Tag Archives: Blogging

On writing

For a variety of reasons which are far too boring to explain, I’m currently writing blog posts on paper. I wouldn’t mention that unless the point was central to the topic of this post, as it is essentially transparent to the reader – the fact that you can actually read this means that I’ve electronically transcribed it by now.

Anyway… here’s what I’m thinking as the process continues:


  • writing, eh. Pen and paper. Takes me back a bit. I mean, I make notes and stuff, but it’s ages since I’ve written long passages on paper.
  • my handwriting got really bad in the last 10 years
  • I can type much faster. This will take me 3 times as long, as I guess I’m about 1.5 to 2x faster at typing, and typing up what I’ve written whilst trying to decipher what I wrote will take 1 to 1.5x longer than typing it direct in the first place.
  • this biro is rubbish
  • how did people cope? My ideas and sentences all arrive out-of-order. I like to be able to rearrange bullet points and paragraphs. Where would I be today without being able to insert and correct words, sentences and paragraphs? Cut-and-paste is marvellous. Ah, this must be what it would be like to use a pre-3.0 iPhone as my regular computer…
  • hyperlinks. A conceptually simple and incredibly powerful concept. I guess that’s why they stuck.
  • I used to do my university essays by making notes by hand; creating an electronic mindmap to organise ideas and sections; and then type the essay. Overkill for blogging, and I remember how hard it was to churn out 3 12 page essays by hand in each of the exams without the weekly writing practice.
  • OK. End of page and rubbish biro. That’s all for this “post”, then.

Some thoughts on openness and trust in government

One of the things I’ve been taking an interest in lately is the slow progression of Internet technologies into UK politics – or should that be the progress of UK politicians onto the web?

We have a small number of Members of Parliament on Twitter (you can find them at Tweetminster), and a few have their own blogs too. Sadly some of the initial government moves to use social media were a bit of a disaster (remember David Miliband’s efforts in this area?). Things have improved as the individuals themselves are more savvy (increasingly true as new generations of MPs come into politics) – Tom Watson is a good example and I was delighted to be able to contribute to the open discussion he invited on the proposed Internet site classification idea.

Recently I was particularly pleased to hear Jo Swinson defend her use of Twitter on Radio 4’s Any Questions. I was also impressed with the tech-savvy she showed in a defence of Wikipedia, and her willingness to respond to people who are not even her direct constituents during a subsequent discussion on Twitter. I don’t want MPs on Twitter so that they can lecture me or send out press releases on their politics; and actually, I don’t see it as a gigantic waste of their time. It’s an excellent way to build relationships, and it can also make them seem more human too. Blogging and twittering encourages the use of more conversational language, and that is important particularly in the political sphere.

In an age of increasing distrust and apathy in democracies around the world, I’d like to see more of this. I’d like to see it extend to both the local level, and the international level, too. Local councils in the UK should be encouraged to make more use of social media. Larger bodies like the EU should be making better efforts in this space too – it’s all very well for them to stream proceedings online, but without a level of human interpretation of the jargon and dense documentation that comes out of the European Parliament, it’s very difficult for ordinary citizens to make sense of what goes on.

Pop quiz: does covering up a significant budget scandal in an intergovernmental body give opponents of that body less, or more, to complain about? Thanks to Google Translate I’ve been able to read a Swedish MEP’s blog entry on the subject

One of [my colleagues] argued for example that I should propose to discharge only to “avoid giving boost to European opposition before the European elections”. A hair-raising way of arguing, I think! This is exactly the opposite. If we do not take problems seriously and sweep justified criticism under the carpet, then we give arguments to the EU opponents!

I have to say that I agree – and more open attitudes like this would do a lot to improve public trust in the institutions that work for us.

The blogging / online network diaspora

As my online presence thins out, I often wonder how best to tie it all together. Here’s a meta-post showing where my content has been lately.

It has been a while, but I’ve been re-establishing a presence on the eightbar blog lately, talking about haptics, and also about social reality gaming.

Home Camp
The next Home Camp is coming up, planned for April, so the blog is coming back to life after a short hibernation. One of the big news items was yesterday’s unveiling of Google PowerMeter.

Dogear Nation
I’m not going to list every post and podcast episode over on the Dogear Nation blog, but I’ve noted before that I’m a regular host this year and have been posting entries and videos to the blog too.

Video Content
I should probably blog more of the video stuff I create, but tend to highlight the more interesting videos from time to time rather than posting everything here on the blog. My YouTube channel may be of interest. Eventually, I’ve got a grander plan for my video content, but that will have to wait.

(update) Convergence
I just thought of one other thing which I’ve not mentioned around here, but seems to fit into this post. In spite of producing content in a number of places, I’ve also been working on online identity. For a while I’ve been interested in getting the andypiper.com domain but it never seems to be available, and thus I have the .co.uk alternative, which redirects here. I also noted that I picked up pipr.me.uk as a bit of a joke recently, which currently points here as well. I have andypiper.tv too (an independent site currently hosting TwtrCtr). Finally, I have theandypiper.com and theandypiper.co.uk redirecting here too – inspired by the very awesome Geoff Smith, and also by one of the first customer engagements I went on after joining IBM, where I was asked “you’re not THE Andy Piper, are you?”.

So, in the style of Dogear Nation… my final thought for this post is, what is the collective noun for Internet domains? I’m wondering about ‘dominion’, ‘kingdom’ or ‘bailiwick’…

Addiction, and choosing the right networks

It seems to be social networking, video, and Home Camp week here on my blog 🙂

Is it addictive?

Mehmet Yildiz asks:

how did you find Twitter so far? Do you agree Twitter may be addictive? Is Twitter a time consuming social networking activity; more than others i.e Ecademy?

I’m going to respond with some thoughts here, as I don’t like the idea of having to sign up on Ecademy in order to comment there.

It won’t surprise any reader of my blog, anyone who follows my social network trails, or anyone who has heard me speak on the subject in the past 12 months, to know that I find Twitter amazingly useful.

Do I agree that it may be addictive? Well, I found Flickr addictive for a time when I started, joining lots of groups and eagerly waiting for the next comment on one of my images. I found Facebook addictive for a while, adding apps and bouncing around writing on other people’s walls. Essentially I think anything has the potential to be addictive or time consuming… it depends on how you use it. I happily go for a week unplugged and without Twitter and other networks when I’m on vacation, and I do try to dip in and out… I certainly don’t read everything that ever gets posted.

Utility outweighs that. Twitter is an awesome medium for status broadcast, location awareness, lightweight chat, serendipitous discovery, breaking news, sharing links, extending networks, consuming interesting feeds, monitoring self-aware houses, and aggregating attention data.

What networks should I use?

I guess the flipside of being drawn into a single network is that there’s such a range available – so instead we might be spread too thinly.

On Monday, I gave a talk to an internal group at work, and that seemed to generate a lot of interest. One of the questions I was asked afterwards was a pretty common one:

with the wealth of social collaboration tools available it is sometimes difficult for me as a user to select those which are really relevant to me (and my daily business)… is there any tip you can give in order not to “drown” in social networks?

My advice on this is fairly simple:

  • Use the tools you find most useful.
  • Use the tools where your network is clustered. Generally speaking I find the tools I use most are the ones where my network is – so I have a lot of people on Twitter, some on Facebook and some on LinkedIn (looking at external tools) but I don’t use e.g MySpace or Jaiku or other networks so much, even though I have accounts on them and tried them out.
  • Don’t feel that you “have to” use every new thing that comes along. Try things, if you find them compelling then use them.
  • Do actually try things – don’t ignore them and hope they will go away – be open-minded – don’t just try things for 5 minutes, give them a week or two and build up a network if you can (this is somewhat ironic given how I was called out about my use of identi.ca a couple of days ago).

One network to rule them all?

Related to the question of how to choose and which tools to use, my friend Maria Langer commented today:

Oh no, not ANOTHER topic-specific social networking site. When will it end? Doesn’t ANYONE have a real life they want to spend time on?

We had a short conversation on this through Twitter. I noted that The Long Tail suggests that ultra-specialised niches are the way to go to be successful… but of course a wide-ranging network like Twitter enables far greater opportunities to make more interesting connections (like, for example, me knowing a helicopter-piloting author halfway around the globe!). I completely agree with that. I don’t see specialised networks, or any other social networks, being a sign that people don’t want to have real lives, though… I can stay in touch with friends and make new connections with people I want to get to know, and still meet up with them in person. In fact if I look at the range of my social activities in the past 2 years, I’d have to say that they have been enriched precisely because of my engagement in social software.

So: where does it all end?

The point I like to make is that you need to accept that new tools are going to emerge. If we all decided that one tool was “best”, evolution and innovation would stop. New ideas will always come around and should be explored. How much of an early adopter you choose to be, is up to you.

Mobile blogging

Well here’s an interesting experience. As I’ve twittered and mentioned on Dogear Nation, I recently got an iPhone 3g… and now there’s a WordPress application for it. And I’m typing this entry on it. I can’t say it is as usable as the web interface on a laptop but that’s largely a statement about the keyboard… actually the app itself is really nice. Progress! 🙂