bookmark_borderFatefully conspired against

I have returned from my time in Derby. It has been an eventful and exciting week in many ways and yet, despite my best laid plans, fate decided to remind me of my position in the universe.

As I mentioned previously I was travelling down to Derby (Mickleover to be precise) where I was attending a conference at which I was delivering a presentation entitled “Why Blog?” (you can see my slides and notes on my other blog. I’ve presented at something similar once, and considering the topic I was reasonably comfortable with my knowledge of the subject matter. I’ll be writing more about the conference on my other blog, although some of the cognitive psychology stuff will probably fall here too, it’s fascinating!

As I was in the area, it transpired that, after many years of reading him and recently delighting at watching him dance on the plinth in Trafalgar Square, I would finally meet the Troubled Diva (aka mike) himself. All good. THEN he said that I’d also be able to shake hands with, and congratulate on his recent half-marathon (for which he helped raise over £3k!) the only and only SwissToni well I was delighted. THEN he mentioned that Sarah would there as well, and as she was one of many Tweeps that shared the delight of the pointy fingered dancing on the plinth that evening well it was looking like a nice evening.

THEN they mentioned we’d be seeing a gig by a Norwegian band named Ungdomskulen and… yeah.. I wasn’t sure. As it turns out they were good, big and noisy and a little “prog”, although the CD that I purchased after the gig is a lot … hmmm … more indie sounding than the live act.

Anyway my over-elaborated point is that I had several reasons to be excited about my trip.

The journey down on Tuesday evening was uneventful and very short, flying from Glasgow to East Midlands airport (the cheapest option!) was all of 40 minutes, and the first day of the conference nicely played out along the theme I was using as part of my presentation on blogging first thing on the second day (the whole “be part of the conversation” thing, you know).

Roll on Thursday morning, the second day of the conference and at 9am I stepped up and 35 minutes later I finished, took 5 minutes for a few questions and ended bang on time. I missed one or two little things but hey ho, it went very well from my side and a few people spoke to me afterwards saying they had enjoyed it so it seems to have been well received. The video of the presentation will never ever see the light of day. I had to kill the A/V guy after my session to make sure, so apologies to any dog-walkers in Mickleover who stumble over the body of a young man, strangled by several microphone cords.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur and all of a sudden I’m in Derby and heading towards the building where all the noise was coming from, and next thing I’m shaking hands with three people who I don’t know but have known (collectively) for many many years. Fab! It also whittles down my list of “bloggers to meet” to around 4 or 5 (no, no names). I originally thought the number lower but well you lot are just too fab.

Alas the excitement had to end so this very morning at something around 4.50am I woke up and not being able to get back to sleep got up and started the last of the packing. I jumped in the taxi when it arrived (late) and by the time I got to the airport (including 2 trips round one roundabout!) I was a little tight for time.

I grabbed a paper (The Guardian in which Mike had an article), a coffee and hustled to Gate 23.

Sidenote: There is a sign in Derby airport that states how far gates 18-23 are, 180m from the sign apparently. Now, whilst I can, now, figure out roughly how long that may take me to walk, does anyone else think it odd they didn’t at least have a diagram, or indicate how long it might take someone to walk (1-2 minutes)?? Just me, ok as you were.

At the top of a metal escalator as I reached down to grab my bag, my foot caught the edge of a step and next thing I know I’ve fallen forward, banging my injured knee (long term, tendinitis), my shin and my arm as I try and keep hold of my coffee, the paper and my luggage. It hurt.

I was very tired, mainly because whilst conferences are great they are intense, as there is a LOT of thinking that goes on both in the sessions and in the chats afterwards, and because I’d spent the previous (very enjoyable!) evening on my feet. I hadn’t had breakfast, and it REALLY fucking hurt. I think it’s the closest I’ve been to crying about falling over since I was a child.

Needless to say the escalator was still moving and a split second later I realised I would have to get up or try and negotiate the end of the stairs and I painfully managed to get to my feet just in time to stagger forward and fall down again.

I’m rather thankful there wasn’t anyone else in sight.

Looking back it seems a bit silly but given that I spent the first 20 minutes of the flight pale, sweating and shaking so much the stewardess stopped to ask if I was ok I guess the adrenaline rush was a little too much for my tired and aching body to cope with.

All that at the end of a wonderful week, meeting interesting people, making new friends, learning new things, enjoying new music and meeting someone I’ve ‘known’ for longer than anyone outside my immediate circle of “real life” friends (they don’t blog, I can call them that). Regardless of all the good things that happened this week, the shock of that simple little trip will be what I recall when I mention the conference or “when I met Mike”, and that, my friends is why I’m feeling mostly conspired against.

So, I’m going to focus on the positives and, as I limp home, remind myself that this was just a little bit of balance, that’s all. Both reminding me that while life can be fantastically good, it can also tip you over. Literally. On a metal escalator in an airport near Derby.

bookmark_borderI am excited!

This evening I’m flying down to East Midlands airport and from there I’ll be making my way to Mickelover Hotel (near Derby) where I’m attending, and speaking at, the Technical Communications conference.

I’ve not done much public speaking with my last outing being a couple of years ago at a similar, smaller, conference and that seemed to go quite well so I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to deliver a reasonably good presentation on my topic of choice which is, as it happens, about blogging.

I think I’ll be able to handle that, eh?

My slot is first thing on Thursday morning of the second day of the conference (graveyard slot much?) so I’ve time to run through it a couple of times yet but, overall, I think it’ll be alright. I’ll be posting it on my other blog on Thursday morning.

One added bonus to being in that part of the woods is that I’ll finally get to meet the Troubled Diva himself as well as SwissToni and Sarah, and to be honest I’m not sure which I’m more excited about, presenting at the conference or meeting Mike. Yay.

bookmark_borderDay 1

The year is 2009. The day is less than 20 hours old and I’m pondering.

Shall I try and post EVERY SINGLE DAY? (madness!).

Shall I run a “T-Shirt off my back” competition (in tribute to Troubled Diva, of course).

Or shall I simply switch this to my tumblr feed and let the twitters, delicious linkage, tracks, photos and random blog posts become the main focus? (or, perhaps, that would be something for aha! an idea is forming!).

And if I do decide to post EVERY SINGLE DAY, does it matter if most of them are, like this, complete, waffling, filler?

Hmmmm, I ponder.

bookmark_borderBlog Etiquette*

Prompted by this comment thread over at troubled-diva, which started when mike revealed, according to his recent site survey, that “By far the strongest currency in blogging is inter-blog linking, be it on a main post, a linklog post or a blogroll” and that “Comment-whoring doesn’t work!”

I, amongst others, was slightly taken aback by this as I’d always presumed that inter-blog links were rarely followed, with the real value and “currency” coming through the discussion and comments on a site.

So inter-blog links, blogrolls or whatever you want to call them, are where the value is held, are they? Hmmm, well I guess they may be, and looking back at the history of blogging practises it’s understandable.

A recent spat in some US blogs had blogrolls accused of being a bad thing because they perpetuated the circular linking of the “most popular” blogs and thereby shrank the notion of who was in the “A-list” list. However it is kind of obvious if you think about it – the popular people are the ones you find first, why? Because they are popular! When you are starting out you link to them because you like what they do – they are popular for a reason after all – and their perceived popularity nips up another spot or two because another 100 new bloggers have linked to them. That kind of thing is why blogrolls can be seen to be bad/negative.

Now I’d suggest that that’s part and parcel of things, and I did the same when I started out, most people do when they try something new, it’s how fashions come about after all.

Then, after you’ve been blogging for a while, you start to find other blogs, blogs that better suit your tastes and your blogroll changes. You may leave on the original blogs but more often than not you start seeing your blogroll differently, no longer is it an “I think these are great sites” list but a “these sites reflect my tastes” list (a subtle but very valid difference).

There are plenty of sites that link to mine that I don’t even know about, I discover one or two every week, and I’ll check them out and occasionally add them to the blogroll, although more often than not I don’t. Not because I don’t like them, or don’t rate them but usually because I know that I won’t get around to visiting them often. As Mike (Troubled Diva) says – and he’ll know better than me – when you get to a certain level of popularity (or rather an awareness of your sites popularity) you CAN’T link back to all the sites that link to you or you’d end up with a stupidly long list.

However if it’s true that inter-blog linking holds greater sway than commenting then I’d suggest it’s because it’s a constant. Everytime you visit a site with a blogroll you’ll see the name of the linked sites. It’s always there, comments, by their very nature are fleeting, random and never constant. Some people comment on MOST posts here on my site, some people only comment now and then, some people don’t comment at all and email me directly.

Blogrolls, or lists of links, or whatever you want to call them, ARE of value to readers of your site. They offer a path out of your site and hopefully on towards another site they might find interesting. They show the sites you enjoy and recommend and they are always there.

But are comments really of LESS currency or are they of higher individual value but lower overall because they are less common? (And is it possible to be both?)

I think comments are of great value when they are OF value. If they are not, I don’t bother with them. By that token, the same can be said of links. If I think a site will be interesting or of value to people who visit my site, I’ll link to it. If I don’t think it offers value, I won’t. And no, it’s not THAT black and white, I do link to some sites because I’ve read them for a long time, and feel that I SHOULD link to them. Similarly if I read a comment here, or on another site, that I think is of value then I’ll usually track down their website and have a gander.

The key thing in both of these areas, links and comments, is how the value is assigned. There is no fixed “price” for either, and no way of discerning the value across different sites. I may value links over comments, someone else may value the opposite and yet another may value comments only ignore all blogrolls… and so on and so on. And that’s half the beauty of this thing we call “blog”. It’s so open to interpretation by both the author and the reader that there are few hard and fast rules.

Either way, it’s worthwhile considering how others may perceive the value in what you offer, whether in the blogosphere or real life. What are YOUR blog values?

* Anyone found mashing these two words into one – blogiquette – will be removed from the blogosphere and sent to Van Diemen’s Land. You have been warned.

bookmark_borderTroubled? Diva!

He may be on his way back… yes the rumours are true.

But before we can, weepingly, embrace him back into the fold we need to convince him that we have been reading his archives religiously in his absence (er… well I’ve read a little…). 120 questions to be answered by 120 different bloggers – just need to search his archives and plonk in an answer.

Go there now – for the love of all things blog-goodyness! go now! – and take part in: The Great Troubled Diva Shall I Or Shan’t I Start Blogging Again? Potential Act Of Monumental Hubris Comprehension Test