Listening to @informative talk about content strategy at the WordPress meetup tonight. The approach of first considering what questions your content has to answer seems particularly useful for support documentation. By laying the groundwork for questions first, it makes the writing more effective.
There are experiments and then there are…well…I’m not really sure what this is. It’s so off-putting I want to think it’s a mistake. Unfortunately it’s likely the future, or something.
You can’t consume something you don’t understand, no matter how elegantly it’s presented. Further, you won’t even get the opportunity to consume it unless you hear about it from someone who speaks your language.
Robin Sloan’s case for more translation on the web.
The gorgeous view from our house in Lisbon. The weather’s a nice change from Portland too.
Got back in to town last night and am heading to Lisbon for a weeklong meetup with my wonderful team at Automattic. It’s going to be a blast!
It’s almost 7 years old now but through the show notes of a Back to Work episode I ran across this interview Merlin Mann did with David Allen in 2006. It’s a compilation of 8 short conversations they had about everything from procrastination to priorities. 1
Something David said about work in general really struck me as interesting:
Most people haven’t acknowledged that their process is as much their work as anything else.
He also makes an interesting point about procrastination. We generally take procrastination to mean plainly not doing something. As David put it, though:
Procrastination isn’t just about not doing. It’s about not doing and feeling bad about it.
The point is that if you’re putting something off because you have more important and meaning full tasks to do in the meantime then it’s not procrastination, it’s life. The gut feeling of “Oh man, I should really get to this…tomorrow” is the issue as it’s your brain acknowledging that you should start on a task but you’re just not. Frequently that’s because you haven’t concretely defined the next step.
One of the concepts of GTD is ubiquitous capture. Basically the idea that you commit every note, idea, and task to paper or digital tools. As David put it later in the interview, “The mind is for having ideas, not for holding them.” The problem is that truly capturing everything is hard. So most people assume a buffet-style middle ground will work. To paraphrase how David Allen discussed this: Either your head is where you keep things or its not. There is no in-between or middle ground. Do all of GTD or none of it. Otherwise the process and tools won’t do you any good.
There was a portion toward the end, too, where David riffs on the role of attention and your mind:
What has your attention?…If you don’t pay attention to what has your attention it will take more of your attention than it deserves.
Really great series of interviews that are well worth a listen.
This is digital dualism, but it’s also determinism at work. It hears all this enthusiasm about connection as about the social networking platforms themselves – “yay blog!’ or “yay Twitter!” – and not about the connections and actions and forms of identity that those networked environments make possible.
Determinism reduces conversation about social networks to a conversation about platforms and tech, not about people and the ways in which they intersect with those platforms and tech to create new possibilities. It effectively mutes those latter parts of the conversation; refuses them admittance. It insists that a conversation about technologies’ effects is a conversation about the technologies themselves.
Really interesting points about how we converse about technologies and their effects.
I listened to the Long Now Foundation lecture from Benjamin Barber this afternoon. The lecture, titled “If Mayors Ruled the World,” is an interesting look at the growth and power of cities that I’d highly recommend listening to. I took a few scattered notes below. Enjoyed this a lot more than his book, Strong Democracy, that I read in college.
Around 40 minutes in there’s a section on global city growth that is fascinating. The stats he cites are mind-blowing, particular those around Chinese cities.
One of the main discussion points in the lecture is whether states or cities are more capable of governing on the global stage. Barber answers it by saying,
States cannot govern globally, that much is clear. Cities can and are.
As part of this cities must come to rely upon each other more directly as that’s the path to security and sustainability. To do this, though:
Cities cannot wait for states to figure out the meaning of interdependence.
In the Q&A he talks about Singapore’s subsidized home ownership process. It’s a pretty interesting idea that’s counter to how the US has approached affordable housing. In Singapore, the city basically subsidizes the construction and ownership of apartments instead of just their rental. What Barber describes this as doing is creating a wide group of stakeholders in the city’s future.
Toward the end of the Q&A Barber talks about why mayors don’t move on to more national government positions as frequently as one might expect. As he put it, “Ideology has very little to do with running a city.” Many mayors are more politically independent and, thus, don’t succeed as well on the national stage, where success is more determined by adherence to party line.