Tag Archives: blogging

don’t blog

to “compete” with others.

There are great reasons to blog – but there are also lousy ones to do it.

If you’re writing because you’re trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, so to speak, you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t blog because others do. Don’t blog because others do it better. Blog because you want to. Blog because you have something to say. Blog to learn.

But don’t blog to compete. It’s a game you’ll never “win”.

deadline by mira grant

I read Feed (review) a few weeks ago, and just finished the 2d installment in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, Deadline. The frenetic pace of book 1 was upped a level in book 2 (along with some more language).

Mira is a fantastic author, and I cannot wait to read Blackout (it’s on my library queue).

“You know why corporate espionage keeps happening, no matter how bad they make the penalties for getting caught? … People stop caring. Once you reach the point where you’re working with more people than can comfortably go for drinks together, folks stop giving as much of a shit.”

“There’s always been something nasty waiting around the corner to kill us, but … [t]his constant ‘stay inside and let yourself be protected’ mentality has gotten more people killed than all the accidental exposures in the world. It’s like we’re addicted to being afraid.”

“It never pays to insult computers that are smart enough to form sentences. Not when they’re in control of the locks, and especially not when they have the capacity to boil you in bleach”

feed by mira grant

After some time of not reading fiction, I saw Mira Grant’s Feed recently in a store, checked my local library, and reserved a copy.

Now I need to read Deadline and Blackout. Grant’s writing, while typically female in style (first person dialog – both inner and outer, and the main character is a girl), does not confine its audience to needing to be female to fully enjoy it. I’ve read (or tried to read) many female-authored stories that are intensely difficult for me to really get into because it’s largely internal dialog in the female protagonist’s mind. I’m not a girl, and what ramblings are conveyed don’t jive with my brain 🙂

Exceptions to the rule have only come from Stephanie Meyer (The Host), Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games trilogy), and one other that I purchased in Britain several years ago but whose name escapes me.

Back to Feed. Our heroes are an adopted brother and sister, Georgia and Shaun, and their tech friend Buffy. They’re all bloggers with licenses to travel into contaminated areas (ie, where zombies are freely roaming), but all blog differently – Georgia is a Newsie, Shaun is an Irwin, and Buffy a Fictional – so they report the news in an objective fashion as possible; educate by “poking things with a stick”; and write poems, stories, etc based on their type of blogging.

After a short introduction to our main crew, the backdrop of being selected to blog Senator Ryman’s presidential campaign in the substantially-post-zombified world of 2040 (the Rising happened in 2014) is the main setting.

Interestingly, Grant uses references to other pop culture zombie portrayals (including ample nods to George A Romero who more-or-less created the ‘ideal’ zombie world we all love today with his groundbreaking work in Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, and Diary of the Dead, and which is also typified in AMC’s TV production of The Walking Dead (also a graphic novel series)). This is unlike perhaps any other horror/scifi writer I have ever seen before: she uses those stories to exemplify both “what we got right”, and “what we got wrong” in her universe.

If you’re queasy at the thought of flesh-eating zombies roaming the world, don’t read Feed. (Also don’t read World War Z – another of my favorites). If, however, you love a good whodunit, and are intrigued by the backdrop of a man-made-but-survivable apocalypse, go read Feed.

I’ll tell you how the rest of the trilogy is after I’ve finished them.

organizational knowledge capture, retention, and dissemination

Knowledge capture, retention, and dissemination has been an interest of mine for a long time. I have written about various aspects of it before.

The most vital commodity any organization has is the knowledge of its members – it does not matter if it is a historical society, company, church, or school: the organizational knowledge base is vital to ongoing health of the organization.

I love the picture of the “Tree of Wisdom“: at the ground there is a meadow of data, from this data information roots are gathered, the roots grow into knowledge branches, and at the end is the application of that knowledge in wisdom leaves.

Data is easy to come by.

Information similarly so.

Knowledge, taking information and transforming it into a more-usable form, is important.

When to apply that knowledge – aka using wisdom – is the topic for another post.

Capturing Knowledge

There are a host of available tools for capturing knowledge – text files, brown bags, PowerPoint, SharePoint, blogs, Plone, wikis, etc. The “best” one to use is the one you use.


Getting team members to contribute to organizational knowledge pools can be difficult – unless it is an organizational priority .. a part of the organization’s culture.

Incorporating this culture switch (if it’s not already innate to the organization) needs to be done not merely as a top-down directive, but encouraged via bottom-up interest.

Retaining (Managing) Knowledge

Now that you’ve captured (or started capturing) the organization’s data, managing it becomes the next task of import.

For example, should the KB article written 5 years ago be updated, replaced, or left alone?

Who is responsible for managing all of the information that has been collected? Will it be self-managed and -directed, will there be a curation team, will it be a combination?

Who determines the process for taking “internal” knowledge and “promoting” it to “outside” knowledge?

How are these roles going to be managed as the team changes memberships through people leaving, entering, and shifting in the organization?

For extremely small organizations, formal curation may be unnecessary. Perhaps since everyone knows everyone else, or the knowledge domain is so small, everyone’s individual contributions will remain fairly static and the “promotion” path will merely be proofreading (eg a historical society’s archives – the archives may be extensive, but the material doesn’t ‘change’ all that much (excepting being added-to, of course)).

For very big organizations (like the MSDN documentation available on microsoft.com), many layers of curation are likely going to be needed – proofreading, formatting, verifying, etc.

Finding the right balance of self-direction and organizational management can be tricky.

Disseminating Knowledge – Getting The Word Out

All of the captured knowledge in the world is useless if you can’t find it – and knowing where to look is vital. A close second to knowing where to look is how to find it.

Where is it?

There needs to be a solid document, landing page, directory, table of contents, etc so that new members (or folks who forget) can find the tribal knowledge that exists in the organization.

As a part of the new-hire\introduction\etc process\period, be sure to tell new members where information can be found, and who to talk to about certain major topics.

Finding it once you know where to look

“Search is a hard problem.” Google’s own Udi Manber said that. Anna Paterson at Stanford wrote, “Writing Your Own Search Engine Is Hard.”

Search in general may be hard, but many tools handle at least basic (and some fuzzy) searching well – OSQA, WordPress, Plone, Drupal, and many others. If, in addition to categorization, a tag taxonomy is employed, quickly finding content relevant to the searcher’s wants\needs can become easier.

“A tag is a keyword or label that categorizes your question with other, similar questions. Using the right tags makes it easier for others to find and answer your question.” {SO description}

Knowledge contributors should be the primary agents of tagging. However, consumers should be able to suggest additional tags. Administrators\curators should be able (under unusual, but well-defined, circumstances) to remove tags.

The human factor

For any given topic / knowledge region in the organization’s realm, there need to be established “experts” and “mentors” who will help guide new individuals through the fog to locate the buoys to be able to navigate themselves into a clearer understanding of the new world they have been made a part of.

Apprenticing upcoming experts into the organization is the single most vital aspect of the knowledge capture process – if it is not disseminated, it doesn’t matter if it is captured.

why blog

There are myriad reasons to blog. However, the biggest reason should be because you want to. You feel there is something you need to share with others, and that the best way of doing that is via your blog. Maybe it’s a collection of recipes, maybe it’s a series of tutorials, maybe it’s mindless ramblings – but there should always be a reason to share what you’re about to write.

The benefits of blogging can be myriad:

  • connect with new people
  • get feedback on ideas
  • engage in discussion
  • learn to write better
  • finding new opportunities
  • keeping up with your friends
  • educating others
  • and more

But no benefit can come if you don’t have your reason to write and share.

My reasons to share (not exhaustive):

  • personal reference to difficult problems
  • showcasing personal projects / achievements
  • sharing my views on work, politics, etc
  • keep friends and family updated on what’s “new”
  • reminder of where I’ve been
  • thoughts on where I’d like to be

What are your reasons?