Spreading content and the automatic cross post culture

Today we had some serious rain, it went on solidly for about 30 minutes. I really liked the wave patterns the water made on the tarmac, so I thought I'd try and capture it on video. I took this as an opportunity to try out video on my camera, which I've never really done before. I should have grabbed the camera's mini tripod to give the video less shake. I'm quite impressed with the quality, especially as this was shot through double-glazed windows. I need to get an external microphone for my camera, and then I'll be able to join the video podcasting scene.

I've also not experimented with uploading video to Flickr before, it's always just served as a photo repository for holiday snaps. Flickr have also introduced the short URL flic.kr for sharing pictures and videos on Twitter et al. This puts me in an awkward position, I've got too many options for uploading and sharing media on profiles and blogs.

Posterous have been experimenting with autoposting to external services and platforms like Twitter with APIs, just by taking any data you send to them via email. I'm able to use it for posting to any blog, my Tumblr and Twitter from conferences, so does that render other services I'm subscribed to, like Flickr, useless? No! I'll still use Flickr for my holiday albums but probably never for sharing content on Twitter.

How I post my content and where I publish it are related issues. I can post to any site and have it stay there, or have the content forwarded and posted to another site as well. I'm really not a fan of the cross posting culture that you increasingly witness on the blogosphere. I don't believe you can claim to be "plugged in" to a blogging community just because your posts are actually coming from one email to Posterous which pushes content to Twitter, your blog, FriendFeed and Tumblr (and maybe more). That's just being noisy.

I hate that I've used Posterous in this example. Posterous is not to blame for this cross posting culture, their service is superb, and it will only get better. The problem here is the people using services like it. They know that a greater audience will see something they have created if it is posted everywhere. What we've ended up with isn't just an echo, but a series of echoes. How do we tidy up this mess?

There are two groups of people I have a huge amount of respect for:

  1. those that are able to maintain profiles on a handful of the platforms (Twitter, Tumblr, Posterous etc) and post unique content to each, and to take part in each community's conversation
  2. people that can use FriendFeed to filter the real-time web properly, that can see through the cross posting culture, and have a conversation around any and all content. These people understand the echo problem and are working with a solution (although I don't think FriendFeed is necessarily the solution)

I place this cross post culture next to the issue of "quality vs quantity" because I think the hunger for a large audience is close to the root. If content publishers are struggling to get page views and subsequent ad revenue then they are going to resort to cross posting, just as Mashable does with their Tumblr. But as an individual that enjoys the conversations inside each community, what's your excuse?

10 lessons learned from a dog

Yesterday I had to take my dog to the vet for surgery on his ear. He had grass seed stuck down there, it had pierced the ear drum and become infected. Poor guy. Today he's feeling much better having recovered from all the sedatives and injections with a decent night's sleep. There are some photos of him looking miserable in a giant cone-shaped protective collar on my Flickr account. Once he's taken the course of antibiotics and steroids he'll be back to full health, free to play football and eat apples.

The whole experience kick started a wave of nostalgia in my family, and we reflected on some of the highlights of the journey from poop-machine puppy to 9 year old gentle-dog of leisure. We agreed that couples should have to raise a puppy without resorting to brutally beating it before they're allowed to have kids. If you get it right, a dog becomes another member of the family. It got me thinking about some of the lessons I had learned from having a dog:

1. Trust your instincts If the dog barks at someone, it shows his instincts are telling him they are not to be trusted. Over the years, this instinctual judgement of people has proved remarkably accurate. He's unable to formulate elaborate plans with his limited capacity for thought and is solely guided by instinct, but this seems to work quite well.

2. Actions speak louder than words Dogs can't talk, shame. That doesn't mean they can't communicate. Some of the facial expressions and gestures that my dog makes couldn't be made clearer with words, and the way in which we interact is based around action rather than words. This has made me incredibly aware and critical of the way in which I communicate with others, I can say less and convey more.

3. The carrot is better than the stick You can either motivate people by being aggressive or rewarding them. In the long term, a fair reward system works best as it will form a relationship built around trust and mutual respect.

4. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction If you over-feed a dog, a walk in the park is going to take longer as there will many more answers to the call of nature. Similarly, if you train for the command "fetch" to include mauling the object, don't expect to be able to use that for retrieving items intact.

5. If you've got lemons, make lemonade I gave the dog an IQ test. The test was a cube with a simple maze inside and food at the centre. Normally, dogs push the cube in different directions to shift the food around the maze until it falls out the exit hole. My dog has big teeth, a powerful jaw, and a small brain. He showed that he knew his strengths and limitations and worked with them - he destroyed the cube to get to the food.

6. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me Sometimes we play games where I will hide his toys and help him find them again. I can only use a hiding place once, he'll remember them the next time and visit them first. If I've not used a location in a long time and we find it there, he remembers and gets annoyed at himself and me for not visiting that place straight away.

7. Variety is the spice of life But variety is only fun to experience if your life is based around routine. The dog knows his day-to-day schedule for meal times, walks and naps. He enjoys mixing things up once in a while by trying to exercise those habits when staying at a friend or relative's house.

8. Keep it simple On a camping trip, the dog worked like a Trojan and dragged massive logs from where I was cutting them back to the fire pit. He had one simple task to perform and did it brilliantly. The process stopped when someone else tried to add extra roles to his return journey.

9. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink This applies to dogs too.

10. Some rules are made to be broken There are strict rules that the dog abides by at home. These include not climbing on or destroying any furniture, not going upstairs, and not begging for food from the table. He is not supposed to take any of his toys in the living room and play in there because of the carpet, leather sofa and various breakables. Over the years there has been a constant battle to keep the toys out. But by focusing his attention on trying to defy this one rule, he is prepared to embrace every other rule.

Some of these lessons are akin to an Aesop's fable, but how useful is theory without witnessing a practical application of it? I certainly feel I've gained wisdom and a greater tacit understanding of life from having a dog. I challenge cat owners to prove they can say the same. Keep your cheeseburgers.


Very very happy right now. Didn't sleep at all last night. I passed every exam, my highest mark was in E-business with 76%.

So now I'm in the pub, celebrating and saying goodbye to the international students.