Micro Monday interview with Joyce Garcia (@garciabuxton)
October 8, 2018
Jean: Hey, it’s Micro Monday again, the weekly microcast where we get to know members of the Micro.blog community. I’m Jean MacDonald, the community manager at Micro.blog, and today, I’m very happy to be talking to Joyce Garcia, who is @garciabuxton on Micro.blog. Joyce, hi, how are you doing? Welcome to the podcast.
Joyce: Thanks, I’m delighted to be talking to you. I really am.
Jean: I’m really glad you’re here, and thanks for taking the time to do this with me and coordinate time zones, etc. (laughter) Before we get into talking about blogging and Micro.blog in particular, why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself.
Joyce: Oh, boy. Well, I started out in newspaper journalism. I was an editor for, if you count college, I’d say, almost 30 years or so. You see what happened in the newspaper industry, unfortunately. I got out before the next round of layoffs happened. I did some corporate work, and I’m now working at a research nonprofit as an editor. So, I was able to port over my skills and do something that didn’t require me to work nights and weekends, which was nice.
During that time in news, I did a fair amount of online news work back in— I started out in 1996 with a website called Nando.net. I don’t know if anybody remembers that, but it was one of the first news websites out there. That was interesting. That was kind of getting in on the ground floor of all this online news business. That’s how I ended up in the Chicago area now. I came over here to work on a newspaper website.
So, I had been in and out of the interwebs way back when we were hard coding front pages of a news site with HTML, like our ancestors did.
Jean: I was just going to ask you because I was thinking—I wonder—1996 was the first year I tried to get on the internet, and I was thinking—what kind of CMS did they have back in 1996?
Joyce: It was basically just text and HTML. There was no CMS.
Jean: As long as we’re going down memory lane, I noticed on Micro.blog, you mentioned your fondness for the daisy-wheel printer. I hadn’t thought about the daisy-wheel in a long time.
Jean: My first very tech thing that I learned how to do was working on a word processor, the AB Dick dedicated word processor, which was like going to a mainframe computer station in the basement of the University of North Carolina history department or wherever. We had a big daisy-wheel printer that printed out our stuff, and I thought those things were really cool.
Joyce: Oh, yeah. Did you have like punch cards? Like the whole nine yards?
Jean: This was working at terminals, doing word processing. So, it was a dedicated word processing system. In fact, I believe that the monitors were portrait mode. It was some expensive thing that AB Dick sold to universities, and then, they trained people. I was working as a secretary after I graduated, and I thought it was pretty cool.
When I was a student there, I did take computer science, and we did have punch cards, and that punch-card machine—and I know we’re going to talk about typewriters—(laughter)—the punch card machine was—have you ever worked on one of those? They were so mechanical; now, they’d be called steampunk practically. They had the keyboard, which was like a regular typewriter keyboard, but it was in this big metal console. Each time you started a new line—every card was a line of code—there were metal hands that moved it along and slid it up to a pile that you eventually turned in to the mainframe computer guys who put it into their machine that read the punch cards.
Joyce: I think I got in just after that; we had the five and half inch floppies. So, that was a little before my time, but I have seen those machines, and they’re scary looking. Wow. I love the retro technology; I really do.
I just got a Royal Aristocrat manual in the mail. I splurged on eBay. I’ve always been told not to buy a typewriter on eBay because you don’t know if they’re going to pack it well or if it’s going to come in a big pile of wreckage.
It’s actually in beautiful shape, and it’s got a cursive font.
Jean: Oh, neat!
Joyce: Yeah! I just want to use it to write letters and noodle around on it. But yeah, I love that stuff, and I like having that kind of retro technology to cleanse my brain after being on a screen all day. There’s something very refreshing about that.
Jean: How long have you been on Micro.blog? I confess I don’t remember your entry in there, but maybe, you have been there since the beginning.
Joyce: I just snuck in. I think it’s been, maybe, barely a little over a month.
Jean: I guess I could have looked it up, I suppose, but I thought that you’d been there longer.
Joyce: It feels like longer, to be honest. I guess that’s a good thing.
Jean: How did you find out about Micro.blog?
Joyce: I didn’t even realize there was a Kickstarter thing involved. I had no idea about this place. I found out from a guy who’s been on Micro.blog for a while—Alan Jacobs.
Jean: Oh, @ayjay.
Joyce: We knew each other when he was he was a professor at Wheaton College out here in the Chicago area. Now, he’s at Baylor or something. He’s a longtime early adopter on social media, Twitter and whatever, and writes a lot about technology.
He had been going on about this—so, fine, I take a look—like so many of us, being so disenchanted with Twitter and Facebook, I thought let me see what’s going on here.
I was pretty smitten immediately. OK, it was kind of quiet, a lot of crickets. I’d post something out there—it was like OK, whatever—and then, all of a sudden, conversations would pop up. Getting to know the people on this community was like—well, this is actually kind of cool.
Everybody seems to be pleasant, and maybe, everybody’s a little quirky in their own way, which I love.
Joyce: So, I found myself sticking around. I’ve not really hung out on Twitter or Facebook in a while now, because this took care of my whatever Jones would have to spout something off ofline. I just put it there; then, I’m done.
Jean: You say you were on Twitter and Facebook. Did you also blog separately from that? I know you have a blog that’s more than just your Micro.blog.
Joyce: Well, I started that because of Micro.blog actually.
Joyce: Here’s the thing. I had a blog back in ‘96 that I guess you would call a blog. It was sort of Twitter-size asides that I would, again, hand code, which is nuts. So, I had something dating that far back; then, in around ‘99 or so, I had this religion news blog that I did just to amuse myself. it’d be wacky things like the Virgin Mary showing up in an underpass, news like that. I called it Holy Weblog.
Joyce: I did it to entertain myself, and it started getting a little bit of traction. It was sort of the house blog very briefly for Belief.net. Then, I was still working at a newspaper, and newspapers didn’t know what the heck blogging was. I was asked to not do it anymore, so I stopped doing it.
After that, I did maybe a few little bitty personal things—Tumblr when that came around that came around and some WordPress things here and there. But I never really kept up with it. I always burn out really fast.
Twitter and Facebook came along, and it’s been interesting to hear the experiences of other people on Micro.blog and elsewhere, who say that once Facebook and Twitter came along, then blogging sort of petered out, and I realized that in some cases, that happened with me too. It’s like—OK, I’ve got these two outlets; that’s all I need. There is that, and also, I got really disenchanted.
You know there are some pockets of blogdom that are all about “monetizing the content,” creating your little branding empire. It turned me off. It took all the fun out of it, and I was really bad at the monetizing thing.
I like the fact that people on Micro.blog are just blogging, and they’re doing it because that’s their space, that’s their home on the internet. They’ll express themselves; they’ll put stuff out there. I was so intrigued by this community of people who have their little real estate on the internet. That’s their thing. That’s where they are.
Joyce: I don’t know; I’m babbling now.
Jean: Well, the road to Micro.blog is paved with many discarded and forgotten blogs for pretty much everybody.
I know I’ve had at least three, and there’s not too many people like Manton who have been blogging consistently for over ten years. When I was talking to Amit on the last show, he cracked me up when he said—yes, these new platforms come out, or these new technologies, and I just can’t help myself, I need to try it out.
Jean: It’s the never-ending search for the perfect solution, which does not exist.
We should probably wrap this up, I want to make sure if you have anything else you want to add about Micro.blog or about your pets, for example.
Joyce: My dog, who is cowering under my desk right now because we’re having some thunderstorms out here—actually, I think it’s finally settled down. He does not like thunderstorms, so he’s been cowering under the desk for a while.
Jean: What’s his name?
Joyce: That’s Winslow, my buddy Winslow.
As far as Micro.blog goes, I’m happy to be here; I really am. It’s not perfect, and I think I said that on my blog at one point, but it’s pretty darned close. It meets my needs as a platform to scream wisecracks at once in a while or have an exchange of ideas with folks. It strikes me as being a fairly cohesive community in a lot of ways. That’s something that you’re not going to find on other social media platforms.
Jean: That’s right. Well, thanks so much for being here, Joyce, and listeners. If you want to follow Joyce on Micro.blog, there’s a link in the show notes, or you can go to Mcro.blog/garciabuxton. Thanks, Joyce, for being here.
Joyce: This is great. This is great fun.
Jean: And we’ll see everyone next week.