A Business Technology Place

What if I had started writing earlier?

An article in a recent edition of the alumni magazine from my university contains a story about a family finding letters from a deceased relative who was a college student in the early 1900s. The family agreed to share the letters with the living history program at the university. As you can imagine, these personal notes contained historical information not only about the young student and his feelings but about the campus and the events in the world around him as well.9169068026_53f8cc86f0_k

What if I had started writing earlier in life? I would find stories about network equipment, break-fix of computers, and wiring closets.  I expect I would have recorded commentary about operating systems in servers and computers and how to connect them together. I would have written about the challenges of remotely connecting computers from home via modems or ISDN lines. Most likely I would have analyzed software design and specifications from the viewpoint of a waterfall approach.

More than the technical know-how, I would be curious to see my attitudes and feelings about the subject matter. This is what helps historians get to the next level of understanding of the documents they examine. For me personally, it would provide a glimpse into the technology and business concepts during that day and time. Would I still agree with my own attitude and reflection 20 years removed?

I know now that writing has a role in our lives that can leave a lasting impact. It’s a great habit and hobby to start even if you just for write for yourself. It helps me with the day-at-hand as a way to organize my thoughts and reflect. Written documents provide an artifact to examine later for research. I often look back through my writings for specific keywords to help with formulating my thoughts.  I wish I had started writing earlier in life.  My first blog post was November 8, 2008 and this will mark my 452nd post. It’s been a good journey and I can say better to start late than never.

If you aren’t writing your thoughts somewhere, it’s a good habit to consider. Do it for yourself even if you don’t publish content publicly. You’ll be glad you did.

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit: Dinuraj K via Flickr Creative Commons.

6 years of blogging. It’s a habit.

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece about becoming an accidental blogger. It was a introspective post as I examined my thoughts about writing and the purpose of blogging.   This Saturday will mark 6 years of blogging and this is my 394th blog post on The Merchant Stand. I didn’t set out with a goal to write a specific number of posts. I just started to write.I summarized my thoughts in the Accidental Blogger post as

The writing has given me a place for self expression. It helps me think deeper. It makes me think about practical implications and application of things. I’m learning to write better. I’m learning to process information better.

Typically my inspiration comes from some event that happened in the previous week or some other piece of print that inspired thought. My weekend routine now includes writing and I’d classify it as a habit. I think about writing through the weekend until it’s done. I have a need to satisfy the craving. So I write. It’s not really for audience, although I make my writings public. I write about topics and events that have influenced my life. If others find it useful and converse it’s like a bonus for me.

God willing, I’ll keep writing. Maybe 6 years will turn into 12. Maybe I’ll discover new truths about myself. Maybe I’ll influence others. Maybe I’ll develop new skills. I look forward to the journey with keyboard/pen in-hand.


Writing’s role in our lives

In a recent speech, the principal of my kid’s school talked about the importance of writing in the overall education process of a child. It made me think of my own life where I didn’t really begin writing regularly until I was almost 40. It’s important to me know, but really held no significant meaning while I was in school or even college.

My kids don’t show any motivation to write other than what is required for a graded assignment. Maybe it’s because writing for graded assignments doesn’t always let you write from your heart. Assignments are by definition something that someone else chose for you. But I believe,the best writing comes from a desire within and a passion to write to express feelings and emotions. A post I wrote about a Cooperstown baseball trip comes to mind as a writing that flowed from my mind when I was on an emotional high from a life experience.  It was easy writing and captured a moment and a feeling. My kids haven’t made that leap to enjoy writing. I hope someday they will.

It’s also a challenge for students to embrace regular writing today because we live in media consumption oriented society rather than a creation oriented one. The 1% rule of the internet states that “ only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk”. It’s easy to be a content consumer, but not so easy to be a content creator. In this case I’m referring to content creation as the process of writing thoughts as more than posting pictures and status updates.

As I see it, even if we don’t write for audience, we can write for ourselves. We can write to explore and record our thoughts.We can write to think about and form opinions.  It’s a healthy exercise and has many rewards. This was in part, the principal’s thought. Maximize your learning thinking and writing. It’s never too late to get started.

eLibrary used more than paper library

With my trusty eReader, a 2nd generation Kindle, I have a growing library of eBooks spanning multiple categories. My library contains fiction in the areas of suspense, mystery, fantasy, and paranormal. My non-fiction collection includes books in the areas of marketing, business, biography, and spiritual topics.

In my home office, I have a bookshelf that contains printed books spanning the same types of categories. That’s my pre-eReader library. The collection has decreased in volume over the years because I have given away some books in an effort to reclaim space.

Recently, I referenced some material from a few eBooks in a blog post and it occurred to me that it was not the first time I had used my eBook collection for reference. I asked myself

“Do I reference the eBook material more than paper books because they are my newest books or because it is easier to search electronically to find material I have previously read?”

Do other people, and specifically writers, have the same experience? With my eLibrary, I have referenced passages, notes, and highlights more than I ever did with my paper book library. I didn’t plan it this way. It’s just something I’ve observed.

The answer, at least for me, is due to both characteristics of my eLibrary. While it is easier to search and find material, I think the relative age of the content of the library also means that its top of mind for me to think of as potential reference. Perhaps the biggest contributing factor is that I didn’t start writing/blogging until just before I acquired an eReader. So the probability that I will want to reference material from my collection increased.

The Kindle has built-in search capabilities to make searching for keywords and passages easier than thumbing through paper books. Additionally, Amazon offers a web site that keeps all of my Kindle highlights and notes in one location that is accessible via a web browser. So I can look for some of my references regardless of location and whether or not I have the Kindle with me.

A view from the Kindle online management area

At the end of the day, I think eReaders are turning our Library of information into something that will be more used. I sold books off my bookshelf to make space. That’s not such an issue with the eReader. I can carry a large library with me. The accessibility and ease-of-finding the information is a game changer for our library.

Accidental blogger or techie with a purpose?

If my high school English teacher could see me now…
English was not my favorite subject in high school or undergraduate college. In fact, I can say it was probably at the bottom of the list. I really didn’t enjoy writing in those days. It was forced and I felt like so much of a grade was subjective based on preferences of the teacher.

So I gravitated to math and science classes. My favorite class my senior year in high school was Calculus. When I went to college I studied Computer Science and learned the basics of computer programming.  So it’s probably no surprise that I got a C in Freshman English. One of only two Cs my entire undergraduate experience!

Fast Forward 15 years.
I reached a point in my career where I needed to broaden my business knowledge in order to pursue some jobs in product management and marketing. So I went back to school to add a MBA to my Computer Science degree.

It was a great decision. The MBA classes energized my thirst for knowledge again and the subject matter of the classes was something I could relate to. With 15 years of professional experience the content of the MBA program made sense and was something I wanted to absorb.

Then I started writing.
Before I graduated with a MBA I started writing this blog. At first I just wanted to a place to record my thoughts on business topics. But it soon became very personal to me. Over the last few years, the blog has become my sandbox for thoughts, ideas, observations, and opinions.  On most blogs you’ll find at least one post on why the author writes and I fit right in with them. The writing has given me a place for self expression. It helps me think deeper. It makes me think about practical implications and application of things. I’m learning to write better. I’m learning to process information better.

I’m even freelance writing for Patch.com. It’s part of my purposeful effort to broaden my skills and experiences. I’m exposed to different types of writing there such as informative articles, reviews, and even sports. I don’t know how long that will last or where it will lead, but it’s already been a valuable experience for me.

It occurred to me that many bloggers and writers may be just like me.
I’m a Techie that’s discovered a love for writing.  I had no intention of writing 20 years ago, but it’s now part of who I am. How many of us techies have turned content writers with the advancement of the internet and digital media? How many bloggers today didn’t enjoy writing “back in school”?

The difference is that now I write about topics that I choose and that interest me. I write about topics in my passion zone. I write with a purpose. I suspect there are many others like me that are finding writing as a release for their inner passions.

Does anybody read my thoughts or care about my perspectives?
At the end of the day it’s not about being techie, or a writer, or a business thinker. It’s about being able to see problems and thinking about solutions to solve them. It’s about making connections with people. I hope my writing gets me closer to that. No, I hope my writing gets me in the middle of that.

Sure, there will be some things I write that don’t connect with anyone. Other posts will make connections and get readers to think about their own lives. That’s just part of writing.

It’s not easy.
While the internet and tools have made publishing ridiculously easy, creating content is hard. It takes work and dedication to produce content regularly. It takes a rhythm. This is probably why most people don’t want to write or prefer to do other things.

Do they teach these things in school? I should find out. My kids aren’t into writing. But I think that’s because content consumption is so easy (and at times mindless). I’ll have to leave that thought for another post.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

I’d like to know your story.