Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Apologies for the silence

I’m afraid I will have little time for blogging in the near future. I started an intensive consulting project, and my ability to publish became limited to the point of non-existence.

Even when I have some free time, I expect to spend it on developing some of my recent ideas, rather than on serious, and therefore time consuming, writing. Presently my focus is on neural networks, which I find to be quite a challenging topic for someone with math abilities as rusted as mine.

I promise to keep you updated in case of any progress in this area, though.

Making a blog more interactive

Once I had the idea to provide more ways for the readers to influence the blog. I planned to give comments some independence from the posts and promote the best to a more prominent location.

Then I found out that most of these ideas have already been discussed and even implemented to some extent. I lost interest for a while, but today reading VC blog inspired me to do something about the topic:

And as I have said before, we need a way to elevate the best comments right up onto the front page. I realize that most of my posts generate comments that are way better than my posts. I want a simple one click button that posts the comment right onto the bottom of the post.

Bottom line – blogs are conversations. We need to start treating the comments like the important content that they are instead of an afterthought.

I made a start by allowing to view all most recent comments, as well as by providing a place for notes unrelated to a particular post. In the end I also improved the feed machinery a bit. The job took only a little of plugin-shopping and some hour for fine-tuning and testing. (read more…)

Blogging policy

I wrote a post on why consultants do not blog once. Among other things I noted that I failed to find any kind of blogging policy of my own company.

Nothing has changed since, however, in the meantime I found this blogging policy of IBM (pdf).

Seems I would be fine with it.

Introducing virtuous cycle

I did some rebranding this weekend.

While I’m still unsure about the best name for this site, I decided that the idea of virtuous cycle is the one so broad, that it will be able to cover whatever I will write here. (read more…)

Sony after all not affected by rootkit disaster?

Andrew Orlowski wrote an interesting story related to Sony rootkit case (Sony unsinged by rootkit CD fiasco). I am personally curious about the bottom line aspect of all of this, so it was fun to compare someone else’s point of view.

My take-outs from his article:

  • Sony’s sales were actually little affected despite a storm in the blogosphere and mainstream media
  • The vocal blogosphere population represents in fact a minority of tech-savvy users, while most people are well served when their CDs can just play in stereo system and their car
  • Lawsuits will hardly make any more difference since corporations learned to treat them as merely operational overhead, following Microsoft?s case
  • Sony can just ignore geeks and lawsuits and move forward with its DRM strategy

It’s meant to be provocative reading and it serves its purpose well, at least as far as I am concerned. Couple of points that I was pondering upon are below. (read more…)

Disassembling the blogosphere

If you are as new to the subject of blogging as me and trying to get some first insight, you might find this post useful.

After spending some time on looking around and reading various bits about the blogosphere, I looked back at what I was actually trying to find and created an issue tree. Let me present:

Blogosphere issue tree

Now, this may not be the most perfect issue tree around. The main question is not exactly laser focused. And there are no hypotheses. Some areas may not be there, since I consider them out of my scope at the moment.

Still, it works for me. I can use it to see what areas I already know something about and which may be still worth further examination. It can also serve as an agenda for some more writing, with focus on a selected components of the big picture. And I can always refine it while moving on. For now I?m happy with what I?ve got. But, if you have any issues with my issue tree, I will be glad to know your comments.

Let?s see what?s inside the boxes. (read more…)

Why consultants do not blog?

I’ve been trying for some time to find some interesting blogs written by other consultants. With little success so far, which I thought was perhaps due to my little experience with this whole blogging thing.

However, it seems I’m not alone, as Steve Shu had a similar difficulty, specifically in finding McKinsey blogs (and an original post here).

Steve’s blog, by the way, has been quite helpful for me in getting grasp on what’s blogging is all about. And it led me to some further interesting reading, like this blog by Deloitte?s principal.

Steve is involved in blogs rather professionally, so he is more about corporate blogging. As a reason for relatively low popularity of blogs among management consultants he suspects availability of other established channels of spreading “thought leadership” (e.g. McKinsey Quaterly), risk management (handling of confidential information) and still low blog readership among corporate buyers.

Anyway, even though corporate blogging is fine, I would rather find some less formalized blogs of consultants like me. Distilled and filtered corporate communication I have enough, thank you.

I was able to find a nice blogging “podium” set up by Accenture in Netherlands here. My personal favorites are of course the girls – Maisey and Rieta. (note: I moved this paragraph here so its position doesn’t imply the podium is one of those sad, formalized and filtered places, which it is not)

I was thinking along the lines what personal features of consultants would make them less likely bloggers than other professionals. Below I listed some hypotheses, based also on my own experience with this webpage.

Because of their time constraints
As a matter of fact, consultants are usually not the ones leaving office at 5pm sharp. Objectively, they might have problems finding free time for blogging.

There may also be time management dimension of this. Consulting work allows you to develop quite rapidly by itself. However, I noticed that, sadly, consultants often lack drive to explore avenues of self-development other that the ones connected to work requirements. Work requirements are always urgent and it?s hard to devote precious time to something which is not, even if it?s promising.

Because they want it to be perfect from the start
Consultants may also be inclined to set the bar too high from the start. After all, we are used to maintaining high quality in everything we deliver.

It refers also to me, but as you can see on this site I managed to fight this urge to perfection quite effectively. I also have additional difficulty with my ?do-it-yourself? approach, which is to blame for this lousy home-made layout:) (updated: I changed the layout, there is a screenshot of my original one here)

To be serious, I still don?t know exactly what direction all of this should take, whether it?s light comments about consulting life, preferably illustrated with amateur photos not to write to much, or serious analyses full of insight and analytical rigor. Or maybe I leave this blog under my name for the latter and create another for anonymous complaints about consulting hardships and existential thoughts that get you in the airplanes.

Start small and learn what sticks, that much can be learned from Google.

Because they live in a world full of policies
And there is still the issue of policy compliance. If your blog is not anonymous, you would rather not want to be fired because of something in it. You impose some self-restrictions on what you write, which doesn?t make it easier.

As for myself, I still don?t know if my company has a policy related to private publishing. I never made an effort to look for policies. This was the first time I did but haven?t found anything.

Nevertheless, after some considering I removed all references to my company?s name, just to be on safe(r) side. And I will work on some nice disclaimer later.

Website up and running

After having spent (too) many hours on the task, I managed to finally get this website of mine into more or less organized shape. I didn’t expect it would take so long, but a lot of things have changed since I was last doing this sort of stuff, and I forgot a great deal, too.

Nevertheless, it’s a pity that the end result is so far from perfection. Still it’s good to have something for start and improve gradually later on.

Please be patient:)

Yes I know it takes quite long, but I still need some more time to get this site in shape:)

Meanwhile you can browse some pictures here.

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