Index of my signature blog posts

One of the weird things about blogs is that, as much time as people put into creating interesting and useful content for them, it's rare that anyone goes to the trouble to read back through older entries unless they're really looking for something specific, or are otherwise very committed to the content.

I don't expect that most of my readers here will bother with browsing through archives just for the fun of it, so I already make available a couple of topic-related mechanisms to find what you're looking for: the list of post tags (visualized in the image shown here), the category tree, the search form, the list of top-rated posts, etc.

Today I'm introducing another way to get to my core content, an index of my signature blog posts. This is a list of my more substantial and well-considered essays on a variety of topics, and I think it represents well the thinking and writing I've done on topics I'm passionate about. I'll try to keep it updated regularly, and I hope you find it useful.

False choices in selecting the American President

This is my inventory of the false or misleading choices presented to us in the mainstream narrative of how we select the President of the United States. They're presented by our culture, our media, our parents, our friends. They're presented as "the way things have always been" and "get on board with this or you'll be left behind" and "don't be an idealistic fool by believing anything else" They're presented with confidence and vigor, and they're spread far and wide: Continue reading "False choices in selecting the American President"

5 ways to maximize Q&A time at public lectures

I attend a variety of public lectures at Earlham College here in Richmond, and while the speakers are usually quite satisfactory in both content and style, I find myself repeatedly shocked at how poorly some of the students conduct themselves in the Question and Answer segment of the programs. Self-absorbed, oft-incoherent, rambling diatribes are unfortunately a recurring experience, and even just a few minutes of this can completely change the sense of how the event went overall - and perhaps determine what impression the guest speaker takes out into the world about our community. (Surely neither I nor my peers were like that when I was a student there, right?)

I always make a mental note to write down some suggestions for improving this situation, and now that the academic year is ramping up again with plenty of lectures and convocations on the schedule, I thought I'd hold forth. So, here are my 5 tips for how to get the most out of Q & A time at public lectures: Continue reading "5 ways to maximize Q&A time at public lectures"

Updated home page newer designThose of you who follow my blog may not always bother to check in on the other parts of my personal website, which is understandable since they're much more static than the weblog. I do try to use the actual home page of the site as a fairly current jumping off point for various other projects, events, and adventures I'm involved in, and today I launched a redesigned version that organizes all of that a little bit better. It also has a photo that reflects the facial hair experiment I'm currently participating in.

The only major content component that didn't come over from the old design is a sampling of my Flickr photos, but I didn't get the sense anyone was really exploring my photography through that channel, and there's still a direct link to the photo stream on the new page. And, I added direct links to a lot of the other sites/tools where I have content or information posted.

The old design is preserved for posterity. I welcome any feedback.

Links for the Week - August 24, 2008

It's been a while since I posted one of these, here are a few highlights from my Delicious link feed:

Blog Indiana 2008 Reflections

Panel on New Media and PoliticsThis past weekend I attended Blog Indiana 2008, a conference by and for bloggers in the region, which I mentioned here a few months ago. Overall, I would call the event quite a success. For $50, participants had access to a weekend packed full of rich and informative sessions, great networking opportunities with friendly and good-natured people, good food, and a lot of fun - a pretty excellent deal by most measures, especially in the world of tech conferences.

I really appreciated that it was a "grassroots" conference, organized by Noah Coffey and Shawn Plew of Indianapolis, and not a big corporate conference organized by people trying to sell us stuff. Sure, there were corporate sponsors (Summersault was one of them), and there were some grumblings about session leaders spending too much time promoting their own products/services. But on the whole, this was a group of people who are passionate about new media and wanted to get together to see what else was out there, talk about some of the issues that come up, and just get to know each other better. Oh, and we also totally geeked out on Twitter.
Continue reading "Blog Indiana 2008 Reflections"

Discussion of Terms of Service

This is a republishing of a series of blog posts looking at the Terms of Service, discussing what they actually mean and how they might impact your use of the Palladium-Item website.  (The Palladium-Item is Richmond, Indiana's daily newspaper.)  You can view the original posts where they appeared on the Pal-Item site: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The Terms of Service (TOS) are the policies and terms that the Palladium-Item and its parent corporation, Gannett, have set forth for the use of their website at  When you visit the site in your web browser, you are subject to those terms.  Opinions vary about whether the TOS can be considered a legal contract between you and the Palladium-Item, and how enforceable the terms might be.  But one thing is clear: as websites like become more interactive and encourage more user submission of content, it’s in your best interest to understand these terms and how they affect you. Continue reading "Discussion of Terms of Service"

Entertain us! Distract us! Compel us!

We Made It!Earlier this year, I kind of made fun of Twitter. And people who use Twitter. I kind of called them things like "insane" and "isolated" and "distracted." I would like to officially apologize to anyone who felt offended by those statements.

Completely unrelated, I'm now trying out Twitter myself. I could tell you that I'm not doing it for the fame or the money or the inevitable product endorsement requests I'll get. I could tell you that it's purely a professional endeavor as I continue to try to keep my finger on the pulse of Internet culture. I could tell you about how I'm trying out different Twitter interfaces, APIs, applications, and related tools as a part of research for various projects.

All of these things might be true to some degree, but really, at some base level, I don't know why I'm doing it, and I reserve the right to pull the eject handle at any time. But for now - cringe - I'm there.

Request for tips on blogging basics

In a few weeks, I'm presenting at the Blog Indiana 2008 conference, and my first session is on "blogging basics." My hope is that anyone with any comfort level around blogs and website tools will be able to leave the session with what they need to know to start blogging that day.

I'm putting together my own notes and tools for bloggers just starting out, but I thought I would also put the question out to you, constant readers, about what tips, tools and conventions you would have found useful or even essential when you first entered the world of blogging? Even if you're not an active blogger, I'd still enjoy hearing your thoughts on how you think blogs (especially newly formed ones) can be made more useful, engaging, exciting, etc.

What advice would you give to a blogger just starting out?

Review of the Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS unit

I have long resisted the use of GPS technology for any serious or sustained navigating. This is partly because I don't like the notion of depending on an array of satellites managed by the US Air Force just to get where I'm going - to whatever degree I have any simplicity left in my life, it's one more way to add complexity and hidden costs to basic everyday tasks. I've also resisted GPS because I like the idea of being able to navigate with basic tools, instinct, and luck.

For my recent road trip, however, I got over these hesitations (for better or worse) enough to want to give the use of GPS a real spin, and I did in the form of the Garmin Nuvi 360. Here's my review.
Continue reading "Review of the Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS unit"