Thursday, May 18, 2006

So You Say

I Get Mail

I'm whiney in talking about this blog. Rather consistently the advice I've received is: "You need and editor." An editor isn't going to magically appear, so really the advice is: "Edit yourself." It's foolish to solicit advice and then refuse it. The problem actually doing it. I need to quit smoking too. But this bit of advice gave me an idea:
Most of your posts it seems to me could be broken up and divided into separate posts. from one stream of writing, you could make 3 posts or so. I notice that you don't post for 5 days or so, and then there's a really long rambling post. i feel your blog could benefit by more frequent shorter posts that are more to the point and shorter in length.
The talented Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Peter Leo has been doing a column called The Morning File where he uses the wonders of Internet Search to fill out stories. Here's a recent example. Leo manages to stay on topic, something I have a hard time doing; but I can break up the post into smaller segments. Perhaps this will be good practice for learning to write shorter posts.

Carl's Big Adventure

It might be better if I used photographs more sparingly in the blog. But I love pictures. Carl Hanyes, computer programmer extrodinaire, is working with Kiva in Soroti, Uganda. I very much enjoy his blog Carl's Big Adventure for the stories and photographs. I wanted to blog one of his pictures at Flickr, but he reserves all rights, so you have to go there to see them all. Cale & Jon are conducting a research project in Soroti carried out by Design for Sustainabilty group at Delft University. Their blog into(context) has photos and videos. Informal as they are, these blogs convey really useful information. The BSLA in Iganga is working hard to set up the structures necessary to promote agricultural and business development. While some of the particulars are different, the broad challenges are the same. It's quite useful through the blogs to have a window onto the group process there in Soroti.

Life in Africa

One of Kiva's partners is Life in Africa. I came acrossed LIA soon after I met Nathan and began looking for programs in Uganda. Christina Jordon is the powerhouse behind Life in Africa. One of my friends always brings up fakers when it comes to people on the Internet. Christian Jordon is no faker! In fact she's very candid. Way back then many of the activities were told through her personal news reports. At first I didn't know what to make of it all. But over time witnessing the development of the organization through very personal narratives, and adventurous Web site experiments, there's no question she's real. There's also not question that the LIA pages are worth a look. Their Flickr pages are too.

There are upsides and downsides to blogs and both are connected to the fact that in regular blog posts people's personalities shine through. Five years ago Jordon didn't have the millions of blogs to consider. Somehow she decided that in her online communications she was going to be who she is. "Lump it or leave it" seems courageous, but your personality is going to come out with regular online postings anyway. Jordon put herself out for the world to see, successes and failures alike.

Many of my friends, and we are "of a certain age," are very cautious about this aspect of Internet communications. Clearly some caution is in order, but it helps to know that if you're genuine, honest, kind, and of goodwill, as my friends are, that's what will shine through. The great advantage is in discovering and collaborating with wonderful people like just that. LIA uses Omidyar Networks as a platform for discussing some of their projects. Omidyar Networks is a great place to join with others in discussion and action towards building a better world.

More Parties

There's still no groundswell of attention for Party Hats for Potash. PingTing uploaded a photo of him wearing a PHP and it garnered comments. Like Omidyar, Flickr is a great place to network. I noticed this picture in Life in Africa's Flickr photostream. A picture of drums and a request for small contributions of money to buy instruments for one of their programs. The goal is $100; when I looked, I saw they received $80 already. We're all besieged with requests for contributions. There really is a space for small contributions and that's one of the things I like about the party hats idea. "Party hats" is a fun tag to do a photo search at Flickr.

Parties are essential for community. At one of my parties I sent out invitations and mentioned party hats. I made party hats for the party, but some people thought that they had to make their own. That was wonderful. Lots of people might not want to make party hats, but there are so many things to make which can make parties more fun.

By way of the wonderful blogger Kikuyumoja, this post, trashtoys 'r' us opened the wonderful world of Arvind Gupta to me. Gupta makes toys out of trash that convey scientific principles. On this page is a long list of toys he's made and how to make them. Most of them would make dandy party favors.

With the needed $20 towards LIA's goal of $100, I thought about a party where everyone would know in advance to make a hat or party favor which they would "sell" for a buck at the party. One of the aims is to raise a small amount of money for a donation to a worthy cause. But just as important is the recognition that our hands and a little of our time can bring happiness to others. A bazungu mini-potlatch.

Altogether Now

I can see my little experiment in breaking up my rambling post didn't lead to less rambling. Oh well, better luck (work) next time.


Ntwiga said...

As far as posting goes, you have hit the nail on the head in thinking that the key to keeping on track is to keep posts short and sweet. A great model in my opinion is Ethan Zuckerman's blog at


phil jones said...

Personally, I rather like the rambling style that wanders through six different topics in three paragraphs.

It probably won't win you such a high readership but does give you a more unique voice. Guess you have to choose one or the other with great care.. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love your style! It gives a great insight into your thoughts, and it's interesting to watch you connect the dots.

And you're right - Christine Jordan is no faker!


Fiona Ramsey
Customer Service and Operations Manager