Thursday, April 3, 2008

Learning To Be A More Social Conversationalist (And Blog-Tagger)

I have to figure it can't hurt to try to become more socially rounded (though spending time blogging could argue against how good are my intentions) in today's world and since Penelope Trunk seems to be a voice of today in 21st century networking it makes sense to take heed of her advice.

This also allows me to test out the diigo blogging tool with which I have been experimenting. I can't completely put aside this weblog's geek-factor. This post includes summaries of a couple of her posts on this subject (the social one).

How to be more interesting to other people » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Diigo Annotated

But I did learn some lessons from my visual art mentors, and one really cool thing someone taught me is that the color I choose is most interesting where it intersects with another color. Just knowing the right color to use is not the clever, interesting thing. Rather, interesting is when I am unsure what the two colors will do when they interact. (Here’s a great set of paintings that illustrate this idea.)
The same is true for writing. The interesting part of writing is not the part of the piece where you know exactly where it’s going. The interesting part is when you get to an unplanned moment in a paragraph and you surprise yourself by what you write next. It’s the moment of uncertainty, when you have to look inside yourself to keep going, and pull out something you didn’t know you had before.
A while back I wrote about Moira Gunn, and how she is good at interviewing people because she can find what’s interesting about them. She interviews scientists, and she is a pro at finding the quirky, unexpected moment within the topic of their science.
How to start a quality conversation with someone you don’t know » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Diigo Annotated tags: career, psychology

The way that Gunn gets such fun and interesting interviews out of her subjects is by not having a preconception of what they’ll be talking about. She wants to find that spot where they are engaged and knowledgeable, because anyone on any topic will be interesting if they have that. She says the key is to be open to where the other person wants to go, and to listen.

It’s Gunn’s job to figure out a way to connect with these scientists and part of the fun of the interviews is hearing her do that, because it’s what we have to do all the time when we make small talk. Yes, the scientists are extremely smart, but Gunn says the hard part is to get them to the point where they are talking about something comprehensible.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Still Seeking Serendipity and Sageness

I am still experimenting with how to best use the various tagging systems that I have been trying out and how to best combine them together. So far I have been feeding websites of interest into this weblog and maintaining a running narrative regarding them. The websites are then tagged and filed away under one of the tagging systems. It is the weblog that provides the cognisant thread. The linked websites, which are the primary reason for having the weblog, are not the focus, though they should be.

Lately I have been experimenting with StumbleUpon. In a previous post I wrote about the idea behind Stumble Upon being that you find websites that you like and that you review them for others to discover. That exercise provided a different perspective on the websites I had gathered. I also listed some of the shortcomings of Stumble Upon compared with One advantage though is that StumbleUpon allows you to use html. So I am able to link back to specific posts. However, I don't have to, I can instead use StumbleUpon as a blogging tool as envisioned by Jon Barger. Stumble Upon may actually fulfill one of the conditions of good blogging tips from Jon Barger better than

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

The focus then is on the websites rather than the weblog. I can highlight websites featured in the weblog, link new websites to past posts as updates, or independently save posts of interest.

While I don't want to focus on the quantity of websites I find, there are many I would like to save and share but don't want to write about in this blog.

With Stumble Upon I can collect interesting websites, find out what others are collecting or even use their Stumble button and find a random site based on my interests, serendipity in action!

There also seems to be more social interaction on StumbleUpon than I have had others connect to me on both systems but I have only recently connected to others on The social connection on is harder to see though than on StumbleUpon.

Next step is to see if I can't find a way to incorporate diigo into all of this or determine some of its relative advantages and disadvantages.