WordCamp 2007: Lorelle VanFossen, Kicking Ass Content Connections [en]

[fr] Lorelle VanFossen explique comment avoir du bon contenu.

*These are my notes of [Lorelle’s talk](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/content-connections/), as accurate as possible, but I’m only human. There might be mistakes. Feel free to add links to other write-ups, or correct mistakes, in the comments.*

[Lorelle](http://lorelle.wordpress.com/): if you want to make money, invest in transportation. We order stuff on the internet and want it *now*. We should have all got a copy of her book today, but transportation has broken down (UPS) and they aren’t here!

WordCamp 2007 Lorelle Van Fossen

Problems with blogs: so many blogposts look like they were written in 10 minutes by people who

– can’t type
– can’t think
– make you think they were released for the day by an institution.

If you want someone’s attention, you need to show them something they’ve never seen before, or in a way they’ve never seen it before.

Look for the missing subjects. Find the missing pieces. Not everything has been said, and even if it has been said, it can be said better: cleaner, more efficient, or in a new perspective.

Do we really need another “how to install WordPress” article? Before you start writing, do a search. If there are many copies, point to the good ones, find a new angle, don’t regurgitate.

Write about what’s missing. There is always another way, always a better way. We’re trained in school to not ask why. As bloggers, we’re asking why. Ask the whys.

1994: website about travels and stuff… a kind of blog before a blog.

Be an editor for your blog. When is the last time you generated a really good sitemap, looked at what you wrote, what you think you covered and you didn’t? *steph-note: I need to do more of that. More editing. But so much screams to be written!*

Unless you blog the news, read your feeds at night, sleep on them, think about it. You don’t have to be first out the gate, because other people are first out the gate, no matter how hard you try.

When you jump right in, you’re in a panic to get the stuff out there, you’re just processing and not thinking. And people who read it are the “panicked to get the information” ones. Wait, and you can be the sane voice a few days afterwards. The perception of your audience will also change. (Reader psychology.) The calmer the reader, the wiser they think you are.

2006: tagging; 2007: relationships

What’s the difference between a website and a blog? Comments, conversation, relationships.

[Liz Strauss](http://successful-blog.com/): gives out Successful Blog Awards. She’s started a series on blog strategy building. When you write your blog, you blog for one person: you. *steph-note: totally agreed.*

A successful blog is a blog you arrive on looking for information, and it gives you a feeling of “home” — safe, has the info I want, looks like me. (We like comments which say “You’re right! I agree with you!”) First impression to go for: this is the place that has answers I need, it’s familiar and safe. Blog for you and to you. *steph-note: gosh, I really need to work on CTTS*

How do we know when a blogger is faking it (audience):

– factual information that’s wrong, when we know better
– too many ads and affiliate links
– excerpts and no added value — blog-quoting
– people that just re-post their twitters

Dead Sea Scrolls: scraps containing journal entries or info about people’s everyday lives.

Our blogs are note on our boring everyday lives for the future, at the least. Write for the future.

Playstation fake blog: top search results are about the fake blog, not about the playstation itself.

I don’t get any comments! Tips:

– too many people are still writing for their eighth-grade teacher. Complete sentences, complete thoughts, complete ideas — complete essays. Doesn’t leave any space for response. Don’t finish the idea. Leave things out on purpose.

Don’t respond to every comment, but make your readers think that you do. Blog your passion, your ideas, show that you care, say thank you (don’t fake it, though). Avoid “Now, what do you think?”. Doesn’t work.

Be with your readers like an old married couple — let them finish your sentences. Blog about what other people are blogging about. Blog about their conversations, and add stuff. Don’t challenge people to blog about something. Be linky. Comment on other blogs, but intelligently. Make people want to see your blog! We all do it. It’s our job to help our fellow bloggers continue the conversation. Comment in a way which will help the conversation go further. *steph-note: un poil didactique, là.*

*steph-note: Lorelle giving a shout-out to a bunch of people from the WP community who are in the room.*

Help each other, share connections, blog about each other, comment on your friends’ blogs…

Lorelle has been under WordPress since pre-1.2.

“I lived in Israel 5 years. I know about terrorism, so I know how to handle comments on my blog!”

Lorelle doesn’t care about stats. They’re not important for what she does. She’s been doing this too long, doesn’t care anymore.

Write timeless stuff. One of her posts from two years ago was dugg over Thanksgiving.

Q: fictional blogs. Good or bad, when it’s not clear? Blogotainment.

A: if people know, it makes a difference. disclosure.

Q: could too many guidelines/rules turn us into the traditional media?

A: has a lot of rules for her blog (ie, doesn’t blog about politics, personal life, dad dying, being sick…) — she has very focused blogs.

Q: Fighting comment spam?

A: Akismet, Spam Karma, Bad Behavior.

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John C. Dvorak and Om Malik: Blogs vs. Journalism [en]

[fr] Conversation entre John C. Dvorak et Om Malik sur les similitudes et différences entre blogging et journalisme. Intéressant.

*These are my notes of [this session](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/blogs-vs-journalism/). They may be inaccurate. Check with people who actually said the words before jumping up and suing them. Thanks.*

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak, Om Malik, Matt Mullenweg

[John C. Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) thinks there is no difference whatsoever, and bloggers should be given credentials. The mainstream media are not taking bloggers seriously *yet*. *steph-note: I remember [Dvorak from 2002 and the kitty-heads](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/02/20/dvorakitty/).

[Om Malik](http://gigaom.com/): Shift… blogs have a different dynamic, do not replace mainstream journalism. Careful not to lump all bloggers in the same category.

*steph-note: arghl, going to sleep. Please, wake me up.*

JCD: bloggers cover crap stuff like Paris Hilton’s lost PDA or Tom Cruise doing something silly, just like the mainstream press. Problem. “Quote posts” amongst bloggers (quote, + “what is this guy thinking?”, and that’s your blog post). Driving mainstream media nuts. The blogging world will be rejected by the mainstream because they are an annoyance.

At one point, JCD had to fight to stick links to outside sites in his column (“OMG! if we link outside people will see how crap we are!”)

OM: comments can be good/bad. Important feature. You have to assume that your commentors care. They’ve spent time on your site. Respect that.

JCD: asking readers to fill in the blanks of your story *steph-note: like I’m doing for my 2002 Dvorak article* — very interesting, the whole of the information is in the post **plus** the comments.

OM: comments are what makes blogging different from mainstream media, tapping into the collective intelligence. Engage every single comment. Single most important lesson learned.

JCD: hey, you can moderate comments without killing the blog (JCD uses Spam Karma). Some comments don’t contribute much (“You suck!” doesn’t really add much to the conversation). Recommends moderating to make sure comments have value. Need critical mass of readers to have enough comments. Moderation should be the responsibility of the post author. In this new world, you make a post, these comments are part of your job as the writer.

OM: you set the tone. There are good bars, lousy bars. People choose. *steph-note: blog gardening is really important. what you accept or not will influence the way people act in the comments.*

WordCamp 2007 Om Malik

JCD: also need to relax. Not a national disaster if things go downhill in the comments. JCD has been called an idiot for 25 years, but he’s still up there ;-).

OM: you can rate comments.

JCD: doesn’t like rating comments, except restaurant reviews. *steph-note: I don’t like comment rating very much either.*

OM: One trick is to step away from what you wrote for 15 minutes before posting.

JCD: journalist trick: read out loud (really!) because your ears and eyes don’t work the same way. Catches a lot of errors.

OM: Actually, you can have your mac read it back to you.

Q [Ben Metcalfe](http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/): “no difference about bloggers and journalists” — could you explain more? Investigative journalism, holding government to account… More thoughts on the mainstream stuff.

JCD: Importance of layout. If it “looks too much like a blog”, you may lose credibility (people go “ah, it’s a *blog*”). Cf. [The Onion](http://www.theonion.com/content/index). NYT redesigned after the Onion (challenged!) Neo-blog style: credibility goes way higher, with same content. Same old templates, different flower, different pink, place for cat photo… Same old tired layouts.

WordCamp 2007 John C. Dvorak

BM: Is it really just a question of layouts?

JCD: What I’m saying is valid for first impressions.

Q: ??

JCD: “Citizen Journalism”: artificial construct *steph-note: what is it with Dvorak and cats?*

OM: Bloggers should call people. Try to get information directly from people. At least you can say you tried to get in touch.

JCD: Maybe take one course in journalism so at least you have a clue how it works, and study libel law, that’s important (you can’t call people a “crook” for example, you can get sued into oblivion — “douchebag”, however, is OK!)

OM: Actually, “douchebag” might even have a greater effect in the post. The English language is wonderful, has many ways of describing the same thing.

JCD: You need to be careful, and I think bloggers haven’t had the lecture on libel law. You don’t want to get sued for a minor comment or something.

OM: blogging uptake directly related to broadband penetration *steph-note: not sure about that!!*

Ben Metcalfe: places blogging is catching on are places where there is not really much free press (e.g. Eastern Europe, Iran — not necessarily lots of blogging). Absence of free press more valid correlation than broadband.

OM: Lots of blogging in USA etc.

JCD: yeah, countries with a lousy free press. We don’t have a free press.

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WordCamp 2007: Dan Kuykendall, Podcasting and podPress [en]

[fr] Notes prises à WordCamp 2007. Introduction au podcasting et à podPress, un plugin WordPress qui le transforme en machine à podcaster.

*Here are the notes I took of [Dan’s talk on Podcasting and podPress](http://2007.wordcamp.org/schedule/podcasting/). I did my best, but they may not be accurate.*

WordCamp 2007 Podcasting and podPress

[Dan Kuykendall](http://www.mightyseek.com/) is the author of the popular [podcasting plugin podPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/).

Podcasting is very similar to blogging (just audio/video). About getting your message out. All about content, in consumable ways. Feeds.

RSS2 feed + “enclosure” tag.

Difference with blogging: lots of offline podcast viewers/listening. (Not many offline blog readers.)

Gear? Microphone, recording software, site + RSS2, something to say/play. Dan has a $100 mike, a $100 external sound card — *steph-note: fancy! but not even necessary… in-built microphone and soundcard can do for starters.*). Software: [Audacity](http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/) is free, so is WordPress.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall's Gear

Podcasting does not require a major investment.

Dan got into podcasting early 2006. *steph-note: is [that](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/18/nuit-du-journal-intime-quelques-paroles/) early, as far as the history of podcasting is concerned?* Podcasting is a little more personal than blogging (voice, etc.) Podcasters, like bloggers, really crave feedback. At that time, podcasting wasn’t built into iTunes. WordPress looks great for that, but if you’re interested in podcasting more than blogging… hmm.

WordCamp 2007 Dan Kuykendall

Dan heard about the plugin system in WordPress… He had figured out how to do podcasting and make his podcast look good in iTunes, but what about others? => started writing a [plugin, PodPress](http://www.mightyseek.com/podpress/). “Which has now grown a bit out of control!” *steph-note: indeed, problems with redundant queries which caused my site to be shut down by DreamHost twice in the last six months.*

Podcasting is not just about pointing to your mp3 files. PodPress adds meta information, media players, etc. This means your public can view your podcast even if they don’t use a dedicated “podcast reader” (iTunes…)

*steph-note: tour of podPress’s features, and demo (not blogging this)*

WordPress: amazing blogging platform and CMS, with tons of hooks for plugin developers.

*steph-note: my experience of podPress is lots of settings, does the job though, even with minimal settings. However, as I mentioned above, my blog has been taken down once and maimed at least once by DreamHost because it was raising the load on the server it was hosted on way too much. After narrowing down the problem, the culprit appeared to be podPress.*

Q from Dan: who is providing media content in their blog, but doesn’t use podPress? *steph-note: question unclear from me, in my mind a blog which provides media content is a podcast, as long as the media content is made available as an enclosure in the feed, which I thought WordPress did out of the box.*

Q from audience: monetization? A: no, for free, but PayPal donations, though they haven’t really covered the cost of hosting…

Q Mark JaquithAaron Brazell: I love podPress, but the only problem is the weekly releases… could we space them out a bit? A: never sure when I’ll be coding, so when I get some stuff done I release it. => Q for Matt: will WordPress support some kind of plugin update automation? A (Matt): yes, for 2.3 (at least notification). *steph-note: yay!*

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Time to Leave San Francisco [en]

[fr] Il est bientôt temps pour moi de quitter San Francisco! Départ dimanche en fin d'après-midi, et arrivée lundi dans la journée en Suisse.

There we are. Five weeks have flown by, and it’s time to start packing my possessions to leave [San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600492975814/). I stopped at a clearance place this morning for some last-minute shopping — oh my god! dresses (fancy, cocktail or party) for $29, skirts for $12… I’m afraid I went a bit overboard. I’ll have to do some serious cupboard-emptying when I get home.

An Afternoon in San Francisco 1

If you want to say goodbye (or hi!) to me before I leave (assuming you’re not going to be at [WordCamp](http://2007.wordcamp.org/) tomorrow please come and join us for some [Chaat from 7pm to 10pm](http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/220135/) (or maybe earlier if we decide to move to [Taylor’s Refresher where the WordCamp people will be](http://photomatt.net/2007/07/19/wordcamp-events-friday/) — I know it’s a bit of a clash). We should be about a dozen people or so — a human-sized gathering.

Thanks to everybody who contributed to make my stay here pleasant. I really had a nice time. I regret not having the time to see everybody or do everything — life tends to be like that for me. I guess it means I’ll have to come again.

I have to say, though, that I’m looking forward to seeing [Bagha](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600210295068/) again — and my beloved [Lausanne](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600210597000/).

**Update:** I guess [nobody will be surprised by this](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/09/against-splitting-the-bill/), but [we will use Stowe’s “bank” system](http://www.stoweboyd.com/ambivalence/2007/07/the-bank-the-on.html) to settle the bill. Please bring some cash as it makes things more practical.

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Videos, Videos! And Kittens! [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode vidéo de Fresh Lime Soda, le podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman. On y parle de ce qu'on fait dans la vie, et surtout, de comment on le définit (mal!)

Aussi, vidéos de la Gay Pride ici à San Francisco, et de chatons. Oui, des chatons. Tout mimis.

Although [there is just one week left for me here](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/151809632), I’m still [in San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600394601924/). When [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com) was here a few weeks ago, we seized the occasion to record another (video!) episode of [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). Our conversation takes [the episode I mention in my “What do you care about?” post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) and goes on from there, to examine how we define ourselves in our professional field, and a bunch of other things. Read [the shownotes on the original post](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/07/16/fresh-lime-soda-episode-7-in-san-francisco/) and enjoy the video!

(If the feed/RSS reader doesn’t take care of it for you, you can [download the video from Viddler.com directly](http://www.viddler.com/show_movie!orgFile.action?movieToken=5bc3aa08).)

While we’re on the subject of videos, I’ve uploaded quite a few to [my Viddler account](http://viddler.com/steph) recently. (Oh, and yes, I still have a post in my drafts somewhere… a review of viddler, which I really like despite its bugs and greenness.) There are videos of [the Gay Pride](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/sfpride) (and photos of the [Dyke March](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/) and [Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/) of course!), the [iPhone Launch here in SF](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/iphonelaunch), but most importantly, [really cute kittens playing](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/blukittens). If you like kittens, you’ll enjoy the 5 minutes you’ll spend watching the videos. There are obviously [kitten photographs too](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600783421840/):

Blu's Kittens 7

Blu's Kittens 29

Blu's Kittens 24

And for those who missed the update, [the post announcing my talk at Google (on languages and the internet)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/) now contains a link to [the video of my talk](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5004419583730327409&hl=en-GB), the (http://www.slideshare.net/sbooth/waiting-for-the-babel-fish), and my [handwritten presentation notes](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/801234849/) (not that they’ll help you much…). All that!

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Talk: Languages on the Internet at Google [en]

[fr] Demain, je donne une conférence à Google sur le thème du traitement des langues sur internet.

Tomorrow 2pm I’ll be giving a talk at Google (thanks for the invitation, [Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com/)) about languages on the internet. It will be an updated version of the [“While We Wait For The Babel Fish” talk I gave at reboot](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html) a month or so ago. For details, click on the poster Kevin made:

Talking at Google: Languages on the Internet

**Update 11.07.2007:** here is the slideshow!

**Update 12.07.2007:** and here’s the video!

**Update 13.07.2007:** and here are my notes for the talk… click on the photo to decypher!

Waiting for the Babel Fish Notes (Google Talk)

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Against Splitting The Bill [en]

[fr] Partager "également" la note à la fin d'un repas partagé est inévitablement injuste: ceux qui ont consommé moins paient toujours pour ceux qui ont consommé plus. Ceci est facilement une source de tensions lorsque vient le moment fatidique si tous les convives n'ont pas des habitudes de consommation (viande, alcool) et des budgets similaires.

Il y a eu un peu de tension à ce sujet lors de mon repas d'anniversaire hier soir, malgré ma tentative d'utiliser le "système de la banque" de mon ami Stowe Boyd. J'aurais dû prévenir les convives à l'avance, et le ferai à l'avenir. L'idée de la "banque" est simple: chacun regarde la note, décide ce qu'il est juste qu'il paie par rapport à ce qu'il a consommé, et donne l'argent à une personne (l'organisateur, souvent) qui joue le rôle de la banque. La banque paie le tout via carte de crédit et ne vérifie pas les sommes qui lui sont données. Pour ceux qui s'inquiéteraient, la banque perd rarement -- l'absence de contrôle encourage les convives à faire leurs additions de façon responsable, et dans le doute, à payer plutôt large que court.

Ce billet explique pourquoi je suis en général opposée au système injuste du partage arithmétique (sauf en certaines circonstances) et les avantages que je trouve au système bancaire, en réponse à un billet de Tara Hunt (par ailleurs ma généreuse hôtesse durant mon séjour à San Francisco), qui regrette qu'on ait pas simplement "partagé l'addition". Les commentaires en réponse à son billet sont presque tous en défense du "partage arithmétique", d'où mon assez longue explication.

***Update:** do also read [Stowe’s clarifying response to Tara’s post](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/07/tara-hunt-on-be.html) while you’re at it.*

*Another long comment which turned into a post. This is a response to [Tara’s post about the awkward “paying the bill” moment at my birthday dinner party](http://www.horsepigcow.com/2007/07/08/the-dinner-party-individual-vs-collective/) yesterday.*

I’d like to chime in here, as the “Birthday Girl” in the story and a strong opponent of splitting the bill.

First, my apologies to [everyone present at the dinner party](http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/174582/) for whom the “settling the bill” moment left a bad aftertaste. You can imagine it wasn’t my intention, and this is the first time I’ve seen a party not wanting to go with “Stowe’s banking system”. I’ve learnt from last evening that it’s important to announce how the bill will be dealt with in the invitation, and will do this in future. I think this is a good thing to do whatever the “system” the party organiser would like to adopt — at least things are clear from the start.

And in this case, particularly as you were kind enough to pitch in for my share — which I greatly appreciate — I guess I should have just kept my feelings to myself about how the bill was being dealt with. Again, I’m sorry if my comments contributed to making it a sour experience for you.

I’m surprised, reading this post and the comments, to see so many people who consider “splitting evenly” to be a just solution. By definition, it’s always unfair — those who consumed less pay for those who consumed more. As a person who doesn’t drink (or hardly), has been on some kind of a budget most of her adult life, and spent many years being the sole “eternal student” amongst friends who were earning a decent living, I’ve done my share of “paying for others” — and I can tell you it doesn’t even out in the end.

Yes, more than once I’ve spoken up and refused to pay for twice the amount of what I’d ordered had cost, sure, but it’s really unpleasant to have to do that. And (comments in this thread confirm this) do that, and you’re sure to be labeled “cheap” by people present. Not to mention that when people know the bill will be split, they stop paying any attention to the price of what they order (or the number of drinks), as “it all evens out in the end”.

As for Royal’s comment:

But if someone has to watch their cash that closely they should not be going out to dinner anyway.

If you can’t afford to spend without looking, then you shouldn’t go out and have fun with your friends? I disagree, and actually find your comment about this distasteful. More than once, I’ve chosen to accept an invitation to eat out rather than stay in, knowing that I could afford it if I was reasonable. And I have many friends who have exactly this kind of budget issue.

Back to the “bank” system, which I feel has not been well understood in this conversation, what is wrong with paying for what you have ordered, or more precisely, what you consider fair to pay for what you’ve had? Counting pennies brings grief, I can see everybody agrees with that. I agree too. Look at the bill, consider what you’ve ordered, what you’ve eaten, and decide how much you contribute. Is that complicated?

It relies upon people being honest, but so does splitting the bill evenly. Shared appetizers or drinks? Look at how much was ordered, guesstimate how much you ate/drink (e.g. I ate more than 1/13 of the shared appetizers and I drink a lot of water, so had I been paying, I would have paid at least a whole bottle of water and an appetizer and a half). It’s a solution that allows people with different eating/drinking habits and different budgets to share a party together with no grumble. Dividing equally works well when the party is homogeneous — but honestly, I can’t often make that assumption about my guests. Sometimes I don’t know them well enough to know if they eat meat or drink or not, or what their financial situation is like. And I’d rather people not feel uncomfortable about having to raise issues like that at bill paying time, which is why I went for Stowe’s bank system.

In your post, and in a few comments, I hear concern for what the poor “bank” is going to be left paying in the end. Stowe says in his post that he has not usually been left paying a huge tab. I was also concerned about this when I first heard about this system, and he has also told me this in person — the bank rarely loses. I guess he’ll give details directly if he feels it’s useful.

For me, this is not so much about community vs. individual as about coming up with a solution which is as fair as possible, while minimizing the hassle. The lack of control is the key here — the Bank doesn’t check if people have paid correctly, which also tends to responsabilize people more. There’s no “boss” checking behind you to make sure you added up right, like when everybody pays “their share” but the total has to add up in the end. That’s where the party usually ends up 50$ short or 75$ long — and then what do we do?

People should be able to go and party together regardless of their drinking habits, diet preferences, or financial situation — without being made to feel uncomfortable about going against the “egalitarian we-pay-for-the-community splitting system”.

Are there any cultural issues at stake here? Maybe it’s more acceptable in Europe to care about how much you spend than in the USA, even though on the political scale, quite a few European countries (including mine) lean much further “left” (into “community solidarity”) than the USA?

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Notes From San Francisco [en]

So, roughly half-way through my five-week trip to San Francisco, what’s going on? I haven’t been blogging much lately, that’s for sure.

For once, I took some photographs from the plane. Unfortunately my camera batteries ran out just as we were coming down on San Francisco, and my spare ones were in the luggage compartment above my head. Oh, well.

Flying to San Francisco 31

I got some first-level questioning at immigration coming in. No, not the sort where they take you to a separate room, become much less friendly, and have boxes of rubber gloves on the counter. This is how it went:

– …And what is the duration of your stay?
– Five weeks.
– …And what do you do in… over in Switzerland?
– I’m a freelance… internet consultant. *OMG that sounds bad.* …I’m actually here to work on a book project. *Yeah I know I should never volunteer information.*
– What’s the book about?
– Er… teenagers and the internet.
– And…?
– Er… Well, the situation with teenagers and the internet, and what we’re doing about it in Switzerland.
– And what are you doing about it?
– Well, not enough!
– And? Come on, tell me more about it.
– Er… OK. *OMGOMG* Well, see, teenagers are really comfortable with computers and the internet, and so they’re chatting, blogging, etc. — they’re digital natives, see? — and parents, well, they’re clueless or terrified about the internet, and they don’t always understand what’s going on in their kids lives online, so basically, we have teenagers who are spending a lot of time online and sometimes getting into trouble and parents don’t know or don’t care about what they’re doing there, so we have this… chasm between generations and…
– Thank you. You can go.

The pick-up from the airport was wonderfully orchestrated and much appreciated. Being driven into town by somebody friendly rather than having to use unfamiliar public transportation really makes a difference. Thanks to all those involved (yes, it took that many people!)

Waiting on the Sidewalk

Then, through some freak breakdown of all modern forms of communication (partially documented on Twitter), I ended up waiting outside on the sidewalk for almost an hour while my kind host Tara waited for me inside her appartment. We worked it out finally, and I was introduced to my (nice and spacious) room before going to hang out at [Citizen Space](http://citizenspace.us/). A nice dinner out with Chris, Tara and Jimmy to end the day, and I happily collapsed in my bed at a respectable local hour. You will have taken note that I did not collapse at 4pm feeling like a zombie, thanks to having taken [melatonin](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin) on the plane. (It [doesn’t seem to work that well for Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/6/29/3057876.html), but it works perfectly on me, and I’m never traveling between continents without it again.)

The four next days went by in [a blur of Supernova madness](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/21/taking-photos-at-supernova/): too many people, too many sessions, food with ups and downs, parties with [cupcakes](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600415592611/) and others at the top of [skyscapers](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600430915725/). I took [lots of photographs](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600420716687/) and even [a video sequence that got some attention](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/videos/5/).

Supernova First Day 33

During the next week, I started settling down. Met and hung out with old friends, made new ones, unpacked my suitcases, went walking around in town, saw [Dykes on Bikes](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/), the [Gay Pride Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/), and the [iPhone launch](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600579979445/), photographed [skyscrapers in the night](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600607158151/), ordered a new camera, got my MacBook (partly) repaired, and even [dropped in at Google to take notes of Suw’s talk there](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/27/suw-charman-at-google-does-social-software-have-fangs/).

All this, actually, is documented in [my Twitter stream](http://twitter.com/stephtara) — maybe I should add a whole lot of links? — be sure to keep an eye on it if you’re interested in a more day-by-day account of what I’m doing here.

Overall, things have been good. A small bout of homesickness a few days ago, but I’m feeling better now. I need to start focusing on the things I want to get done (blogging, writing, book, writing, fixing things for clients…) — holiday over now!

Downtown San Francisco By Night 9

I’ve been thinking about my “work career” a little, too. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing, but I’m not going to be doing “Blog 101” for ever — I can feel my interests shifting somewhat already. I’ve been interested in the “social tools at large” department for a long time, but unfortunately it seems to translated to “blogging” in most of the work I do, so I’d like to expand my horizons in that direction a little. I’ve had a couple of talks with people in startups recently, and I realize it’s a kind of environment I wouldn’t mind working in — at least part-time. We’ll see what happens.

I’m also realizing that there is more potential than I first thought around [the two main things I care about these days](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/): teenagers online and internet language issues. Hence, the book, and also a talk on the subject of languages on the internet which I’ll be giving at Google this coming Tuesday.

Also in the “work” department, two other things have been on my mind. First, the idea of opening up a coworking space in or around Lausanne ([Ollie is having the same kind of thought](http://b-spirit.com/blogollie/?p=2140) — we’re talking). Second, trying to find a solution so that I don’t have to do maintenance on my clients’ WordPress installations once all is rolling, or spend hours swimming in HTML, CSS and WordPress theme PHP template tags. Not that I don’t know how to do it or don’t enjoy it once in a while, but it’s really not the kind of work I want to spend my time doing. So, I’ve been starting to ask around for names of people who might do this kind of thing (for a reasonable fee), and even thinking of recruiting some students in Lausanne that I could coach/train so that they can do most of the work, and call me up only for major problems. So, see, I’ve been thinking.

Some people have been asking me if I was planning to move here. Indeed, 5 weeks in the city looks suspiciously like a scouting operation. Actually, traveling has an interesting side-effect for me: I tend to come back home thinking “gee, Lausanne is *such* a great place to live! I’m never moving!” Sure, I have some underlying personal issues which contribute to making me overly attached to my hometown, and I know that someday I might end up living elsewhere. But really, for the moment, I don’t think I’d want that.

And even though I’m told San Francisco is very “European” compared to the rest of the US (which I have yet to see) I can’t help seeing how “horribly American” it is. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this city and am enjoying my time here. I know that what I say can give wrong impressions (for example, people — especially Indians — read [the story of my year living in India](http://climbtothestars.org/logbook) and think that I hated the country; it’s not true, I really loved it, and can’t wait to go back). But I walk around San Francisco and see all the signs with rules and regulations and “stupid” warnings (like, God, the pineapple chunks I buy at Whole Foods haven’t been pasteurized and may contain harmful germs! or, don’t use the hairdryer in the bath tub!), the AT&T Park and other manifestations of what to me is “consumerism gone mad”, I hear about health care and [“you’re expected to sue” horror stories](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2007/06/23/sicko_barack_an.html), visa lotteries for non-renewal, the education system…

So, yes, I’m focusing on the negative. And Switzerland, even though it’s a wonderful country ;-), has its negatives too. Like many natives all over the world, I’ve developed a selective blindness to what is “wrong” in the land I come from, considering much of it “normal” as I have been brought up with it. I know that. But too much of what I see here makes my skin crawl. I’m really enjoying spending some weeks here, I love my friends, the food and the sunshine, but I don’t think I’d be happy living here.

Misty Skyscrapers in Downtown San Francisco 10

Well, this was one of these longer-than-expected posts, and it’s occupied most of my morning. My tasks for this afternoon are (in this order):

– one WordPress install for a client
– spending a little more time trying to see if there is hope for the aggravating Google Groups problem I bumped into, and if not, setting up a Yahoo! Group instead
– writing a post for [bub.blicio.us](http://bub.blicio.us) or working on my book — whichever I most feel like.

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