December first resolutions *follow-up

Last year, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I made December First Resolutions. I promised to follow up with a status report. I should have made a resolution to do so, because — of course — I never did.

So here we are over a year later, let’s see how I did.

1. Get up early. I’ve gotten better at this. Especially since I switched jobs. I get up between 7 and 7:15, most people would not consider that early, but for me it is.

2. Don’t take my phone everywhere. I failed miserably on this one. Especially if you consider the iPad to be as bad as the phone in this regard. Instead of using my phone, I now read the news, check email and twitter on my iPad during breakfast. If I could not check Twitter, Facebook or my email, I could justify this by saying reading the news on my iPad is like reading a newspaper. It’s the constant need to be ‘connected’ that is really the problem here. I try not to bring any iDevices to bed, which I’m good at, but while I’m up, I’m still much to attached to them. Darren Hoyt wrote a great blog post about this ‘issue’.

3. Move. Since I switched jobs, I’ve been walking or biking to work, which has helped me ‘move’ more. We also moved to Vermont, which means we can go for hikes, go skiing and enjoy the outdoors more easily. At work I still struggle to get up and move around at least once every hour or so. A desk job is a desk job no matter how motivated you are to not be sedentary.

4. Drink more water. This one has been hit and miss, some days I’ll be good at it, others I’ll completely forget. I’ve even gone so far as to install an app on my iPhone to remind me to drink water and get up and move around at random times. I’m using “Bloom”, which I don’t like at all and really isn’t what I need. If anyone has any tips on better apps to achieve this, please send them my way.

So if you are wondering where this year’s resolutions are; There are none, apart from trying to do better at the above listed ones.

Happy New Year!

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Good News / Bad News

“The good news about technology, is you can be anywhere and still work. The bad news, is that anywhere you are, you have to work.”
{John Lilly}

Further Reading: nytimes.com/2011/02/06/business/06limits.html

Manual to the world #5

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry in my recurring Friday’s Manual to the World series.  This one doesn’t require many words.

I really like how the scale of the map is marked in hours instead of miles.  Make sure to go and check the rest of Fuchsia Macaree’s work!  That way you can still procrastinate a bit before the weekend without getting lost in the Bermuda triangle!

Via: swiss-miss

Further Reading: Fuchsia Macaree

Yahoo planning to shut down Delicious

Unfortunately it looks like the rumor of the day is true:  Yahoo is planning to shut down the Delicious bookmarking service.  After Apple’s shutdown of Lala, this is another one of my favorite web services that gets closed after being acquired by a bigger company. I guess Mark Zuckerberg knew what he was doing when he turned down Yahoo’s offer to buy Facebook.  Nothing is free, especially not when it’s free of ads(1). I’m just glad I own all of the content that I publish here.  Somewhere in my old fashioned paper notebook I keep a list of web services I use. I should have a look at that list and make sure that the services I care about can be exported and backed up easily.

“Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in under performing or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond,[…]”
{Statement provided by Yahoo, via CNET }

(1)Except of course true open source initiatives like WordPress.org

December first resolutions

I never make New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly because I don’t think they are a good way to change a bad behavior, but also because I like to be a little different.  It’s not advisable to be too different though, and change is usually a good thing.  So this year, I am making December First Resolutions:

1.  Get up early. Early according to my standards that is.  More about this in a later entry. Continue reading December first resolutions

The Five Levels of Communication in a Connected World

A while ago, The 99 Percent by Behive published an article about the Five Levels of Communication in a Connected World.
As someone who has been frustrated many times with people picking the wrong medium for their message, I really appreciate this breakdown. We all know how annoying it is when people haphazardly post personal messages on our Facebook wall, or when someone tries to avoid a difficult or sensitive conversation by sending email instead of picking up the phone.  I guess my more than average interest in communication and interaction, makes me extra sensitive to this.  But I really believe we could all work a lot more efficiently if we mastered our every day communication better.

According to The 99 Percent, the Five Levels of Communication in a Connected World are (in order of least to most personal):

1)Message into the Ether:  Email and regular mail.

2)Back-and-Forth Messaging:  Instant Messaging and Text Messaging.

3)A Verbal Dialog:  A phone call.

4)The In-Person Spontaneous Discussion:  This is the typical water cooler conversation or when a coworker walks over to your desk to discuss something.  For obvious reasons this one is very popular in office situations.

5)The In-Person Scheduled Discussion:  The classic meeting, a lunch date or even when you and a coworker carpool to a client meeting together.

For a more in depth explanation I invite you to follow the link to the original article.  But maybe not just yet!  After reading the article and giving this some considerate attention, I have to admit that I also communicate at the wrong level every now and then.  And despite agreeing with the gist of the article, I also have a few thoughts and remarks regarding the various levels.

Level one and two seem to have more and more overlap as technology evolves. I remember when text messaging was clearly a level one medium.  Mostly because it used to be a lot more tedious to type on a phone.  But also, and this is my un-researched personal opinion, because people used to pick up the phone more easily.  Whether this is a good or bad evolution is debatable.
This overlap also causes the line between the two levels to blur.  A new technology like Twitter is a good example of this.  In essence Twitter is a broadcasting tool and as such it would fall in the first category.  However, a lot of people are using Twitter as a second level direct messaging tool.  More and more we also stop making the distinction between level one and two altogether.  At my office, email is often used for instant messaging.  Both email and instant messaging have their strengths and we should consider those before we pick our medium.  Some of the strengths of email is that it allows you to explain a point more elaborately and that the recipient can take more time to formulate an answer.  On the other hand emails are sensitive to causing miscommunication, the strengths I just mentioned can backfire easily.

In general you could say that the levels go from less personal to more personal.  This also means that the higher the level the more serious the subject of a conversation the more we feel like it deserves a higher level means of communication.  I’m sure a lot of web professionals like the people at 37 Signals and Automattic would disagree with this.  Sometimes lower level communication is perfectly acceptable for more heavy weight subjects.  I believe in the end the goal and the content of the conversation should determine which level of communication is appropriate.  Ask yourself questions like: Do I need instant feedback or can I wait for a more thoughtful reply?  Can I explain my point in a few words through instant messaging or should I opt for a more lengthy email?  Will the conversation benefit from face to face interaction that allows for much more nuance than a phone call?

A few simple questions before firing up your instant messenger or picking up the phone can save a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

Further reading:
Five Levels of Communication in a Connected World [via The 99 Percent]
Getting in too-much touch
[via 37signals]
The interruption tax [via 37signals]