Saturday, December 22, 2007

Still Tinkering Still Learning

One thing that needs to be admitted is that my editing is still not as good as it should be. Not that this is 'serious writing' by any means, but it is a goal to improve all aspects of this weblog experiment over time. A past visit to DailyWritingTips provided me with 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer. All of them were good suggestions though some hit home more than others.

"1. Daniel
Pay attention to punctuation; especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear."

"34. Pedro
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make."

The last suggestion is particularly true, and I have gone back and made some corrections. The writing of a weblog, I am discovering is not just a matter of the 'writing' though. There is the behind the scenes aspects of formatting and design. There is also the power of the web to connect and how we best do that. Spending some time at the WC3 school has taught me a few tricks such as figuring out why the TED videos weren't working properly (missing the back slash on the embed closing tag but turns out it can get even more involved) and how to get this blog's links to open in new windows starting on Wednesday, December 19, 2007. I always thought having to click back to be a pain.

The last focus is how to continue organizing all of the information that is being gathered and incorporated into this weblog. The original idea was to create repositories in which to place links with common themes. These were easy as links could be placed within them with two or three clicks of the mouse. The three methods tried were public folders [Social and Economic Paradigms], Google Notebooks [Science Pathways] and the shared Google Reader [Innovations, Insights, Integrity]. Then I learned more about tagging, blinklist, ma.gnolia and diigo. I have written before about how viable the different systems are for using tags to interconnect with others. I still have a preference for though using diigo in conjunction seems to work well. Diigo as said before allows me to concurrently post at least the initial tagging on all of the tagging systems that I am now using. What I especially enjoy about diigo are the webslides [Creative-Destruction]. Now I have started to combine the repositories and tagging together. Creative-Destruction is both an public folder and a web-slide list from diigo.

The question that I am now contemplating is what is the best method of organization. A recent post Breaking Through The Paradigms With Science connected with a number of different links to a Science Magazine article, external links of related subjects and past posts of this weblog. That is a good deal of information and tagging alone merely accumulates similar information, sometimes it arguably makes sense just to tag the post itself, since it contains all of the relevant information, but the chances of somebody picking up on my post compared to a Science article are pretty slim. There are some blogging tips from Jon Barger (putting aside other issues) which I can agree with and to which I have at least to some extent aspired follow.

"1. A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So is actually better for blogging than

2. You can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility."

So far I still have more links than posts though according to the original philosophy behind this weblog it could be better. These posts should be designed as the narrative thread which organizes what is an ever expanding knowledge base and to help forge my thoughts. Others with more experience and knowledge have also taken this approach. From John Hawks weblog of the Change Is At All Levels The Question Is How Fast? post.

"I started writing this blog for two basic reasons: first, because there are some really interesting issues in paleoanthropology that are not well covered in the mainstream science press, and second, because I needed a good way to organize my notes.

It turned out that the solution to the note-taking problem also made a nifty solution for writing about interesting issues -- blogging software is one of the best means of content management around. It became very simple to take notes on things I was reading, punch them up with a bit of information and context, and blog about them. In large part, what you see here are my own notes -- the very ones that I use to write my research papers and books."

This weblog remains primarily a tool for learning for myself but do I find that I enjoy creating and maintaining this weblog far more than I had envisioned.

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