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Tips for conference bloggers

Conference reports are a great way to help share knowledge and justify
the expense of conference travel, but attendees are often so busy
learning and networking that they don’t have the time to send detailed
conference reports from the road. Postponing the report-writing to the
plane trip back could mean many lost insights and lost momentum.

Liveblogging can help. With a little preparation, conference
reports can be posted and shared with coworkers and the rest of the
world within ten minutes of the presentation. Ethan Zuckerman and Bruno
Giussani have put together a collection of terrific tips for conference bloggers, which you should read before you head out to your next conference.

(crossposted: personal blog, external team blog, and internal personal blog)

From Lifehack: How to Make Yourself INSANELY Useful

Here are some great tips on how to become insanely useful.

  1. Share what you know
  2. Be confident in yourself
  3. Solve the current problem
  4. Give willingly — even when it’s your job
  5. Satisfy your own curiosity
  6. Listen to others
  7. Don’t take over
  8. Know when to stop
  9. Teach, don’t tell
  10. Be sensitive to people’s feelings and shortcomings
  11. Ask for help
  12. Model best practices
  13. Be reliable

Being useful, even insanely useful, doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be used. It means offering what you can, when you can, and doing so gladly. This applies whether you’re doing favors for friends, working with a team at work, writing instructions, or anything else — set limits, but within those limits, be wholly available.

Lots of people are useful — they do the things they need to do, solve the problems they need to solve, and keep things chugging along. People that are insanely useful are in high demand by the companies they work for, the organizations they take part in, the clients they serve, their friends and family, and society in general because they not only solve problems and make things work but they add value to every relationship they take part in.

Lifehack.org, How to Make Yourself INSANELY Useful

Check out the article for concrete tips. =)

10 tips for new bloggers

  1. Write for one person. Don’t get intimidated by the blank screen or the unknown audience. Write for one person. Write for yourself, write for your boss, write for your coworker, write for your friend, write for your mom… but write for one person at a time. I like writing for myself.
  2. Cc: world. Recycle as much knowledge as you can. Answered a question over e-mail that other people might find helpful? Blog it. Had a great conversation that other people might learn from? Blog it. Learned something interesting that other people would like? Blog it. There’s plenty to write about.
  3. Get personal benefits. You won’t stick with blogging unless you see what’s in it for you. Me, I like being able to look back and find out what I was doing and why I was doing it. My blog helps me answer those questions. My blog helps me see how I’ve changed. My blog helps me remember how I solved problems. My blog helps me connect with people. My blog helps me make the most of time because I get lots of value out of the books I read, the conversations I have, the things I do. My blog opens lots of opportunities. As you can see, I blog for selfish reasons.
  4. Create value for others. When you tell your stories or share your ideas or pass along a tip that you found useful, you might end up helping someone months or even years down the line. Searchable blogs keep providing value in unanticipated ways.
  5. Let people discover your blog. Add it to your e-mail signature. Mention it when it’s relevant. Link to it. Make it easier for people to find your blog, and you’ll benefit by having richer conversations with less small talk and more interesting topics.
  6. Read and comment. Read other people’s blogs to learn what they’re interested in and what blogging is like. Comment on their blogs: share your thoughts or even just thank them for posting. Write about their blog posts in your own blog – great way to quickly add content and share the link love.
  7. Keep writing. Don’t expect your first post to get a hundred comments. Keep writing. You’re not writing for other people, you’re writing to discover what you have to say. You will be boring for at least the first few months, or however long it takes to throw off the writing habits you picked up in school. Keep writing anyway. Eventually, you’ll get more used to writing and you won’t have to think about writing so much. Then you’ll be able to concentrate on what you want to say.
  8. Be yourself. Don’t write corporate-speak. Don’t keep it just business. Show a little of your personal side. People will connect with you better for it.
  9. Give yourself permission to get better and better. You had a typo. You gave the wrong link. You were wrong. You changed your mind. That’s okay. It’s a blog, it’s conversational, it’s chronological. It’s okay to make mistakes. You get better every day.
  10. Have fun. Don’t treat it like homework, treat it as a terrific way to discover who you are and who other people are. Keep an eye out for your positive experiences and celebrate them!

What do you think? =)

The Incoming University Student’s Guide to Web 2.0

Read extensively. The university library’s an amazing resource. Yours might come with access to online research libraries, too. Combine that with Internet resources such as Wikipedia, blogs, and so on. Speed-reading can help you browse through information quickly so that you can focus on the good stuff.

Write. Writing is a great way to remember what you’re learning and reflect on how you’re doing things. This will help you get better and better at what you do, and you’ll be able to recognize the things you’re good at and that you enjoy. If you write on a blog, you can use it to reach out to people. Write about what you’re learning, and you’ll help other people who are learning about it too. Write about what you’re doing well, and you’ll start building a network and a reputation that will come in really handy when you’re looking for work.

Connect. Find out if there’s a Facebook group for your incoming university class. If not, start one and invite other people to join. It’s a great way to connect with people even before the first day of class. Feeling shy? That’s okay, everyone is too. If you focus on helping other people connect and make friends, you’ll become more and more comfortable, and you’ll make friends along the way too. Don’t hesitate to look for role models online, too. Many people have blogs that you can read to get a sense of what life is like in their industry. Read, then comment, then contact them, and you’ll get a head start on growing your network.

Behave online and offline. The Internet remembers, and even sites that promise you privacy occasionally mess up and expose things you’ve shared to the world. Think twice about posting pictures of wild parties, underwear-on-your-head shenanigans, and other things things that future employers and coworkers might take against you. In fact, since just about anyone can take a picture of you and post it up on the Net where you don’t have control of it, you might want to keep clean entirely. You don’t need to posture to be cool, and you can have fun without doing things you’ll regret.

Don’t let yourself be limited by anything or anywhere. I took my bachelor’s degree in a university in the Philippines. Great school, but it didn’t have all the courses I wanted. =) I was on the Internet learning from course materials from everywhere: MIT, Georgia Tech, wherever I could find information. Now there are even more choices. Check out places like MIT OpenCourseware and Stanford iTunes for free courses. This is great not only for learning things, but also for getting a better sense of what you like. In fact, it might be a good idea to check the courses out now before you declare a major. You don’t need to understand everything. You just have to get a sense of whether you’ll like the course or not. That way, you’ll spend less time switching around to find something you enjoy and will use.

I think I’ll make a few sketches about this over the long weekend. =) Any other tips for incoming college and university students?

The shy connector’s guide to business travel

As an introvert, I often find business travel quite stressful. I know I should be making better use of the time and money spent getting me there by meeting lots of people while I’m in town, but the workshops and presentations I’m in town for are usually intense, so I don’t want to overcommit. Here are some things that have helped me with business travel:

  1. Fly with just a carry-on. With some clever packing and trimming, you can fit all of your needs for short business trips into a single carry-on piece of luggage (or maybe one piece plus a small bag, which many airlines will allow). Not only will you never have to worry about dealing with airline customer service when it comes to tracking down lost luggage, you’ll usually be able to skip the lines by checking in online and or through a kiosk. This makes it easier to avoid rush hour, too.
  2. Leave space in your schedule. You’ve already invested so much on travel and lodging. You might be tempted to maximize your trip by cramming every break, morning, and evening with meetings. Don’t. Give yourself time to recharge, especially on your first day in and before any important presentations. It’s okay to spend some quiet time in the hotel room or walking around. You can experiment with meeting people, too. Find people on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Doppler and arrange something beforehand, or use Twitter to plan something on the fly. I tend to prefer organizing things on the fly because that lets me adapt to my energy level.
  3. Ping people. You might not have time to meet everyone (see tip #2), but a trip gives you a natural excuse to reach out to people in the area and tell them you were thinking of them. Check your address book and social network, and send off some notes to say hi. If you share a few details about why you’re in town, you might end up making unexpected connections.
  4. Find a local spot if you want to shake up your routine, or keep it consistent if that works for you. Find out what you like. Staying in interchangeable hotels and eating at chain restaurants can make business trips blur into each other, but that can be a good thing. On the other hand, local favourites might lead to new discoveries. Figure out your style, and work with that.
  5. Have little rituals to ease the transition, and enjoy the silence. It might be the way you pack your bags. It might be the kind of book you take on the plane. It might be the long bath you take after you reach your hotel. Enjoy the silence. You’ve got a hotel room to yourself and no chores to do. Relax in the bliss of being alone, and come out of your shell when you’re ready.

What other ways do you make travel easier?

Wiki information architecture thoughts

Even though a wiki is a free-form, unstructured, organic information repository, it needs to be organized so that users don’t get overwhelmed by information. So, how do you organize information on a wiki?

Wikipatterns is a great site for people and adoption patterns, but it doesn’t give tips on how to organize the information. So here are some tips to help you organize your wiki:

Visual identity

A banner, customized colour scheme, and a sidebar may seem unnecessary. When you’re creating lots of pages, it’s a pain to copy-and-paste the template. But a visual identity for your wiki helps people recognize when they’re looking at one of its pages and it gives them a consistent way to navigate to the major parts of your site. Tip: If your wiki allows you to include other wiki pages, put template segments on separate pages and then include them. This saves you from editing hundreds of pages whenever your navigation menu changes.

Homepage

Write the homepage content for a general audience instead of for specialized roles. Provide information about your team and about the wiki. Save the detailed links for other navigation pages that are linked to from the homepage. Link to other resources people might find useful, too.

Multiple navigation pages

Create multiple ways to navigate through the same information space. For example, if project managers need to access certain kinds of information quickly, create a page for them with shortcuts to the resources they need.

Contact information

Always have a contact person for the wiki. Encourage people to edit the wiki themselves if they feel comfortable, but provide a way for them to contact someone else with changes or new resources if they’re not comfortable working with the wiki themselves.

Related resources and the big picture

Link to other resources your team or community uses (other websites, file repositories, Lotus Notes teamrooms, communities, etc.). Show the big picture: when do people use the wiki, and when do people use other resources? What’s stored where?

Workspace

If you need to store information that doesn’t have a proper home yet, have a area on your wiki where you can store snippets that are still being worked on. That way, the rough drafts don’t confuse people browsing through the rest of the wiki. Use this space to store administrivia about the wiki as well, such as snippets for the sidebar.

Handling information requests

When people ask you for information that’s on the wiki, ask them where they looked for it and what they searched for. After you send them the resource, build the missing links so that people can find it easily.

Duplicate information

If you need to copy and paste information instead of including it, pick one place where the latest information will be, and provide links to that place when you paste the information into other pages. This will help you resolve conflicts in the future. If you can, provide backlinks to where the information has been copied, so that you know where you need to update it.

Meta-information

Document what you need to do in order to update the wiki, where things are, and how information is organized. This helps you teach other people how to use the wiki.

Automatic lists

Many wikis can automatically list the children of a page, pages in a given category, or pages with a given label. Use this feature to save you from manually updating lists of pages.

Pretty vs. editable

Pretty layouts tend to be difficult to edit without breaking. Simple layouts tend to be plain. Depending on your target audience, decide where your wiki will be. Do you expect lots of participation? Keep the page layout simple and avoid advanced macros. Do you work with a finicky group that will only use polished resources? Invest in styling, and accept that you might be the only one adding to the wiki.

Internal vs. external links

When linking to other pages in the wiki, try to use internal wiki links instead of copying and pasting the URLs. Most wikis indicate external links with icons. If you use internal wiki links, you avoid the visual clutter and show people that they can expect to have the same navigation when they click through.

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There are more things to share, but this braindump is a good start! Have you come across something like this (preferably with more detail)? I’d love to learn from what other people are doing.