Tagged Posts: Meta_Blogging
Having mentioned Qumana in a recent post, the ever-vigilant Qumana team picked up on my comment and asked if I’d look again at the tool. As I promised, here is a note of my re-visit. In the spirit of the thing, this post is written using the tool (3.0.0-b2 Beta).
The two things that put me off Qumana before were its inability to post via a web proxy (not tested this time), and the lack of control over the HTML it was creating. The second thing has been fixed now, with a "Source View" tab.
Things I like
The drop-pad – this makes it really easy to grab links and bits of content as you work and park them in a scratchpad for blogging later. This was the key part of the workflow that Earl Mardle described.
The writing interface is really clean, with the minimum of interferences to get in the way of the words you want to write, and really clear, so you can review your words easily. Being a beta there are a couple of funnies – for example "Insert Link" and "Align Left" seem to share the same keyboard shortcut as described in the menu (actually it applies "Insert Link") – but those are trivial things that I’m sure will be fixed in the release version.
Integrated speeling chocker – definitely a requirement for those fast posts!
Things I don’t like
Unless I missed it in my exploration of the configuration, there is no way to post to your blog as draft. For me this is the killer feature-lack that makes it difficult for me to integrate Qumana into my preferred workflow. I can see an argument that says this tool is for creating fast posts, but I’m sure that many people would like the ability to post in draft. If nothing else, this makes it easy to capture thoughts when they happen, for later access and editing from another computer.
There’s another reason that I would want a "post to draft" facility, which is more to do with my specific blog setup – I make use of the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin to create tags on my blog, and this requires access to the online WordPress editing screen. If when you read this post it doesn’t have any tags, that’s because I’ve only just posted it and haven’t time to go into WordPress and add them. In fairness to Qumana, this is not something they could realistically accomodate as a specific requirement because it lies outside the XML-RPC interface to WordPress, however a "Post to Draft" feature would enable it. And of course, they do include an easy shortcut for inserting Technorati tags "the normal way".
Things I don’t really care about
A key part of the functionality of Qumana is the ability to easily include adverts in your posts through the close integration with Adgenta. As this isn’t something I particularly want to do on my blog (unless the ISP fees go up!) then it isn’t a selling point for me – nor did I test this aspect to see how well it works.
A nice tool, and if it had the ability to post in draft I would probably use it. If that isn’t a requirement for your own preferred style of blogging, then give it a go!
Finally got around to joining Skype – so
I’ve changed the licencing for the material in this blog to pick up the recently-released UK version of the Creative Commons licence.
Henceforth all original content created by myself and published on this website (including material previously published under different terms) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 England & Wales License.
New on the blogroll is The “Does it Work?” Diary from my friend Clare Walker.
She’s taken on the challenge of documenting “Which personal development techniques actually work”, and amongst other things is documenting a self-experiment on the positive affect on mood obtained by abstaining from watching television news.
I’m not certain why this may work, but suspect that:
1) The bias of most news is depressing (eg an emphasis on crime, disaster, problems, etc)….(And yes, I know that the media can do tremendous good by highlighting poverty, disasters and destruction, but if in the end we’re all too depressed to respond, that isn’t, in fact very useful).
2) Most of this is illustrated with pictures (which people’s unconscious minds just lap up).
3) Watching television is known to induce an alpha-brain-wave, trance-like state
(the very same state in which it’s also easiest to create positive emotional change too).
4) I watch most TV news at night…which is also the time I think of for both myself and my students as being the most powerful for personal development and changework. (Something to do perhaps with tiredness after the day inducing that all-important alpha brain-wave state again.
Try it for yourself!
Amy Gahran has started documenting patterns of blog posts. 3 of 7 posted so far. I think this a type 2!
Blogging your bliss – Lesley Orchard gets it.
Over at Headshift Suw Charman has done a great job of capturing the 11 core themes from the Blogwalk “Window Wiki“. As people reflect on the event there is discussion about how to best develop the ideas from this session and how to ensure better learning next time. Here’s my three-ha’porth, modified slightly from my own comment to that discussion:
Reflection and Memory
Memory-wise I find the “little black book” with a few key phrases or bullet points essential to remember the flow of the day.
However I’m not keen to have a formal plenary “writing it down” session; partly so as to make best use of face-to-face time; partly because I find that writing a too-detailed set of notes tends to freeze the thinking at that point rather than allow the ideas to ferment and mature over time. Ian Glendinning strikes the right chord here for me.
I do think that a reflection period at the end of each session would be a good way to surface and anchor thoughts without over-formalising.
Developing the Ideas
The converse is also true – to continue the conversations amongst a geographically-dispersed group we are going to need to write it down on blogs, wikis, emails, IM etc. etc. – perhaps that is where we will begin to express a written emergence of our thinking?
I’m beginning to think that as well as having the “seed” themes (the 11 groupings from the window) to work with it would be very helpful to have some candidate “research questions” in each of those areas to focus our output. Each question should combine a focus for the thinking with a “how could we test this in real life?”. Food for a later set of posts?
Of course we already have one target output in terms of defining the right toolset (the [bliki]IntraBliki[/bliki]).
The overwhelming majority of issues discussed on the day were around people, interactions, emotions and the psychology of blogging in business – indeed as David Wilcox notes many of these issues are those that relate to any organisational change. However I think it would be dangerous to think that there are no technology challenges left at all. In my experience unless the technology hurdle is very very low then it becomes a great hook for people to hang their “resistance to change” issues on. Anu Gupta has picked up on this by referring to this Harvard Business School article
Don’t forget that we are, by definition, a self-selected group who have been prepared to deal with the technology to get our ideas “out there”. The use of social software in the workplace will only succeed (what’s more should only succeed) if it is successful in letting people do what they need to do more easily – a means not an end.
In the same post that I just blogged Johnnie Moore goes on to say:
Traditional models of group thinking seem based on me trying to cement my well-formed brick of thought to your well-formed brick. Increasingly, I find much more satisfaction in sharing the less-formed ideas and responses I have to conversations. I sense that by doing so, it’s possible to create some sense of joint intelligence that can get beyond existing mental models.
I suppose that my blogging process tends towards bricks, as I write down ideas and get to tweak and edit them and improve them, to make them more palatable to the outside world.
For me this is the nub of why I need a blog plus me-writable and world-writable wikis.
Blog posts by their nature are a snapshot at a point in time and therefore imply some form of stasis. Wiki pages however are timeless and hence never finished, always open to flux.
I’ve found the writing style that has started to evolve since I had this combination of tools is to scatter thoughts around the wiki-spaces until some juxtaposition forms that is sufficiently clear to create a blog-entry. The blog-entry becomes a picture of my thinking at a point in time and therefore essential to mapping out some kind of path. The state of the wiki pages continues to evolve – by looking where there is activity you can see which parts of my mental associations are currently to the forefront of attention.
This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).
The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2004/08/a_sonar_ping_of.html) — results and commentary will appear there in the future.
Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate — the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.
The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)
To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).
REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)
(1) I found this experiment at URL: http://www.wingedpig.com/
(2) I found it via “Newsreader Software” or “Browsing the Web” or “Searching the Web” or “An E-Mail Message”: Newsreader Software
(3) I posted this experiment at URL: http://synesthesia.co.uk/blog/
(4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 03/08/04
(5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 11:19:00
(6) My posting location is (city, state, country): London, London, UK
OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):
(7) My blog is hosted by: WordPress
(8) My age is: 43
(9) My gender is: Male
(10) My occupation is: CIO
(11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: Bloglines
(12) I use the following software to post to my blog:
(13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 22/09/01
(14) My web browser is: Mozilla
(15) My operating system is: Windows 98 / XP
“Lilia Efimova”:http://blog.mathemagenic.com/ is writing about her “dream weblog / wiki tool”:http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/06/08.html#a1233. Some really interesting ideas about how to combine the tools to support her “favoured approach”:http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/04/08.html#a1160 of blog to capture inital thoughts and wiki to refactor into output documents. I think the only factor I would add would be good support for an integrated drawing tool in both the blog and wiki – many systems-related ideas are much easier to convey in pictures than words…
In between working too hard and squeezing in odd days off to use up holiday I seem to have been spending most of my time doing things which either I can’t/won’t blog about or which haven’t stimulated any blogging-related thought!
The online Action Research “course”:http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/gcm/ar/areol/areolhome.html I mentioned “earlier”:http://www.synesthesia.co.uk/blog/archives/action_research/000289.php has kicked off – there have been two modules published. Traffic on the discussion group seems so far to be about 10 emails per day, mostly still intros of participants. I can however see that I shall have to explicitly schedule time to take this in, work with the materials, contribute to the groups.
“Andy Borrows(Older and growing…)”:http://olderandgrowing.blogspot.com/ has discovered the soul of a writer inside an engineer. One of his better recent pieces is as a “guest writer(Heart @ Work)”:http://www.heartatwork.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_heartatwork_archive.html#107579760624826228
on “Heart at Work(Heart at Work: Lois Annich’s weblog)”:http://www.heartatwork.blogspot.com, in which he ends with a metaphor that works superbly for me too…
It struck me that blogging is like walking around showing your face to the world, making eye contact with those you pass on the street, open to your surroundings. There’s too much isolation in this world. Bloggers are breaking down the walls.
It’s tempting to quote Ton and explain away my break from blogging as a period of attending to “the mundane task of broadening the base of [my] knowledge pyramid“. Perhaps true on one level or another but also a period of being very busy with work and generally enjoying the outdoors rather than being in front of the computer…
In terms of reading, as usual I have had several books on the go at once, but the one that seems to have kept its presence in my work bag for those snatches of reading-catchup on the Tube has been Guns, Germs and Steel
With my “work hat” on I’ve been filling up my research time reading around topics such as Agile Modelling and QFD for Software Development
Cultural highlight of the last month has to be my first visit, last Saturday, to Shakespeare’s Globe, to see “Dido, Queen of Carthage”. If you are not familiar with this reconstruction of what the original Globe theatre is believed to have looked like, one of the most striking features is “the Yard” – basically if you are prepared to stand for the whole production you get the best view in the house and the cheapest tickets. As a “Groundling” you get a great sense of engagement with the actors, you can almost touch them if you go right to the front… And it’s from that vantage that you begin to get a real sense of the dynamic interaction between the players (this isn’t a recording it’s live!) and the audience. Addictive (and affordable) stuff, now checking out when to see the other four plays in this season!
The Shifted Librarian points to Zempt – a multi-platform (so far Windows but Linux and Mac planned) tool for posting to multiple Moveable Type blogs. In my situation where I have three personal blogs (main page, library, linkblog) plus two corporate ones inside the firewall this could be a real boon. Key features:
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
- Post entries to your Movable Type blog
- Full support for Movable Type entry fields including:
- Extended Entry
- Multiple categories
- Comment Status
- TrackBack status
- Send TrackBack pings
- Edit entry date and time
- Easy text and paragraph markup. Add bold, links, blockquotes, and paragraph alignment quickly and easily.
- Preview your posts
- Save posts as draft
- Manage multiple blogs on multiple sites
And if you can see this it works!
Ton has added photos to his blogroll. I wondered if he was doing it by searching people’s FOAF files but apparently not (it was pure coincidence that he added my photo about a day after I linked it from my FOAF file)
Sébastien Paquet: Towards Structured Blogging.
And of course this post is an example of that which he describes – pinging as it does both KMPings and the Blog-Network Metablog
In Blogs and Knowledge Sharing, Ton picks up the story of why we do this by considering blogs as story-telling – more specifically a way of telling the story of how the writer has discovered some knowledge complete with all the false leads and wrong turns.
Gary Turner is writing about what he’s learned from blogging. Rather than try to extract sensibly here, I suggest you read it…
His post struck a chord with me – my response (adapted from the comment I posted over at Gary’s) was something like this…
I have a tendency to see links between ideas from totally disparate fields (or fields that are totally disparate according to our subject-driven way of categorising knowledge) – that’s the way my mind seems to work. I used to think that was “just” my way of making sense of things, and previously I’ve been exposed to comments from “domain experts” that suggest that I’m only seeing links because I don’t “really understand the depth of the subject”. In fairness, I have never claimed “academic rigour” for what I think – I have a more pragmatic approach. As I’ve grown older though I have become more confident that these syntheses are valid knowledge in their own right – one of the pleasures I’ve found from blogging is when occasional others have said the same thing.
As I said, my approach (and from the sound of it Gary’s too) has a heavy element of pragmatism – when I’ve stumbled upon a nugget of thought I’ll tend to just go off and use it out in the world. (the sort of engineering creativity JT refers to in the comments to Gary’s post). The spirit of innovation and creativity moulds and shapes it’s own working models as it goes – if you find a blockage work around it, or take a sidestep to a different path that leads to the goal.
What I’ve tended not to be so hot on is an explicit linking those ideas and the results of their application to the next thing – that’s another reason I blog – to try and capture the long-form development of my thinking which is normally inarticulate in the pressure of here-and-now, to make explicit my own tacit knowledge, and by contrasting it with others’ thoughts find even more ways to move on…
Are we all prisoners of our own success? The sorts of thinking Gary and I are describing have stuck with us because they work for us in the situations we find ourselves in. Recognising those patterns is the first step to changing them – the blog helps to do that because it extends our time horizon.
I think I’ve discovered that Blogging is a dark-months sport for me! Anyway, I’m back… for a while at least!
I think I may need to turn to Gary Turner’s Insure-a-blog service…
Here at Insure-a-blog our team of crack (addicted) ghostwriters are at your disposal, ready to fill that inevitable of all inevitables, the day when you have nothing worthwhile to say on your weblog. Perish the thought that such an horrific thing could ever happen to you, but ask yourself the question, could it? And if so, then what would you do? How could you face your readers? Worry no more, for a small daily fee you can insure your weblog against such a brutal eventuality. Hell, we’ll even make **** up that whilst defying all semblance of reality will have your reader(s) believing above all conceivable belief that you are in fact a very interesting person, every day!
Scobleizer has this to say today:
Is weblogging all about the traffic? [...]If all you measure is traffic aimed at your head, then you’ve gone astray. [...] To me, it’s “what can I learn by visiting you?” Do you entertain? Teach? Inspire? [...]I’d like to measure my weblogging success some other way.
Gert at mad musings of me(uk) has just defined this sport as
checking your site stats and then hitting on the site of anybody who has come to you from their stats…in the hope that they will check their stats again and come back to your site in the hope that you will check your stats and return to their site