|Russ Lipton Documents Radio
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Speak In Your Own Voice
Userland, to its credit, has long fulfilled a vitally needed role as creative provocateur to the software industry. Radio exemplifies provocation. It is attracting the contributions (deserved) of some of the industry's best technical writers, very bright developers who have grokked its huge potential and are cobbling tools for it, some who are weighing its tradeoffs, as well as taken a few hits (deserved) from other developers for its rawness.
Radio is a stake in the ground whose premises the software industry will adopt or resist but cannot ignore.
By contrast with some other weblogging tools, Radio's community has tended to the hacker-ish rather than the end-userish side. As an end-user, I love that. Are you an end-user new to the wacky universe of Userland? I can tell you that the next ten years (not just the next six months) will see the same passionate dedication to helping us think, write and collaborate as has the past decade. Yes, it's hack-neyed (groan, please), but Userland has forgotten more about software development than most developers will ever learn.
It is for just these reasons that we end-users must be careful not to be distracted by all the noise as Userland's (heck, the Internet's) developers fight it out together.
Stick With What Works
Our vocation is to blog, to write, to find our own voice and use it.
After all, it is no great shakes to push-and-pull Radio until it breaks. My twelve-year old is up to that task. Unlike a classical productivity application (say, a word processor, a spreadsheet or some other blogging products), Radio delivers a complete development environment underneath its Web services. A whole lotta shaking is already going on here.
While developers smash Radio into its bits so the Userland wizards can take it to the next level, our best move is to work cleanly within its surprisingly broad limits.
In other words, stick with what works, not with what shakes.
End users arenít dopes. I wear the end-user badge proudly even as I respect and appreciate software developers. I can go under the Radio hood, change the oil, replace a few sparkplugs and even consider a bit of customization. But I am more than satisfied, nearly all the time, to:
... Post to my weblog.
... Receive news through the aggregator.
... Tinker from time-to-time with my weblogís look-and-feel.
... Play golf.
Find the five or ten features of Radio (from the dozens available) that are rock-solid stable for your kind of site and concentrate on the hard stuff. You.
This leads me to the crux of this topic: why blog at all?
Because we (you) have something to say.
But what is it that you want to say? Not what Dave Winer wants to say, or I want to say, or what you think you should say but what do you want to say? About the world? About your life?
Next to speaking in your own voice, Radioís technical specs or features are a bore.
It is no small nor easy matter to find your voice. Compared to this, it doesnít matter what design theme you adopt for your site; how many navigation links you use or even how many times a day, week or month you post. While attracting readers is fine, your position on Radio's all-time list does not matter either.
This will be read (that is, re-narrated) by others as journalism, as knowledge management, as poetry, as ranting, as meditations, as cries of love, despair, anger or hope. Of course. Nothing new here. Thatís also nice. Against the background of history, HTML is new, XML is new, RSS is new, the Internet itself is also new. Human beings constructing the narratives of their lives and sharing those with others strangers as well as friends, is as old as Achilles, Agamemnon, Paris and Helen.
So, by all means, letís kvetch as well as proclaim the praises of Radio version 8. Heck, thatís a key part of the fun.
Just donít forget to speak to us about yourself. Iím very interested in Radio but I am more interested in that than in Radio.
To underline this, I will be pointing to various weblogs that, in some way or the other, exhibit an authentic personal voice. I donít and wonít claim any special insight nor do I intend to deconstruct these sites (at least, I donít think so) from some Olympian height. This won't be a "best of the weblogs" list.
My own weblog is dedicated to documenting Radio. But how valuable can that be unless we stay focused on the end (narrating ourselves, the only knowledge management that counts, be it corporate or individual) rather than the means?
Now, check out some voices ... all weblogs, but not all of them will be Radio weblogs.