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Community Knowledge is Powerful

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Knowledge is Power

If knowledge is power, then community knowledge is even moe powerful.  Blogging is a great way to illustrate and practice community knowledge.  I’m not talking about displaying your knowledge of a community, but using the community of blog readers and commenters to make the entire community more knowledgeable.

Blogs=Communities of Knowledge

I recently wrote a post about the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 REvealed, wherein I highlighted a downside to the change in capital gains tax rates.  The post was widely linked to and over 30 comments came in about the findings.  Then at comment #31, a reader brought to light some exceptions I had overlooked.  Linda Dvorak deserves a ‘community knowledge award‘ for digging deeper than I had and unearthing some great insight into the realities of the law.  This type of knowledge sharing is invaluable to a blog’s community.

Scientific Methods of Blogging

Blogs are like social science experiments.  I had put forth the characterizations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry) and the hypothesis (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject).  I even went deeper in the method by providing predictions (reasoning including logical deduction from the hypothesis or theory) and tests (tests of all of the above).

However, I left out one critical step to a science experiment..RETEST.  Fortunately, a blog’s comment section is the perfect forum for retesting.  Now, the community has a greater knowledge of the new law and we all owe it to each other for pushing forward, questioning hypothesis and retesting the experiment.

My wife will be proud I used the Scientific Method in a blog post (she taught 7th grade science and kept a blog before becoming a mom 3 months ago), but she’ll be disappointed that I failed to retest my earlier work.

Does your blog foster a community of shared knowledge?

Sources used to create this post: Wikipedia, Agent Genius, The Power of Science

Chaotic Good adventurer on a quest to optimize the lives of others. Husband & Father to Wolverines. Founder of RETSO + Managing Director at Path & Post.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    August 18, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Brad –

    I read that post with great interest. The comments leading to Ms.Dvorak’s comment and the resulting conclusion were indeed an education. It is exactly this knowledge which keeps me coming back to AG and other sites where I know the converstaion will become a learning experience.

  2. Bob

    August 18, 2008 at 9:00 am

    The lesson to be learned is to do more homework before publishing.

  3. Brad Nix

    August 18, 2008 at 9:44 am

    @Bob it’s hard to do more research when you are one of the first to write an opinion on the topic. Since my original more analysis was made around the web. It is the blog format that allows for information to be delivered ‘as it happens’ and corrected or ammended as more data comes online.

    Blog writers, readers, and commenters all contribute to making the community better. Otherwise, we’d just write white papers and static web pages.

  4. Derek Overbey

    August 18, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Brad, I agree with your post. I feel the community self corrects. Sometimes when we read something in print like a newspaper or magazine, we may automatically take it as the truth because we “think” the writer has done their fact checking before it hits the press. In today’s world of blogging, we have the opportunity for the community to bring to light some inaccuracies in a story and help all involved to get the facts straight which is a great thing.

  5. Denver, CO

    August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Blogging is more editorial than journalistic. Bloggers aren’t full-time professional reporters. They are people who have a career and do blogging as part of that career. As such, the facts aren’t always going to be perfect, which is totally understandable. The author is correct too that the blogger, in effect, relies on reader comments to add to or correct the post. The news gets it wrong more often than any of us know. If we could comment in response to a news broadcast or a newspaper article, we would see quickly how often they get it wrong.

  6. Bob

    August 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    the facts aren’t always going to be perfect, which is totally understandable.

    That is not understandable and it should not be acceptable.

    The author is correct too that the blogger, in effect, relies on reader comments to add to or correct the post.

    That is an irresponsible approach. Want to lose credibility fast? Stick to that philosophy. That attitude just reinforces what many think about blogs – just people with a soap box who don’t care about getting it right.

    @Bob it’s hard to do more research when you are one of the first to write an opinion on the topic. Since my original more analysis was made around the web. It is the blog format that allows for information to be delivered ‘as it happens’ and corrected or ammended as more data comes online.

    I disagree with this on all fronts. A blog simply allows one the ability to self publish – it doesn’t relieve one of the responsibility to be accurate and then depend on a communal fact checker system.

  7. Brad Nix

    August 18, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Bob, I don’t see us ever agreeing here. It’s a difference in thinking, nothing more.

    Blogs are not just a self-publishing platform (there’s Frontpage for that), they are online community builders where shared knowledge is greater than one person’s individual knowledge. It’s easy for this turn into a 1.0 vs 2.0 debate and for those type of things I point you to Wikipedia (another community generated knowledge base).

    Therefore, based on your goal of absolute facts, I don’t have any suggestions for you to read at all. Books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, white papers, etc… all have errors. The problem with those errors is that it takes weeks or longer to see a correction (usually tucked away on a table of contents page or something similar). However, in a blog setting the corrections are made real-time by more people than just the publisher/author/editor. I could go on, but I think we are heading to ‘agree to disagree’.

  8. Bob

    August 19, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Brad, you misunderstood my disagreement.

    This wasn’t an example of the wisdom of crowds or a collective knowledge base that solved a problem. You rendered an opinion on a complex legal and tax issue where the facts were in the 600+ pages of the bill. The other sources that you couldn’t research because you were among the first to market made their analysis on the same available facts. This wasn’t a situation where the facts changed or were revealed over time. It was just someone pointing out a mistake and then citing proof when you argued that she was wrong.

  9. Brad Nix

    August 19, 2008 at 5:16 am

    There is no doubt that what was discovered in the ‘exceptions’ portion of the bill changed the number of people that will be effected, however it did not change the fact that our government added a new tax that went unnoticed by traditional media. Our blog format allowed me to present the original finding of the new law’s (with acknowledgment to Dan Green for first turning me on to this) hidden tax. Assumingly drawing attention to this issue where the comment section allowed others to add the exceptions and clarifications as more research became available. The way I see it, this is an example of the wisdom of crowds at work. If the original author got it right or covered every angle every time, then all the comments on blogs would read “great post”, “good job”. I understand your point and wish that I had covered every exception and detail in my original post, but I am thankful for the blog format to allow the community to share the collective knowledge. We are all better for it. If I had written the same article in a newspaper, no one would ever have learned of the exceptions.

  10. Doug Devitre

    August 19, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Thank you Brad for an excellent post. I am spending more time teaching people what RSS means than anything else. Once people get the RSS concept for posts, I can then take them to the RSS of comments.

    Blogging is an excellent form of collaboration for brokers, organizations and associations. I highly recommend creating a wiki for JUST the facts. My favorite is WetPaint. The wiki will address the facts, the blogs will handle the opinions.

    In speaking with large brokers and associations they do not want to pursue the blog concept because the liability of the comments, fear of political favoritism, and imputed knowledge in those states where it exists.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

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Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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Opinion Editorials

Your goals are more complicated than generalized platitudes, and that’s okay

(OPINION / EDITORIALS) When the tough times get going, “one size fits all” advice just won’t cut it. Your goals are more specific than the cookie cutter platitudes.

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Split paths in the forest like goals - general advice just doesn't fit.

‘Saw.’ – “Vulgar, uneducated wisdom based in superstition”, according to the good volunteer compilers at Wikipedia. See also: ‘aphorism’, ‘platitude’, and ‘entrepreneurial advice’. I’m not saying there’s no good advice for anyone anymore, that’s plain not true. SMART Goals are still relevant, there’s a plethora of cheaper, freeer, more easily accessible tutorials online, and consensus in April-ville is that Made to Stick is STILL a very helpful book.

But when I hear the same ‘pat on the head’ kind of counsel that I got as a kid presented by a serious institution and/or someone intending on being taken seriously by someone who isn’t their grade school-aged nephew, I roll my eyes. A lot.

“Each failure is an opportunity!” “Never give up!” “It’s not how many times you fall!”, yeah, okay, that’s all lovely. And it IS all very true. My issue is… These sunshiney saws? They’re not very specific. And just like a newspaper horoscope, they’re not meant to be (not that I’ll stop reading them).

Example: You’ve been jiggling the rabbit ears of your SEO for months, to no avail. No one’s visiting your site, there’ve been no calls, and the angel investor cash is starting to dip closer to falling from heaven with each passing day.

Does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you use your last bit of cash to take on an expert?

Or does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you go back to R&D and find out that no one actually WANTED your corncob scented perfume to begin with; algorithm tweaking and Demeter Fragrances be damned?

This is the thing about both your goals you make and the guidance you take—they have to be specific. I’m not saying your parents can put a sock in it or anything. I’m thrilled that I’m part of a family that’ll tell me to keep on keeping on. But as far as serious, practical input goes… One size fits all just leaves too much room for interpretation.

When you’re stuck, behind, or otherwise at odds with your growth, are you asking the right questions? Are you sure of what the problem actually is? Do you know whether it’s time to give up a failure of a business and ‘keep pushing’ in the sense of starting another one, or whether you’ve got a good thing on hand that needs you to ‘never say die’ in the sense of giving it more tweaking and time?

No one should have stagnant goals. A pool of gross sitting water is only attractive to mosquitoes and mold. ‘I wanna be rich’ as your business’s raison d’être is a setup for a story about the horrors of literal-minded genies, not an intention you can actually move upon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go hard the other way and get lost in a nebulous fog of easily-published aphorisms.

To be fair, it’s not as if saying ‘Ask the right questions’ is exponentially more helpful than your average feel-good refreshment article, since… This editorial column doesn’t know you or what pies you have your fingers in. But if I can at least steer you away from always running towards the overly general and into an attempt at narrowing down what your real problems are, I’ll consider this a job well done.

Save saws for building community tables.

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