‘Retiring’ teblog from Typepad to WordPress

Every post older than this one is taken from teblog – my blog that ran on Typepad from 2005 to 2015. The explanation for the move is in the topmost ‘Goodbye’ post.

While the transfer was reasonably straightforward (it was only 530 posts), WordPress didn’t like certain characters. In fact, it wouldn’t even allow me to edit any posts with those characters in. (They showed up in the public posts as black diamonds with question marks in.) The characters I’ve found thus far are the pound sign, the ellipsis (three dots), angled brackets, forward slashes and angled double quotes. If you need to do this, use these abbreviations – pound, hellip, lt, gt, frasl and quot respectively. Precede each one with an ampersand (&) and finish with a semi-colon (;).

[Later: It’s not happy with accents either. I found it most reliable to use codes like #232 and #233 for grave and accute accents on an e. You still have to start and end with an ampersand and a semi-colon.   Here’s a decent collection of character codes. Mouse over each character to see all the possible codes for it. I found the last one on each list worked fine in WordPress. ] Here’s my set of dodgy characters (there were 286 in the blog altogether:

Dodgy chars

[ Just discovered that WordPress has trouble with the em dash as well. I used #8195 with the ampersand and semi-colon as before. ]

Since Typepad exports a text file, it’s a relatively simple (although tedious) task to go through searching and replacing the offending characters. Which is what I’m doing right now.

Once the offending posts and comments are deleted from WordPress, it should be a simple matter to re-import the cleaned up Typepad file. WordPress ignores duplicates of what it already has. Tip: Empty the ‘Trash’ of your faulty posts and comments before you start otherwise WordPress will skip them.

[ Later: Darn it – I didn’t change cross-links to other posts – they still go to Typepad. I should be able to fix them inside the WordPress posts. I pointed TextPad’s ‘search in files’ at the exported file to list them. I copied and pasted the results list to a text file for a permanent record.]

[ Later still: It was a bit tedious – yet only 57 posts and comments had cross-links in them. You have to find the linked-to post to get its  URL then paste this in to replace the cross-link. If you have loads, you might prefer not to do a manual conversion and use an automated service like TP2WP. This currently costs $49. It’s probably worth mentioning that its security certificate expired on 7 Dec 2015 and you may be denied access to the service. It does, however, come highly recommended, so I assume it does all this donkey work for you. I’ve asked one of the co-authors about both things. Will report back here. ]

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Elastic writing is all very well, but…

Blogs and other online writing platforms allow people to write as much or as little as they want.

However, it shouldn't be about what 'they' want but about what the reader wants.

A well-known blogger recently wrote a very long piece making good, but very few, points.

I'd like to know how long the average reader persevered. I read to the end and wished I hadn't.

I was tempted to add the dismissive tl;dr (too long; didn't read) comment. But, since I had read it, that wouldn't have been fair.

I realised that genie is out of the bottle and online writers feel they can do what they like, but now that most of us are online, it means that we have to fight for the right to be read.

And one way to earn that right is to respect the reader's time.

Time for (blog) retirement?

Hi Folks,

I'm very seriously thinking of closing this blog. This one started in 2005, following some experimentation in late 2004 after hearing Adriana Lukas speak on the subject at a conference. As a writer for Information World Review at the time, I had to try and understand this new world.

In my very first post I said I wouldn't "feed the beast" in pursuit of rankings and, rightly or wrongly, I stuck to that principle. If I don't think I can inform or entertain you, then I don't bother.

Now, the posts are few and far between and, as a precaution (against tuture regrets), I have made backups of this blog and the one I ran for Guy Kewney before he died and for tributes after he passed away.

Other places seem more appropriate for my efforts these days. I add selected useful stuff to my tebbo.com website as I discover it and I still write on interesting topics in various publications – sometimes anonymously. I occasionally speak up on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. And Alison O'Leary quizzed me on Business Writing and Media Handling in a bunch of useful YouTube videos.

The question for my (very few?) readers is therefore, "Can you think of a single good reason to keep this blog going?" No need to respond if your answer is "no".

I'll just say, "Thank you for visiting and maybe see you in another place."

Kind regards,

David Tebbutt.

 

Social Business

Luis Suarez spent many years at IBM in knowledge management and social business. Earlier this year, he branched out on his own. He's a popular speaker at conferences and advisor to many about the practicalities of social business.

One of his recent blog posts about social business challenges in the workplace spurred me to respond – something I should do more of (like blogging) but rarely get round to.

Social business at senior management level is not always appreciated or understood. In fact some (many?) actively resist it. I tried to take the management perspective with comments like:

It would be interesting to know how many of the 'resisters' of a top-down mindset are in fear of losing their power?

Perhaps they've acquired it through inheritance, accident, shareholding — anything except merit.

Or maybe they consider that their unique perspective wouldn't be understood by the 'lower orders', even if they were to share it.

When email first came in, analysis revealed that many middle managers were just 'message passers'. People just started leaving them out of conversations and they were exposed and, presumably, moved out of the way.

It's a bit different at the higher echelons of the company. I guess the answer is to find those senior management willing to engage socially and show the non-participants the value (e.g. better understanding of what's going on — in both directions) and see if participation spreads. If it doesn't then 'engagement' should perhaps be raised as an agenda item at board meetings.

Luis' responded quite fully (and harmoniously) and my response to this included:

Agree with you. Including your point on the restrictiveness (ie non-social) aspects of email.

I think that 'effective working' should always be the goal. I worry a bit when the goal is expressed as 'social' anything. Social is the mechanism, not the destination. It's something a lot of 'evangelists' (not you, of course) seem to miss.

He responded again so, if you have any interest in the subject of social business practicalities, I really urge you to add Luis' blog to your list of thought leaders in this area. He's widely known as Elsua, if you want to search for him. (Saves you ending up with loads of footballer hits.)

Something for would-be writers and spokespeople

Videos

Tebbo's Tips

All the above are free.They help you get started with handling the media or with business writing.

I created them because organisations need to influence their prospects, customers and other stakeholders either indirectly through the media or directly through their own efforts, whether they're self-published (company website/blog) or through submission to a media company. (See Tom Foremski's EC=MC: Every Company is a Media Company if you want to read more.)

The top image links to two videos, each broken down (if you want) into eight mini-videos of approximately two to five minutes duration. The bottom two link to downloadable pocket-sized memory-joggers. (They're actually A4 and come with printing and folding instructions.) If you prefer, just go to tebbo.com which also includes some useful links.

I offer all of this free of charge. In one respect it's me 'giving back' and sharing my knowledge. In another, I hope they reflect favourably on me and my work and attract people who'd like me to work with them. They're all Creative Commons – share by all means, but please don't alter them.

The videos are hosted on YouTube and the memory joggers are hosted on Google Drive. I had some fun writing the delivery script for the Tebbo's Tips memory-joggers, but that's another story.

I hope you enjoy what you see. I showed a few of my more critical friends and they've been very kind.

I'm enormously grateful to Alison O'Leary for agreeing to work out some questions and grill me for the videos. And, of course, to all those customers, friends and colleagues that have helped me throughout a most enjoyable career. Which, incidentally, I hope is far from over.

Blog navel gazing over

My last blog post prompted Euan Semple to post two more of his own. These grabbed far more attention than mine and led to some interesting debate, much of it on Facebook where he's recently taken to repeating his blog posts.
 
Before Euan got involved, I was getting an even mix of opinions. Some who thought I was right to not post much, if at all, and others who thought I was mad to even think of stopping. Then, when Euan got involved – the first time to share my angst, the second time to rail against someone who said "blogging is just showing off". (One riposte to that was the sensible, "Blogging is so varied you can't make blanket statements.")
 
Let's cluster some representative comments. Draw your own conclusions.
 
First of all, why blog at all?

  • Your blog is your gravitational centre
  • Write for your community
  • My community is so small we may as well meet down the pub
  • My community is global, we can't meet down the pub
  • I'm going to move back to my blog to serve my interests rather than some IPO'ed profit engine's
  • If I post knowledgeable/interesting stuff it leads to opportunities
  • Writing forces me to think and get feedback
  • Co-creation results in greater/deeper insights
  • Co-existent thoughts rob dominant thoughts of power

And here are some tips for would-be bloggers

  • Don't do it if your heart's not in it
  • Be selective and deliver gold
  • Be an example of good writing
  • You stand or fall by your content
  • Get people to think, not tell them what to think

Some commercial organisations see blogging and commenting as an obligation. (See the 'heart' comment above.) Someone suggested it's a publishing strategy, just like the pamphleteers of old but with the world as their potential audience.
 
When I was an established columnist, Dave Winer wrote his first blog post. I remember thinking "Who does he think he is?" One of Euan's comments took me right back to that moment. But it's only now, 19 years later, that it's dawned on me what irritated me so much. It was his use of the first person. He was writing as himself, as if he were important. In several years as an editor, writer and columnist, I always tried to avoid the first person. My attitude was "I'm not here to promote myself" (except through the byline, which few people notice).
 
I have a massive list of more great comments eked from the Euan posts, but I'd like to conclude this post with a rather elegant contribution from Vicky Smith (reproduced with her permission). Thank you Vicky. Here goes:
 

"Blogging offers egotistical natures a platform to broadcast and attention seek. For others, it's a release of private thoughts in a more therapeutic manner (one could maybe say both make the blogger feel better). For others again it's for money… This discussion has prompted me to think of blogging like art or painting, a form of self expression, which just happens to be shareable online. I'm sure many artists would like their work seen more, be it for making money or for ego, others less so because it's more a private hobby for personal reasons. It all just depends. We're all different, and it's a platform for expressing those differences, if one so wishes in whatever way one wants."

 

Why I (don’t) blog

Anyone who follows me will notice I don't blog much any more. The overriding feelings I have are a) I don't want to add to the noise and b) I don't want to use it as a sales platform.

This means I will only post if I have something original to share that I think will interest/help my readers.

Does that make sense to you? Or am I barking mad?