I Need to Blog More [en]

It’s been nagging at the back of my mind. Since before Going Solo Lausanne, actually — when I got so absorbed with the conference preparation that CTTS hardly saw 6 posts over the space of 4 weeks.

I need to blog more.

It became clear this morning, as a chat with [Suw](http://strange.corante.com/) led to a [long blog post in French](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/07/20/reflexions-freelance/) that I’d been putting off for… weeks, to be generous.

This isn’t the first time (by far) in my blogging career that I’ve been through a “dry” patch, and then one day realised that I had to get into the groove again. Life is cyclic. It’s not a stable line or curve that heads up and up or, God forbid, down and down. It’s ups and downs. Some days are better than others, some weeks are better than others. It’s the low moments in life that also make you enjoy the high ones (though I wouldn’t want you to think I’m advocating heading for “lows” just so you might have post-low “highs” — lows are just part of the colour of life, like the highs).

Some people have higher highs than others, and lower lows. Some people have more highs, some have more lows. We’re not equal — and in the matter of happiness in particular, I remember Alexander Kjerulf saying at Reboot last year that roughly 50% of our “happiness potential” is genetically determined.

So, pardon me the digression on the highs and lows, a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately due to my own ups and [downs](http://www.bcwomens.ca/Services/HealthServices/ReproductiveMentalHealth/MentalHealth/PMSPMDD.htm). Back to blogging.

With the [supposed return of the tired “blogging is dead” meme](http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/004603.html), which we long-time bloggers have seen poking its silly head up every year or two, oh, “blogging is so yesterday”, I once again sit down and wonder at what’s kept me going for over [eight years](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/07/13/eighth-blogversary/) now.

I know part of the answer: I’ve never been in the arms race — or at least, never very long. Arms race to first post, arms race to breaking news, arms race to most comments, arms race to more visitors, more visitors, yes, ad revenue, monetize, recognize. Oh, I want my share of recognition and limelight — I won’t pretend I’m above all that — and there are times when I feel a bit bitter when I feel I’m not getting as much attention as others who have louder mouths but not necessarily better things to say. What can I say: I’m only human, and I think one constant you’ll find amongst bloggers is that each in our own way, we’re all after some form or other of recognition. Some more badly than others, yes.

So, I need to blog more.

One of the things blogging did for me, many years ago, was put me in touch with other people who shared similar interests to mine. That is one thing blogging does well, and that it always will do.

It also provided a space for me to express myself in writing — forgive me for stating the obvious. I’ve always written, always had things to write, and blogging for me was a chance to really dive into it (actually, before that — this website existed before I signed up for a Blogger.com account many years ago).

Writing helps me think. Even though it may sound a bit lame to say so, it’s something I do that feels meaningful to me. It’s not something that puts money in the bank account (one of my important and ongoing preoccupations these days, to be honest), but it’s something that connects me to myself and to others.

Organising a conference as a one-woman endeavour can feel extremely isolating, even with a large network of advisors and supporters. But more than that, I’ve been a freelancer for two whole years now: working from home most of the time, travelling a lot, getting more and more involved in personal and professional relationships outside my hometown, and often in completely different timezones.

I don’t really have any colleagues I see regularly anymore. My client relationships are usually short-lived, given the nature of my work (lots of speaking engagements). I haven’t really had any clients in the last year that I saw regularly enough to build some kind of meaningful relationship with.

It’s not without a reason that I’ve become increasingly interested in [coworking](http://blog.coworking.info/), to the extent that I’m now working at setting up a space in the very building I’m living in (quite a coincidence actually, but a nice one for me, given I like typing away with [my cat](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/collections/72157600210295068/) purring next to me).

What does this have to do with blogging more?

My feeling of isolation isn’t only offline. It’s online too. It feels that I’ve been spending so much time “working” (ie, preparing conferences or worrying about how to earn some money) that I’ve taken a back seat in my online presence. It’s time I started driving again.

I don’t mean that in the sense “agressively fight for a place in front of the scene”. I’ve never been an A-lister and probably never will be. I just want to go back to writing more about stuff I find interesting. Hopefully, not only long rambling soul-searching posts like this one 😉

Twitter, FriendFeed, Tumblr, Feedly, Facebook and Seesmic are changing my life online. I haven’t finished figuring out in what way. But what I know is that my online ecosystem, particularly around my blog, is not what it was three years ago. I am in no way rejecting these “newer” tools in my life, but I do feel at times like I’ve been neglecting my first love.

My blog is also where I give. Over the course of my blogging career, I’ve writen posts which are still helpful or inspiring to those who read them, years after. The more you give, the more you get. Well, maye one reason I feel things are drying up a bit around me is that I’ve stopped giving as much as I used to. Oh, I know it’s not magical. I don’t believe in “balance of the universe” or anything. I do believe in human relationships and psychology, though. If you care about other people, there are more chances that they’ll care about you. That’s what makes us social animals.

Part of it, over the last years, has been the challenge of transitioning from passionate hobbyist to professional. Suddenly my online world/activities are not just where I give freely, but also where I try to earn a living. Such a transition is not easy. And I haven’t found any handbooks lying around.

I’m going to stop here, because I think that this post has already reached the limits of what even a faithful reader of friend can be expected to be subjected to without complaining.

To sum it up: for a variety of reasons I’ve tried to explore in this post, I want to blog more than I have these past months. I think it’ll make me feel better. Blogging is something I enjoy, and if the way I’m doing things doesn’t leave me time for that, then something is wrong with the way I’m doing things. I became a freelancer in this industry because I was passionate about blogging and all the “online stuff” hovering around it — and wanted to do more of it. Not less.

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RĂ©flexions freelance [en]

[fr] Musings on my work as a freelancer. I'm thinking about concentrating my communication/promotion efforts on a limited number of things (my problem with being a "generalist internet expert" is that I do lots of different things, could do even more, but feel a bit stretched and unfocused at times). So, here goes:

  • coaching/training: from "learning to use this computer" and "getting the printer to work" (grandma or your uncle) to "learning all about social media/tools" and "publishing my stuff online". A one-on-one setting, and a general focus on "learning to understand and use the internet (and computers) better".
  • creating simple websites: I'm asked to do this a lot, and after years of struggling with clients to try to get them to "do things right" (easy to win them over, but it doesn't change the amount of budget available), I've switched over to a Trojan Horse technique. Give them what they want (a brochure-like website), but based on WordPress (my CMS of choice right now), which means they can learn to update the content, add a blog, etc. etc. Using WordPress as CMS is my Trojan Horse for getting clients further into social media.
  • speaking, in particular in schools: I gave a few talks at the ISL a month ago and they were very well received. A little promotional material would probably get me way more similar speaking engagements.

This doesn't mean I'm abandoning all the other things I do (and get paid for) or would like to do (and get paid for). It just means I'm going to concentrate my proactive efforts on those three things, which have proved to be realistic ways for me to earn money.

Going Solo Leeds is of course taking up quite a bit of my time, and I'm soon going to start actively looking for a business partner (a sales-oriented doer!) for Going Far. Stay tuned!

Ces temps, je pense pas mal Ă  mon choix de travail/carriĂšre. Parce qu’Ă  part les nombreuses heures que je passe Ă  prĂ©parer la confĂ©rence Going Solo (qui pour le moment ne rapporte pas tellement d’argent, on peut dire ça), je reste une indĂ©pendante dans le milieu parfois un peu brumeux des nouvelles technologies.

Moi qui suis quelqu’un qui frĂ©mit Ă  chaque fois qu’on lui demande “et tu fais quoi, comme boulot?”, je me suis trouvĂ©e l’autre jour (lors du pique-nique mensuel des couchsurfeurs lausannois) avec aux lĂšvres une formule qui me plaĂźt assez:

J’aide les gens Ă  mieux comprendre et utiliser internet.

C’est vaste, oui, mais ça recouvre assez bien ce qui m’intĂ©resse — et ce que je fais.

Mais bon. Ça fait un moment que je me sens dispersĂ©e. Je n’ai pas de message clair Ă  donner pour faire comprendre au monde mes compĂ©tences et ce que je fais. En plus, il y a “ce que je fais dĂ©jĂ ” et “ce que je pourrais faire”. Donc… je me dis que je devrais me concentrer (cĂŽtĂ© stratĂ©gie de communication en tous cas) sur un nombre limitĂ© de trucs. Surtout quand l’argent ne rentre pas Ă  flots. Lesquels?

Qu’on me comprenne bien, je ne suis pas en train de songer Ă  “arrĂȘter” quoi que ce soit de mes activitĂ©s. Je me demande simplement oĂč concentrer mes forces. Si on fait appel Ă  moi pour autre chose, pas de souci — je serai lĂ .

Une chose que je me retrouve rĂ©guliĂšrement Ă  faire, et que j’aime beaucoup, c’est de la formation (ou du coaching) individuelle. Ça va de “apprendre Ă  utiliser l’ordinateur et faire ses premiers pas sur internet” Ă  “bloguer mieux” en passant par “dĂ©marrer un blog” et “maĂźtriser les outils sociaux”. Particuliers, indĂ©pendants, ou petites entreprises sont mes clients types pour ce genre de service.

Donc, j’aime faire ça et il y a de la demande. Il m’a fallu longtemps pour “publiciser” ce genre de service/formation, principalement parce que les tarifs que je me retrouvais Ă  devoir fixer me semblaient vraiment chers pour des “cours d’informatique”. En attendant, il semble que je fais ça plutĂŽt bien, j’ai un Ă©ventail trĂšs large de compĂ©tences Ă  transmettre ou Ă  mettre Ă  disposition (je peux dĂ©panner l’imprimante, installer l’anti-virus, donner des conseils stylistiques pour la rĂ©daction d’un article, discuter d’une stratĂ©gie de publication, raconter les rĂ©seaux sociaux, les blogs, ou les CSS, bref, un produit tout-en-un), et je m’adapte Ă  tous les niveaux (de la personne qui dĂ©couvre tout juste l’informatique — et il y en a! — Ă  l’utilisateur chevronnĂ© qui veut parfaire ses connaissances en matiĂšre de publication web, par exemple).

Pour les particuliers, disons que c’est un peu un service de luxe (je ne dis pas ça nĂ©gativement), et pour les indĂ©pendants et petites entreprises, l’occasion d’acquĂ©rir des compĂ©tences avec un suivi trĂšs personnalisĂ© (et compĂ©tent/Ă  la pointe…).

VoilĂ  — je me dis que je devrais probablement mettre en avant un peu plus ce type de service.

Dans le mĂȘme ordre d’idĂ©es, on m’approche souvent pour “faire un site internet”. Durant longtemps, je crois que je m’y suis prise un peu maladroitement. “Non, je ne fais pas de site internet, mais je vous apprends Ă  le faire et vous accompagne durant le processus.” Alors oui, bien sĂ»r, je peux toujours faire ça. Mais il ne faut pas rĂȘver — le client qui m’approche pour que je lui “fasse un site internet”, mĂȘme si je le convainc de ce “faire ça bien” implique (pas un problĂšme en gĂ©nĂ©ral, dans ce sens-lĂ  je suis une assez bonne “vendeuse d’idĂ©es”), il n’est probablement quand mĂȘme pas prĂȘt, au fond, Ă  faire le pas (que ce soit, bĂȘtement, en termes de ressources et d’argent Ă  investir).

J’ai fini par comprendre qu’il fallait s’y prendre autrement. Etre un peu pragmatique. Donner aux gens ce qu’ils veulent, mĂȘme si on croit qu’il est dans leur meilleur intĂ©rĂȘt de faire directement autrement. C’est la technique du Cheval de Troie (un bon cheval, dans ce cas): oui, donner ce qui est demandĂ© initialement, mais sous une forme qui permet ensuite d’aller facilement dans la bonne direction.

Une petite digression/parenthĂšse Ă  ce sujet. C’est une stratĂ©gie qui fait un peu usage de manipulation — mais assez lĂ©gĂšre, explicite, et dans l’intĂ©rĂȘt du client. Elle est de cet ordre: c’est la diffĂ©rence entre demander “pouvez-vous SVP signer cette dĂ©charge qui nous autorise Ă  mettre des photos de vous prises Ă  cette fĂȘte sur internet” et dire “on va prendre des photos et les mettre sur internet, si cela vous pose un problĂšme, merci de nous contacter au plus vite.” Vous voyez l’idĂ©e? C’est comme une de mes amies/collĂšgues, qui rĂ©pondait, quand on lui demandait comment convaincre un employeur de nous laisser bloguer, en tant qu’employĂ©: “ne demandez pas; faites-le, faites-le intelligemment, et quand il commence Ă  y avoir des retours positifs, votre employeur verra de lui-mĂȘme que ce n’est pas dramatique, d’avoir un employĂ© qui blogue.” (Ce n’est pas une tactique garantie Ă  100% sĂ»re, mais elle a son mĂ©rite — on dit souvent “non” Ă  la nouveautĂ© un peu par principe ou par peur du changement, c’est une rĂ©action normale.)

Donc, quelle est l’idĂ©e? Pour une somme relativement modeste (contrairement Ă  d’autres solutions — avant de m’approcher, un de mes clients avait reçu une offre Ă  2500.- CHF pour un site statique de 5 pages, sans qu’il y ait d’exigeances particuliĂšres cĂŽtĂ© design!) je crĂ©e sous WordPress.com le site que dĂ©sire le client, avec un design “standard” quelque peu personnalisĂ© (logo, image d’en-tĂȘte), et le contenu que m’aura fourni le client.

Et c’est lĂ  que ça devient intĂ©ressant — et pour le client, et pour moi. Le client a son site, et **bonus**:

  • il peut le mettre Ă  jour lui-mĂȘme facilement (une fois qu’il a appris, ou bien s’il est dĂ©brouille)
  • le jour oĂč il dĂ©cide de se lancer dans l’aventure “blog”, c’est tout prĂȘt pour
  • s’il veut ajouter des pages, c’est facile et il peut le faire lui-mĂȘme
  • s’il dĂ©sire par la suite se payer un design “sur mesure”, il n’y a pas besoin de toucher au contenu (Corinne fait de trĂšs beaux thĂšmes WordPress, par exemple)
  • s’il veut Ă©tendre les fonctionnalitĂ©s du site, tout le contenu peut ĂȘtre migrĂ© sur une installation WordPress “serveur”, oĂč l’on peut installer des plugins ou faire tout ce qu’on veut.

Donc, site mis en place à bon marché, et trÚs évolutif.

En ce qui me concerne, si le client s’en tient lĂ  (je lui donne les codes d’accĂšs, voilĂ ) je m’y retrouve dĂ©jĂ : mettre en place un site avec du contenu qu’on me fournit est typiquement une prestation pour laquelle je suis payĂ©e plus pour mon expertise et mon expĂ©rience que pour le temps que j’y passe.

Si le client dĂ©sire aller plus loin, par exemple ĂȘtre formĂ© Ă  l’utilisation de l’outil (s’il ne s’y retrouve pas par lui-mĂȘme tout de suite), ĂȘtre coachĂ© pour amĂ©liorer le contenu ou en rajouter, dĂ©couvrir d’autres outils de communication en ligne… Eh bien, vous l’aurez devinĂ©, je me retrouve dans la situation formation/coaching dĂ©crite plus haut.

Et si le client dĂ©sire aller encore plus loin, j’envisage mĂȘme d’offrir des formules “accĂšs libre” (Martin nous expliquait lors de Going Solo qu’il faisait ça avec certains clients), oĂč le client paie une certaine somme par mois (Ă  nĂ©gocier) en Ă©change d’un accĂšs “illimitĂ©” Ă  mes services. J’ai mis des guillemets, parce que soyons rĂ©alistes, il faut tout de mĂȘme mettre un cadre (je ne deviens pas l’esclave de mon client!) mais cela lui donne la possibilitĂ© de faire appel Ă  moi pour sĂ©ances, coaching, dĂ©pannage, e-mails, tĂ©lĂ©phone, mises Ă  jour tant qu’il a besoin. La base de discussion pour le tarif d’un tel service sera la valeur qu’il a pour le client.

Donc, nous voilĂ  avec deux axes: coaching/formation (trĂšs large, “mieux comprendre et utiliser internet, tant du point de vue technique que stratĂ©gique”) et fabrication de sites web “simples” (sans fonctionnalitĂ©s nĂ©cessitant du dĂ©veloppement particulier).

Il y en a un troisiĂšme: les confĂ©rences. Que ce soit dans les Ă©coles ou bien ailleurs, c’est quelque chose que je fais depuis le dĂ©but de ma carriĂšre d’indĂ©pendante et pour lequel il y a une demande rĂ©guliĂšre. Je me dis que du cĂŽtĂ© des Ă©coles en particulier, je peux ĂȘtre sans difficultĂ© un peu plus proactive Ă  vendre mes services. Un petit explicatif A4 bien prĂ©sentĂ© que je pourrais faire circuler m’amĂšnerait sans doute plus de mandats de ce genre (jusqu’ici, je n’ai jamais fait aucune promotion pour ça, mis Ă  part annoncer sur mon site que je le faisais).

J’ai donnĂ© il y a un mois environ une sĂ©rie de confĂ©rences Ă  l’ISL — mĂȘme si ça faisait depuis fĂ©vrier que je n’avais pas parlĂ© sur le sujet, tout est allĂ© comme sur des roulettes et elles ont Ă©tĂ© extrĂȘmement bien reçues. Je note que ce ne sont plus les blogs qui prĂ©occupent les autoritĂ©s scolaires (en tous cas en milieu international), mais bien Facebook — un changement de nom, mais la problĂ©matique reste largement la mĂȘme. Je vais devoir me rebaptiser “experte Facebook” pour attirer leur attention 😉

Si vous m’avez lue jusqu’au bout, merci. C’Ă©tait un article un peu “au fil de mes pensĂ©es”, mais ça fait un moment que je rumine ça et je crois que j’avais besoin de le mettre par Ă©crit.

En parallĂšle, bien entendu, je continue ma vie d’entrepreneur avec Going Solo Leeds (12 Septembre) et les Ă©vĂ©nements Ă  suivre, organisĂ©s par Going Far (entreprise en cours de fabrication lĂ©gale… enfin un de ces jours). Je vais bientĂŽt me mettre Ă  la recherche d’un (ou une!) partenaire business, dans le genre “qui fait les choses et est orientĂ© vente” — toute une aventure dont je vous tiendrai au courant.

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Books That Changed My Life [en]

[fr] Une série de livres qui m'ont marquée.

Picked up on [Lifehacker](http://lifehacker.com/) (via [Feedly](http://feedly.com/), which I really like!), [What Books Have Changed Your Life?](http://lifehacker.com/397394/the-books-that-changed-your-lives) — so, off the top of my head, and way too late in the night to do any serious thinking/writing/linking, a bunch of books that were groundbreaking reads for me:

– The Web of Belief (Ullian & Quine)
– Emotional Intelligence (Goleman)
– Comment gĂ©rer les personnalitĂ©s difficiles (AndrĂ© & Lelord)
– Naked Conversations (Scoble & Israel)
– The Black Swan (Taleb)
– Getting Things Done (Allen)
– The Paradox of Choice (Schwartz)
– Buddhism Without Beliefs (Batchelor)
– India: A Million Mutinies Now (Naipaul)
– The Cluetrain Manifesto (Searls, Weinberger, Locke, Levine)

There are certainly more that I’m not thinking about now, and the list is certainly skewed towards these past years (the near past is always fresher in memory, and old changes tend to be forgotten). I could give an explanation for each of them… but some other time, maybe.

I read a lot of fiction, too — not just essay-like books. But I wouldn’t say that any work of fiction (that I can recall) really changed my life in a major way.

I might come back to this. Or I might not. Who knows?

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The Neighbour's Cat Won [en]

[fr] Morsure de chat. Pas mon chat: chat du voisin que j'ai acculĂ© (chez moi, pour le leur ramener) mĂȘme aprĂšs qu'il m'ait prĂ©venu Ă  grands coups de griffe qu'il Ă©tait trop paniquĂ© pour venir tranquillement. MoralitĂ©: les chats ont de longues dents pointues et ne se les lavent pas.

**Thanks to everybody for their sympathy and wishes of speedy recovery!**

The Neighbour's Cat Won

Not much typing. Cat bite. Details later. Nice cat. Not Bagha. Silly Steph.

Some details.

Friday Update:

Cat Bite Update

Infected. Another appointment tonight. I hope they don’t leave me in this huge splint too long. Can’t do anything!

**Friday night update:**

It Just Gets Better...

Left arm: infected cat bite. They have long sharp canines and don’t like being cornered in a strange place by a strange person. Splint that forbids any use of my hand — will stick around for at least another 2-3 days.

Right arm: catheter. I had 3 doses of antibiotic through IV over the last 24 hours, and am headed for at least that many over the week-end. There are only so many veins in the arm you can stick needles in.

Now, we hope the long canine didn’t go deep enough to infect the bone — or I’m looking at 4-6 weeks of treatment.

Fingers crossed, everybody, please.

**Video Update:** the story and more details.

How it happened:

The consequences:

**Sunday morning update: I can haz fingers!**

I Can Haz Fingerz!

Still got the catheter, though it hurts less now the tap is on the outside of my forearm.

Great improvement: fingers on my left hand! I can type somewhat! Things are taking a good turn. Thumb joint still very painful, so I’m a little worried it could be inflamed/infected — but gosh, does it feel good to have part of my hand back.

**Sunday evening news: good!**

**Monday update: shower!**

From now onwards, things are on the right track. I can remove my splint if I like, infection seems gone, but it’s still inflamed. So, I can type and do most of what one expects to do with two hands, just a bit slower and more painfully.

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End-Of-Travel Musings [en]

[fr] Peu de photos, d'articles, ou encore de vidéos de mon mois de voyage en Irlande, au Texas, et à San Francisco. Thierry trouve dommage, mais pas moi. J'apprends à prendre la vie un peu plus à la légÚre, à ne pas me mettre sous pression plus que nécessaire pour tirer toujours le maximum de profit de tout ce que je fais, tout ce que je vois, tout ce que je visite, chaque personne que je rencontre. A force de documenter sa vie, on court le risque d'oublier de la vivre.

Retour de San Francisco le coeur un peu lourd, car j'aime cet endroit et il abrite des gens qui me sont chers, mais heureuse de rentrer Ă  Lausanne, que j'adore, et de revoir mon chat, bĂȘtement. J'ai appris Ă  "lĂącher prise" concernant mon rĂ©seau social Ă©clatĂ©, Ă  moitiĂ© en ligne, et dispersĂ© aux quatre coins de la planĂšte. On se recroisera, je le sais. Dans une confĂ©rence, lors de mes voyages ou des vĂŽtres. On est Ă  quelques clics de souris en ligne, jamais trĂšs loin. On est partout, au fond.

These two weeks here in San Francisco have been really nice. I got to relax and catch up with some friends (not all of them, unfortunately, and some less than I wanted to), make a few new ones, and also make good progress in the work department. I caught up with most of the stuff I’d fallen behind with during the previous month (stress and travel), and amongst other things, this means that [Going Solo is now ready to accept sponsorships](http://going-solo.net/2008/03/26/be-a-going-solo-sponsor/). It’s also time for us to strike up some media partnerships — get in touch if you’re interested. For media partnerships: [email protected] — that’s me! — and for sponsorships, [email protected] — Lily Yacobi is managing sponsor relations (she’s great!).

My travels started in a rather intense manner, with BlogTalk in Cork and SXSW in Austin. Two conferences back-to-back, one presentation on a new topic to speak about for me, two panel moderations (I’d never moderated a panel before), and a conversation to co-host (great format, by the way). Lots of people, new and known, two 2-hour nights before even landing in the US — I can tell you I reached Austin in a sorry state. Thank goodness I had a little halt in Dallas (thanks again, Adam!) to help me land.

[As I mentioned](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/03/14/conference-experience-evolution-and-the-paradox-of-choice/), the solution I found to survive SXSW without burning out was to keep a low profile and go with the flow. I kept that up somewhat in San Francisco: not too many plans, low expectations on what I wanted to accomplish, no frantic blogging/photographing/visiting/videoing. Some people [think it’s a shame](http://seesmic.com/v/9GNlZx3cPG), but I don’t.

Sometimes documenting your life can get in the way of living it, and I know that the pressure I put upon myself to “make the most” out of every occasion, every trip, every conference, every visit, every relationship, and simply every moment of life is wearing me down. I’ve been learning, over the past six months, that I need to cut myself some slack. Miss out on things.

So this trip, I hardly took any photos. I didn’t do any tourism. I stuck with what and who I knew, mainly. There is a whole bunch of people and businesses I regret not seeing/visiting (have I said it enough), but I don’t regret pacing my life so that I can leave here more rested than I arrived, and less stressed.

[Going Solo](http://going-solo.net) is a lot of work, but though I have a great [team of advisors and helpers](http://going-solo.net/about/), I remain the only one in charge, and I’m slowly learning how to delegate. Delegating is not something I’m familiar with or ever really had to do in my life, so I’m learning the skill — and it’s not easy for me. In the end, I end up with the feeling that I’m carrying too much weight on my shoulders, and that giving some of it to others creates even more. (See the idea?) Not to be dramatic, it’s a great experience and I think I’m doing well with it — it’s just not a trip to the beach (who would have thought that!?)

So, here I am, terminal A of San Francisco airport, at the Firewood Grill, where they make pretty decent cheeseburgers. I’ve eaten here before, I remember, a bit over a year ago after [my first trip to San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/12/im-really-liking-san-francisco/) “in this life”. I like the music they’re playing on the radio, and I’m trying to sort through the mixed feelings in me.

I’m looking forward to going home, of course. I’m very attached to my hometown, as many of you have noticed, and whenever I’m away, I miss my cat a lot. It’s silly, but oh well. My brother will be home too, after a year spent in South America. It will be good to see him again.

But I’m leaving San Francisco with a heavy heart, too. I’m leaving behind the sunshine and people who are dear to me, as well as a community (however you want to understand that word) which means I get to bump into people I know when I go to parties. This happens in Lausanne, too, of course — bumping into people I know. Lausanne is a small village. But strangely, the San Francisco geekworld seems even smaller. And I like it. To state the obvious, “things are happening” here and it’s nice to be around. I like the city, too — even if I sometimes struggle a bit with the differences in culture between here and where I grew up and live.

I think I’ve become more relaxed about when I’ll see people again. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I will be. I’ll bump into you at a conference, or at a geek dinner somewhere when we’re both travelling. Maybe we didn’t get to say goodbye, but we’re just a few keystrokes away online anyway — so is it really that important? I don’t know what my life will be like in a year, and neither do you, probably. We live and work in this fast-changing world, somewhere on the edge, and we eat [Black Swans](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/15/reading-the-black-swan/) for breakfast.

We’re everywhere.

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Stalling [en]

[fr] Trop à faire. 5 jours avant mon départ pour prÚs de 4 semaines, et les priorités sont toutes conflictuelles. Aaaah! (Mais bon, je me connais, je vais m'en sortir.)

Gosh, I haven’t published in ages. Scary. I’m stalling. Too much to do, too little time, not sure where to start. Well, life is deciding for me, because I have 5 days left before departing on a nearly 4-week trip, and there is only so much one can do in 5 days. So, some news and some thoughts.

– [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net): things are good. 25% of tickets sold in less than a week. [Video of my speech](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/21/open-stage-speech-video-online/) finally made it online. Don’t miss [Early Bird price until March 16th](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/21/earlier-bird-is-gone-say-hello-to-early-bird/). In one word: [register](http://going-solo.net/register/). Reminder: stay up-to-date on Going Solo by subscribing to [the Going Solo blog](http://going-solo.net/) or the [Going Solo Twitter feed](http://twitter.com/goingsolo) — much better source of news than CTTS.
– 5 [talks/things](http://stephanie-booth.com/en/speaking/) in less than two weeks. A talk for [parents of teenagers](http://stephanie-booth.com/fr/conferences/) in neighbouring France Thursday evening. A session at [WebCamp SNP](http://webcamp.org/SocialNetworkPortability). A [panel to moderate](http://2008.blogtalk.net/programme/socialmediapanel) at BlogTalk. Co-hosting a [core conversation at SXSW](http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels_schedule/?action=show&id=IAP060453) and [moderating another panel](http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels_schedule/?action=show&id=IAP060434) (both [multilingual stuff](/focus/multilingual/)). I should blog about these more in detail. And more importantly, I have quite a bit of homework to do to prepare the four last ones. And I’m a bit anxious about how moderating panels will go — never done that before.
– travel: Cork (Ireland), Dallas-Austin (Texas), San Francisco. That means I need to sort some stuff out before I leave for nearly a month (clean the flat, do some paperwork, pay bills, see people). I’m going to have to pack <shudder> — and I still need to unpack. I’ll be in San Francisco for two weeks, so maybe I want to organise a dinner or something there. I’ll be distributing Going Solo moo cards all along my journey. I’m apprehensive about all this travel. I don’t want to go. I want to stay here, curled up on the sofa, with the cat purring next to me. But I’m looking forward to seeing people I like.
– work to do for Going Solo: not the least, unfortunately. Sort out the programme. Get back to all the people who sent in speaker proposals. Get sponsor/partner documentation and contracts sorted out so that the partners waiting in the lobby can be let in. Promote, promote. Worry about WiFi a bit more. Happily, video filming, venue set-up and design, and some offline promotion do not depend entirely on me. Prepare a “dossier de presse”. Finish rounding up media partners. Promote, promote.
– blogging: posts piling up in my head. About books I’ve read or am reading: The Paradox of Choice, A Perfect Mess (got a post brewing about GTD and messiness), and The Black Swan of course. Need more time to read. More time to write. Can’t keep up.
– misc: photos to upload, podcast to edit, other sites to update, e-mails to answer (I’m far from zero right now), plants to water, a life to live…

This roughly sums up where I’m at right now.

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Busy! [en]

[fr] Je cours, je cours! Pas mal de nouveau sur le site de Going Solo. J'espĂšre mettre les billets en vente dĂšs mercredi!

Gosh, have I been busy these last weeks. My “one post a day minimum” resolution kind of evaporated when I started [running all around town](http://going-solo.net/2008/01/21/venue-stories/) looking at venues for Going Solo.

Well, [we have a venue](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/04/the-venue/) now, and today I spent a fair amount of time playing with [Expectnation](http://expectnation.com) to try and get it ready to [open registration](http://going-solo.net/registration/) less than two days from now (fingers crossed).

We also have
badges to display in your sidebar (thanks, [Carlos](http://design.osez.ch/)!) and [more content on the Going Solo site](http://going-solo.net/2008/02/04/more-like-an-event-site/). [Pulled the badges after some feedback. New ones soon!]

I also seem to have found our fourth speaker, which I’m quite excited about (no, not telling — both parties are going to chew on it a little before we make it offical).

Now, I just need to sleep, prepare my [workshop](http://www.liftconference.com/get-started-blogging), rehearse my [Open Stage speech](http://www.liftconference.com/going-solo-being-freelancer-connected-world), announce the Lausanne [blogging seminar](http://stephanie-booth.com/fr/particuliers/initiation/) for 26th February and figure out how to market it.

Uh-oh! Night night everybody.

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Christmas [en]

[fr] Quelques rĂ©flexions au sujet de NoĂ«l -- des grandes fĂȘtes de mon enfance avec tous les cousins jusqu'aux fĂȘtes plus intimes des familles fragmentĂ©es d'aujourd'hui.

Pour une fois, je ne suis pas stressĂ©e par les cadeaux de NoĂ«l. Je m'y suis prise "Ă  l'avance" (dĂšs jeudi au lieu de tout le 24), et j'ai mĂȘme pris plaisir Ă  choisir du joli paper d'emballage.

Les publications frĂ©nĂ©tiques sur ce blog ne reprendront sans doute pas avant la fin des fĂȘtes de NoĂ«l.

Joyeux NoĂ«l Ă  tous. Prenez le temps d'ĂȘtre avec ceux qui vous sont chers.

As a kid, I used to like Christmas. It was a chance to get together with all my cousins, uncles and aunts, eat nice food, light the Christmas tree and distribute presents. I like to think we are a family which didn’t go overboard with presents. A CD, a book, a nice vase, a jumper, or a couple of beautiful candles — sometimes bigger presents from parents to children, obviously, but overall, I’m pretty proud of us, looking back.

As I grew older and the “next generation” of kids started arriving (and we became proper adults), the annual Christmas gathering broke up into smaller parts. I don’t see my cousins at Christmas any more. We all celebrate in our smaller, nuclear families.

Then there are break-ups, divorces, and more fragmentation.

My brother and I get two Christmas parties nowadays. One with my dad and “his” side of the family, and a similar one with my stepmum. Four-five people, smaller than the gatherings of my childhood, but cosy. Sometimes, these small family gatherings seem a better site for tensions between individuals to surface — but maybe this has more to do with me being an adult now than the size of the group. As a child, one isn’t always aware of all that is going on in the “grown-up world”.

So, overall, I like Christmas — even if over the last years there have been some parties which have not turned out as fun as we hoped.

The one thing I don’t like is shopping for Christmas presents.

I don’t like the commercial overload one is subjected to in the shops. I don’t like the fact that there are too many people. And I don’t like the fact that usually, I leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, and have to find/buy my presents in a rush on the 24th before going to the party in the evening.

This year, things are different.

I decided to start early. “Early”, for me, means that I went Christmas shopping two days ago, on Thursday. I bought a couple of presents. I went again yesterday. Bought another few presents. And today: a few more.

The result of all this is that I had a nice time walking around town, looking at things in shops (which is something I like doing!), bumping into friends (because particularly around Christmas, Lausanne is a little village), choosing presents, and even buying pretty wrapping paper and cards.

Even my sprained big toe last night at judo hasn’t managed to make me feel stressed about these pre-Christmas times.

There isn’t much blogging here these days as you’ve noticed, as I’m spending a fair amount of time away from the computer — but no fear: I still have a pile of posts to write “asap”, ideas, and energy to keep things going. Might just have to wait until after Christmas, though.

Merry Christmas everyone. Enjoy your time with those you hold dear. Remember it’s about love.

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Reading The Black Swan [en]

[fr] Notes de lecture de "The Black Swan", sur l'impact des événements hautement improbables.

One of the things I did yesterday during my time offline was read a sizeable chunk of [The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable](http://www.amazon.com/Black-Swan-Impact-Highly-Improbable/dp/1400063515) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

It’s a fascinating read. (Thanks again to Adam Hill for saying I should read it.) I just find myself a little frustrated that I can’t effortlessly copy-paste quotes from the book into a text file or [my Tumblr](http://steph.tumblr.com) as I read. (And no, I wouldn’t want to be reading this online. I like books. They just lack a few features. Like searchability, too.)

Anyway, I’ve been [twittering away](http://twitter.com/stephtara) while I read, and here are a few things I noted. These are not exact quotes, but paraphrases. Consider them “reading notes.” (And then a few me-quotes, hehe…).

– oh, [one quote](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/15618111) I did copy to [Tumblr](http://steph.tumblr.com) (check it, if you’re lucky, you might find more quotes!)
– Finding Taleb’s concepts of Mediocristan and Extremistan fascinating and insightful.
– Probably in Extremistan: number of contacts, length of relationships? Not sure.
– High-impact, low-probability events (Black Swans) are by nature unpredictable. Now apply that to the predator problem.
– We confuse ‘no evidence of possible Black Swans’ with ‘evidence of no possible Black Swans’ and tend to remember the latter.
– ‘No evidence of disease’ often interpreted as ‘Evidence of no disease’, for example.
– Taleb: in testing for a hypothesis, we tend to look for confirmation and ignore what would invalidate it.
– Interesting: higher dopamine = greater vulnerability to pattern recognition (less suspension of disbelief)
– So… Seems we overestimate probability of black swans when we talk about them. Terrorism, predators, plane crashes… And ignore others.
– Anecdotes sway us more than abstract statistical information. (Taleb)
– That explains why personal recommendations have so much influence on our decisions. Anecdotes, rather than more abstract facts or stats. (That’s from me, not him.)
– Journalists according to Taleb: ‘industrial producers of the distortion’

**Update:** [Anne Zelenka wrote a blog post](http://www.annezelenka.com/2007/10/tell-me-a-story-but-tell-me-the-truth) taking the last and, unfortunately, quite incomplete citation as a starting-point. Check [my clarification comment on her blog](http://www.annezelenka.com/2007/10/tell-me-a-story-but-tell-me-the-truth#comment-1713). And here’s [the complete quote](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/15691134):

> Remarkably, historians and other scholars in the humanities who need to understand silent evidence the most do not seem to have a name for it (and I looked hard). As for journalists, fuhgedaboutdit! They are industrial producers of the distortion. (p. 102)

**Update 2:** Anne edited her post to take into account my comment and our subsequent discussion. Thanks!

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Childhood — A Passing Thought [en]

[fr] Pour la plupart d'entre nous, les années de vie adulte surpasseront le nombre de celles de notre enfance. Pourtant, ce sont principalement nos années d'enfance qui nous rendent nous.