Does your blog’s “personality” reflect your personality?

Recently, Dave Snowden and Jack Vinson have both typealyzed their blogs:  Dave’s is ENTP and Jack’s is INTJ.  Since I’m not sure exactly how Typealyzer works, I wasn’t sure if I’ve got enough content here at this new blog (15 posts so far) to get a type, but figured it was worth a shot.  The verdict:  INTP – The Thinkers.

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Interestingly, maybe not surprisingly, this is typically what I get back after taking a personality type indicator test.

Being the curious person that I am, I also checked to see how other blogs I write (or have written) are typed:

No Straight Lines: INTJ – The Scientists
29 Marbles: INTP – The Thinkers
Tramp and Tumble: ISTP – The Mechanics
St. Louis Elite: ESTP – The Doers

The first two are, of course, my personal blogs that have since merged into the current blog, so it is no surprise – at least to me – that they turned out to be what they are.  I write it primarily for myself, so the topics are what interest me and the style is what I’m comfortable with.

The third, The Tramp and Tumble Blog, is a site I maintain to get information out to parents, athletes, and coaches in the sport of Trampoline and Tumbling.  The topics I choose are still somewhat based on what interests me, since I’m a parent of a T&T athlete, but the style of writing is based more on what I think the readers would appreciate than what I would like to see.

The last, the web site for the non-profit that supports St. Louis Elite Trampoline and Tumbling, is primarily targeted at outsiders to the sport of T&T and intended to get them excited about the sport and the team so that they will support the team financially or in some other way.  It’s nice to know that this site comes across as a “Doer – They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities”.

In general, I agree with Dave that one shouldn’t take these types too seriously and that they shouldn’t be used for “categorising people into little boxes”.  I do, however, think that these types of tools can help individuals gain some personal insight into their ‘natural’ tendencies.  It is obviously possible to overcome these tendencies when the situation demands it, if you simply use it for what it is – another tool in the toolbox.

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Some blog and RSS admin…

One of the more difficult parts of replacing a blog (or, in my case, two) with a new one is how to keep your current readers informed about the change and, ideally, how to keep them subscribed.  Fortunately, FeedBurner has made this easy for me (or would have, if I had paid attention!).

Since my blog 29 Marbles was specific to autism, it was straightforward enough; I simply changed the feed title and the feed details to reflect the autism category feed.  Before I did this, though, I wrote one last post letting my readers know of the change.  I also informed the admins of the sites that aggregate that feed so they could decide if they wanted to continue to include my writing about autism.

It wasn’t quite as easy with No Straight Lines, though in retrospect it should have been.  Due to technical issues, I’m unable to post anything new.  So instead of just switching the feed, like I did for 29 Marbles, I created a new feed.  As Tony pointed out to me a couple of days later, though, no one knew about the new feed (or the new blog, for that matter).  As an interim, I bookmarked my initial post here in delicious.  My delicious feed is spliced into my feed by FeedBurner (thank you, again, FeedBurner), so I figured my subscribers would get the word that way.  And then I finally figured out I should simply update the original NSL feed to point to this new blog.

Lessons learned:  Use FeedBurner (or something similar), it really helps when you need to make changes; don’t forget about your current readers when you make changes; and no matter how well you think you’ve planned ahead, even for something relatively simple, keep in mind that you will always forget or overlook something.

On the internet, no one knows you’re autistic

When people with autism or other disabilities try to engage in face-to-face communications, it is often made difficult because of a bias, intentional or not, on the part of the other person in the conversation.  Another aspect of the value of social media to autistic people and others with various disabilities is the fact that they are judged not by their appearance nor the quality of their voice, but by what they have to say.

Consider the following excerpt from an autism advocacy blog:

What started the conversation was a person we know offline who has acquired a new condition over the course of the time we have known her. She has always been extreme in both her ableism and her refusal to even contemplate thinking politically about disability, more extreme than most people. Her entire identity has been tied up in the work (paid and unpaid) that she can’t do anymore. And she’s currently mired in some of the worst kinds of self-hatred because she appears to have transferred her bigotry towards disabled people (which she never acknowledged as such, and would probably be insulted by that description, but it’s true) to herself, and is busy thinking of herself as the useless burden on her family that she thinks of disabled people as in general. And she does not even have the solace of understanding disability in a broader sense than her own feelings (that she believes come out of nowhere and are therefore not things she can change), because while she is capable of thinking politically in that way, she fears it and refuses, believing it would make her miserable. There’s nothing I or anyone else can do about this, but I hope one day she’ll realize that the kind of thinking she fears would actually both be closer to reality and make her less miserable and fearful over the long run.

Was that written by a man? Or a woman? Young or old? Black or white?  Disabled , or not?

As someone who spends a lot of time on the phone, e-mail, and IM, it is safe to say that I’ve never met, and will likely never meet, as many as half the people I interact with in the course of a day, week, month. Occasionally, however, I do meet face to face someone I’ve known virtually for a long time. Without fail, my thoughts of what they will be like are completely wrong. (Imagine your favorite radio DJ, then look up their picture online: you’ll see what I mean.)

Unfortunately, the norm in our society is to allow a person’s physical appearance and behavior affect our impressions of that person. In the case of autism, especially what is commonly referred to as ‘low-functioning’, this is especially problematic.

The beauty of social media, and the internet in general, is that your physical appearance doesn’t matter. Your method of communication doesn’t matter (granted, this is mainly because everyone communicates in much the same way online). People accept you – or not – for what you say, for who you are.  Not what they think you should be capable of because of how you look or sound. We can only hope the offline world catches up.

BTW, the excerpt above comes from the Ballastexistenz blog. For an example of someone caught in the act of judging by appearances, check out Kev Leitch’s post If Someone’s Not Broke, Don’t Fix Them.

Most of this post originally appeared  on 27 June 2006 on my blog 29 Marbles.

Do you have a coach? Do you need a coach?

If you ask a competitive athlete if they have / need a coach the answers will likely range from “Yes” to “Of course” to “Are you kidding?”. If you ask a knowledge worker, or concept worker, the same question the answers will likely range from “No” to “Huh?” to “Are you kidding?” Obviously, the “Are you kidding” answer has very different meanings in the two different contexts.

I’ve often wondered why this is: why is it acceptable, expected even, that athletes have and need coaches but considered a luxury if someone has a work/life coach and actually a detriment – a sign of weakness – if someone wants or needs a work/life coach?

The discussion around a recent question on LinkedIn got me thinking about this again:

Q: If you can’t afford a coach, what are you doing to support your professional growth?
A: I love (?) the assumptive nature of this question: that everyone needs a coach;…  Do professionals need coaches? No, certainly not.

The answer I quote above is just part of one response, but nearly all of the answers (so far) seem to dismiss the idea that a professional coach is desirable or needed.  The alternatives range from talk with friends, study the success of others, and read and continue to develop your knowledge on the subject of your job.

Going back to the world of sports, such an approach would be a sure path to the loser’s circle (unless you are Roger Federer, of course).  What is it about our work as professionals in business that makes us different from the work of professionals in sports?

Getting the most from LinkedIn

As I’ve started exploring social media a bit more seriously recently, I’ve taken a fresh look at LinkedIn.  Since I first signed up, more and more people I know have started using LinkedIn as well – or at least they’ve signed up.  I’ve also reconnected with a few folks from way back, so that’s been nice.  But I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to make it work for me.

Tony Karrer has given the question quite a bit of thought and has some good suggestions in his post LinkedIn Connection Approach Rethought.  In this post, he looks at his use of LinkedIn using Christian Mayaud’s ideas on Right Sizing your PANs, FANs, and CANs. *  Interestingly, what Tony found is that the LinkedIn recommended approach of only connecting with FANs and CANs really limits the value of LinkedIn. The true value of LinkedIn, at least for Tony, is in building his PANs.

As I described to Lilia in an interview with her last summer, I got to know quite a few people in the KM field through blogging.  However, with few exceptions I didn’t feel that I knew them well enough to request a connection in LinkedIn.  Reading the summary of my interview and Lilia’s collected thoughts on KM blogs and networking in general have “loosened” me up a bit, so that I am connecting with more “casual acquaintances” than before.  (In fact, I finally connected with Lilia just this week!)

Check out this Common Craft video for an example of a practical use of LinkedIn; thanks to Matt Homann for the link to the video.

From knowledge work to concept work

The nature of knowledge work, and the value of the term itself, is a much discussed question.  See, for instance, this conversation on the nature of knowledge work from earlier this year.  Although I don’t believe that the term “knowledge worker” is irrelevant, I do share Tony Karrers’s unease with the almost generic application of the term:

I’ve often been a little bothered by the fact that we categorize the a person working in a call center handling customer service requests in the same category as an engineer working in R&D – they are both called knowledge workers. That’s not as helpful as it should be.

To make the distinction more useful, Tony prefers the term “Concept Worker”.

That’s why I’m liking the idea of referring to work that involves figuring out unknowns as concept work and the people doing this work as concept workers. This more succinctly and clearly differentiates the issue for me.

I like it, too.  (Except for the “worker” part, of course, but I think we are stuck with that for now.)

Does social media make you more social?

A common misconception about autistic individuals is that they shun social contact, that they are all introverts.  But in many cases it is simply the means – not the desire –  to be social that eludes them.  Face-to-face, real-time conversation can be difficult, but it is not because their there is no interest in communicating.  Enter social media.

To get an idea of what some autistic individuals have to say, check out the autistic bloggers at The Autism Hub.  These individuals have embraced what blogs have to offer in terms of a way to get their ideas out to the world and to engage in conversation with their readers through the comments.  These same people are also prolific users of social networking sites – such as Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, and even their own Ning communities – to connect with their friends.

I’ve been thinking of this in the context of making use of social media in the enterprise.   One of the problems that many implementations of KM had (have?) is its “mandatory” nature:  “you will contribute to the knowledge store, you will reuse, etc. etc.”    As different as SM is from KM, I see SM in the enterprise facing a similar issue. Just because it is available doesn’t mean that everyone will use it.  Just because social media is a good tool, doesn’t mean that everyone will naturally know now, or want to, use it.  If someone isn’t social by nature, giving them a tool that allows them to be social isn’t really going to help.

In other words, social media doesn’t “make” people more social.  Social media simply provides social people an opportunity to better express their inherent social nature.