Less Facebook, Less Phone [en]

[fr] Moins de Facebook et de téléphone en ôtant l'app (restera l'ordi et l'iPad). Une collection de liens et de réflexions sur ce que sont devenus ces "médias sociaux" qui sont maintenant un "canal de distribution de contenu" dans lequel injecter des conversations est un pitch de startup.

I read this yesterday and removed the Facebook application from my phone again. Again, because I had done it a few months ago. I reinstalled it upon the death of a friend, who was also the founder of an online community I manage, and I needed to be connected better during those times. And I didn’t remove it afterwards (when is “afterwards”, when somebody dies?)

So, I’ve removed it now. I have a wristwatch again, too – have had for a few months. I like not having to take my phone out to know what time it is.

I’ve decided it was time to put my phone in flight mode during the night again, too, and I intend to leave it off for the first hour of the day. We’ll see how that goes. The next step will be implementing a shutdown time at night, too. I’d done it sometime back – no tech after 9pm.

For months now, it’s been bothering me. Maybe years. So much fear and outrage online. I’m sick of the outrage. What I fled when I stopped watching TV news has now caught up with me on Facebook. I remember this French TV executive who said very openly that they were in the business of selling “available brain time” to advertisers. Nothing has changed, it’s just online too now. I’m acutely aware how often I am “stuck on Facebook” when in fact I wanted to be doing something else. I feel a bit like a fool to have believed the digital world was something different. It was just because it was new.

As I am coming to terms with an upcoming shift in my career focus, which will probably mean “less social media”, I am reminded of what brought me here when I hear a startup pitching a social network that will “bring conversation” into social media, and describing social media as “content distribution”. I came here for people. For relationships. For conversations. For the web we lost, probably.

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Some Thoughts on Blogging: Original Content, Linking, Engaging [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions sur l'enseignement de l'art du blog.

I like teaching people about blogging. Right now I have nearly 100 students who are learning to blog, with varying enthusiasm and success. Teaching blogging makes me realize that this mode of expression which comes naturally to me is not that easy to master. Here are a couple of the main hurdles I’ve noticed for the student-blogger:

  • Original content. It seems obvious that a blog will contain original content, but in the age of Tumblr (I love Tumblr) and Facebook (I love Facebook) and Twitter (I love Twitter) it seems there is a bias towards republishing rather than creating. One of the things that make a blog a blog is the fact that the blogger has taken the trouble to think and try and communicate ideas or experiences or emotions to their reader, in the written form. Some early attempts at blogging resemble Facebook walls.
  • Links. Writing in hypertext is not easy. A blog is not an island. A blog is connected to many other pages on the web, be they blog articles or not. It’s caught in the web. It’s part of the web. A blog which never links elsewhere? Might be a journal or a memoir, but it’s missing out on something. What do I link to? When? Which words do I place my links on? The art of linking is full of subtleties.
  • Engaging. Blogging is about writing, but also about reading and responding. Links ensure that a blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The parallel human activity is responding to comments, reading other bloggers, linking to them socially, and actually engaging with content found elsewhere. Some will say “comment on other people’s articles”, but that is not the whole story. Leaving a superficial comment is not it. Trying to understand the other, daring to challenge and disagree (respectfully), push thoughts further and drag others out of their comfort zone: there is something philosophical about the practice of blogging.

Some things are relatively easily taught: how to hit publish; how to write in an informal voice; how to dare being subjective. But how do you teach engagement? How do you teach debate? I know the Anglo-Saxon (at least American) school curriculum includes debating. Switzerland, sadly, doesn’t — and we tend to shy away from it, or end up in “dialogues de sourds” with two polarised camps each trying to convert the other.

2nd Back to Blogging Challenge, day 7. On the team: Nathalie Hamidi(@nathaliehamidi), Evren Kiefer (@evrenk), Claude Vedovini (@cvedovini), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Fleur Marty (@flaoua), Xavier Borderie (@xibe), Rémy Bigot (@remybigot),Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Marie-Aude Koiransky (@mezgarne), Anne Pastori Zumbach (@anna_zap), Martin Röll (@martinroell), Gabriela Avram (@gabig58), Manuel Schmalstieg (@16kbit), Jan Van Mol (@janvanmol), Gaëtan Fragnière (@gaetanfragniere), Jean-François Jobin (@gieff). Hashtag:#back2blog.

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