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Showing posts from March, 2009

To Label or Not to Label?

Blogger now not only allows me to tag my posts (that's label in google talk for some reason), but I can display for all my readers the labels and how often I have used them. For now I have added that widget (see right side of the screen).

At first, I thought I would go back to all my old posts and tag them (maybe I still will). Then it seemed daunting. Then I worried about being somewhat consistent in my tagging, so that a reader could clearly see that I write a lot about anthropology, or social media. But then I looked at my posts and realized I actually write about a lot of different things. So if I start labeling, do I end up with just a long list of tags? Or do I then feel a need to constrain what I write about to a defined set of categories?

I realize blogs with a theme are powerful...and I think I have some themes running through here...interspersed with random thoughts or items that catch my interest.

What to do? Does it matter? Is there meaning in tags (beyond the mea…

Yammer and distractions

We had a very interesting teleconference with some folks from Yammer on Friday. It was a great opportunity to learn about best practices and for our security minded folks to ask questions in that arena. There were probably 10 or 12 people on the call, mostly non-colocated, and several were live yammering the call. While I didn't add posts describing the content of the call, I did join into the discussions. It was an interesting experience for me. It was nice to have the side conversations, but I have to admit it was also distracting. Is it any less rude or distracted than emailing in a face to face meeting? I suppose since it was based in teh content of the meeting it may bedifferent...I know others found value in reading the yams later. I should perhaps fess up to trying to do some other work as well, but I know it distracted me and I am trying (not always successfully) to cut down on the mutlitasking to be more focused.

My most important reminder to try not to be distracted is Ju…

It's later than it really is (in the US anyway)

So I am really not too pleased about switching to Daylight Savings Time today. I barely understand why we make the change anymore anyway, and why we have extended it to 8 months of the year in the United States. Not changing the clocks was one of the rational things about Arizona.

I get that the purported reason for the switch is to save on electricity and other power costs. I'm all for that. I also get that a century ago, the usage patterns of electricity did mean that DST led to conservation. However, recent studies show that same conservation effect is not necessarily true today (if it ever was).

Maybe I am just griping because I lost an hour today. Maybe I resent that the mornings will be dark again. Or maybe this whole clock thing is just silly.

Anthropology and Museums

We went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on Saturday. The primary purpose of the visit was dinosaurs--the barosaurus was a big hit, I guess something so big is pretty fascinating to someone very small. We also visited the solar system, and the cosmic pathway was another big hit, though more for running up an down a big spiral than anything else.

What I noticed most was along our path between dinos and space...the various halls showing human cultures, which unfortunately haven't changed in years. The dinosaur halls seemed relatively recently updated (I am pretty sure I would have learned a few new things if I hadn't been going through at a 4-year old's pace). And Rose Center for Earth and Space received a lot of attention when it opened, both because it is a wonderful exhibit wing, and because when it opened it did not include Pluto as a planet (several years before the International Astronomical Union declassification).

Anyway, to cross the museum w…

Kindergarten

We went to the kindergarten orientation the other night, and I found myself unsettled afterward. I should start by saying we aren't yet 100% sure we'll go to the neighborhood school; they only offer half day for kindergarten (somewhat problematic for working parents).

At any rate, I wasn't unsettled by the school itself. By the end of the evening we felt pretty good about it. Admittedly having them talk about snacks and backbacks before the content of a typical day didn't match my priorities. (OK, I know different parents have different concerns, but mine are really about what is he going to be doing day to day, what is going to be learning). And my uneasiness was not about sending him off to school, since he's been in day care full time for 4 years. And it's not the thought of putting a little guy on the bus alone (well ok, maybe that a little).

On some reflection, I realized was unsettled me was all the forms we brought home. Starting school means it is time fo…

Who am I, how do I prove it to you, and what do you let me do once you know?

I got my driver's license today. It was actually the first time I can remember going to the DMV for a renewal. I've had to get new ones when I've moved, but have either moved before a renewal, or lived in a state with fairly loose renewal rules. When I was 25 I moved to Arizona, I handed over my (soon to expire) Texas license, and they handed me back a new one good till I was 60--that was a little scary actually. And that TX one had been renewed by mail a few years before that...In fact my mother was allowed to renew over the internet when she was 65. I guess at least Connecticut confirms I can walk in the door of a DMV office every 6 years. Pretty amazing when you think about it, this little card not only gives me legal permission to drive, gets me on airplanes and once upon a time bought beer (no one's asked for that in a while).

And I have another photo ID, for work. This one carries an RFID tag, which codes what doors I can open and tracks my comings and goings (exc…

Search Engine Optimization

I was in a teleconference the other day, where a new web site was being demoed. What was interesting to me was that the vendor kept pointing out elements that were on the page for Search Engine Optimization. I admit to knowing very little about SEO, besides how important it is for driving traffic, especially on a retail site. I think was intrigued me was that these elements were big chunks of text that were visually unappealing...in other words, good for driving traffic, not so good for visual design.



I suppose if you have found what you are looking for, appearances don't much affect stickiness (and because of SEO lots of sites are starting to look like this), but where is the balance with good design?

Tweets and Yams

I originally signed up for Twitter (@lxmack) a while ago, but didn't really do anything with it--no tweets, no followers. Then had a couple of friends sign up to follow me...still didn't do anything. A few weeks ago I thought that I should give it more of a try...and I have to admit that I still don't get it.
I suppose I could come up with plenty of things to tweet about (the process of buying a new washer, the mystery of the blood in the house) but it seems time consuming and I am not sure who wants to know. My colleague John Braun very kindly encouraged me and gave some great advice, the most intriguing of which was his comment that Twitter can act like a group brain--ask a question and get an immediate answer.
On the flip side, I joined Yammer about the same time I tried to get active on Twitter. Best quick explanation of Yammer is that it's like Twitter for inside a company (you have to have a valid email address on your corporate domain), without the 14o character…

Signing back on

It's been a while, but I am back. For a while wasn't sure I had anything new to say to the world, at least that wasn't based on proprietary research. Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about innovation (hey it's my job), new media and so-called "social networks" in the work environment. Lots of interesting things happening in all these spaces, and I realized that blogging would be a good way to work out my own thoughts on the subjects, and hopefully get insights from others as well.