permalink.gif 2004-09-28

permalink.gif Eels away

Tue Sep 28 21:20:45 BST 2004  Permalink 

I've just finished reading Wolfgang Hirschfields The Secret Diary of a U-Boat.  This is a remarkable book both because of it's content and because it is unusual.  Keeping such a diary was a court-martial offence so not many did.  Hirschfield being a telegraphist had the advantage of being able to hide his in the signal logs.

Hirschfield seems very honest in his approach to reporting submarine warfare as experienced by those in the boats.  Imagine Das Boot only more so. He details several war patrols U-109 under her captains Fischer and later 'AJAX' Bleichrodt  His position gave him unusual access to the workings of the boat and how decisions were made.  He is also very perceptive about the men around him.

It makes for a fascinating story.

permalink.gif Hey! Hey! The gangs all here!

Tue Sep 28 21:03:38 BST 2004  Permalink 

[Weblog On]. It's been more than a year since I have posted items here regularly. Things happened, priorities changed, and life just generally got in the way. There is an ebb and flow to life. The major components rarely change, but their relative position often does. Such is the case with weblogging.


The initial purpose of this site was to serve as a platform for experimentation, examination, and learning. Hence, the tagline. I focused on other things for a while, but it feels good to begin the journey back.

As another of the newly returned dead (Zombie Blogger?) I am happy to be able say: Welcome back twf!

permalink.gif Interests may go up as well as down

Tue Sep 28 20:50:26 BST 2004  Permalink 

I wrote yesterday that I was thinking about ways of modelling interests over time. Today Julian gave me a great suggestion: That I should look at modelling interests as stocks, as he put it:
Is there some king of stocks and flows model that would work here?

Model a given topic as a "stock".

Time spent thinking about the topic, effort expended on it etc. etc. drive the input "flow"

You could have a time-based outflow, perhaps with an exponential to model some kind of half life.

Probably the behaviour this doesn't easily model is when a new set of interests completely and suddenly displace the old - this might lead you more to chaos / complexity and thinking of interests as peaks (or troughs) on a fitness surface...
Excellent ideas. Thank you Julian!

permalink.gif Helping mayflies on the web

Tue Sep 28 09:21:53 BST 2004  Permalink 

Time in blogging: catching a moment to write.

There is at least one nice effect of not being able to blog a conference: bits and pieces start to merge revealing underlying themes, turning reporting into reflecting.

This time it's about time. Somehow different things get together: BlogWalk discussion on time to reflect and to write, AOIR session on time and responsiveness, Jill's talk about time as one dimention of distributed narratives, time of not being able to blog, time to process blog post piling up in my news aggregator...

I guess I'll do a couple of posts. This one is about time in writing a weblog.

Alex Halavais on not blogging (and go there to read the rest and to see new t-shirt of Professor Walker :)

During one of the sessions on the last day of the conference, Nancy Baym, president of AIR, suggested that someone was going to set up a web page with postings related to the conference. This followed her request at one of the keynotes that people write up their notes and post them to the AIR-L list. I noted that Lilia had already set up a Topic Exchange channel to collect bloggers' thoughts. At the end of the conference, I ran into Nancy again at Falmer Station. She noted that most of the posts so far were just complaining about the lack of access. "Don't worry," I said, "when people get back to somewhere with access they'll post." As I watched her cross over to the other platform, I thought: what a stupid thing to say.

When people get back to wherever they are going, chances are good that their minds will have switched gears and they will have more current things to post about. I am sitting on notes not only about AIR (which I will post since they are required reading for a class I’m teaching), but on notes from a conference on Informatics a week earlier. Blogging, as a practice, tends for many people to be off the cuff, and the values of timeliness that apply to journalists everywhere apply even moreso to bloggers; we operate on a 30 minute news cycle. I think it's fair to assume that under those conditions, most people won't post-post the conference.

Thinking about my own experiences I guess Alex is right: time is crucial. Being able to blog real-time (even almost real-time: no wifi, but connection during breaks) changes my motivation to write, adding a flavour of instant gratification of "serving the world" with current news that makes me writing a bit more, a bit better and investing in finishing posts.

It's different when I can't post. I still make notes, but do not spend time making them into something more or less finished, they pile up, I hope to work them out later, but it doesn't happen often. I guess there are two reasons:

  • Lack of discipline. When "instant gratification" is not there it's about discipline (which is not my strongest point :).
  • It's also about making an effort of delaying new things that come and wait for your attention. Like now, I feel like finishing and posting my notes from AOIR, but there are other things to do, so I'll be lucky if I manage to write an overview of most important things (fingers crossed: if it doesn't happen within next few days the time is lost).

There is another aspect of being able to blog. For me blogging is as much about releasing my own brain from ideas by articulating them as about reporting interesting news to others. I blog bits and pieces of ideas to get rid of them on the path to what I want to do in the moment.

For example, now I really want to work on a paper on personal KM, but I have all these ideas about time, weblog research and corporate blogging on the way. I don't want to lose them and I can't switch to something else when they are still on my mental radar (so much that I woke up with ideas for blog posts :), so I'm blogging instead of working on the paper. In this case blogging is pretty much similar to filing things into 43 folders so they get out of your way :)


I'm sitting on notes, which I promised to publish, from two Gurteen Knowledge conferences.

I hate to say it but the reason I haven't published them is that they've never made it high enough priority on my priority list.  There has always seemed to be something more important until they got buried and forgotten (until now).  Priority management & time management have long been issues for me.  The 43 Folders link was useful in reminding me that I have David Allens useful book and can go back to it at any time.

I often think that what I need is an assistant.  Someone who can can share the burden of tasks which I think are important but not urgent (what Coveys calls Quadrant 2).  I can't afford an assistant though.

Here's a silly idea:  We could all offer to volunteer a blogger friend one hour a week of our time to do important tasks that they can't get around to.