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.