How to survive online possum-stirring*

A guest in the garden shedI wonder at the naiveté of people who publish material to the web, and then spit and scratch if it appears somewhere else ‘out there.’ I also think people who cut and paste clearly private or sensitive material from sites to other more public forums deserve all the un-friending they get – a sort of cyber standing-in-the-corner-till-you-learn-to-play-nicely approach.

By all means stir the possum, but know what you’re doing before you pick up the stick. Possums really bite and scratch when cornered.

I write having read some reasonably combative commentary by people passionate about a particular subject, and triggered by a blog post (not on this site) which referenced an earlier event.  Back and forth it went … angry at times, reasonable at others; mean and generous spirited in fairly even measures.  Sane and forward-looking, nutty and self-centred – typical you might say of the kinds of debates that flare up from time to time on the web.

What I found interesting was that the two things which really irked those who bothered to comment were firstly this issue of what’s appropriate to post and what’s not and in particular to share others’ so-called private (although named) off-guarded comments from one forum out into another. The second touched upon choosing whether or not to publish under one’s own name. Seems most of the participants appreciate a name to go with a blow, whether fair or underhand. Can’t say I disagree about that.

Cowards, bullies and cry-babies are just as distasteful in cyberspace as they are in real life. Kiss-and-tellers aren’t much fun either.

* ‘Stirring the possum’ is an old Aussie saying which refers to livening up debate, or creating a disturbance.

A (minor) rant on why good presentation design works …

Once again I’m reminded of the impact of good design. This morning I received an e-letter from SlideShare pointing me to the  World’s Best Presentation Contest winners.

Judged by some big-hitters in the web-design stakes (Garr Reynolds, Guy Kawasaki, Nancy Duarte, Bert Decker) here is the overall winner.

THIRST

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

Why did it win? Here is the judges’ feedback, but as far as I am concerned, Thirst is a winner as a presentation because

  • It’s not a slideument … i.e., a document pretending to be a slide show;
  • It’s short;
  • It’s visually appealing, with images that support and extend the message;
  • It’s memorable. If you’ve flicked through it even once, there is going to be an image that has told you a story that you’ll remember.

As the Heath brothers might say, it’s a sticky presentation that you’ll recall.

Oh how I wish more presenters would take a leaf from this book. I sat through a slideument last week … with quietly gnashing teeth!

Congratulations Jeff Brenman. Jeff is the talented young designer behind that other fantastically popular and sticky slide presentation Shift Happens.

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Comment as a sigh: over to you

Today’s 31 Day Comment Challenge asks that we turn the blog over to our readers. OK. I’m up for it. Here’s the task.

I’m a voice coach a lot of the time. When I’m working with a class of actors, I’ll often ask them to ‘drop in a breath and to sigh out how they feel’ right there and then. It helps them to contact their breath and feelings and to express that moment directly and effortlessly on a sigh. Acting basics see? I should acknowledge Kristin Linklater as the originator of this exercise which I learned many years ago.

So … I’d love you to comment today on exactly the same principle. In one sentence … because what we call a sentence is the expression of an idea on a breath … write me a comment on how you are feeling right now wherever you are about your own blogging. That’s it.

Alternatively, hit that Seesmic video button down there and send me some sighs filled with your ‘right there, right now’ at your desk. Don’t be shy … sigh!

PS This little exercise is also a great way to take a mini break from your work from time to time.

PPS Seesmic now integrates with Disqus. Good news this! See the related articles below.

Moving house from WordPress.com to .org: to begin at the beginning …

Can o’WormsIt’s summer outside and lots of other people are out there enjoying the joys of the great outdoors … hitting the surf, strolling the countryside, and just hanging out as you do on these long, sunny days. It’s an outdoorsy time for most, but not for me. I’ve been hanging out at my desk, and for a lot of the time, staring at a screen.

Since making the big move from Wordpress.com across to my own domain using Wordpress.org, I’ve been steadily tinkering away under the hood. I now have some idea of what it’s like when people get caught up with reconditioning things: clocks, cars, and other sundry ‘machines.’ It’s what goes on underneath that makes the outside … eventually … work so well. Well of course, anything to do with machines, engines, algebra, coding and anything vaguely associated with mathematics has guaranteed a vertical learning curve for this non-DIY little arty. I’ve had the smile wiped off my face more than a few times along the way, but right now, I’m feeling pretty darned pleased with myself. As a result, I wanted to write about how I got from where I was to where I am now blog-wise. If and when you decide to make the break to your own domain, you might find this longish post useful. You might also find some nuggets here if you’re thinking about making a move from another blogging content management system (CMS) to Wordpress.

Can o’WormsIt’s summer outside and lots of other people are out there enjoying the joys of the great outdoors … hitting the surf, strolling the countryside, and just hanging out as you do on these long, sunny days. It’s an outdoorsy time for most, but not for me. I’ve been hanging out at my desk, and for a lot of the time, staring at a screen.

Since making the big move from WordPress.com across to my own domain using WordPress.org, I’ve been steadily tinkering away under the hood. I now have some idea of what it’s like when people get caught up with reconditioning things: clocks, cars, and other sundry ‘machines.’ It’s what goes on underneath that makes the outside … eventually … work so well. Well of course, anything to do with machines, engines, algebra, coding and anything vaguely associated with mathematics has guaranteed a vertical learning curve for this non-DIY little arty. I’ve had the smile wiped off my face more than a few times along the way, but right now, I’m feeling pretty darned pleased with myself. As a result, I wanted to write about how I got from where I was to where I am now blog-wise. If and when you decide to make the break to your own domain, you might find this longish post useful. You might also find some nuggets here if you’re thinking about making a move from another blogging content management system (CMS) to WordPress. Continue reading “Moving house from WordPress.com to .org: to begin at the beginning …”

Tag or Category: let’s get organised

Question

It’s blog makeover time I declare. I spent a good deal of last Sunday afternoon doing a tidy-up of the blog. The sidebars were starting to flow over, and I was particularly unimpressed with the way the category cloud looked totally useless … a mass or mess of words which I reckon would be daunting for a visitor to say the least. Time to sort things out.

Wordpress 2.1 now supports tags, and those of us who had been organising our posts using both tags and categories, tossing in every possible relevant key-word, were faced with tag and category clouds which looked like a storm about to break. It’s nice now to be able to get some organisation into the blog, and to ask what use tags and categories serve. At the end of Sunday I felt good, like you do after a big clean out of a messy cupboard or file system. I’ve lost the tags … well, I hadn’t been using them for ages, not since I migrated from Blogger. My category cloud has reduced itself down to the lean animal you can see on the right. In fact I have only now got 8 parent categories, with the kids nestling underneath. What does this all mean?

Question

It’s blog makeover time I declare. I spent a good deal of last Sunday afternoon doing a tidy-up of the blog. The sidebars were starting to flow over, and I was particularly unimpressed with the way the category cloud looked totally useless … a mass or mess of words which I reckon would be daunting for a visitor to say the least. Time to sort things out.

WordPress 2.1 now supports tags, and those of us who had been organising our posts using both tags and categories, tossing in every possible relevant key-word, were faced with tag and category clouds which looked like a storm about to break. It’s nice now to be able to get some organisation into the blog, and to ask what use tags and categories serve. At the end of Sunday I felt good, like you do after a big clean out of a messy cupboard or file system. I’ve lost the tags … well, I hadn’t been using them for ages, not since I migrated from Blogger. My category cloud has reduced itself down to the lean animal you can see on the right. In fact I have only now got 8 parent categories, with the kids nestling underneath. What does this all mean? Continue reading “Tag or Category: let’s get organised”

Fulfilling Readers’ Expectations…the great and the small

Image: Expectations dcjohn

Looking back over a year or more of blog posts, I can see a profound change in my blog’s focus … for the better. Back then it was a collage of the personal, professional, and even a smattering of the political. Now it is focussed on the by-line which guides my writing: academic adventures in e-learning with a Mac. The keywords here are academic, e-learning, and Mac. The adventures part is an indication of the tone and the voice of the blog itself, which I hope my readers respond to. And this brings me to the topic of this post … fulfilling your readers’ expectations. Continue reading “Fulfilling Readers’ Expectations…the great and the small”