Confidence In Blog Posts Over Time – My Analysis (Slideshare)

Sometimes this is how I feel. And sometimes I can only express myself through presentations ;-)

A Hierarchy of Blogging

As I mentioned the other day I’ve been a little slack in my blogging recently.

I started having a bit of a think about my blogging behaviour to see if I could make sense of this most recent lull. I’m sure the self-analysis was partially brought on as an aftermath of Mental Detox Week. And because I’d just come back from holiday which was another screen-free period.

When I got back from holiday I dropped into a week of extremely tough work. Probably one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in the last couple of years. Plus Balloonacy was running a the time. Which didn’t leave any free time for blogging. It didn’t even give me enough time to get properly on top of my email leftovers from holiday week. And my to-do list started to run to a seemingly unmanageable length.

So I decided to set myself into max-efficiency mode. It took all my working time (and a bit extra) to get back to zero-inbox and a to-do list full of non-overdue items. Which I did. It took me a few days of hard graft. But it was worth it.

One of these days I’ll share my productivity setup with everyone – in the last couple of months I’ve finally found my own cut-down GTD style setup that really works for me – especially if I never go on holiday ;-)

Anyway once I’d caught up with emails and to-dos I figured that I ought to keep my life in order and have some fun before I got stuck into WordPress. So I went to Glastonbury. Which resulted in more emails to deal with, more to-dos and even less blogging.

At this point I started to think about some kind of ‘life hierarchy’ that perhaps I was unwittingly starting to adhere to. And of course there’s only one place to look when you’re thinking about hierarchies and life. Good old Abe Maslow.

Here’s his pyramid (re-created from this Wikipedia entry).

Maslow's Hierarchy

When I saw it, I realised that I could kind of apply my own version of a hierarchy to it. One that distills my new-found blog-life balance. Enter Tait’s Hierarchy of Blogging…

My Hierarchy of Blogging

I realised that my previous blogging behaviour had seen me jumping around all over the pyramid. Sometimes blogging (or at least twittering) when excreting. Occasionally blogging instead of getting the things done that pay my wages. And quite often blogging as a kind of proxy for a social life. Even going as far as being involved with setting up a blog (with a team of co-editors) dedicated to sexual prowess as promised by junk-emailers – lord knows I hope that’s not some neo-Freudian replacement for the last thing on Maslow’s third layer!

Anyway I’m not promising that I won’t start jumping randomly between the layers of the stack again. But for my own mental-well-being (and I think quality of blog posting), I’m going to try and sort out my lower-order needs before I start posting drivel.

I think I might have just fallen at the first hurdle.

And besides blogging can be good for helping out with sorting out some of the lower order stuff too. I’m sure it can. Can’t it…?

Webbys 2008

Just got back from the Webbys in New York. We were over there to pick up a People’s Voice for the Orange Never Ending Web Page. There’s evidently no photo of me picking up our Webby, so here’s a picture of Richard from Moo picking up their Webby instead, well done Moo chaps.

It was all really well put together and a lot of fun. Perhaps a little too much fun and there might have been too many refreshments on offer. But anyway.

I had a much better time than I normally do at that kind of thing. I think it’s because everyone was well, webby. So being the geek that I am I could easily get to common ground with folk about stuff I found at least a tiny bit interesting.

So sorry for not blogging. Got into a bit of a spiral of working. Partying. Sleeping. Hanging Over. Eating. And back to working again. And so the circle of (the last week of) life goes.

Twitter On The Shitter?

What Are You Doing

It’s a question that’s been bugging me for a while. Do people send Tweets when they’re in perhaps, shall we say, more compromising positions. I did a straw poll around a table yesterday and got a very mixed response. I’m not saying where I sit on the issue, I think it’s a personal matter and in individual cases I’d rather not know.

But in the interests of science I’m going to open up a poll and see what the world thinks. Sorry there isn’t an option to say ‘I don’t use Twitter, I think it sucks’ – that’s a different poll…

[poll id=”1″]

Portfolio Night

Portfolio Night 6

I was lucky enough to go to Portfolio Night 6 last night. Set up by the enterprising young dudes behind it’s billed as a chance for young creatives to meet creative directors (for a fee of £10). I felt like it was a chance for me to meet young talented people (for a fee of nothing with a couple of beers thrown in for free).

Without giving away any personal details about people that I saw I was amazed at the disparity in skills that I saw. Some of it was obviously about talent. But there were a bunch of people who’d obviously been given a really rubbish schooling in what ‘advertising’ is all about. A shocking image with a quirky line and a logo (bottom left invariably bottom right invariably [thanks Ben for pointing out my stupid error]) can’t be the basic unit of advertising any more, can it?

I met a few youngsters that really stood out: if I thought I could hide Jai and Wal from the world and keep them as my little secret I’d be tempted. But they’re already out there, blogging with the best of them and doing placements at great places. So they’ll be fine whatever happens.

There’s another couple that I really really liked, but I’m keeping them secret for now whilst ‘discussions’ take place…

I hope my comments were useful to the people I spoke to. I’m not sure they were mostly. But I hope at least I was polite and respectful (unlike some of my contemporaries who I heard being a little bit mean if I have to be honest…).

Some Things I Saw Last Week

When I wasn’t blogging last week I saw some things:

  • Nu-rave extreme fashion in Brighton (they’ve got some amazing Sun Microsystems sunglasses in there – perfect for the Skins obsessed-geek in your life)
  • A road that looks like a sex organ
  • A vinyl outfit that looks very odd
  • A New Era hat that looks like a brain
  • A Stylophone with MP3 input (why wasn’t I told!)

Make Mine a Builders – Superb Blogger Relations

Make Mine A Builders (Tea)

In the post the other day I got a package of brilliant stuff. You can see it above.

It contained a pack of “Make Mine a Builders” tea and a stylish silver mug with one of those climbing clippy things (I can never remember their proper name) as a handle.

Make Mine A Builders (Tea)

Why did I get this? Well because I’d said I liked their tea once before on the blog.

It came with a hand-written comp slip that was written just to me. They’d spelled my name right and everything.

But the thing that made it super-special is that it was a total surprise. They’d gone out and done all the legwork themselves. They hadn’t emailed me to ask what my postal address was. They’d gone and figured it all out on their own.

So when it arrived it was a genuine moment of surprise and delight. (In case you’re not a jaded industry hack ‘surprise and delight’ is pretty much the thing that everyone talks about doing to make their customers like them better).

Cynically you might say that they’re just trying to get some more publicity. And maybe they are. But you know what, I don’t care. I’ve got a shiny mug and some splendid tea (it is really good by the way).

Things to learn from this: nice, charming, personal, relevant, free stuff, shiny things, no effort from me.

4×4 Meme: More About Me

I got tagged by blackbeltjones with the 4×4 meme. So I rolled over and became a part of it. Plus it gives me a chance for some totally self-absorbed and pointless blogging.

It looks like this meme has mutated a bit over time, but I’m going to continue on the branch handed to me by Mr Jones…

So here’s my 4 answers to each of 4 questions:

4 Jobs I’ve had

Work Experience – Some random solicitors firm in Burton on Trent. At the time I really wanted to be a lawyer. I also wanted to drive a Porsche and go skiing. Basically that was my teenage rebellion. It’s what happens when your parents come from the hippy side of the fence. I’m sure they’d have been fine catching me with a cheeky spliff – but a filofax. I knew that’d horrify them.

Boots, Sound and Vision – Burton-on-Trent – When I was 17-18 I worked in Boots. They had a rather natty Sound and Vision department that sold tapes, records, computer games (on cassette), compact film cameras and midi-hifi systems (sad to think that of all those things that only really records exist any more). I was good at selling that stuff.

Principles for Men – Edinburgh. While I was a student I used to do a couple of weekday shifts and a weekend in the basement of the store on Princes Street. During the week the most regular customers were smackhead shoplifters. Their target was generally reversible blouson jackets – they’d realised that they’re great for avoiding detection. If security guards are looking for guys in lemon yellow jackets, they can flip them and be just an innocent guy in a baby blue one.

WWAV Rapp Collins – Edinburgh. My first proper job (after freelancing doing web stuff for the Edinburgh Science Festival) was at a DM agency. The creatives were on a separate floor and used to go and drink shedloads at lunchtime. I was friends with some of them and tried to keep up a few times, it was not good. For the job interview they warned candidates they were going to be asked to demonstrate their Excel skills. So I got the Excel manual and went straight to the back. I learned some bonkers, useless macro skills. They’d never seen anything like it before and I got the job. I never used those skills again. After a few months I went to the MD and suggested that we should look at the Internet as a thing for doing marketing stuff – it was suggested that this was not a good idea. I left soon after.

Four TV Shows I DVR (or shows I would record on DVR if I had a DVR)

(When trying to write this I realised just how little ‘serious’ TV I watch).

Weeds – if you’ve not seen it you should. It’s incredibly dark and incredibly funny. A suburban housewife starts growing weed in order to keep her dysfunctional family together. I still chuckle when I think about the young son’s gangster rap, and any show that makes gags about the Prius being the perfect drive-by car shows a certain degree of skill. Oh and there’s a very odd cameo by Snoop Dogg in series 3. And they have a thing where someone different sings the theme song every episode – and they’re all really cool Weeds is cool.

South Park – I should have grown out of it years ago. But it’s still the satire I enjoy the most. Who else could so eloquently illustrate democracy as making the choice between a douchebag and a shit sandwich and claim that that’s how it’s been throughout history.

Peep Show – nothing makes me laugh like Peep Show. It takes the classic sit-com format and bends it into a dark, painful and twisted voyage inside the brain of modern man.

Heroes – it’s a little cheesy. But it’s really really good. Sophie and I have only just managed to get rid of our sofa-sores after our marathon 23 episode feast over a rainy bank-holiday weekend last year. We’ve not started on Season 3 yet…

Four places I’ve been:

Hamm, Germany. My grandparents used to live there. I remember going there on the coach on my own when I was 13/14. I stayed with my pen pal Aldrik (arranged by my grandma). It was all very pen-pally. On the return trip Aldrik brought me a 12″ maxi single of the Pet Shop Boys. Which was nice.

Koh Pang Ngan, Thailand – I’ve been there a couple of times. I’ve never actually been to one of the legendary full moon parties (probably a good thing). I have however been to an odd detox resort which involved daily enemas and drinking vegetable water. Which was nice.

Northern Italy, Near Merano – An odd bit of Italy where most people speak German. We went there for a summer holiday and it was great. The cable cars take you up the hills and you can walk down. Only downside is being woken up in the morning by the clack-clack-clack of geriatric walkers with their ski-pole-like walking sticks. But they make lovely wine, the air is the freshest I’ve ever breathed and the scenery is stunning. Which was nice.

Las Vegas – I only mention Las Vegas because I think it’s ruined my perceptions of going to lots of places in the world. I noticed it when I was in India. Bits of India didn’t feel quite right to me, and I realised that the reason was that I’d been there already. Well I’d been to the Vegas facsimilie anyway. And the Vegas version was bigger and brighter. So very very wrong.

Four music artists I’m listening to now:

Basic Channel – awesome minimal tech-space-dub. Most of their catalogue was realeased in 1993-1995 and only ever on vinyl – but it’s all just had it’s first digital release through Beatport. I bought the lot. And I can’t stop listening to them. Their releases as Rhythm & Sound are a bit more Reggae influenced but equally storming.

PoleResident Advisor Podcast. Kind of part of the same scene as Basic Channel. This podcast just popped up as I felt ready to go deeper into the dub vortex. The mix fuses reggae, dubstep and minimal sounds into something rather wonderful. The RA podcast is one of the most consistently excellent podcasts I’ve come across (if you like electronic-y stuff). His albums 1, 2, 3, R and Steingarten are all worth a listen.

Justus Kohncke – This chap has been releasing awesome tracks on the awesome Kompakt records for a while now. Pick up hisnew album Safe and Sound to get a good opener. It’s kind of techno-pop-disco. But it’s very light on cheese. I’m jealous that Boomkat managed to end their review of the album with: Justus is served.

Aidan John Moffat – he used to be part of Arab Strap with Malcolm Middleton whose recent albums I like too. But his most recent album I Can Hear Your Heart is a bunch of spoken word poems over the top of audio soundscapes with bits and pieces of music woven through it. His poems are really filthy and most of them involve some kind of sexual encounter. This review explains how I feel about it:

His words, no matter how filthy, are delivered in such a manner that can’t but touch the seedier parts of your heart, and often make you smile. Maybe that’s just my sense of humour, but tales of city life, honesty, misguided love, cheating and general ‘wrongness’ have never been so comforting.

Stories of urban oddness make for a a really strange soundtrack to a commute :-)

Having completed that monster post I am now the meme-master. I tag:

Faris – because I miss the little fellah with the big hair.
Russell – because he was moaning about not getting meme’d anymore (you’ll wish you’d never said that).
Adam – because I’m working with him at the moment and I feel I should know more about him.
My Mum – because she’s got blogs (plural) and I don’t think she’s been meme’d before and it’s about time she posted some new things ;-)

The Little Haters

I really liked this piece about ‘The Little Haters’, the tiny voices in your head that try to persuade you not to to stuff. Outlines the killer combo of procrastination and perfectionism to a tee…

I was feeling like the little haters had moved in, and I wasn’t going to be able to start blogging again. But then I just posted up some rubbish about cows with yellow teeth and bosh: I was back in the saddle and the haters were gone. I guess that’s the luxury of having your own blog rather than having to ‘create to order’ for other people – I’m finding it much more challenging to get rid of the little haters in a work context… I’m hoping it’ll come… Soon…