There are two aspects to preparing a talk: the content and the presentation. I like to keep the preparation of those two parts separate. It’s kind of like writing: instead of writing and editing at the same time, it’s more productive to write any old crap first (to get it out of your head) and then go back and edit—“write drunk and edit sober”. Separating out those two mindsets allows you to concentrate on the task at hand.
So, to begin with, I’m not thinking about how I’m going to present the material at all. I’m only concerned with what I want to say.
A good and timely outline here as I begin laying out some ideas for a talk in November!
I'm very pleased to announce that the great @jemelehill is joining @TheAtlantic as a staff writer. She'll be covering the intersection of sports, race, politics, gender, and culture for us. Welcome, Jemele.
Recently, I read two posts within a few days that both resonated a lot with me. The topic of both pieces was the same: Writing. Or more specifically, writing on your own site. The first piece, “Just write.”, is by Sara Soueidan and if you haven’t read the article, I highly encourage you to do so. Besides the general advice that you should just write, no matter if people read it or not, what stuck in my mind the most were those two short sentences:
Once I got over my own obstacles, I stopped feeling like I was obligated to meet other people’s expectations. I started enjoying writing again.
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And then there are the mornings when I can spend two hours trying to untangle the logic in a single paragraph. I’ll grant that the thing I’m trying to say isn’t, and shouldn’t be, simple. And the paragraph is one of the keys to explaining why this chapter is in the book at all, so it’s important to get it right. But I didn’t expect it to be quite that hard to say. And the difficulty makes me wonder whether I’ve really gotten it straightened out at all.
Leaving this here, in any case, to remind me to be a bit humble in this process. I have found few things quite as difficult as writing with clarity.
Yesterday morning, I closed comments on the open review of Generous Thinking. I’m enormously grateful to everyone who took the time to read and give me feedback on the project: 30 commenters left a total of 354 comments (and prompted 56 responses of my own). I have a good bit of insight into what’s working well and what needs improvement in the manuscript, and I’m excited about the possibilities ahead as I embark on the revision process.
A wonderful mentor recently advised me to write for the job that I wanted. I liked this advice a bit more than the classic “dress for the position you want”, but wasn’t quite sure where to start. Writing anything began to feel like an intense endeavor that would map out the path my life would follow singularly, no wandering adventures. A tad dramatic, right? My previous writing had touched on a number of things: graffiti and street art, women’s history, 3D modeling, and workshops. But lately I have felt stuck and I have made all of the excuses: I’m too busy. There’s other tasks that need to be completed first. I’m tired of staring at a computer screen. I’m not a very good writer. When I finally logged into my blog, I found a hacked mess. Another excuse not to write as I focused on rebuilding.
I too spend an inordinate amount of time monkeying around with my website/writing platform, but I also find that by using it as a regular commonplace book, I’m rarely at a loss for something to write about…
Some tidbits I really appreciate about John Naughton's website
I noticed a few days ago that professor and writer John Naughton not only has his own website but that he’s posting both his own content to it as well as (excerpted) content he’s writing for other journalistic outlets, lately in his case for The Guardian. This is awesome for so many reasons. The primary reason is that I can follow him via his own site and get not only his personally posted content, which informs his longer pieces, but I don’t need to follow him in multiple locations to get the “firehose” of everything he’s writing and thinking about. While The Guardian and The Observer are great, perhaps I don’t want to filter through multiple hundreds of articles to find his particular content or potentially risk missing it? What if he was writing for 5 or more other outlets? Then I’d need to delve in deeper still and carry a multitude of subscriptions and their attendant notifications to get something that should rightly emanate from one location–him! While he may not be posting his status updates or Tweets to his own website first–as I do–I’m at least able to get the best and richest of his content in one place. Additionally, the way he’s got things set up, The Guardian and others are still getting the clicks (for advertising sake) while I still get the simple notifications I’d like to have so I’m not missing what he writes.
His site certainly provides an interesting example of either POSSE or PESOS in the wild, particularly from an IndieWeb for Journalism or even an IndieWeb for Education perspective. I suspect his article posts occur on the particular outlet first and he’s excerpting them with a link to that “original”. (Example: A post on his site with a link to a copy on The Guardian.) I’m not sure whether he’s (ideally) physically archiving the full post there on his site (and hiding it privately as both a personal and professional portfolio of sorts) or if they’re all there on the respective pages, but just hidden behind the “read more” button he’s providing. I will note that his WordPress install is giving a rel=”canonical“ link to itself rather than the version at The Guardian, which also has a rel=”canonical” link on it. I’m curious to take a look at how Google indexes and ranks the two pages as a result.
In any case, this is a generally brilliant set up for any researcher, professor, journalist, or other stripe of writer for providing online content, particularly when they may be writing for a multitude of outlets.
I’ll also note that I appreciate the ways in which it seems he’s using his website almost as a commonplace book. This provides further depth into his ideas and thoughts to see what sources are informing and underlying his other writing.
Alas, if only the rest of the world used the web this way…
Similar to several other mantras I’ve seen recently by various bloggers. Most of them have essentially said that they write to test out ideas, to stretch their thinking, to try to find additional clarity in what they’re contemplating. This takes a slightly different tack, but is roughly the same thesis.
The growing prominence of The Atlantic's national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates means that he's often asked to comment on matters on which he lacks expertise, but he demurs. In a conversation with The Atlantic's editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, recorded in front of an audience at South by Southwest in Austin, Coates explains why he isn't interested in interviewing Donald Trump, why he cannot use Twitter ever again, and how his complicated feelings about America inflect his writing for Captain America.
As ever, an interesting conversation on The Atlantic Interview.
Using WordPress makes me feel like that boy at the Type-In. I feel like the words are going right onto the paper. Sure, the metaphor is a little thin, but the point is that when writing with WordPress (or any CMS, really), the distance between what I’m typing and what I’m publishing is very short. The only thing closer is editing HTML directly on a live page, but that’s something only crazy people do.
On the other hand, publishing a static site is like sending a document to a printer. I have to make sure everything is connected, that there’s paper in the machine, and then wait for the job to finish before seeing the output. If something needs editing, and something always needs editing, the whole process starts over.
I’ve never thought of it in these terms, but there is a nice immediacy and satisfaction to WordPress for this reason. (Though naturally one shouldn’t compose in their CMS in any case.)
I might submit that his issue is a deeper one about on which platform and where to publish though given that he’s got almost as many personal websites as I do social silos. The tougher part for him is making a decision where to publish and why in addition to all the overhead of maintaining so many sites. However, I’m not one to point fingers here since I’ve got enough sites of my own, so I know his affliction.
For a quite a while I’ve been thinking about writing a book about the IndieWeb to provide a broader overview of what it is philosophically, how it works, how its community functions, and most specifically how the average person can more easily become a part of it.
Back in January Timo Reitnauer wrote Let’s Make 2017 The Year of the Indie Web. I agree wholehearted with the sentiment of his title and have been personally wanting to do something specific to make it a reality. With the changes I’ve seen in the internet over the past 22 years, and changes specifically in the last year, we certainly need it now more than ever.
As a result, I’m making my 2018 IndieWeb resolution early. For the month of November, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to endeavor to lovingly craft together a string of about 2,000 words a day on the topic of the IndieWeb to create a book geared toward helping non-developers (ie. Generation 2 and Generation 3 people) more easily own their online identities and content.
Over the past year, surely I’ve read, written about, or interacted with the IndieWeb community concretely in one way or another on at least 70 days. This sprint of 30 days should round out a 100 days project. To be honest, I haven’t necessarily posted about each of these interactions on my own site nor are they necessarily visible changes to my site, so it may not follow the exact requirements of the 100 Days of IndieWeb, but it follows the spirit of the creator idea with the hopes that the publicly visible result is ever more people adopting the principles of the movement for themselves.
I’ll focus the book primarily on how the average person can utilize the wealth of off-the-shelf tools of the WordPress content management system and its community–naturally with mentions of other easy-to-use platforms like Known and Micro.blog sprinkled throughout–to own their own domain, own their content, and better and more freely communicate with others online.
If you haven’t heard about the movement before, I’ll direct you to my article An Introduction to the IndieWeb, portions of which will surely inform the introduction of the book.
If you’ve recently joined the IndieWeb, I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts and stories about how you came to it, why you joined, and what the most troublesome parts have been so I can help direct people through them more easily–at least until there are a plurality of one-click solutions to let everyone IndieWeb-ify themselves online.
As a publisher who realizes the value of starting a PR campaign to support the resultant book, I’m also curious to hear thoughts about potentially launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the modest costs of the book, with profits (if any) going toward supporting the IndieWeb community.
I’m happy to entertain any other thoughts or considerations people have, so feel free to reply in the comments below, or better yet, reply on your own site and send me a webmention.
If you write clearly, then your readers may understand your mathematics and conclude that it isn't profound. Worse, a referee may find your errors. Here are some tips for avoiding these awful possibilities.
I want to come back and read this referenced article by Milne. The comments on this are pretty interesting as well.