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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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New Year; New Resolutions; New Approaches

NB: As a rule, I try and avoid the circular pitfalls of blogging about blogging – fimoculous sums it up nicely. However, this post touches on additional points so,  as it is a new year, I’ll make an exception.

My New Year’s resolutions are usually disappointing normal – drink less, exercise more and so on. For 2009, I have a different (additional) resolution that I hope I can do a better job at sticking with.

My resolution is to read and write less, better.

Reading

In addition to newspapers, magazines, social networks and bookmarked websites, I subscribe to 202 RSS feeds – reading roughly 2,600 items in the last 30 days (which is down from a high of around 3,300 at one point) according to my Google Reader trends.

This is far too many items.

To overcome this ocean of information, I skim; I parse; I bookmark, never to return. Reading lots doesn’t equate to being well read. How much of this information is actually processed?

So, I’m attempting to change my reading habits through:

  • Blocking time out to focus specifically on reading. I have a terrible tendency to refresh pages and habitually check for updates. It is partly this snacking culture that prompted Nicholas Carr to ask if Google is making us stupid. Will deep reading improve my recall?
  • Using the first three paragraphs (or so) as a barometer. If it isn’t grabbing me, I will stop reading rather than skim through the remainder
  • Focusing my reading subjects. There are many great blogs out there and it is important to have diverse influences, but it is more important to prioritise. So, less of the “nice to know” (SEO is interesting, but it is something I am unlikely to ever do) and the “echo chamber” (I’m well aware of the benefits of Twitter) and a greater emphasis on relevance and innovative ideas. Ultimately, I don’t need to know everything; ignorance in certain areas can be beneficial
  • Bookmarking pages  without reading them. They will contribute to my second point of reference after Wikipedia, without eating into my time. I’m already up to nearly 3,000 items – perhaps growth will be exponential
  • Making written notes on the key passages/insights I read. I am slightly sceptical about this – I’m aware that writing notes can assist recall, but I’m not convinced that it will be time-effective in that I will inevitably make more notes that I will ever need

This “less but better” approach to reading will create conscious and unconscious spillovers into my writing.

Writing

This is a personal blog written in my personal time. Unlike other bloggers, this (sadly) isn’t inextricably linked to my day job. By day, I report and analyse facts related to the business. By night I speculate and opinionate on everything and anything.  These aren’t mutually exclusive but it does mean that I cannot really justify blogging during office hours.

I do not yet know if deeper reading will create or consume more of my spare time. I believe the best form of learning is doing, followed by reading and then by writing (for me, writing formalises rather than creates). As such, I may have less time for writing.

When this blog started, I set out to write at least two posts a week, with the majority under 600 words. I’ve kept this up (even if one post a week was a list of links), but occasionally at the expense of quality – pressing publish before I was happy, or writing about something for the sake of it.

Inspired by Merlin Mann‘s words here and here, I will change this. I will only publish something that I think can be of value when I am satisfied – whatever the length. Maths fans may note that more time per post plus less spare time equals fewer postings. But this may not be the case – I could postpone watching my West Wing box set if needs be.

(Link updates should still appear weekly – though changes to my reading habits may affect their content. As to whether they become less esoteric, fewer in frequency or higher in quality, who knows? I am increasingly using Twitter for recommendations and diverting the more random links to my Tumblr account, so these will also impact)

Regarding content, Mark Cahill splits blogs into three categories – news, criticism and opinion. I have toyed with all three and will continue to do so, but envisage an emphasis on opinion.

Blogging is ultimately a selfish practice – we all have our own agenda for blogging and pure altruism will rarely be the sole motivator. My primary motive is enlightenment – formalising my opinions, and then evolving them through interactions with the blogosphere.

As this is a hobby, I’m unconcerned with hits or monetisation. Therefore, I won’t be pandering to Google-friendly topics, but to what I think is most valuable. My top 5 posts (in hits) for 2008 say it all.

For me, value is critical – both to myself and to readers. Of the above, only the 4th and 5th links are popular due to their value – one for signposting news, one for opinion. Going forward, I will be concentrating on posts I think provide value and can influence – whether news, criticism or opinion.

Inevitably, this won’t interest everyone. Some people like the link updates; some are interested in online video; others may be after research stats. That is the beauty of idiosyncrasy – something that is valuable to one person is useless to another.

The future and beyond

Until WordPress provide custom feeds, my unique view on value will constrain your enjoyment of this blog. And that view will continually evolve as I learn more from interacting and sharing.

Will I ever find a voice and a constant message? I hope not, as that implies stasis. Will I provide value to myself? Certainly. Will I provide value to others? I hope so.

I’m truly grateful to everyone that persevered with this blog in 2008. I hope you will stick around in 2009, but won’t be offended if you don’t.

sk

Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bugbunnybambam/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/neil_b/

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Links – 22nd December 2008

This post is part 1 of 2, and they will effectively be my only link updates for December. A shame considering I kept the updates fairly consistent beforehand, but December isn’t the easiest month to keep on top of things – particularly with ATP and illness.

Anyway…

Social media

  • I’ve been using Twitter a lot more recently – I think the main reason is the use of Tweetdeck, which has useful filter features within a great interface. This has allowed me to distinguish signal from noise to a greater degree – something that concerns me with social media. Two posts on the subject resonated with me – Inquisitr’s “Is Social Media Becoming A Social Mess” and The Tumbling Cod’s “I’m Pretty Sure Tumblr Makes You Stupid
  • Most people reading will be familiar with the furore over Chris Brogan’s sponsored post. For those unaware, Jeremiah Owyang has a comprehensive overview of the situation. I think Chris Brogan defended his position well (for the record, I have no problem with it so long as it is disclosed. If it happens more frequently than I’d like, like others I would unsubscribe) while Dirk Singer wrote the best opinion piece on the matter that I read.
  • E-Consultancy looks at social media’s metric problems. A while back, I wondered how best to measure the online sphere in general. I don’t envisage a universal answer being forthcoming anytime soon.
  • JP Rangaswami has a thought-provoking post on the nature of asymmetric networks and conversations within the social media sphere, while James Governor also gives his thoughts on the asymmetric follow
  • Paul Carr has a typically humorous post on his experiences at LeWeb, and the fallout from the less than perfect proceedings
  • Bubble Comment is  a new tool that lets you overlay video comments onto websites. I’m not sure whether this constitutes fair use, so it may not be around for all that long in its current form, but worth a look.

The Internet

  • Merlin Mann responds to the productivity/advice blog genre that has eaten itself. His contention is that it is wrong for people to look for quick tips and lifehacks – the best way to improve is to follow a cohesive and comprehensive plan. We should concentrate on doing, rather than living vicariously.
  • Cory Doctorow puts forward a persuasive argument for not extending the copyright privileges of recording artists

Research and data

  • The latest Trend Blend map is available. Download it along with previous editions here
  • Dataopedia is a brilliant, free resource pulling together all the publicly available stats for different websites.

A pretty huge list. So, for those that don’t have a lot of spare time over the Xmas period I would particularly recommend Jeremiah on the Izea brouhaha, JP on asymmetric networks,  Hugh on why social objects are the future of marketing, Guardian’s top 100 websites and the latest trend blend map

sk

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