Techno frazzled

 

I’m hypothetically on leave at the moment (back at work on the 6th) and my plan was to pull my mind back from the ledge it has lived on for the past year or so and back to rolling green fields caressed by cool breezes and the sounds of my children’s laughter. As usual, it takes a little longer than I expect for my mind to calm enough to meet a semblance of my idea of being on holiday but I have high hopes for the few days remaining.

Anyway, one of the things I have noticed as I strive to spend more human time with our kids and my wife is how easily I am caught up by an array of digital inputs and streams on my iPad and iPhone. I disabled email notifications (sort of) so that isn’t bombarding me but what I realised today is that I am still frazzled because I am constantly flipping between my feeds, an ebook or two, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Path (a bit), Flipboard versions of most of the previous items and the desire to write more for this blog. That is before I get to the bit where I spend more than a few minutes focused on our kids and whatever they want to tell me or do with me.

I’ve accepted a totally fragmented and, quite possibly, upside down array of services, inputs and outputs because I have been so hectic, sorting out that mess hasn’t really been a big priority. Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about this blog and its value to me as a core expression platform which I control (well, more than most of the others I use) and which can function as a fairly decent reference point of who I am and what I think about, generally speaking. Unfortunately WordPress isn’t as good as Tumblr or Google+ when it comes to sharing mixed-content items so I have been thinking about using those services more and for the sorts of things I’d rather publish here and a number of variations.

I found myself in a ridiculous position of reading a post on Flipboard I wanted to share and spending about 5 minutes sharing to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ (or, as an alternative, to Tumblr instead of Twitter and Facebook because Tumblr then shares with Twitter and Facebook) even though I’d much rather share directly to my WordPress blog and keep it all on one site. Reading articles and sharing them has become an utter pain in the butt. It is just too much effort, depending on where I read the article. Sharing items I pick up on in Reeder is quite a bit easier because of Buffer integration but I still have this complexity beneath it all and two aspects of the insanity have been particularly vexing: what do I do with this blog to make it a more meaningful part of my digital life and identity and do I continue attempting to use Tumblr and Google+, alongside other profiles for the quick shares? Surely this is far too convoluted?

Realising my self-induced techno frazzled state was keeping me from both a relaxing week and a half off and being more productive; I decided to find ways to simplify my process. I really like my blog and using it as a central hub. I’ve been reading a number of posts about blogging and Om Malik’s post stands out for me as a nice explanation of what I’d like to do with this blog:

And while I embrace every new social platform with gusto, I find it frustrating that my point of view is spliced across various networks. I think the blog is the one that ties it all together — a central location where you fit together all the Lego pieces. In many ways it is no different than what blogs used to be in the beginning. Instead of them being a starting point of the journey, they are now the final stop, a digital home in our social media meanderings. Marc Canter,came up with a concept called “digital life aggregators.” And he was right — blogs are just that, digital life aggregators.

It occurred to me that I probably have a pretty backwards workflow and could also ditch a couple channels I have been forcing into my others. One that came to mind is Tumblr which I have always liked but couldn’t really find a comfortable space for as a way to share stuff as a sort of secondary blog. I tried using it as a standalone blog; importing it into my main blog and, lately, adding a widget from my Tumblr feed to my blog to bolt it on, so to speak.

When I started thinking about simplifying it all, the solution to my Tumblr challenge was pretty simple, in retrospect: stop using Tumblr to share miscellaneous stuff that is pretty lightweight but not substantive enough to bother with a relatively manual process of posting it to this blog. Instead (and it’s almost embarrassing it has taken me so long to have this epiphany) I’ll just use Twitter for that stuff. So between my blog and Twitter, I have my content creation covered. Tumblr then falls into line with Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter (wearing the other hat) as ways to share my posts and other stuff with people who may be interested and who are firmly entrenched into these services.

One thing that seems to have emerged from the social Web is how the engagement part of the interaction has been separated from, and only remains loosely associated with, the source posts on my blog. It’s a bit like using separate speakers connected through a receiver for your home entertainment system instead of the speakers built into your TV. The engagement end of that barrel is still a series of pipes but it starts to simplify what I share on this blog and which is lighter weight stuff which I’ll share through Twitter either on its own or with other, appropriate services.

One of the thoughts I had about dropping Tumblr for Twitter (well, the thought after how I have finally caught up with how most people must be using Twitter) is how its updates and changes have changed its look and functionality to do a lot of what Tumblr does (specifically with inline media). It makes more sense to me, at any rate.

I still feel like there is a lot more room to simplify everything. I could cut back on many of the services I use but I keep thinking that would be pretty short-sighted. So, here I am, thinking out loud about how my inability to cut through my techno frazzle has frustrated my strong desire to spend far more time doing more quality human stuff with my family.

Paul

Enthusiast, writer, strategist, web developer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

  1. Here’s my take on it and some of what I have experienced, although the experience may well be quite different based on different social connections.

    Generally; if it can fit in a tweet, it’s not worth a blog post however if it’s just more than a tweet, it might be worth posting on Facebook.

    Tumblr like Posterous(R.I.P.) is for people who don’t have their own blogs or don’t know how to run them.

    Each of the other services have different target audiences and different engagement rates at least as far as I have found.

    Twitter is typically people who are on to move, connected and engaged, who are actively involved online and quite often work online. Quite often populated by people(Techies) who hate Facebook. Lately however I have noticed a lot more noisy trolling type people appearing on the network.

    Facebook from an engagement perspective is typically family, friends, and people who don’t usually use social media too often or know much about technology or the internet. To this crowd Facebook is their go to place for online engagement and the only place you’ll find them.

    Google+ is handy for Google Hangouts and connecting with Google staff. There are a couple of communities getting off the ground there but it is still quiet and has offered very little engagement. The automatic photo backup feature is also pretty cool.

    LinkedIn; I have found to be a great place to find quality content, but I have experienced very little engagement. Hopefully with all the changes that they have been implementing within the platform, this will change. I personally don’t like the way they handle messages.

    At least for me, Facebook and Twitter provide the best ROI in terms of time spent and engagement. Both of these networks have resulted in actual business leads.

    Ultimately it would be awesome to publish more on my actual blog, but I almost feel like blogging requires a bit more thought and often this results in me holding off on publishing articles as often as I should.

    Optimum scenario would probably be; publish on blog, engage on social network, resulting in people clicking on your profile then landing up on your blog to learn more about you(your business).

    1. Focusing too much on which items to post where is a really time consuming process. When it comes to my needs, I want to use my blog as a hub for my personal sharing and thoughts and just use Twitter for quick and short shares. It may make sense to share some stuff on Facebook or G+ specifically and I still use other services but spending 10 minutes just sharing to multiple services is crazy. It doesn’t scale very well.

  2. Agreed, manually sharing to multiple places is a waste of time. I honestly don’t think one should be sharing to multiple networks. Choose one based on the content of the share.

    For me at least, I’m at the point where habit/instinct takes over, so I don’t need to spend too much time thinking at the time of actually posting.

    My quasi-formula is quite quick working from top to bottom:

    default Twitter – links or a statement less than 140 characters or when I want to mention someone specifically.
    Facebook – more of a sentence or mini paragraph that won’t fit on twitter.
    LinkedIn – business specific, or where I’m hoping to engage with a more business type audience.
    g+ – haven’t figured out a specific target group here yet.

    blog – slightly more structured thoughts and stories, you’ve got control of the user experience and how the see the post.

    This post is a perfect example of how a blog post is better. The content and keywords now all remain on your domain, add value in terms of keywords and search indexing and also become a point of reference in the future should this topic come up in a discussion.

    I guess one could consider sharing links on a blog as well and basically consolidate content onto the blog and then only share blog posts on other network, but I don’t think it’s as easy to engage with links as a post type on a blog and also the frequency of link shares wouldn’t really justify an individual post. Might be worth a post and a cover article, grouping links per category thus adding value to the links as well as sharing them.

    This might end up taking a lot of effort though.

    (sorry thinking out loud to myself there for a moment.)

    1. I think it is an interesting discussion, though. My sense is it points to 2 different approaches to sharing: distributed and more consolidated.

  3. Consolidated would be a great way of ensuring one comprehensive resource on the web, from two perspectives.

    the person publishing could use it as a record to reference in the future, such as links discussing the latest in UI trends or new project management best practices as well as what the publisher was thinking at the time. A really good way to reflect on previous shares.
    visitors could get a comprehensive chunk of value from one page view. Land on a post, read the publishers thoughts or comments and then follow links to additional information that inspired the post.

    The more I think about it the more i think this could be a great strategy for building up chunks of good quality topical content.

    Accumulate a few links about a specific business topic, ones that were perhaps interesting or of particular value. Then write an intro post with some digested thoughts on the links and value gained from reading them.

    The downside though would mean publishing would be less spontaneous and might not be shared as often.

What do you think?

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