For the lack of a word does the idea get misunderstood?

It seems we are brushing against new realms, new ideas and the fallout, new ways to do things. And yet we use old words and concepts to try to make some meaning for ourselves in these new realms. Those involved in blogging and twittering are sometimes at a loss explaining this new realm because how do you explain something so new that never stops changing.

I recently used the word ‘geekoid’ to explain how a program automatically setup a recorded TV show’s mpeg for streaming with a new http address. ‘Geek’ because it is using technology at the edge in a unique fashion and ‘oid’ because it sounds cool and as a suffix it means to form an adjective/noun with the sense of having the form or appearance of something related but not identical. It suggests that it is a cool use of technology but using TV technology that isn’t the same as we are used to. The program is Elgato’s EyeTV and its wi-fi access preference.

The word micro-blogging has appeared a few time recently to describe what twitter does. Users of twitter had just been calling it twittering, everybody who used this means to communicate easily understanding what it means. Micro-blogging seems to limit what it means.

One of the more interesting concepts is what credit unions do which is offering banking services. Who would understand them as offering credit unioning services? Our quest to make meaning of the new and redefining the old goes on. What seems to be taking shape with twittering is the quick sharing of concepts and ideas, off the cuff remarks that stick and begin to be used again and again until they find some small fashion of usage.

We as English users have a rich heritage of words to use, in fact probably more than most languages. But with 26 letters the capacity of understanding exactly what we say seems limited at times. I would suspect the challenge for bloggers/twitterers is to mold and message our communication not for the coolest of words but for the most understandable language. We shouldn’t be afraid to create something new or reuse words. We should not be persons of indolence.

Bacn (electronic)

I came across this word in Wikipedia. It is the term given to electronic messages which are not spam but are often unread. They state that bacn is email you want but not right now. This started me thinking about how much material other than emails is marked for future reading especially websites and blogs. Those blog entries that are marked for future reading could be called ‘progs’ – postponed readable blogs. Websites are either bookmarks or del.icio.us tags. (I use del.icio.us but would rather use simpy). The easiest is to use the tagging engine of your choice.
So why do we collect so much information for future digestion? It is easy to gather so much verbiage. In a matter of minutes your collection of articles that are specific to your interest are there and the means to prepare this future reading material is possible. The ease to be able to do this was simply not possible a few years ago. (Someone mentioned to me that a family member of theirs still prints every web page off they want to read and has massive paper files for their special interests!) The neat thing about this is that when you get back to reading this suitcase of words it starts you thinking in a focussed manner. The grey matter is really working hard with such a variety of viewpoints. And you can’t find that stimulus anywhere else. These thoughts and ideas are coming directly from the writer without the filtering of any editor or publisher. It’s like getting a mailbox of letters from around the world, everyday.

So bacn is good, spam is not. One is edible pork, the other is a supposed edible pork product. Funny how pig parts have solicited these types of meaning. Oink on!

What a week

Sometimes you get just one of those days where it seems the day begins and ends in one quick and sweeping motion. Then it begins again and again. Pretty soon it adds up to a week. It was busy for the 7 days and now I realize no blog entries or even time for writing. But summer seems to have arrived here on the West Coast and everything moves outside. So from the patio and thanks to wireless blogging gets to be easy.

My wife listens to CBC religiously every morning and has done so for years. From 6:00 am until we leave for work at 8:00 am every morsel of the Early Edition is taken in. On Tuesday Marjun went to help her class at a camping site. So I thought to break the habit, no CBC while she is gone. Then an e-mail arrives this morning from a colleague saying “it was great to hear you on CBC at 6:25 am this morning!” Aaaarghhhh… Tod Maffin had recorded some of the presentations at last week’s DemoCampVancouver and I guess I was a small bit of the 4 minutes he presented. So the one time I could have really shocked my wife passes. But maybe it’s a good thing. I would probably have been shaving and who knows how much damage a razor can make when one is startled.

The dollar is getting stronger and there is talk about an interest rate increase. Looks like the mortgage rates have already factored that in. Given the high cost of real estate in our area a few hikes are going to have a greater effect than in the past. That along with higher gas prices should start to have some effect. But people usually take some time to realize changes like this. Someone once told me that a long freight train will take a mile to stop. Our economy is very much like that. Whatever changes now takes some time to have any effect. It would seem that this time the effect will be much stronger than the past given the higher real estate debt more people are carrying.

Dates for BarCampSeattle have been set at July 21 and 22nd. This should be a very interesting event and from the list of people coming there is going to be some great stuff coming out of it. BarCamps are intense, sort of like the Olympics of Seminars. If you have never been to one it is well worth it. What did Jimi say “Are you Experienced?”

hendrix.jpg

Rex = King

Here is something new that I have not seen before. Rex & Co. have an agreement where you convert home equity into cash. The “loan of cash” is paid back when you sell your home or in 50 years whichever happens first. You pay no interest or make any payments, you pay at the end of the agreement. You are selling a portion of your equity in the home. That could amount to much more than what you received in cash at the start of the agreement. What would you call that?

William brought up Seth Godin’s “Blow up your homepage” entry. What do people expect when they click a URL? First and foremost it would have to be information. Either that page sign.gifmoves them through an entry point or they can click/search for further information. It would seem to be like an encyclopedia. You look up the entry, get the volume and start scanning the information to see what is relevant, look at the acknowledgements and proceed. Using the Oxford English Dictionary on-line gives you a similar experience without turning pages. You can just search and click. There are two keys here.

  • A focus on what you want, exactly. They say that to get the answer you have to form the proper question.
  • A good search facility for your site. The best sites have search results highlight the phrase when you move to the different pages.

All of that said Seth has said something that won’t go away easily. What should a homepage look like?

Social networking et al

Ron Shelvin has a great post initiated by Tim McAlpine (with comments). I commented on the entry and wanted to expand on it here.

First some clarity. Being cognisant of the person behind the message and that further communication is usually necessary will keep a clear focus on the value of social networking. Whether this takes further entries (such as this) a telephone call or a personal visit it depends on the message and the circumstance. A quick example.

Attending Gnomedex a few years ago and recent NorthernVoices you realize a true advantage of where the cutting edge is going. A keynote or seminar is presented and while the presentation is happening Flickr is being uploaded with pictures, blogs are being posted to, wikis are updated and the electronic interaction is almost overwhelming. All of these entries contribute to the presentation. Everyone has their laptop open and the bandwith is phenomenal. You can begin to see who the person is behind the name tag and it is a unique experience. This social networking has now expanded with YouTube and Twitter etc. and I daresay is only the beginning.

Maybe I should have said human networking instead of social networking but I didn’t want to divorce one from the other. Senior execs need to be challenged, big time. Remember ‘customer relationship management’ and what that has come to mean or MIS, ‘management information systems’? Ron is right — we do need to take some of the confusion out of the term. Social networking as it applies to technology is a great unknown by most and that is really too bad because by beginning to use it, by taking advantage of it, we as credit unions, which is the credit union members, can begin to re-create what financial service is.

So what will this collective communication bring us? The power to listen and listen better. One of the problems with listening is that it does take time. Relationships are created by human interaction. One universal concern we need to listen to is what people think about line ups. They hate them. Everybody hates them. They waste time. People don’t want to converse with anyone when they have been standing in line for 10 minutes waiting. They now want to get the business done and move on. If they didn’t have to wait they would spend those few extra found minutes talking and we could then explore those needs and wishes that would seed innovation. But some executive think success is measured by the length of the line up. “We must be busy, great! Just look at that lineup.” Social networking will put concerns like this right in front of us for all to see. The challenge is what are we going to do with them? Will be act, re-act or ignore?

Those that have attempted to build their organizations on vision and values will readily embrace these challenges social networking offers. Those that don’t need to maybe do something else. Something happened with Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 and Ron, Tim and William have got it. What about the others?

Blogs and blogging

Great news. Scott Baldwin from North Shore Credit Union has a blog. A remarkable person from a remarkable credit union.

William Azaroff from Vancity also has a blog going. William’s blog links to a posting by Ron Shelvin from Epsilon titled “Dear Credit Union: If You’re Going to Blog…

I always enjoying reading lists. Simple and to the point. Ron has a list (which he readily opens with the phrase “At the risk of overstepping the boundaries of my expertise…”) which points to some pretty practical recommendations. Remembering that blogging is an art and not a science it has been a slow evolution of information written about blogs and blogging. There is no codex so don’t bother looking for it. I remember talking to Matt Mullenweg a few years ago at Gnomedex. What was amazing about Matt is that he didn’t talk about WordPress but spoke of blogging and the passion he and others had for it. That is really the key more than anything else to writing a blog. And it shows time and time again with a variety of bloggers.

When you think of the core elements of this medium (reading and writing) you realize that text and literary skills are as important as pictures and videos when conveying messages. Short, distinct messages that are well thought out carry the day. Post regularly is the standard. If people like what you write they want to read what you write. They don’t want to wait long periods of time before the next posting. There are some excellent blogs out there that for some reason become dinosaurs. It is appreciated when someone who is blogging decides to hang up the keyboard and tells you such. Links are important and should be used generously. That is what makes social networking actually work. You could never plan what is going to happen to any extent because it just happens. There are always surprises out there. And that is what makes you blog and entices you to read blogs. One final thought, never let fear or ignorance govern what you write. Nobody wants to read issues drawn from that.

Bloggers code of conduct

Looks like Tim O’Reilly feels bloggers needs some parameters on conduct. His original post discussed this at length. And Blogging Wikia has produced something similar. I’d like to explore this one issue further.

First we are talking about comments here. Comments. When I have a discussion with anyone in person they don’t necessarily know me. They see a physical presence but may know absolutely nothing about me. Only the physical presence is my identity. Blogging only exists in a two dimensional form with text and its meaning as an identity. The written idea dominates our thought of who this person is. This exchange of ideas would be as valid whether we knew or did not know the person. I have a difficult time seeing why there is a need to not allow anonymous comments.

Advertising. We see it everywhere. In large part this is their opinion or comment on their product or service. But aren’t corporations anonymous just by their size and inability by any individual person to converse with the ‘owner’? Even when we think we see something we ‘know’ they can still remain anonymous.

Tim mentions accountability via identity changes how people behave. Maybe, maybe but why does that matter? People in public places, hockey games for example, are not known but that doesn’t dissuade them from being boors at times. How can a valid email address indicate that accountability is valued? Wikia makes the point that they discourage aliases in emails as vain. People who drive vehicles are not really anonymous (license plates are viewable) but doesn’t bring accountability and changes as to how they behave?

Blogging by its nature brings us the viability and energy of dialogue and comments. Speakers Corner in Hyde Park was the historical concept of this. But blogging takes this a few steps farther. These blogs give everyone a ‘free speech zone’ without the confines of geography or time. They also add the ability to take the time to think and comment. Are good ideas invalid because they are anonymous?

It seems some people eventually arrive at the point were they need to establish a codex of some sort. It makes them feel secure. Gives them ‘laws’ to blame. Some can’t stand the unorganized and have an aversion to chaos. Where are the police when we need them? Next on the agenda – the blog police.

There are blogs where the owner maintains the right to post the comment. For some it is a means of controlling spam. The blog is their domain and they can handle it as they wish. With TV you can turn it off anytime to keep the drivel out of your life (sorry we haven’t had TV for years so we turned it off permanently). The same with blogs, you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to. Only you can judge the merits of whatever is written by whoever.

Masses of stuff

WestJet is pretty good. The flight home was delayed but the airline people kept you in the loop and they were very friendly. Just their easy way of saying things was different. Mind you the drink and the pretzel package was pretty skimpy. I wonder if any airline will ask if you want to super-size the handout?

Winnipeg was beautiful Saturday morning. It was cold, clear and sunny. The blue sky with the white snow was a stark contrast to the Vancouver rain. The real beauty is that you know you are leaving the next day to daffodil country so it can get as cold as it wants. But this is the prairies and they do have some raw beauty.

Want to check to see if your website is censored in China? Here is the URL to check it out. The site mentions how the Chinese are becoming more sophisticated in this process of blocking. Not much as to specific details as to how and what they are doing though.

Spending too much time reading blogs? Here is the great Wiki piece to sort you through this dilemma. There are always some neat blogs that loose relevance after awhile but the number does grow. I have 3 separate groups that I read each day. One group is about technology, the second is about GTD and the last the general blogs of interest. Between the three there is ample information and some very interesting ideas. You do need to focus on what is useful and what is entertainment.

I saw an ad for a toothbrush that had some additional feature (like toothbrushes can now be bought with options) to brush your tongue. Seemed like a good idea but last weeks Georgia Straight had an article on toothbrushes. Near the end of the article was this “Don’t brush your tongue…By brushing or scraping your tongue, you will create all kinds of changes to the ecology of your tongue. You scrape off bodies of protection called keratin. That’s the body’s protective mechanism against germs.” Don’t brush your tongue is a better idea.

The poster arrived

The poster for sponsorship of Northern Voice 2007 arrived this weekend. And it is pretty good. Mt. Lehman Credit Union is one of the sponsors of the event and last year our marketing materials were posters and buttons. Our sponsorship was not viewed as the ‘normal’ marketing means to bring a lot of business to the credit union. It was more to assist the Northern Voice conference in establishing a tone for the conference. How to do that is sometimes difficult because you need to really understand the group or audience that participates. And really how does anyone really understand blogging? The ‘culture’ or ‘tone’ of the conference is really set by the participants and the interaction of the people. Reading the blogs of the people who are putting this together does give you a good idea of what Northern Voice is and why it is different than say Gnomedex.

NV is much smaller and tends to focus on what I would call relationship blogging and the blogging community as it evolves.

Blogging is relatively new and it does tend to change. There are some things that you do and somethings that you don’t do. Kindness is appreciated. Openess to critiques is important. Acceptance of positive comments with humility goes a long way. Small graphics should always add to the discourse. Good writing comes from practice and is not a genetic condition. And blogging should always be fun.

When you put this all together blogging seems to be like graffitti or street art versus the paid old school media. Blogging tends to be honest enough to be disruptive. It is interesting that you can see ‘tagging‘ on buildings and signs throughout the Lower Mainland. It is an identity for some. And the blogging community uses ‘tags’ to associate groups or ideas. Blogging allows for events, cultures and ideas to be ‘interpreted’ and discussed. The poster Basco5 did for us hopefully is like that. A piece of work that can be interpreted and discussed and is fun. So how does that fit with a Credit Union?

Banking has changed. You don’t need to go into a branch all that much anymore. Technology has allowed this to happen. Some see this as increased revenue by decreasing staff (look what the Bank of Montreal announced last week). That seems to be a very short term position. What is needed in banking is the constant vigilance that banking needs to be established as a relationship. You trust me, I trust you. And you can only have relationships with people, not machines or technology. (see Jacques EllulThe Technological Society). A lot of times banking is based on trust. An institution that ignores this has missed what people really want.

Sponsoring this event was really to say that the credit union is a 65 year old institution that supports relationships of trust. Northern Voice is a 3 year old conference that is doing exactly the same. We are not much different.