Knowledge Advocate rules

The very smart Kevin Leahy is has a blog, as Knowledge Advocate, that you should follow. In a recent post, he talks about the “no more than 7 things at once rule.” He reminds me of this whenever we meet, because I tend to throw more information at people than they can process – many of us do that. A skilled communicator understands the rule: if you communicate more than 7 bits of information without time for processing, you lose the audience for your communication.

In a talk he gave a week ago, Kevin talked about a “stop making sense” rule. His point: nobody else makes sense the way you do, so if you give a talk where you try to make sense for others, you’ll fail. Instead of making sense, you should be seeking sense. Instead of expressing how you see the world, ask the others for their sense of it. (This is easier said than done skillfully.)

Abundance, the ‘net, and the open mind

I recently attended (and blogged and tweeted) Fiber Fete in Lafayette, Louisiana. One highlight of the Fete was David Weinberger’s talk, which closed out a day of presentations and panels about the evolution and implications of high-bandwidth networks. David had been asked to talk about “what we could do if we had ubiquitous, high speed, open, symmetric (i.e., roughly the same speed for uploading and downloading) connectivity.” As we sat together at lunch, he was telling me that he doesn’t really know how to answer that question.

What he did talk about was stimulating and, I think, important to consider: “an assumption of abundance…an abundance of information, links, people, etc.”

The abundance means we will fill up every space we can think of. We are creating plenums (plena?) of sociality, knowledge and ideas, and things (via online sensors). These plenums fill up our social, intellectual and creative spaces. The only thing I can compare them to in terms of what they allow is language itself.

What do they allow? Whatever we will invent. And the range of what we can invent within these plenums is enormous, at least so long as the Net isn’t for anything in particular. As soon as someone decides for us what the Net is “really” for, the range of what we can do with it becomes narrowed. That’s why we need the Net to stay open and undecided.

Read more at David’s site, “JOHO the Blog!” Ignore Richard Bennett’s comments. Think about what David is saying, and feel free to comment here, because I’d love to discuss it.

Keep it simple

Just learned via Twitter from someone who reads my blog that text instances of the Sociable social bookmarking links were piled up at the end of each of my posts as displayed in Google Reader. That’s nust not very poetic. Does anybody ever actually click through one of those bookmarking icons or links? I’m not convinced.

I turned all of that stuff off, as well as the Zemanta tracking pixel added to my posts via Scribefire. The web’s complicated enough; I’m making my presence as simple as possible and focusing on producing great content.

(If you’re reading this on Google Reader or some other news aggregator, and you still see something wonky, just let me know.)

A couple of insights

The sort of things you just have to write down somewhere, like on your blog…

Got these via K. Marcus Hartsfield on Facebook…

“Directly it is said that not a single thing exists, and yet we see in the entire universe nothing has ever been hidden.” (Dharma Hall Discourse #53 from the Eihei Koroku (Dogen’s Extensive Record)   

He reports finding this one written on a bathroom wall at The Omega Institute in upstate New York:

“Satori. Don’t think it will be glorious; that momentary burst of radiance illumining all. Nonsense. It is more like losing your mother in a large department store. Forever.”

Put “social” before “media”

Todd Defren, guest-blogging on David Armano’s blog, says

When every single person with an Internet connection is empowered to publish content that can be promoted, shared, and indexed forever, it changes the game from “merchandizing” to “people pleasing.” It was always supposed to be that way, of course, but the myriad layers that existed between the brand and the masses called for more quantifiable processes: “how many visits to the website” trumped “are we making people happy?”

I can’t think of a clearer way to make that point. He goes on to make the point I’ve been trying to make for the last four years, since I started writing, thinking, and talking about what’s come to be called “social media” – it’s more about the social, less about the media. Businesses at every scale have to learn to enable, manage, and nurture relationships – with peers, with employees and contractors, and especially with customers. We have technologies that support and sustain those relationships, so everything is disintermediated, we can be more direct with everybody, we can make amazing and fulfilling connections every day… but we have to get past the abstract thinking that characterized broadcast thinking, mass marketing. (Thinking how, several years ago, I pissed off a potential client who kept talking about the role of the consumer on the “web 2.0″ site he wanted to build. I finally wrote the word consumer on the board, drew a circle around it, and a line through the circle. There is no consumer, I told him. These are people, and you’ll have to build relationships with them… the consumer abstraction will get in the way. Ouch. He didn’t like that at all…) [Link]

Just busy

Been working on a number of projects, especially getting Social Web Strategies launched and working on the Plutopia-produced EFF-Austin party, possibly the biggest party at SXSW this year. Also revived EFF-Austin, ramped up, created a new Bootstrap subgroup focused on community… I’ve been pretty busy. This is by way of apology for starving the blog. Getting back to it now, just days before SXSW Interactive kicks off. I’ve organized a panel called “Using the New Digital Social Media to Accelerate Sustainability.” I should be working on slides for that now, and not blogging.