Thanks! See You at LIFT08 :-) [en]

A heartfelt thanks to those of you who following blogged about Going Solo or voted for my Open Stage presentation. I’m actually going to be the first Open Stage talk, Thursday morning before the break. Exciting and scary!

My workshop also got enough registrations to be provided with a room, which is nice. I can still accommodate a few more people (up to 15 as far as I’m concerned, but I’m trying to make sure the room is big enough). I’d like to insist again on the fact that this is a workshop for people who are not yet blogging — you’ll find it frighteningly basic if you’re already a blogger. Also, you will have to bring your own laptop as we do not have a computer lab. So, if you’re coming to LIFT08, aren’t blogging yet, but would like to get going, sign up for the workshop.

I’ve been asked by a couple of people if they could come to the workshop although they don’t have a ticket for LIFT. That is unfortunately impossible, as the workshops are reserved to LIFT attendees (you should come to LIFT, it’s really worth it). (The Venture Night and Sustainable Development Sessions are open to non-LIFT public, however.) For those who might be interested, I’m planning to organize similar Get Started Blogging workshops in Lausanne (or elsewhere if there is enough interest). The first should take place on Feb. 26th (details to follow), in French. Again, if enough English-speakers are interested (say 6 people minimum) then I can also organize a workshop in English.

My discussion session on multilingualism online thankfully didn’t make the cut (remember I’ll also be live-blogging LIFT08!!), but I’ll set up an informal meeting for people who are interested in chatting about this.

See you at LIFT!

Blog Host Ugliness [en]

[fr] Une amie Serbe s'est vu poser un ultimatum par son hébergeur de blogs: 24 heures pour supprimer commentaires d'un autre blogueur et liens vers ses sites, ou voir son blog disparaître.

L'hébergeur en question (qui utilise WordPress multi-utilisateurs, comme avait en outre désactivé la fonction d'exportation de blog.

On s'en est sortis comme on a pu (voir ici).

Mis à part le côté technique de l'affaire, il est absolument scandaleux qu'un hébergeur de blogs se permette d'agir ainsi. Certes, tout hébergeur est libre de "virer" des clients -- mais déactiver au préalable la fonction d'exportation des blogs, cela atteint des sommets de mesquinerie. A bon entendeur.

Edit: sur Seesmic, l'histoire en français et en vidéo.

Note: I’ve updated this post as I gathered information allowing me to see more clearly in this whole mess. Please read the comment if you’re going to jump in the conversation or blog about this.

Wednesday night, my friend Sanja from BlogOpen (she was my very kind and competent hostess) pinged me on IM. She had less than 24 hours to export her blog before her blog host shut it down.

It was a blog hosted by WordPress multi-user [Edit: not WPMU]. Easy enough, I thought. There is an export function. Unfortunately, when I logged in (the interface was in Serbian, but I can find my way through WordPress with my eyes closed), this is what I found:

WordPress (MU?) with no Export

Even if you don’t understand Serbian, you can see there is a missing tab. I tried calling /wp-admin/export.php directly, but the file had been removed.

Well, after a bit of poking, prodding and thinking, this is what I came up with (reminder: WPMU means that you can’t there was no possibility to install plugins and no direct access to the server):

Last Hope Export of WordPress MU Blog

I went into Options > Reading. I set the feeds to “entire post”. As there were 110 posts in this blog, I set the home page to display all of them, with a little margin for error. There were more than 1400 comments, so I set the maximum number of items in a feed to 1500.

Then I did three things:

  • saved /feed (an RSS dump of the blog posts)
  • saved /comments/feed (an RSS dump of the comments)
  • scraped the blog (with single blog post pages) as an extra backup by running wget -r -l1 -w1 BLOGURL (thanks, John) from my server (also to save the images).

The blog was saved. I couldn’t import the RSS dump of blog posts into, where I told Sanja to open a new blog account, so I quickly set up a regular WordPress install on my server, imported it there, and exported it in WXR format. Great.

Comments, however, are another story. If you’re in a hackish mood, any help would be appreciated.

We’ll probably have to deal with the images too once the blog has been completely wiped off the server — for the moment it seems like it was disabled, but the images are still there (see this one for example).

There, that was for the technical part.

Now for a personal comment. I find it utterly disgusting and shocking that a blog host owner would give people an ultimatum to leave and disable the export function in the blogging software. Sanja tells me that they had the export function until a few days before the ultimatum.

Of course, a blog host can choose not to host certain people. But trying to lock people in by disabling export of their own data is simply evil. If you’re kicking people off your system, you damn well better make sure they can take their data with them.

Edit, 27.01, 12:00: I’m happy to learn that it seems the disabling of the export function was not related to the ultimatum, and that the blog381 people were not actually trying to actively lock people in. However, it remains that it’s pretty delicate in a conflictual situation to tell people to “submit or leave” when they don’t have a way to export their data on their own.

So, people, please. If you need a blog host, choose a serious one. for example. Or Blogger. Or Typepad. Putting your precious blog between the hands of an individual is risky (, anybody? and if you remember, people on at least had the guarantee they could export their data…)

How did this happen?

I got some details about the situation, but a word of warning about that, first. The source material to this Serbian blogosphere drama is all in… Serbian. I’m relying here on what my friend Sanja told me about the situation, and I do not doubt her good faith. I know, though, that stories do have multiple sides, and that there might be more to the background than what I’m telling you here — but whatever the background story, it cannot justify the behaviour of this blog host.

From what I gathered, what brought about this crisis is a quarrel between two bloggers: Tatjana aka Venus aka Lang (Update: Tatjana is not happy that I’m linking to her and has redirected visitors to this site elsewhere; to see her blog, copy-paste the link in your browser), the owner of the Serbian blogging platform (not the Tatjana who organized BlogOpen!), and another pretty popular blogger. At some point, Tatjana decided to forbid the people using her platform from linking to this other blogger or harbouring his comments.

Here is the warning she posted on the community forums:

Vlasnik blogova,,,

(ima verovatno jos ali ne mogu da trazim)

je ovom blog sistemu naneo stetu laziranjem glasova oko izbora za najblogera (na kom je on bio ‘pobednik’), ‘miniranjem’ sledeceg izbora, sirenjem neistina, traceva, vrbovanjem novih blogera sa tri osam jedan sistema, a sve u cilju da se naskodi ovom sistemu a poveca sopstveni traffic i “ugled”.

Za one koji nisu dovoljno informisani i sve ostale koji su slusali ili nisu, samo jednu stranu price od gore pomenutog, necu dodatno iznositi nikakve detalje, niti vise imam nameru da se borim sa provincijalizmima pojedinih ljudi koji su bili ili jesu na neki nacin u komunikaciji sa blogom381 i njegovim korisnicima.

Slobodna volja svakog od nas da pise kako i gde hoce, ali oni koji se odluce da i dalje pisu ovde nece moci da imaju linkove ka ovim blogovima niti komentare vlasnika istih.

Ukoliko imate zelju,nameru ili potrebu da ostanete na ovom blog sitemu, obrisite linkove i komentare gore pomenutog blogera u roku od 24h.

Translation (Sanja was a bit tired, so forgive the wobbliness):

The owner of these blogs,,,

has caused damage to this blog system by faking votes for the election of “The best blogger” (where he was “the winner”), and was undermining the next election by spreading gossip, lies, and recruiting new 381 bloggers, with only one aim: to damage this community and increase his own blog traffic and “reputation”.

For those who are not informed well enough, and all others who were listening or didn’t, only one side of the story of the person mentioned above, I will not give any additional details, nor do I have the intention to fight with provincialism of some people who were or in some way are connected to blog381 communication and their users.

It is the free will of each of us to write how and where we want to, but those who decide to keep writing here, will not be able to have links to these blogs or comments by their owner.

Those of you who have the wish, intention or need to stay on this blog system, should delete links and comments of the blogger (mentioned above) within 24 hours.

Sanja learnt about this because the owner of the blogging platform left a comment on one of her posts (not the most recent) to let her know about it. Given that the “other blogger” in question is a friend of Sanja’s, she wasn’t going to comply.

Other bloggers have also seen their blogs deleted, or at least de-activated (actually, before the 24-hour limit was up). A dozen or so, says Sanja.

If you want to chime in on the “political” side of this story (particularly if you’re involved in this story or a direct witness), you’re welcome to use my comments. However, I ask (as always) that everybody remain civil and refrain from personal attacks (commonsense blogging etiquette, y’know).

Update: It seems that since Sanja’s blog was deactivated, the whole blogging platform has been shut down, with a message that people can e-mail the administrator to get an export of their blog. This message was not there during the ultimatum period.

In a comment to this post, Tatjana aka Lang asked me to remove the link to her blog, , which I had placed upon her name. As I have refused to remove it (linking to the people involved in this story is perfectly relevant, and on the web, you can link to who you want, anyway), she has set up a redirection which sends visitors from this site straight off to CNN. So, I’ve left the link in, of course, but provided you with a handy copy-paste if you want to go and visit her all the same.

A Quick Word About NotchUp (it's not Quechup) [en]

[fr] Si vous avez reçu une invitation NotchUp, pas de souci: ce n'est pas comme quechup. Il s'agit d'une véritable invitation. En deux mots, NotchUp est un site de chasseurs de têtes, où l'on met sa propre tête à prix. Vous décidez combien une entrprise désirant vous interviewer doit vous payer (500$ par exemple).

Histoire que ça se propage, on nous promet 10% des gains que feront les gens qu'on invite (ça explique probablement les 8 invitations de la part de vos contacts LinkedIn, qui trainent dans votre boîte de réception). Donc si vous voulez en être...

First, no worry. I really did select your name to send you the invite. And yes, the invite is poorly worded and looks quechuppy. They’re so beta you can’t change the wording of the e-mail, which is sad, because I think it makes them look bad.

Their site is very slow, and I’m wondering if this is because they underestimated how fast they would spread, with unlimited invites per user and “load your LinkedIn contacts” feature.

What’s NotchUp? I’d say it’s an electronic head-hunting service. With added bonus: you get paid when a company wants to interview you (talk about incentive). You sign up, import your LinkedIn profile or edit your details by hand, decide how much you want to be paid if a company wants to interview you, and there you go.

If you got an invite from me, it’s not necessarily that I assume that you’re desperately looking for a job. You might be like me, happy where you are, but willing to consider interesting offers (like when Google tried to recruit me last year). Or I might simply not know, and I took a guess.

NotchUp Beta

A little feedback, as this is a beta.

  • the site is slow — if this is a scaling issue, fix it fast.
  • it’s a pity there is no obvious way to send feedback, as it’s a beta.
  • allowing people to edit the invitation mail would be a top-priority thing for me, as I think it’s damaging to them — I thought the first friend of mine who invited me had been Plaxo/Quechup scammed (sorry…) and hadn’t meant to send me the invite.
  • internationalization, please. I don’t live in Springfield, Massachusetts. We don’t all have 5-digit zip codes (mine is 1004, so I cheated, and entered 01004).
  • secure security questions would be cool.
  • I don’t fit in the calculator template.
  • it looks too good to be true: get money to be interviewed, get 10% of what the friends you brought into the system make over the next year by getting interviewed… how will NotchUp make their money? A little insight about the business model might help take it more seriously.
  • Edit: please don’t make us give our LinkedIn password to import data. Giving away passwords a bad thing to teach your users. Encourage responsible behaviour instead.

If you haven’t got an invite by now (it would be surprising!) and you want one, don’t hesitate to let me know, of course 😉

Edit: a few other reviews of NotchUp I found (pretty positive, I’d say)…

Come to LIFT'08 [en]

[fr] Si vous ne pensiez pas aller à LIFT dans deux semaines, j'aimerais vous encourager à vous inscrire pour nous y rejoindre.

J'avoue qu'une des raisons que j'entends souvent de la part de gens qui me disent ne pas y aller, c'est le prix. Un peu plus qu'un iPhone, et moins qu'un vol à destination de San Francisco (à plus forte raison, meilleur marché également que deux grandes conférences technologiques ayant récemment eu lieu en Europe: Web2.0Expo et LeWeb3).

LIFT est un événement extraordinaire. 3 journées dont une de workshops, la fondue, deux événements supplémentaires gratuits (venture night et sustainable dev), ainsi que la fête -- et vous repartirez proprement "liftés". LIFT est une conférence qui change la vie des gens. Elle est au carrefour des questions de société et de la technologie, d'une pertinence incontestable par rapport aux problématiques de notre temps.

J'explique dans cet article plus en détail pourquoi je vous encourage absolument à venir à LIFT (il est encore temps). C'est un investissement qui sera largement récompensé. Quel que soit le domaine dans lequel vous travaillez, prendre 3 jours sur l'année pour s'informer à la source sur les problématiques de notre société liées à la technologie n'est pas un luxe.

The LIFT Conference is taking place in just two weeks from now in Geneva.

If you’re free on those dates and haven’t considered attending, I’d like to encourage you to register and come and join us. It’s really worthwhile. And if the price tag is making you hesitate, think again. Here’s what’s included in your registration fee for this three-day event:

So, here we are. 850 CHF (that’s $781.50, 530.80€ or £396.30 as of today) for three days. Even though it is a sizeable chunk of money for many people (I’m not talking about you lucky ones who get sent to great events like LIFT by their employers), it’s not that expensive, when you think of it (just a little perspective):

  • an iPhone: 399€
  • the MacBook Air: $1799
  • LeWeb3 (Paris): over 1000€
  • Web2.0Expo (Berlin): over 1000€
  • a cheap flight to San Francisco: $800 (you spend only 2 days on the plane, and it’s way less fun)

Now, as that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat. Why is LIFT worth so much more than what you pay for it? I’d like to add my two cents to what the organizers already say:

  • new speakers: the LIFT team goes to great lengths to introduce speakers that you haven’t already heard at all the other conferences you go to. I’m told it’s becoming a habit for other conference organizers to do their “speaker shopping” at LIFT. (Insider scoop, from Laurent himself: Eric Favre, the inventor of Nespresso, is one of the latest confirmed additions to the speaker list.)
  • great talk quality: heard of TED Talks? They gather the best speakers around the world, and last year, started including talks from partner conferences. LIFT is one of the four events they chose to select talks from.
  • at the crossroads of Life and Technology: this, I think, I the top reason I really love LIFT. It’s about technology, but it’s also about people, society, and the world we live in. It lacks the dryness of the all-tech conference. It’s visionary. It blows your mind and lifts you up. It changed my life, and I’m not the only one.
  • non-commercial: though I’m not against profit (Going Solo is, after all, a commercial event), the fact LIFT is a non-profit labour of love does reflect in the overall atmosphere and quality of the event. No pitches or sponsors on stage. It’s about ideas and about us. It’s friendly and welcoming and human.
  • more than the stage: LIFT is about what happens during breaks, in corridors and doorways. Yes, the most value one gets out of an event is generally in networking. LIFT has however taken this awareness a step further, investing a lot in LIFT+, activities and exhibits that populate the “in-between” spaces.

I hope it’s obvious from what I’m describing: LIFT is truly an event beyond all others. It’s well-organized and touches topics which are over-important for understanding the world we live in: technology has taken an increasing place in our society (all societies, actually), and this is a chance for geeks and “humanists” both to take a few steps back and think about the “big picture”.

Still not 100% sure you want to register?

If you’re used to the conference circuit: LIFT will be a welcome change from what you’re used to.
If you don’t usually go to conferences: if you go to one event this year, it should be LIFT. (Well, you should give Going Solo a go too, but it’s a rather different kind of conference.)

If you are attending, it’s still time to spread a bit of link love for LIFT — have you done it yet?

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. I’m part of the electronic media crowd, though, so if you see me live-blogging like mad, don’t be offended if I’m not very chatty.

Going Solo Venues, Open Stage, and Link Love [en]

[fr] Sur le site de Going Solo, vous trouverez le récit de mon après-midi passée à visiter des salles de conférences à Lausanne. Ma proposition d'Open Stage pour LIFT'08 semble avoir du succès mais a encore besoin de vos votes.

Je me pose ensuite des tas de question sur les raisons pour lesquelles Going Solo ne semble pas attirer plus l'attention des blogueurs. Est-ce trop tôt? Pas assez d'informations? Ai-je épuisé mon capital social? Est-ce que tout le monde pense que les autres s'en chargent?

Pour que des personnes en-dehors de mon réseau direct puissent entendre parler de Going Solo et s'y intéresser, j'ai besoin de votre aide. Voici la (modeste) collection de liens couvrant Going Solo. Julien a parlé plusieurs fois de Going Solo en français (merci!), mais je crois que c'est à peu près tout côté couverture francophone. Oui, la conférence est en anglais. Mais vos lecteurs francophones ne sont pas tous nécessairement anglophobes, ni les personnes qu'ils connaissent à leur tour.

Que ce soit clair: je ne veux forcer la main à personne. Si vous trouvez Going Solo inutile ou même bête, ne perdez pas votre temps à en parler (ou mieux, en fait, racontez pourquoi vous pensez ainsi, ça m'intéresse). Mais si vous désirez soutenir cette conférence et que ce n'est visible nulle part sur votre blog... Prenez un petit moment pour ça.

Et si vous avez un éclairage à offrir concernant ma difficulté permanent à "rallier" les gens autour des choses que je fais (pas les choses que je blogue, hein, celles que je fais), je suis toute ouïe. Merci d'avance.

Just a note to say I’ve published a blog post on hunting for venues for Going Solo (yes, on the Going Solo blog — what? you haven’t subscribed yet? what are you waiting for?). If you have any thoughts on the points I raise there, go ahead.

In the good news departments, it seems my open stage proposal about organizing a conference for freelancers is attracting interest. It still needs votes though, so if you want to help make sure I hit the big stage and you are going to attend LIFT, be sure to vote. (Every vote counts. Thanks.)

Prepare for slight digression.

For some reason, I seem to always have trouble motivating people to “spread the word” about stuff I’m doing. There seems to be a disconnect between the picture people send back to me (“Oh, you have so much traction, you’re so influent, etc.”) and what actually happens when I try to get the word out about something.

I usually don’t have this problem when it’s somebody else’s stuff. If I sign up for your nice new shiny 2.0 service and like it, I’m going to convince dozens of people to sign up. Twitter. Dopplr. Seesmic. It’s even happening with offline stuff like the neti pot.

I guess one of the issues is that I’m not really comfortable promoting my own stuff. Some people seem to have no problem doing that — I always feel like I should shut up, and if what I’m doing is really worthwhile, other people will pick it up and blog about it. On the other hand, I am pretty comfortable page-slapping people with my own writings.

So, what is it? Do people underestimate the support I need from the community? Am I one of those annoying people who ask for too much and don’t give enough? Do I squander my social capital? Is the stuff I do so lame that nobody has any interest in talking about it? Am I simply just “missing” a little something somewhere that I still haven’t figured out? Am I just not active enough in self-promoting?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about my technorati ranking or about the fact that some of my blog posts have already been around the world three times (my stuff on MySQL encoding problems and multiple WordPress installations have remained popular for years — the latter with spammers, maybe, I’m afraid). It’s more about stuff I do as opposed to stuff I write.

Take Going Solo. I know I haven’t really started pushing it out there, because we don’t have branding yet and the price isn’t quite set. But still. When I announced it here on CTTS (and before that, when I said I was starting a company), a lot of people stopped by to leave an encouraging comment or send me a nice tweet. I really appreciated it.

Now, not trying to make anybody feel bad here, but here’s the coverage of Going Solo that I’ve been able to round up (or the technorati cosmos. I’m getting into the habit of bookmarking any “coverage” links, because they’re easy to find on the moment, but 6 months later you can forget about it.

Is it because I haven’t explicitly said “Going Solo needs your link love”? (If that’s it, I’m saying it now.) Is it because it’s “too early) — ie, people are waiting for the venue to be set, the full programme to be announced, sidebar badges to be available and the tickets to be on sale? I personally don’t think it’s necessary to wait that long. I’m convinced Going Solo is going to be a really useful event for many freelancers out there. I want to get the word out and create interest for it, also outside my immediate network. And for that, I need you. You’re the only people who can help me reach “outside my network”. Or maybe I’m being difficult, naive, or expecting too much?

I’d like to understand what’s happening. I’d like more people to talk about Going Solo and try to promote it to their networks, of course, but my main issue here is understanding. So any insight will be… more than welcome. If you think Going Solo is worthwhile, but you haven’t blogged about it, it would help me if you left a comment to tell me why you haven’t (yet, hopefully!) blogged about it. Again — I’m not asking for justifications, just insight from “the other side of the fence”.

This week-end, as I was hurrying to get my LIFT workshop out of the door, I was astonished (in a disappointed sort of way) to see how few people had come up with proposals for LIFT. I know people wait until the last minute to do it, but I also realised that I hadn’t really blogged about LIFT this year. I guess I was thinking that it was so popular anyway, a blog post of mine wouldn’t really make much difference. “The others” were already blogging about it.

Then I took a step back and thought of Going Solo — how my frustration that people weren’t talking about it more. So I wrote a blog post to tell people it was the last minute to send a contribution to LIFT. Did anybody make one because I blogged about it, I wonder?

So, done with the angst-ridden rambling. I welcome your comments. And Going Solo needs your link love.

Quelques pages en français [fr]

[en] I've added some French content to One page describing my standardized offer for blogging in business (of course, other packs can be negotiated -- this is mainly to help my clients get started). Another detailing private classes I offer individuals (not my main business, but I like doing it and I'm regularly asked to). A description of the "Get Started with Blogging" seminar -- I'm doing it as a workshop at LIFT, but I also plan to organize these regularly here in Lausanne (or elsewhere if there is enough interest).

I'd like to announce a first blogging seminar end of February -- but I'm a bit concerned about how I'll get the word out about it. You see, I'm pretty good at communicating stuff using new media, but I do sometimes feel a bit at loss with more traditional ways of promoting events or business initiatives. Any advice or assistance in that department would be greatly appreciated.

Chers lecteurs francophones (si vous êtes encore par là!), j’aurais besoin de vous. Dans le cadre de l’opération “mettre vaguement à jour“, j’ai ajouté un peu de contenu au site francophone. Alors bon, comme d’habitude, c’est un peu brouillon (mais j’ai quand même réfléchi un peu à ce que j’écrivais) et c’est déjà en ligne. Mais votre avis sur ce que j’ai écrit m’intéresse. Bien? Pas bien? Détails à corriger? Problèmes de fond? Mauvaise stratégie? Parfait-y’a-rien-à-retoucher?

Vous voyez l’idée.

Les pages en question sont les suivantes:

  • Blogs et entreprises — j’essaie de “standardiser” un peu mon offre pour que les clients puissent s’y retrouver. Il y en a pour tous les budgets, et bien sûr, on peut toujours discuter de formules particulières. Mais il me semble qu’offrir 2-3 “packs” est une bonne chose.
  • Cours pour particuliers — ce n’est pas mon business principal, mais il faut bien que je me rende à l’évidence, on me demande pour ça. J’essaie d’expliquer dans quel contexte je fournis ce genre de service.
  • Cours d’initiation aux blogs pour particuliers — il s’agit de la fameuse idée de cours, que je propose dans deux semaines sous forme de workshop à LIFT (si vous allez à LIFT, profitez-en).

Concernant cette dernière offre, j’aimerais fixer une date pour un premier cours à Lausanne toute fin février, mais j’avoue que ce qui me fait un peu souci, c’est comment communiquer là autour. Voyez-vous, je suis une spécialiste de la communication nouveaux médias, et les personnes à qui s’adresse ce cours ne s’alimentent probablement pas quotidiennement sur les blogs.

Il faudrait recourir à des moyens de promotion plus “traditionnels” que je maîtrise mal: annonces, affichettes, mailing-listes un peu “pushy” (oh horreur!), alerter mes contacts journalistes, mon entourage offline, faire passer des infos dans écoles ou entreprises… Tout conseil ou coup de main dans ce domaine serait bienvenu. Merci d’avance.

Inbox to Zero in no Time [en]

[fr] Un moyen radical (et quasi instantané) pour atteindre le fameux et très convoité inbox zero.

So, having trouble keeping your inbox count down? Piling up in the hundreds, the thousands, even? I have a totally foolproof method to bring your inbox count down to the coveted zero. It’s been tested in GMail, but I’m sure it works in other e-mail clients too.

The best part of it is how fast it works. The result is guaranteed.

Are you ready for it? Just follow these two simple steps:

  • click on “Select All”
  • press the “Archive” button

There! You’re done! Inbox to zero in now time at all. It works — or you can have your money back.

Now, for the slightly more serious part.

I really did this, this summer if I remember correctly, during a conference. I mean, I wasn’t going to go through all that piled up e-mail anyway. Most of the e-mails were obsolete — when stuff is really important, people e-mail again, and again, or call you, or tweet you, or catch you on IRC or at an event.

Once your inbox actually is at zero, it’s much easier to keep it to zero. Archive without mercy. Answer easy stuff as soon as you see it (I do that to the point some people have told me my e-mails have become a bit curt, so I’m trying to add a bit of cream in again — but the basic principle remains: do it now). My inbox sometimes goes up to 40 or 50 if I stay away from the computer, but then I bring it back down again, over a few days. If I haven’t seen zero in some time, it’s time to deal with those two things lying at the bottom of my inbox for the last 10 days — or decide that I won’t, and archive them.

Sometimes, I feel I can’t keep up anymore, or don’t want to “deal”, so I archive.

Does that sound like I’m mistreating my e-mail? Sure. But so is letting it pile up in your inbox for weeks, months, and years.

Very Last Moment to Propose a Contribution for LIFT'08 [en]

[fr] C'est la dernière minute pour faire une proposition de workshop, discours, discussion, ou encore participation à la venture night de la conférence LIFT. (Utilisez les liens dans le corps de l'article.) Eh oui, c'est aujourd'hui le dernier jour!

Il est d'ores et déjà possible de s'inscrire aux workshops (j'y propose d'ailleurs une initiation aux blogs -- inscrivez-vous si vous ne bloguez pas encore, ou parlez-en à vos amis non-blogueurs). J'ai aussi proposé une présentation-éclair de 5 minutes au sujet de Going Solo (ça me rappelle qu'il faut que je blogue à ce sujet en français un peu plus en détail), et je pense animer une discussion autour de toutes ces questions linguistiques qui me préoccupent.

Quel programme!

I almost missed the announcement. Submissions for workshops, open stage speeches, discussions or the venture night at the LIFT conference close today! (I don’t know exactly when, but remember that LIFT is European, so it might very well be end-of-day CET.)

If you click on the links above you can already see what has been proposed. I’ve proposed a workshop (Get Started With Blogging) — you can already sign up for workshops by visiting the page of the workshop you’re interested in and adding your name to the page — and an open stage speech in which I want to tell the story behind Going Solo (I also reproduced it on the Going Solo blog — have you subscribed to it yet?).

I’m going to send in a discussion proposal too (thought you could avoid me? tough!) — most certainly around all the language and multilingualism stuff that’s been going around in my head lately. I was hesitating with something about teenagers and the internet but as I see there is already a workshop on the topic (Teenagers/Generation Y and Technology), which I want to attend, I think it’s better to come up with a totally different topic.

Any thoughts?

Update, 1pm: sent in proposal for language discussion: All These Languages! Localization and Multilingualism Online — if you’re interested in being one of the “discussion starters”, get in touch (otherwise, please vote for my proposal!)

Bunny's Print CSS Plugin Upgrade [en]

[fr] Deuxième version de mon plugin pour insérer automatiquement une feuille de style impression dans n'importe quel thème WordPress. Il y a maintenant un panneau d'administration qui permet d'éditer le CSS directement depuis WordPress -- et le CSS en question a été enrichi.

The little print CSS plugin I threw together the other day has had a little upgrade already, and is also now available in the WordPress plugin directory.

First, Kjell Knudsen was kind enough to add to the very basic CSS file I provided with the plugin. It’s now a little richer and should support K2, for example. It’s still open to improvement, so don’t hesitate to link to your propositions in the comments! Maybe at some point I’ll be able to offer more than one stylesheet with the option to choose between them.

Option? Oh yes, option. Because, you see, Print CSS now has an option panel. I’m pretty happy, because it’s my first plugin with an options panel, and I’ve been thinking I should learn how to do that for some time now. The options panel doesn’t do much, however: it simply allows you to edit the print CSS file through the WordPress admin area (if the file permissions are right — chmod 777 or something).

I’d like to extend all my thanks to Yaosan Yeo, who wrote the MyCSS plugin. I heavily lifted the code for the admin panel from it, as it does essentially the same thing: allow the user to edit a CSS file. I’m really loving MyCSS by the way, even if there is a little capitalization glitch in it, because I’m always adding CSS to my themes and it’s a real pain to copy-paste it all over the place each time I switch themes (or from one blog to another).

Off you go now, check out Bunny’s Print CSS in the WordPress plugin repository!

Being Lifter 20: I'm the "Star" Networker! [en]

[fr] Après LIFT l'an dernier, un questionnaire a été soumis au participants dans le but de déterminer quel impact la conférence avait eu sur leur réseau. J'y ai répondu, avec 27 autres personnes (un assez petit échantillon, à mon avis). Il se trouve que je suis la "super-réseauteuse" de l'étude. Quelques remarques.

Eleven months ago, I participated and encouraged you to participate in a survey which aimed to map social networking between participants of the LIFT’07 conference. As I was browsing around after submitting my workshop proposal, I saw that the report based on that survey had been published. On the LIFT site, you can see screenshots of the graphs (yes, this is what I call a “social graph”!) before and after the conference.

Go and look.

LIFT'07 Network Mapping Report

Notice the node somewhat to the left, that seems to be connected to a whole bunch of people? Yeah, that’s me. I’m “lifter 20”. How do I know? Well, not hard to guess — I have a rather atypical profile compared to the other people who took the survey.

So, as the “star” networker in this story, I do have a few thoughts/comments on some of the conclusions drawn from the survey. Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s very interesting, and that we need this kind of research (and more of it!) but as Glenn says himself in the 1Mb PDF report, it’s important to bear in mind the limitations of this study. (All the quotes in this blog post are taken form the PDF, unless I say otherwise.)

The limitations of this study needs to be understood before considering the findings: This
study maps networks from the point of view of the 28 participants. Consequently, it is
only a partial map of the networks established at LIFT07.

In this study, I’m the “star” networker: the person with the most connections before and after the conference.

Before the conference, participant Lifter20 had the largest network (59 attendees)
which was increased by 25 attendees after the conference.

Bearing that in mind, I would personally have removed myself from the “average” calculations (I don’t think that was done), because I’m too a-typical compared to the other people in the survey. Typically, I would find it interesting to be given figures with extremes removed here:

There was a large range in the size of the individual networks before LIFT07 (from 0 to
59) and a smaller range in the number of people added to networks after the conference
(from 0 to 28). However, on average, participants had seven people in their network
before LIFT07 and added nine more people after the conference – leading to the
conclusion that people at least doubled their network by attending LIFT07.

As mentioned earlier, 28 people took the survey. I know I’m not the most networked person at LIFT. In my “network of red nodes” (people not in the survey) there are people like Robert Scoble, Stowe Boyd, or Laurent Haug — who clearly did not take the survey, or I wouldn’t be the “star networker” here. So, they are a little red node somewhere in the graph. Which makes me take the following remark with a big grain of salt:

Before the conference, several “red” attendees (i.e. those attendees nominated as
part of the network of the 28 participants) were significant relay nodes in the network
receiving considerable incoming links – notably the red node to the right of Lifter 12
and the red node to the left of Lifter 16. In both cases, the number of links to these
nodes increased after the conference.

What’s missing here is that these red nodes might very well be super networkers like Stowe or Robert. The fact they receive significant incoming links would then take a different meaning: only a very small part of their role in the global LIFT networking ecosystem is visible. (Yes, the study here only talks about a small part of this ecosystem, but it’s worth repeating.)

I think that most heavy networkers are not very likely to fill in such a survey. The more people you know, the more time it takes. I’m easily a bit obsessive, and I think this kind of study is really interesting, so I took the trouble to do it — but I’m sure many people with a smaller network than mine didn’t even consider doing it because it’s “too much work”. I suspect participation in such a survey is skewed towards people with smaller networks (“sure, I just know 5-10 people, I’ll quickly fill it in”).

Here’s a comment about the ratio of new contacts made during LIFT’07:

For example, the “star” networker, Lifter20 has a ratio of 1:0.4. In
other words, for every third person in her existing network, she met one new person.
Whereas, Lifter18 had the highest ratio of 1:7. In other words, for every person in her
existing network, she met seven new people.

I think it’s important to note that, as I said in my previous post about this experiment, knowing many people from the LIFT community beforehand, the increase in my network (proportionally) was bound to be less impressive, than, say, when I came to LIFT’06 two years ago (I basically knew 3 people before going: Anne Dominique, Laurent, Marc-Olivier — and maybe Roberto… and walked out with a ton of new people). I’m sure Dunbar’s number kicks in somewhere too, and I would expect that the more people you know initially, the lower your ratio of new contacts should be.

On page 8 of the survey there is a list of participants and the number of before/after contacts they entered in the survey. So, if you took the survey and have a rough idea of how many people you knew before LIFT, and how many you met there, you should be able to identify who you are.

This is interesting:

The “star” networker, Lifter 20 had seven links to other participants before LIFT07
which grew to ten after the conference, giving her the most central position in the
network of participants.

So, basically, 10 people I know took the survey — out of 28 total. I know I blogged about the survey and actively encouraged people in my network to take it. This would skew the sample, of course, making it closer to “my network at LIFT”. If we know each other and you took the survey, can you identify which number you are? it would be interesting to put faces on the numbers to interpret the data (for me, in any case, as I know the people). For example, if you’re a person I brought to LIFT, chances are your “new connections” will overlap mine quite a bit — more than if you came to LIFT independently.

A chapter of the report is devoted to the “star” networker (in other words, little me).

Interestingly, many of the
people that she connected to, both before and after LIFT07, were not part of the
networks of the other 27 participants of the study, indicating a certain isolation of parts of
her network.


Before the conference, a significant number of contacts (35) of Lifter20 had no
connections with any of the other 27 participants of the study.

After the conference, a number of contacts (14) made by Lifter20 had no connections
with any of the other 27 participants of the study.

The first remark be turned the other way: maybe all these “unconnected” people are actually quite connected within the “global LIFT network”, and it is the sample of 28 people who answered the survey which have isolated networks. Of course, isolation is a relative notion, but the way things are phrased here makes it look like I have an isolated network… which I don’t really believe to be the case — a great part of my network is actually very interconnected, only it doesn’t show in the graph because the people in question did not take the survey. Friend Wheel for Stephanie Booth - Facebook Friend Relationships My friend wheel (see screenshot) from Facebook gives a better impression of what it looks like. (No, no, I’m not taking this personally! I’m not.)

Lifter20 shares a number of contacts with one other participant (Lifter13 – the blue
node horizontally to the right in the “after” diagram).

Who is Lifter 13? (14 before, met 7 at LIFT’07) Somebody I knew before LIFT’07. I’m curious.

I’d also love to know who Lifter 18 (the “booster” networker) and Lifter 11 (the “clique” networker) were, though the graph indicates I know neither.

In conclusion, I’d say this is a really interesting study, but the anonymized data would gain to be interpreted in the light of who the actual people were and what their networks were like. I think it would allow to evaluate where this kind of analysis works well and works less well.

I think 28 people is a rather small sample for such a study — it’s a pity more people didn’t participate in the survey. How could we motivate people to participate? I think one of the issues, mainly, is that people don’t get anything directly out of participating. So… maybe some goodie incentive for doing it, next time? Also, I remember the interface was a bit raw. What I did is go through the participant list and type the names. It’s almost impossible to just think back at “so, who did I meet at LIFT this year?” — either you’re going to take a stack of business cards your brought home, or you’re going to go through a list and see what names ring a bell.

Maybe the survey organisation could take that into account. Provide participants in the survey with a (searchable, ajaxy) list of attendees with checkboxes. Then you could add smart stuff to help out like Dopplr’s “travellers you may know” (based on a “contacts of your contacts” algorithm).