Elle écrit plus? [fr]

[en] Why I'm struggling to write, these days: I'm trying to clarify all my cluetrainy ideas about the internet, people, and the world – and though they come out readily in conversations (having a lot of those these days as I have launched my 2016 professional website) I am struggling to squeeze them into post format. I wish I had Euan's gift for concision!

Not that comfortable

Mes articles ont du mal à sortir, ces jours. La raison en est que je suis en train de mettre de l’ordre dans tout un tas d’idées qui servent de fondement à mon travail. Des évidences (pour moi) concernant notre condition d’homo numericus, la nature des espaces numériques qui imprègnent nos vies, nos relations les uns aux autres et le rôle que celles-ci jouent à influencer le cours de nos vies.

Ce ne sont pas des idées nouvelles, mais je les développe généralement au cours de conversations, souvent en tant que prérequis aux autres thèmes qui nous préoccupent plus officiellement: est-ce que je devrais vraiment être sur Facebook pour mon travail? A quoi ça sert de poster des photos de vacances? Twitter, je capte toujours pas, c’est nul… Sur quoi je vais communiquer pour ma présence en ligne?

J’ai déjà pas mal dégrossi en préparant la nouvelle mouture de mon site web professionnel (en anglais, mais il y a une page en français). Parlant de nouveau site, à part ça, n’hésitez pas à diriger chez moi les gens de votre entourage qui pourraient bénéficier de mes services ou mes ateliers, je vais avoir de la disponibilité pour prendre des nouveaux clients cet automne à côté des ateliers de développement de carrière pour musiciens que je donne avec Elisabeth Stoudmann.

Je reprends le fil: toutes ces choses que j’expose si joyeusement dans un contexte de discussion, j’ai du mal à leur donner une forme d’article. Tout est lié, enchevêtré, et somme toute assez complexe. Je n’ai pas le don de la concision de mon ami et collègue Euan Semple, et chaque fois que je me dis “ah je pourrais faire un article sur ça” je me retrouve à ne pas commencer de peur que l’article devienne un livre. Problème classique que je connais bien.

Histoire de vous montrer que je suis capable de suivre mes propres conseils, je vais me lancer directement avec quelques réflexions sur internet en tant que lieu de vie – versus canal de communication.

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Pitching: Don’t Assume I’ll Be Interested, and Some Advice [en]

[fr] Comme blogueuse, j'ai malheureusement l'habitude qu'on m'approche avec des infographies et autres contenus "pour mes lecteurs". Ahem. N'importe qui ayant passé plus de 4 minutes sur mon blog devrait vite repérer que mon business n'est pas la reproduction du travail d'autrui.

La nouvelle tendance, c'est les startups et autres entrepreneurs du coin qui me contactent, en tant que gestionnaire de l'eclau, pour me pitcher leurs services -- et idéalement, les vendre aux membres.

Ce qui me dérange souvent dans ces approches, c'est qu'au lieu de demander si une telle démarche ferait sens, on semble partir du principe que bien sûr, ça va intéresser les gens/m'intéresser. Du coup, quelques conseils (un peu à l'arrache) sur comment procéder mieux.

As a blogger, I’m used to getting emails telling me about a fascinating infographic or a great new service that I should be eager to tell my readers about. These emails usually get ignored, or in the case of the worst offenders who follow-up aggressively when they get no reply, spammed.

Recently, I have been faced with an annoying new trend: as a coworking space owner, I am starting to receive pitches (sometimes by e-mail, generally by phone) from local start-ups or entrepreneurs who are convinced that their product or service is ideal for the members of eclau.

Sailing. Race.

Honestly, nobody likes being pitched. On the other hand, I am aware that I sometimes contact people to try to interest them in stuff that I’m doing. For example, I have spent a large part of the last two days telling people about a workshop I am holding in Geneva next week, and which is not full yet. Am I being the annoying person pitching them?

Examining the way I phrase things has led me, I think, to pinpoint what is so annoying with these pitches that I’m getting. They assume that what they have to offer is interesting, to me or the members of my coworking space. They’re not asking. It’s pushy. It’s “I’d like to come and show my product” or “this will be of interest to your readers”. Not “what do you think?” or “would this make sense?” or “just in case”.

It feels like the objective is to convince me there is a match. Oh, you know me or my coworking members better than I do? Half the time, to be honest, it’s so far off the mark that it’s clear proper homework has not been done, and that weakens the whole approach. If you have to talk me into something, it’s probably not that great a match, specially if I get the feeling you’re not really listening to me.

It’s hard to find the right balance between pitching too aggressively and staying in the shadows. I get it. How do I try and do it?

  • I do my homework — or if I can’t, or haven’t, I ask the other person if they think it’s a match.
  • I try and put myself in the other person’s shoes. What is in it really for them, besides what I would like there to be? I try and forget about my goals and think only of theirs.
  • I aim to inform rather than sell. Ask questions and listen rather than “talk at”.
  • If I want to tell the other person about something, and I don’t really expect them to see the point at this stage, I’ll do my best to be upfront about the fact that I’m asking them a favour (their time) to hear me out, instead of trying to pass it off as something that’s in their interest.
  • Often, I’m asking people I know if they might know people who could be interested in whatever I’m doing. If they are themselves, they’ll certainly tell me, but I’m not assuming they are.
  • As a general rule, I am generous with my knowledge and time and happy to help people I know out. I do it because it’s in my nature, but it does have the advantage that when I’m asking for something, I’m not (I hope!) coming across as the person who’s always wanting and never giving.

That’s it, off the top of my head. I’m sure I don’t manage to do things “perfectly” all the time, but I do my best to be respectful of other people’s needs and time.

How do you approach this? If you get pitched and it’s not your job to get pitched (you’re not a VC or somebody who relies on pitches), what are the things that put you off, and what advice would you give to approach you?

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Newsletters in 2016 [en]


Réflexion sur les newsletters en 2016 et le rôle qu'elles peuvent jouer. Méditations sur les blogs, leur désenchantement, Facebook, et Twitter. Je pense qu'il y a un potentiel avec les newsletters de retrouver un sentiment de communauté restreinte et de connexion qui s'est un peu perdu en route avec notre immersion perpétuelle dans notre propre réseau.

Prêts à tenter l'aventure avec moi? Voici mes newsletters, faites votre choix:

For years now, I’ve been thinking about using newsletters better. Or simply, using newsletters. Until recently all I had was a pretty dead newsletter on MailChimp — and the ability for my readers to subscribe to CTTS blog posts and a weekly dump of all the links I save to Delicious.

MailChimp is a powerful tool, probably overkill for me, and I never really managed to ease myself into its process. Sending out an e-mail is dead simple, but sending out my newsletter felt like more work than cranking out a blog post.


Two tools caught my eye over the last year: Revue and TinyLetter (acquired by MailChimp, what a coincidence!)

Revue is designed to help you send out curated lists of links. TinyLetter is a barebones newsletter tool, just what I need.

I’ve been trying to analyse my recent excitement for newsletters over the past days. Like others, I’ve been grieving what I think of as the golden age of blogging. I stumbled upon Tiny Letters to the Web We Miss, which I think hits the nail on the head:

Self-publishing online was fluid and inviting in the early years because the community was self-selecting — the sort of people who would know what Blogspot was in 2003. I didn’t worry about my boss finding my blog. I didn’t worry about getting rape threats in the comments either. (Just thinking about how absurd that sentence would have sounded in 2003 is giving me a crater-sized hit of nostalgia.) We didn’t have the same worries over public personas, because the internet felt like it was just us.

Blogging before social media was like drinking with friends. If someone adjacent to your conversation said something interesting, you would pull up a chair and invite them in. Sometimes a friendly stranger would even buy you a drink.

Everybody is here now, it’s not “just us” anymore.

This reminds me of In Praise of Online Obscurity by Clive Thompson, which I wrote about in 2010. At some point of growth, your “community” dissolves into an “audience” (on Twitter, on blogs) or a “network” (on Facebook). Engagement drops. People retreat.

Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote. “They feel they can’t possibly be the person who’s going to make the useful contribution,” Evans says. So the conversation stops. Evans isn’t alone. I’ve heard this story again and again from those who’ve risen into the lower ranks of microfame. At a few hundred or a few thousand followers, they’re having fun — but any bigger and it falls apart. Social media stops being social. It’s no longer a bantering process of thinking and living out loud. It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting.

This dynamic is behind the somewhat counter-intuitive fact that more followers on Twitter does not mean more influence, and that getting a boost in followers through presence on a list doesn’t mean more retweets or replies.

Already at the time of my 2010 article, this was how I analysed what had happened to blogging:

I think that this is one of the things that has happened to the blogging world (another topic I have simmering for one of these days). Eight-ten years ago, the community was smaller. Having a thousand or so readers a day already meant that you were a big fish. Now, being a big fish means that you’re TechCrunch or ReadWriteWeb, publications that for some reason people still insist on calling “blogs”, and we “normal bloggers” do not recognize ourselves anymore in these mega-publications. The “big fish” issue here is not so much that formerly-big-fish bloggers have had the spotlight stolen from them and they resent it (which can also be true, by the way), but more that the ecosystem has completely changed.

The “blog-reading community” has grown hugely in numbers. Ten years ago, one thousand people reading a blog felt special because they were out-of-the-mainstream, they could connect with the author of what they read, and maybe they also had their own little blog somewhere. Nowadays, one thousand people reading a blog are just one thousand people doing the mainstream thing online people do: reading blogs and the like. The sense of specialness has left the blogosphere.

So there you have it. We “lost” something when the internet went from “just us” to “everyone”: part of our sense of community. People reading my blog don’t feel special anymore. I don’t even feel that special anymore for writing it. Blogs aren’t special. Numbers have declined, and I’m sure it’s not just due to the fact I’m slipping into old-fartdom and neglecting my beloved blog to romp in the bushes with Facebook.

The place where we go to connect online is Facebook, or Twitter, or Google Plus. We spend our time in real-time, and head out to read this or that when a link nudges us. We might be part of communities inside Facebook groups, or small delimited spaces, but overall we are spending our time just hooked into our network.

When I was directing the SAWI Social Media and Online Communities course, I read this article by Rich Millington about the distinction between communities and followings. I formalised a three-way distinction for my classes in the following way.

Audiences: around non-social products, bloggers, authors, politicians, salespeople, “fame”

  • attracted by you
  • interact with you
  • not interlinked
  • large scale

Networks: to filter information, connect people, search

  • individual relationships
  • two-way
  • interlinked
  • each node is its own centre

Communities: “a group of people who care about each other more than they should” (Cluetrain)

  • common object of interest
  • interactions inside the group
  • human-sized
  • investment of time, emotion, ego
  • around social objects and niche services

A few years later (and even as I was using it to teach), it’s clear this typology is a bit wobbly, and many spaces are hybrids. But it remains a useful thinking tool.

When I discovered Twitter, I was spending most of my online time on IRC. I remember that one of my first strong feelings about Twitter was that it felt a bit like an IRC channel which had all the people I cared about and only them in it. (I spent my first few days/weeks on Twitter frantically recruiting.) They didn’t all know each other, and didn’t realise they were rubbing shoulders in “my” room, but for me, it was really as if I had managed to invite everybody to my birthday party.

That’s the network.

Facebook entered my world, and the same thing happened. Life online became more and more about the network. And as the network grew (and grew and grew), all our time and attention poured into it. It’s great to have a place which is populated nearly only by people you know and care about. Facebook does that for you.

Who wants to hang out in blog comments when there is Facebook and Twitter?

As you can see, I’m thinking out loud in this rambly, slightly contradictory blog post. If you can synthesise all this better, definitely have a go at it (in the comments or on your blog — link back!) I can’t quite wrap my head around all this, I feel like I’m still missing a piece.

Back to newsletters.

What newsletters definitely have chance of bringing back is this feeling of small scale. When I write a blog post, like this one, I’m not writing it for a dedicated group of readers anymore. I know you’re still out there, of course, all three of you who actually follow my blog ;-), but I’m also very much aware that I am writing for a whole pile of strangers who will stumble her after a google search. I am writing for everyone.

Email can be very personal. It goes from private space to private space (the inbox). It definitely feels more personal to write than a blog post. But it’s funny, in a way, because this post is going to reach some of you by email, and newsletters are often archived publicly on the web. There shouldn’t be a difference, right?

But there is, because the medium or tool you use really changes the way you express yourself and connect. “Email first” or “web first” does not produce the same writing.

So let’s see what happens with this newsletter experiment, OK? Take your pick and subscribe to:

And seriously, I’m really looking forward to your comments on all the stuff I’ve talked about here.

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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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Disconnection [en]

[fr] Certaines formes d'écriture ne peuvent plus se faire déconnectée, pour moi.

I’m at my chalet. Cats are curled up on the bed and I have a nice cup of tea ready. There is no wifi here. Cellphone reception is extremely patchy — and cellular data, when it works, is excruciatingly slow and unreliable. This is my “disconnected place”.

There is a lovely café in the village which offers free wifi as well as delicious home-made syrups, smoothies, and cakes. And tea for winter, of course. I go there to work and connect with the world.

I use MarsEdit to edit and write blog posts offline. As you can imagine, this is not something I do often. But this time around, I had quite a few to work on for my client, and I figured I could also do some of my work at the chalet.

While I was at it, I updated the settings for my blog (yup, still in server-move limbo) so that I could write an article or two. Everybody knows that being offline is great for productivity, particularly for writing.

Well, it turns out that there are certain types of writing for which it isn’t all that great. A lot of the stuff I write about here is nourished by things I’ve read online somewhere. I want to include links, check sources again to make sure I remember correctly what I have read. Search for more information.

I have become so used to writing/blogging plugged into the internet that I forget how much I rely on this extension of my mind that the network has become for me. (See, I’m sure there is a good piece somewhere to link to about that — but as I’m writing this offline, I can’t dig it out for you.)

I don’t think this is a bad thing. My brain still works. I haven’t lost the ability to write, and more importantly, to think. But I find myself in the situation where I am so used to functioning with a given tool that I forget its absence will prevent me from doing certain things.

The article I wanted to write is about doing what we want versus doing what we have to do. I’ve been through a series of realisations on that topic, and I want to be able to reference them and map them out for — maybe with the same sources, somebody will come to the same realisation, and my article will have been useful. Oh well, I’ll write it another time, when I have access to the internet.

Maybe I just have to remember that blogging/writing is not something I should try do to when offline.

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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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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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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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