Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who's Who on Whohub

Hi, Awyn

We are contacting you because we have seen references about your work online.

We would like to include you in our directory of interviews with creative professionals and artists.

We invite you to take part in this interview. It is free.
You will also be able to include any web links to samples of your work on the internet.

To start the interview just go to this web address and start responding to questions:

Here, you can find some examples from other professionals:

Elsa Wide

Whohub is a directory of interviews with professionals in the fields of communication, arts, technology, and marketing.

I received the above email yesterday from Whohub. Last time I checked, my blog rank was number 12,532,802. Less than 15 people dropped in to read my postings this entire week. So how these people found me to invite me to be interviewed is a complete mystery.

Who the heck is Whohub and why do they want to interview me? I checked it out and basically what happens is, you actually interview yourself. You just pick a category that applies, choose the questions you want to answer, submit them--along with a photo--and they'll post it, in English, Spanish, French, Italian or Portuguese, your choice.

Interesting to see what other writers say about creativity, fictional characters, manner of working, experience with publishing, self-discipline, etc. Some interviews show 14 "views"; others 200. Hmmm. Each time you click on your own interview (to see how many views you have accumulated), that will also count as a view. So conceivably you can work your total up to, say, 400-500 views--if you were so inclined--making it appear you are far more popular than you really are. I'm just saying ... :)

I am a little leery of the proliferation of these social networking blogs. I once joined a temporary blog set up for a specific human rights event and was delighted to see people from all over the world as concerned as I was about this particular issue. But then it got weirdly a little too ... myspacey. Other members immediately invited me to be a "Friend", which meant their photo would then appear on my page. Some members had dozens and dozens of these little photo-boxes attesting to their vast collection of "Friends". I started getting personal email messages having nothing to do with human rights. So-and-so sent me a cutesy card with a mushy poem declaring his affection, inviting me to be his "Special Friend." I began to get spam mail from another member EVERY SINGLE DAY exhorting me to "Check out these songs! Check out this movie! Check out my other web sites!!" and almost weekly from yet another to "Subscribe to my online lecture series". Sigh.

I tried to unmemberize myself, to no avail. "Hi awyn," the website proclaimed whenever I clicked on it, recognizing me immediately. It noticed that I had neglected to include a photograph of myself and reminded me I hadn't put anything into my Recent Activity section--and that I had yet to reply to Member X's invitation to be a Friend. Several months later--the event having long since passed--out of curiosity, I checked back. The website now had another theme--but my personal page was still there, as if set in stone, unremovable.

A whois of the Whohub site shows that it's registered to Jerni Web Development of Miami Beach, FL and so far, the site has collected over 10,000 interviews. Assuming at least half of those interviewed will definitely mention, in person or on-line: "Check out my interview on Whohub!", that'll send a steady stream of a potential 5,000 future Whohubbers to the site who will also want to get interviewed and included as well. (Note though: "Interviews without photos are ranked at the bottom of Whohub's list.")

Can one find kindred spirits on Whohub? Imagine my delight in finding that an Indian blogger at her blog "The Abyss of Non-Being" in listing some of the things that bring her happiness coincidently names the same kind of things I might have chosen if asked that question:

"The smell of burning logs on a cold wintry night"
"the soft rhythmic sound of wind chimes in my balcony"
"the rain soaked breeze entering my bedroom window"
"Smell of freshly sharpened pencils..."
"A deeply satisfying kiss!"
"Buying books, reading books, touching books, and smelling books.
Entering a bookshop ..."
"A loving glance, from the one I love"
"Hearing a child’s squeals of delight" [1]

Of the several biographies I read of Whohub interviewees, the most unusual and intriguing seemed to be that of a countess on the Italian Riviera ("of noble lineage, an author, child prodigy, composer, performer, entrepreneur, former model, head of marketing and PR for Gucci, former advisor to government of Mozambique, arranged more than 20 major Joint Ventures with China, knows 9 languages, visited more than 80 countries, produced movies for Fellini, hosted a radio show called 'Ciao Baby', knows Gore Vidal, writes 6-8 hours a day, has 5 blogs, teaches an Italian course on-line"-
[2]--Good grief, how does one top THAT eclectic set of experiences!).

As interesting as they were, however, in the end it was not the authors' mini-bios and responses to the questions but their referenced writings that either maintained or completely squelched my initial interest. Interviews show personality, method, process, and motive. But if the writings themselves disappoint, or the words and/or images fail to resonate, the presentation and packaging, to me, are irrelevant.

Whohub, the Who's Who of webdom. Whohubbing with other Whohubbers in NetHubburbia.

Connection, connection, ...connection. (Or not. All depends on what you want out of the experience. If you've written a book and need to market it, being listed in the Whohub directory might gain additional Internet exposure. It could also put you in touch with other
writers who share the same habits, experience, or personal and professional dilemmas, struggle with the same questions, enjoy the same pleasures, admire the same writers, etc. What the creators of Whohub have recognized is that people generally like talking about what they do and what they love. So they've produced a public forum where anyone can tell everyone who cares to listen: "Hey, LOOK at me, look at who I am, what I do/create/write/produce/sell".

The Whohub interviews show you the "who". You have to follow their links and search a bit further for the "what"--their product. So there's something for everyone here: 10,000+ examples of the creative process in motion--first-hand reports detailing origins, influences, difficulties, successes, motive, process and outcome. A treasure trove of material for an inkling as to, for example, how writers write, or painters paint, or teachers teach, or marketers strategize; the thinking that goes behind their choices, the obstacles encountered, the rewards reaped, etc.

Who doesn't like talking about themselves?! Give someone an opportunity and off they go! Whohub has cleverly tapped into that desire by offering a public forum for people to say who they are and what they do and invite everyone to take a look. Their stated goal is to create a social network. One of the interviewees, in discussing the potential of social networks for marketing on line, mentions the advantage of creating backlinks from as many social networks as possible, to one's own site.
[3] And while Whohub enables interviewees to connect with one another and encourages their self-promotion, its own site also gets traffic sent to it every time an interviewee alerts anyone to "Go look at myinterview on Whohub!", in turn building Whohub's net presence. What does Whohub do with all the data collected from these thousands and thousands of Whohubbers? (It mentions Datacenters located in Chicago and in Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.)

Unlike some social networks, you don't actually have to become a member to view the entries on Whohub. And if you're unemployed and looking for work, it's another venue to consider announcing your availability--for example, tweaking the questions and answers presented in such a way as to become your online resume for a particular position (in the event a hirer happens to be looking in). .

The downside is that the site could eventually become so Who-heavy that the urge to be listed as a Who's Who in Cyberland might seem less important than actually getting back to doing what it is you love to do. (The jury's still out, it seems to me, as to whether posting a personal self-interview will bring the type of connections or results one desires.)

Now, although the responses to some of the questions were interesting, few compelled me to actively follow all the links to their respective writings/blogs/web pages, etc., many of which turned out to be unimpressive, rather pedestrian word churnings (this was in the Writing category), or the interviewees themselves were downright off-putting (e.g., an unabashed, self-professed narcissist who plainly states he doesn't care about you, the reader of his Interview, or what you think, reminding you it's really all about HIM). And one interviewee, I noted, took as many as 35 paragraphs to answer a single question, confirming my observation that people really, REALLY like an opportunity to express their opinion about something!

That is not to say there weren't some others whose writings (or links) led me to fascinating places with even more interesting discoveries--they did, and in fact, I plan to revisit--but it occurred to me that this whole exercise (in showcasing people's little histories of themselves, what they think, how they work, who they feel they are) may be just another example of rampant (or inadvertent) ME-ism.

Not that self-promotion is a bad thing. It isn't. It's what some people are promoting that makes me pause. Generally, I suppose, one would go to the category that fits one's profile (although some overlapping is unavoidable here). In my case, I went to "Writing". Oddly (or perhaps not), I sometimes found information or suggestions of more compelling interest in a category I normally wouldn't frequent: for example, Programming (of which I know nothing--but techies advising you on how to protect your computer from viruses provided me a variety of solutions I hadn't before considered. So in that sense, these Interviews can be extremely helpful.)

Okay, so that's my General Impression of Whohub after a cursory glance and a bit of trekking among the postings. But as a programmer from India remarked "
Think before you dive in sea, it is not swimming pool."[4].

Also of note: When you try to post a message to any of the interviewees without joining and getting an account set up--a little box pops up with the message: You cannot send a message beacuse you are not a registered user or you are not logged in."

And so, what to think about Whohub? Again, guess it depends on what you want from it. Social connection, self-promotion, marketing potential--all possible. Then again, viewers may drop by, read the interviews, maybe even check out the referenced sites or blogs, and then move on, never making contact. The Whohubber would never know what such viewers thought of him/her or the interview. But it will be there for all to see (at least until the site expires or the domain is bought out by someone else, meaning their name is there forever, so to speak, for anyone to find. All they have to do is google them. Neat, eh?

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