Tag Archives: Blogging

New (revised?) Plan

For a full-time dabbler, there are and never will be enough hours in a day. The key to dabbling is to flit from project to project while committing fully to none. The lack of commitment results not from lack of desire but from the aforementioned dabbler’s being stretched so thin. Don’t get me wrong: the living is easy here in Seoul. I have classes for about five hours a day and then a couple hours for lesson planning (which can be quite minimal for a native-speaking English teacher in a public school).

Then comes the dabbling. During the past couple weeks, here is the list of my endeavors: hiking mountains, shopping for a camera, seeing the sights, designing logos, learning Hangul, writing blogs, eating delicious food, and finding time for sleep. I’m planning to add to that list: learning photography, planning travel itineraries, learning some sort of Web-designing basics, and figuring out Photoshop. I’m, however, unable to do all of this without catching the latest episodes of 30 Rock, Entourage, and Heroes; or without spending quality time with my PS2 or Nintendo DS, which leaves recreational reading out of this dabbler’s schedule.

The point is I need to learn to prioritize. To prioritize, I need concrete goals. Here are the tips Christine Gilbert (of Almost Fearless and the recently-launched Europe String) gave me to get my blog straight — but they obviously apply to any sort of project:

  1. Set some goals. Traffic levels, number of comments, new subscribers and so on. Something tangible that you can measure.
  2. Write a list of what you can do to reach those goals.
  3. Prioritize the list.
  4. Set specific time a day to work on those items.
  5. Track your progress.

Ok, maybe that seems too much like “work” — this is coming from a former corporate project manager, so take it for what it’s worth. I find by doing those steps, I have more time to be creative and stop worrying about all the “stuff” I haven’t done. Most days it works. Many days I still struggle too. Good luck!

The most counter-intuitive aspect of this whole process to me is that I have to put my impatience aside to slow down and organize myself. I want results, and I want them now, but, simply put, they’ll never materialize without a plan. I made a plan to make sure I see more than the smokey interiors of bars and the pleather futon of my apartment while I’m in Korea. So far it’s been effective because of how easily I can keep myself accountable. As a result, I’ll structure the new plan for my blog similarly to my sight-seeing plan.

There will be at least two new posts per week. One should come very easily since I’m seeing a new sight each week, and the other should come just as easily because everyday life in Seoul is never dull. Two is the magic number, and I’m sure I can count that high in five languages! It’s not a lot, but having a deadline (thanks journalism degree!) will help push me to be more efficient. Once I get into this routine, I can move on to sorting out my other projects without a hitch.

First: Life in Flight. Next: the world. That’s how it works, right?

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Blogger’s block?

When I started this venture into the blogosphere almost four months ago, I thought this attempt at diet literary journalism would only serve as a bridge to bigger projects. I imagined my graphic design skills would combine with my (supposed) writing prowess to form a super-sweet Web site litterred with fantastic pictures I had taken with my basic-but-improving photo skills. I planned on learning some Web coding and Dreamweaver along with the rest of the Creative Suite. This was supposed to be my portfolio while I was away.

Suffice to say, I haven’t gotten that far, yet. I’ve gotten the writing part down, but that’s about it. Web hosting, CSS, and Photoshop are still a bit out of my league (read: I’m basically illiterate in those areas). I would like to learn more about those things, but I always seem to have more pertinent things to do with my free time, such as go rock climbing, read books, learn Korean, and occasionally blog. There are simply not enough hours in the day.

The thing about this whole blogging phenomenon is the sense of community that it provides. The blogosphere (or the whole Internet, for that matter) is just another neighborhood where people drop in to see what’s going on and have conversations. I’m not such a great member of that community, though. I can write paragraphs upon paragraphs, but I’m not as good at reading others’ works. I have an RSS feeder, but in my ADD-esque reading style, I merely glance over the neverending list of articles. Consequently, I contribute to those conversations (i.e. the comments section) less often than I want/should.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but overall, I’m not quite sure where this project is headed. I love the writing and the thought process that goes into it, but I want to be more than that. I have to figure out how to manage the reading and the writing aspects of the blogosphere. It can only help me as I observe how other writers approach and execute their projects.

How do you manage keeping up with your blogroll?

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When a writer gets confused

In my dedication to becoming a better blogger, I’m constantly thinking about things to write and how to convey it. In essence, I often find myself thinking in terms of blog posts, but sometimes I have too many thoughts, and I get confused. A lot. Even my (writing) voices get mixed up.

I currently have two drafts for posts I haven’t finished because my mind keeps wandering. I had a specific goal in mind when I started them, but as wrote, the subject matter steadily drifted away from my original target. In my head, a simple observation turned into a political discourse; a memory, into a pseudo-psychoanalytical self-analysis, and so forth.

I think I’ve become enthralled by the prospect of continuous writing (a good thing), and my brain wants to spew out any and every thought. Work is extremely slow, so I have too much idle time to think. (The lack of motivation after putting in my two weeks’ notice doesn’t help, either.) Without the urgency of writing quickly so I can finish other projects, I also over-think the writing itself. As a result, the writing process tends to be slow and clunky.

I also spend much of the time perusing the Internet — especially the blogosphere. The constant influx of news, information and opinions combined with a wandering mind results in convoluted thoughts and consequently convoluted writing. My head is starting to hurt. Seriously.

Does this happen to anyone else? How do you organize your thoughts and ideas in times like this?

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Twitter with ease

In my attempt to become uber-connected to the Internet, I joined Twitter to see what all the fuss was about. It hasn’t become quite as useful or as informative as I had imagined, but after a couple weeks of use, I can see its potential. With the constant information deluge on Twitter, I needed to find a more efficient way to keep up with the Tweets rather than logging onto the Web site.

With a Twitter client, I can have the tweets fed to me as I do other things on my computer. Like an inbox, I can quickly scan the tweet and resume whatever I was doing. Also, these clients give me a much quicker way to update my own profile. The “micro-blogging” aspect of Twitter lends itself to spur-of-the-moment thoughts, so more ubiquitous interface means I’ll be less likely to lose my thought process while logging onto the site. There are more than 80 ways to tweet, but here I’ll quickly review the ways I access Twitter.

Twitterfox:

Twitterfox is an extension for Firefox that puts your tweets in the same window as your browser in case you like having everything in one place. This is my main interface at work mainly because I can’t install any applications on my computer. Each time tweets come in, a notifier window with an excerpt pops up temporarily, after which you can click on the Twitter logo in the corner of your browser to read the tweets. Twitterfox also has an @reply button on each tweet, making dialogue easier.

Twhirl:

Twhirl — along with being a difficult word to type — is the desktop client I use on my MacBook at home and serves as the main portal to my Twitter account. Inside the customizable window, I can easily toggle between all the tweets, my direct messages and my archive as well as search for tweets related to any topic using Tweet Scan. You can find more Twitter functions when you roll over the avatars in Twhirl, such as direct messages and @replies. Each time a tweet comes in, Twhirl plays a chime and a pop up appears to notify you. I also like having an application outside of Firefox so that I can Command+Tab to the application instead of having to click to open and close the box in Twitterfox.

Twitterbar:

Twitterbar, another Firefox add-on is the simplest Twitter application I use. It only serves as a way to update Twitter, not read it. To do so, type your tweet into the address bar of your Firefox browser and click on the little button on the right. Simply hovering over it will let you know how many characters you have left to use. I don’t use this application very often, but it’s nice to have when you want to tweet quickly. Type and click — it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

You can also update your Twitter profile via text messages. I’ve tried a handful of other desktop clients, such as Twitterpod, Twitterific and Tweetr, but I didn’t like them as much. How do you Twitter?

Sidenote: In this age of turning nouns into verbs (e.g. “to Google something”), when someone updates his Twitter profile, does he Twitter or does he tweet?

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Tired and incomplete thoughts

I’m a bit sore, a tad burnt, and a lot tired. I just got back from a sun-drenched frisbee tournament in Bloomington, Indiana. I played with my former college Ultimate frisbee team. It was great to see how much these guys have grown as frisbee players — and as a team — since I was there literally the first day they played college Ultimate. Spending several days a week practicing together and entire weeks playing together creates a bond and mutual respect that I’m not looking forward to leaving behind.

One thing I’m almost eager to leave behind is my job. I will be putting in my two weeks’ notice at the end of this week. I’m not quite sure how this is going to go, especially with my department currently shorthanded as my former supervisor just recently received a promotion into a different department. I don’t think it will be as dramatic as people always imagine it to be, but I’m sure I’ll have some sort of butterflies leading up to Friday.

I’ll figure it out as the week goes on, but right now, I’m too tired to think about it. All weekend though, I was thinking about blogging. I was thinking about what to write about and how to write about it. I had a little time each evening, but I spent it sleeping or hanging out with the team. All in all, the weekend was less eventful than I had hoped, but I like having the blogger’s mindset. It’s a good start. I don’t think I’m going to have to force myself as much as I thought. It should come pretty naturally.

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Tweet Tweet

The Internet is a huge place. I still don’t get how most of it works, and I can easily get caught up reading various things on the Web for hours. I know it really isn’t that tough, but I suppose I’m just a curious creature whose attention can be held by essentially any news source.

I’m trying to become a little more involved in this whole Internet thing through blogging. I’m working on it, but it feels like the writing style continues to escape me. I’ve been writing about myself for more than five years now, but this seems like a different venture. Obviously, I can’t write with anyone else’s voice, but I don’t feel like I “get” blogging quite yet. Blogs always seem to have a niche and an audience. I haven’t quite determined mine, yet, but I want one. That’s a start, right?

Anyway, I’ve also jumped onto Twitter, a micro-blogging tool quite similar to the status feature on Facebook. Like the leap from my previous journal adventures to this project, the transition from Facebook statuses to Twitter “tweets” is a work in progress. I think the biggest difference from my previous endeavors to my current aspirations is the method of networking.

Facebook and LiveJournal seem to face inward in that they seem to be communities within themselves. The authors on these platforms know exactly who their readers are and seem to cater accordingly. Twitter and broader blogging platforms, such as WordPress, tend to reach out to strangers more — especially with trackbacks and pingbacks, two things I’m still trying to figure out. This is all an exciting prospect to me.

I’m ready for a new audience and new people, but I’m still learning exactly how to do that. I’m looking for all the help I can get.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/danielthai.

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Drawing Hands

This is the first post in a series of posts detailing the thought process behind creating this blog.

The term “blog” is quite vague. Its roots, a portmanteau of “Web” and “blog,” describe it as just that — a log of Web sites one has visited. Nowadays, in this age of Web 2.0, everyone has access not only to reading but also to writing content on the Internet. As a result, the range of blog subjects has expanded to pretty much anything and everything: gizmos and gadgets, sports, travel, and politics are some of the obvious targets.

The most obvious subject, though, is the self. This is the inherent beauty (or flaw) of blogging. This is the treacherous line that defines a blog. A constant inner monologue without any context serves no purpose to any reader. A “personal” journal is fine and dandy, but what’s the point of publishing it online? As a writer, there’s always some sort of subconscious need for external validation from an audience.

This is where my dilemma starts. I’ve never really been one to cater to an audience in these situations, but the creation of this new blog/journal/project — not coincidentally — correlates with a new chapter in my life. I’m not sure if that should or will be the focus of this. I follow several blogs, most of which tightly focus on a clear subject matter. This journal will be clearly be about my life and the things around me, but how do I write about me?

I have a vague idea of who might be following this journey, but I have to take into account those whom I’ve never met and will never meet. I have to find a way to balance the interests of the familiar readers, the curious strangers, and myself. Maybe I’m just thinking too hard about this. I have a feeling that — like everything else I’ve done thus far — this will flesh itself out into something I like.

I have a tendency — despite my unconscious and best efforts otherwise — to land on my feet.

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