February 28, 2008

Can you think?

I admit that I have wished for a book on you so I can quickly learn what makes you tick and what ticks you off. But I never expected checklists for every part of my life. That's why I prefer facilitators over trainers and coaches over editors.

Yet, many people want a blueprint outlining what to do when. The why is not important. The possibility of unlimited choices is frightening.

Is it that some people grew up with flash cards and everything needs to be broken into small pieces with only one correct answer?

Or do they think they can always ask the teacher what will be on the test?

The national Girl Scouts are in the midst of a major shift in programming. That has to result in a focus change for those folks once known as trainers. I have only a few details on the process of converting those involved volunteers into facilitators.

I like the language change. Training implies checklists, one way of doing things, controlled situations. Facilitating implies giving you tools and skills that may guide you through situations. But the responsibility for carrying out the plans, the program, the dreams remains with you.

It is similar to why a person "lucky" enough to be called an editor needs to spend more time coaching then editor. It takes more time to coach - a lesson I learned at Poynter Institute and from Don Fry and Peter Roy Clark. But a coaching style helps a writer learn what to do in multiple situations.

Editing or fixing as story is a one-time improvement. But coaching a writer by asking questions, by having conversations, by exploring a few possibilities can reap long-term benefits for the editor, writer and reader.

When I share knowledge,, I am hoping they are thinking.

A journalist or blogger who participates in a discussion on why a news organization asks organizations to post a summary of a news article or blog item and link back to the original should now offer the same courtesy to another news organization or blogger, right?
How do you teach someone to apply concepts without spelling out what to do constantly. Hoe do you teach one to make their own checklist?

February 24, 2008

Twitter - and your words - to the rescue

I love it when I read something that sums up what I'm thinking before I have acquired the language to describe the thought. Happened to me twice this week - once with a Twitter status -- deep vs echo blogging - and once with a thoughtful post on why you pick up a community when you follow an individual. Then, of course, we could talk about those posts that describe the trend I've picked up only on a subconscious level until ....

Hugh MacLeod
helped out in his Twitter on "deep or echobloggers" He uses the phrase to describe the differences between bloggers. Some contribute something original, or at least thoughtful to the blogging world. Others merely repeat what's already out there.

Yeah. That's a way of describing bloggers.

Look at those bloggers who share the links of the day/week/month with no commentary. Contrast that with a blogger who explains why the links are worth pursuing.

I'm struggling with blogging - yeah, see how often I write :) Part of it is I don't want to be an echo-blogger. We seem to have enough of those judging by my RSS reader that gets stuffed with duplicated posts

It takes time to be a deep blogger though. It takes time to pull together patterns, thoughts not fully explained by others. It takes time to stay on top of what's happening, of spotting trends.

Heck, I've sent more than 300 draft thoughts over here. But I let myself be paralyzed by the thought that it might already have been said. Or is it the chain that journalists don't share opinions?

It's similar to an argument I first had with Twitter. Why would anyone care what I'm doing?

Fortunately, what I've learned they may not care what I'm doing* but I care about the conversation that leads to knowledge when you follow the right Twitters.

I've also learned that it is not enough to follow, you need to contribute.

And you need to follow enough people to contribute to the conversation. (thanks to Richard Azia, who has a whole Twitter category in his blog.)

By the way, that blogging about Twittering is a whole 'nother trend,according to another Twitter'er - (Mathew Ingram) - who noted the "Twitter seems to be one of those things that people write about almost as much as they actually use."

Yeah, I've noticed that. It's almost as common as complaining about how often Twitter goes off the grid.

* About the not caring - well, some do and even that surprises me.

People who follow me because I followed them often share comforting words when the MS Monster threatens to suffocate me.

Sometimes, it is those folks I have never met who are alert enough to my patterns to recognize when MS might be sneaking out. They alert me to Twitters that do not resemble the English language. Or stop me when the Pity Party goes on too long.

Thank you.