New Blog: InFomentation

All in all, I think it was a successful weekend. Looking back on my to-do lists, I accomplished many of the things I set out to do. Perhaps not all. I didn’t practice yoga on Monday. Oh well. But I did get the skate board out! Woohoo!

One significant thing that I didn’t include on my list, however, was launching my new blog, InFomentation. It was inspired by the research I am doing for an article that I’m writing about technology and social change movements. The folks at NetSquared have got it going on!

I’ve been sitting on the idea for a few months now, hashing it out with Gillian, letting it germinate. Well, Spring is here! Though you wouldn’t know it right now, its so darn cold out. But this weekend I was provided with just the fertilizer and sunshine that I need it to get that baby off the ground.

Paradoxologies will remain my personal blog, and InFormentation, while it will include personal reflection, will be of a more professional nature. I’m excited to be embracing this creative outlet more and more, and to be connecting with people and continuing to learn and grow as a result.

I hope you will visit them both!


Okay okay, so I’m a little obsessed with social networking sites. Just tonight I joined Pownce. I couldn’t tell you yet what it does, but I’m there. I think I can share more stuff there.

I joined Twitter a while back (like, in November), but I had no idea what to do with it. So I didn’t use it at all.

Within the last couple of days, two people (whom I know) have started to follow me on Twitter, so I figured i had better figure out what this is about and use it.

I’m starting to get it. It’s like a teeny tiny blog. You write 140 character updates about what you are doing. Some have compared it to the CB, which is an analogy I love. I remember when that was all the rage in the 1970s. When I was about eight years old, my family took the all American vacation, driving across country in our van. My dad got a CB for the trip. We all created handles. I think mine was “Pooh Bear,” being that I was obsessed with Winnie the Pooh.

I like the CB analogy, but I think that Twittering is more artful, more akin to haiku.

Information Addiction

Occasionally, Gillian wonders out loud about my time spend online. Am I an Internet addict? I described myself as an information addict in my online profile in a couple of places, quite facetiously, before I learned that there was a movement to include “Internet addiction disorder” in the next edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

I do wonder. As with all things, I strive for balance, and this obsessive-compulsive world of ours, it is hard to strike balance with anything.

I am online for a living. Every day I am at my computer, sometimes all day. I may be using applications that are not connected to Internet activity, but in the background I am listening to Pandora and have my instant mail program going in case anyone needs to reach me. I usually log into Facebook because inevitably I will run across and article or web page that I want to share with my friends. I’m always logged into Ma.gnolia because I discover new sites that I want to save and share every day.

The computer has become an indispensable and incredibly useful tool. I couldn’t do my work without it. Like the telephone, it is just another utility that we all use everyday to help us communicate. But there are other useful applications for personal organization, which becomes more important the more information is thrown at us. Frankly, we need these tools so that we can sort through everything to find the really important stuff that is going the help us.

I admit to having days where I get sucked into the vortex of research, finding one site that leads me to many others. Down the rabbit hole I go. It is perhaps not the most efficient use of my time, and there has been more than one occasion where I really didn’t know when to stop. I convince myself that if I just keep on trying, if I am persistent enough I will find the piece of information I am looking for, even if I get distracted by shiny objects along the way.

Yes, I do want to find a more healthy balance for virtual life and real life activity. But I have been saying for years that I strive to find balance, between the professional and the personal, spiritual and civic, and it’s all connected. The Internet has facilitated staying in touch and getting in touch with old friends in a way that never would have happened without it. For me there is no separation. Virtual life is real life.

I’m sure there are people out there who really do need help balancing their life between time spent online and managing important issues in their life. I feel for folks who are neglecting paying their bills or doing their laundry or taking out the trash or spending time with their spouse and kids because the just can’t get off line.

However, I can’t help but wonder about the trend in our culture to diagnose every dysfunctional behavior. Does everything have to be an illness? Can’t we just take responsibility to change our own behavior? I think it’s pretty funny, perhaps paradoxical, that there is an Internet site and online community for Internet addiction. I scored 13 on the test, so I think I’m in good shape…but did I answer truthfully? I could be in denial. Honestly, I don’t worry about it, and I do feel that the Internet is something that impacts the quality of my life in a positive way.

The Personal is Professional and Vice Versa: Expressing the Passion of the Geek

Recently I stumbled across a blog that talked about work/life integration as a concept to strive for, as opposed to work/life balance. The word balance suggests things that are in opposition to each other. Staying balanced is like walking a tight rope, which can be stressful. I don’t want to stretch the metaphor too much, however, integration as a concept feels more sustainable and satisfying, not a struggle.

I am not out to change the world here, though I do hope to contribute in my small way to a cultural shift towards this noble ideal. I don’t think there’s any escaping the 9-5 for me any time soon. I am a manager where I work, so hopefully I can model leadership my belief in flexibility for employees to be able to address personal obligations during traditional work hours. I’d also like to institute nap time. One thing at a time.

Not that I don’t want to have clear boundaries around personal space and time. I occasionally bring work home, yes, but when I am working, I don’t like to invite the distractions of personal life there, and vice versa. I certainly don’t want my work to interfere with the sacredness of my home.

Nonetheless, I don’t want the personal and professional to live in opposition to one another. I’d like to find the best way to keep them in harmony. Work gives one a feeling of purpose. I want to know that what I do from day to day contributes in some small way toward making the world better. I also want the way that I live to make a difference, too. Where I shop, what I eat, how I observe spiritual practice, how I communicate with friends, family, and colleagues about things that are important to me.

I’ve been social networking for a while on various sites, in earnest for about the last year (it’s Larry Halff’s influence; he invented my favorite social bookmarking tool, Ma.gnolia which got me started). In my quest to find more opportunities for work/life integration, I am finding online social networking tools to be have the most potential and effectiveness so far. These days, I like to explore just about every social networking site out there just to see what they have to offer. You’ll find my favorites and the ones I use the most in the side bar. From LinkedIn to Change to Ravelry, I am trying them all (only if I find them compelling).

Of course they are most useful if other’s use them, too. Can you imagine using FaceBook for anything other than communicating with friends? This is the site that I am using the most for simply networking these days. Mostly it’s silly stuff; virtually blowing kisses and serenading each other, comparing knowledge of movie trivia, and my favorite these days is playing Scrabulous, though I hear rumor that it will soon be unavailable due to copyright infringement. Mostly I’m using FB because I have many friends who do, and it is fun to stay in touch with them. But I’m also finding that many people that I work with are using FB, and it is also a useful tool to communicate with colleagues.

There are other sites like LibraryThing and Ravelry which actually serve a purpose besides connecting with people. With LibraryThing, you can inventory your book collection in a very sophisticated way. It has the added benefit of connecting you with virtual strangers who are reading the same book you are, or getting ideas from other people who have similar interests and tastes to help you decide what you should read next. Ravelry is for knitters. Here you can share your projects, get inspiration for new projects, and learn new skills.

Ma.gnolia remains my favorite, and in my opinion, has the greatest crossover in terms of its usefulness professionally and personally.  Though it hasn’t yet caught on in the workplace, I have faith that it will soon. I’ve created a group there for fundraising and philanthropy links and a group for development research (which I’ve made private because, for some reason, spammers were interested in it. If you want to join, just send me a request via Ma.gnolia.).

Online social networking is certainly not the be all, end all answer. Indeed, it has also proven to be quite a distraction. I can’t tell you the number of days I have spent whiling away the time simply bookmarking cool websites, trolling the web to locate old friends (which I have done with quite a lot of success), simply getting sucked into the vortex.

However, as an information professional in the non-profit world, I feel I have found a calling of sorts. I feel a responsibility, as well as a keen interest, to feel out the potential of these online tools to promote philanthropy and good works, to build community and share ideas, to find and maybe even help create the most efficient tools to gather and manage information. Maybe many of these tools most of the time don’t directly apply to the work that I do from day to day. But there are many points of connection. Out of a passion for growing professionally and personally, I am determined to explore social networking to the fullest.


Is it cheating if I postdate blog posts? I still haven’t mastered my time, so I’m behind in my writing. So I’m posting things according to the approximate date I began writing them. I hope that’s not considered cheating.