Tag: <span>Blog News</span>

As some of you will now be aware, I am no longer writing my monthly Blog News column for the ISTC newsletter, InfoPlus+.

It actually started life here on this blog, every week (or so) I used to post a list of interesting posts and blogs and for a while there was an overlap but, eventually, I dropped the feature from the blog as the monthly approach gave me a little more scope to collect the best links and yes, I will admit I enjoyed the writing process that went with the column (believe me, it took me longer than you’d think).

Alas life continues to challenge my time so after not managing to submit my column for a couple of months (the shame!) I decided to make the hard decision and stop altogether. It doesn’t mean I’m not reading blogs any more, just that I’m not writing about them as much.

When it came to writing my final column, I checked back at when the column started and I was more than a little surprised to find out that it had been going for over 4 years! I’m quietly amazed it lasted that long, given my normal propensity to prefer tackling new things than sticking with current projects (I am a magpie).

There was one thing that I always struggled with though, and that was the lack of interaction, the lack of feedback. I had no idea if anyone was reading the column! The newsletter is published as a PDF and sent out via email so there are no stats to be viewed, in fact it was only at the Technical Communications Conference when a couple of people mentioned that they read it and, even better, they enjoyed it that I knew for a fact that it was worth writing. What a lovely little boost that gave my ego!

I most certainly wasn’t writing the column for that reason, in fact I’ll be honest and admit that I was writing it to try and boost my profile (I was also speaking at conferences and presenting webinars at the time) but that brief moment of adulation was very welcome. At least I think it was adulation… maybe they didn’t actually want me to autograph their conference programmes… hmmmmmmm.

I’ve been blogging for a long time so I guess I get a little blasé about feedback. Comments are great to see, I love the discussion aspect and the fact there is a passionate community of technical communicators who pop in here now and then, and if nothing else I can always check my stats to see that people are visiting the website (and presumably reading for they stay for a few minutes at a time), but being told face-to-face that someone has enjoyed something I’ve done, not much tops that.

It’s only now, reflecting on the fact that for the first month in 4 years I’m not starting to collate links and thoughts for the Blog News column, that I realise that saying thank you is something I’ve not done enough of, so let me start.

Thank you, dear reader.

Thank you for visiting and reading.

Thank you to those who visit, read and leave a comment, who join the discussion.

Thank to those who link to this blog, or retweet the link for others to see.

Thank you for taking the time.

I sincerely appreciate it.

Now, it’s your turn. No, I’m not looking for anyone to thank me, but take a moment and consider who you should be thanking, have you said thank you to them recently?

If not, now is the time. Go on, you will make someone’s day!

Work

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I have an admission. I’m lazy. I work hard to get around that basic character trait but it remains there in the background, nagging away at me. Professional pride stops it influencing my work (I manage a lean, mean to-do list to keep me on track), but when it comes to things on the periphery I happily admit I’ll look for an easy, hassle-free solution if I can find one.

This has lead to me develop some little working habits which help me keep on top of the mass of information which I divert my way, largely through RSS feeds. I monitor many different feeds as I like to keep up with latest developments and discussions about our profession, it also makes it easier for me to write my monthly column – Blog News – for the ISTC Newsletter.

The workflow includes monitoring RSS feeds in Google Reader, and a web application called Instapaper which, with one click, bookmarks posts I want to read later. I then have another web application called Twitter Feed which monitors the RSS feed from Instapaper, and sends the links to my Twitter account as “retweets”. One click, gives me collation and sharing of articles and posts. Quite powerful.

Of course, at some point, there needs to be time to digest all this information and when it comes to that there have been a few interesting ideas appearing recently. These services will aggregate content by monitoring various places, and displaying the articles (links) they find in a more readable format.

In a way, Instapaper will do this, allowing you to read the text of an article without having to visit the website (a bit like Google Reader), but other services are starting to offer more graphical views, such as that provided by Paper.li.

The idea behind Paper.li is to create a ‘newspaper’ built from focussed articles. You tell it where to look for links and it does some nifty processing. Here’s one based on my Twitter account. It’s a bit basic at the moment, but has a lot of potential. I can see me using a few of these as ‘starting pages’, fire them up, get some coffee and spend a few minutes looking at intelligently collated content.

Work