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Thinking of You + Thinking of Yourself

2015-12-19 in Uncategorized

About a week ago, I discovered a quote by Chloe Thurlow. I disagreed with what she wrote, but enjoyed that she chose to write what she thought, felt, whatever. I exchanged some chat with Chloe and I find her very authentic (and I find authenticity a very attractive thing).

I have been thinking a lot about these thoughts and ideas related to owning your own ideas for quite some time now… — and that’s probably why I thought some more now and finally managed to write something more about it again (see “Something to Hide: Nothing to Show” — it’s the same link all 3 times 😉 ).

I bet among the strongest recent influences on my thinking were another post of Chloe’s (see “How To Start Thinking For Yourself“), a post by Sean Werkema back in 2013 (a copy of which I have managed to salvage from the so-called Internet Archive), and also — sort of in the meantime — from some of Adam Curry‘s rants about “the American Dream”.

I wish you pleasant reading! 😀

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How to Tell Whether Someone on the Internet is a Real Person / Human / Not a Dog

2015-08-01 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying that goes something like “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”. Well, IMHO there is a way to know when someone is not a dog. This is something I wrote about a while ago in a little piece I called “Authenticity Guidelines“. I was reminded of it today in part because David Weinberger wrote a post about something I consider related — he called it “Restoring the Network of Bloggers“.

Many people (apparently including David Weinberger) continue to consider a site to represent a person. Personally, I feel it represents something more like a title. In my opinion, a page title is subordinate to a site title much in the same way that a chapter title is subordinate to a book title… and the author of any online web site (be it a blog or whatever other kind of website) is the site’s registrant (and/or owner and/or admin).

The easiest way to tell if they are a real person (or whether they are a corporate entity or whatever) is to look at the “whois” entry for that site (this is the online equivalent to the property owner being registered in a town or city’s land records). If the entry is not bogus, then the person behind the site is most probably not a dog.

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One Size, Fits All

2015-03-14 in Uncategorized

In my previous post, I noted that “we are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.” In another post on one of my “personal” blogs, I wrote about some ideas quite related to this — in the first pace “responsibility”, and also about choice,… and ultimately about the ability to let go (see “Responsibility to Life“). I would like to elaborate on this last point here, because I only sort of tangentially touched on it there.

The reason why this topic is important to blogs and blogging is because we all aim for our blog to be the best it can be, for our writing to be insightful and inspiring, for our information and tips to be helpful, and so on.

In the post I linked to above, I mentioned a TED talk video in which Barry Schwartz covered the topic of choice. In that video, he mentions clothing that he used to enjoy a lot because it was basically “one-size, fits-all”… — such that there was not much difficulty with respect to choice. Online, choice is not so simple.

Many people visit one and the same website every time they choose to use the Internet. They might log in to Facebook or some other “social” website, or they might type all of their questions into the Google homepage search box. A simpleton might say “they have chosen a one-size, fits-all website” — and so they no longer are burdened by choices. The way I see it, they have actually primarily postponed their choice.

When a Google-searcher has a search box before them, they have to choose what to write into it.  They have the impression of choice (according to George Carlin, people in fact have no choice [“You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.“]). People might type in “happy” or “sad” — but either way it is highly probable that Google will return a link to wikipedia.org plus a list of sites that Google makes money from through advertising. Compared to the situation described by Barry Schwartz in that video, this is far worse: People actually have little or no choice, and they will feel bad because they have the impression that they could have made a better choice.

Likewise, for people who use so-called “social” media, they feel as though there are many choices: They can press many buttons, they can “tag” things, there are many bells and whistles. When they become bored, then they feel they have made the wrong choices.

I want to suggest to you that when you aim to make your blog the best it can be, you should do that by being yourself. Do not feel as though you need to cater to some one-size fits-all mystery algorithm, because that will probably only get in the way of actually interacting with your audience. What is important is that you and your audience both know what it is that you can offer, and that your audience wants. If you agree on this, then you will have no difficulty interacting with your audience. For example: I enjoy following Drew Lepp’s blog, because so far I have been pleasantly surprised with every post she has made (and because I enjoy reading about webdesign tips, user experience and stuff like that — which are the main topics she writes about). I don’t need Google to find her blog — I just go directly to drewlepp.com.

Just like I learn a lot from Drew, I hope others also learn something from what I write. For example: I would advise anyone who wants others to learn about “X” to name their site “X” — because people would probably never think to type in a more-or-less random string when the are looking for something specific… and indeed: I will soon be launching a website about naming websites, online businesses, web-based projects, etc.

This is precisely the point where “letting go” and trusting intuition is so important. If you intuitively feel that someone is an expert, then trusting their judgement is (usually) a very smart thing to do. Barry Schwartz explained this very well in his TED talk video with his example of why it’s (usually) a good idea when patients trust doctors. The more you engage in such interactions, the better you will become at making the judgement regarding whether someone is trustworthy or not. As far as I know, there is no “one-size fits-all” algorithm for this, but one of the strongest and most reliable indicators I know of is whether the person or company in question is publishing information on their own website or not. Generally, when someone is publishing information on someone else‘s website, I find that information is rather untrustworthy. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a future blog post. 🙂

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Over Time, Blog Post Titles Will Transition from Click-Bait to an Invitation to Engage

2015-01-13 in Uncategorized

The transition from click-bait blog post titles to blog post titles that invite the reader to become engaged and participate will be due to a different motivation to write blog posts.

Today most blog posts are made in order to make money from advertising something else, so the main motivation is to get someone to read or at least visit the blog page. Such advertising is usually quite worthless, and therefore will ultimately also pay very little or nothing.

In the future, the motivation will be all about engagement — about participating in the author’s own interests, projects, opportunities for collaboration, etc.

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Guest Blog Posts

2014-12-16 in Uncategorized

Today one of my friends mentioned a “guest blog post” — well, actually: They linked to a blog post that mentioned in a self-referential way that the post was a guest blog post. I guess they were then going to introduce the author, but I had already lost interest and didn’t read any further.

Why would anyone post anything on someone else‘s blog? This seems to me to be based upon a fundamentally flawed sense of identity. The idea that someone copies and pastes someone else‘s content into their own blog post, and then says “this was actually written by someone else, I’m just fooling the software into thinking I wrote it” is completely absurd. It shows that the blog’s author is not familiar with blogging software.

Every blog (website) can have multiple authors. If you don’t know that, you need to learn more about blogging.

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