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Yesterday I created a new personal web site,, or more accurately Tim Bishop whipped it together while I watched and did the small stuff. Tim also activated a new email contact, tom (at) tomabate (dot) com. I was long overdue for a central place to establish my identity in cyberspace. This blog represents just one of my interests and it behooved me to have a more rounded representation of who I am and what I hope to do.

The addition of a personal web site is the second recent upgrade to my digital persona. Regular readers will have noticed that this site was entirely redesigned in the spring by Charlotte Yee, who took many, many hours away from launching a business (preserving mementos of children’s art) whilst contesting her forced exit from her former job as an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It has been my great good fortune to have friends like this to assist me but the flip side of that truth is that I am pretty helpless on my own in picking up new technological tricks. Tim, for instance, has been chiding me for not getting onto the telegraphic messaging service, Twitter, of which I am certainly aware — but do not use. I was made aware of Twitter last spring at the Society for New Communications Research conference in Las Vegas, where Ted Shelton, Chris Heuer and other social media entrepreneurs were Twitting (or is it Tweeting) like crazy. And I see the use for a blas message service of this sort if you have been, say, imprisoned in Egypt.

However, I am not planning to visit Egypt and I do not believe Egyptian authorities have the gall that the American government has manifested with its new policy of extraordinary rendition. (I suppose I might want to Twit or Tweet if I were picked up by U.S. authorities, but habaeus corpus has been suspended so what would be the point of the protest, if the government has put it powers of imprisonment above the law?).

I can imagine business uses for Twitter. Some months ago, for instance, I created a Twitter account after one of my workmates (at the SF Chronicle where I am a business reporter) started a pilot project to test its usefulness on the job but it would take a large and conscious effort to get the tool into wide circulation among the staff and then figure out how and when to use it — as something other than a distraction.

And that is my orientation to digital technology in general — if I don’t use it as a tool, then I avoid it as a distraction. The downside of this attitude is that I end up lagging on projects like building a personal web site. Tim was able to accomplish in a three hours what I had meant to do for a year. Of course Tim likes to “geek out” as he says, so no doubt I am the beneficiary of many hours of learning on his part. I wish I knew a little more about the tools, and I will learn as time and energy allow. Meanwhile I’m just grateful that I have friends who will help me over the technical hurdles of expressing myself in this networked medium.