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Candiss Carter

Wow, have I ever been MIA! I'm hoping to have more frequent updates this year.

I've posted a new review at SF Solitaire: Patrick Süskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, a classic of dark magical realism I enjoyed immensely.
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Perhaps I'm a bit sappy, but I definitely got misty watching this:
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I've been enjoying exploring this interactive art project, which is a terrifically clever mix of architectural elements, chalk art, murals, and graffiti with atmospheric ambient sound and judicious inclusion of musical bits. It is clearly a labor of love, and I can only imagine the time and effort involved. It's not really a game...more of a multimedia art piece. (It reminds me a bit of the old Myst/Riven gameworlds, with their sense of tension. There was one room with a brief quick-startle element...not really frightening, but a jump moment for me. Just a warning for anyone who dislikes that sort of thing.) It requires sound, so it's not so good for work or quiet times/spaces.

(They have another neat project linked from this page, as well, but I think this first one is my favorite.)
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Ah, I'm afraid I've stumbled across my kryptonite: a site that makes a game out of searching/researching on Google. Each day a new question is posted, and there is no right way to find the answer. (But there is only one right answer...) It's great for search junkies, librarians, trivia buffs, and the chronically bored, as well as people possessed of a terminal case of curiosity.

The Google search box on the site searches a version of the internet from just before the question was posted, (powered by "Deja Google") so that a player won't have the answer spoiled for him or her by someone blogging the answer. (Of course, a player can ruin this for him/herself or choose to cheat - Tsk! - by going to regular Google to search. But where's the fun in that?)

I haven't posted much of anything in ages, as I've been absorbed elsewhere. But I thought this was nifty enough to pass along...
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+Yana Weinstein has created a wonderful tutorial for any hobbyist or enthusiast who would like to gather others with similar interests on Google+.
How to Create a Community on Google+ for Your Hobby

To kick-start a community for your hobby or interest on Google+, you'll need to take the following steps: 1) create a central database for members to sign up; 2) spread the news about this database; 3) maintain the database; 4) recruit members from outside Google+ to your new community; and 5) generate content that will get your community to interact.

1) Create a Central Database for Members
The easiest way to create a central database is to make a Google spreadsheet with a Form interface for people to enter their information. The advantage of this method over sites like is that you (as a community) can decide what information you want to collect for your members. This will be different for every community, and I recommend crowdsourcing what fields to put in your spreadsheet before making it - if you change your mind halfway through collecting the information, the first batch of members won't have a chance to input the new information. The two essential fields are full name as it appears on Google+, and Google+ profile link. You'll also probably want a field for "websites" where members can add links to blogs etc., if they have any. To give people the option to fill out only a minimum amount of information, don't make any fields compulsory other than the full name and Google+ profile link fields. You need the name as well as the Google+ profile link - I'll explain why below, under step 3 (Maintenance).
Creating the form is simple - see here for basic information on how to create and then edit it:
Once the form is ready, test it on yourself. Ensure that all the data is being collected accurately and there are no glitches in the form.

2) Provide Easy Access to Your Database
Now that you have your form up and running, you'll want to direct as many people as possible to it so they can fill out their details and also use the resulting spreadsheet to connect to members of their community on Google+. Instead of having long, cumbersome Google links for your form and spreadsheet, go to a URL shortener website such as and pick a short, snappy keyword. For instance, I used "gplusknittersform" for the form and "gplusknitters" for the database of the knitting community. Then create a short, to-the-point post which includes those two links. Here's the one I posted for the Google+ Knitters Database:
Make sure you request comments to be disabled when people re-share the post. This is essential for you, as self-appointed community manager, to be able to keep up with requests and issues related to the database. You don't want to have to click through to each person's profile to check if anyone has commented on a re-shared version of your post (to give you an idea, my Knitters Database post has been re-shared over 140 times in less than a week). You will get a lot of requests for modifications, and you need to keep track of them (see next step). Make sure you also link to the original database announcement post in your Google+ Profile, so that when new members of the community add your to their circles (or you add them), they know where to find more members.

3) Maintain the Database
I can't stress the importance of this step enough. As manager of the community, it is your responsibility to ensure that the information added to your database is accurate. Your first step is to spend a few minutes every day going through each and every new entry in your database and, at the very least, clicking on the Google+ Profile link to check that it takes you to the right profile. This is where the full name field is indispensable - make very sure that the link takes you to that person's profile. Google+ doesn't make it very easy to locate the correct profile link. You'll be surprised, but often the link will take you to your profile instead. If the link is incorrect, search for that person's name and try to find the correct link. To keep track of the checking you're doing, highlight the rows you've verified in green and the problematic rows in red so that you know you have to go back to them if you can't find the correct profile link by searching for that person's name (this will happen). While going through the database to check each individual link, you might want to add each new member to your own community circle so that you can keep the community entertained and engaged with interesting content (see step 5, Generating Content).
Finally, make sure your members know that it's you they need to contact to make a change or remove themselves from the database: enable the "Send an Email" button on your Profile and put a note in a visible location on the spreadsheet explaining that you are happy to make corrections and removals, and sign it with your name - don't expect everyone to know who you are.

4) Recruit Members from Outside Google+ to Your New Community
You might get a huge surge of new members the first day or two after you post details of your database, but sign-ups will inevitably dwindle once the initial excitement dies down and your announcement post gets buried. To really grow your community, you'll have to reach outside Google+ and talk to people on other forums about why they should come try it out. Be prepared for a variety of reactions, ranging from indifferent to hostile. People will be legitimately concerned about participating in yet another social network. This is where your members come in: have a conversation about why they're enjoying the new community on Google+, and how it's different. Encourage them to post their views on these outside forums. While Google+ is still invitation-only, get current members to volunteer to give out invitations to those interested in joining (thanks to +Kate Forde for this suggestion) .

5) Generate Content that will Get Your Community to Interact
Once your community membership starts to grow, don't just leave it at that. What's the point of a community that doesn't really do anything? The success and sustainability of your community depends on high-quality content and discussions. Try out some regular features for your followers: a "Photo of the Day" related to your hobby, if appropriate; a newsletter/bulletin of some sort summarizing the top news of the day (make sure the content is fresh). Start interesting discussions. This will all take some time and legwork on your part, and some content and topics won't catch people's eye, but don't give up - try new things. At the same time, try to balance new content with posting judiciously, as people might start uncircling you if they feel overwhelmed by your feed. Constantly monitor the quality of your content, so that people who've made the effort to encircle you are rewarded, and new people in the community get to you know your Profile as a good starting-point to engaging with the rest of the community.

This guide was written based on my own experiences of creating a community of knitters, which was entirely modeled on the photography community, and the invaluable comments of +Christina Trapolino +Thomas Hawk +Colby Brown +Ryan Estrada and +Alida Brandenburg. +Natalie Villalobos - keeping you in the loop, as promised.
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A fascinating article....bleak, yet fascinating for the ecological science and environmental fine-tuning involved.
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Lovely and clever bits of innovative artwork:
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How is it that I've never found this site before? I've been trying to come up with ideas for volunteering locally that are compatible with my abilities, interests, and schedule, and this site is awesome! Maybe someone else will find it helpful, as well.
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