The Tension Between Consumption and Creation of Content (a.k.a. spending time reading Facebook doesn't help with writing)

Facebook newsfeedThere went another hour! I wanted to do some writing tonight but first I sat down and said "I'll just take a quick look at Facebook"... and there I was... an hour later... having learned all about the lives of friends (well, the parts of their lives they want to post about on Facebook), read a bunch of interesting links, and gone off into topic areas that were fascinating - although probably didn't really add anything to the fullness of my life.

Meanwhile, the total number of words I'd written was...

zero.

There is this fundamental tension between consuming content and creating content.

It has nothing directly to do with the Internet, of course. Long before the Internet it was easy to be distracted from writing by TV, radio, books... or just conversations with friends and family, or projects around the house or office.

Distractions have always been numerous... the Internet just does what it does best by removing the middlemen and making it even easier to be distracted.

My friend Donna Papacosta once posted an image on Facebook that I printed out and taped up on my window frame right at eye level that said simply this:

Writing is
3% talent
and
97% not getting distracted
by the Internet

I see that every day when I sit in my home office, with the ever-present reminder that the key word is:

FOCUS

and the need to do that.

Two years ago I wrote a post that took the rather draconian line of "Every Minute You Spend Consuming Content Is A Minute You Are Not Creating Content".

That is, of course, very true. But there is the reality that sometimes we NEED to consume content. Sometimes it is because we are researching something we want to write about. Sometimes it is just simply that we want to relax... that we need to give our minds a break.

I've come to appreciate over many years that there is strong value in stepping away from the creation of content to give yourself a break... and often when you then return to the creating you return refreshed and renewed. Reading a good book or seeing a movie or reading good articles online can often lead to new lines of writing or thinking. There is value in staying up with what friends are doing - and sharing what you are doing.

The trick is trying to find the balance. There is a natural tension between time spent on consumption vs creation. Too much consumption leaves little time for creation. Too much creation can leave you without the benefits of some consumption.

Somewhere in between lies the point we need to achieve.

I don't have the answer... each day I'm trying to find that balance. Some nights like tonight I don't do so well... other days I do.

Focus.

Balance.


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



FriendFeed Finally Fades... Farewell!

FriendfeedFarewell, FriendFeed! Goodbye! Ever since Facebook acquired Friendfeed back in 2009 we wondered what its fate would be... now we know. This past Monday, March 9. 2015, the FriendFeed team posted a simple note that said in part:
We wanted to let you know that FriendFeed will be shutting down soon. We've been maintaining the service since we joined Facebook five years ago, but the number of people using FriendFeed has been steadily declining and the community is now just a fraction of what it once was. Given this, we've decided that it's time to start winding things down.

Beginning today, we will no longer accept new signups. You will be able to view your posts, messages, and photos until April 9th. On April 9th, we'll be shutting down FriendFeed and it will no longer be available.

I saw some reminiscing on Hacker News and within FriendFeed itself... but I think we all knew this day was coming.

Before today I hadn't logged into the site for quite a long time. I only have recent content posted there due to the fact that TypePad is still set to post articles (such as this one) over to FriendFeed. But for most of us the conversations left the site... off to other venues and places. (But I've seen that there are still some very strong communities that have been thriving within FriendFeed to this day.)

FriendFeed was remarkable to me at the time for it's ability to aggregate feeds of all sorts of different services into one place. For quite some time http://friendfeed.com/danyork was the link I gave people to find "all of my writing in one place". Sometime after the Facebook acquisition I realized it may not be around and so I wound up building my own aggregation site - http://danyork.me/ - but it was FriendFeed that first brought that idea to me.

It was also a great place for group discussions. For quite some time it was the home of the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast listener community and we would all discuss episodes and other topics there. That's all moved to the FIR Community on Google+ ... which hopefully will last a bit longer! :-)

The Wikipedia entry on FriendFeed has some good background. It was a great service back in its prime!

Farewell, FriendFeed!

P.S. If you'd like to export your data out of FriendFeed, there is a script available from Claudio Cicali on Github that may help.


An audio commentary is available:


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



Internet Society Job Opening: Senior Manager, Media Relations

Internet society isoc 300x149We're hiring! The Internet Society, my employer, is hiring for a range of positions, but the one I want to highlight here is the "Senior Manager, Media Relations". As the job posting states:

The Senior Manager Media Relations will be responsible for developing and executing public relations programs to increase the visibility and thought leadership of the Internet Society in the media.. The media relations strategy aligns with the organization’s priorities and is focused on programs and initiatives in the areas of Internet policy, technology, development, and education.

This new role will report to the Director of Media and Communications, be part of the Communications Team, and have a broad purview with many opportunities for visibility and impact. The candidate will collaborate with senior management, subject matter experts, and Regional Bureau Directors around the world. This position will be located in the Internet Society office either in Reston, Virginia USA or Geneva, Switzerland.

I can't speak highly enough about what the mission of the Internet Society means to me - and how critically important this time is right now in the evolution of the Internet. Back in 2011 I wrote about why joining the staff of the Internet Society was important to me - and 3.5 years later those reasons are still as important today as they were then... if not even more so! We've got an aggressive set of activities planned for 2015 - and we need people to help turn that action plan into reality.

We need people to join us to help tell the story of why the choices we make today for the Internet matter - and what we all as individuals and as organizations can do. In this particular position we're seeking someone who can help with connections out to the media around the world.

If you have a background in public relations / media relations, this is your chance to join a mission-based organization focused on ensuring that the Internet remains open for everyone around the world.

I love waking up fired up to go out there and help in whatever small way I can... you can join us!

PLEASE NOTE: I am personally not involved in the hiring for this position... the way to submit your information for consideration is at the bottom of the position posting.


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



10 Years of FIR Podcast Coming Up on January 5, 2015 - Suggestions?

Unbelievably, the For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast to which I contribute is coming up on a TEN YEAR anniversary! As co-host Neville Hobson recently wrote in the FIR Community on Google+:
On January 5, 2015, Shel and I will be recording episode 789 of The Hobson & Holtz Report.

That episode will mark a very special milestone for us and for our community of listeners and friends as it will be the episode that starts our eleventh year of podcasting.

So on January 5 next year, we will have completed 10 years of The H&H Report almost to the day - episode 1 was published on January 3, 2005.

A rather amazing run for a podcast! I remember quite well way back in early 2005 as the whole world of "podcasting" was this new and fascinating space. It was something like February or March 2005 when I stumbled across FIR and started listening... and then, of course, shy person that I am, almost immediately started sending in audio comments.

Over time those audio comments evolved into reports and sometime in the fall of 2005 I was officially named a "correspondent" into the show.

And ever since those days in 2005... pretty much every week I've sent in my 5-7 minute report. I've missed a few weeks, but over all those years it's only been a few weeks. Even as I write this post, I'm also writing the notes for what I'm going to talk about in my report into tomorrow's show (that I'll record in the morning).

I'll save some more reminiscing for that actual show #789 on January 5, 2015 ... but in the meantime I'll relay the rest of Neville's request:

We have in mind a few things we plan to say in episode 789 to mark the milestone. One thing we definitely want to do is highlight the journey from that single podcast in 2005 to the FIR Podcast Network you see today, and our plans in 2015.

Is there anything that you would like to say or contribute or suggest for that episode to celebrate 10 years? All ideas most welcome!

If you do have ideas... I would encourage you to leave them as comments inside the FIR community on Google+. You can also contact Shel and Neville through one of the various contact methods in the sidebar of the FIR website.

It's pretty amazing to think of FIR being around - and consistently published for 10 years - I'm looking forward to joining in the celebration on January 5, 2015!


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



Ello Adds Feature To Share Posts Out To Other Social Networks

The team over at Ello yesterday added the ability to share out posts you write on Ello to other social networks. When you are logged in to Ello, there is now a small circle-and-arrow icon below a post: Ello sharing link When you click/tap the icon you get the typical kind of "social sharing" box that you see on many social networks:` Ello social sharing You click on the social network to which you want to share and you get the usual kind of sharing windows you see for that given social network. As co-founder Paul Budnitz notes, there was internal discussion about whether to offer this capability, but they decided:
On the other hand, we've have had many requests from Ello users for this function — especially from people who want to make Ello the central place for all their online activity, and need to post out to friends and followers who are still using other networks.

It will be interesting to see how widely this gets used and whether this is an incentive for people to use Ello as one of the places they primarily post content.

If you use Ello, what do you think about this feature?

UPDATE: The Ello team also released a wide range of other interesting features and fixes.


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



Reflections On Ello - October 5, 2014

Ello logo 180 pixelsAs people who follow me on Ello know, I've been experimenting a good bit with the platform. In order to capture some thoughts for own recollection (and also for the FIR report I need to record this morning), here are some quick thoughts and links about Ello that reflect what I've learned over the past few weeks.

First, as I wrote, we have to remember that Ello is not Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., and we have to just go in with an open mind.

The Ello platform is very definitely still a "beta" with a long list of features that they want to add, but over the past bit there have been some changes of interest:

I love the display of photos in Ello, but there's one bit of brokenness that does bother me:

I asked the question of why should Ello have to have a mobile app and wondered about how Ello behaved different from other apps... and I learned a bit more about why (and what you can do)

Clay Shirky had two great posts about Ello being a conversational versus annotative medium:

He also had two other good articles and threads:

Oh, and there's now a parody social network... Owdy! :-)

Please do join me on Ello if you are interested in the continuing experiments... and please feel free to share your own tips and insights!


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



3 Quick Tips About Getting Started With Ello

Ello smileAs I've started playing with Ello, the new social network that many early adopters are experimenting with (and you can find me at https://ello.co/danyork), I've learned a few things that I thought I'd share in case they can help others who are getting started:

1. ELLO SUPPORTS MARKDOWN FOR TEXT FORMATTING

Ello allows you to do some formatting to your text using a subset of John Gruber's Markdown syntax. It's not the full Markdown syntax, but a good bit of it. You can read more at:

https://ello.co/wtf/post/using-ello-markdown-to-format-text

You can see some of my Markdown experiments in an Ello post.

2. ELLO SUPPORTS A WIDE RANGE OF EMOJI

You can use a wide range of emoji in your Ello posts. You may want to bookmark:

http://www.emoji-cheat-sheet.com/

To use an emoji you just type the text in your Ello post, for example ":smile:" will give you a smile. I've seen many different emoji being used in posts.

3. GIVING A "BREAD" EMOJI IS A "LIKE" OR "+1"

C.C. Chapman clued me in that while Ello doesn't have a "Like" or a "+1" (yet, anyway), apparently the convention has developed that people will leave you a "bread" emoji in a reply to say they like this. So if you suddenly see comments with bread emoticons, that's what is going on. To leave one yourself, just type ":bread:" in the comments.

(And I'd love it if someone on Ello could explain how that convention came about...)
UPDATE 28 Sep 2014: @brdr on Ello says the 'bread' emoji usage originated with German Ello users and spread throughout the network.

Those are just a few of the things I've discovered in my playing around with the site. If there are other tips you've learned, please feel free to leave them here as comments... or leave them in response to the link to this post on Ello.


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



The Importance of The 'Known' Publishing Platform And The Rise Of The Indie Web

Known logoHow do we retain control of our content? How can we make sure what we write and create online remains online? How do we make it so that we can post our content in one place and distribute it out to social networks? And the bring the conversations that happen out on social networks back into your own site?

In a time when Facebook, Google, Apple and others seem to be intent on owning and controlling all our data and content, how do we regain control over our presence online? How do we stop being the product?

These are questions of focus for the "IndieWeb" movement that are perhaps best stated by this text on the top of indiewebcamp.com:

Your content is yours
When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.

You are better connected
Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.

You are in control
You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as example.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.

As well as in greater detail on the IndieWeb principles page. A key point is what is called "POSSE":

POSSE = Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere

The idea being, again, that you own your own content and then share it out to the other services where people can engage with that content.

Another way to think of this is that the IndieWeb is distributed and decentralized ... kind of like the "Web" used to be before people increasingly started using centralized platforms such as Facebook and Google's properties.

The "IndieWeb" has been around for several years now, but this month it gained some momentum with the launch of Known, a new blogging platform built on IndieWeb principles. Mathew Ingram introduced it on GigaOm with:

The Known software is available in two forms:

And yes, this is very similar to WordPress with the hosted version at WordPress.com and the standalone version at WordPress.org. (And in fact, WordPress can support many of the IndieWeb principles through various plugins.)

One of the interesting aspects is that your instance of Known can use some of the IndieWeb protocols such as Webmention to communicate with other instances of Known - as well as other sites that support the IndieWeb protocols.

The Known software is also "responsive" so that it works well on mobile devices - and the entire code base is open source so that anyone can see what it is all about and modify or extend it. On For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast #773 I devoted most of my report to talking about Known and the Indie Web - and Shel Holtz spoke at some length about the platform, too. And both Shel and I referenced Leo Laporte's This Week in Google 266 where he had Known co-founders Ben Werdmûller and Erin Jo Richey on as guests, as well as Kevin Marks. I would encourage you to listen to them all if you are interested in further discussion.

To me this issue of owning your own content is critical. Perhaps THE most critical question in many ways to me personally.

It goes back to the question of what kind of Internet do we want?

Do we want one in which we are in control - and have control of our own data and content? Or do we want an Internet where the content we create is locked inside of corporate walled gardens? (Even if those gardens let us display it to the world... we still may not be able to easily get it out.)

I don't know if I'll honestly keep using danyork.withknown.com in the long term, or whether I'll install the Known software directly on one of my servers... or whether I'll just look at making my WordPress installations play as nicely as possible with the IndieWeb protocols.

I'm certainly going to continue to experiment for some time... I've been watching the Github repo and their issue tracker and have been quite impressed with the ongoing work of the Known team.

The key point is that wherever I post my intent is that I will not be locked in to closed proprietary systems. Known and the IndieWeb are more tools that we have in our toolbox that let us retain our freedom and control!

P.S. If you want to give Known a try, visit the withknown.com hosted platform to get started! It's free and easy to sign up.


NOTE: Given that Ello has been getting quite a buzz in the last few days (and I can also be found there: ello.co/danyork ), it is worth pointing out the difference:

  • Known is an open source, freely-available blogging/publishing platform that you can either use in a hosted version or on your own site. You can publish your own status updates, blog posts and audio content - and share those posts out to social networks. Think of it as similar to WordPress.
  • Ello is a closed source (proprietary), invite-only (right now) social network where you can follow friends and share status updates, photos, links, etc. It currently has no APIs or method to export your data. Think of it as similar to Facebook.

That's the key difference - Known is a blogging platform while Ello is a social network.


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:



Have You Joined The "FIR Podcast Community" On Google+?

Fir communityIf you are interested in social media, PR, marketing, podcasting and similar topics, have you joined the "FIR Podcast Community" on Google+? While the community is intended for listeners of the "For Immediate Release (FIR)" network of podcasts it is just a great place to go to keep track of current issues, ideas and trends within the world of PR/marketing/communications.

The community has a good mixture of posts by FIR podcast hosts about their shows and also from listeners and others who post links and engage in topics that are along the lines of the themes of various FIR shows.

It's one of the communities on Google+ to which I regularly go and participate in as often as I can. Pretty much every time I visit I see some links that I find helpful.

Anyway, if you have not yet joined the FIR Podcast Community on Google+, I'd encourage you to do so!
 


If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either: