There it is. 30 days of blogging, old school style!

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What’s old school style? Well, it’s when you turn up to the keyboard, stare at a blank screen and think, what am I going to write about today? What’s on my mind? What’s eating me upside that if I don’t get it out on the page, it’ll devour me. There’s no motive to sell. No SEO friendly posts. No editorial blogging calendar. There’s just showing up and bleeding onto the page.

Yeah, some days you write something halfway decent. Other days it’s total crap. And then there’s all the stuff in-between. You may only have one or 2 readers, but you don’t give a shit because it’s your blog, your means of self-expression, your truth. And if other people want to read it great, if not, well there are a million other blogs out there for them to read. Move along!

As I wrote the other day, it hasn’t always been easy to sit down and crank out something on the blog every day. On some days, my tank was just plain empty or I didn’t feel like having a conversation, not even an imaginary one (I like to imagine I’m talking with a friend when I write my posts).

There was only three us in the challenge (we lost four the day before the challenge started, which is a shame because I think they would have really benefitted from it) because if blogging every day helped me with one thing, it helped me to steal back my time from social media to apply to my own thing instead of being all cozy behind the walled gardens of Facebook and only being served up what FaceBook wants me to see.

I’ve been enjoying being a part of the IndieWeb Movement and making new friends through my micro.blog as well as on Mastodon (which largely came about because of my micro.blog syndicates there (as well as to Twitter (but Twitter is a different animal))).

Will I continue to blog every day? Probably not exclusively here. I suspect I’ll bounce between my three blogs – this one, my micro.blog, and my revived learning-oriented blog. So yeah I guess I will still be blogging every day, just not exclusively in one place. On the days I don’t feel like talking, I suspect I’ll only be on the micro.blog.

Now I need to finish up and get packing for my business trip to Munich tomorrow morning.

My hat’s off to my blogging buddy, Cathy, from way back in the day. We actually met online (and I’ve only seen her in real life once) and Dave, another Internet friend (whom I am yet to meet in person). This was his first time as a blogger. He doesn’t live a million miles away so perhaps will get together in real life and drink a beer of two together. And maybe Cathy will stop off in London when she hits Ireland (next year?) and we can spend the day together. Or since she likes mountains, we can maybe climb Snowdon together!

Until next year, this is me signing off from #BlogPals19

Peace!

You know, I’m not overly political. I have an inherent distrust of all politicians and largely see the left and the right as two-sides of the same flawed coin. For me, governments are a necessary evil. If I were to peg myself on the political spectrum, I’d be an anarchist for sure (bring on the zombie apocalypse!). Toning it down just a little, then I can just about see myself as a libertarian.

George Washington was right to warn against a two-party system in his farewell address to the nation he’d served for 20 years. The Union is a mess these days (barely worthy of the title union) with all the polarised partisan politics that has divided the nation along sharp lines. I’m riding on faith that things will sort themselves out eventually. I have to admit though, this is the first time in my life that I’ve had doubts about our ability to recover and that perhaps we have reached the beginning of the end and most go the way all other once-great nations have gone…the rise and fall…

But then someone like Tulsi Gabbard comes along and my faith is restored. I know she doesn’t stand much of chance of getting a seat at the table, but one can hope, and if not this time maybe next time.

Oh and did I mention, she and two of my other favourite people were on a podcast together?

Blogging for 28 days straight has been a little tough. There have been days that if I was not doing this challenge, I would not have created a post. I would have let myself get by with the excuse that I was too busy or too tired to blog.

But there is another reason. Sometimes you simply have nothing to say. Or like in real life, somedays you just don’t feel like talking to people. And to me, personal blogging is a conversation with others. So the days that I really struggled are the days where I just wanted to be inside my own head and not have to extend myself to talk to anyone one. When I blog, I imagine I’m speaking to someone. So if I’m not in the mood to “talk” it makes it hard for me to blog.

It’s like not wanting to go to the party that your friend is throwing but you feel like you have to go out of obligation to your friend!

The other thing is this: blogging or to blog is generally associated with writing. And in the current climate usually involves writing on a narrow topic or niche and generally to solve a particular problem unless it’s a news-oriented site then the point is to report the news. Whereas for me, I see blogging as a medium for self-expression and a vehicle for documenting your life. To me, a blog is like a public journal or diary where you capture your thoughts and observations about life in general and your own life in particular and share it with others. Personal blogs are like the watercoolers of the Internet – a place to gather to share stories about what you’ve been up to.

Stylistically, I’m partial to stream of consciousness, juxtapositions, and lyrical flow. And I’m also partial to using whichever medium feels best at the time, whether it’s writing, audio, video, drawing or photos and any combination thereof.

I like the idea of and the fluidity of microblogging with platforms like Twitter, micro.blog, Mastodon, or Tumblr. The IndieWeb Movement, of course, is encouraging people to use their blogs in the same way as you would Twitter or Tumblr. If you’re using WordPress I’d recommend the indieAuth plugin which enable your blog with up 20 different post formats.

This creates a real sense of using your blog as a documentary tool.

I guess the best tip I can offer is to understand why you blog? Your ‘why’ will dictate the format most appropriate to use to achieve your why. I suspect it’s also about your perception of blogging, whether it’s a formal tool, or informal tool and whether you believe people will fnd what you have to say interesting or not. As a blogger, these are things you’ll have to recocile with yourself.

I just bought one of Hugh Macleod’s old books, Blogging in Your Underwear. It’s not his best work, but he makes some good motivational points about blogging and what it stands for or could stand for. He tells a little story about an interview he watched of Henry Rollins, the punk rocker and performance artist:

I was wtaching Henry Rollins being interviewed on TV by some clever media twinkie. Twinkie was criticising Rollins about his new work, saying something like, why did you do it this way, why didn’t you do it your old, normal way, will your fans approve of this new direction, yada yada, yada…Rollins just looked at Twinkie and said, ‘I thought rock ‘n’ roll was about Freedom…?

And that’s exactly what the Internet and blogging in about – Freedom, and using your computer instead of a guitar to share your truth!

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done any drawing. Feeling that call again and this is what came out. Actually, it was the research I was doing on learning experience design and it’s intersection with design thinking and visual thinking that got me in the mood again. And all of that put me back in touch with cartoonist, Hugh Macloed, and the work he does over at gapingvoid that really inspired me to pick up my pen again.

One of the things i like about drawing digitally is that I can show you the evolution of the drawing. I mainly use Procreate when I make these, which gives you the option to record your pen strokes and export your process as a time lapsed video.

Pretty neat.

 

I’m not sure what possessed me to Google Map search my childhood home (one of them anyway, and probably the most formative one). From the map, it looks like the place is abandoned now. It is an old army base where the enlisted families lived. There are no cars in the parking lots which why I’m saying in must be abandoned now. I had some really great times in this small patch of Earth (Eatontown, New Jersey).

Had this Bruce Springsteen track playing in my head the whole time:

Ah and, Happy Thanksgiving Day to my countrymen.

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My friend and fellow #BlogPals19 blogger, Cathy explored the topic of physical books vs electronic books, which I thought was interesting.

The Kindle has been the best thing and the most dangerous thing for me. I love books. In fact, you might say I’m addicted to books. I have to have them. Without books and music, there is no life for me. The problem with the Kindle is the books are too easy to obtain. If I come across a title while surfing the Net and it’s in the Kindle store, chances are I’ll buy it! Versus back in the day, pre-kindle, I’d have to make the trek to a bookstore to try and find the book (which was an adventure in itself).

I used to love going to the bookstore, new or used, and wander around and browse for hours until something caught my eye and then I’d buy it, take home and read it from cover to cover (however long that took).

My love of books goes way back to before school. I was far ahead of the other kids my age when came to reading. I was so good in fact, that for English I was bumped up a grade. I hated it because it meant for that hour or so I had to leave my friend and go to class with kids older than me! I didn’t really dig that.

The library was my sanctuary. I would walk 5 miles to go spend the whole day in the post library. I’d wander up and down the library stacks sometimes in science, other times in history or literature or mechanics, it didn’t matter. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on.

Even now, my bookshelves are filled with books on many different subjects.

I don’t tend to read cover to cover anymore, not in one shot, but over time as i dip in and out of the books i have on the go unless the book has not lived up to its promises and is terrible, then happy to abandon it. Whereas before when i bought a physical book, i read it from cover to cover regardless. if it was bad, i’d suffer through it.

Now i think the Kindle feels much like surfing the web. I mostly read on the Kindle iPad app, even though i do have a physical Kindle, i tend only to read that on holiday in an anticipation of reading on a beach or mountain or lake somewhere out in the sun. Plus the Kindle on the iPad is easier to highlight and use the note function or to screenshot a passage to share on the social web.

Here are my last 10 books I bought and am currently reading:

The bottom line for me is that I love books. Yes, I do love the feel of a physical book in my hand, on the hand, I love the convenience of having a huge library in my pocket as well as the instant purchase without having to leave the comfort of my reading chair.

It’s been a long old slog of a day, so much so that it feels like tomorrow should be Thursday. I’ve crammed so much into the last couple of days, I’m sure I must have somehow squeezed in an extra day. But anyway, I’m sure that’s the story of everyone’s life these days. My mind has been racing with thoughts of the future and where I want to evolve to next with my career. I think I’ve found a really nice sweet spot that will allow me to combine several of the things I love doing. And it’s still in the learning and development world so that’s a bonus. It’s called learning experience design. And these two diagrams show all the elements learning experience design, or LxD, brings together for me:

And this one:

Through on top of this the revolution in workplace learning to move from formal classroom based training to in the flow of work solutions. Although, I have to admin, many of the company I work for still cling to the old model (which still has a place in my book, but should’n’t be the first port call).

 

I blow hot and cold when it comes to the idea of having one true purpose in a life. Sometimes I think we all have an individual purpose that we must discover and once we discover it would can truly reach our potential and be happy, if not content. Other times, I completely fall inline with the existentialist and realise that we have no ordained purpose and that life is ultimately meaningless. And that it’s up to each individual make their own meaning.

Today, I’m interested in the Japanese take on this with their concept called Ikigai, which means “a reason for being.” “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in your life or the things that makes your life worthwhile. The English translation means the “the thing you live for.”

Ikigai is meant to be the key to true happiness, at least according to the Japanese. It breaks down like this:

My plan this week is to see if I can identify my ikigai. Here’s the diagram if you want to try it out too:

If were to venture to say where I feel I am in the diagram right now, it would be in the ‘delight and fullness, but no wealth.’ So what needs to happen for me to shift that? I’ll put this question in the percolator and see whar comes out.

What’s been good about this 30-day challenge is that it has forced me to be still for a few minutes and contribute to my own blog, which is in effect, contributing to my story. What do I mean by that? Let’s face it I’m not writing earth-shattering posts. I’m not even solving some great problem or servicing a need. But what I am doing is taking a snapshot of what’s on my mind at the time I sit down to write a post. And over time, all those snapshots will tell parts of my story. It’s like a multimedia scrapbook of my life and thoughts. Little pieces of my life juxtaposed together that when looked at as a whole, contribute to a larger narrative.

One of the goals of the IndieWeb Movement is to encourage people to post everything to their blog and the syndicate out. I haven’t quite got there yet, apart from syndicating to Twitter (automatically using WordPress’s native syndication tool), Facebook (which I have to do manually because FB restricted API access to their site are no longer allow 3rd party posting to the profile. They didn’t under the guise of protecting your privacy so things like Cambridge Analytica can’t happen, it if dig a little deeper, it now forces you to have to go on Facebook to post, which of course gives them the opportunity to serve you up some adverts, boost their user stats which they use to sell advertising. And I get that. It’s a company, and companies exist to make money. But it’s a shining example of why you want to control your own space by having your own blog (that you own) not subject to algorithms and the whims of company who might suddenly changed their rules or bail on you completely (take a look at google graveyard and all the web apps they’ve abandoned over the years, some of which I really liked using).

Plus if you’re blog acts as your central hub, then you have everything in one place. Your blog becomes your basecamp. Because you own it, you don’t have to worry about it going the way of MySpace or Google + and other social media platforms that have come and gone over the years.

Viva la IndieWeb Movement!

P.S. They say it takes 3 weeks to form a new habit. Well, it’s Day 21 of our little blogging challenge so here’s to a new habit! #BlogPals19

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