No Blog Post Is an Island [en]

[fr] Une des grandes difficultés dans l'art de bloguer: intégrer des liens à son texte. D'une part parce que les liens rajoutent une dimension au texte, perçant en quelque sorte des trous dans celui-ci par lesquels le lecteur est libre de s'échapper, à la façon des "livres dont vous êtes le héros" de notre adolescence, et d'autre part parce que la nature hypertexte du web donne à l'intertextualité une place capitale. Un article de blog n'est pas une île isolée, mais un fragment textuel nageant au milieu d'un océan d'autres fragments similaires, avec lequel il a des liens plus ou moins proches, que la bonne maîtrise de l'hyperlien permet d'expliciter. Ceci nécessite, outre une habileté avec les mots (pour pouvoir retourner sa phrase dans le sens qui permet un bon ancrage du lien), une certaine culture des autres textes entourant le sien. Sinon, comment faire des liens qui feront sens?

Fellow blogger Adam Tinworth points to a leaked memo from The Guardian encouraging internal linking. He shares his astonishment on Facebook “that this still isn’t standard practice at most places”. I am not that astonished, I have to say.

During my many years as blog editor-in-chief and teaching blogging to students, I have seen again and again that from a technical point of view, aside from managing to write in your own personal voice, the most difficult aspect of blogging to master is integrating hyperlinks into your writing.

Autour du chalet, colliers de perles

I think this is because writing well with hyperlinks requires one to write differently. It is not just about “writing and then adding links”.

Adding meaningful hyperlinks to your sentences is going to have an impact on the way you construct them. You need to be comfortable shuffling the words around, or looking for others, so that you end up with a phrase that provides you with adequate anchor text for the link you want to insert.

Most people’s training in writing is probably in standalone texts. Offline writing, the type that worked well on paper. Your reader starts at the top, and finishes at the bottom. You may have footnotes and references, but nothing as dramatic as a hyperlink, which literally pokes a hole in your text.

I like to think of hyperlinks as adding an extra dimension to a text. Normal text is 1D. Just follow it through. Hypertext is 2D at least — remember those books we must all have read as teenagers? If you go right, head to page 16, but if turn left, run off to page 67?

So, the first challenge in writing with links is finding a gracious way to anchor all those links into your words.

The second challenge is less obvious, but even more important: intertextuality.

Intertextuality” is a rather vast topic, but it generally has to do with the fact that how you understand or read one text can be shaped by your knowledge of another. References or allusions, explicit or not, that connect different texts.

On the web, everything we write is swimming in a sea of other interconnected texts. It’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing, dammit. Everything that is published on the web is stitched together. The blog post you are writing now is not an island, it is swimming alongside all sorts of other pieces of writing. How you position your piece of writing amongst the others may be just as important as the writing itself.

Intertextuality in the world of hypertext is a crucial thing to be aware of.

What are you going to link to? What is there out there that complements your writing, or takes your reader further, or down a parallel path? What are the associations between parts of your writing and preexisting writing?

This requires, in addition to the will to connect one’s writing into this existing web, some degree of knowledge of what is out there. Culture. Or dexterity in the use of the search engine. Or both.

I agree with Adam: internal linking should be a no-brainer. I do it a lot on Climb to the Stars: whenever I’m writing a blog post, I’m wondering what else I have written in the past which is related to it. Am I building upon a previous post? Am I writing on a topic I’ve already touched upon? How can I work a link to this or that post into what I’m writing now?

I do it on Open Ears too. As editor-in-chief, I have read all the articles we publish. The difficulty is I often receive articles which are written as standalone pieces, so I have to either work with the blogger to incorporate a reference to another article, or do it myself as part of the editing process. But as I mentioned above, adding links changes the way you write and construct your text, so “adding a link” is rarely as straightforward as “just adding a link” — and in some cases can only difficultly be done if it wasn’t planned for from the start.

When I was discovering the web, one of the first sites I spent a lot of time reading was The Psychology of Cyberspace. It’s still online, and I encourage you to visit it: as the author explains, it is an online book, that is, written with hypertext in mind.

There is a table of contents, but in addition to that, inside the chapters, there are links to other chapters whenever there is a mention or a passing reference to something covered elsewhere. This frees the reader to wander around in the order they wish, and avoids redundancy — if you need to explain X again, just link to it. I think this was a very good learning example for me of how to build text online.

So now. How would you teach people the skills to do this, when it doesn’t seem to come naturally to them?

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Stories to Listen to, Moderating Blog Comments, Teaching Blogging [en]

[fr] Deux ou trois épisodes de podcasts à écouter. Quelques réflexions sur les commentaires de blog (spam ou non?) et la difficulté d'apprendre à bloguer.

Listen to Greetings from Coney Island. I swear you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t make the same mistake I did, and be a bit distracted early on, not realising there are two parallel stories, told by two women with (to me) very similar voices. I actually reached the end of the story before realising I had missed the whole point, so I listened to it all again. It was worth it.

vue cham

Another episode of Love+Radio reminded me of a Moth story I heard quite a long time ago now. It’s about a volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline. That story made me understand something about suicide (which I am lucky not to know from the inside): it’s not about wanting to die, it’s about wanting the pain to stop. Like many Moth stories, it’s beautifully told and very moving. Well worth the small moment of your life you will spend listening to it.

I know, this blog is turning into a podcast review. But not only. See.

One of the challenges I face as editor-in-chief of Open Ears is approving comments. Not so much because we publish controversial articles that have people biting each other’s heads off in the comments (not at all, actually), but more because

  1. spambots are getting better and better at sounding human
  2. some humans are sounding more and more like spambots.

About the latter: people like me have been saying for years that a great way to get your website or blog known is to comment on other blogs. But that’s not quite the whole story. Aligning fluffy or self-promotional comments on other people’s blogs might get your “nofollowed” links out there, but isn’t really going to do what matters, which is encouraging people to actually know you and read your stuff because they’re interested. Clicks and visits only really mean anything if they come from the heart.

So what does work? Well, actually, being a valued member of the communities you are part of. At the time, during the Golden Age of Blogging, leaving meaningful comments on blogs you read and linked to was a way of being that. It’s not about the links, it’s about the place you respectfully take or are given willingly. Add value. Be helpful. Try and make friends. That’s the spirit of “leaving comments”.

Which brings me to an important piece of blogging advice I came up with while trying to teach my latest batch of students the basics of blogging (it was, to put it kindly, a mixed success): blog about stuff that’s in your head. Write about what you know. If you have to google around to factcheck this or that, find a link, or look up a detail, that’s fine. But if you find yourself doing research and reading up to gather the material for your blog post (and the post is not about your research), chances are you’re “doing it wrong”.

Blogging is this weird thing which as at the same time so easy (for “natural bloggers”) but so hard to learn or teach. I think that is because it touches upon “being” more than “doing”. It’s about daring a certain degree of authenticity that we are not encouraged to wear in our school or professional lives. And it’s definitely not how we learn to write. In a way, teaching blogging is a bit like trying to teach people to dare to be themselves in public. This makes you think of Brené Brown and vulnerability, does it not? Exactly. And that is why, I think, blogging is a powerful tool to connect people.

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The Frustrating Easiness of Sharing a Link on Facebook (and Twitter and Google Plus and Tumblr and…) [en]

[fr] C'est tellement facile de partager des liens sur Facebook et autres que je finis par ne plus le faire sur mon blog, parce que c'est laborieux. Il y a un moyen plus simple?

Today, when I stumble upon an interesting link, I share it on Facebook. And usually also on Twitter. And on Google Plus.

It’s easy. More often than not, I found the link in question on Facebook, Twitter, or G+. Resharing on the same platform is two clicks maximum. The link is expanded into an excerpt and a photo which are nice and pretty and often spare me having to write any kind of introduction to the link (I do, sometimes).

Sharing on other platforms? At the worst, copy-paste (goes quickly when you use keyboard shortcuts and know your way around your browser tabs). Or the bitly bookmarklet.

Sharing on social media is rewarding: people are there already, they comment, they like, they reshare.

I pull quotes out of what I’m reading with the Tumblr bookmarklet and post them to Digital Crumble. That in turn gets sucked into Facebook, to the annoyance of some and the delight of others. Super easy.

You know what’s not easy? Collecting a bunch of interesting links I’ve found recently into a blog post on Climb to the Stars. That sucks. I’ve done it at times, yes, but I do wish there was an easier way to do it than copy-pasting article titles and putting links on them, after having let them pile up in an Evernote note until there were enough of them.

I’m sure there is a way to do this more elegantly. Tell me!

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Un blog, à quoi bon? Meilleur SEO et meilleur réseautage [fr]

Dernièrement je me suis trouvée prise dans une discussion sur l’utilité (ou l’inutilité présumée) du blog. Le contexte: faire connaître en ligne une petite entreprise.

Pour se faire connaître en ligne, en dehors des moyens marketing “traditionnels” (“se médiatiser en 2.0“, en somme), je dirais qu’il y a deux axes:

  1. avoir du contenu trouvable à travers un moteur de recherche
  2. avoir un réseau qui multiplie le bouche-à-oreille

Un blog peut servir aux deux. Il n’est ni nécessaire, ni suffisant — il y a d’autres moyens — mais il a un très bon rapport “énergie/effet”. Du coup, c’est généralement ma première réponse à toute question du genre “comment je me lance?” — écris déjà un blog.

Prenons donc ces deux axes l’un après l’autre, même s’ils sont liés.

Etre bien placé dans les moteurs de recherche

En premier lieu, il faut comprendre comment fonctionne un moteur de recherche dans les grandes lignes, et si on a un “site vitrine“, s’assurer qu’il fait déjà les choses bien:

  • du contenu pertinent par rapport aux termes de recherche pour lesquels on veut être placé
  • des titres de page et de rubriques comportant les mots-clés les plus importants
  • absence d’obstacles côté “technique” (bon balisage, accès autorisé aux robots, serveur raisonnablement réactif, pages accessibles, titres en texte et non “en images”…)

On oublie souvent que le placement dans les résultats de recherche, c’est toujours par rapport aux termes de la recherche. Par exemple, mon site web professionnel se retrouve placé différemment pour “consulting en blogs” ou “stephanie booth“. Allez regarder le contenu du site, et vous comprendrez pourquoi.

Un autre élément extrêmement important pour l’optimisation du placement dans les moteurs de recherche, ce sont les liens entrants vers un site ou une page. Par exemple, faites une recherche google pour le nom de Brigitte Djajasasmita. Vous allez trouver parmi les premiers liens son profil linkedin et son blog, avant la page que je lie ci-dessus. En effet, celle-ci est plus récente, vu qu’elle a été créée dans le cadre de la formation qu’elle suit en ce moment, et moins bien “imbriquée” dans le tissu du web par des liens en provenance d’autres sites. Là, en faisant un lien vers cette page en utilisant comme “texte de lien” son nom, j’améliore le placement de cette page dans les résultats pour une recherche sur son nom. Mais attention: je ne le contrôle pas, je peux seulement tenter de l’influencer.

Alors, le blog là-dedans?

Le blog, c’est une usine à contenu que les moteurs de recherche adorent. Les articles sont généralement relativement courts, mais pas trop, ils ont un titre qui se rapporte bien à ce dont ils parlent (si on fait pas n’importe quoi), et ils ont une page rien qu’à eux où ils sont accessible jusqu’à la nuit de temps (le permalien). Ça encourage les liens entrants, la garantie d’une URL stable. La thématique d’un article est aussi généralement assez précise, ce qui fait qu’il risque fort d’être très bien placé pour la recherche qui lui correspond, et la page du blog change sans cesse, ce qui prouve à Google et consorts que le contenu est bien frais (ils adorent).

C’est beaucoup plus facile de mettre du contenu dans un blog que dans un site, parce qu’on n’a pas à se poser la question du “je mets ça où?” — sur un blog, ben on blogue, et ça vient se mettre en haut de la page, c’est automatiquement rangé par date, et par catégorie/tag si on utilise ça. Dans un site hiérarchique classique, il faut d’abord se prendre la tête pour savoir où on va bien pouvoir ranger ce qu’on compte écrire. Et souvent, faute de trouver un bon endroit, on ne l’écrit pas.

Avec un blog, on crée donc du contenu “annexe”, en rapport avec la thématique qu’on veut mettre en avant, qui est d’une part un attracteur à recherches et d’autre part un attracteur à liens.

Faire marcher le bouche-à-oreille avec un bon réseau

Le blog va aussi se rendre utile pour augmenter l’efficacité de son réseau et l’étendre, ainsi que pour favoriser le bouche-à-oreille en ligne.

Alors c’est clair, le réseautage est d’abord une affaire d’humains. Mettre des gens en relation, chercher à leur être utile, se faire des amis… c’est la base. Facebook et Twitter sont extrêmement utiles pour garder sous forme numérique les liens que l’on crée et les entretenir par petites touches (ou grandes…).

Alors, le blog?

Voici certaines caractéristiques du blog qui en font un “booster de réseau”:

  • le ton personnel qui rend le blogueur humain et approchable
  • les commentaires qui invitent au dialogue, à l’échange (pour de vrai!)
  • l’accumulation de contenu qui finit par démontrer l’expertise du blogueur, et ainsi encourager la confiance
  • les liens sortants vers d’autres blogs ou sites qui peuvent alerter leur auteur à l’existence du blogueur
  • les articles à thématique ciblée et bien référencés (voir plus haut) qui peuvent servir de “premier point de contact” pour une relation à naître
  • des informations utiles pour le lecteur, qui s’en trouvera reconnaissant et voudra peut-être en savoir plus sur leur auteur
  • une publication plus ou moins régulière qui a une chance de fidéliser un lectorat.

Le blog a aussi l’avantage, comparé à Twitter et Facebook, de présenter du contenu qui dure. Vos tweets et statuts Facebook sont enterrés en quelques heures, tandis que vos articles de blog seront encore là après des mois ou des années.

En résumé: si pour une raison ou une autre vous cherchez à augmenter votre empreinte numérique, à vous faire mieux connaître en ligne, démarrer un blog ne coûte pas grand chose qu’un peu de votre temps. Filez chez vous faire un compte et lancez-vous (et vous pouvez utiliser le même pour faire un bête site-brochure, d’une pierre deux coups).

Reste la question de savoir ce qu’on va bien pouvoir écrire, dans ce blog. Pour certains, ce n’est pas l’inspiration qui manque. Pour les autres, ce sera l’objet d’un prochain article, celui-ci étant déjà bien assez long!

Update: sur le même sujet, l’article “Pourquoi avoir un blog?” de Claire, qui donne quelques exemples sympas.

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What We Write And Where We Write [en]

[fr] L'environnement dans lequel on écrit quelque chose change ce qu'on y écrit. Le blog n'est plus aujourd'hui l'endroit où on va "vite publier quelque chose" -- Facebook a pris cette place.

Lately, Loïc has been writing “long stuff” (“post-length stuff”) on Facebook. I enjoy reading him. Here’s his latest post, on meditation. Maybe because I’ve linked it I’ll be able to find it again in the future, but otherwise, chances are this post, along with all the other status updates we’re publishing on Facebook today, will be lost forever in the corpse of the real-time stream.

Oh yes, Facebook is giving us search, but there are two reasons I’m not holding my breath:

  • we have search in groups already, and as you’ve probably also noticed, it sucks
  • Facebook status updates are a mess of re-shared stuff, “in the instant” messages, photos, funny things, serious things, more cat photos… will search allow us to say “find me all Loïc’s status updates which are longer than 500 words”?

Anyway. Ben dropped the “blog” word, I piled on, and an interesting discussion ensued. My suggestion was that Loïc copy-paste what he was publishing in Facebook into his blog (once he’s retrieved the password ;-)). This made me think of what Euan has been doing recently: he publishes both on his blog and in Facebook. I don’t know where he writes first, but the content is in both places.

Long ago I remember reading about some people who wrote their blog posts in their email client, because it helped them get into the right brainspace. I suspect something like this is going on with Loïc, who hasn’t blogged in a long time. Facebook is where the audience is (not in a marketing sense, in a “not talking to an empty room” sense). Facebook is where we’re expected to write a few lines, not full-blown essays. No pressure.

I’ve been feeling that kind of “pressure” for years on my blog. Look at what I write now. And look at what I was writing a year or so after I started blogging. My blog, initially, was this space where I could just spit out something and be done with it. Over the years, things changed. Now, a blog post has to be meaningful. It has to be worthy of the big bold title that introduces it (no mystery there, when I started blogging blog posts didn’t have huge bold titles). It has to be illustrated. It has to be well-written. It has to be thoughtful. This can be paralysing. The rise of “professional bloggers” doesn’t help.

What I’ve been doing with #back2blog and to some extent The Blogging Tribe is try to resuscitate this mindset. Just blog something. But the landscape of tools has changed.

Now, the space where you go to “just share something” is Facebook. “Everybody” you know is already there. They don’t have to fill in their names to comment. They get notified when there is a reaction to what they say — and so do you. You think of something, you start writing, and oh, you’ve written 6 paragraphs. This happens on Facebook now, not on your blog. And I’m guilty too.

More than once, I’ve found myself writing stuff on Facebook that could be a post on this blog. So I’m going to follow my advice to Loïc next time that happens, and post it here too. And move this blog off this email-less server so people can get comment notifications.

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La "blog attitude" [fr]

Asked about the “blogging attitude”, my response is that it hinges around authenticity. The most powerful vehicle for advancing one’s projects or business is often relationships. Without going all the way to radical transparency, relationships thrive on authenticity.

[en] Asked about the "blogging attitude", my response is that it hinges around authenticity. The most powerful vehicle for advancing one's projects or business is often relationships. Without going all the way to radical transparency, relationships thrive on authenticity.

Lors de la discussion finale du CréAtelier de vendredi, on m’interpelle sur la “blog attitude”. La blog attitude? L’attitude à avoir pour bloguer. Quelque chose dont je parle souvent, que ce soit en cours ou avec des clients, mais qui — je trouve — coince toujours un peu. Et là, après le CréAtelier, j’ai trouvé que ça coulait de source.

Une des choses sur lesquelles j’ai mis l’accent dans ce workshop, ce sont les gens. Les gens qu’on connaît, qui nous entoure, qu’on rencontre, et les relations qu’on tisse avec eux. Les relations. Une fois qu’on a compris ça, profondément, ce qu’on raconte toujours sur le côté “personnel, informel” des blogs prend tout son sens.

Donc. Admettons que la prémisse de départ pour une présence en ligne fructueuse, c’est les relations authentiques qu’on établit avec autrui. Le blog est un espace parmi d’autres pour nourrir, initier, établir, et vivre ces relations. (D’ailleurs cette même prémisse permet de comprendre l’importance de la soi-disant “futilité” de nombre d’échanges sur les médias sociaux, Twitter et Facebook en particulier.)

Le blog, avec ses permaliens et ses commentaires, est un espace d’expression en dialogue, au minimum potentiel, s’il n’est pas actuel. Comme lorsque je parle à une assemblée de personnes lors d’un cours: même si c’est moi qui parle, a priori, il y a en tout temps la possibilité d’une interruption, d’une interpellation, d’une question ou d’une remarque de la part de quelqu’un d’autre. Je ne parle pas en mode “speech”, mais en mode “conversationnel”. Je m’adresse aux personnes dans la salle en tant que personnes. C’est un peu une version étendue de la discussion autour de la table au bistrot.

Du coup, dans un blog, on n’écrit pas dans le vide. On ne fait pas du “commercial” ou du “communiqué”. On s’adresse à ses lecteurs, qu’ils soient présents ou non. Pour qu’il y ait relation, il faut qu’un échange soit possible. Il faut qu’on puisse toucher à l’humain en face. On ne peut pas faire ça avec un discours lisse et poli de journaliste ou d’agence de communication.

Le blogueur apparaît donc à travers ses écrits. Il est accessible. A force de le lire, on fait petit à petit sa connaissance. On s’attache, et on revient lire plus — tout comme on s’attache aux personnages de fiction des séries que l’on regarde épisode après épisode, à la différence près que le blogueur est une personne réelle, et non pas une fiction savamment élaborée pour leurrer nos émotions.

Ce qui nous attire chez l’autre, c’est l’humanité. Un personnage qui est sans cesse en représentation ne laisse entrevoir aucune possibilité de relation. Il ne met pas ses billes, on ne met pas les nôtres non plus. Engagement zéro. L’humanité comprend la faillibilité. On a le droit à l’erreur. On a le droit à l’imperfection. Oser ça, c’est se dévoiler un peu, se rendre un peu vulnérable.

Concrètement, ça se traduit par quoi?

  • dire “je”
  • parler de ce qui nous tient à coeur
  • partager ce qui nous intéresse
  • être authentique, être “soi”
  • oser l’imperfection et l’erreur
  • accepter la rencontre avec autrui
  • être généreux
  • exprimer des avis et des opinions

Voilà, selon moi, ce qu’est l’essence de la “blog attitude”. Comme vous le voyez, c’est bien plus une question “d’être” que de “faire”! C’est pour ça, aussi, que je crois que c’est difficile à enseigner, et difficile à faire quand on a été formaté toute sa vie à accorder tant d’importance au “paraître”, surtout dans le monde du business.

Alors être authentique, ça ne signifie pas nécessairement qu’il faille aller jusqu’à danser tout nu sur les tables. Mais ça implique d’oser se livrer la moindre.

Pour un entrepreneur, cela peut vouloir dire partager son parcours au fur et à mesure, ses difficultés et ses doutes. Le “derrière la scène” est toujours quelque chose qui intéresse les gens. Un tel blog va attirer un lectorat avec un fort “capital-sympathie” pour l’entrepreneur et son projet. Mais pas juste un lectorat! De nouvelles relations qui peut-être un jour s’avéreront précieuses, si on les traite comme telles et non pas juste comme des “contacts”.

One participante réagissait à tout ça en mettant en doute l’applicabilité d’une telle “stratégie” dans le domaine du luxe. Je dis que ce n’est pas nécessairement perdu d’avance: lisez seulement le blog de Thomas Mahon, le tailleur de Savile Row dont le business a véritablement décollé grâce à son blog.

Pour résumer, je dirais que selon moi, la “blog attitude”, c’est un peu “l’authenticité comme stratégie de communication” — même si ça me fait un peu mal de mettre ces deux mots dans la même phrase.

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Third Back to Blogging Challenge [en]

[fr] 10 jours, 10 articles, histoire de relancer la machine à bloguer. Qui se lance avec moi?

Starting Monday, I’m going to blog daily ten days in a row to kick the blogging machine into gear again. Who else is in?

Seems I need a periodical reboot. As you can see I’ve written a few blog posts recently after a terrible dry spell. What happened?

After the success of the second Back to Blogging Challenge, I kicked off the Blogging Tribe Experiment, went sailing in Spain (which put a serious dent in my blogging habit), came back to a lot of work and orphan kittens, which ended up spending 5 weeks with me and only left for their final homes last Thursday. (Yes, I have hundreds of kitten photos and videos to process, now.)

So, I feel like I’ve “failed” the Blogging Tribe Experiment, personally, because I didn’t blog anywhere close to what I intended — or as regularly as I would have expected from the tribe members. So, while we figure out where and how to take this experiment forward, I need a little structure in rekindling my blogging habit. It really is a habit.

Sign up if you want to join me.

Edit 24.06.2013: thanks to Luca, I’ve discovered Twitter widgets. Check out the latest posts from the challengers here!


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The Blog of Unfinished [en]

[fr] Un blog, c'est un espace pour lancer là-dehors des choses. Pas nécessaire que ce soit tout léché. Quand je veux faire du léché, c'est simple, je ne commence pas. Ou si je commence, je ne finis pas. Avec le blog, je me dis "bah, peu importe si c'est vraiment bien ou pas; l'essentiel c'est que ce soit publié". 13 ans que ça dure.

Hopefully you’ve heard by now that I co-direct a course on social media and online communities here in Lausanne. We’re preparing for the fourth year. This means I have students. And believe me, I learn a lot from them — they’re fascinating people. Of course, they are, they chose to follow the course I co-direct 😉

I’m mentioning this because I realized something very recently following conversations with two ex-students (or soon-to-be-ex). The reason I like my blog so much, and am still blogging 13 years after I started, is that it is a space where I can indulge in my natural tendency to start stuff and not finish it.

Said like that it’s a bit extreme, but let me explain.

The first step was the evening I spent with my ex-student who is starting a little side business of interior design alongside her day job. She waffled out a few free sessions and I took one. At some point the conversation drifted to more personal topics, and I mentioned my urges to start things and my difficulty in finishing them — probably related to my difficulty throwing things out. I’m a starter, generally. I have ideas. I want to do stuff. Way more than the space of my life lets me. Once I’ve started something, I do tend to lose interest, or at least find it more difficult to keep going. And don’t get me started (!) on finishing.

Yes, I’ll own up to being an immediate gratification junkie.

The second step, a day or two later, was a phone call with another ex-student that I had gently chided for signing a blog comment (“best regards” and the like). I was encouraging him to blog earlier about the project he was working on, and he was telling me he found it challenging to put things “out there” without them being sufficiently polished. My reaction of course (which I think wasn’t actually very helpful in his precise situation) was to say that blogging is for the imperfect, the good enough. A blog is great as a “put it out there” space.

And this is really how I use my blog. The stuff I don’t write about, I often don’t write about because I feel I need to work on it more. Wanting to do things well — too well — prevents me from doing them.

It sounds contradictory with what I said above about starting things and not finishing them, doesn’t it? It isn’t.

So this is why I like blogging. It’s a tool that makes it easy for me to “just get it out there”. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes of course it could be better. I’m sure I could have said the things I’m saying now more clearly. I’m sure I could have made them more compelling. More SEO-thingy. Found photos to illustrate. Thought about when to publish this kind of post and how to distribute it.

But no — I go the brain-dump way. And because I brain-dump, there are hundreds (thousands) of blog posts here which actually might come in handy to others.


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Pet Peeve: Marketers and Advertisers Cold-Sending Junk E-mails [en]

[fr] Un truc qui m'énerve: les e-mails non-sollicités me proposant des liens ou autres ressources pour mes articles. Ou de la pub pour mon blog.

I’m sure you all get these. They’re bloody annoying. Here’s the last one I got:

Subject: Interested in Purchasing Advertising:


I need this type of placement could you do this?

1. We will provide php file with plugin source code

2. Webmaster will need to FTP to root folder of blog, then open folder wp-content/plugins

3. Webmaster will need to create folder ‘footerlinks’, then enter that folder and upload php file that we provided

4. Webmaster will need to log into blog admin area, click ‘Plugins’ in left menu, click ‘Installed’ in submenu, find plugin named ‘Footer Links’ and click ‘activate’ link

5. After that links will appear at the bottom of the blog like here [redacted] see our links in footer.

Very simple work just 1,2 minut only,Our links show on your old ABOUT PAGE.

i can give you $200 for uploading our php file for 1 year time period only.

Let me know are you agree if you agree then send me paypal id please.

Waiting for your Answer


And another:

Subject: Interested in Purchasing Text links Advertising

I am basically interested for business reasons. I found your site:”” really enchanting and would like to buy a number of text-links on your website. Let me know if you would like to hear more of this.We will provide php file with plugin source code.i need links on your old Post.Give you all instructions.I can offer you a good price.


Subject: Partnership with an OTA

Dear Editor,

I would be interested in buying a simple text based advertisement on your website.

The advert will be text, not a visual banner. It will appear on a single page of your website.

The text link will be Travel related ( ex: airplane ticket,airfare, etc.. )

We pay an annual fee to you as soon as the advert is live. It is a straight forward process and we work with you to make sure we fit naturally with your site.

If interested we can also provide you with Unique Travel Articles.

Please let me know if you are interested and I’ll send you more details.

If Possible can you send me a link of the page where you would accept advertising on?

Here is one of the latest, which prompted me to write today:

Subject: An Inquiry About an OpenCourseWare Database

I’m reaching out to you because I was extremely impressed with the content that you have created on As a writer and researcher in the education field, I sometimes find it very difficult to track down good web resources for prospective students–I just wanted to say that you’ve done a great job with your site.

Do you have any interest in adding a supplemental resource that provides your readers with links to hundreds of OpenCourseWare classes? I think could be really valuable for your site’s visitors because the classes are free and cover a wide variety of subjects.

If you’re not the right person to contact, can you let me know who is?

Adding insult to injury, my silence resulted in three follow-up e-mails over the last months. Three! Sure, following up is good. But at some stage it morphs into pestering.

Follow-up #1

I wanted to follow up with you and make sure you had received my email I sent a little bit ago regarding my research project, [redacted].

I had contacted you initially because I believe the readers on your site would find our OpenCourseWare informative and valuable. It would be great to have you include a link to the resource somewhere on your site. Do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions!

Thanks, I look forward to working with you!


Follow-up #2

I hope all is well! I am writing to follow up with you about the resource — [redacted] — I sent you a few days back. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you in regards to it or myself.

Thanks for your help. I look forward to hearing back from you!


Follow-up #3

I hope this message reaches you well. I am following up with you to see if you had the opportunity to review the resource that I sent you?

Please let me know what you think, I look forward to hearing any feedback you might have.

In your book, do these contact attempts qualify as spam? For me, they aren’t technically spam, as they seem to have been sent out by hand and by human being robots, and therefore do not really meet the criteria for automated mass-sending.

But the end result is pretty much the same. They’re just noise. How do you deal with them? Respond, or straight to the spam box? Or ignore, at the risk of being pestered?

If you know more about the (misguided?) process that results in this kind of junk arriving in blogger mailboxes, I’d love to hear about it.

Here are a few other choice morcels for you, and I’m out to enjoy the Spain sun a while.

Subject: Education News Resource Inquiry

I recently came across your page at

I am emailing you because I am a contributor to the online education publication,, and have been active in spreading the message about it. The site is a vast resource of education news from K-12 and higher education policy and politics all the way to education technology. The editorial efforts of the site have been cited by the New York Times, Washington Post and Cato Institute while also being added as an educational resource in the New York Times Education section.

Given the quality of our writing and breadth of topics discussed, I thought this resource could be of interest to you and those who frequently visit your site. Please let me know what you think; if interested, it would be great to see it listed on your site for others to read and refer to.

Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Subject: Graphic on How Taking a Break is Saving Your Life

My name is Kayla and I came across after searching for people that have referenced or mentioned workplace health. I am part of a team of designers and researcher that put together an infographic showing why skipping out on your work break might be killing you. I thought you might be interested, so I wanted to reach out.

If this is the correct email and you’re interested in using our content, I’d be happy to share it with you. 🙂


Subject: Infographic about How Plastic Bags are Suffocating the World

My name is Kayla and I came across after searching for people that have referenced or mentioned the importance of living green. I am part of a team of designers and researcher that put together an infographic showing why plastic bags are ruining the environment and the impact of plastic bag bans. I thought you might be interested, so I wanted to reach out.

If this is the correct email and you’re interested in using our content, I’d be happy to share it with you. 🙂

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The Blogging Tribe is Live [en]

[fr] Une quinzaine de blogueurs qui prennent l'engagement de bloguer régulièrement durant un mois, pour commencer. Suivez-les sur The Blogging Tribe.

Last week at the chalet, I had an inspiration (amongst others!) whilst reading Here Comes Everybody: gather a small-scale tribe of bloggers who commit to blogging regularly over a period of time.

It’s done. We’re pretty much set. After a little back-and-forth on Facebook to try and figure out the best way to get started, we’re off for a month of “blog regularly and see what happens”, pretty much.

Here is the tribe:

You can follow all our posts at The Blogging Tribe, kindly hosted and set up by Claude.

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