Tag Archives: meta

Posting Problems

I’ve been having a lot of trouble actually posting anything here. It’s not that I don’t have tons to write, it’s the opposite: I am constantly inspired to write things, but they’re all about politics.

I really don’t want to just blog about politics all of the time.

To begin with—and contrary to the makeup of this blog lately—I’m not really exceptionally politically active usually. As a result, I’m not an ideal person to write about politics. I’m rabidly moderate and unevenly informed, not the stuff from which political screeds should probably be derived.

I try to keep generally up to date on the news, and sometimes that process results in my having a strong opinion on a specific item. On those occasions, I write about it—as much to make sense of it to myself as to spread my thoughts to others. Sometimes, those posts spawn a great conversation on Twitter. Less frequently, they spawn a great conversation on Facebook. I enjoy that, but not enough to make it the bulk of what is posted here.

So I’m having trouble writing anything of substance that isn’t about politics lately (I wonder why?) and I don’t really feel like posting most of the political posts that I jam out each week. I’m sort of caught between what I’d like to do and what I’m actually doing.

Hopefully, before this posts tomorrow morning, I’ll have come up with a solution…but I doubt it. I suspect I’ll just post less often until things normalize a bit or until I get sufficiently sick of our political scene as to feel like writing about something else instead.

Tweets of 2016

Things I Said on Twitter in 2016

As I say each year: The year in review, in micro-blog form. This is mostly for my own reference, but, you might be bored enough to look at this as well. Who knows!

Tweets of 2012 • Tweets of 2013 • Tweets of 2014 • Tweets of 2015

Something quirky happened with October/November tweets, but as soon as I get bored enough to manually scrape those, you’ll see them here too! In all, I have around 1870 tweets this year, double either either of the last two years. I suspect a lot of this can be hung directly on the shoulders of a really shitty election cycle and a propensity for live-tweeting things that irritate me. At this point, my account in general is over 19,400 tweets and I’m almost assuredly going to hit 20k in 2017. That’s ludicrous.

Continue reading Tweets of 2016

2016: A Year in Review

It would be trite to the point of cliche to lead off with a hearty “Fuck You” to 2016; more importantly, it wouldn’t even be entirely true. After starting in a lovely way among friends, this year has been up and down and featured moments both triumphant and terrible. As with all things, time will tell what stands out and what does not. For now, here’s what I recall of a year about to end:

Continue reading 2016: A Year in Review

Leading Questions (a Podcast)

A few weeks ago, Dawn and I were participating in a leadership conversation in a slack that we both frequent when the idea of us doing a leadership podcast was brought up.

Neither of us have ever waited to be asked twice to throw ourselves out there publicly, so we hastily pulled together a concept, some material, recording equipment, and set to work making a thing.

Yesterday, we posted the first episode of that thing!

Continue reading Leading Questions (a Podcast)

Permission to Take a Break

A few weekends ago, I looked through my stub posts to see which I could finish up to post; they were all a long way from done, and none were really grabbing me in any real way. Ultimately, I got distracted and, by the time Wednesday rolled around, nothing was ready to post, so I missed a week.

This week, as I look at the things available to post, I find myself in the same spot. I have a handful of drafts that are in no way ready to post and a handful of political rants of which I am so weary that I can’t imagine you don’t dread them. (Honestly, after my recent floods of them on Twitter, you can get your fill there.)

At the intersection of a chapter that I really want to get written, a review that I’m having difficulty coalescing into reality, and the flood of new-ness that I’m trying to absorb at work, I’m fairly intellectually exhausted.

So, I’m giving myself permission to take a break. Posts for the next month will potentially be sporadic or unsatisfying updates about life with the new gig. Or not. I don’t know, I’m not the boss of me.

Post Migration: Episode 1

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I’m slowly going through the process of merging an older, out of use blog into this one. As such, I’ll be migrating selected blog posts into this space. Most will probably not make the transition for a variety of reasons—there is some truly terrible writing over there, as well as some “probably funny at the time but not so much now” stuff—but as I bring stuff over here I’ll post pointers back to them in case you’re so inclined. My hope is that by doing it this way I can keep the reposting to a minimum and keep posts in accurate date order. Continue reading Post Migration: Episode 1

Tweets of 2015

Things I Said on Twitter in 2015

As I say each year: The year in review, in micro-blog form. This is mostly for my own reference, but, you might be bored enough to look at this as well. Who knows!

Tweets of 2012 • Tweets of 2013 • Tweets of 2014

I continue to hover in the “just shy of 1k tweets” club for the second year in a row, dropping slightly to around 870 tweets. I assume most are about teenage drama shows. Continue reading Tweets of 2015

Social Justice Warrior

“…but, you know, you have that whole thing you do on Facebook where you stand up for women and the poor and different races and stuff…”

This was actually said to me quite a while ago; and it has bothered me sufficiently that it has stuck with me for several weeks. My first draft of this opening actually implied that I wasn’t initially upset by it, that it grew to annoy me; that characterization isn’t true, though. I was sufficiently off-put by it the first time that I heard it that it prompted me to whip out my notebook and jot it down for later review. We’ll see if enough time has passed for me to remain relatively dispassionate as I attempt that review. Continue reading Social Justice Warrior

Website Redesign

Welcome to the new, improved JerLance.com! In addition to getting rid of the “felt clever at the time, but ultimately just annoyed me” Google theme, I’ve also ditched my custom CMS in exchange for an off the shelf solution (with some modest customizations).

Why go with an pre-built CMS? Back when I wanted to spend time tooling around with my blog, my custom-built thing was perfect. It was lightweight, easy for ME to use, and anytime I wanted it to do something different, I just wrote the code that made it so.

Now I have more projects than I will ever finish, so messing with my blog when I just want to be able to post things isn’t really achieving my objectives. Hopefully, now, I’ll finish some of my other projects and post more often.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

How Not To Contact Me

Ahh, technology. There are about a thousand ways to get in contact with people anymore, and all have their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Add to that the fact that most of the time we all find our own ways to use (and abuse) that communication tech, so what works for one person might not work at all for another, and you have quite the recipe for confusion. I often lament about the myriad ways that various people fail entirely to live up to my unspoken, secret, and quirky code of contact; so today it occurred to me, perhaps I could elucidate (and more importantly, spawn some conversation to boot).

There are countless different methods of categorization of modes of communication (which I will refer to as “com-modes” here [wait, commode means something different, doesn’t it?]) so I will address four major methods that I find important: transience, reliability, professionalism, and usefulness. I will evaluate these by relating them to the primary modes of communication by which folks try to interact with me: social media (which includes mostly Facebook and Twitter), SMS, telephone, IM, and email; then I will attempt to give my assessment of each by the aforementioned standards. Afterwards, I will outline my personal communication standards (so that you can then continue to ignore, causing me untold grief).

Transience

For me, transience really boils down to two essential parts: the duration of time the message remains available and the duration of time it can be usefully maintained. Social media, for example, has moderate transience by the former scale—messages sent last for a reasonably long time—but a damnably low rating by the latter—it is nigh impossible to find the right message when needed. Email has excellent transience in both categories. Telephone calls have virtually none. IM, as I use it, has fairly high, albeit unreliable, transience (I log almost all messages that hit my laptop, but none that hit my mobile phone), whereas SMS has falls fairly in the middle. Were I to organize the communication modes from highest to least transience, it would be:

Transience
Highest Email
IM
SMS
Social media
Lowest Telephone

Reliability

The reliability of a mode of communication should focus both on whether or not the messages arrive reliably and on if there is a way to establish whether or not communication has been made. By these measures, a phone call is clearly the winner; either you have made connection and had a communication (which is profoundly reliable in this age of mobile phone technology) or you have not; very little room for ambiguity. IM does an excellent job of providing reliability only when used synchronously—when used asynchronously, there is literally NO way of knowing if a message has even landed, and the reliability of message logging is severely suspect. I often have the following situation occur: I leave my computer on, it collects tons of IMs, I suspend my laptop without having read them, then when Ubuntu decides it doesn’t like waking up from suspend I never see those messages at all. Messy. SMS has far too high a failure rate to be considered even slightly reliable, and social media has such a high level of noise in the signal (in volume alone, even if one ignores spam) that it is easy for messages to be missed (“What’s that, you tried to contact me? I’m sorry, my friend Jen decided she needed nails for her WhoreFarm or whatever”). Add to that the fact that most social media is treated as a toy, often social media messages are the first ones ignored when things get busy. Organizing by reliability, then, would look like this:

Transience Reliability
Highest Email Telephone
IM Email
SMS IM
Social media Social media
Lowest Telephone SMS

Professionalism

Ignoring, for the moment, the simple appearance of professionalism, I would prefer to focus on the accoutrements of professionalism: does it allow for one to get the job done? By that measure, SMS and social media fall woefully short—SMS due to character lengths and difficulties in collaboration and social media due to the platform specific nature and quirks like character limitations, difficulties collaborating, etc. Various IMs suffer the same problem as do social media methods—you have to hope the person you need uses that platform and they use it regularly enough for it to be reliable. At this point, though, everyone has a phone and virtually everyone has an email—and those are cross-platform, so individuals on Verizon’s service can speak to those on TMobile; folks who use GMail can speak to those on Hotmail. Email and telephony are the hands-down winners in this respect.

If you then factor back in the appearance of professionalism, there’s no question that communications via Facebook or Twitter (or even SMS) suffer from the suggestion of trivialness. Indeed, Facebook and Twitter are often outright banned by many employers.

Transience Reliability Professionalism
Highest Email Telephone Telephone
IM Email Email
SMS IM IM
Social media Social media Social media
Lowest Telephone SMS SMS

Usefulness

This is the most vague category, but possibly the most important. Usefulness, as I’m defining it here, means how effective is it in helping communication happen. Asynchronous modes of communication are, necessarily, the most useful in my experience, as they allow the recipient of the communication the power to decide under what circumstances things are continued. Text-based asynchronous communications are better still, if one wants to maximize the possible opportunities by which communication can continue. When I’m sitting in a meeting or lying in bed next to my sleeping wife, I am unlikely to answer a phone call or listen to a voice mail. I can, however, glance at an email, text, tweet, or IM and determine what the degree of urgency is. I can even give complete or partial responses in such cases—something as simple as “call you back in 20 minutes, in a meeting” can be of inestimable value. There is a certain sacrifice that is made by losing tone and vocal cadence, just as on the phone body language cues are lost; but that is a small price to pay for such a large degree of convenience and usefulness (and, as often happens, conversations can be moved into verbal modes as a result of successfully making contact via a more useful method.)

The usefulness can further be ascertained by additional features, such as enhanced formatting, ability to include links and/or attachments, ability to collaborate, etc. Clearly, methods with more features would be more useful, so long as those features don’t IMPEDE conversation. If all of this is to be assumed accurate (and why wouldn’t I assume myself correct) then the hierarchy would favor asynchronous communication modes in a fairly arbitrary way:

Transience Reliability Professionalism Usefulness
Highest Email Telephone Telephone Email
IM Email Email Social media
SMS IM IM IM
Social media Social media Social media SMS
Lowest Telephone SMS SMS Telephone

Results

Assigning not-entirely-but-awfully-close-to-arbitrary values to these rankings allows me to mathematically estimate the overall “worthiness” of a form of communication for general, professional purposes…for doing work, that is. Treating the top two boxes as generally comparable and therefore both worth 3 points, the next box as worth 2 point, the next as worth 1, and the bottom ranking as worth 0, we end up with the following scoring:

Transience Reliability Professionalism Usefulness Overall
3 Email Telephone Telephone Email Email (12)
3 IM Email Email Social media IM (9)
2 SMS IM IM IM Telephone (6)
1 Social media Social media Social media SMS Social Media (5)
0 Telephone SMS SMS Telephone SMS (3)

The results I find relatively unsurprising as I strongly prefer email and I’m confident that my approach and the measures I chose to include heavily weight things in my preferred form’s favor. The questions I have for the reader, then, include: What measures are important to you? Should I have weighted these differently? Should I have included other measures? Recognizing the statistical instability of this ludicrously unscientific model, should I not have used a top-two box? Comment below and let me know!

Communicating with Me

Regardless of the above, the realities of contacting me are pretty straightforward. Email is beyond a doubt the best way to contact me. I sometimes go weeks without checking up on my social media (and in fact pretty much never check the private messages I get through them), and I avoid answering the phone entirely. Often I get a voicemail, think “Oh, I’ll answer him or her later today” then remember that I had a call to return a week later. For anything important, send email. Also important, send email to the right place: if you send email about official Penguicon business, for example, to my private email address, I will delete it if it suits me or respond if I feel like it. This is true even if you also included a penguicon email address as well. I don’t reinforce bad behavior; if you want a response, stop cluttering up my personal email.

For “fun” communication (meaning non-professional, or non-business), SMS or social media is fine. SMS is more likely to get a response, and infinitely more likely to get a prompt one. Private messages should all go through SMS, though—I pretty much never check or respond to private Twitter/Facebook messages.

IMing is also fine, but don’t use it as a messaging service. If I don’t respond to your IM, there’s a high percentage chance I’ll never even see it. If you have a question, comment, or link to leave me…find a more permanent method.