The New Media Workshop

 

Photo by Keith Burtis, Magic Woodworks

 

I used to enjoy spending time on the weekends watching “The New Yankee Workshop” with my Dad, who is a craftsman. Today I had an opportunity to see a live broadcast that reminded me of those happy memories. Except here, it’s more than woodworking—it’s also a friend bringing the social media community together through his art.

Artisan Keith Burtis is known for his beautiful woodturning work, which he showcases on his website. In crafting bowls, bottle stoppers, ornaments, and sculptures, he never fails to surprise his viewers by bringing out the hidden personality of wood.

What’s interesting about Keith is the way he blends the age-old craft of woodworking with the modern tools of the internet. He is an active member of the social media community, and recently spoke about “Creativity and the Arts” at PodCamp Boston 3. He also hosts a live woodturning show on BlogTV. Viewers can spend a fun hour watching Keith turn a hunk of wood into a collectors item, while sharing a conversation with him and others through the chat feature. And once the show is over, fans can buy Keith’s work from his MagicWoodworks Etsy shop.

This weekend, Keith is hosting an event that he calls The Woodturner’s Weekend. Through Sunday, July 27th, he will be dedicating his live broadcasts to the achievement of a special goal.

I invite you to tune in tomorrow and join the fun, as an old-world art comes to life in the hands of a new media craftsman.

I’ll see you there!

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on July 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm  Comments (13)  
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A Whale of a Day

 

This was my day on Twitter:

 

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor — Permission is granted to post this cartoon on your blog–just please link back to this post! 🙂

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm  Comments (6)  
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Being a Noun Means Nothing Without the Verb

 

My Mouse by mousewords

 

We all identify ourselves with nouns. Like me, for instance. I’m a writer, an artist, and a web designer. I say this quite often, and type it into all my social media bio pages. Everyone knows me by these nouns.

Nouns are great. But I need to remind myself of verbs. Being a web designer doesn’t mean anything unless I design web pages. Saying I’m a writer is meaningless unless I put words on a page. I am those nouns, so one would think that performing the verbs that go with them is second nature to me. It is…when I let it be. But more often than I care to admit, I let myself forget.

Sometimes I fall prey to thinking that the verbs that are most important in my day are the demanding ones. Answer that message. Work on that project. Clean that room. They need to be done by a certain time, so they must be high priority, right? But that’s not always the case. There will always be tasks and “to-do’s” that are deadline-intensive, in the short term. Be assured, there will always be a steady stream of them. When one is dealt with, another will arise to take its place.

On the other hand, the long-term goals—the ones that are really most important—will be there consistently, not moving, not going anywhere. It’s tempting to let them slide down the priority list, simply because they’re always there. But the truth is that they’ll always be there because I’m not doing any verbs toward finishing them.

Long-term goals are kinder and gentler than short-term requirements. Quieter, not so demanding. They sit meekly in the background and await one’s attention. Making them very easy to neglect—there’s no knee-jerk reaction to deal with them, as there is when a short-term shouts at you. And neglect can become a habit. If there’s no unpleasant reaction, no shouting, no chastisement for being neglectful, chances are good one will put off remedying it. You can get used to leaving the quiet things for later…even when they’re really the most important. But they’re usually the most faithful. They’ll wait for your attention.

I know I do this. I get a lot of things “done.” But I don’t do enough towards what’s important. So I need to take a step back every so often. Reorganize my goals. Trim the short-term off the top of the to-do list, remember that taking care of them will not get rid of short-term tasks. Others will take their place, and I will be trapped in an endless cycle of crisis management. While the goals that are most meaningful to me and my future waste away in the background—and may never be achieved.

I don’t want that to happen. So I’ll remind myself to actually perform the verb that comes with my noun.

Writers write. Artists paint. Lovers love.

What verb should you be doing?

 

And the Nominees Art…

ACA 2007 Finalist

As fancy-clad artists of the performing genre wait among the Academy Awards audience to hear the final winners, I sit by my computer in my Sunday best and await the vote that will determine the winners of the 2007 Artists’ Choice Awards. “The Artists’ Choice Awards is a peer review of the art produced by artists who sell on eBay. This year, over 370 nominations were made.” I have had the honor of being nominated by my peers for the category of ACEO Fantasy/Fae/Surreal.

For the voting, I’ve uploaded more art to my Flickr account, and am in the process of renovating my blog gallery. I invite you to take a look!

Being recognized by artists I admire has moved me deeply, and I appreciate it so much. And I can’t help feeling a bit nervous as I wait to hear the outcome…

Award Logo design by kiniart

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 9:33 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Social Media Miracle



Figured Tiger Potpourri 2, originally uploaded by KeithBurtis.

All the events of life pass over the screen of social media–birth and death, joy and sorrow. Milestones are shared by communities of people from all across the globe. And this week is no exception.

Just in time for Valentine’s month, Twitter is witnessing the power of romance! Artist and craftsman Keith Burtis is hoping that “with a bit of tough work, some perseverance, and some social love,” he will be able to purchase an engagement ring for his lovely girlfriend by Friday, February 22nd–two days from now. To achieve this goal, Keith is feverishly turning incredible wood bowls and offering them for sale on his blog. Each work of art is unique, each different type of wood has a personality of its own.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I invite you to visit Keith’s blog, read about his Social Media Miracle, and perhaps help to make it happen!

Strike That–eBay Sellers Protest Unfair New Policies

 

Monday marked the beginning of an unusual protest. eBay sellers are on strike.

The recent announcement of upcoming changes to eBay fees, feedback, and searches came on the heels of a year fraught with seller dissatisfaction, and has proved to be the proverbial last straw.

As a seller of my original art in eBay’s art community, I’ve watched these events unfold. eBay has a strong advantage in name recognition, customer base, and format, as well as a sense of community among sellers. However, much like participants in an unhealthy relationship, these sellers have stood by the auction site through the years, forgiving frustrating changes time and again. The fact is, the percentage of sales on eBay usually outweigh those on other sites. So sellers stay.

But with a resounding call of “eBay is not fun anymore,” buyers and sellers alike are leaving the auction site in droves. And from February 18-25, many sellers are striking in protest.

Beginning February 20, changes will be made to eBay’s fees, feedback system, and search functionality, among other things. While changes in fees and PayPal payment policy are sources of frustration, the majority of complaints are centered around the auction site’s newly discriminatory attitude towards sellers.

Written in the Stars

Feedback and searches are two areas which will be altered under the new rules. Previously, both buyers and sellers were ranked by the same feedback rating system. Participants in a transaction would leave positive, neutral, or negative feedback, together with a short description of the transaction. It was the same on both sides. eBay members relied upon a person’s feedback rating and descriptions—buyers placed confidence in a seller’s good feedback, while sellers felt reassured in seeing good feedback in a buyer. By the same token, negative and neutral feedback and dissatisfied descriptions were cautionary flags to anyone.

Under the new system, “Buyers will only be able to receive positive Feedback.” However, Sellers will still be able to receive negative and neutral feedback. In addition, a star rating system has been added to the seller’s feedback page. After leaving feedback for a transaction, buyers are asked to go a step further and rate the seller with one to five stars in four categories. What isn’t made immediately clear is that “4 out of 5” is considered “low” and adversely affects a seller’s overall record.

The stars will be tied to search engine rankings. Whereas before the eBay search default sorted items by “ending soonest,” results will now be listed according to sellers’ star ratings.

I encourage measures to help the shopper feel safe and comfortable. I spend a great deal of my own time trying to do just that, through clear listings, one-on-one communication, prompt shipping, and customer service. I’m a buyer as well as a seller. I understand what it’s like to pay hard-earned money to a stranger and hope you get what you pay for.

But I take offense at discrimination.

The new rating system places an unfair emphasis on sellers. People are people on both sides of a transaction. There are honest sellers and stellar buyers. But at the same time there are also dishonest people on either side. Under the new policy, sellers are at an increased risk of theft. With no fear of negative feedback, a dishonest buyer could say they never received the item in the mail, and request a refund from eBay. Fearing negative feedback and damage to search engine rankings, a seller may be inclined to issue the refund without complaint, and chalk up the item as a loss.

Fraud of this nature has happened many times before—except now, without the veil of protection from equal feedback, the potential for a seller’s risk is increased.

Where Else?

The eBay home page sports a new tag line: “Where else but eBay?” Apparently that’s not a rhetorical question, and eBay has taken it upon themselves to answer it.

While sellers are working hard to keep their stars from being tarnished, the search ranking they’re aiming for actually cuts into their potential for profit.

eBay search result pages now carry ads for other, off-site retailers.

How does a seller in eBay Motors feel when they find an ad for Toyota.com on the eBay Motors search results page? Or someone selling a lamp, who has to contend with a banner ad for LampsPlus.com above their listing? Why buy a video, when an ad encourages you to rent it from Netflix—with a free trial? How about the person trying to sell their iPhone. What goes through their mind when they see an off-site ad for the Apple Store?

Hmm….”Only $399 Free shipping” from the Apple Store itself, or $400 plus shipping from some person I don’t know.

What would you choose?

Following the “About” link near the ads opens a window that states:
“We think these relevant AdChoice ads will personalize and improve your eBay experience.” For a second, maybe, until I click one and wind up off-eBay.

Here’s an example. My sister is a 19-year-old photographer. While she pursues her college studies, she’s also trying to get a head start on her career by selling her original, limited edition photo prints in an eBay Store.

Say I’m a buyer. I have a wall I want to decorate. I decide I want photography. I enter “photographic print” in eBay’s search bar. This page comes up:

But before I hardly have a chance to see what’s there, I notice an ad for JC Penney’s Home Sale. That makes me suddenly remember I have an email discount from Penney’s. So I click on the ad, enter “photographic print” in their search bar, and here I am.

And an aspiring photographer paid her fees for nothing.

I have to tell you, that doesn’t “improve my eBay experience” in the least.

What’s more, this is in direct opposition to eBay’s own links policy:

“Non-permitted links include, but are not limited to: Links to websites or pages that offer to trade, sell or purchase goods or services outside of eBay.”

Like JC Penney?

“This policy promotes a more level playing field by ensuring sellers do not link inappropriately thereby creating a disadvantage to those sellers who link appropriately.”
(http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-links.html)

Every seller I know agonizes over links, making sure they fit within eBay’s listing policies. They “link appropriately.” Yet eBay itself undermines the “level playing field” by linking to off-site retailers.

It gives the impression that eBay is happy to collect sellers’ fees, then turn around and sell buyers to other vendors for additional money. Ouch. That’s not fair. And we pay fees for what, exactly?

Tangled Website

The workings of the eBay site have become convoluted and perplexing. The problems with the new policies are not just going to go away. Many good sellers will leave. New, short-term friends aren’t going to stick around very long to play. How is that a way to strengthen a business?

Why would anyone stay?

Before, I’ve had many reasons—chief among them being the market visibility, customer base, and community atmosphere of eBay.

But that’s actually a good question. Why stay with eBay after all, when other opportunities are growing stronger and looking better? With options like Etsy.com, Amazon.com, and Onlineauction.com, what reasons do sellers have to stay with eBay?

I wonder how many sellers are asking themselves that very question right now:

“Where else but eBay?”

…And then answering it.