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Social Media for Sociable Media Folks

By Nicholas Loffredo, Wyckoff Patch, 1/4/10

Chances are that if you look out your window, the view will offer the familiar, maybe even the mundane. But what if you could see the view from someone's window in Italy? Hungary? Israel? And if they could "visit" Wyckoff by seeing what we may take for granted each day?

Township resident Coreen Burke, 16, is making such virtual visits possible, with the establishment of a new online project, www.outsidemywindow.tk. The brand-new blog offers a glimpse into the lives and daily realities of people around the world, all via snapshots taken from their homes.

While the concept sounds simple, the results are striking. Viewer-submitted photos include a transfixing view of the Romanian countryside, taken from the home of a teenager. Blog visitors can see the sun come up over Malaysia or watch it set over the Bahamas. Skylines and regionally specific architecture abounds, allowing viewers to tour small towns around the world without leaving their homes.

Burke, a Ramapo High School junior, explains that the blog originated in part from her interest in sightseeing.

"I want to travel. I'd like to see the world," said Burke, who hasn't gotten very far yet. "I've never left the country. I've never been on a plane," she said.

When Burke decided to create a new blog, she wanted something unique and was surprised to find that there wasn't a similar blog elsewhere. Outsidemywindow was established just barely two weeks ago, but the idea is already catching on.

"I didn't expect to get any pictures, but I've been getting seven or eight a day," she said. Viewers around the world sent 52 photos in the blog's first week.

In fact, Burke is having a hard time keeping up with the blog's fast growth, seeing as how she juggles school, track and volleyball, which she plays year-round. The junior would like someone near her age to help run the blog, which she'd like to improve.

"I didn't want this to be a blog, I wanted it to be a Web site... but I can't code for my life!" Burke said.

"Ideally, I want somebody who is better at coding than I am."

Burke is no Web novice, though. She's had two or three Web sites in the past, all of which were "complete failures," including the defunct Everything in a Sentence. "We'd pick a topic and write a sentence about it," she said. "It was a lot of work."

The teen has always been interested in and adept at computers, to the benefit of her peers. "My friends call me when something is wrong with their computers," she said.

Burke would like to major in computer information systems in college, and is already looking upstate at SUNY-Binghamton and Oneonta, as well as in Virginia at George Mason. She also hopes to continue playing sports in college.

Although the windows blog may have started as something of a lark, Burke already has plans for the future. She'd like to move it over to a dot.com address and hopefully find a partner who can help make it an open source site, where viewers can upload their pictures directly, upon the administrators' approval.

Presently, she sifts through the submissions herself and promises to upload at least one picture a day. All appropriate submissions will be used, though.

"I get really excited when I get a new country."

She didn't necessarily intend for the blog to be a business, but the page already features advertising, and she will split whatever profits come with a future partner.

Viewers who would like to have their pictures featured can send them to Burke at outsidemywindowblog@gmail.com. Additionally, any teens interested in helping to run the blog can contact her at the same address.

"As long as it's something of where you live, I'm not picky. Everyone's location is unique."

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