There is something about the personal blog, yourname.com, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.
Results tagged “blogging”
In the days before comments on blogs, you could generally have a thoughtful conversation online without everything degenerating into madness and chaos simply because responding to a post required that you wrote a post on your own blog and linked back. This created a certain level of default accountability because if someone wanted to flame you, they had to do it on their own real estate, and couldn't just crap all over yours anonymously. So in the spirit of old-school blogging, I'll approve comments here, but am much more likely to engage if you create a blog post of your own and link back.
My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.
Some choice highlights:
I can’t speak for others, but I’ve found in myself a tendency to retreat deeper and deeper into my existing interests as a form of self-defense against the abundance of demands for my time and attention. Again, it takes a certain discipline not to do that and to continually expand one’s ideological comfort zone, as it does not to scatter oneself too chaotically across a multitude of diversion.
And, on journalism, this:
Every nonfiction writer is essentially a curator of ideas – whether this means the selection of academic and clinical studies to be cited in a Malcolm Gladwell-style pop psychology book or the snippets of articles highlighted and contextualized in a day’s worth of Andrew Sullivan’s blog. At their best, journalists – writers, editors, “curators”, or whatever we choose to label them – help people figure out what matters in the world and why. The label under which they do it is irrelevant.
One of the most thought-provoking interviews I've read in a while.
Photo by Ryan Lash for TED conferences, and used under a Creative Commons licence
To know what you think, write it down. Forcing myself to write something down, to structure it, to let it see light is the best way for me to clarify what I actually think about something.
It's from a list of 30 things he's learned, and unlike most such things, it's pretty good.
Euan Semple captured what happens after that:
Secondly, by sticking it out there magic happens. People either reinforce your idea, modify it, disagree with it or just take it in and mull it over. All of these are worthwhile. Just being seen to know things and be thoughtful about your work is good for your career. But beyond this your ideas get tested, they get expanded, you can adapt. This is a powerfully evolutionary idea. We get to test and improve our thinking in real time.
So, this is why I blog.
And despite the die-hard afficianados, RSS is no longer a key content distribution channel.
Of course, with some amusement, I read this in my RSS reader of choice.
He's right in that RSS never became a mainstream means of consumption (indeed, I'd argue that it never really was a key content distribution channel), but wrong in that, for those of us who live or die by the information we find, consume and process in various ways, it's still a vital tool.
And one that's not as small as you might think. From a recent post on The Digital Reader, marking the year's anniversary of the demise of Google Reader:
In 3 weeks Feedly grew from 4 million users to 7 million, eventually growing to 15 million users and 24,000 paying customers in February 2014 and earning the crown of leading Google Reader replacement.
15 million (on one service alone) is a decent chunk of die-hard aficionados.
So much of the web discussion right now is about distraction and entertainment.
I really want this blog to stand for useful and interesting instead.
It’s something I’d like to do more of here – sharing interesting links with a paragraph or two’s analysis.
Why would anyone do that? :-)
(Other than providing useful, contextualised links for people, which is where blogging started. It also makes a great "outboard brain" notebook of reference links…)
I just wrote a post for NEXT Berlin which has provoked a little more reaction than normal. I admit - it's a more touchy subject than most, encompassing both a missing plane, and thus many lives at risk or lost. And it takes a side-swipe at the obsessions of the tech business right now. But despite the not entirely positive reaction, I'm pretty pleased with it, because it encompasses a lot of what I believe about blogging, both in terms of process and in terms of exploring ideas.
First of all, on the process front, it reflects one of my cardinal rules of doing blogging well: connect the impetus to blog with the action to implement as soon as possible.
I was procrastinating slightly about posting, because I wasn't massively enthused about the subject I'd come up with, and then I came across Mary's Facebook post, and the appropriate neurones leapt up of the cognitive couch, brushed the metaphorical pizza crumbs from their notional chests and went to work.
Why did this get me interested? Well, it invoked two of the things I feel strongly about:
1. Get out of the bubble
This is a serious one. I've talked before how I find the intra-journalist discussion about the digital future amazingly dull compared the the conversation happening at the intersection of journalism and everything else. That problem - the echo chamber of like-minded people talking to themselves is everywhere, and it holds us back. When you only look inwards, you keep finding the same old answers.
I feel that the internet of things - as a concept - is locked into that right now. Lots of people borrowing ideas off each other, but basically ending up with the same bunch of products.
This is one of these stories where two worlds come together to make a very interesting possibility. Mash together aviation - and its obsession to safety detail - and the efficient communications skills of the internet of things movement, and you have a very interesting potential partnership. If I could introduce the problem from one side of the fence to potential providers on the other, how could I resist?
Was the timing wrong? I don't know. If you have this conversation long after the event, then you get no traction for the ideas. In a sense, I was taking my cue from the aviation community, which certainly seemed to think that this was an appropriate time to discuss these matters.
2. Time for tech to grow up
The move to mobile and apps is great and everything - but isn't there more than this? It feels like the grand tech juggernaut has ground to a halt and has got utterly distracted by finding new ways for us to play games and chat to each other in increasingly simplified ways. Both of these are admirable things in their worn right. But is that really what we're going to use all this great tech for?
OK, I'm overstating the case. Interesting things are being done outside the startup/apps/VC economy, but you wouldn't know it from the the tech press right now. I think that needs to change. I think we need to puncture that happy little tech bubble, and start looking more deeply at how it really impacts life outside that sphere.
But right now, it's past 11pm, I have to be up early in the morning to deliver a day's training, so I'll leave further exploration of that idea for another day.
This is the seventh in a series of one-a-day substantive posts I'm going to try to write through March.
So, here's a question. Why am I putting myself through the horror of trying to write something substantive for this blog every single day in March?
Leaving aside the possibility of an unexplored masochistic streak, the fundamental reason is because I want to. I like blogging. I love it, in fact. It's been nearly 13 years since I discovered it as a medium and it shifted my world around completely. I'm a busy man, though, trapped between a hectic four-day-a-week consultancy career (long may that "hectic" last) and the demands of being 50% of the available parenting resource for a little girl who has hit the toddler years fast and hard, and is accelerating towards the terrible twos as quickly as she possibly can.
The modern 40s are so busy it's hard to assess them. Researchers describe the new "rush hour of life," when career and child-rearing peaks collide.
Sell, Sell, Self
This blog has got pushed to the sidelines repeatedly since I became a free agent and a Dad, and the closest thing I have to a New Year resolution this year is to rectify that. There are prosaic, financial reasons behind that: my blog remains my showcase, the source of much of my work, and without it I'm essentially doing very little marketing right now (my workload is leaving little room for the round of coffees and lunches that make up my self-promotion). The busy period will end - and I need something there to keep me in people's minds.
However, it's also the place where I crystallise my ideas about the subjects I follow. Some of that "writing myself into existence" has transferred into my lecturing and training, where I've been forced into developing a new language around some of my areas of expertise just so I can communicate them effectively - and that's a subject I intent to return to this month - but my blog still remains the most compelling way of doing so. Why? Well, because I can expose my ideas to the criticism of my peers - and that's incredibly useful in making sure I'm talking something that approximates to sense.
Blogito Ergo Sum.
Also, some people have been doing something similar, and that lodged the idea in my head. MG Siegler kicked off the year doing something like this. The Man Mayfield pushed me into subscribing to Dan Hon's current experiment in daily mailings (leading to his probable nervous breakdown given the volume he produces) has been a daily(ish) prod to my own conscience.
Besides, a couple of recent posts which have garnered good engagement (and I feel dirty using that word) have reminded me that it's the personal stuff that makes a blog fly. Be it photos from the US, or an insight into an advert I ended up appearing in, that kind of material makes a blog engaging and human in the way some links and commentary doesn't.
I seem to need to relearn - or, at least, reinforce in myself - these kinds of lessons every few years. That's no bad thing, because it also forces me to check and re-evaluate what I know in the light of changes that have happened over that period. After over a decade's blogging, it would be horribly easy to get into a rut - and I don't want to do that.
Somehow, over the last six months, I've slipped into being predominantly a trainer. The majority (but not the entirety) of my work has been teaching other people stuff. That's great, as far as it goes. It pays well - very well, at times - and is something I seem to be good at. There's also a pretty evident gap in the market for someone with my particular skill set, which works well for me.
I don't want too walk too far down that path, though. I enjoy both the strategic consulting and the content creation aspects of my work, too, and I'm going to be putting some more effort into landing that kind of work in the coming months. In the meantime, though, it's important to do as well as teach. And this blog is the place where I can do whatever the hell I want - even a stupid writing project when I'm far too busy already.
This is the second in a series of one-a-day substantive posts I'm going to try to write through March.
Yes, Next is selling "blogger style" as a look.
Is there any other industry where blogging has been so throughly assimilated into the way it operates as fashion? Tech, I suppose. But other than that?
Yes, recycling other people’s recycling of other people’s recycling of cat gifs is fun and easy on Tumblr. Yes, rubbing out a good bon mot on Twitter can satisfy one’s ego and rekindle a wistful remembrance of meaning. Yes, these things are still fine to do. But they are not all we can do on this web. This is our web. Let us not surrender it so easily to new corporate masters.
Seems to resonate with what Kevin Marks was saying last week…
There's more to lists than you think:
Umberto explained in an interview that lists are often seen as relics of primitive cultures--simplistic devices that don’t belong in our modern day and age. However, the simple form of the list prevails again and again over time, because, as Umberto says, it has “an irresistible magic.”
Until I read this, I thought a list was just a list, but t's actually a way we start to define reality around us in a way we can handle. I wonder if this makes blogging as a way of writing ourselves into existence a natural successor - or descendent, at least - of lists?
This is really handy to know:
If you are publishing to a blog system that does not recognize Markdown, and you can’t for example install a custom WordPress plugin to facilitate such recognition, you will need to see that your Markdown content is converted to HTML before publishing.
Starting in MarsEdit 3.6, a new per-blog option makes it easy to automatically convert Markdown content to HTML when you publish to a blog.
I've really got into the swing of writing in Markdown, and this allows me to use it even when writing for companies that don't have it installed in their WordPress server.
As for my own WordPress installs (including the one that will host this blog, as soon as I have the spare time to do the move), and an install of Ghost:
Right now, I'm in the foothills of the most scarily busy phase of my consulting life since a few weeks back at the beginning of the year. My diary is looking pretty solid, bar a few gaps for content/consulting work that's home office based until, well, probably December. That's lovely for security of income and planning, but rather bad for my blog.
Right now, I'm in a brief lull between getting back from Berlin, doing a frantic day's desk work and admin, before I go into another two days of a big training project I'm co-delivering with Neil Perkin.
The big lessons I learnt from the last busy period were:
- Don't stop networking
- Don't neglect your shop front
So, here I am, getting myself going on the blog again. And on point two... anyone fancy a coffee?
When you sit down to write it's all too easy to just start typing immediately, which means you'll be doing you're thinking on-screen. Instead, take a few moments to plan your piece. It should make the editing process easier too, which will save time overall.
I'd agree with that - and it applies to blogging as much as any other form of writing. However, there's one proviso. If you find that structure isn't working, don't be afraid to trash it and rework what you've got. Sometimes the story in your head doesn't work on screen.
Is glossy, exciting new blogging site Medium just a content farm?
But it all neatly glosses over one ugly fact: Medium is just an upscale version of the same old business model used by shady content farms the world around. And it contributes to an environment where the most important element in creating written content — the writer — is undervalued and uncompensated.
Two immediate things occur:
- We don't actually know what Medium's business model is yet
- Their idea of per paragraph commenting really, really works, as that post demonstrates
There's something interesting at work with Medium, and I wouldn't be too quick to stand in judgement upon it just yet.
I've had access to a posting account for a little while now - perhaps I should get around to using it.
Once upon a time - and it feels like a long time ago - it was my job to get people blogging. I took poor, ink-stained wretches from their journalistic bunkers, and introduced them to the digital world.
It was great, and I loved it.
Nowadays, I seem to be doing it almost by accident. I jumped into a conversation on Twitter between Mary and Patrick the other night, in which they were both reflecting that their day jobs were consuming the enthusiasm they once had for blogging:
As I've often said, I can thank the fact that I kept blogging throughout my RBI days to the fact that I was able to move cleanly and quickly into a consultancy career in the aftermath of that job I loved.
Happily, that conversation got Mary blogging again:
I used to blog all the time. I used to have a serious writing work ethic. I’ve blogged in many formats under multiple names since 2004, or thereabouts, which makes me a bit of a youthful whippersnapper in terms of some of the internet. But it’s nearly a decade now, and that’s too much waffling on the internet to throw away just because I’m busy.
And then she got her husband Grant going, too:
This is all derived from a conversation with my wife, who said she wanted to write more, and sort-of-challenged me to 10 consecutive days of blogging. Then I started writing this post and realised 10 days didn’t sound like an awful lot, so I bumped it up to 14, then I realised that I’m going to be at PAX Australia all next weekend and that might make posting to schedule difficult if not impossible. So I stuck with 10.
And then Amy Adams (not that one, the other one) was watching all this, and decided to join in:
But as I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, a conversation between journalists Mary Hamilton and Adam Tinworth about the importance of blogging started to make me feel guilty. The argument, in summary, was that it is undeniably important to keep writing on the web. It is important creatively, for people who work with words for a living; intellectually, for people who have a lot of ideas and opinions, and for whom writing is a way of refining these; and logically, in a digital world where declaring yourself a writer of any kind without easy-to-find evidence is a pretty avoidable mistake to make.
In 2006, it would have been great if I could have got people blogging just by pontificating on Twitter. But then, they wouldn't have needed to pay me, would they?