Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday April 18 2010

April 18, 2010

This fortnight in Online Insights, we get real, really real! Firstly we discover a blog that is a zen oasis, then take a refresher course in how to guard our online repuation, before we get real about mumhood, motherhood, pregnancy – you name it. Plus we finish off with some light relief that is unreal. Enjoy.


It is really easy to bash out an angry email or shoot off a vitriolic tweet and that is why this one, simple blog post deserves a mention tonight. It is simply called “a real person, a lot like you” by Derek Sivers.

This has haunted me all week because I did send off a frustrated tweet this week due to an oversight in the new traffic light signals along the Port Road tram extension. Whereas once, the peak hour traffic turning right into Phillips Street at the Southwark Hotel corner, was able to amble across after the red turning arrow turned off, now the red arrow stays on so that ghostly, absent trams can pass through the intersection, causing congestion amid citybound traffic. But I digress.

This post by Sivers captures the essence of being human – when we bash out an email or letter, we do not deeply comprehend that another living soul will actually read it. We think we are raging against a machine and that some automaton without feelings will simply file it. But often, that is not the case. Some poor soul has to absorb our body blow and deal with the emotional load that we just dumped in their lap. You must read the post to read the lead story that captures this truth. In short, it involves a woman running a solo businesss getting a blisteringly angry, insulting and threatening letter from a client. Unfortunately, she took it personally, fell into depression, and when she gathered the strength to make peace with this client, the client was puzzled, vaguely remembering the piece she had written to let off steam.

Not only is this an important and refreshing story in the blogosphere, it is also the tip of the iceberg of Sivers’ own website which contains a number of gems, laced with that centred, lightly-held assurance in the Zen tradition. I especially want to draw the fable called “horses” to your attention. If you find yourself frequently swung from highs to lows in life, this story will bring a gentle perspective back for you. And the icing on the cake? SIvers has written and recorded a song based on the fable and you can listen to it on the same age as the story itself.

Looking for some inspiration? Derek Sivers has created a small, online oasis of writings and material to help us all keep it real.


This link is about reputations and how to protect them. In many ways, this should be the most unnecessary link I have ever shared but people keep putting information online that is too personal and too loaded with future heartbreak to let this video slip by.

If ever you have been tempted to post a shot of your cleavage or drunkenness or worse, the message is to think again. People seem to forget that once an image is uploaded online and archived by a search engine, it is as good as being permanently entered into the public library!

It is this short-sightedness that the people at Common Craft have responded to with this simple, two and a half minute video on the basic premise of keeping your online reputation clean – think before posting. It outlines that when you share personal info, even among friends, you are trusting them with your current and future reputation. The major point is that something funny now might look dangerously or embarrassingly out of place 5, 10, or 20  years down the track.

Might be useful to share this Common Craft video with young people you know to educate them now so they form wise sharing habits.

The shape of a mother

Funny how some sites get shared. One of my sisters suggested over Facebook that people google for “the shape of a mother” so curiosity got the better of me and I found this intriguing treasure trove of personal milestones.

The idea behind the site is that dominant image of females we see in society is those air-brushed super models. There has been a revival in seeking more natural images in recent years, led, perhaps, by the Dove campaign but this website is very grassroots and focussed primarily on women’s bodies AFTER they have carried out or attempted to carry their biological purpose of creating and nurturing new life.

Basically, mums anywhere can join and upload photos or stories about their bodies post-birth, or even during pregnancy.

I should warn you though that this is not a timid, delightful or dainty website. This contains nudity and very honest stories (some of which are not for the squeamish). But that is the point. The whole birth process is gritty and disruptive and this site is one of the clearest views of this aspect of life that we get access to. Here is a typical quote, this one from the “belly” section:

I love this website! I have spent three months looking at pictures posted here; some bellies are far better than mine, others far worse than mine. What I have not been able to find, however, is a belly on par with mine. Does anyone else have this issue with their belly? I have seen stretch marks, rolls, and sagging skin, but not like mine! I am a bit envious that everyone else on this website has a visible belly button. Perhaps not the one they are familiar with, but it is there!

I have never been worried about the way I look before; I was always the funny girl that was just one of the guys. But I can safely say that I had a pretty rockin’ body! Now even that one thing I could be proud of is gone. Dust in the wind, baby. I guess I didn’t know what I had till it was gone!

So visit to discover the shape of a mother.

Add letters

Bart Simpson says 'listen to Steve Davis'
Bart Simpson says 'listen to Steve Davis'

What do Bart Simpson and Steve Davis have in common? Nothing, until Add Letters came along. This is one of those quick, quirky sites that does something relatively simple and fleetingly amusing.

In essence, it takes whatever short line of text you want and recreates it on Bart’s blackboard.

But that’s not all – there are other quirky generators too, such as generators for:

  • Street signs
  • Highway signs
  • Restaurant signs
  • Theatre signs
  • Hiking trail signs
  • Even one for Disneyland.

The thing I like most about this site is you can save the image to your computer for use on invitations, websites, etc. All from adding letters.