The evolution of a blog: enter the lifestream

If you’re a regular visitor to Groundling, you may have noticed that the last few days’ posts have been little compendiums of my online reading for the day. I haven’t posted any original material, but have chosen instead to share my day’s discoveries with my readers.  Lazy blogger? Mmm … well I don’t believe in posting when I don’t have anything to say, and whilst this temporary writer’s block isn’t going to last too much longer (I’m working on something dear reader, honestly), I’m banking on visitors here being perhaps interested in some of what floats by me or grabs my attention during the day.

Like many of us who blog I have a lot of other sites which require a certain amount of maintenance. What’s coming to be called a ‘life stream’ or the sum total of our posts and commentary on the web needs somewhere to call home. I want it to be here on Groundling – a hub, if you like that can take you out and beyond this site, but which also provides some return for your finding your way here. I’ve been working at the best way to do this. You’ll see my Friend Feed widget over there in the sidebar. This is a start, but there are other sites which I work in or visit, and which don’t create so much as a ripple here.  I’m referring especially to the many terrific posts which pop up daily in my subscription feeds to other blogs and websites.

Most articles from these feeds relate to Groundling’s interests, and would find a congenial place here snuggled up with other posts on creativity, performance, design, arts business … all the topics I write about.  Up to now I have tended to share particularly interesting material from these feeds via a ‘like’ or ‘share’ click directly from Google Reader or Feedly (a Mac desktop reader).  Shared posts then appear on my Google shares page, whilst ‘liked’ posts more recently have found themselves ported into my Friend Feed; I’ve set it up this way.  Other material I find and share during the day will arrive eventually in Friend Feed via Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, Facebook etc.  I do use these other sites selectively however: obviously Flickr for photos, Vimeo for video, but Tumblr for example tends to be for quotes that I like, whilst Facebook is for me, pretty much a ‘niche’ area which I quarantine from most other social sites.  In other words, I don’t send anything to Facebook automatically via Friend Feed.  Because of the way I have set it up, Friend Feed then streams selected posts out to Twitter.

Now while this reliance on Friend Feed works well for most of my finds, given the nature of the fast-flow in Friend Feed and Twitter, most of the links are quickly washed downstream and out of sight. Its rare to get an RT (retweet) or a comment in Twitter or Friend Feed after about 20 minutes – unless, of course, you post when a good portion of your followers or friends, especially those in another time zone, are otherwise occupied or asleep.  These usually get back to you within 12 hours or so,  if at all.  Now getting a comment or being re-tweeted is not my main intention in sharing via social networks. I also like to archive the more interesting or substantial links, and stash them away for research and reference. However, there’s no denying that stimulating conversation is one of the reasons I’ve engaged with social media. Here’s the rub: I’ve got lots of places where conversation and comment could happen, and whilst I’m pulling lots of these via Friend Feed, which any visitor here can access over there on the right, along with the latest tweets and Audioboos,  I’d like to pull even more into Groundling if I can – into the mainstream of the blog post – and make this the prime focus of my social networking as well a comment enabler on posts.  I want a workflow that meets all of my needs, and whilst I haven’t quite cracked it, I’m well on the way.  About those daily link readings … here’s how I set up automatic publication of my likes and shares to Groundling.

I check my feeds in Feedly on a daily basis – you may prefer every second day, or whatever rhythm suits.  Then, rather than ‘like’ or ‘share,’  I tag selected posts using a bookmartlet,  and add them to my Delicious site.  As far as each of these links is concerned, I read each post and write a brief introduction – I hate bare hotlinks!  I also keyword-tag these posts in the Delicious posting pane to make it easier to search for a particular article at a later stage.  Having got my links into a searchable, archivable site, the next step is to get them from Delicious to my blog on a regular basis.  To do this I set up the automatic Blogposting feature which you’ll find under ‘Blogging’ on your settings page in Delicious.  The default title for each of these daily posts is ‘Daily links plus the date.’ If you want to change this to something else, download the WordPress Delicious Daily Blogpost Fixer plugin which will do the job admirably; it’s at work here.  What I now have is an automatic post of my daily links straight from Delicious to Groundling.  Now here’s the good bit, and a productivity geek’s delight. I downloaded the WP FFDirect plugin which means that every post published here is pinged immediately to Friend Feed – the daily links as well as other posts. From there, because of the way I’ve set Friend Feed up, my post notifications also go out to Twitter. Set and forget, cover all the bases. Love it.

With this blog as the prime site, I’m starting to get my material flowing the way I want it in my lifestream. But of course, like a garden, it’s a work in progress. Stay tuned!

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Comment Self Audit:Comment08

Day 1 of the 31 Day Blog Comment Challenge is over in Australia from where I’m writing. I’ve picked up on the overnight posts which include the task for Day 1: A Comment Self-Audit. So … here we go

Do I comment daily? Well … yes and no. I try to make it habitual to comment in a conversational-like way on matters that catch my attention. This usually happens within my own niche areas (e-learning and theatre) and I like to contribute especially to a new blog/blogger: encouragement is vital. If I find nothing to comment on, then I don’t. However it’s not a habit of mine to search out new blogs, and I think it should be. A week or so ago I did a WordPress tag surfer search and hey presto, found another like-minded blogger in the UK. We blog-roll each other and chat occasionally, so perhaps I should make search-out part of the weekly blog routine.

Gina Trapani is a bit of a goddess for me. I love Lifehacker and read it regularly though it’s incredibly prolific and Google Reader can overflow from time to time. Like the fangirl I am I bought her book Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day last year. Not that I particularly want my day to be any more turbo-charged, but you get the idea. So when Gina noted in her tips about commenting on blogging:

Longwinded lectures are for college professors, not blog comments. Stay short and to the point. Everyone appreciates brevity.

I kinda feel I need to comment. I probably won’t of course; she makes her point nicely. This college professor however loves brevity: it’s the soul of wit after all!

So how do I track the conversation on my comments? Usually I hit the ’email me with follow-up’ options since someone can contribute to a particular ongoing thread weeks after I’ve left mine. I especially find this useful in a couple of sites devoted to the blog themes I use. I tend to check Google Reader (my feed-reader of choice) intermittently when I’m busy. Having an email ping into the feed box in Mail (my mail client of choice) works for me.

Am loving this task-based workflow. Time to think between posts but not long enough to lose the impetus.