-ing to confirm this lady’s story, but confirm it we did. My only regret was that my mother had passed away several years earlier and never knew of her sister’s existence. But she now knows her birth family (she was adopted), and we know her – thanks to the internet. And thanks to the internet, I am also connecting with other family all around the world.
And it’s not only about family and friends, work communication and community building is also done via the internet using emails, websites, webinars, online conferencing, and more.
I could go on and on, but I guess the conclusion is fairly simple – the internet is a tool and one most people use every day.
Whether it’s a good tool or a bad one depends on who uses it, and how.
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