Lynne d Johnson



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11.19.09 12:26 PM

The Blogging Life: Which Comes First, the Content or the Tool?

As someone who has been blogging since 2001, I've been told I'm old school. The fact is I'm so not old school, considering that I'm facing a conundrum whereas I'm weighing the value of blogging vs the value of the life stream. Edelman's Steve Rubel dropped his blog, Micro Persuasion, earlier this year for a life stream on the Posterous platform, citing:

Blogging feels old. Publishing today is all about The Flow. Posterous, my new home, feels more like flow and where the web is going so it's time for me to do the same with my publishing, which will become daily once again!

I have to tell you. I've toyed with the idea of going straight-up flow myself at times, finding tools that do it better (whether it's being able to email or text your content in, or have direct one-to-one communication with like-minded individuals, or even have one tool to feed all of your social media spaces.) I'm almost everywhere I could possibly be, producing (or syndicating) content: I'm on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, Posterous, Tumblr,, and probably even more social media sharing and content services than I can even recollect.

Let's be honest, no one (and I mean no one) has the bandwidth to be that many places at once. But where you end up producing most of your content, and sharing, really depends on quite a few factors.

  1. What is it you want to share?
  2. Who is it you want to share with?
  3. Are you more interested in building a brand or building a community?
  4. Is it more important to be where your peers are, or to bring people to you?

These are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself when considering whether you'd rather dabble in one space over the other, or use one space to feed all of the others. What's your end goal?

I think I'm learning that I didn't really have an end goal. I mean, when I first started blogging it was by accident. I put up a site to showcase my credentials and writing, the next thing I knew I was blogging and connecting to a blog fam. Partially, the initial end goal was to create an online brand--a digital representation of myself and my work. The diary (or blog) was the place you'd get to learn about me, my likes, and dislikes. And then blogging for work and editing other writers blogs (and articles) became more of a focus than actually contributing to my own personal blog. It got kind of hard to be in both places at the same time. But Twitter, helped me bring back what I initially had with my online diary and connecting with my original blog fam (and somehow it helped with that branding thing too.)

Eventually, I became worried about spending too much time on twitter, and not writing enough. Not creating enough content that could add value to work that others were doing, or to sharing full, well thought-out ideas. Twitter only enables me to tell you the outline, but you never see the finished piece. And though I love my Tumblr blog to death, it's really just my own little Cool Hunting, a place to share cool and interesting things I find inspired by my passion for technology, design, fashion, gadgets, music, and food. It's the place I share what I think is cool, or at least it appeals to me in some way. It's a lifestyle blog of sorts. But the Tumblr never became the all-in-one package to replace what I could do on Twitter and what I could do with this blog/diary.

And Posterous, well that's just an experiment. The tool has great benefits that a lot of other tools don't. I can blog here from there if I want. But it's not really about the tool is it?

It's, again, about what you want to share and who you want to share it with. What are your content goals? Who do you want to share that content with? And what's the best platform for achieving that goal? Perhaps, it's not just one platform. I'm learning, that it's important for me to revisit this blog and make it lively and real again. But I need Twitter too. Twitter is my brainstorming board for what I might write here. Twitter is my connection to the world (and to friends). Twitter is my not creating content in a vacuum. FriendFeed also serves this purpose, and sometimes I wonder if I really need both. And then there's Facebook -- well, that's really just the place where friends from college and high school try to reconnect (and often, they're not always the same audience that you're trying to reach with a blog or on Twitter), so maybe you need that space too.

What comes first for you, is it the content or the tool? Or is it a combination of tools? Or, is there only one tool that helps you do it all?

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11.04.09 12:42 PM

GTD: Things = Evernote + RTM ? Why Can't I Find the Perfect Tool?

Lately, I've been trying to find the best solution for task and project management. It's been no easy task (ahem). Remember the Milk (RTM) is the tried and true GTD (Getting Things Done) solution. You sign up on the Web, add tasks, and then sync them to your Gmail, Gcal, and even your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry. But it's simple. It's a simple to-do list with tagging features. I need something more robust.

You can add notes, but that's not enough. I want to link to files, websites, emails, attachments. If there's a way to do this in RTM, I haven't found it. That I am able to access it on my phone though, is a plus. But still not sure it's enough to fully win me over.

So I also tried Things by CultureCode.

It's a little like RTM, but has some similarities to Evernote built in. Well, not exactly like Evenote, but enough to help me keep things (like files and emails) linked to my tasks.

Things screencast: linking to files from Arjan van der Gaag on Vimeo.

What doesn't work for me? It doesn't sync to my Android phone in any sort of way, other than via an iCal Task (right, the Things items sync with iCal) that's then synced to Gcal with SpanningSync on my machine. This enables me to view my tasks on my phone or in Gcal, but when I'm on another computer that doesn't have the linked file or email, I'm nearly shit out of luck. (BTW, I use Dropbox to have access to files I want to access on any computer I use.)

And though Evernote isn't really a task tool, it's part of the GTD family in that it helps you to keep track of things and information that you're going to need later. Sadly, it takes a paid account to be able to upload all types of files.

This isn't the first time I've been in this place looking for some sort of Swiss Army Knife to help me manage my life. Not long ago, I had settled on a virtual assistant named Sandy, who did enough of what I needed to be able to do at the time. But now as my project lists grow, and I need to do more things in less time, and be able to access everything related to those projects from any computer, and have some sort of access to the projects on my phone, I need something more robust.

I realize, there's probably not any one solution for what I'm looking for. And I'm in the habit of using multiple tools and figuring out how to make them talk with one another. The problem I face right now though, is I just don't know what that combination of tools should be.

Got any suggestions?

Here's my want list to help you help me out:

1. Project/Task Management
2. Project/Task Items sync to either iCal or Gcal
3. Ability to attach or link items to Projects/Tasks
4. Ability to access all the information from any computer I'm using
5. Android App capabilities (or at least soon coming)
5. Desktop App (Not necessary, but nice though online access can also serve the same purposes)

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