My Twitter Avatar @saporedicina
This post is a rant.
I know, if you are a regular reader of this blog you may think:
“Furio, eighty percent of your posts are rants! So WTF?”
Ok, let’s start again.
This post is a CONSTRUCTIVE rant.
If you have a blog you want people to read it, right?
If your answer is:
“No, I spend five hours per day on my blog so that I will remember my life journey when I will be old”
you are either a liar or the protagonist of Memento.
Now, how do you build an audience for your brand new blog?
I would say this is an “acceptable” answer:
“I do my best to post useful and well thought articles and I try to add value to my community by posting interesting and constructive comments to forums and other blogs. And then, of course, I use Twitter and Facebook to connect with readers and fellows bloggers.“
See? It looks like I’m in L.A. now!
My (sad) situation.
The problem is that Twitter and Facebook are not accessible in China (as well as G+, Youtube, Blogger and WordPress hosted blogs, and anything else that is enough popular to the get the c.e.n.s.o.r.s’ attention).
People usually solve this problem by buying a VPN service, that is a software that masks your real I.P. address so that our Beloved Internet Bosses think you are in Chicago and let your tweets fly through the G.r.e.a.t. F.i.r.e.w.a.l.l.
Unbrave Girl has already described how good is life in China when you have access to a VPN so I will not bother you with the details.
The G.r.e.a.t F.i.r.w.a.l.l.
Anyway, a reliable VPN will cost you about five USD per months so everybody with a decent job can afford it.
Even though I will soon be unemployed, I got one too.
The problem is that I can rarely use it. Why?
In China they like to pay you half salary with real money and half with several benefits, for instance providing you an apartment, free lunches on workdays, five kilos of rice for Chinese New Year, a kilo of dried mushrooms for Lantern Festival and even free ice cream.
Yes, I did get free ice cream from my boss. Twice.
I suspect they do that for two reasons:
- In China there are a lot of people, and they think in terms of economy of scale. I mean, if you rent an apartment by yourself you would end up paying 3,000 RMB per month. However if your firm buys a building and hosts you and all the other employees there you would cost them 1,000 RMB per month (I’m making up the numbers). Now instead of paying you a salary of 10,000 RMB per month they can only pay you 7,000 and host you on their apartments, so that they end up saving 2,000 RMB per month.
- Most important, they can control you (for you safety, ça ca sans dire).
How do they control you?
For instance they can provide you an Internet connection from both your office and home that only works with a fixed I.P. and DNS.
As a collateral effect, I cannot use my VPN.
Closing the circle
I cannot use Facebook or Twitter unless I go to a bar or coffee shop that provides me with a decent internet connection.
But you see, I live in a very Chinese neighborhood where there are very few coffee shops, and all of them have a crappy Internet connection.
Now if you want to sign in to Twitter you need to activate your VPN, which has the side effect to dramatically slowing down your connection (don’t ask me why, but this is what I see).
So every day I can choose to:
- Do Not use any social networks at all.
- Go to a bar where I pay 40 RMB for a shitty coffee (6.28 USD!!!) so that I can use my bloody VPN and wait three minutes for each Internet page to load.
- Go all the way to downtown after work so that I can have access to Twitter and Facebook at a decent speed.
And this is what I do once or twice per week, so that I have a window of about three hours where I can access to the mainstream social networks.
And this is how I’m supposed to connect with people?
Come on, this is not how it works.
So I basically given up to use social networks in a decent way. Actually I never started at all as I opened my Twitter account only a couple of months ago, after I started blogging.
And I guess this is why my Twitter account is not that successful.
My last discovery: Buffer
Buffer is a very cool service. Here how it works:
You go to Buffer‘s website and install their app on your browser.
A small button will appear on the right side of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Windows Explorer (if you are so brave to still use it).
Then, every time you stumble upon a good article that you would like to share on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you click on the button and the Buffer App adds it to…
Yes, you are right. A buffer!
So that even if you can only accede to your Twitter account three hours per week, you can actually keep adding material to your buffer whenever you want (Buffer works in China) and have a constant presence on the social networks (instead of overwhelming your followers with 145 posts the only day you can be online).
It took me a total of about ten minutes. And the most incredible thing was that…
It worked, that is now I can bypass the powerful G.r.e.a.t. F.i.r.e.w.a.l.l. even when I have no access to my Bat-VPN.
Amazing what technology can do, isn’t it?
Can Buffer be useful for you?
Now my situation is a bit extreme, but I guess Buffer may also be very useful to all those bloggers that travel a lot and can only have access to the Internet for limited periods of time.
Or even if you are one of those so-called organized people that read their RSS feeds every day from two to three p.m., you could use Buffer to spread your best “discovers” all along the day.
p.s. The basic version of Buffer is free.
p.p.s. If you read till here you should now follow me on Twitter @saporedicina , )