Unlike Rands, I’m not looking to get high.

This is a reminder not to let a digital world full of others’ moments deceive you into devaluing your own. Their moments are infinite – yours are finite and precious – and this New Year I’m wondering how much we want to create versus consume.

But what if Rands is wrong? I personally don’t put up 82 Facebook updates and 312 tweets to get high, but rather because that’s actually my downtime.

Perhaps to do more writing on this blog, which I didn’t often enough in 2013. I need to use the act of writing for relaxation just as I do when using twitter, watching a great movie or doing the washing up.

I’m not sure I’ll get a Builders High, but if it makes more more relaxed, that’ll do.


Speaking of the The Millions


An excellent piece by Nina Martyris celebrating Edward Lear, and especially the Owl and the Pussycat, on the bicentennial of his birth and through the lens of Danny Boyle’s recent London Olympics opening ceremony.

Apparently Aldous Huxley fell back on Lear’s humour in moments of depression. Martyris has some excellent examples of her own humour throughout, including while discussing Python Terry Jones’ opera of The Owl and the Pussycat, one which made me laugh out loud

the word “pussy” in the poem — when Lear wrote it, meant cat, not twat

The worlds most difficult books


Reading site The Millions picked the 10 books

…that are hard to read for their length, or their syntax and style, or their structural and generic strangeness, or their odd experimental techniques, or their abstraction

I felt ashamed to say that I’ve read none of them, so immediately went to iBooks on my phone and found Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson, which, to date, has been reasonably pleasant reading – albeit quite wordy and with some interesting grammatical constructs.

One thing which keeps coming to mind while reading Richardson’s opus has been the extent to which the written word, especially sentence structure, has become rather simpler and less descriptive than hitherto. There are probably many reasons for this, I’m interested in your thoughts on why.

If storytelling is for Marketers why are so many so bad at it?

Marketing is partly about creating interesting content about a brand or product. Social Media includes the ability to create and manage conversations about the same. So why are the blogs of so many Social Media Marketers so boring?

Six degrees of separation is an interesting concept and I often try it while reading my RSS feeds on Feedly. This is achieved by following links under the “You might also like” sidebar.

However, yesterday while I did so with my “Social Networks” feed I quickly started to despair and tweeted:
Anyone able to fill me in on why I find the overwhelming majority of Social Media/marketing Blogposts so half arsed and boring?
September 13, 2011

One of the challenges I set myself when I started to blog is that I would try and relearn the art of writing. It’s a long term project, and I’m pretty sure that I’m nowhere near where I would like to be after about two years of doing this.

But after a twenty year hiatus, and not having to depend on this for food and shelter, I’m happy to take my time.
The greatest course I think I can take is to use services like Instapaper to discover great content through its partnership with or to read great blogs like those of Bill Bennett, Denis Wright, Jason Kottke, Gavin Heaton et al

The death of the journalist who exposed dark secrets about Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s military. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch makes the case for paying college athletes. An interview with Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone writer Vanessa Grigoriadis on the finer points of celebrity profiling.

So you might say I have no business criticising the blogs I ended up on as I continued my journey through the nether regions of the marketing blogosphere.

But here’s the rub, which I didn’t realise at the time, but it seems that many of them are obligated as part of their contracts to product blogposts
@franksting (1) Whole bunch of people writing posts because they feel obliged, rather than inspired, and (2) so much has been said already.
September 13, 2011

Which, I suppose makes sense. But you’d like to think that if they even understood writing, they’d be doing it regularly.

I might then forgive the poor grammar, prose and general pointlessness, for then perhaps they are doing it for the same reasons as I am – in the hope that one day, they’d get better at it.
I hear it’s always important to finish on a positive (no I’m not going to name names of those who gave me a mid-afternoon yawnfest) and share the links I mention above and more.
These people are great and I recommend you read them:

The unemployment rate has risen by 0.2 percentage points for two months in a row. Taken at face value, that says the economy is rapidly heading into recession. But it’s always a mistake to take economic statistics at face value and, fortunately, the truth is likely to be far more reassuring.

From economics on a global scale applied to Australian conditions to the economics of the Mobile Phone industry – especially the disruptive nature of everything which is happening there

asymco | Curated market intelligence

After processing more than 1500 data points on the performance of thirteen technology companies, patterns are beginning to emerge. The steps so far: The final step is to plot the changes in the relationship between pre- and post-crisis for the set of companies normalized to the same starting point and then classifying them: The chart shows how the “average P/Es” changed after 9/30/2008 vs.
to a broker in honesty, never afraid to say his always enjoyable piece
Stilgherrian · All publication is a political act. All communication is propaganda. All art is pornography. All business is personal. All hail Eris. Vive les poissons rouges sauvages!

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets. Most of the week was spent in Kuala Lumpur, my first visit. I’ll write more about that anon. Further material from the Kaspersky Lab event is appearing from today.
to another of similar ilk with some great tips for aspiring writers
Bill Bennett | journalist

You may need to discipline a worker who has stepped out of line. The best approach is something a British friend of mine describes as “a one minute bollocking”. Managers often have little experience of good technique when it comes to … deliver a fast and to the point reprimand There comes a time in every employee’s life when a junior oversteps the mark.
and a pair of French Men famous for various reasons, but whose thoughtful posts on the Media and Technology always help me start the week well.
Monday Note

The TechCrunch / Arrington saga is the perfect illustration for the stealthy corruption plaguing digital information. Skip this paragraph if you know the story. In a nutshell: on September 1st, Michael Arrington, founder of the site TechCrunch, announced the launch of a venture fund (Fortune broke the story).

And if you want good “marketing” related blogs, you can do worse than these two. While much of what Brogan says is common sense, it’s the way he picks simple ideas and creates pathways with them which appeals to me.

And Gavin isn’t just in here because he was the one who encouraged me to start writing again in the first place or because we share a first name – its because he varies his content and provides some great insights into a profession he clearly loves and understands.

Servant of Chaos

Having watched Gasland the movie late last year I was astounded to learn that coal seam gas mining was planned in Australia. Surely, I thought, we’d learn from the tragic lessons of others. — Learn How Human Business Works – Beyond Social Media

My language isn’t safe for work on this post. Save criticism for another post. In this case, I need to use this word. Seth Godin is right to tell you to ship. Get your stuff out. Make something. DO something. It’s important. And waiting until something is perfect isn’t an option.

Gavin and Chris will probably tell you no matter what you write, you should always be telling a story. Denis Wright does that as he intersperses stories of his battle with the “Unwelcome Stranger” in his brain with some rollicking tales from his lifetime

My Unwelcome Stranger

home | WHAT’S NEW!  | stories from my past I haven’t forgotten about tackling God in my continuing journey through my mini-series on personal philosophy . The mood will strike and it will come oozing out of the remainder of my brain.   Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you get what you paid for today.
Who are your favourite writers in the “blogosphere”? Who should I add to my reading list?

Preserving Brontë – What do we lose when we no longer have paper?

It was one of the best things I ever worked on at the Morgan; perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever worked on. I couldn’t quite get over the fact that I was working on a letter that Charlotte Brontë had written with her own hands. She had selected the paper, dipped her pen in that brown ink; her hand had moved across the page in direct connection with her thoughts. Letters are such intimate things, even when the subject matter is unremarkable. All that lay between Charlotte’s mind and my own was the mere matter of 150 years.

I’m not a luddite, but surely digital creation doesn’t have the same historical nuances which bring this level of pleasure? I’m glad, like with everything, there is room for more than one way of doing things

After William Gibson (@greatdismal) on Google’s Earth

Google is not ours. Which feels confusing, because we are its unpaid content-providers, in one way or another. We generate product for Google, our every search a minuscule contribution. Google is made of us, a sort of coral reef of human minds and their product.

In Google, we are at once the surveilled and the individual retinal cells of the surveillant, however many millions of us, constantly if unconsciously participatory…We’re citizens, but without rights.

The first extract above should be required learning for all Google Users who misunderstand the nature of Googles supposed ‘free’ services.

While Gibson’s reference in the second extract was to the Panopticon prison designs of the Victorian Era, the reference to being at once surveilled and being the surveillant immediately made me think of the regime in East Germany between 1946 and 1990.

The idea that everyone is watching and being watched at once was the mainstay of the fear which underpinned that state. If you follow Gibson’s analogy, you could say this is the basis of what Google now provides. Albeit supposedly with out any personal identification being stored.

The challenge is to ensure this data never makes that step to personal identification. If it does what is to stop the owners from moving beyond the Stasi state into the realms of George Orwell or Gibson’s own work?

A rather excellent article by a very clever writer. Which worked for me as all writing should, it made me think.

Converting viewers to readers « Making Hay

Because we don’t write to read our own articles I want to know if any one is reading. While the lovely graphs which WordPress give me tell me one stat: visits, it doesn’t actually show me if people are reading. If you write the actual readership is the only measurement which matters.

I’m at a loss on how to guarantee a high level of conversion to active readers.

Read the full article at

My recent post on my main blog about measuring Visitors versus Readers over there.

Robert Fisk on Journalism and ‘the words of power’

…the flotilla – the convoy of boats setting off for Gaza. I don’t think they are a bunch of anti-Israelis. I think the international convoy is on its way because people aboard these ships – from all over the world – are trying to do what our supposedly humanitarian leaders have failed to do. They are bringing food and fuel and hospital equipment to those who suffer. In any other context, the Obamas and the Sarkozys and the Camerons would be competing to land US Marines and the Royal Navy and French forces with humanitarian aid – as Clinton did in Somalia. Didn’t the God-like Blair believe in humanitarian ‘intervention’ in Kosovo and Sierra Leone?

In normal circumstances, Blair might even have put a foot over the border.

But no. We dare not offend the Israelis. And so ordinary people are trying to do what their leaders have culpably failed to do. Their leaders have failed them.

Have the media? Are we showing documentary footage of the Berlin airlift today? Or of Clinton’s attempt to rescue the starving people of Somalia, of Blair’s humanitarian ‘intervention’ in the Balkans, just to remind our viewers and readers – and the people on those boats – that this is about hypocrisy on a massive scale?

The hell we are! We prefer ‘competing narratives’. Few politicians want the Gaza voyage to reach its destination – be its end successful, farcical or tragic. We believe in the ‘peace process’, the ‘road map’. Keep the ‘fence’ around the Palestinians. Let the ‘key players’ sort it out.

“Competing Narratives” Yeah, weasel words FTL!

Simon Tolkien: In My Grandfather’s Footsteps

I had a lot of fun times with my grandfather when I was a boy and went to stay with him and my grandmother for seaside holidays at the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. We played endless word games and I asked him innumerable questions about Middle Earth and he was always kind and affectionate. I can close my eyes and see him now, wreathed in smoke like Gandalf as he lit his pipe with a flaring Swan Vesta match and spoke in a deep voice about dragons and dwarves. In the afternoons we went for long walks along the beach with the wind in our faces and he showed me just the right thin black stones for skimming out into the waves, and yet, however hard I tried, I never managed to skim mine as far as his, even though he was sixty-seven years older than me.

exactly how I feel about the short times I spent with my Grandfather, who also died when I was pre-teen. He wasn’t quite so famous though.

Writing tips: “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it”

Elmore Leonard wrote this as the last of his ten rules of writing.

If it sounds like writing, rewrite it

Leonard is an author. A first-rate author who writes fast-paced novels with great dialogue and plenty of action.

What he means, is make sure you writing doesn’t sound like an undergraduate essay or a piece of high school homework.

This is exactly what was I saying in conversation with @otherandrew and @franciejones at the recent #digicitz event