February 24, 2007

my money, my mouth.

Over the next week or so I'm going to be updating my blogroll, which has been a living organism (with some decaying parts) for five years. I have to fix links -- i mean the very first one is out of date--ray's on wordpress now. I have to add new and remove folks who've gone away.

We should have to do this. To not do it is like dying Italian without food at the wake.

There are reasons we cull and refresh. There are reasons my house needs tending - and there is a reason for you to watch and help me do it. We are more than bold lines in an aggregator. I will never stop saying that.

CALL FOR NEW VOICES - please leave me links in comments to folks you've started reading recently who make it worth turning on the computer.

Thank you for your assistance.

Millar's Law, Brand Strategy, And Fish.

A week or so ago I took a quick shot at explaining what online marketers are doing wrong in trying to cut through the noise in the crowded Internet space: They're making more noise. What they should be doing instead is shutting up and helping people do what it is they want to do.

This post over at Brand Tactitians does a wwwwaaahhyy better job at illustrating what web companies should be doing for the people they like to call users. Because most companies treat people like users; their aim is to sell them us drugs, new drugs, better drugs. We're not users. We're doers. Help us do stuff, okay?

Anyway, I digress. A story about fish awaits you. It is Millar's Law. It is important. Go Read It.

giving it a go, diversity, the red button, and anil.

So many women over so many years around these so many parts have endeavored so often and so passionately to describe the problem with diverse voices being excluded from tech events, tech conferences, and the tech economy--heck some would wish we'd shut up altogether--that there is hardly anything left unsaid.

And yet, the same types of people keep spewing the same types of stupid arguments the same way about the same topic (linking to the same one anothers in doing so) to try and shift the blame anywhere other than their own two shoulders -- it makes me want to push the red button on this whole damn social experiment. As if i had a button.

It's crazy making. it really is.

Today the men are talking about it again, and I am pointing it out so that others can go there and talk about it with Anil, whose post is right on in explaining why monoculture is not only NOT a good thing, but why diversity is a business must that will pay off. (In other words, hurry, there's money involved.)

I haven't always agreed with Anil. In fact he's pissed me off several times over these many years. He's also very smart. This is a good post and a good discussion. Thank you Anil for having it.

Self E. Steam

stung.

You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy Church
You could say I lost my sense of direction
You could say all of this and worse but

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I'd lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do
I could be lost inside their lies without a trace
But every time I close my eyes I see your face

I never saw no miracle of science
That didn't go from a blessing to a curse
I never saw no military solution
That didn't always end up as something worse, but
Let me say this first

If I ever lose my faith in you
There'd be nothing left for me to do

--STING
bonus - did you know the The Police are going to tour in 07?

oppen heart

from wood s lot - see also: George Oppen poems at the Poetry Foundation
visual - try here.

-----

Psalm
by George Oppen

Veritas sequitur ...

In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there!

Their eyes
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass

The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.

Their paths
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
Of sun

The small nouns
Crying faith
In this in which the wild deer
Startle, and stare out.

Roto Rooter for the Net

I, Cringley says David Harrison has an idea for cleaning up the Internet.

Abandon it.

Or at least route around it.

David, who is not American, sees the U.S.-controlled Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as an imperialist tool, which is also pretty much the way the Bush Administration sees it, too, though the Bushies are proud rather than upset. So David wants the Inet to first unseat ICANN from power. If users want to participate in the Inet, they have to accept the Inet's Terms and Conditions, which say that ICANN has no authority here, thanks.

Inet would operate its own DNS system parallel to the one run by ICANN. That's not really such a big deal, you know. Certainly a different DNS with different rules would not be hard to build from a technical or even a financial standpoint, and it could exist on the current network right alongside the current DNS system. The big question is why people would use it. They wouldn't at first, because without traffic and participating servers such a DNS would be useless, and that's why David proposes an Inet DNS filter as a crossover between the old/evil system the new/good one.

A free browser patch would install a virtual switch. Click on the switch, and you route your calls through the Inet DNS Filter, and if appropriate, Inet's own DNS system.

The Inet DNS Filter would operate for a transition period. During this time, any reputable domain name holder owning an Internet domain could ask for free registration of those same domains on the Inet system. Their site would be checked to see that it complies with Inet's Terms and Conditions, and if so, they get it.

....

The Inet's e-mail service would incorporate centralized anti-phishing and anti-spam techniques, and would block known spambots. All known spammers or phishers would, where identified, be banned from the system for five years or life. Anyone operating on behalf of a known spammer or phisher would receive the same punishment. Spam is not a free speech issue, it is a digital pollution and fraud issue and would be dealt with as such. Any fraudulent commercial service offered through Inet would similarly be dealt with (this relates to non-existent lotteries, selling properties that do not exist, multilevel marketing scams, etc.).

I like it.

Hey Now. I'm not sure I'm ready for this mighty migration and transition of pseudopower David envisions. But I do believe there will come a time when we've made such a mess of this other constellation we're populting that we can't get undo the mess.

That's when I'll come back and re-read this.

February 23, 2007

always my favorite, Ray.

And ray's never been better,
And ray has a book.
And I'm buying it. Are you?

----------------------------------------------------
the first rain the first rain dance
the largest wing span of the most endangered species
the sound of the britches of the firmament ripping
goodies dropping down like beads of sweat
as we move into the place
where our senses left
------------------------more...

Doc Searls Speaks from His Bunker - Blogging Threat Elevated to Orange.


Watch Doc's Latest Threats to Business As Usual.

Why Executives Should Blog

I wrote this for Global PR Week back in 2005. Much of the advice still applies, and most of those exec bloggers I talked to are still blogging. I should go back and do another one of these. I think I'd title it, Has Blogging Jumped the Shark? 10 Ways for You Can Still Make a Splash with Blogging. Except now you have to pay me to tell you. ;-)


ADDING YOUR VOICE TO THE CONVERSATION: Why CEOs and Other Executives Should Blog.

September 19th, 2005

By Jeneane D. Sessum, Kat Herding Media, Allied
EDITORS' CHOICE | CEO Blogs

Just how taxing is it to be one of today’s chief executive officers? Most are on call, in one form or another, nearly 24 hours a day. According to an article in the Pocket Manager, it’s difficult to determine precisely how many hours the typical CEO works, but research shows that U.S.- and U.K.-based chief executive officers work the longest hours. While Oracle’s Larry Ellison has attempted to cut back on his 80-hour work week, most CEOs ether haven’t mastered the technique or don’t have that luxury.

So why in the world would CEOs take on the extra task of blogging—a communication medium with a tentative ROI that remains largely unproven?

Marketing pundit and best-selling author Seth Godin says they shouldn’t. According to Godin, blogs work when they are based on candor, urgency, timeliness, pithiness, and controversy. “Does this sound like a CEO to you?" Godin asks. “Short and sweet, folks: If you can’t be at least four of the five things listed above, please don’t bother . . . save the fluff for the annual report."

As blogging evolves, however, many of today’s CEOs-turned-bloggers in fact are making the time—and having a good time—using the very characteristics Godin lists as what makes blogging successful.

Time to Blog?

Bob Cramer, CEO of Marlborough, Mass.-based LiveVault, sees blogging not as an extra activity, but as something inherent to his business.

“The essence of our business is leveraging the Internet to transform how organizations run the process of data backup," he says. “Since our business model is based around the net, blogging is a natural fit for us." Cramer, who uses Six Apart’s Movable Type blog tool, manages the time demands of blogging by loosely scheduling time for writing.

“I aim for one blog entry a week at a minimum, and while I don’t formally schedule my posts, I do put blogging on my to-do list," he says. “When I get the RSS feeds from blogs I read and I see a topic that interests me, I’ll take some notes and make the time to write about it."

Phil Libin, president of CoreStreet, in Cambridge, Mass., takes a more free-form approach to balancing his blog time with his executive responsibilities.

“In every other facet of the company, I have a schedule," he says. “There are deadlines; there are reports; there are meetings, and so on. If I tried to extend that schedule to my blog, I wouldn’t bother blogging. If I had to say to myself, ‘Here are ten topics, now sit down and write about them,’ the whole experience would become bland and boring. So instead I post when something intrigues me, when something seems like it will interest my readers. I’d rather have readers remember me for having written something memorable than for when I last posted."

Gil Friend, CEO of Berkeley, Calif.-based Natural Logic, doesn’t have a regular posting pattern, but does have posting consistency over time, having blogged actively on his Radio blog since June 2002.

“I’ll go through a week or two of not posting, and then I’ll have days when I write five posts, then a single post—it varies," he says. “I don’t know if that’s a problem for readers. When I started blogging I wasn’t thinking about all of that. It was as much because I like to try new things as anything. But I continue blogging because writing is one of the ways I figure out what I’m thinking. And, what I think and what I write about are often key reasons people engage my company."

Matt Blumberg, CEO of New York, NY-based Return Path, also uses blogging to help crystallize his thinking.

“One of the best things publishing a blog has done has been to force me to spend a few minutes here and there thinking about issues I encounter in a more structured way and crystallizing my point of view on them," Blumberg wrote in 2004. “[That’s] invaluable, but mostly for me."

Unleashing Your Inner Blogger

Getting started in blogging doesn’t always take an edict from on high or a firm resolution to blog. Sometimes it starts by accident. That’s how GM vice chairman Bob Lutz came to blogging, according to marketing consultant Debbie Weil, who learned from Gary Grates, GM’s vice president of communications for North America, that Bob Lutz started writing flying back from Europe when he wrote up a response to some posts he’d been reading about GM.

When Lutz asked what he should do with his notes, Grates had his blog-savvy communications team put his writeup on the Saturn into a blog template. The rest, as they say, is history—at least recent history. Grates says that there is no science to how or when Lutz blogs, but rather that he simply “juxtaposes his response to reader comments with what he wants to write about next."

Lutz himself gives advice to other CEOs on the whys and wherefores of blogging in his article from the July 11, 2005 issue of Information Week, “Nothing to Fear from Executive Blogging". “It’s important that we run the bad with the good," he writes. “We’d take a credibility hit if we posted only rosy compliments, and credibility is the most important attribute a corporate blog can have. Once it’s gone, your blog is meaningless. If you filter the negatives out, you don’t have a true dialogue, so how can you hope to change anybody’s mind about your products or your business?"

Not every high-level executive, however, has a power blogger within, just waiting for the opportunity to engage the market in debate and express himself or herself online. It takes a combination of personality and proficiency, of wit and wisdom, and the ability to write well, to make a blogger—CEO or otherwise—worth reading.

CoreStreet’s Libin was inspired and encouraged into blogging by Chuck Tanowitz of Schwartz Communications, who urged his client to join the blogosphere in 2003.

“What’s right about Phil for blogging is that he’s thoughtful, articulate, well spoken, and a great writer, which translates well to the medium of blogging," Tanowitz says. “His blog is not just a recap of company press releases and press materials—far from it. What he writes about in his posts are the things that Phil thinks about every day. His passion for the industry, his business smarts, and his personality are really what attracted our firm to the company when we started working with CoreStreet."

According to Tanowitz, Libin’s enthusiasm for what he does—which comes across in his blog and in person—is something Tanowitz has leveraged for more traditional PR tactics as well.

“As public relations people, when we hear that passion from someone, that’s what we need to capture and take back to the marketplace," Tanowitz says. “Blogging is the digital pencil. As Phil’s PR counsel, we get a lot of ideas from reading Phil’s blog at times when we’re not in front of him. We get the thoughts he has while he’s traveling in a far-off nation. His blog is a direct line into his head, and what Phil writes on his blog often extends to traditional PR and marketing channels—allowing us to repackage his thoughts on a given topic and bring his ideas to the media in other forms. Often, something Phil’s read or written sparks talks with analysts and journalists."

For his part, Libin likes the way his blog breaks the ice when meeting prospects, partners, colleagues, candidates, and members of the media for the first time.

“I didn’t think of this when I started blogging, but people usually Google me before a meeting, and by the time I meet with them at least one-quarter of them will have found my blog and read something there that they want to talk about," he says. “It’s like a shared joke, something more personal that removes the pressure during for those first initial conversations. The basics about who you are have been taken care of on your blog."

Blogging Is “Complementary To"—Not a “Replacement For"

Natural Logic’s Gil Friend sees blogging as one of many communication pathways for his organization and its constituents. Friend, who has been online since the late 1970s, when he participated in EIES (the Electronic Information Exchange System), one of the early computer communications projects outside DARPA, puts blogging into perspective as a powerful tool for participating in the larger conversation.

“As a CEO, I write, speak and meet, and I see blogging as short-form writing that has its place in how I communicate," he says. “I do a longer monthly piece called “The New Bottom Line,�? regular pieces at WorldChanging (http://www.worldchanging.com) and GreenBiz, as well as articles for traditional media like The Wall Street Journal. Blogging is more informal, and makes it easy to link other relevant items and bring people into the conversation. People can engage at their own pace and at their own convenience. And with RSS and blogrolls, reading blogs becomes even easier."

The conversation is the point, according to Friend. And the more dimensions to it, the better.

“The conversation happens through blogging and around the water cooler," he says. “It happens in performance reviews, in the lunchroom, in the boardroom. Extended across the organization’s lifecycle is the defining conversation the company has with itself and its value chain. And every organization has the opportunity to have this conversation, to make it broadly participatory, to make it rich, and to have it in all the forums where it can occur."

CEO Blogging: Mischief or Management?

Because blogging is a continuously evolving medium, it is unpredictable. The risks of blogging—of being harassed in comments, embarrassed by errors and miscommunication, even being fired—have been well demonstrated in real-life scenarios for a few years now. Blogging’s blemishes are worth examining, but not worth losing sleep over, according to executive bloggers with a passion for posting. With unpredictability comes risk, but it also brings edginess and excitement that connects with readers.

“Our executive team had meetings to decide if we should do it, how we should do it, and who should do it," says LiveVault’s Bob Cramer. “We weighed the potential problems against the possible opportunities. In the end, we decided that the worst-case scenario was that we would learn from it. So we jumped in."

According to Cramer, the biggest risk for new executive bloggers is that they may expect too much from it.

“Blogging is about expressing yourself and how you feel—whether it’s your market, industry trends, current events, or some other topic," he says. “It’s not about selling product or writing a sales pitch. While I would urge every CEO to blog, I would also urge them to write about things they know about, to be personal, to understand that this is not your ‘company’ speaking—it’s you speaking."

What about encouraging employees to follow in his footsteps? Cramer says the more the merrier, as long as the work gets done.

“I think it would be great if our employees decided to blog, if they want to spend extra time conveying how they think and feel to the community."

Karen Christensen, CEO of Great Barrington, Mass.-based Berkshire Publishing Group, has identified the risks associated with blog publishing—and has some advice for overcoming them.

“Blogging requires consistency, which is why it’s a good idea to test the waters without making an announcement or commitment before you find out if it’s for you," she says. “It’s not a blog if the last entry is a month old, so before you draw a lot of attention to your blog, make sure you can really do it."

Christensen also advises CEO bloggers to get personal while understanding that a certain level of decorum is necessary.

“We should be as relaxed and uncensored as we can, but also be aware that there are risks in publishing on the fly," she notes. “For example, I try not to share my wilder dreams and visions on the blog. And if you are one of those people who can’t spell or see typos in your writing, get a proofreader or editor."

CoreStreet’s Libin, who views his blog as a personal site, separate from his company, does not use corporate resources of any kind to design, host, maintain, or post to his blog. He also makes sure his blog has a separate graphical identity, saying that “this separation of church and state" gives him freedom to keep things humorous and fresh—and keep him engaged in writing there. Of course, that freedom of expression also brings some—you guessed it—risks.

“From an HR perspective, it’s a personal blog, but I have to be appropriate," he says. “That’s a little tricky, because it’s easy to have what you write be misunderstood. Also, I find myself writing some humorous posts and I think, ‘Do I want my investors to think that I’m funny? Does that make me frivolous? Is there a difference?’ The truth is, yes there’s a difference—and being funny and interesting is not a bad thing."

A little fear, in fact, may be a good thing, according to Natural Logic’s Gil Friend, who notes that there’s nothing wrong with fear.

“Fear is part of awareness," he explains. “Blind courage gets large numbers of people killed. So, be afraid and go ahead with the risks in mind."

Friend sees the opportunities for executive bloggers to develop a voice that customers, employees, and other stakeholders can relate to as an important benefit of blogging.

“Giving a voice to what can be a monolith is important because people do business out of relationships as much as they do it out of price, performance, and benefit," he says. “Blogging facilitates a dialogue about what matters to companies and communities—a discussion that often leads to a working relationship."

Because a key job for CEOs is to provide the core of the organization’s identity and to ensure sustainability, a vital component of corporate identity is cohesiveness.

“One way that that the corporate voice can emerge is through blogging," he says. “The most interesting and powerful companies in the world are the ones who have dismantled that dichotomy between inside and outside, companies who speak with the same voice—internally, externally, and to themselves."

The Cost Is Low, The ROI Is Coming

What is the return on investment for developing an identifiable, sustainable corporate voice? Even the most enthusiastic CEO bloggers will admit that they have yet to figure that out.

“In terms of ROI, I don’t know what dollar value you can place on having people know me, know CoreStreet, and understand our values before we ever walk into a meeting," Phil Libin says. “But considering the number of meetings I attend, it could be pretty huge."

Libin advises, however, that blogging isn’t for every executive.

“I would recommend blogging, but it depends on whether or not you have anything to say," he explains. “Blogging is not the only way to move the conversation forward. If you’re good at golf, you have the golf course, but unfortunately I’m not. Blogging is my golf game."

Berkshire Group’s Karen Christensen says all the ROI she needs to see is a positive response about her blog from her customers.

“Our customers are librarians and book distributors, and they have told me that they appreciate getting to know what goes on inside a publishing company," she explains. “Publishers typically have something of a castle drawbridge mentality. They send out information in polished, finished form, then pull the bridge up. The whole open-access movement is putting them under pressure to be more collaborative, and blogging is our chance to show our approach."

Blogs Power Convergence

If a fundamental job of a CEO is to be thinking ahead, can blogs help make that job easier? Is there a role in blogging for helping companies determine what the business wants to be not only in five years, but in 25 years?

“There are companies in Japan that have 500-year plans," Gil Friend says. “Because our business is about the intersection of economic and environmental sustainability, we ask our clients to tell the truth about what they aspire to. We ask them, ‘What’s your organization’s purpose? What are your long-term commitment to your shareholders and employees and community? What’s in your own heart? What are you really here to do?’ And we ask this of CEOs, of senior executives, of everyone within the corporation. Typically, they say: ‘Do you mean in my job? In my life? In my family? In my community?’ And eventually they realize: ‘Oh, you mean all of that?’—and then they get very quiet, and drop into authenticity. What follows is deep and genuine, and it is an extremely powerful conversation."

Friend and his company have seen first hand the tangible benefits that occur when the CEO and the company’s mission, vision, business model, and value proposition are aligned. And, according to Friend, blogging can play a role in facilitating this authentic convergence.

“Providing multifaceted forums for participation and conversation enables more people within global organizations and communities to emerge and participate in ways that work for them. Blogging is just one way to facilitate this important goal—but it can be a powerful way."

Perhaps it’s GM’s Bob Lutz’ words of encouragement for executives considering whether or not to blog that will convince the more hesitant business leaders to get to their keyboard especially since the blog world, the press, and most of GM’s constituents are tuned into Lutz’s blog—which, he says, gets more than 5,000 visits and 13,000 page views a day.

“To any senior executive on the fence about starting a corporate blog, I have a word of advice,�? Lutz says. “Jump."

February 22, 2007

so you think it's funny i'm selling shaklee, huh? -- ADVERTORIAL --

yeah, hahaha. well, maybe not.

I decided to try shaklee vitamins last month because i was sick of having to drive to the health food store every 15 days to get a bottle of quality supplements, and because I'm sick of being on antibiotics (as a result of failing to do number 1 above, in part), and I'm sick of feeling like homemade crap, and because george used to sell shaklee in the early 80s. I've tried their stuff before and have always liked it.

And THAT'S why you see the puppy in the sidebar. Right over there --->

And what the heck, if i'm not my own best advertiser, what kind of a model am I setting for others who would pay to have me hawk their brands!??!

So here's to good health. Yours and mine. And if you're looking for supplements, eco-friendly (not boutique, mind you) cleaning supplies, personal care items, etc., check out my shaklee store and order online.

this advertisement sponsored by the people for the ethical treatment of bloggers, ltd.

community guy on community stuff

community guy's got a ton of info on:

Safer User Generated Content Campaigns

If you are of the safe-sex school, that means you should comdomize yourself before writing a politician.

badumpbump, crash!

Okay, even if i don't like the UGC lingo, the tips in the post are worth a read for those establishing or running moderated communities--or any kind for that matter. Jake points to a whitepaper that goes into detail: Six Techniques for Safer User Generated Content (UGC) Campaigns, focusing on six key, and often under appreciated techniques. I like the tip to enlist users of a community in moderating it.

4. Enlist your users – most site users want a positive experience. Given the opportunity, many of them will help to protect the safety and quality of a project. Enlisting users can not only help moderators, but can engage users in the site itself. Make sure to develop tools and processes that make it easy and rewarding for "good" behaviors to help protect against the "bad" behaviors.

As the community lives a hopefully long and healthy life, the natural evolution is for the participants to define levels of moderation, and to ignore or oust the assholes, to create and enforce what's acceptable and what gets you shot behind the barn.

(if only!) ;-)

February 21, 2007

Blurb: Book Sluper's "Bummer" Is Not Cute.

Rule 1 for web 2.1 software: cut it with the cute.

"Bummer" is not an okay way to tell me your software doesn't work. Bummer is not an error message intro. Bummer is what a surfer might say when the waves aren't extreme enough for a good ride. Bummer is what a middle schooler might mutter when a field trip to the Braves game gets canceled due to budgetary cuts.

Do not, not ever, mistake me for a surfer or a middle schooler.

The more time we invest as an unpaid QA department in more and more companies' non-working products, the more 'social software' enthusiasts become anti-social.

Obviously I jumped enthusiastically into Blurb's Book Slurper. (Hey, I didn't get the "Like the Linux people without Linux" moniker for nothin'.)

Initial grade: D -.

Here's how it went:

1. what will your book be? (expensive, really expensive, or outfuckingrageous?)



2. Choose your basic page layout -- blog to book. (Wow that looks cool! -- that's why I didn't give it an F.)



3. This is me logging into Blogger with my NEW BLOGGER GMAIL login, as is required.



4. This is me going, "Bummer?" Did you just crap out on me and call it a "bummer"? You can't what? I USED my new blogger account login. Nice try. Why not say, "No one with more than 3 posts can play."



5. This is me saying "Hiccup. Hiccup"? And this is me blinking: "The 'fabled' CTRL+ALT+DELETE key?" Who told them they could talk like this. This is not conversation. This is bullshit. P.S.: Like CTRL+ALT+DEL is some minor deal?


6. This is me saying, "No I will not help you."

Dissapointing.

I'll wait another five years I guess.

.

Five Years After I Asked for It, It's Here!

To my own not-so-easily-perked-these-days amazement, I read on Lisa's blog about this blog slurper book thing. In short, Blurb apparently lets you "slurp your blog into Blurb’s BookSmart™ software to create a bookstore-quality book, and end up with a permanent and portable archive to share with others."

Been looking for something like this?

Shhheah!

Five years ago I asked a way to export content in this meaningful way. Hey, I'm patient. And I'm willing to give it a try. Book Slurper says it does some pretty cool stuff:

  • Imports and maps blog text, images, comments, and links into a professionally designed template, producing a draft book in real time
  • Allows you to customize and edit your book as little or as much as you like
  • Creates bookstore-quality books up to 440 pages, with professional printing and binding
Not sure about their business model or pricing -- sounds like a downer to me. They need to find a way to REWARD self-publishers for longevity and heavy-content (because they will tend to bring more buyers), not tax them for books over 40 pages.
You pay only when you publish your book. Books up to 40 pages start at $12.95 – see pricing table for details.
Not sure about the backend publishing part either--real creativity needs to happen there to help bloggers make it worth their while rather than just cutting and pasting into a PDF and using lulu. Why should I pay $12.95 to publish 40 slurpped pages of my blog? I can go copy out 40 pages worth--it's the 5,000 posts over six years that I need to slurp.

I'll be digging in to check this thing out and either signing on or waiting for the open source version. Stay tuned.

February 20, 2007

feeling all information superhighwayish

I've been perseverating about Stowe's traffic and flow post for a couple of days. Not every waking moment. But pretty persistently.

I'm in a frame of mind where I'm taking a look at how 'social' all of this new social technology really is, especially as technology seems to be backfiring all over me this week:

1.) what with my wireless router working well for everything but wireless all of a sudden, and

2.) what with this annoying feed-reading dyslexia I've developed where I keep thinking I'm reading SOMEONE except that halfway through I start getting that weird "doc's excited about new underwear?" or "j. brotherlove went to the circus?" feeling only to figure out I've once again clicked on a different name in bloglines than I thought, jolting me out of my happy reading experience with someone I thought I knew. It's like going home to the wrong house, or walking in on your parents having sex. I'm just saying.

So Stowe's report of Emily Chang's new data stream left me feeling jittery. I don't want to feel jittery about a data stream. But no matter how much I admire these ideas and their generators, and no matter how much I admire the professional stamina and gitundoulous amounts of information and knowledge these folks juggle, the focus on data and streams and all of the recent nattering around "how DO we keep up?" leaves me feeling a little jittery and a little pissy.

Part pissy, part jittery.

Maybe the jittery part is about me not being able to explain why I'm so pissy about it.

Certainly Emily's goal and journey in figuring out how to keep up with her online social activity is an important personal activity. People who live inside of this stuff and make a living there really ARE drowning in data and dying for information (oh wait! that was 1996 and data warehousing...). Drowning in websites and dying for gigs (no wait, that was 2002). Drowning in feeds and dying for .....what?

What?

What exactly is it that's being died for?

To know me? To see me? To read me? To understand me? To get me? To get as many mes as you can?

Or to FOLLOW. To follow the traffic, the noise, the action?

The collision of RSSing and aggregating and twittering--it's people following. It's people following information. Not following not you or I, but following themselves.

Emily writes:

Recently had to revisit the plan to aggregate all my activity into one data stream. As the calendar rolled to 2007, I kept wishing I could look at all my social activity from 2006 in context: time, date, type of activity, location, memory, information interest, and so on. What was I bookmarking, blogging about, listening to, going to, and thinking about? I still had the urge to have an information and online activity mash-up that would allow me to discover my own patterns and to share my activity across the web in one chronological stream of data (to start with anyway).

On the 'cool solution!" front I'm all, 'how cool is that?' On the 'what does this mean to the web?' front, I'm all about being creeped out.

What I'm trying to say -- I think, at least, as I limp along -- is that I don't get how we're trending toward social here. What I see is more and more niche experts going more and more micro, inner and inner and inner, and calling it social.

How does this help us act as intermediaries for new voices? How does any of this help connect the man or woman who isn't "followable" in terms of scale with readers and friends who don't know they exist?

At our SoCon session last week, I made a call to bring back the blogroll. Because in all of the devices that have come along since the day when we only had blogrolls to show who we were reading -- RSS and aggregators and technorati and conference agendas and on and on -- nothing has done THAT job effectively.

There is no tool to raise us up. Only to follow those who have been raised.

And I think THAT job -- the job of connecting and circulating voices, especially new ones -- is the most important part of what we're doing here. Reading and writing one another whole.

I'm not here to FOLLOW you. I'm here to meet you. To like you, to love you, to read you, to hear you, to know you, to call you family or kick you in the ass and tell you to get lost.

Stowe is one of the smartest guys I know in this space. I'm sure that when he says there are tools in the works to make meaning out of things like traffic and flow, he's telling us straight. But I'm not getting how this technology is -- at its core -- social-making:

A pal of yours is having a party? He will create the event using some social application site, and the event will be cast into his traffic. Your flow-aware calendar app might snag the event from the traffic, and ask you if you'd like to confirm. You agree, and the agreement is thrown into your traffic, for your buddy and others to make sense of, downstream.

This world of traffic will change things like blogging: instead of commenting at someone's post -- a static, page-centric system -- I might simply create a commentary with a link to the original (which I may have discovered in my inbound traffic, not necessarily by browsing his/her blog), and I drop a comment into my traffic, where it flows out to all those who want to see my natterings. Yes, sure, I might archive that comment (as well as the inbound post), or maybe push the comment into a conventional blog post: but the basic perception of what is going on shifts away from pages and static URLs toward flow and the elements that make up my traffic.

While I got the initial buzz off twitter -- the unending chatter of followees about this dinner and that, about this meeting and that, about this profound thought and that -- twitter's after taste is what was so important to me. Twitter made me realize how unworthy we are as human beings of being followed.

Period.

We are not, each and every one of us, a walking techmeme or fashionmeme or dinnermeme or godmeme, streaming continuous brainfood for the masses. Thank you Jesus.

Those who could change you in some fundamental way if you followed them -- you won't see them sticking a stream out of their butt and asking you to jump on.

I don't know. Am I making sense?

I was feeling pretty alone thinking through all of the the last couple of days when I happened on Doc's post, We Are All Authors of Each Other.

And Doc brought me home.

Let Doc bring you home too:
I don't think of my what I do here as production of "information" that others "consume". Nor do I think of it as "one-to-many" or "many-to-many". I think of it as writing that will hopefully inform readers.

Informing is not the same as delivering information. Inform is derived from the verb to form. When you inform me, you form me. You enlarge that which makes me most human: what I know. I am, to some degree, authored by you.

What we call "authority" is the right we give others to author us, to enlarge us.

The human need to increase what we know, and to help each other do the same, is what the Net at its best is all about. Yeah, it's about other things. But it needs to be respected as an accessory to our humanity. And terms like "social media", forgive me, don't do that. (At least not for me.)

What he said.

fine fine finslippy on four and a half

It's just too good.

Hey, can Four and a half have that cookie? That one you thought Four and a half wouldn’t notice, all wrapped up in the pantry? No, you say? That’s cool. See? Four and a half wants you to know he can wait—he’s got all the time in the world. Or maybe that cookie isn’t for him and never will be. No matter. Some other cookie will come by, some other time. And when that time comes, Four and a half will be there. For that cookie.

Sweet, sweet love,
Four and a half

put that in your twitter and follow it.


YouLementary

The problem with the YouNiversity concept -- which may come to pass in spite of what the American education system does to derail it -- is that it rests at the end of a road that is completely diabled from getting young people from one end to the other.

In other words, while higher education is working to prepare graudates for a networked world, the entire public school system in America is designed to produce factory workers and soldiers. Independent thinking is not only not valued, it's punished. Extrapolation is not only discouraged, it loses you "Thumbs Up Bucks" for candy at the end of the week. Community and marketplace-based social activity isn't just scorned-it's disbanded. Computers are novelties that still sit in libraries and labs for specific uses and county- and state-based curricula-related activites. No Internet without a Capital-P Password.

The public school system is completely dis-preparing and subverting students' neo-natural inclination to tap into the connected world. With a whole lot of rhetoric around 'keeping kids safe,' they're keeping kids hostage to 'education as usual.'

Sure, kids like mine have computers at home, are encouraged to surf and to blog under watchful parental eyes, have their own domains, and want to sell art online. But in some homes that's just not possible for so many reasons. The schools could step up here. Could be the intermediary between young minds, the creative spirit, and the YouNiversity of the future.

But they won't. That path will be available to parents who choose to and can pay $10K or more per year -- and then still have to fight to push teachers out of their comfort zones -- as the disparity between publicly educated and privately educated kids grows in this country.

The hope is in Jenkin's description of matriculating students from YouNiversity out into jobs in elementary and secondary education -- or at least in the knowledge he hopes will leak back into traditional education:

Responding to these wildly divergent backgrounds and expectations requires us to constantly redesign and create course expectations as we try to give students what they need to push themselves to the next level of personal and professional development. We have encouraged faculty members to incorporate production opportunities in their courses so that students in a children's-media class, for example, are asked to apply the theories they have learned to the design of an artifact for a child (medium unspecified), then write a paper explaining the assumptions behind their design choices. We may have students composing their own children's books, building and programming their own interactive toys, shooting photo essays, producing pilots for children's shows, or designing simple video games or Web sites.

I mean I hope all of this makes a difference, one day, maybe even for my kid. I SO hope so. I hope that we prepare Jenna to be a YouNiversity student ready to embrace and "snowboard" on the possibilities of the net.

But for academia as a whole? I'm not so optimistic. And for the American education system? I'm downright terrified.

February 19, 2007

"why don't you put me on your back and carry me down, Ms. Helpful?"

Everyday rage-making comments courtesy of writing is fighting:

Yesterday, I got into the elevator in my apartment building with a young white couple. As we all pressed our floor buttons, my floor didn't light up. I pressed the button again, to no avail. The girl says to me in a loud and deliberately slow manner, "why don't you just press seven and then walk down the stairs? If you press five, then you have to walk up rather than walking down." I turned around and looked at her. Bitch, do I look like I'm five? The elevator stopped on my floor and as the doors opened, the girl pats me on the shoulder and says, "See? You don't have to walk." I again gave her a look and shook my head as I exited the elevator. As usual, I thought, do I look stupid or am I just being too sensitive? Should I have punched her out or cussed her? The problem with that is that the person then thinks that you are nuts, calls the cops, etc, and of course has no idea why you are mad because they don't understand why their behaviour is insulting.

It's those everyday interactions that personally drive me nuts. What I don't understand is why some - notice how I said some - white people talk to you like you're deaf and dumb and need assistance. I also don't get it how in such a diverse city like Toronto, there are people who act like they have never had any interactions with black people, or don't realize that...well, just act stupid.

Happens in Atlanta too.

f.u.n.

whododatmojothang and what is fun?

sipping thick shake thru small straw
slapping bare kid butts
watching them get theirs
salted cashews
first new car
tilt-a-whirl
puppy breath
slamming brakes on ice
laughing so hard you pee

the doctor is in

from doc:

I'm listening to a recording of live Dylan from '65 on KRUU and kind of mellowing out before crashing for the night. The show is A Fistfull of Daller's. KRUU is a little station in Fairfield, Iowa with a range of about 5 miles. Unless you listen to the stream or get the feed. All the shows have feeds. And they're good.

"Ballad of the Thin Man". Dylan rasps, Something is happening, and you don't know what it is. Do you, Mister Jones?

Mojo? I dunno. I'm in Baltimore, where the frozen slush is melting, making little plapping sounds in the drainpipe outside the window, reminding me I'm deep in the East Coast. Home country. Recalling childhood in New Jersey, when we'd wish it would snow and once again the forecast would say Snow mixed with and changing to rain... And then it would all freeze, crusty and white, too hard to crack or take a footprint.

Here is your throat back. Thanks for the loan.

A memory. I'm in 8th grade, and a Safety Patrol kid at the corner of Maywood Ave and Passaic Street. I'm an accessory to Mrs. Lesh, the crossing guard. I break the boredom by cracking off bits of frozen crust along the sidewalk or the street gutter, and then kicking them out to where they'll get run over by traffic, making up a game with friends that are just hanging out, waiting for me to get off duty. Ten points if the kicked hunk gets smashed by the first car to come along. Five if it's the second one.

He screams "You're a cow. Give me some milk or go home."

Now Daller's playing "Knockin' on heaven's door". It's gettin' dark, too dark to see...

Night.


Night, Doc. Sweet dreams.

dispatch from the jesus bunker

The last post from Poets translated:
Here is what they write:

www.googlemail.pl - belongs to Google Inc.
Please visit www.googlemail.pl, which belongs to Google since May of 2005.
It pretty much explains what happens to .pl domain names that end up in their hands.
Yes, you are seeing it right. That website is Blank ... since the very beginning.

---
So as you can see the Poets are saying that Google has not done anything with the domain they already own in Poland and now they want GMAIL.pl so they can just blank it out, like googlemail.pl.

Part of maintaining competitive advantage CEO's job is to remove all barriers to domination (children, grandmothers and Poets are targets if competitive adavntage demands it).