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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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Slideshare links – 14th December 2008

Winter sickness creates lethargy. Thankfully I’m not this sick – I think it is more a case of being a self-inflicted result of this and this.

Anyway, as it is easier than trawling through a few weeks of delicious links, here are 5 Slideshare presentations on marketing that I have recently read and enjoyed. All are variations on a theme – marketing should be useful and valuable.

NB: If you are viewing in an RSS reader, then you may have to clickthrough to see the embedded slides

The Seven Misconceptions of Youth Marketing by Paul MacGregor of the Three Billion Project.

“Don’t think about advertising. Think about entertainment”

Go the Slideshare page

Goodness and Happiness – Why Generosity is the Future of Marketing Strategy by Neil Perkin of IPC

To use the old Google mantra, don’t be evil. And to paraphrase Hugh Macleod; marketing should be useful, not a punch to the face.

Go the Slideshare page

Planning Needs Some Planning by Gareth Kay of Modernista!

“The future of advertising isn’t messaging. It’s in ideas that solve business problems in a culturally positive way”

Go the Slideshare page

Strategy: Beyond Advertising by Adrian Ho of Zeus Jones

Zeus Jones are proponents of marketing as a service. This presentation looks at the failures that may be necessary to reap success

Go the Slideshare page – as I don’t think this format of presentation works in WordPress

Reconsidering the Advertising Industry by Alain Thys of Futurelab

An overview of the Futurelab Agency report, looking at challenges, remedies and future models for the advertising agency.

Go the Slideshare page

As a bonus link, Peter Kim has accumulated predictions for social media in 2009, constituting the thoughts of 15 leading voices in the sphere. Check out a summary or download the full report here.

My Slideshare links are found at the bottom right of this blog. Alternatively, you can visit my profile and subscribe to my favourites.

SIDENOTE: One aspect of my behaviour that is positively correlated with my lethargy is Twitter usage. Go figure.

sk

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