When I met up with Tony Quinlan recently, there were two things we both agreed about blogging. One was that we both wanted to contribute something original and worthwhile. There seems to be little value in pointing out something Euan Semple or Hugh MacLeod is saying to readers who are most likely to be reading those blogs already, unless we can add to the conversation.
The other point was the need to cut down on the number of feeds we subscribe to, since both of us were reading just over one hundred. Going through my RSS feeds the other day, it occurred to me there are a set of blogs I read almost daily and others I tend to dip in and out of, so I moved the dailies to a new category titled “ALL MUST READ”. Having read with interest both Nic Price’s Essential intranet reading and Luis Suarez’s 20 KM Blogs I’m Currently Enjoying recently, here, in alphabetical order, are my 10 must-read-feeds:
Anecdote is an Australian company which helps “…organisations tackle complex problems like organisational change, collaboration, project evaluation and the sharing of learning.” This blog is full of useful ideas and stories about change and the use of narrative.
Basic Instructions, a comic strip written by stand-up comedian Scott Meyer, is one of the funniest things I’ve seen for a long time. I plan to steal the logo of Scott beating knowledge into his head with a plank for a future presentation. I originally picked up on it when Dilbert writer Scott Adams was coaching the writer on adapting the strip to fit a format suitable for syndication: a useful experiment which didn’t quite work. Happily, it’s still being written in the original format.
Coconut Headsets is a new blog written by Rob May, previously of www.businesspundit.com. The title refers to an object used by a members of a cargo cult. I’ve seen a lot of coconut headsets and could certainly improve my critical thinking, so I’m looking forward to more from Rob in the coming months.
Speaking of critical thinking, Cognitive Edge is the home of Dave Snowden. Fiercely opinionated but not above having his tummy tickled (I’m glad I tracked down the reference, or that comment would simply have seemed weird), he is raising the bar not just for Knowledge Management, but management in general. I still haven’t made up my mind to register for a Cognitive Edge accreditation session despite (or perhaps because of..!) speaking to several people who have attended. I probably shouldn’t hang about though – last November’s Harvard Business Review article has doubtless increased the demand for places.
Dilbert and the Dilbert Blog
Dilbert is a given. I also read The Dilbert Blog, in which Dilbert writer Scott Adams expounds on his view of the world. The comments give an excellent insight into the minds of people who like straw man arguments and talking without listening. There is the odd nugget in there though.
GapingVoid continues to be an inspiration. For years I have been telling people we have to give things away for free. We have one of the best Social Objects I’ve worked with in our KM team, which I’ve been telling people we should distribute for free as a way of getting people talking about our Knowledge Management tools. So what do we do? Whenever someone contacts us for information, we tell them they need to be trained after which they’ll receive the package and we can’t just give this stuff out because people might do it wrong. Which isn’t crediting people with an awful lot of intelligence and misses a huge opportunity. But that’s what we’re up against in the corporate world. The choice? Change the world or go home.
Neil Gaiman’s Journal
I’ve been remarkably positive person for a number of years now and there’s no one whose life I dream of living. No celebrity, no footballer, no actor, no director… But reading Neil Gaiman’s Journal I’m starting to wonder if he doesn’t have the perfect lifestyle. He lives in the country near Minneapolis in the United States, has two lovely teenage daughters who occasionally appear in the journal, a son (who is mentioned occasionally, but I’m sure is equally lovely), a beautiful white alsatian dog which he takes for walks in the snow, he writes for a living and seems to have just enough celebrity to do interesting things with interesting people, while remaining just unfamous enough not to worry about walking down the street. I’m not prone to envy, but try as I might, I can’t imagine a downside to being Neil Gaiman. (He did have a cold recently, but that’s part of being mortal.)
I’ve read his journal for a few months now, thinking I’d never read of his work. I never really got into Sandman – I probably stuck it lazily into the “fantasy/horror” category which I wasn’t entirely comfortable with at the time – and I was doubtless too busy looking for anything by Bill Sienkiewicz after reading “Stray Toasters” and trawling through the racks looking for early copies of “Eightball”. Recently though I found copies of “Death: The High Cost of Living”, “Signal To Noise” and “Books Of Magic” among my comic collection (and I believe I even finished the latter!). I plan to read the others soon.
“The stuff you own ends up owning you…” says Tyler Durden in Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club”. Having spent twenty years acquiring more and more stuff without learning to get rid of that which I no longer needed at the same rate, this resonated strongly with me at the time. Moving house a few years ago and seeing that stuff sitting in boxes in the lounge of our new place convinced me I had to do something. Unclutterer is filled with advice for anyone who may be prone to hoarding and has already put me on to great sites like ReadItSwapIt and SWAPSHOP.co.uk as a way of liberating the value of all those stored items. This in turn encouraged me to sell more of my CDs and DVDs through Amazon, which strangely, once you start, becomes every bit as enjoyable and addictive as buying the stuff in the first place.
A few years ago, I interviewed people from around the world and wrote a series of case studies about their experiences of coaching. The dramatic effects coaching had on their working lives showed me the power of this simple tool, so I’ve read Mark McGuinness’s “Wishful Thinking” with great interest. Mark shares his insights on subjects from feedback to stagefright with remarkable clarity and though he claims to specialise in coaching creative professionals, you can apply most of what he says to many other contexts.