"Personal Branding" vs. Inkblurt

Chris Brogan has a great post about 100 Personal Branding Tactics Using Social Media, with some helpful tips on creating that thing we keep hearing about “the Personal Brand.”

I’ve always struggled with this, though. I’ve been doing this “blogging” thing a long time. In fact, my first “home page” was a text-only index file. Why? Because there weren’t any graphical Web browsers yet. And even once there were, the only people who were online to look at any such thing were net-heads like myself. There was already a sense of informality and mutual understanding, and “netizens” seemed to prize a level of authenticity above almost anything else. Anything that looked like a personal “brand” was suspect.

cattlebrand.jpg

So, something about the DNA of my initial forays into personal expression on the ‘net has stuck with me. Namely, that it’s my little corner of the world, where I say what’s on my mind, take it or leave it, with very little concern about my brand or what-not. I am not saying this is a good thing. It just is.

Over the years, though, I’ve become more conscious of the shift in context. It’s like I had a little corner lot in a small town, with a ramshackle house and flotsam in the yard, and ten years later I look out to see somebody developed a new subdivision around me, with McMansions, chemically enhanced lawns, and joggers wearing those special clothes that you only wear if you’re really *into* jogging. You know what I mean.

And now I’m just not sure where my blog stands in all this. I don’t keep up with it often, but if I do it’s not because I’ve set a goal for myself, it’s just because my brainfartery is more active (and long-form) than usual. I feel the need to have a more polished, disciplined blog-presence, with all the right trimmings … but then I’d miss having this thing here. And I know for a fact that if I had both, I’d be so short-circuited about which I should post on, I’d end up doing nothing with either of them.

Or maybe I’m just lazy?

Note: One of Brogan’s awesome tips is to add some visual interest with each post; hence a CC licensed image from mharrsch.

Twitter Info for … Me!

Hey, I’m Andrew! You can read more about who I am on my About page.

If I had a “Follow” button on my forehead, and you met me in person and pushed that button, I’d likely give you a card that had the following text written upon it:

Here’s some explanation about how I use Twitter. It’s probably more than you want to read, and that’s ok. This is more a personal experiment in exploring network etiquette than anything else. If you’re curious about it and read it, let me know what you think?

Disclaimers

  • I use Twitter for personal expression & connection; self-promotion & “personal brand” not so much (that’s more my blog’s job, but even there not so much).
  • I hate not being able to follow everyone I want to, but it’s just too overwhelming. There’s little rhyme/reason to whom I follow or not. Please don’t be offended if I don’t follow you back, or if I stop following for a while and then start again, or whatever. I’d expect you to do the same to me. All of you are terribly interesting and awesome people, but I have limited attention.
  • Please don’t assume I’ll notice an @ mention within any time span. I sometimes go days without looking.
  • Direct-messages are fine, but emails are even better and more reliable for most things (imho).
  • If you’re twittering more than 10 tweets a day, I may have to stop following just so I can keep up with other folks.
  • If you add my feed, I will certainly check to see who you are, but if there’s zero identifying information on your profile, why would I add you back?

A Few Guidelines for Myself (that I humbly consider useful for everybody else too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I’ll try to keep tweets to about 10 or less a day, to avoid clogging my friends’ feeds.
  • I’ll avoid doing scads of “@” replies, since Twitter isn’t a great conversation mechanism, but is pretty ok as an occasional comment-on-a-tweet mechanism.
  • I won’t use any automated mechanism to track who “unfollows” me. And if I notice you dropped me, I won’t think about it much. Not that I don’t care; just seems a waste of time worrying about it.
  • I won’t try to game Twitter, or workaround my followers’ settings (such as defeating their @mentions filter by putting something before the @, forcing them to see replies they’d otherwise not have to skip.)
  • I’ll avoid doing long-form commentary or “live-blogging” using Twitter, since it’s not a great platform for that (RSS feed readers give the user the choice to read each poster’s feed separately; Twitter feed readers do not, and allow over-tweeting to crowd out other voices on my friends’ feeds.)
  • I’ll post links to things only now and then, since I know Twitter is very often used in (and was intended for) mobile contexts that often don’t have access to useful web browsers; and when I do, I’ll give some context, rather than just “this is cool …”
  • I will avoid using anything that automatically Tweets or direct-messages through my account; these things simply offend me (e.g. if I point to a blog post of mine, I’ll actually type a freaking tweet about it).
  • In spite of my best intentions, I’ll probably break these guidelines now and then, but hopefully not too much, whatever “too much” is.

Thanks for indulging my curmudgeonly Twitter diatribe. Good day!

Sensible definition of wiki vs blog

I wasn’t aware there was such debate over what makes a blog a blog, and a wiki a wiki. But Jordan Frank over at Traction Software makes a sensible distinction, one that I could’ve sworn everybody took for granted?

What is a Blog? A Wiki?

And that, finally, brings me to a baseline definition for both blogs and wikis:
A system for posting, editing, and managing a collection of hypertext pages (generally pertaining to a certain topic or purpose)…
Blog: …displayed as a set of pages in time order…
Wiki: …displayed by page as a set of linked pages…
…and optionally including comments, tags or categories or labels, permalinks, and RSS (or other notification mechanisms) among other features.
Both “blog” and “wiki” style presentations can make pages editable by a single individual or editable by a group (where group can include the general public, people who register, or a selected group). In the enterprise context, more advanced version control, audit trail, display flexibility, search, permission controls, and IT integration hooks may also be present.

He goes into the history of various debates over the terms, which I found enlightening. Mainly because they show that people invest the idea of “blog” or “wiki” with lots of philosophical and political baggage and emotional resonance.

Evidently some folks believed “A BLOG is what it is because it allows comments and conversation!” But that seems silly to me, since to some degree the grandfather of blogs was “Robot Wisdom” where a slightly obsessive polymath simply posted quick links (a “log” — like a ship captain’s log — of his travels on the web, hence “web log”) and little one-line comments on them. I’m happy to see that, as of this moment, he’s still at it. And it doesn’t have any comment capability whatsoever.

In fact, it’s very lean on opinion or exposition of any kind! But it is, in essence, what Jordan defines above — a system for posting a collection of pages (or, I would actually say, ‘entries’) in time order. Quintessential “weblogness.”

Now, I suppose some could argue that somewhere between “weblog” and the truncated nickname “blog” things shift, and blogs are properly understood as something more discursive? But I don’t think so. I think the DNA of a blog means it’s essentially a series of posts giving snapshots of what is on the mind of the blog’s writer, both posted and presented in chronological order. That might be a ‘collective’ writer — a group blog. But it’s what it is, nonetheless.

But that doesn’t mean the emotional attachment, philosophical significance and political impact aren’t just as important — they’re just not part of the definition. ๐Ÿ™‚

[Edited to add: while it’s true that a wiki & blog *can* both make pages editable by one author or a group, in *practice* a blog tends to be about individual voices writing “posts” identified with author bylines, while a wiki tends to be about multiple authors writing each “article” through aggregated effort. Blogs & wikis started with these uses in their DNA, and the vast majority of them follow this pattern. Fore example, most blog platforms display the name of a post’s author by default, while most wikis don’t bother displaying author names on articles, because there’s an assumption the articles will be written & refined over time by multiple users.]