Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hey, Oh, Way to Go Bothell

I love my home, my house, my immediate neighborhood. But this post is about my frustrations with the complete lack of imagination the city of Bothell shows in the urban planning of the business center in my area. Good urban planning matches goals for economic development with the need for people-centered spaces. That's lacking in Bothell's Canyon Park where I live and that's what this post is about...

I’ve been thinking about the study that was reported on in the news yesterday about how your neighborhood -- when it was built and how much it encourages walking by giving you not only sidewalks, but also something to walk to -- contributes to your weight and overall health (here’s the report on MSNBC). The findings don’t surprise me, but it has got me thinking about my own neighborhood (which, by the way gets a pitifully low walkability score on

My own neighborhood reminds me of a wrong turn my wife and I once took when we were walking through London. We’d been told you could take a train from Heathrow airport to Wimbledon station, hop off there, get on a footpath beside the Thames and walk to Oxford. It would be a two week trip, but, again, we were told, we’d be able to find bed & breakfasts all along the way to stay in. That was not our experience. We got off the train at Wimbledon, eventually found the Thames and a trail and we walked, and walked and walked, and walked endlessly through the deepest reaches of industrial London – across freeways, under freeways, past warehouses, around breweries. It seemed we were the only people walking there. The only other people we saw were flying by in cars at 60 mph.

Every city has a part of it that defines it, that is the part of the city people think of and envision when they think of that city. In Seattle, of course, it’s the Space Needle and downtown. But every city is bigger than just the parts you think of when you hear its name. Every city also has those parts on the fringes that seem to exist just to make you feel lost – they’re strip malls and long stretches of wide, high speed roadway. They’re the parts of town where people pick up speed and lose touch with each other because they’re built not as places to bring people together, not as places to foster a sense of neighborhood or community or destination. They’re places that are obviously built to get you to other places that are more interesting. I live in that part of the greater Seattle metropolitan area.

I live off the Bothell-Everett Highway, and some days I really feel like I am perched right on the dash between those two place names. Downtown Bothell is a defined town – it has a main street, it has parks. Everett is a nice small city on the shores of Puget Sound with a performing arts center, a children’s museum and some genuine charm. Both Bothell and Everett are undergoing some resurgence in their downtown cores. But I live off the road that connects the two of them.

My neighborhood is strip malls, fast food, high tension power lines, the intermittent sidewalk of new housing developments and ever widening asphalt. In the 7 years I’ve lived in my house, hundreds of acres of pasture land and forest have been cleared and replaced with thousands of new houses and thousands of people have filled those houses. And yet our's remains a community without the amenities that really make a community: we have several strip malls but no center. We have two Subway sandwich shops, three Starbucks, three Teriyaki restaurants, five gas stations, a Walgreen’s, a Napa Auto Parts and a Shucks auto parts. But despite all the new families living in the area, there is no place in our neighborhood for families to congregate: we have no movie theater, no book store, no performing arts center, no park. We have the Bothell-Everett highway that gives us a way to get to other communities that have those things. Our neighborhood as it’s currently structured is built to ensure you don’t have to slow down much as you make your way to somewhere else.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Lawn Mower, Man

It has become my personal goal to reduce, as much as possible, my use of gasoline. I've been trying to drive less (as I've written about on this blog already) and now that ambition has spilled over into my yard care choices as well. Not long ago I bought a new power lawn mower only to find out shortly thereafter that lawn mower engines are worse than automobile engines in terms of their CO2 emissions -- they're not regulated and they can put out more CO2 than a car idling in traffic. Given that, I wanted to see if I could mow my lawn in a greener way -- gas free. This video documents my first experiment in pursuit of this goal. My conclusion in this case was that green mowing remains a worthwhile goal, but I don't think I've found the right solution for me yet.

So if you watch the video, you'll see that the bad news is I'm still going to be mowing my lawn with a gas-powered mower while I continue searching for a viable alternative. The good news, however, is that since all I care about is how long the grass is, not how pure it is, not how free of weeds -- clover, dandelions, etc -- it is, my lawn is completely pesticide free (I never treat it with anything, cause I don't really care about it that much). So that makes me a little bit green. Green by virtue of laissez-faire lawn care.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Library Thing: Kicking Off a Virtuous Cycle

I know people who keep food journals (writing down everything they eat for a week or two). They tell me that they start the journal as a way of identifying the mistakes they're making in their nutrition ("see, here it shows I eat Twinkies every morning for breakfast") but pretty quickly the act of having to write down what they're eating makes them eat better things. They chose healthier options because they want to be able to write down healthier things in the journal. If you have to account for your actions, you start committing more honorable actions.

Now I understand that phenomenon because I've just spent the last hour working on my Library Thing profile. Library Thing lets you list the books in your home library or books you've read. Once you've added 10-20 books, the Library Thing algorithm starts giving you recommendations and matching you up to other users with similar tastes. So that way you can find the next great thing you ought to read. Suddenly I'm finding myself wanting to read more and read more widely-divergent things so I have more to add to my Library Thing list and so I can get more and more-interesting recommendations. Libray Thing is a tool that I think falls into the category of an online social networking tool -- you can share out your library to others as a way of networking with them. But it goes beyond just presenting you to others, it doubles back on you and makes you want to be a better, more interesting person.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Playing Tourist in Our Own Town

Yesterday R got the chance to go spend the night at grandma's house by himself for the first time in his 3+ years. And we got the chance to hang out with big brother C alone for the first time in a couple of years. I know R had a wonderful time being the center of attention and it was nice to be reminded what a sweet, fun kid C is and for Grandma to get a chance to enjoy R's humor and sweet charm one-on-one. When the two boys are together, they're fun to be with, but we interact with them as a pair instead of as individuals. I sometimes think their teachers know the individual boys better than we do, since they're in different classes at school and their unique personalities get a chance to hold center stage. In a couple of weeks C will get his chance at grandma's and we'll have our fun hanging out with R.

As a special treat to C we took him to the top of the Space Needle for the first time yesterday. We've driven past it a thousand times but have never gone up with the kids. I spent more time watching C watching the view than I did looking at the view myself. As we went up the elevator and the world fell away below us, C marveled at how things were getting smaller and smaller -- of they would look that way, and I take it for granted, but everyone becomes conscious of that phenomenon at some time during their lives and it was profound to be there witnessing C discover the world in a third dimension.
At the top, as we mingled among super-sized tourists, most of whom it seemed had come from the cruise ship docked in Elliot Bay, I put C on my shoulders and gave him my camera. He proceeded to shoot these pictures:

Not bad for a kid who won't be 5 for another week. I am going to get him a small digital camera for his birthday, was already planning on it before yesterday, but now I can see he might have a real eye for this, a real talent. He says he wants to grow up to be a photographer (when he's not saying he wants to be a fireman or spiderman), so who knows, maybe we'll look back at these pictures and understand that they were signs of great things to come.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness Up to But Not to Exceed $6.9 million

We take these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life (or $6.9 million whichever comes first), liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

File this one under “You Learn Something New Everyday”. It turns out that the United States government had determined the monetary value of every life in America – it’s $6.9 million. And it further turns out that the value of each of our lives, as determined by the government, in this case the Environmental Protection Agency, is dropping. It’s down $900,000 this year.

Here’s the MSNBC article that discusses this.

The EPA denies it, but many believe that this devaluation of the American life is a way for the EPA to relax pollution control rules. If the aggregate value of the lives saved by a proposed environmental regulation is less than the cost of imposing the regulation, then it’s easier for the EPA to argue against the regulation. That is, if it costs more to save people than people are worth, then you shouldn’t save them.

I find this reprehensible in so many ways that I can’t even get my mind around it. A life should be measured in moral values, not financial ones. Do they not see the contradictions in this? Are these not the people who scare up votes every four years by banging the Right to Life drum? Of course it turns out they only value life as a means to get votes, once they have the vote they don’t feel compelled to protect any lives. Are these not the people who argue in favor of the death penalty for convicted murderers? If a life is only worth $6.9 million, why execute a murderer? Why not just put a lien on his house or garner his wages? The brutality of the death penalty is rationalized by its supporters by pointing to the magnitude of what the murderer has destroyed. Yet this move, to place a monetary value on the life and now to devalue it as a way to make it easier to undercut the quality of that life, betrays their argument that there’s any justification for the death penalty.

You know, I could go on trying to make clever arguments about why this is an outrage and a dumb move. But I’m exhausted by the calculating disregard for the well being of individual Americans exhibited by the Bush administration. I’m not clever enough to make clever arguments. This is wrong, they know it’s wrong, but they do it anyway. Maybe that’s what they’re counting on, that we’ll all just get too tired to do anything about it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Everything I learned today I learned from American Idol Winner David Cook

The American Idol Winners Tour is coming to Seattle in August and to get us prepared for their arrival, the Seattle Times today printed an interview with last season’s winner, David Cook. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure I must tell you that I did watch Idol last season (you can see we’re even on a short hand, last name basis) and I did root for David Cook, though I didn’t vote at all. Again, full disclosure: I watch, but I don’t vote. I do vote in political elections for things like President of America and stuff; please don’t judge me too harshly.

Back to the topic I started on though. In a
Q&A printed on the Seattle Times online, the conversation between Cook and the reporter turned briefly to his upcoming album:

Q: So what do you listen to?
A: (Singer-songwriter) Imogen Heap. Some Keith Urban. Trying not to stray too far, but get a bit of a fresh perspective.
I'd like this record to be palatable for sure, because I want to sustain a long career. But I don't feel I have to glue myself to the usual 1-4-5 (pop chord structure). I'm trying to write songs you may hear on the radio, but with interesting quirks that make them stand out.
Q: Isn't it the post-album era, where the big thing is single tracks?
A: Yeah, depressing, isn't it? I came from a time when records were records. I'll let the label worry about the singles, I'm into making a record.

I was interested in the statement about the album VS the single. I have thought many times since the beginning of the iPod era just how exciting it is as a consumer to be able to simply buy the one or two songs by an artist that I really enjoy without having to also buy the songs that aren’t so appealing. I grew up in the era of albums and, more often than not, the single you heard on the radio was, on the album, surrounded by filler that was only there to round out the song list to nine or 10 songs and to justify the album’s price. It’s interesting to me that the makers of the music express such dissatisfaction in the consumption habits of those of us who buy the music. It’s “depressing” that we’re in a post-album, single-ascendant era? Not to me.

(As an aside of sorts, David Cook may be assured of enough sales to warrant having an album of his own, but the vast majority of recording artists should thank their lucky stars they live in this era of the iTunes marketplace. Without it, they would never meet the economic bar necessary to justify recording their singles. Don’t take my word for it, read
Chris Anderson's analysis of The Long Tail . It is currently blowing my ever-lovin’ mind!)

There’s an analogy to be drawn here to some of my recent experiences in business where I’ve been on the side of producing “products” based on an idealistic desire for how they would be consumed only to find that the “consumers” didn’t use them because the products didn’t match their use habits or needs. Both experiences have to do with the introduction of communication/collaboration platforms into two separate organizations.

Within Allyis I drove the introduction of what we called our Competency Community web sites – collaboration areas for employees we’d grouped by their core professional competency (project management, Web development or Business Analysis, for example). It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that nobody is using the sites. We’re going back to the drawing board having realized that, while people do want to connect with other professionals and do see the value in collaborating, they want more control over forming their own network. We imposed networks on people. Employees want to determine the criteria – the how and why – of their own connections; we were imposing criteria. At first I was upset that no one was adopting the competency community sites, but I finally realized (and David Cook has further confirmed) that I was asking employees to change their habits to match the product I wanted them to use. Instead I need to shape my product to match the real needs of the employees. And more accurately, I need to put the control in the employees’ hands and let them build the product that matches their habits. That’s the iPod lesson: consumers shape their own product. They want to. Let them. If you let them, they’ll keep buying.

The second experience has to do with the communication tool I set up for the
Kirkland Business Roundtable. There was some desire (admittedly most of it from me) to have a means for members to stay actively connected between the quarterly meetings we hold. I believe close and regular communication contributes to stronger bonds of community and a strongly bonded community is a community with strength it can direct at ideas and causes on which it wants to have an effect. That thinking is sound, I’m confident in saying, but my method of connecting people within the roundtable has proven, so far, ineffective. We set up a simple collaboration environment online and gave all 60 members of the roundtable user accounts and full publishing rights. The tool was right there for people to start using to share their ideas with one another. We set up the tool 5 months ago and so far, I can tell from user logs, 13 people have logged in; the 47 other members of the group have never logged in. Of those who have logged in, none has logged in since early May.

Mea culpa, again. I built a space for people to get all activist about the issues facing Kirkland on which the Roundtable wanted to have some input. But I did that without properly gauging whether the Roundtable members wanted to go into activist mode about the issues facing Kirkland and Kirkland businesses. And – assuming for a moment there is broad desire within the Roundtable to be activist in nature -- I did it without knowing how people on the Roundtable want to communicate about the issues that matter to them.

I believe we have moved out of the time of the top-down communication models of the past. Newspapers are dying, people are blogging and Twittering and Digging and tagging. The editor-in-chief determining what content is fit to print is a thing of the past. I built the Roundtable collaboration site with a prescribed structure to where, how and why members would communicate with each other and I expected members to shape their communication with each other into that prescribed model. But what happens in that situation is that most people, rather than changing their communication habits to fit the prescribed model, simply choose not to communicate at all.

There’s also the issue to overcome that while the top-down communication model may be on the way out, there are still many people – especially those within a certain age demographic – who see themselves as consumers of content rather than creators of it. Most of the Roundtable members are within that particular demographic. The tool I set up asked people to be the creators of the content and that is probably not something most of them are comfortable doing.

In analyzing the fallowness of the Kirkland Roundtable collaboration site, it seems to me I have either created a tool to serve a need that may not have been broadly present in the group or I perceived a need but have not yet shaped the tool to serve that need properly. This is a mismatch of supply with demand. I supplied something without understanding the demand. Consumers today want to shape the supply to match their own demands. That goes for iPod listeners who want to hear one David Cook song along with one song from Imogen Heap and one from The Republic Tigers and one from Men at Work (this is what I have on my iPod) but don’t want to be burdened by the album structure and it goes for creating collaboration environments online.

Still to be determined in all of this is how the practice of User Interface Design fits into this new consumer-driven paradigm. UI Design delivers a structure within which to place the content you want users to consume. But if users are now to create their own content what place is there for a practice that exists to prescribe structure? That’s a topic for a future post, I suppose.

My goal with the Kirkland Roundtable, as it has been with Allyis’ competency communities, is to also go back to the drawing board and to find ways to tap into habits people already have for aggregating and sharing knowledge and to find a way to incorporate the group into those habits. For example, if most Roundtable members read news online – general business news, but also Kirkland-specific business news – could they bookmark what they read to a Digg account shared out to the group? Could they tag content for the group on delicious? Could members just pursue the habits that work for them, and indirectly create meaningful content around which the group could coalesce, come to know each other and, as a result, find its strength? I will go down this path a ways starting at today’s Roundtable meeting and I’ll let you know over time what I find out in answer to those questions.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Half a Tank In One Month

Took a look at my gas log in the car today ("gas log" is a fancy name for the sheet of yellow legal pad paper I keep folded up in my glove box and on which I write down the date and price of gas purchases). I was happy to see that the last time I bought gas was on June 5th. I've still got half a tank left more than a month later. I wonder if I'll be able to make it through the rest of the month of July without buying gas...Well, that just became my goal!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Summer 2008 Gasoline Challenge: June Update

In an earlier post, I announced my Summer 2008 Gasoline Challenge (read about it here). I can’t yet completely eliminate my fossil fuel use, but I’m trying to reduce my use. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle = sustainability, right?

So here’s my update for the month of June.

June 2008: Miles Budgeted – 200/Miles Used – 157.1/Challenge Miles Remaining – 782.6

Miles Budgeted May – June: 400
Miles Used May – June: 217.4
Miles Under Budget May – June: 182.6
Longest Single Drive in June: 57.1 miles (from home to the Totem Lake P&R Goodwill drop-off station, which is only nine miles. But then from there to the Downtown Seattle Goodwill store after the jerk at the P&R wouldn’t take the stuff I had to donate.)
Most Unnecessary Drive in June: 5 miles (From home to Yummy Teriyaki and back when I got a craving for spicy chicken and egg rolls. But, honestly if you tasted their egg rolls you’d understand.)

Those numbers look good, on paper. And I’m pleased that I’m still under budget. But I know I didn’t give it 100% in June. I know if I wasn’t sometimes lazy I’d be doing better. Giving up the car means I have to do more planning ahead of time now to figure out alternative modes of transportation. If I’m taking the bus, I need to know when the bus is coming and get myself to the bus stop on time. If I’m carpooling with someone I need be ready when they’re ready to take me. If I’m riding my bike, I need to leave my house an hour before I have to be at the office (and pack a change of clothes and figure in time to de-sweatify once I get to the office). I’m not very good at planning ahead, being organized. I leave the planning till the last minute every time and sometimes I don’t leave myself with enough time to take advantage of the alternatives to driving. There were a few trips in June that were just me being forced to take the car because – as my grandmother would have put it – I had “frittered away the minutes” until I had no other choice.

I’ve developed this general pattern for the week –

Monday: Carpool
Tuesday: Carpool
Wednesday: Work from home, bus or bike
Thursday: Bus
Friday: Work from home, bus or bike

The biggest challenge for me on the days I take the bus is getting from my house to the bus stop. I catch Sound Transit #532 from the Canyon Park Park & Ride. The Park & Ride is 3 miles from my house. I can walk there, I’ve done that several times, but it does take over 30 minutes and see above for why that doesn’t always work out. It’s not a big P&R and it fills up quickly – by 7am most days all the spots are taken. So I have Suzanna drop me off, but then after I’m out of the car she has to drive solo just so I don’t have to. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I don’t do that unless she’s going out to run errands anyway. I’ve found that riding my bike to the P&R is a pretty slick option – takes 10-15 minutes and there’s always a slot open on the bike rack (turns out there’s bike rack etiquette, too, interestingly enough. I’ll fill you in on that in a future post).

Once I catch the bus, it’s incredibly easy to get where I’m going: #532 goes straight down 405, stops only twice at freeway stations and is at the Bellevue Transit Center within 25 minutes. From there I hop on the Metro 230 that comes down to Kirkland and takes about 15 minutes. In 40 – 60 minutes I can be at the office.

Given how easy it is once I catch the bus at the P&R, it seems ridiculous to me that the hardest part of the whole journey should be the first three miles from my own front door. I don’t live in a remote wasteland; I live on a major North – South artery through Snohomish county, along with a couple thousand other Sno-Co residents. But the closest bus stop is two miles away. This inconvenience factor is what has always stopped me in the past from taking mass transit and I know it’s what stops a lot of other people from doing it too. I’m choosing to accept and overcome the inconvenience now because of this challenge, but realistically not everyone will or can make the choice to do what I’m doing. So if Community Transit, Sound Transit, and Metro are serious about trying to deal with traffic problems and greenhouse gas emissions by getting people out of their cars, they’d better be realistic about the fact that they still have some work to do to make it easy for people to do that. Things are good on the freeway routes and the urban routes – the main lines – but they have to make it easy for people to make it from the fringes to the main line.

More updates soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two Ways to Use Twitter for Business

My best thoughts usually occur when I'm in transit -- driving, riding the bus or riding my bike away from or to the offfice and invariably when I'm away from pen and paper. And so the brilliance of my thoughts goes wasted.

Last night, though, riding home on the bus, I used Twitter to record ideas as they occurred to me, texting them from my mobile phone. Next day when I sat down to work, I fired up Twitter and worked from the notes I'd jotted while on the bus. There's been some debate about what the real value of Twitter is -- is it social exhibitionism, is it a tool to build friendships, is it a business tool? I suppose it could be all three of those, but it most definitely has some useful business application. Using it as I did on the bus means interpreting your audience as yourself, primarily, but I've learned that's as legitimate an audience as any for a blog, even for a micro-blog like Twitter. In this context, it's like a Post-it Note, and yet it has the same benefit as a full-fledged blog, in that it's public and as such your notes to yourself may be enriched by others who are following you.

One other business application for Twitter occurs to me. We've all been in meetings, large and small, where the conversation may really only go on between a small subset of the people there. Maybe they're just the stronger personalities, maybe they're leading the meeting and there isn't time for group input. Whatever the cause, there are people in meetings who have ideas and thoughts to contribute but who either are reticent to say anything out of shyness or simply don't get the opportunity to contribute. But what if you set up a meeting so that everyone knew ahead of time that if they weren't comfortable speaking up during the meeting, or if you didn't have time to take questions or if people just needed more time to process ideas before contributing their thoughts they could post their ideas to Twitter? The meeting leaders could then review the Twitter posts afterward and probably would come across some good input that otherwise would have been unrecoverable. This, I think, would work best in a large presentation, but the idea that you could give a new channel for input to those who are perhaps less comfortable with the standard channel means you'd broaden the group contributing to the conversation and that makes an organization stronger.

This latter idea is similar to the "back channel" present at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. As presenters were speaking throughout the day, there were simultaneous conversations going on about the presentations on Twitter. People exchanging ideas about what they were hearing together, but also people in one breakout session sharing ideas with colleagues in other breakout sessions. It was a much richer engagement with presentations than I'd seen before -- I was taking notes with a pen in a notebook and couldn't share them with anybody until well after the presentation. And the beauty of doing the idea sharing in Twitter was that it was instantly preserved, thus allowing people to go back later and pick up conversations or take ideas and pursue them further.

Meanwhile Life and Death Continue as Always

Outside to cut the grass this morning, I noticed a sudden commotion in the trees at the edge of my yard. I looked up just in time to see a hawk come thundering out of the leaves of a maple with a baby bird clutched in it's talons. As the hawk flew low through the neighbor's yard the baby bird began screaching a high-pitched, beseeching cry, the sound of it growing fainter as the hawk rose into the sky. A moment later two small birds -- the parents of the stolen baby -- shot out of the trees in frantic flight, calling to each other. They flew off after the hawk, but returned a few moments later having been unable to catch him. After that they perched in the cedar tree above the fence chirping and squeeking, agitated. I know what they were talking about.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Confessions of a Blogging Convert

If you’re an avid blogger already you may find this post a reciting of the ridiculously obvious. But if you’re like me, new to the idea of blogging, maybe some of my thoughts on the value I’ve found in blogging will be useful to you. Maybe.

Until I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston I was anti-blogger. I dismissed blogs out of hand because I believed bloggers were the online equivalent of the troubled souls who stand on street corners arguing with themselves. I had decided bloggers were people who believed no moment passed that wasn’t worth recording. Bloggers, I thought, lacked the filtering ability common in the rest of us.

I was a blog bigot.

Since the conference I’ve made such a complete and rapid 180 degree turn on the idea of blogging I think I may have slipped a disk.

Why the sudden turn around?

If this was a Hollywood movie, the answer would be that my daughter fell in love with -- and eloped in the arms of -- a blogger. That through her eyes I came to see bloggers in a new light, realized I had prejudged and that I thus underwent a transformation and became a better, more accepting person.

A “
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” for the online social networking age… “Guess Who’s Blogging About Dinner”.

But I don’t have a daughter.

No, the truth is the conference helped me relax my idea of who a blog’s audience can be. And that, in turn, helped me finally understand the purpose of them.

“Who is your audience?” was the first question addressed in the “What Blogging Brings to Business” breakout session and, to my surprise, many of those in the room, including the panelists, answered that, at least in part, they were their own audience.

“I keep a blog,” said one, “as a place to write down the things I’m learning so I won’t forget them.”

That resonated with me, a revolutionary idea (fitting that it happened in Boston).

“A place to write down the things I’ve learned so I won’t forget them.”

I have found that given the pace of my life these days – two small kids, running a business, trying to participate in professional organizations, trying to find time to stay in touch with friends and family, hoping to carve out some time for creative expression – I spend a lot of my time skating across the surface of ideas rather than really having the time to dig into them to any depth.

I may have ten minutes here or there to read an article, before I get pulled away to a meeting or to clean up spilled soup or break up a fight over a matchbox car, or show up at a city planning commission meeting, but if I don’t record what I’m thinking about that article in the moment it will evaporate and when I find my way back I’ll have to start at square one again. I hate square one! Honestly, If I’m going to find my way down a few levels into an idea it will happen over an extended period of time.

A blog is a way for me to lead myself back through the parts of an idea I’ve already secured. It’s the intellectual equivalent of shoring up the walls and roof of a mine as you tunnel deeper into the earth in search of gold. But what’s exciting about a blog from a personal perspective and even more so from a business perspective is that while it’s enough to write the blog for yourself, the fact that it’s public writing means that it also can lead others down the pathways of your discoveries and your ideas and can serve as an invitation to them to join in conversation with you – in person or through the blog itself, which adds even more value to the blog since it preserves all the different angles and aspects of the ideas and becomes a richer and richer discussion the longer it goes on and the more people join. If you introduce a blog into a professional setting then as you pursue ideas, build them out, shore them up with new discoveries, then other people in the organization can participate in that as well, adding their own voice and rounding out what can become an organizational understanding. That’s the gold at the heart of the mine. One person starts digging, others join in and that’s when you really get somewhere.

I used to think bloggers just liked to hear themselves talk. I was wrong. Bloggers like to talk, no doubt about that, but I think we do it hoping it will prompt others to speak too.

Yes, I said “we”, bloggers. I’ve become one of you. Forgive me my insensitivities of the past. It will never happen again. Probably.