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Why I Read 43Folders

I’ve been a huge fan of Merlin Mann ever since I got into Getting Things Done and stumbled onto his web site 43Folders. Yesterday Merlin posted one of his missivies on productivity that is an instant classic and it reminds me why I continue to read his web site.

In his article Mud Rooms, Red Letters, and Real Priorities, he recounts a tale of being assaulted by a conversation one row back on a recent flight. The woman just won’t shut up about how her mud room is a real priority. Naturally, this leads Merlin to discuss the true nature of priorities.

First, ask yourself why any “high priority” item has remained unresolved in your life for more than 60 seconds. Why isn’t it done completely? Have you ever “re-assigned” “priority” to some task? Really? Because that sounds more like procrastination than management, let alone “effective” action and decisive execution.

I don’t want to spoil it, so I encourage you to the article at this link. There are some real gems in there that stop and make you think about your priorities.

Considering A 365 Photo Project

I’m considering doing a 365 Photo Project and I’m curious to hear what others think about it. Have you done one and did you like it? If you haven’t done one personally, do you like seeing them?

What Is It? The link in the above paragraph goes into great detail, but in a nutshell, it’s where you take a photo a day and post it online. Quite a challenge to say the least.

So Why Do It? There’s a couple of things that are making me consider it.

  1. I’m working on building a new community and I’m trying to become more active in online publishing. Just trying to create new habits and keep my focus on “what can I publish?”

  2. I don’t have many pictures of me. I don’t like having my picture taken and I usually get behind the camera just for that reason. However, with Facebook, Twitter and all the other places where you can have an online identity, a picture would come in handy. After taking 365 photos, I’m bound to have one that I like.

  3. It would be a challenge. Publishing a photograph every day would be a challenge. I tend to like challenges and achievements and the higher degree of difficulty, the more I want to do it.

But What Do You Think? I’d love to hear what you think — especially if you’ve done one in the past. Even if you haven’t, I’d still like to know if you’d be at all interested in me doing a 365 photo project.

Electric Cars – How To Convert A Country

Came across a video from the TED conference by Shai Agassi and just had to share. Agassi is the CEO of a company called BetterPlace which is a company looking to provide electric car networks for countries.

What I found so fascinating about the talk is how in 18 minutes he sums up the issues faced with our dependance on oil and illustrates a clear path of how to change that. I haven’t seen someone one take it from soup to nuts like that in such a short span of time.

Bathtub IV Video

I was going through my tweets after lunch and found a comment by Merlin Mann. He was replying to Graham Linehan, the creator of The IT Crowd so naturally I had to follow him (@Glinner if you’re interested).

As I scrolled through page-after-page of videos and links of utter hilarity, I came across this video that I just had to share. Bathtub IV is one in a series of videos from Keith Loutit’s “Little Sydney” project and it’s just brilliant.

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Note: this is not stop motion, and these are not models. I showed this to Dan and we talked about it and how Keith created this fantastic video. Seems that he’s shooting HD and combing tilt-shift and time-lapse. Incredible.

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

I came across an article by Clay Shirky called Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable by way of DaringFireball and I have to say, it is a must read.

There’s been a great deal of discussion on the subject of newspapers and other traditional print publications in the news feeds and podcasts that I listen to. It’s no wonder that it’s a hot topic what with PC World no longer publishing it’s magazine and the Kindle 2 getting great reviews and many major newspapers on the brink of collapse.

In all the rhetoric, I haven’t heard anyone approach it quite like Clay Shirky’s article. It’s a fresh look and quite insightful and balanced in the approach to the “problem”.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

Jim Cramer On The Daily Show

I didn’t see it on TV when it occurred, but apparently Jim Cramer made an appearance on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” and didn’t fare so well, to put it mildly. There’s a lot of buzz about this on the Internet and after watching the un-edited video, I can see why.

Jim Cramer really comes off like a schmuck and an apologist. Clearly John is on his game, is firing on all cylinders and controls the conversation expertly. It reminds me of his appearance Crossfire and well worth the watch. On Crossfire, John took CNN to task and in this interview he takes CNBC to the same task. To quote Stewart, the issue is about “… what CNBC advertisers itself as and what it actually is.”

The impression that I’m left with after watching the videos is that the credibility of CNBC and more specifically Cramer’s show “Mad Money” has been flushed. It was after Stewart’s appearance on “Crossfire” that the show was cancelled. I can’t help but think that we could be seeing a repeat.

Lastly, there’s one thing that Cramer says towards the end that really sticks out and will be my take away sound bite.

“I’m a guy doing an entertainment show about business.”

Bye Bye Miss American Pie

Palm has finally come clean and confirmed what has been widely suspected, that it will no longer develop any new traditional handheld PDAs. Word came straight from Palm CEO Ed Colligan during yesterdays conference call, but it bears mentioning again for posterity. The announcement was made practically off the cuff when asked by a financial analyst about the possibility of shutting down the handheld business.

[ via ]

I gave up on Palm OS a couple of years ago, but it still saddens me to see something that I was SO passionate about go out like this.

A Few Political Links

I’ve been buried in work since my last post and have a half-dozen, half-baked articles in the queue, but after going through my feeds this morning, a handful of links seemed to gel and I thought a quick post was in order.

Hack The Debate The next debate on October 15th is going to feature a live Twitter stream. I have mixed feelings about this, but I’m curious to see what this will look like. On one hand I think it’ll devolve into fart jokes, but since it’s a managed event there’s the possibility of some actual interesting comments from the online peanut gallery.

Two Proposals to Make Elections Better My buddy Craig had a post on his blog today about two options to change how we vote and how the town hall debates. Although I like the idea of knowledge based voting somewhat, it’s very elitist (which I am) and I think would scare away too many voters. “What! There’s a test?” I definitely like the idea of changing the debate structure so that the candidates could really drill down on the issues. Makes me think the “Hack the Debate” idea has more merit than I originally thought.

Obama ’08: The Official iPhone Application I downloaded and installed this application over the air during breakfast this morning and I have to say that I’m VERY impressed. Regardless of which candidate you plan on voting for, this is a brilliant use of technology. The app is a concise distillation of Obama’s position on the issues and is very engaging to boot. I had to sit back and give my best Joey Lawrence “Woah” when reviewing the “Call Friends” feature

Call Friends: A great volunteering tool that lets you make a difference any time you want by talking to people you already know. Your contacts are prioritized by key battleground states, and you can make calls and organize results all in one place.

Suddenly I’m pulled from the sidelines and being asked to take action. I’m not going to lie, it scared the shit out of me. Absolutely brilliant.

John McCain: Economic Disaster The Obama campaign released this on YouTube on Tuesday, but made no mention of it during the debate, which kinda pissed me off. If you’re going to lob a grenade like this, don’t ignore it. The video, although somewhat boring, does illustrate McCain’s involvement in the S&L scandal quite well, which many people were too young or simply don’t remember. Of course there’s a clear parallel drawn between today’s financial meltdown and the debacle of the past.

Of course take it with a grain of salt, because the video clearly has an agenda and this is not a pure documentary.

Make Believe Maverick OK, I don’t get my news from Rolling Stone magazine and there’s no doubt that their perspective is pretty far to the left. That being said, there’s a great deal of detail and quotes from those that were there and it did make me rethink some of what I like about McCain. But again, take it with a grain, or two of salt.

CNN Fact Checker This site is one of the best things to come out of the 2008 political pageant — and yes, don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a pageant. Anyway, both parties are slinging digs into each other as to why the other’s plan is crap and given how the debates are so structured and dare I say it, neutered, I like that there’s a news source that’s publishing their fact checking.

The only thing missing is a tally showing just how truthful each campaign is being. In my cursory review, I’m seeing a lot of “True” and “Partially True” on the Obama side and a lot of “False” and “Misleading” on the McCain side. Regardless of which side you’re rooting for, when you break down all the rhetoric and decisive personal belief issues, you have to focus on the facts. Ok, just one more. In composing this article, I decided to see if I could find a “Truth Tally” to the CNN link above, I came across this site. I need to dig a little deeper because there is a TON of detail, but I love this site!

For example, take a look at The Second Debate and you’ll see what I mean. They go point-by-point checking each fact that was presented and then providing sources at the bottom of the page. Great stuff.

Well so much for a quick little article, but hopefully you’ll find some of these links interesting and feel free to comment about them!

Microblogging – Conversation or Shouting Match?

I’ve been using Twitter for about a year now and more recently If you haven’t heard of either of these services, not to worry, because they are relatively new. If I had to give them a label, I’d call them tools for micro-blogging. If that sounds completely weird and foreign to you, then I highly recommend that you check out the video by Common Craft called, “Twitter in Plain English.

Although there are “new media” tools that have appeared in recent years, such as blogs and podcasts, we’ve had clear lines when it came to content. There are blogs and content management systems for articles, thoughts and other bits of text and then there are communication tools such as e-mail, instant messengers, IRC, etc. When writing an article, like this one, it’s primarily a broadcast medium. I write something, you read it and if I’m lucky we can talk about it via comments. With an instant messenger, like iChat, or AIM, I’m having a discussion with other people and the content evolves as the result of a conversation.

Enter Twitter When Twitter came on the scene, there was a collective “huh?” to figure out where it fit in with what we already know about about content and communications. Since it’s only 140 characters and asks the basic question, “What are you doing?” micro-blogging seems to be a nice comfortable fit. I “tweet” a 140 character post that says “I’m eating a ham sandwich” and I’m done. However people don’t always use your tool as you define it and users began using the “@” symbol as a method of responding to other people’s tweets.

So I tweet “I’m having a ham sandwich” and one of my followers tweets back “@mashby what type of bread?” and now we have a conversation. No longer is this a primarily one-way broadcast of information, we now have a two-way discussion. Luckily, Twitter added support for the “@” and it’s become a standard within the service.

Enter is the new kid on the block in the micro-blogging space and seems to be getting some real traction. People seem to like it because it’s open, has the potential of being distributed. So instead of one single service having to support millions of users (ala Twitter), there can be a multitude of federated systems all working in tangent.

It works fairly reliably and most importantly is a lot like Twitter. I like it a lot and the network of people that I follow is still growing, but I continue to use both Twitter and because everyone I follow on Twitter isn’t on yet.

Enter Steve Gilmore One of the people I follow, Pete Prodoehl, posted the following,

“raster: so besides @stevegillmor who will leave if it goes more than 140 chars?”

My first thought was “Huh?” and then I responded to the discussion and asking why this was even an issue. Well, it would seem that to be compatible with Twitter, SMS and the like, there are a contingent of people that feel that the 140 character limit is the cornerstone of micro-blogging. One of those people who definitely feels strongly about the subject is Steve Gillmor.

Steve has a large audience through his blogs, his former gig at ZDNet and one of the pioneer podcasts, “The Gillmor Gang” He may not be EF Hutton, but suffice to say that when Steve talk, people listen. I didn’t know that Steve was even on, so following raster’s link, I found his profile page and back tracked to find the conversation and make some sense of what was happening.

From what I deduced, Steve posted the following,

nice article jesse but I for one will abandon bridge if it goes in other direction. same goes for identica if > 140.

And from that post, there was a ton of chatter going back and forth about how Identica was changing and what key points were deal breakers for Steve. Most of his tweets were along the lines of “@jessestay if replies are turned off I’m gone”, and “when wull that version be released so I can plan my departure?” and a lot of back and forth over several technical issues.

Enter The Confusion It was really difficult trying to follow the conversation. It’s one of the limitations with the “@” shortcut and it was near impossible to find any coherent thread. On top of that issue, everyone participating in the conversation is limited to 140 characters, so each reply was one short burst after another.

At one point it felt as if Steve Gilmore was on some sort of rant and I @replied as much. His response was “mashby rant?” and that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t that Steve was ranting per se, it’s just that the medium is so sparse that it quickly devolves into what appears to be a rant.

It’s hard enough to convey feeling and intentions in an e-mail. How many times has someone taken something you’ve written the wrong way? E-mail provides us plenty of room to write and get the message that we’re trying to convey, now truncate that to 140 characters and it’s even more difficult. That was the case with Steve Gilmore’s comments on the changes. He was posting individual points, but from the receiving end it came across as an angry rant.

So this begs the question, is microblogging really a conversation medium, or is it nothing more than shouts across a crowded room?

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