21 November 2006

Stop searching for God and just sit!

Notes and sketches, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

I really like this quote from Carol Righi. You know it strikes me as interesting that when businesses want to see more innovation, they talk about creativity. They hold workshops on how to be creative. But when you talk to most creative people -- like artists, inventors, and yes, bloggers -- they don't talk about creativity, they talk about process.

I share Carol's belief that our processes and practices are the primary drivers of real creative endeavors. It's like the zen buddhist said, "Stop searching for God and just sit!"

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20 November 2006

XPLANE proposed for deletion from wikipedia

The XPLANE entry on Wikipedia has been marked for deletion.

Update: The page has been deleted based on the opinion of Wikipedia editors that the company is not notable enough. There were dissenting opinions. You can read the discussion at the articles marked for deletion page -- but please don't edit the page as the discussion has been closed. I have put the article up for deletion review, which means a larger pool of editors reviews the decision to delete.

However, anyone who believes differently is always free to write a new article about XPLANE. Be aware that any article must cite evidence of notability, such as multiple, independent, reliable sources, writing about XPLANE in some significant way. If anyone is interested I will be happy to supply such references.

And as always, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Thanks in advance,


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10 (or more) ways to a killer blog

Just click it!

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13 November 2006

Handouts or no handouts?

Notes and sketches, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

User Experience Designer and Product Manager Jeff Lash, speaking at the 2006 St. Louis User Experience Design Conference (STLUX).

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The (almost) lost art of conversation

OR: are we really afraid to connect with each other?

Robb Lucy, of www.eyelearner.com, shared the following article with me. I hope you enjoy it:

Here’s my theory: everyone’s got a story, and some of them are damned interesting. But why are we hiding them? Or is it just that we don’t know how to share them? In a very wired world with communication technology capable of so much, why do we stink at connecting with one another? Are we afraid?

A story. We just got back from a short cruise. We’ve done lots of cruises since the early 80’s, and my favourite time has always been dinner. I loved getting to know some fascinating people and learning from their different, and rich, experiences.

But now there’s a new trend in cruising, and I think it’s a sample of our unconnectedworld. You’re not assigned a table anymore, ‘forcing’ you to eat with, and get to know, ‘strangers’. You can eat anywhere you want, at any time. Eat by yourselves or with people you know every night.

I think it’s a huge opportunity lost. Here’s why.

One year we sailed out of Naples, Italy. We got on the ship a couple of hours before sailing and wandered the decks looking at, and sizing up, the passengers. I took note of one couple; she was short, heavy, dressed in black, very Italian. Her husband was from central casting; white hair, suit, and following behind her.

Dinner time, 8pm. We walked into the large dining room looking for table 41. And there she was. Well, not much conversation with them I thought, knowing they were quite Italian. Beside them were a pleasant looking couple, also about 25 years older than us, probably American.

It turned out she was a superior court judge in New York State, and she knew everybody. He was the best joke-teller I’ve ever encountered. The other couple were travelling the world, she recovering from breast cancer. We told stories, laughed and cried every night. Our table was the first to fill, and the last to leave. We connected with each other and it enriched us.

It happened again on a ship through the Panama. We walked up to our table and it was a sea of white hair, average age 75+, but fascinating people, every one. America’s leading sociology textbook writer for colleges. An 85 yr. old firecracker who had nursed in 25 countries. A 45-year teacher in a one-room school who travelled to a different country every summer. Every subject resulted in animated conversation. We left the ship for a few days and brought them back gifts from Machu Pichu. They cried, and the picture of all of us is still on our kitchen wall.

Yes, travelling is a great way to connect to new people, but why don’t we do it all the time? Are we afraid to be open and tell our stories? Afraid to offend by asking for their stories? Don’t want to enter someone’s space? I’ll bet if you talk to a hundred people, a high percentage will be proud of their family, their accomplishments, their experiences & dreams. And they'd probably like to tell them, but they don't know how and they don’t feel safe.

A good conversationalist just knows how to ask questions. CBC Radio’s Barbara Frum was the best, and all of us can learn something from her. Open-ended questions find out what’s important to the person you’re talking to. Barbara often just said: “tell me about…” and the game was on!

When you’re next on a plane, a ship, or waiting for a bus, open up a conversation with a few non-threatening questions. Tell me about your work? What’s the most fun you have with your family? If you could do one thing tomorrow, what would it be? And have your stories ready so this isn’t just an interview. The worse that will happen is they don't want to participate, and your antennae will let you know. The best is you make a new friend. You will walk away feeling enriched. They will tell their friends and family they met an interesting person... and a new friend.

Successful business people know this works. They build a connection, a relationship, and business builds as a result.

And connecting isn’t just a rich experience with people you don’t know. Good conversations help existing friendships grow much deeper.

Four us spent a recent New Year’s weekend at beautiful seaside lodge. We decided to learn more about each other by answering questions in the past, present & future. We answered questions like “A book that affected me?”, “A person that affected me?”, “A skill I will learn?”, and “An experience I will have?”. The result was deeper friendships with people we knew more about.

Everyone’s got a story, and feeling connected to more people, and ourselves, means listening to and telling those stories. Doesn’t the popularity of devices that help us ‘communicate’, like cel phones & Blackberries, show a yearning to stay connected?

Problem is, we are less connected to each other. But if we just take the risk to tell about ourselves, and carefully listen to their stories, that will change.

And hey, who doesn't need new friends?

Robb Lucy is a Vancouver, Canada entrepreneur, writer & producer – rlucy@eyelearner.com

Thanks Robb! Readers, please share your thoughts.

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12 November 2006

Best practices on file naming

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Conversational terrorism

Have you engaged in conversational terrorism? Or perhaps you are a victim?

Read this -- then come back and share your experiences.

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11 November 2006

The horizontal city

More and more people in the "real world" have been asking me about blogging. "What's the big deal?" they say. I talk to them about how conversations are unfolding online. "So what?" they reply. After awhile, I realized that the best way to explain blogging is to talk about the horizontal city.

The horizontal city is an idea based on some of Tom Friedman's ideas, presented in The World is Flat. I tell people that the internet is like a city that slices through the world horizontally. Anyone with internet access can visit the horizontal city -- and every time you visit a website or go online you are visiting.

But if you don't have a blog or some similar internet presence you are a tourist -- you don't live there and you don't enjoy the same benefits as the people who do. As far as the citizens of the horizontal city are concerned, you're invisible.

When you set up a blog, you are moving into the horizontal city. You are putting yourself -- your passions, your ideas, your beliefs -- online, and by doing so you make yourself linkable. People can see you. They can point to you. They can talk to you. You're a citizen.

At first it's just like moving into a new city in the real world. It's lonely. You don't know anyone. Nobody talks to you. But after awhile -- just like in a real-world city -- you start meeting people and having conversations. You leave a comment on someone's blog, or you link to one of their posts. Then they come to your blog to see who you are. The momentum builds and before you know it you are a member of a community -- maybe several communities.

It's like moving to a city in other ways, too. Putting yourself online is not without risk. You're more vulnerable -- to criminals, stalkers and the merely boring. But it's no different than a real city: you take on more risk but you also enter a thriving metropolis, bursting with opportunity and ideas.

Sometimes people say, "So what? I already live in a city. What's so great about the horizontal city?"

My reply is this: As Dave Weinberger has pointed out, the web runs on our collective passion. When you put yourself online and make yourself linkable you are making your passions explicit, linkable and clickable. Because of this, the people who find you and point to you tend to share your passions.

On the web, your "hit rate" of interesting people is much, much higher than it is in the real world. How often in the real world do you meet people who truly fascinate you? If it's more than 10 percent of the people you meet, I'd say you are very lucky.

But on the web, your "hit rate" is much higher. I have been blogging only a year, and already, quite a few people whom I have met online have become offline (real-world) friends. And almost without exception, they are fascinating, passionate people who are fun to talk to and energizing to spend time with.

And that (I say to my non-blogging friends) is why blogging is a big deal.

Related post: "What's the big deal about blogging, XML and RSS?"

As always -- please, share your thoughts!

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09 November 2006

robotic self destruct and self healing chair

Thanks to Mark Beam for pointing me to this.

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