Working on a new publishing plan

My thoughts have drifted toward doing a daily or weekly top five topic vlog. Over the last couple weeks, I have been aggregating artificial intelligence and other news links on my Twitter account. It would be pretty easy to just do a daily or weekly show that covered my Twitter feed. That would give me an opportunity to talk about things that have caught and held my attention. It could be a good way to go to produce some interesting content. Overall, my vlog experience has been interesting. It is something that helped me learn a lot about the process and a lot about how to edit video. At some point, I’m going to convert my notes on the matter to a more long form piece of writing.

That is always the goal at this point. I have so many false start or never starts that need to be flushed out into full on prose. Even the best intentioned writer has a hard time keeping up with the tidal waves of creativity. That is a much better situation than having to break through a never ending writer’s block. Finding the topics that can compel you to write for hours a time is the key to capturing passion and using it help push things forward.

Some issues are so engrossing that you almost feel compelled to write about them. Those are the issues you have to seize on. Those are the ones you have to push forward. Finding the spark that kicks off a writing session becomes key. It becomes about converting passion into action. That speaks to one of the central questions in how things get organized. It takes a community to push some things forward. It could be a community of place, circumstance, or issues. It takes a spark to help the community move forward toward a common goal. Given the current state of civility and the broader social fabric of the nation only a truly focused community could make progress. That type of focus cannot be discounted and it certainly cannot be sustained without a common spark that was shared between the members of the community trying to work together.

People cared deeply about chlorofluorocarbons and took action to help protect the ozone layer. That type of focus has to be nurtured and encouraged to help solve the grand problems of our time.

Keeping up with observations

I actually got to see a Samsung Chromebook Plus at Best Buy the other day. The 3:2 screen ratio is different from what I expected. My ASUS Flip has worked fine, but I really want to move to a USB Type C system. The ASUS proprietary charging cable for the flip does not support mobile charging. We will see if I can accept the 3:2 screen ratio. I’m looking for a new daily writing computer/Chromebook to get back to producing more than 1,000 words per day.

Writing seems like the thing to do. Writers write. The more unfortunate part of that endless wave of writing happens to be all the writing about writing. Weblogs seems to specialize in that form of banality. It could be worse. It could be Vogon poetry. We all seem to be safe from that scourge. My writing is about to focus more on producing observations. It is going to be focused on trying to make sense of complex things. That means venturing beyond the intersection of technology and modernity.

It would be less than bold and daring to take on the observational style of Alexis de Tocqueville. Hot takes have become the epitome of social media personalities. The internet is full of hot takes. My writing style has always been a little more reserved. Our observations have to be about more than the moment. History has a certain weight about it.

We are all keeping up with observations these days. News networks are nothing more than echos of observations past their prime. Talking heads just seem to echo news on a repeating cycle. That is pretty much the basis of cable news networks. Broadcasting news on location would be hard to manage logistically and expensive. It is much easier to report and talk about things that have happened vs. reporting about things that are actively occurring. That might seem like a small distinction, but it makes a huge difference.

Garnering attention when it matters most

Distractions abound these days. Digital frontiers that were supposed to enable freedom seem to have empowered distraction. We have so much potential to unleash. Technological gains are about to redefine our understanding of possibility. These are the years that will define our course moving forward. We have so much potential to unlock. A potential that we allow to be distracted by a series of things that matter only in the moment. Garnering attention when it matters most remains one of the hardest things to do at the intersection of technology and modernity.

Over the last few weeks my television set has been turned to CNN. I even listen to the CNN channel in my car. Mixed with a steady diet of Washington Post articles I have tried to pay attention to politics. Now seems to be a key point in time to really understand what is going on in the world. It is easy to falter from caring about the course of our democracy. It is much harder to try to participate in the process and keep up with the increasingly hard to follow political landscape.

Even the largest televised events draw only a fraction of our attention. No newspaper or internet website can command the attention of the nation. The last point of common discourse most people share revolves around either high school or a test at the department of motor vehicles. Our shared history and experience helps create the common points we can build on to move forward. It seems that out points of divergence are expanding. Even a well organized campaign can only bring a small part of the equation into focus.

We have to figure out the best methods to garner the most attention when it really matters. We have to figure out how to set the stage for the next ten years. We are on the verge of seeing technological complexity ramp up in ways that are almost hard to imagine. That complexity may be the first way of change that cannot be easily consumed or understand with a reasonable amount of effort. Technology that may be easy enough to use, but may be complex enough that it cannot be easily reproduced or reverse engineered.

Avoiding the urge to hurry

Naptime arrived today a little later than expected. It did not happen in a hurry. Things did not happen according to a plan. A few giggles occurred and then silence. Naptime at a hotel is always an interesting and unpredictable process.

Now would be the time to engage in a little writing. I turned on CNN and acknowledged the roughly two hours of time in front of me. Given approximately 2 hours of time a certain amount of productivity can occur. That will really depend on sustaining focus. It is about getting locked into the process of writing and staying in the zone without distraction.

The other day I went to a Bose outlet store and traded in my QC2 headphone for a pair of QC35 wireless headphones. Those headphones really do help me focus. Noise cancelling headphones really do shut the world out. Sometimes slowing down and appreciating the moment is the right thing to do and it is the best thing to do.

One of the things that I have learned and tend to share with others is the idea of working real-time, but avoiding the urge to be in a hurry. Imagine just how much Jack Bauer accomplished in 24 hours. That same epic amount of productivity occured season after season. That level of productivity is something to strive toward.

My ability to compartmentalize has always been outstanding. For better or worse that ability helps me move from concept to concept and begin from scratch when necessary. Picking something up in a tabula rasa way sometimes helps. Other times you do not have the time to break something down to the most basic levels and build it back up.

Two hours of writing time should produce a certain amount of words. During a normal writing session I produce more than 1,000 words of prose. It has been some time since I have tried to write for more than two hours at a time. That is probably something that I need to tackle head on and it could happen any night. Writing for a long period without being interrupted is something that will involve a little bit of planning or a little bit of reckless abandon.

Our politics have become true to the moment

Standing up to the true test of history used to matter. It used to matter a lot. People would consider that weight of historical judgment during the decision making process. Our politics have become true to the moment. Decisions are no longer judged for having a timeless quality. They are triangulated in the moment based on the passions of the day. Decisions end up being situational in nature. Weighing decisions against a historical context makes the process of deciding more difficult. We have some very important decisions to make. We all get to experience the social fabric that brings us together. An increasingly mobile society finds ways to make small tears in the social fabric as people move from community to community. Each patch of the social fabric creates the potential to add strength. It has the potential to forge new connections within the community.

A few thoughts on online reading habits

Earlier today I spent $1 online to get access to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) digital edition for two months. That otherwise random purchase seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do at the time. After the two month trial ends I will probably cancel the subscription. Getting the daily paper on a tablet works out well enough. My Nexus 9 tablet is big enough to handle reading a newspaper. I know that getting a daily deliver and reading the paper from start to finish is probably not something that will ever be a part of my routine again. News aggregation seems to be the way of the future. The idea of a single source of truth from one publisher has given way to services that collect stories from a nearly infinite number of sources. That does destroy the hope of any ongoing narrative. Each interaction becomes inherently single serving. Sure some writers will be able to surf the waves of the stream well enough to emerge frequently. That maybe provide some hope at familiarity, but it will always be a disjointed narrative.

We take this step forward together

We are here now in this moment. We have to be present. Our thoughts have to be focused on the here and now. We have to understand our current situation. We have the opportunity to take action now. Things have gotten complex. These are the times that break our routines and shatter our expectations. This is election season in America. My next few weeks will literally define the political trajectory of our nation.

Our shared social fabric has been strained by the intersection of technology and modernity. We have filled out large swathes of information. Our content feeds and social networks are constrained by carefully refined and curated preferences. Even the way we are targeted and retargeted online is highly restricted by algorithms that match to preferences.

We have to venture outside the confines of our curated digital experience to question where we are going and where we will be. Instant access to information does not provide us with the ability to know everything. That massive pile of digital data gives us the feeling that knowledge is at our fingertips. It does not guarantee we will have the wisdom to make sound decisions.

A new hobby and some politics

A new hobby has taken my focus by storm this month. You might think I was going to say Pokémon GO. That would have been a decent guess. It seems to be a very popular application this month. I walked over to the park by our house and it was crowded with people chasing Pokémon. However, major political campaigns are under way. It is presidential election season. My attention, focus, and thoughts have been drawn to the type of stump speech I would write. Public discourse and writing political speeches are at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m very passionate about health care, education, and technology. Others issues grab my attention, but those three topics tend to retain my focus more than any others. If you expand your definition of technology to include a lot of science, then you can imagine why I gravitate toward those topics. Those are the topics that would pull me into a public debate. They are the topics I chat with folks in person about at airports, restaurants, and other places outside of my house.