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An IdeaMatt Update 2010-05, The IT Crowd, TTL, and a Call For Help switching to Tumblr

In case you think I've given up on you, let me give you an update on what's going on here, and get your technical advice on changing my blog over to Tumbler (but still located here).


The main reason I went on hiatus was because this winter was a major life stress for me and my little family. It's now been a little over five months since my mom died, four since my mother-in-law died, three since my spermatocelectomy, and three weeks since my gum graft. Whew! As usual, I expect myself to jump back to normal productivity levels right away, but nature has something else in mind. I continue to struggle with this discrepancy. Fortunately, most of the post-op drugs are out of my system (my wife hates Prednisone, BTW) and I'm getting back into mountain biking [1] this week.


Consulting continues to be a heady mix of rewards, struggles, and uncertainty, and I'm still loving it and learning how to grow from it. In-person training and coaching is still slow, but picking up. Maybe the economy's turning around a bit. I'm in the early stage of an experiment to put on a local day-long seminar to gauge interest.

Products are still where I plan to put my main focus, including: 1) a solid e-book on meetings from a novel unique Think, Try, Learn perspective, 2) a nice little slidecast on email using my "Fewer, Faster, Clarity, Control" framework, and 3) a video recording of my 90-minute productivity seminar. In addition I'm in active discussions with two universities on partnering up for an on-line version of my full-day "Workflow 101" seminar. sI'm excited about all of these.

Keeping it light

To help manage the stress, esp. while exercise has been constrained, I'm inviting more humor into my life. I'm enjoying listening to Bernie Siegel's The Beginner's Guide to Humor and Healing (his book Love, Medicine and Miracles is good too), which is giving me a lot of Think, Try, Learn ideas.

However, my biggest discovery and delight in years is a brilliantly funny TV show from the UK, The IT Crowd. I love to laugh, but most stuff on TV doesn't work for me. However, this show is a delight. It could be you need to have a geek in your life to appreciate it, but parts were so funny that I had tears running down my face. My wife loved it too. Surprising, I find myself re-watching episodes because the content and performances are so good.

I've even gained a few pearls of wisdom from it, such as the Think, Try, Learn-ish quote "It does you no harm to look a little foolish from time to time." (Roy, S02E05), and the scene where the instructor of a stress class asks for a volunteer to demonstrate his machine. I love how the class applauds for her when she timidly stands up. Why do they clap? I think it's a sign of support, and an acknowledgment of her courage. Look for it at around the 1:40 point in YouTube - IT Crowd Stress class.

I'm widening my lexicon based on the character's expressions, which is a sure sign I've gone overboard. Highly recommended.

On Amazon: The IT Crowd: The Complete Season One, The IT Crowd: The Complete Second Season, and The IT Crowd: The Complete Third Season.

Edison development

I'm putting renewed energy back into Edison, the Think, Try, Learn experimenter's journal, with the focus being releasing version 1.2. The new features are ones we consider crutial before working on getting more users, including Facebook-style email notification when someone comments on your experiment, or comments after you on someone else's experiment. The meta-experiment is Design and Release Edison v1.2!.

We have some nice recent experiments, including a mind blower to add a sixth "EM" sense by implanting a magnet under the skin (see Have magnet implanted in finger - inspired by the Feeling Waves blog). You might enjoy others like Learning a new language, Avoid owning a car, Use Elance for a Commercial Programming Project, and Plant my first garden. I love our Edison users :-)

(Side note: I'm looking to hire a Ruby on Rails developer to implement this version. I have an excellent team in place, but our current developer is booked and I need someone who can fill in. Do you have anyone you've worked with that you love?)

Writing the TTL book

I've now jumped into writing my book, "Think, Try, Learn: A scientific method for discovering happiness," which I'm tracking in Edison. Anne Lamott's sublime Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life has been tremendously inspirational and helpful.

This was after I finished structuring the concepts using ideas from Writing the Natural Way (the process: nucleus word -> clustering -> internal pattern awareness -> emotionally charged trial-web shift -> impulse to write), plus your advice in Question For You: How Do You Organize A Book? The experiment was at Use Post-it note techniques to organize book ideas.

Help! Lowering the barrier to blogging

I would love your help on an experiment to lower a barrier to my blogging by switching to a Tumblr-based tool. I still have a lot to share, and I want to tap your ideas, but this current system doesn't support the way of writing that's natural right now: very short posts with lengths somewhere between Twitter and essays, but tilting toward the former. (These days, essay-length writing has to go into my book.) I'd use my Facebook account for this, but that venue seems better for the personal side. I've entered some sample entries here to give you a sense of the content and format I have in mind: ideamatt.tumblr.com.

My goal is to:

  • Write posts on Tumblr
  • Have new posts show up somewhere on matthewcornell.org
  • Transparently switch RSS subscribers over to the new Tumblr-based feed
  • Have existing posts still available at matthewcornell.org/blog
  • Not screw up my Google or SEO rankings
  • Continue to drive traffic to matthewcornell.org
  • Inconvenience readers as little as possible

Is this straightforward? I'm thinking the steps are:

  1. Set up a Tumblr custom domain name that goes to tumblr.matthewcornell.org (say).
  2. Write a "final" post on matthewcornell.org/blog that redirects readers to tumblr.matthewcornell.org.
  3. Change my Feedburner RSS feed (feed://feeds.feedburner.com/ideamatt) over to the Tumblr one (feed://ideamatt.tumblr.com/rss).
  4. Try and Learn!

What do you think?


Reader Comments (4)

I would probably use something like http://blog.matthewcornell.org instead of the brand of the blogging software you are using. You might change to something else in the future.

I would probably recommend going with Wordpress installed on your site instead of a hosted service. Your own version of Wordpress gives you a lot of flexibility and the ability to install plugins easily.

There are all kinds of themes to handle different sized posts. [ P2 | http://p2theme.com/ ] is good for Twitter sized posts. Other themes and plugins let you do stuff with [ asides | http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/asideshop/ ] or partial posts that can be simply a link or small amount of text with no title.

Those are just my thoughts. If you don't need the flexibility in the future, the Tumblr option is probably very simple and low maintenance.

Much obliged, Mark. Good to hear from you!

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

... for http://blog.morebetterlabs.com/ and have been very pleased with it so far.

Good to see you back in the blogging game!

May 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAbe Crystal

Looks good, Abe. Thank you.

May 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

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