Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Restart your aggregators

While the tweaking will surely continue, I've got most of the set-up on the new version of this blog set. That means that, with the exception of a few housekeeping announcements, posting here will stop. Here's the info you need:

The good news (for me) is that this change has both strengthened and simplified the mechanisms I use to publish my blog. Del.icio.us now handles the link blog entirely. Since Textpattern supports categories I'll no longer be posting all of my own entries to del.icio.us in a category-like hack. I've reduced, greatly, the amount of information that appears on the blog itself for those of who still visit the actual website.

Anyway. See you there.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Houston, we have a URL.

I've purchased ext337.org for the next incarnation of this blog.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Let the tinkering begin.

Well, as much as I like bryght (and I really like it), I've decided that I just can't foot the $40/month hosting bill right now for a personal site.

With that in mind, I've made the somewhat surprising decision to use an application called Textpattern to manage this weblog. I'll be hosting it at Textdrive. You can see the beginnings here: ext 337. I still have some more to do before I flip the switch and stop using this site completely. I will, however, be doing some updates to that site.

I'm using Textdrive to manage my link blog -- it's in the left rail -- as well.

I decided to go with Textpattern because, well, I wanted to. I like the way that it manages content, using tags, and focuses on the ease of writing entries. I also like the chance to broaden my experience with different applications.

If the posting here slows down, check that site.

Friday, May 13, 2005


As it stands, I'll be in Cleveland Saturday, May 14th until Wednesday, May 18th. It looks like Saturday and Tuesday nights are free. If you're in Cleveland and you want to talk nonprofits and technology send me a note.

(in: meet?)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

They're dead. They'rethriving. Dead. Thriving.

Beth Kanter offers a nice round up of the conversation to date: Beth's Blog: The trail of discoverability ... take 2.

Lots of food for thought. The whole discussion -- and the way in which it has been conducted -- provides, to my mind, a good evidence that blogs are in fact different than websites. Could anyone imagine this happening on a bunch of organizational sites? Would they even recommend that it should?

Blogging is about personal voice. Beth's post (linked above) points to examples of the way that organizations do this. Microsoft and Sun provide two other examples. In neither case are their blogs on their main corporate site -- but clearly both are letting employees talk about their work on company time.

(in: nptech, blogs, blogging)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What do you need? | ConsultantCommons.org (beta)

Blogs may be obselete, but blogging isn't

Ed Batista argues, in two posts, that blogs are obsolete. His point, if I understand his two posts correctly, is that we should just get on with it. Take what's good about blogs -- the voice, frequent updates, ease of use -- and let's convince people to incorporate that into their communications and let's stop talking blogs already.

And I might be persuaded to agree with him about blogs the artifact. Not, however, about blogging the activity. Blogging, the activity, includes linking, frequent updates that center around short bits of text, permalinks to content to make it easy for other people to track. It is not just about the communication style. It is about the activities that make the communications style work.

In my recent experience presenting on this topic, nonprofits are familiar with blogs. They aren't familiar with blogging.

I also believe that this activity allows things to go on that couldn't normally. Even in the most personable, well-written, frequently updated website.

My example? What Robert Scoble just did around Microsoft's decision to not support a Washington anti-discrimination law could not have been accomplished on any company site. The ensuring conversation and Microsoft's change of heart would never have happened on a company or organization site.

A nonprofit wants to turn part of its site over to employees? Blogging becomes an easy rubric in which to do that. Encourage people to talk about the organization? Blogging. Share links, in a news service-like fashion? Blogging.

Even with that, I'd love to get to blogging 2.0. What metrics are appropriate ones to follow on a weblog? Why? What are organizations successfully employeeing this medium doing? Stop talking more about the definition and start talking more about the practice.

Bonus link: Hammer, Nail: How Blogging Software Reshaped the Online Community

(in: blogging, blogs)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Explaining tagging

I'm preparing a presentation advocating the creation, for a particular group, of a an area we've taken to calling the commons (you can see ConsultantCommons.org for one view into what I'm talking about). Anyway, I've been trying to figure out how to explain tagging to a group of non-technical users. People who are interested in the outcome and impact on their efforts, not in the gee whiz aspects. Here's what I've settled on:

Tagging is a way to view information across silos. Users, web sites, categorization schemes and formal taxonomies all provide ways to dig deeper into information but they are not, necessarily, good at presenting the cross-view. Tagging provides a way to do that.

What do you think?

(in: tagging, nptech)

My walk to work

Bay Bridge
Bay Bridge,
originally uploaded by gorickjones.

Beth's Blog: Podcasting at NPOtech Events/Conferences

Beth Kanter has a terrific idea: Beth's Blog: Podcasting at NPOtech Events/Conferences. And one, as you can guess from my comment on her post, that is probably going to keep me up a little later tonight.

(in: nptech, podcast)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Am I a tag spammer?

I use del.icio.us as a kludge to create my own categories on this blog. I write a post, figure out how I want to tag it, include the tags in the bottom of the post, and then, once it's published, I use del.icio.us to bookmark adding the tags that I've already decided upon.

I also use del.icio.us as a way to mark and share the URLs in which I'm interested. I use the nptech tag as a defined way of doing that. But I also republish the RSS feed (though a mechanism too convoluted to explain and much harder than it actually needs to be) in the right rail of my webpage. Effectively, this splices together the URLs in which I have interest and the postings on my own weblog.

While that's useful to me, it might not be useful to you.

In fact, some very informed opinions consider this kind of behavior tag spam.

If you look at del.icio.us as primarily a sharing tool -- a way to let others know about bookmarks in which you are interested -- then, yes, it is, in fact, spam. But if you look at del.icio.us as a mechanism for organizing your own data (no matter where that data actually lives) then it is not spam.

I tag plenty of non-me items words or phrases that are either opaque or, like @read only useful to me.

None of these uses -- deliberate sharing, self-organizing, or self-interested tags -- break the system which is the reason del.icio.us works so well.

But what do you think? Are any of those uses better than the others? What will lead to abuse? What will break the system?

(in: spam, tag)

Friday, May 06, 2005


I agree with many of Dan Gillmor's thoughts about web 3.0. The first was the read-only web. It was all about what happened in the browser. Blogging tools drove, I believe, the move to version 2.0 -- the read/write web. Those tools are continuing to be matured. They are cropping up in easier and easier to use content management systems. In applications like flickr and the promised odeo and podshow. All those tools make it easy to publish -- words, pictures, audio -- to the web.

Where I part ways is on Web 3.0. He writes:

And then comes the latest web. This is where it gets really interesting.

The emerging web is one in which the machines talk as much to each other as humans talk to machines or other humans. As the net is the rough equivalent of a computer operating system, we’re learning how to program the web itself.

An operating system offers programmers something called an "applications programming interface," or API. The APIs are essentially shortcuts for programmers who want to use underlying capabilities of the operating system, such as displaying text or printing, and they help products interoperate with each other.

I think that's web 4.0 actually. Until it hits the web-savvy but non-programming user, I don't think we get to announce a version change.

I believe web 3.0 is about structure. It allows the average user to organize on the fly. It puts the tools for site navigation into the hands of the people using the site. I've said before that's what makes me so excited about both flickr and del.icio.us.

This movement is why I spend so much time talking about blogging. If we don't get diverse voice on the web -- and right now the diversity I'm concentrating on is nonprofits but other people take a much wider view of diversity -- there will be no diversity built into the structure of the web. The navigational cues will be so culturally specific as to be useless to people who aren't already on the Internet.

(in: web3, folksonomies)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You know your viewpoint is skewed when....

I was chatting with someone on the ferry this morning when I realized she was wearing a shirt that said, "Basecamp."

Oh, I said. I've been playing with Backpack. And I love Tada lists. We use 'em for running our all our household stuff." And I just kept chatting and chatting and I realized that, well, she was looking at me weird.

Because the "Basecamp" on the shirt meant, you know, base camp.

(in: duh)

Busting through my PowerPoint walls

I'm not a big fan of Powerpoint. I don't have list of media reasons (dumbing down, bad design). I don't like it because I enjoy public speaking, I like interacting with the people in the room and my Powerpoints of lists have gotten in the way of that.

I'm preparing for a meeting in Cleveland and decided, because I need to keep more than just myself on track, that I should turn to the standby. I've been reading Cliff Atkinson'sbeyond bullets blog for a while and decided to take it for a spin.

I downloaded the PowerPoint add-in and fumbled my through it based on what I'd read on the blog. And just that made my presentation a radically different thing. So yesterday, I decided to fork over for the book. I read it last night and I felt my PowerPoint walls come tumbling down.

The two really a-ha moments for me?

  • The notes section really is a part of the presentation. It's not just where I leave cues for myself -- I prefer index cards anyway -- but I can use it give the audience information (in the form of a handout) freeing up the slide itself.
  • Using the slide sorter view to see view the presentation across slides.

If you give presentations a lot, I can't recommend the book highly enough. It gives the presentation advice I'm used to but joins it with Powerpoint in a way that really heightens impact.

The downside? Everyone in my office is looking at me oddly. Wait, they're saying. A book about PowerPoint has changed your life?

(in: powerpoint, presentations)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My aggregator of choice

In the comments on an earlier post, Beth Kanter asks why I use FeedDemon.

It's the ferry.

I was a big bloglines user. I would be perfectly happy to do all of my work in my browser. However, I moved an hour ferry ride away from my San Francisco office and I wanted to be able to work offline.

I looked at different stand alone applications (no integration with an email client for me) and settled on FeedDemon because it allowed me to process items easily.

I go through my feeds delete or store for later action. My later actions are:

  • to read
  • to comment
  • link blog
  • ext337
  • crankreport

I spend my morning ferry ride into the city processing all the information in my aggregator and then I can quickly act on it when I'm in the office later.

And, yes, I am a GTD geek. Why do you ask?

(in: gtd, aggregator)

RSS article up on TechSoup

It started with this post. I got feedback from the good folks at the Digital Divide Network and Omidyar Network. I revamped it a few times using the wiki-like tools at Consultant Commons. Now, it's been combined with another Consultant Commons article to appear on TechSoup as RSS for Nonprofits.

Thanks for all the help!

(in: techsoup, mywriting)

SF Goodwill highlighted in N-TEN newsletter

The May 3, 2005 issue of N-TEN's newsletter highlights Peter Campbell's work with San Francisco Goodwill. Congrats, Peter!

(in: nptech, stories)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Updated OPML file

Prompted by an entry on Beth Kanter's blog, I just updated my subscriptions on bloglines to reflect my current reading. I've been using FeedDemon. And am, generally speaking, happy with it.

(in: housekeeping)

A little love for the nptech tag