Friday, August 01, 2003

Source: How to Save the World


A pretentious and presumptuous attempt to document what bloggers have learned, without any formal instruction, to do every day.

And then a description of what's needed to make blogs a medium for real conversation.

For some bloggers, just writing is enough. For most of us, though, we're looking to the blogosphere to provide us with useful and interesting information, education, entertainment and/or inspiration for our writing, and feedback, a critical audience, and help with the creative and publishing process. That process looks (to me at least) something like this:


As we all know, this is a lot of work, and there's never enough time to do it perfectly. I budget 75 minutes/day for reading (the steps in red), 60 minutes/day for writing (green), 15 minutes/day for promotion (blue), and, on the weekend, 60 minutes/week for blog community activities, focused on Salon Blogs, my chosen community. As an empty-nester and night-owl, I do most of this between 8-11pm, but I try to post during prime blog time (5am-5pm) so my posts show up in the 'recently updated' lists when most people are reading.

Blogging has taught me to write better (believe it or not), to write faster, and what blog readers like and don't like of my work. That's enough to keep me blogging. But I know of several bloggers who gave up because they didn't discover, or didn't feel, a sense of community. Or they found blogging too impersonal compared to chat, IM, and the telephone. A blog is a very blunt tool, and provides little context of the writer's personality, the kind of context that allows the development of real relationships (business or personal).

For personal relationship building, some bloggers have added chat, IM or webcam functionality to their blogs. Group blogs, forums and wikis allow collaborative work, which enables some real relationship building. And business networking tools like Ryze and LinkedIn allow bloggers to identify business needs and credentials to forge stronger business connections.

But in the absence of these appendages, blogs remain primarily one-way communication media. Comments threads, especially when they get long and divergent, are very clumsy ways of carrying on a communication. As a result, back-channeling (taking a comment thread 'offline' and continuing it by private e-mail) deprives the rest of the readers of the benefits of the conversation, and e-mail threads aren't very good conversational vehicles themselves (compared to face-to-face, telephone, chat or IM).

Why can't we enhance blog software so it allows a discussion, at the author's discretion, to migrate simply to other, more powerful conversational tools without losing the connection to the initial blog post that provoked it? I could (as lots of bloggers do) add applets and links for chat, IM, voice-over-IP, a webcam, desktop videoconferencing, my forums and groups, and my Ryze and LinkedIn pages. But they still wouldn't be connected, and I'd expect few readers to comfortably jump to the other 'channels' to continue a discussion started by a blog post. Or to use these tools 'cold' to communicate with me out of the blue. This probably shows I'm just not used to these other tools and their codes of behaviour, but I'd bet most of us are in the same boat. What's needed is a seamless migration path between the 'channels', and an accepted and intuitive protocol for deciding which 'channel' to use when.

Not all bloggers will want or use this bi-directional communication functionality, of course. The blogosphere has multiple information cultures, and many bloggers are perfectly content with one-directional communication. Some don't even turn on their commenting capability, following the historical magazine dictum of only allowing readers to write 'letters to the editor'. And I respect their right to do so.

But I think many of us are aching to enrich the relationships with our readers, to whom we owe a great deal, and would welcome bi-directional, multi-channel communication functionality, tightly linked to our blog posts, to allow us to engage in true conversations and community-building with them. If you know of examples of blogs that have been so enriched (probably by tech-savvy bloggers tweaking their own blogs) please let me know, and I'll start a list of them on my blogroll.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to push the blog envelope in more modest ways, within my very limited technical capability. I've put up my picture at right and updated my bio, so I'm not so mysterious. Watch for some peculiar boxes to appear at the end of certain posts that will take you to my IM address, scheduled discussions on my forums and groups, or my Ryze or LinkedIn pages.

Yes, I know that figuring out blogs' peculiar technical foibles is already hard enough for most of us, and that none of us has enough time even for the steps in the chart above. But if we're going to save the world and stuff we need to really communicate, to make blogs tools to really connect us with like minds, not just to inform and entertain. I've 'met' a few of my readers in person or by telephone conversation, and let me tell you the sudden jump in medium and connection is psychologically jarring. It shouldn't have to be.

Who knows, maybe by next year the chart above will be so much more complex it'll look like a plan for extricating Bush from Iraq.
[How to Save the World]
7:36:36 AM    trackback []     Articulate [] 

I think I really need to get this book. John is very impressed with it as evidenced below.

Source: John Porcaro's Weblog

Benevolent Leadership. More from the 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. Sorry to ramble on, but this stuff is golden. I'd re-print every word if I wouldn't be breaking every known copyright law in existence. I wish wish wish I'd had this book when I was 24. As it is, I'm probably 5-7 years behind where I should be (I'm 39, and am where I should have been at about 32)... Better late than never!

Practice Benevolent Leadership A leader is best when people barely know that he exists. He is the teacher who succeeds without taking credit. And, because credit is not taken, credit is received. -Lao Tzu, 6th Century B.C. The curse of the highly talented person is that everyone wants him to do everything. … Rather than go it alone, become fanatical about wooing, hiring, and retaining the most talented people in (the) business. Create an environment that would be the most attractive to the very best people, one of open communication and deep trust, in which (your) subordinates' success will be more important that even (your) own. (48) We are reluctant to let go of the belief that if I am to care for something, I must control it. So many people progress in their careers hoping to ensure short-term success by tight oversight, while long-term success slips away. Extraordinary success is achieved by makthosehose around you successful. The benevolent leader maximizes performance through facilitation. She eliminates barriers for subordinates and leads with authority, even though at times appearing to be just one of the pack. It's easy to know when a benevolent leader is in charge. The telltale signs? Information and authority flow freely. Honesty abounds. People are free to question authority without retribution. Creativity reigns. Each member of the team feels just as accountable to the other team members as to the leader. (50) Nearly 90 percent of extraordinarily successful executives were described as being concerned about their careers of their subordinates as much or more than their own careers. (52) To put this lesson another way: The extraordinary executive does not claw his way to the top, he is carried there. (53) So what really motivates the best and the brightest? In our survey we asked how respondents personally defined career success. Two key factors emerged. The first, one of the most often cited, was "freedom in my job to do the things I want." ...…The second was "to be well regarded in my company or industry." (55) Successful executives ask "How will this job, working for this boss, help me achieve the level of respect and impact that I desire? He asks, explicitly or implicitly, about each new opportunity. Highly successful individuals also add another question: "If I am successful, will the organization or team be successful?" (55) Professionals understand the importance of joining the best program and actively seek it out. This becomes a virtuous circle--the best people create the best results, which in turn attract the best people. ... Professionals who create a winning environment, usually end up winners. (58)
Of the four leadership styles, I find myself probably in the "Good Citizen" block. As I gain experience and confidence, I'm sure I'll move more into the "Benevolent Leader" box, since it so closely aligns with my own personal values. By the way, for a clue on how I got a pre-release copy, look here. [John Porcaro's Weblog]
7:33:59 AM    trackback []     Articulate [] 

DBCC LOG prints out information about the transaction log. This is the best method of reading the transaction log with the tools provided in SQL Server. Some of the information you can determine from this command includes:

  • Current LSN
  • Object modified and index used
  • Type of logged transaction
  • Transaction ID

To execute the command, use the following syntax: DBCC LOG(Northwind) The type parameter is an additional setting you can use to get more information about the logged action. The parameters run from -1 to 4 and perform the following functions:

  • -1 = Everything that option 4 has and the Checkpoint Begin, DB Version, and Max XACTID.
  • 0 = Minimum displayable information. This option is the default if no options are specified.
  • 1 = Slightly more information, including flags, tags, and row length.
  • 2 = More information than the 1 option. This option includes the object name, index name, page ID, and slot ID.
  • 3 = Full information about the logged event.
  • 4 = Full information about the logged event plus the hexadecimal dump.

The best way to see the transaction log cleanly is Lumigent's Log Explorer. The output of this DBCC command is frankly not nearly as useful as a 3rd party tool can produce but it's nice to know when doing quick spot checks.

7:28:36 AM    trackback []     Articulate []