Julia Allison on Web Platforms

Julia Allison breaks down her favorite platforms and the web’s importance as a trigger for creativity.
  • Transcript


Allison: I have tried out a multitude of Web 2.0 platforms. My absolute favorites are Tumblr, which is a short blogging platform. I think it’s one of the easiest to use and best designed. The user interface is stunning. It’s, you know, your grandmother could set up her own blog. I love Twitter. I adored Twitter. I think Twitter is an art form. It’s 140 characters of poetry. It doesn’t have to be. I mean, you can be completely inane, but I think of it, like, I think of Hemingway’s six-word stories. You know, he was very famous for his six-word story “Baby shoes for sale” or no “For sale: baby shoes never used” I think of Twitter as 140 characters that you can, for a writer, is a really unique form. It also tends to have, in my opinion, a really interesting effect on your relationships with your friends who have Twitter, people who you might not e-mail, people who you might not even text message because it’s a demanding form, a text message by its definition demand a response, but a Twitter doesn’t. And the truth is Twitter probably more than anything except for Tumblr does and perhaps Facebook too does connect us with people whose lives were genuinely interested in, but who we might have otherwise lost touch with. The other thing is, I mean, as in terms of other programs like Flick, I mean, those are great. I think that in the future and I do mean we’re talking two to five years, every single person will have their own web portal of some sort and that will either be a blog, it might be a Facebook page if, you know, you’re really lazy, but I do believe that people are going to want more and more self-expression and it has nothing to do with whether they’re going to monetize it. It has to do with the fact that 95% of the human race is terribly creative, and up until now, they haven't had a lot of means for expression except for perhaps scrapbooking, diary writing, painting and that kind of thing, but the web more than anything else is a means for creative expression. Question: Do you see everyone adopting these new portals? Allison: I think that it comes with… I think like most things, this new form of expression comes with a host of issues that we’ve only began to see. And let me give you an example, there’s a 12-year-old girl named Tabby who has gotten some small renown recently for being a prolific and precautious fashion blogger and she was covered in New York Magazine and in the New York Times. I read her and I thought, she can’t be 12. She’s actually 12, and her father described what happened when her blog was widely read and people coming and as anyone who has been in the internet knows the [vitriol] which is heaved by commenters is shocking to say the least, and she ended up in her bed with her parents crying. And her dad said, “You know, girls this age can’t handle this kind of thing.” And I thought no one can handle this kind of thing, I mean, that’s just beyond anyone’s capacity. Now that will have to be dealt with. The other huge issue that I think has not yet been addressed is the fact that the internet only allows us to be one thing. Now, let me explain that. In human interactions in a normal everyday basis, you judge who you’re going to be, how you’ll express yourself, really, what facet you’ll show people based upon the company. If you’re with your boss, you act like who you are with your boss. With your boyfriend, it’s one person, with your parents, another, with your girl friends, another, with the first date, another. On the internet, everyone can see and so you have to choose one persona. And I think that what’s ended up happening is that people have chosen a persona not thinking, oh, God, will my grandmother’s going to read this or my future boss is going to read this or my future mother-in-law’s going to read this. They can’t control who’s going to read it. I know that that’s been a huge problem for me. I mean, my father reads my website, but I don’t write it for him. I write it for women my age, and I don’t want to think about him reading it quite frankly.