A List Apart: Articles: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web

I was cleaning up my bookmark list this morning and what usually happens when I try happened. I followed an old link that crashed. Then in trying to find a new clean link to the site I found a article that has more relevance to me now than when it was first published…

10 Tips on Writing the Living Web · An A List Apart Article - Google Chrome 5312015 20353 PM

A List Apart: Articles: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web: “Snapshot :
Your information architecture is as smooth, clear, and inviting as a lake. Your design rocks. Your code works. But what keeps readers coming back is compelling writing that’s continually fresh and new. Updating daily content can challenge the most dedicated scribe or site owner. Mark Bernstein’s ten tips will help you keep the good words (and readers) coming.”

That was the Blurb on the home page of A List Apart that caught my attention. Which led to a really good article on not only why to write, but how.

In first reading I was struck by some of the points Mark Bernstein had to make. Since I am in the beginning stages of trying to define not only why I am writing but what I am being pulled to say. I was particularly impressed by:

“Write for a reason, and know why you write. Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter.

To an artist, the smallest grace note and the tiniest flourish may be matters of great importance. Show us the details, teach us why they matter. People are fascinated by detail and enthralled by passion; explain to us why it matters to you, and no detail is too small, no technical question too arcane.

Bad personal sites bore us by telling us about trivial events and casual encounters about which we have no reason to care. Don’t tell us what happened: tell us why it matters. Don’t tell us your opinion: tell us why the question is important.”

I guess that makes my reason for writing more of the search for the reason, than the reason for the search. If you follow along with my search maybe we can both arrive at the reason together. I promise to try not to bore, and if I do please tell me.

“If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often. One afternoon in grad school, I heard B. F. Skinner remark that fifteen minutes a day, every day, adds up to about book every year, which he suggested was as much
writing as anyone should indulge. You don’t need to write much, but you must write, and write often.”

I like the idea of the”Living Web” which Mark attributes to Dan Chan of Daypop. As I write this I am reminded of something I have seen over and over in the years I have been online and reading others blogs. It is the shared data that is out among the readers. Fred First has seen it when he asks a tech question and gets an answer from his readers. Jerry Pournelle has had it for years, when he would throw out a problem he was having with his technology, he would often get answers almost faster than he could post. It is almost like we are watching the evolution of the first glimmers of a shared human brain.

Then there’s that old bugaboo about writing often. I have always heard that it is harder to get started writing and develop the habit than it is feeding the monster in the long run. Hopefully, like all habits, doing something regularly for 30 days and it becomes a habit…

When he speaks of being good friends, I interpret that as the sense of community that grows from the interhnge of ideas that comes from sharing…

Read widely and well, on the web and off, and in your web writing take special care to acknowledge the good work and good ideas of other writers. Show them at their best, pointing with grace and respect to issues where you and they differ. Take special care to be generous to good ideas from those who are less well known, less powerful, and less influential than you.

Weblog writers and other participants in the Living Web gain readers by exchanging links and ideas…Find ways to be a good friend. All writers thrive on ideas; distribute them generously and always share the credit. Be generous with links. Be generous, too, with your time and effort; A-list sites may not need your traffic, but everyone can use a hand.

There is plenty of useful info in this article, so follow the link and read the whole thing.

The Blog | Bob Burnett: Enemy of the People – Al Gore or George Bush? | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Bob Burnett: Enemy of the People – Al Gore or George Bush? | The Huffington Post: “There’s been a reversal of fortune. Americans are waking up to discover that they made a bad mistake electing George Bush. That he can’t be trusted and isn’t even that likeable. That Dubya not only doesn’t have a plan to solve America’s problems, he doesn’t recognize most of them. Rather than usher in an era of responsibility, he’s championed an era of unbridled self-interest and shortsighted public policies. After five and a half years, it’s Bush who’s become the enemy of the people.”

It really would not be so sad, except to this day there are a core of conservatives who believe everything they have been told by the cabal behind Shrub.
It makes you long for the days when the FCC mandated equal time for opposing political spots. Wouldn’t it be nice to see FOX news cut down to half of the propaganda they spew and having to give free air time to the truth?

Election results by county. Al Gore George W. Bush
Election results by county. Al Gore George W. Bush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How I spend my days…

I spend my days in a darkened room staring at twin windows on the electronic world. My twin windows are the twin 20” monitors on which I design my projects before sending them through the cable that ties my machine to the others in this network of interconnected ideas.

My job titles me a design manager, but how does one really manage designs? My actual job has me spending my days (to borrow the corporate branding speak) “designing environments and graphical interfaces that facilitate face to face marketing”. Which means, I design displays and graphics for exhibits, tradeshows and conventions? The illustration on this post will give you a slight idea of what I do…I tend to reinvent myself regularly, though, keeping the myth growing.

I came to this position primarily because I was always a computer geek even before there were computer geeks…and since I was originally a builder of modular exhibits working without the benefits of a designer or detailer to illustrate what we were putting together, I taught myself to draw them, first by hand and then by computer. I was always drawn to drawing and sketching, so the discipline of drafting was a natural progression. The reason I started to draw the exhibits we were building was to be able to communicate the setup instructions to the installation crews in my absence. Over the course of the years my primary work load has shifted from a mainly production bent to primarily a design focus, so that now almost all of my work is done in a virtual world…And, since the ankles and knees no longer appreciate the pounding of the concrete on the tradeshow floor for days and miles on end, I guess the virtual world will do until I can put myself into the real world of the mountains I dream of.

Mountain Dreams

Is U.S. Ready for Hurricane Season?

You know as a resident of the Texas Gulf Coast, living less than 5o miles from the Gulf of Mexico I read articles like this and I am worried, very worried…

Is U.S. Ready for Hurricane Season?: “‘Last year we didn’t have a clue,’ said the acting FEMA director, R. David Paulison. The agency will put satellite tracking devices on trucks leaving its two largest logistics centers — in Denton, Tex., and Atlanta — to avoid a repeat of post-Katrina efforts, when critical supplies such as ice and generators arrived days or weeks late, sometimes after circling the country.”

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...
Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near its peak Category 5 intensity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is it only the appointed directors of FEMA that don’t have a clue…and why should I trust them now? I watched last year as Rita bore down on the Houston/Galveston Region with ground zero originally being to the west of Freeport, which would have been the worst case scenario for my home and family. By the time on Wednesday that I had finished boarding up and securing my home (two plus days before landfall), the fiasco that was to be was already beginning. News reports of the traffic disaster were already beginning to filter on to the airways. And while none of the local weather guys was reporting it almost all of the forecasted tracks were beginning to show a slight veer to the east. After discussing the situation we decided that we had the time and resources to wait and see what was happening in the next 24 hours…turned out this was the right choice. Had we made the run we would have spent all of that time sitting on the road and might never have gotten anywhere in the end.

“‘We’re ready for this upcoming hurricane season — assuming that the American public does their part and they get ready as well,” said George W. Foresman, DHS undersecretary for preparedness.”

Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn’t it. This ownership society we know have where if everything goes wrong, you own the problem not the people you hired (voted for (or not)) to own the problem. So America, you are warned, as long as everything goes right your government is doing it’s job…but when the fertilizer hits the fan…it was because you did not do your part. by the way has anyone told you what your part now is?

I am assuming that we now must have new guidelines to follow since the old ones didn’t work. Have you got your two month supply of spam in storage?

My plans haven’t changed much if any. Food and water in the pantry (we’ll start buying a few extra cans of food stuffs each week through the summer, if we need it it’s there if not we eat it through the winter), batteries in the flashlights, gas in the gas cans (used for lawn work and kept filled between times). But number one we watch the approaching storms online ourselves, do our own forecasting, do not depend on television news mongers to hype the event.

“But plans to assign the Justice Department responsibility for law enforcement and the Housing and Urban Development management of temporary housing are not yet completed. Neither is a new national emergency communications strategy or an infrastructure-protection plan due June 1.”

the ramblings of my brain over that first cup… and other meanders