Rules to live by

Do you have a set of rules, or principles, that guide how you approach life? I’d be willing to guess that you have some core values that whether consciously, or not, influence your day-to-day activities in some way.

Recently I’ve come across a couple of people who have articulated their principles as something to help hold themselves to account.

John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had a list of 25 principles of adult behaviour. Here’s the first 10:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

John Maeda of Automattic identified four rules that he uses as “a compass to live my life by”:

  1. Don’t speak ill of others
  2. Avoid passive aggressive behvior
  3. Listen broadly, but don’t waffle on decisions
  4. When in error – admit, apologize, move forward

Both Barlow and Maeda are clear that perfection isn’t the aim. These principles are something to strive for. Sometimes we might fail but having a set of standards that we can return to in those situations can help us to reflect, learn from our mistakes and do better next time.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Henry Ford

Blogging and identity

In my previous post I quoted from Ian O’Byrne’s latest newsletter about the idea that through blogging we can write ourselves into being.

Martin Weller has been writing a series of posts on 25 years in Ed Tech. He’s up to 2003 and has turned his focus to blogging and the power of not only writing a blog but being able to distribute what you’ve written via RSS feeds:

“RSS meant you could subscribe to anyone’s blog and get regular updates. This was as revolutionary as the liberation that web publishing initially provided. If the web made everyone a publisher then RSS made everyone a distributor also.”

In many of my previous roles at universities I’ve been an advocate of blogging. As a way of processing our thoughts and sharing our ideas. As a means of creating a digital presence and connecting to likeminded people, who challenge you and help you grow. It’s really heartening to see I’m not the only one who still feels this way about introducing people to blogging:

“I still harbour dreams of making students effective bloggers will be a prime aspect of graduateness. Nothing develops and anchors your online identity quite like a blog.”

Me too, Martin, me too.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

With his newsletter, Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR), Ian O’Byrne aims to collect, summarise and comment on all those articles we see but don’t have time to read them all in full. Broadly, I’d say it’s about education and technology, but I find most often it makes me think about how society works and how we as individuals contribute to that.

Most recently I’ve found it an invaluable source of insightful comment on the whole Facebook debacle. I’m still trying to get my head around it all and what action I want to take. Having Ian’s roundup has been a great help in informing my thinking.

In issue 144, as well as linking to three articles about our relationship with Facebook and other social apps he starts to delve into the concept of a domain of one’s own, specifically in relation to how he helps his students to build their digital identity…

“As I help students and colleagues build up their digital identity, I indicate the need for them to have one URL or domain that they own and control. At this one hub, they can connect all of the loose ends and write themselves into being.”

The emphasis at the end there is mine. I love his description of how through a blog, or a single hub for our online presence, we can create our identity through our writing.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it”

Peter Drucker

Twenty years of blogging

Jason Kottke has been writing his blog for 20 years. In this interview with NiemanLab he has some interesting insights into how we communicate online and how it has changed since he started in 1998.

I particularly like the way he thinks about promoting his work:

“There’s no really good way for me to promote the site aside from actually writing the site.”

… I could do with taking a leaf out of his book!

A new start

At the start of the year I began keeping a digital scrapbook of quotes, articles, videos and ideas. I set it up on Tumblr as it felt like a good platform for what I wanted to achieve.

It was working OK but felt disconnected from my other blogging activities. Lately I’ve also been thinking about the benefits of hosting my own content instead of relying on third party services. So, I’ve set up a new installation of WordPress with Reclaim Hosting and bought the domain linked to my Concise Comms newsletter.

I’m keen to make this into more than a scrapbook. I want to use it to help me process what I’m learning and explore ideas. What I post here will also, ultimately, generate some of the content for my newsletter.

I feel I’ve lost my writing mojo a bit lately and it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to publish anything. Inspired by Austin Kleon‘s daily blogging and Doug Belshaw‘s prolific output, I’m aiming to publish short but regular posts. I hope that if I can keep up a good flow, whatever is blocking me now will eventually go.

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to share it.

Pablo Picasso

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