Thursday, July 24, 2008

5 Questions for the Creators: Miss Closkey

Happy Thursday folks, and welcome to another 5 Questions for the Creators. Today we have one of the movers and shakers in Pittsburgh Social media. She is one of the inspirational leaders of Podcamp Pittsburgh, creator of the incomparable site My Brilliant Mistakes, a wonderful friend, and one of the finest creative minds in Pittsburgh. Ladies and Gents, Cynthia Closkey.

1. Tell us about who you are and what it is you do.
I'm a website designer and business consultant, working in Butler, which is a small town near Pittsburgh, PA. I help small businesses, non-profits, agencies, and individuals make the most of the web. Most of what I do is bring new technologies to this little corner of the world.

2. Why did you get into social media?
I started blogging in 2003 because I kept finding things I wanted to tell people about, and I needed a way to tell them without bombarding everyone's email box every day. Also, I wanted to tell more people than my immediate friends and family.

Regular publishing channels -- newspapers, magazines, books -- struck me as too slow. Plus, a few attempts at getting published caused me to see them as closed clubs that didn't want new members. In contrast, I figured anyone could have a web site, and updating it would be much faster, easier, and cheaper than getting anything into print.

Actually, in 2001, before I began blogging or even quite understood what it was, I started an online literary magazine. My model was the McSweeney's online version (, which seemed to me the coolest website ever. I was also inspired by George Plimpton, who founded The Paris Review in the earlier part of the century and made it into one of the most highly respected literary magazines. Apparently he did it just because he and his collaborators wanted to. I adore that kind of DIY ethic.

So I started my online literary zine, Inkburns, and ran it for a few years, mostly publishing other people's writing. Along the way I started to notice blogs, and I started blogging as a way to publish my own writing. Inkburns became too much work for me to handle, and blogging gave me a creative outlet in its place, so I let the one slide while I pursued the other.

FWIW, I hope to bring back Inkburns some day, in a new and different form.

3. What is it that you love about social media?
What I love most is the "anyone can do it" aspect, as I mentioned above. And I love the speed of it, lightning fast from mind to hand to web. But I also like how social media tends to be less filtered and polished. Of course this lack of filtering means we have to wade through a lot of crap.

Still, in the end, people can publish on the web who couldn't elsewhere, and they can publish things that they couldn't share elsewhere. So it's more raw, and less elitist.

4. What keeps you coming back? Why do you keep creating content?
I'm insatiably curious about things, and I like to assume everyone else must be too. In my heart, I realize they're not, or at least most people are not. Most people don't care what I have to say, and that's fine. At least a few people seem to appreciate my perspective, and I'm excited to share my ideas and the things I find with them.

5. What is it that you want to accomplish with your media?
I want to influence a few people, so that they take chances and follow their hearts. I want to be someone else's George Plimpton.

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