Monday, March 14, 2005


Every good blogger is involved in marketing. If you ignore scale, all the things that apply to a corporate entity are can be said for a single live human, with two exceptions:
  • We're mortal
  • We're moral
A blog necessarily involves marketing. You're making a trade. You're offering your words of wisdom, photos, poems, songs, etc... in trade for attention of your readership. The main distinction between a web log and the corporate voice is one of refinement. If you spend way too much time working on getting things just perfect, you remove all of the gritty quality that makes something feel real.

We've been overloaded with the corporate voice for at least 100 years. I've read on the internet about the first real PR campaign used to sell our entry into WWI. They even wrote a book about it called "How we advertised America". We know this voice is toxic, and we've evolved a highly tuned reflex to to filter it out. Its only the inperfections, and the personal quirks that are left in blogging that let us know we're interacting with a person.

I'm trying to find my goals, for my life, and for this and my bitgrid blog. I worry about a lot of things, always mindful of overdoing the polishing... but always finding something I could have said a little better in retrospect. Its a balancing act, but I think I'm improving. I tend to re-write things once now, then let them go. A corporation, on the other hand, would put it back into the polish, and keep lapping.

I suspect that sooner or later, the clumsy astrotufing that has been tried by corporations will become slicker, as they become more responsive to feedback. This of course, is exactly what it takes to turn marketing into a conversation, and shows they've finally gotten on the cluetrain. Is it really astroturfing at that point?

Well, enough rambling, back to work.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

The blog balancing act

Blogging is a balancing act, quite frightening at times if you're insecure like me.

You have a number of competing forces:
  • attention
  • ego
  • content
  • time
The challenge in life is to find a purpose, and serve that purpose.

The challenge with this, as with any web log, is to convey concepts, and get attention for them, without appearing to be desparate for personal attention. We're so attuned to the desparation apparent in bad marketing that we instinctivly tune it out, and turn it off. There are a lot of normally unstated forces playing off of each other, and those are just some of them.

Its tough... but I'll try not to overthink it. Doc has consistently shown the way though, in a fairly good balance

So, the search continues on the best way to transform something from personal to communal. I thought it was trival, so much so that I had to watch who I talked with, so it didn't get stolen. That's property thinking. Twenty plus years elapse, and nothing changes... so it's not as trivial as I thought.

I decided that I couldn't do it on my own... and started this blog. That alone isn't going to do it, of course, because its still a me thing. Doc is sharing his realizations with the rest of us, and it occurs to me thats the exact same thing I'm trying to do. We both realize it ain't easy.

I'm thankful for the wisdom, a bit depressed about the implications, but hopeful I can learn the lesson well. My immediate reaction is that I need to talk more about the tradeoffs, and where the bitgrid fits into other peoples problem spaces, while providing a core reference material should they decide the idea is interesting.

Thanks again for the lesson, Doc.


The Joy of Grok

Doc Searls says:
The older I get, the more I realize that Being Right is way overrated. I'd much rather be understood.
I'm writing this because I understand, and hope to eventually dis-abiguate my understanding into a grok. There are a few mental threads flowing into this. Doc contributes the realization about wanting to be undestood, and the need to share common ideas. Will (almost said Wes..oops) contributes the joy of being grokked (by linkage from Doc).

Doug Buchanan talks about "Intellectual Technology" at length, which I'm only beginning to plow through for its bits of wisdom. He showed me that conversation isn't successful for knowledge transfer until it is completely mutually disambigous. (One hell of a big goal, which I think he promises to provide a path towards) I think of this as a shared grok.

Here's a story that I've used to help explain the difference between understanding and grokking something:

I went with friend on a trip to a hamfest with my friend Joe. We both bought some really killer rare-earth magnets. These things (since lost) were so powerful, you could put one inside your palm, and the other would stay on the back of it, no matter how hard you move your hands around. You know, the kind of things that'll snap together explosively, making nasty blood blisters if you happen to get in the way. We had fun with them, lots of fun, except when I found out I'd erased the magnetic stripe on my ATM card and was now temporarily broke.

On the way back from the hamfest, we stopped at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. A showcase of the lapidary arts that I intend to revisit at some point. On our way out, we read the plaque on a very large (multi-ton) silver copper boulder sitting outside. Joe decided on an impromptu science experiment, he retrieved his magnet from the car, and waved it over the exposed metallic part of the boulder. He was quite happy, and then had me do the same... it pulled back... there was a definite and very real drag on the magnet when it went over the very conductive face of the boulder. In that instant... I GROKKED eddy current. The very obscure physics of it suddenly came to life, in a very real way.

Being a science geek at heard, I had known the physics of eddy currents to some extent. Had Joe asked the right series of questions in advance of the encounter, I might have answered them correctly, and predicted the outcome... but nothing could replace the new and profound level of understanding that happened right there and then. It was a quantum leap in my level of getting it.

That is what I mean when I use the term Grok as a verb. Its a wonderful thing.

So, Doc is right, and I share some level of agreement with him through shared similar experience. I'm not sure if I've gotten all the ambiguities out, but I'm sure there are far fewer of them, at least on this concept. You have to get rid of ownership to be understood.