Words in the works

A lot has been happening over the past couple of weeks, quite a few things I want to write about and ideas to explore. It’s just been a very busy couple of weeks, and all of my writing (and coding and much of my thinking) has been aimed at my day job. You know, the one that pays the bills.

Here’s a list of drafts I’ve created in the past two weeks or so that I’m working on in bits and pieces and will hopefully start pushing out in the next couple of days. Or maybe over the Christmas slowdown. (“Christmas slowdown”? Yeah, that’ll happen :)

  • Layers of abstraction and the cost of convenience
  • Passion and Warfare in St. Louis – an evening with Steve Vai
  • If everyone gave him $20
  • From Android to iPhone
  • Some notes and thoughts on WordCampUS 2017
  • Accidents of Phenotype
  • The work of art (as opposed to “a work of art”)

And one I haven’t started yet that I’ve had in the back of my mind for years and was brought to the front earlier tonight, that will likely be called What Capital Wants  (see Capitalism is Skynet for a hint what that might be about).

But right now I need to put together some notes on a proposed talk about crowdsourcing innovation for JiveWorld 2017.

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Returning to the Original Social Network

Something has been lost. Before algorithmic timelines, message length restrictions and mass surveillance there was a more robust world. It’s a distributed world that still lives behind the centralized allure of social networks. It’s a world where every person owns a small part of the internet, where they control their medium and communicate freely.

Source: Returning to the Original Social Network

Flushing the cache (aka beginner’s mind)

My first blog post was back in June 2003, on the subject of knowledge management. Over the next few years, I wrote quite a bit, and quite passionately, about KM and also started up a blog about autism, eventually merging the two into a single blog. My last post was in April 2011, following a blast of posts related to Autism Awareness Month.

I’m not really sure why I stopped. Partly it was the job. I was traveling quite a bit out to New Mexico doing some integration and testing on the project I was on at the time. And part of it was probably just simple burn out. I’d run out of things to say. Actually, I think I had just run out of new things to say. My thoughts kept coming back around to the same things, and even when I was posting about new stories or new events, it always seemed to be from the same frame of mind. And I’m not really one to repeat myself. (I kind of get that from my son.)

I’m also not really one to read what to me is repetitive writing. When I was younger I would subscribe to different magazines (pre-web!) on a variety of different topics. Invariably, though, the articles would repeat themselves. Not exactly, but the same basic things, over and over again. Of course, as I mentioned to someone on a different topic today, the challenge is providing content that new readers can access and find of value while also maintaining the interest of and providing value to current subscribers. Unfortunately, the scale usually tips in favor of the new reader.

When I started a new job in August 2011, as a solution designer and community manager on a large government enterprise social network, I thought the creative juices might start flowing again. And while I did start writing again, it almost all happened “behind the firewall” inside the ESN. And, unfortunately, I ended up repeating myself quite a bit from those earlier years from my blog; the state of KM and social inside the firewall in 2011 was about where it was outside the firewall in 2006 or so. Which in many ways was great: all that I had learned, all that I had written, all my ideas and suggestions to others on how all this could work were now my job, something I could actually put into practice as I helped the various organizations understand and adopt the principles.

I’ve missed blogging in public. Not that I’ve been away from it completely, at least as a reader. There is an incredible amount of great work going on in the realm of Enterprise Social Networks and, more specifically, the ideas around Working Out Loud, and I’ve been an avid consumer. I figured it was about time for me to start giving back again.

I considered simply rebooting my old blog(s), and picking up where I left off. In the end, though, I realized that I would be better off – and my thinking would be more free – if I flushed my mental cache, started with an empty cup, adopted a beginner’s mind. No doubt things will creep in from my past learning, but I will do my best to look at them fresh and anew.

Blogging, St. Louis style

On Monday (24 September), the Social Media Club St. Louis (@SMCSTL) hosted a panel of bloggers to discuss, what else, blogging. It has been many years since I first started blogging and the reasons and results of blogging, not to mention the tools, have evolved quite a bit. The panel shared some great insights into what motivates them to blog, and what they get out of blogging.   Continue reading “Blogging, St. Louis style”

All this machinery making modern music

To make music these days, musicians need to know just a bit more than how to play their instrument. A guitar player, for example, needs to be able to play the guitar (a given), but also must have an understanding of how the guitar is built, what accessories provide what features, how to mic the amps. Likewise a drummer, bass player, or other band member. Then comes the process of recording music to produce a song and, hopefully, all the work that goes into putting on a live performance. There are a seemingly endless supply of options available to these musicians that must be overwhelming at times.

Kind of like the seemingly endless onslaught of new collaboration tools and ways to communicate with others.

A little over 5 years ago, I wrote the following:

I’ve been messing around with blogs (with varying success) for over 5 years now, have set up and contributed to my fair share of other online sources like wikis and as a commenter to other blogs. But I’ve only recently really understood the value and, yes, appeal of text messaging and the ability to send photos and videos from anywhere on my phone. And, though I’ve recently signed up and started experimenting with Facebook, I’m still not quite sure exactly what to do with it. And don’t get me started with things like Twitter – as much as friends and others praise it, I just don’t get it.

Of course, it has only gotten worse (better?) since then.

List of feed options for the Lifestream plugin
All this, plus a way to add any that aren’t already included

I have spent the better part of the past year or so exploring and trying out new tools, seeing where they add value or don’t. I still don’t use Facebook much, but have found my groove with Twitter. I see the value and potential of Google+ but just can’t quite get into it. On the other hand, I have come to love and rely on Jive in our “behind the firewall” social/business network. I’ve signed up for many of the niche services that have come out: I really like InstagramUntappd is a cool idea, and I don’t get Pinterest (at all). A quick look at the feed selection list for the Lifestream plugin for WordPress gives an idea of what’s out there. I have no idea what most of them are, and this isn’t even all of them! (Lifestream provides a way for you to add “generic” feeds for all those that they’ve missed.)

Speaking of WordPress… Although I haven’t been blogging publicly for a while (16 months or so, yikes!), spending a lot of time writing and making things happen behind the firewall, I have kept up with the evolution of WordPress and the great tools available in the system, not to mention the evolution of its positioning in the market from “just another … blog” to “just another … site”. I’ve read a couple of good WordPress books through my Safari Books Online subscription, and played around a bit under the hood.

Wordcamp St. Louis 2012

And in a couple of weeks I’m attending WordCamp St. Louis 2012 to learn and share even more.

I could say that all this goodness was part of why it has taken me so long to actually get back up and running. (I told @tomcatalini back in April that I was “very close” to a return to blogging, not sure 4 months counts as “very close”.) And though it sounds like an excuse it is, at least partly, true. Part of my absence has been directly related to my trying to figure out what direction I wanted this blog to take, to build on my previous blogs or to try something new. But part has been trying to understand what is possible with regards to how I do it.

A perfect example of this interplay was my discovery of different post formats, along with the Showcase page template in the Twenty Eleven theme, and how I could use it to capture and present both my own extended thoughts on things (an ounce of perception) and a log of my more random thoughts and observations (a pound of obscure).

I don’t need to worry about all those sites and services in the list above that I don’t know about, or know how to use, nor do I need to worry about all the bells and whistles in WordPress. Perhaps they will be of value to me some day, and if so I expect that I will find them if and when I need them. What I care about is what I can do with them. 

Like the musicians I mentioned earlier, my purpose is not to “play an instrument” or to set up a bunch of gear. My purpose is to make music, and all this machinery is just a way to do that.

Now, let’s see what kind of music I can make….