Content Of One’s Character; Major Fail

One of the beauties of writing most of one’s blog posts ahead of schedule is that when something really strikes you all you have to do is change the posting dates around so you can tackle something new. This one’s going to be kind of a rant post, so if you’re not up for that then wait until tomorrow.

Last week there was a post on the Problogger blog that kind of irked me a little bit. I don’t even remember the person’s name who wrote it, as it was a guest post, and frankly I’m not going to go back and look it up. However, the topic was 40 blogs to watch in 2011 or something like that.

The first comment the post got was wondering where all the people of color were. That comment didn’t get a lot of positive responses; actually it got none. Someone else alerted me to the post, and me being me, as someone who talks about diversity issues, I popped over to check things out. The list was nice enough, but from what I could see, there was one Asian lady and that was pretty much it. Someone wrote that one of the other people on the list was Indian; I couldn’t tell based on what I saw.

Frankly, I didn’t have a problem with the list itself. After all, everyone has the right to list whomever they want to list and follow whomever they want to follow. But some of the comments irked me greatly. So I decided to pop my own voice into the mix in support of the first person who commented, saying that there weren’t any black people on the list from the United States, and thus it wasn’t an overly inclusive list.

That didn’t go over well, which I still didn’t care about. One lady actually wrote that if she had tried to be inclusive that it would have been a racist post; what the heck? Inclusion is now racist? That comment didn’t sit well with me either, so I pretty much said that, along with some other stuff. Then some kid, and it had to be a kid, wrote a response to me that ended with “bitter old man”.

Well, there it was. I had a lot of responses that I thought about writing back, but I decided not to. After all, it was already proven that there wasn’t going to be any kind of discourse on the subject. It was going to be accusations back and forth; frankly, I don’t have to go somewhere else for that; I can get it right here, or on my business blog.

I really don’t talk about race all that often on this blog. According to my categories, I’ve only talked about it specifically 6 times in more than 900 (almost 950) posts. I didn’t even consider it as a category when a month ago I wrote a post on 8 Top Black Individual Blogs because in my mind it wasn’t as much about race as about acknowledging some folks that many others might not know all that well.

The truth is that there are a lot of black bloggers out there, a lot of Asian bloggers, a lot of… well, you get my drift, minority bloggers. The other truth is that when it comes to mainstream mentions of bloggers, black bloggers are almost never mentioned. Asian bloggers are; well, it’s nice to see that one group has broken through anyway.

Most people will usually find themselves gravitating towards others who share something with them. In general I’m a lot like everyone else; in general, that is. I don’t find myself hanging with a beer drinking, cussing, smoking dart throwing crowd that listens to country music. Actually, I don’t have a crowd. I have individual friends with whom I share some things with. Most of the time they don’t interact with each other; that’s somewhat strange in principle, but that’s how my life has always gone outside of sports when I was younger.

Overall, I’m about inclusion. I follow a lot of people with a lot of different background. I have lots of interests so I’m all over the place. Except for that one list of black bloggers, most of the time when I’ve listed folks there’s been a mix of some kind, not conscious, just because it is. Not always, but then again, if I’m writing about 5 people it’s probably a more finite list than writing about 40.

Goodness, even Chris Brogan, someone I’ve enjoyed reading over the past couple of months, had a post near the end of 2008 where he highlighted 17 bloggers to follow in a post of his (titled 8, but he mentioned 9 others) and not one of them was a person of color. Like I said, people can highlight who they want to highlight, but really, there’s not a place for anyone of color on any top lists? Do we really go back to what Al Campanis said about the dearth of black executives in baseball, back in 1987, which began with “It’s just that they may not have some of the necessities…”

Why am I talking about all of this stuff today? In the United States it’s the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday, and back in 1963, at a march on Washington D.C., in his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, he stated these words: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Overall, we still haven’t reached this point. Sure, we have Barack Obama, we have athletes and musicians, and of course I thank y’all for checking me out from time to time. But we’re the anomalies; we’re not the norm. What’s the norm? I’m not really sure. I will say this, though. When I see more Mitchell Allen’s, more Kissie’s, more Vernessa’s, more Evelyn’s, more Beverly’s, more Johanna’s, more Rummuser’s, more Marelisa’s, and more Ching Ya’s, I’ll really think we’ve achieved at least a semblance of balance and inclusion.

Trust me, those aren’t the words of a bitter old man, just someone who’s asking to see more of what Dr. King was asking for, which he ended up giving his life for. Is it really too much to hope for?
 

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10 Hours A Day Experiment

Some of you know I write many of my blog posts in advance. This one is real time for a reason. I’ve been doing an experiment this week, one that either has changed my life or made me realize I need to figure out another way or one that reminds me why I’ve been doing things the way I’ve been doing them and I’m going back to it.

Following up on that work/life discussion from a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision that for this week I was going to limit myself to 10 hours a day on the computer, which obviously also means 10 hours a day online, or way less. See, other than brief moments away from the computer, I tend to spend upwards of 16 to 20 hours sitting here at my desk doing something; at least I thought I did. I acknowledge it’s not always productive, although I also do accomplish a lot of things. And some people have been shocked that I could spend that kind of time at the computer.

Most people don’t work that many hours on their job or in their work. Eight hours is the norm, sometimes a couple of hours here and there. Then they go home and have the evenings to do whatever they want, which might mean they sign onto the computer and do stuff. For me, there is no separation between my regular life and business life except when I go to the casino. After all, my business life is my computer, and by extension most of my social and fun life is on the computer as well. That’s kind of a shame, but many times I feel I need all that time. So, this was an experiment to see what I’d do with that time, and whether I really did need it or not.

I decided to start on a Sunday, which for me is either a day I rest a lot or a day where I work almost nonstop. This past Sunday I actually rested, and since it’s now the playoffs I had a rooting interest in a couple of games. So I napped and watched some football unencumbered by being at the computer. And I never made it to 10 hours of computer time; as a matter of fact, I didn’t even make 8 hours. The first day made me think that maybe this was going to be an experiment that was going to have a totally different outcome than I expected.

Monday came and, knowing I was on this timed program, I worked some, took it easy some, and basically had a pretty good day, which is rare for me on a Monday. I also had some business calls, which I didn’t count since I didn’t take them at the computer. Once again, I didn’t reach even 10 hours on the computer. I took a long nap, I watched some TV programs, and went to the gym for almost 90 minutes with my wife in the evening. But I did reach 9 hours; things were getting interesting.

Tuesday was an interesting one. I planned the day but I felt horrible all day physically. Seems I might have worked out too long Monday night. So I was sore and lethargic. But I had a full day of work planned on the computer, as well as a meeting in the afternoon which was going to take me away. I also took another nap before the meeting; I was starting to enjoy this experiment. However, Tuesday night at around 2AM I finally hit that 10 hours, when my alarm went off. I was feeling like I was in a great work rhythm, so I was irked, but I had my rules and thus I went to bed.

Wednesday was the day things started to change some. I woke early, like 7:15, which was disappointing because I didn’t turn the TV off until 3AM. I came straight to the computer for about 30 minutes, then went outside to shovel show; we’re in our “snowbelt” daily snow routine now, so while everyone else gets hit with storms coming up the coast, we’re getting 2 to 6 inches daily. Wednesday we got a little over six inches for the day officially. That meant I had to shovel in the morning and in the early evening. It also meant I didn’t go anywhere except a brief outing for lunch. I was on the computer for the rest of my time, including being on the computer during the Syracuse University basketball game (they won again; 17 straight wins). I looked at my time; at 9PM I only had 33 minutes left to go for my computer time. What the hey? What was I going to do for the rest of the evening?

I got off the computer at 9:30 with 3 minutes remaining. Now I was stuck. I usually don’t go to bed until between 2 and 3 in the morning; I had 4 to 5 hours to kill. I took a book into the other room, but ended up turning on the TV for awhile. Eventually I gravitated towards a DVD or two. And I stayed up until just past 2AM. So I wasted time instead of used the extra time for something else; then again, I had no idea what else I wanted to use it for, but my body, after shoveling twice, said “let’s do nothing”, and that’s what I did.

Thursday morning I was again up at 7:15 and this time decided to go to the health club for a short bit. I came back an hour later, got onto the computer, and went to work. I took time out to cook something for lunch, which took about 30 minutes, but I came back to the desk to eat at the computer and work some more. I was also very active on Twitter and the blog during the day; lost a lot of time doing that stuff. I had a networking meeting at 5:30, which means I pulled away to shower, get dressed, and head into the city. I barely stayed an hour; wasn’t feeling it and I didn’t know anyone. Came home, and got right on the computer again.

This time, the alarm went off right at 10:30; ugh! I knew it was coming, so I quickly tried to finish up a few things in that last half hour. I almost thought about getting off and saving some of that time for later on, but that didn’t seem to make much sense. I got off, and decided to watch a couple of DVDs before finally shutting everything down just past 12:15, since I had an early morning meeting anyway.

So the experiment is over, and it becomes evaluation time. And to me, what I learned is pretty simple.

One, if I decide I don’t want to deal with 16 hour days, I just won’t do it. That was proved by Sunday, though that type of thing will be rare.

Two, right now anyway, if I have more time all I want to do is, well, nothing. Watching TV and DVDs is classified as nothing to me. That and sleep; true, maybe I need more rest, but if it’s all I have to look forward to with my down time then I’d rather not. That is, unless I can get a lot of massages to help me rest; that might not be so depressing long term, eh? 😉

Three, it’s easy now to see how I can slip into being on the computer for so many hours. I mean, look at Wednesday; I could have easily been on the computer 5 more hours, because I remembered that on Wednesday I took myself out to lunch, which was about an hour away. Add to that a trip to the bank and the store, and there you go.

Four, I probably need more DVDs, because I watched DVDs that by now are probably starting to wonder if I like anything else. Hey, I only buy things I could watch over and over; nothing wrong with that.

And five; there’s absolutely nothing wrong if I decide to take time away to relax or do something else if I think about it. I got all my projects done by Thursday, and with a little concentration I could have finished them by Tuesday and had all the other time for other stuff. This might bode well as far as planning for future projects.

Of course it might all mean nothing in the long run as well; I’m not really sure. I’ll admit that it’s hard to evaluate myself on this one. I haven’t really decided if I’m going to try to change or even if I really need to. If I went on the “happiness” scale, I’d have to say that I ended the experiment no happier or sadder than when I went into it. I wasn’t happy with how Wednesday and Thursday night ended so early mentally, but physically my body was probably happier.

Another experiment is over; whew! And it’s Friday, which means all bets are off since I finished my paid work. Hmmm, what other trouble can I get into?

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Acknowledging A Nice Thing

Well how about this? Most people probably don’t pay attention here because I have the ads so low, but over there to the left a bit lower I have my book Embrace The Lead and my cd set Keys To Leadership.

If you’ve noticed those there before you’re probably seeing something different than you have in the past. I have new logos for each, courtesy of a reader and friend named Vernessa Taylor of CoachNotes Blog. As part of her “just being nice” process for the end of the year she contacted me and asked if I would mind if she created some logo images for me for those two items. Understanding that my creative mind doesn’t work that way, I immediately accepted, and these were some of the designs she came up with, which I’m running with.

Of course I loved them all, including the image I’ve put onto this post, but the thing I really love about the one I’m keeping permanently on the left for the book is that shadow reflecting thing; man, I couldn’t have done anything like that in a million years.

This is my way of thanking Vernessa and bringing her to your attention. It also shows that there are a lot of nice people online. If you like reading some of the things I talk about here you’ll love reading her blog as well, as she talks about some of the same things. Thanks Vernessa; the best to you!

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Decluttering My Online Life

I haven’t talked all that much on this blog about decluttering things, but I have talked about it on my business blog. Every once in awhile we should all take some time to clear our “space” of things that aren’t working for us anymore.


by Karl Sinfield

The first time, in 2006, I said it was time to take the clutter out of my life. At that time I cleaned out a lot of material from my office, then decided it was time to go through all the emails I had accumulated up to that point, which was about 11 years worth, and eliminate any that weren’t beneficial anymore. I also went through about 4 years of business cards then as well; I’d kept every business card I’d ever been given, and that can really accumulate a lot.

The second time, in 2008, I wrote about addressing your clutter, but in that case it was concerning the fact that you know you have to do something because it’s not working, and instead you just let it keep going on and on until you find out you have a major mess on your hands. At this point you might just have to kill everything and start all over again; what a waste of time that is.

This time around, since I write about blogging here more than anything else, I’m talking about blogging declutter. Last year around this time I wrote about clearing away irritations and I figure it’s time to do that sort of thing again. Most of you haven’t been treated to this pdf file I’m linking to that’s called 1001 Tolerations, so I’m sharing it with you. No, some aspects of blogging aren’t on the list, but I think they might be if it were written today. I love blogging; I love visiting other blogs, and I love commenting. I know many of you do as well. But we put up with stuff that impedes our joy and wastes our time. Hey, early in the new year is as good a time as any to set something up so I’m not being irked anymore; who’s with me on this one?

So here we go, my short list (well, short for me) of things I’m going to do and not going to put up with anymore unless I really like you already; you’ll know who you are later on, obviously.

1. I will not subscribe to anymore Blogspot blogs. I might not even look at any more new blogs from that site. Even those where the only account I have with them will be missing me. As I wrote in another post, my business email isn’t appropriate as my only venue for leaving comments on those blogs, so why go there and find out and then have to leave, right?

2. I will not subscribe to anymore WordPress.com blogs. This ties in with my post on why I might not comment on your blog. Almost every one of them sends you an email asking if you want to subscribe to comments; I already checked the box so that should be obvious. Why put myself through that decision anymore.

3. If your blog has something that pops up while I’m either trying to read or write a comment asking me if I want to subscribe to your newsletter or whatever else, I’m gone and not coming back. I don’t care if it comes up immediately or 30 seconds later. I don’t care if it’s been said to increase subscribers to newsletters for those of you who are doing marketing. I’m done; it’s irking me, and really came to light two weeks ago when I was trying to write a comment and in the middle of it that stupid box came up and wouldn’t let me continue until I clicked it off. Nope, I’m done.

4. If I’m trying to visit your blog and suddenly I’m redirected to something telling me I have to turn off my adblocking software to view your comments, I’m done permanently. That tells me you’re more interested in making money than in engaging with people, and frankly, I go to the store when I want to buy something. I will not be forced into it. This seems to be a new thing, by the way, and I’m not having it.


by Kenneth MacLeod

5. I’m not subscribing to anymore Disqus, Intense Debate, or other blogs of that sort. I had actually continued subscribing to those blogs because some of them have pretty good content, but I like commenting, and I’m not signing up, and I don’t want to get those stupid emails; done.

6. I’m not subscribing to any more blogs that won’t show my gravatar because I haven’t signed up for their service. This seems to be the way with many Typepad blogs, and frankly, though this is minor, I can live with it. I went through the time to add my image through Gravatar, and by golly if you don’t care then I don’t care to visit again (I know, I said it, “by golly”).

7. If I notice you’ve never responded to a single comment I’ve made, I’m dropping your blog from my reader and moving on. That probably means you’re not looking at comments anyway, so you won’t miss me, and I won’t miss your blog either.

8. I’m not subscribing to any more blogs that moderate comments. I’m sorry you’re worried about too much spam because you don’t have the time to run your blog properly, but I’m not the one. What happens is that you never know if your post was seen or commented on until suddenly you’re deluged all at once with tons of comments that are just now being approved by the blog writer. Nope, don’t need that in my stream; I like real time comments and the like. It might be minor, but it’s irritating me, and I need to keep my irritation level down.

9. Of course if you don’t accept comments I’m not coming back. Having said that, I’ve been to some blogs where a person wants to write something really personal or controversial, and doesn’t want comments on that post. I’m not overly crazy about that idea, but I actually understand it and kind of respect it at the same time so that doesn’t count. But some folks don’t accept comments at all; that’s not interaction, that’s sitting through a lecture.

10. If you don’t always agree with me and love me and tell me how great I am, I’m never visiting your blog. Okay, this one’s a lie to see if you’re paying attention, and to satisfy my little OCD bit because I just had to have a 10th point to write, and I couldn’t think of anything else bothering me. Actually, the number 9 is one of my favorite numbers, but for a list post it just wasn’t going to work for my mental state. Sorry about that. 🙂

Now, does this mean I may not pop in from time to time? No, I wouldn’t say that. After all, I mentioned in yesterday’s post talking about CommentLuv that I like scanning through comments on other blogs that have it to see if there are topics that match things I’m interested in. So I might end up there, but whether or not I leave a comment is my prerogative. However, I probably won’t; if I like it enough, I would probably just write a blog post and link back to it. So, you’ll get a trackback that you can come here to see what I had to say.

Yeah, that’s a whole lot of fussing, which is why I threw in another image to break things up. What are you tolerating, other than long posts every once in awhile from someone like me, that you need to declutter from?

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Using CommentLuv Effectively

I don’t have to say this, but I will; I love CommentLuv, and I’m glad Andy created it. It was probably one of the first plugins I ever added to this blog, when I really had no idea what a plugin was, and it’s served my purposes well.

CommentLuv

The thing is, I’m betting that my reasons for using CommentLuv are somewhat different than yours. Not all of you, of course, but an overwhelming majority of you. If you’re not using this plugin to increase your visibility in the community then you don’t know anything about networking. If you are, you might still be going after low hanging fruit rather than getting into the meat of it all (now there’s an oxymoron, talking about the meat of fruit). Let’s find out, shall we.

First, having CommentLuv is a must if you can. I know some blog types can’t use this plugin, and that’s a shame. On the surface it encourages people to visit your blog and leave a comment, knowing they’re potentially going to get traffic back. This is the reason most people use it.

Second, looking at comments both on your own blog and other blogs you comment on is crucial to expanding your network. I’ll admit that I don’t always read all the comments on other blogs, but I do read the ones on mine. However, what I will do is scan through all the comments and look at the blog posts that people are highlighting at the end of their comments. This gives me a lot of blogs to check out based on being interested in a topic that they’re highlighting; I think that’s pretty neat.

Of course, if you sign up on their CommentLuv site, when you comment on someone else’s post you get to choose which of your last 10 posts you wish to highlight, which is a benefit to your commenting as well. If your last post was kind of a throwaway or one time post, you might not necessarily want or need to keep highlighting it, so having the ability to choose between multiple posts is definitely a good thing. It also helps if you happen to comment on a post more than once, as it allows you to select a different post each time.

Also, did you know that if you hover over the heart after someone’s CommentLuv link that it will give you a little bit of information about that person? Nothing intrusive, just whether that person is registered at the main site, how many times their link on that particular blog has been clicked on, other blog links this person has commented on, and at least a few other posts that someone has written on their own blog. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me.

Of course, some of the bit time bloggers would say you’re encouraging people to leave your blog and thus messing up your effectiveness. After all, the links through CommentLuv don’t allow to add code to them so people won’t leave your site. But I think it’s a legitimate risk to take because it pays in spades in the long run (no, that’s another phrase I don’t really know, but I know how to use).

So, what’s stopping you from using it? Disqus? Intense Debate? Blogspot? Drop them; go this route! 😉

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