Versatile New Blogging Tool for Non-Geeks

I just heard about a cool new blogging tool that sounds ideal for people who want to blog but need that process to be as simple, efficient, intuitive, and flexible as possible. And even better, it’s permanently free of charge.

Check out Qumana. It seems to offer all the core features a serious blogger would want, using a simple non-geeky interface.

From my perspective, it only has one major drawback…

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My Latest Recommended Links

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve abandoned my “grab bagâ€? approach to recommending cool or useful stuff to check out online. Instead, I’m listing those links on my page – a popular “social bookmarkingâ€? tool.

I know many CONTENTIOUS readers are unfamiliar with, so I thought I’d provide a taste of the kinds of items I’ve been posting there lately…

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(UPDATE, Apr. 20, 2005: Furl and Almost Perfect Together)

I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that my current approach to providing lists of interesting links (via “grab bag” articles) is not sustainable. I’m forever behind. I’m serious. In archive, my CONTENTIOUS-to-do category was up to nearly 225 items!

Also, while it helped simplify presentation to group items into topical lists, that approach also has disadvantages – namely, I could only assign categories to the list as a whole, not to specific items in the list.

My goal with my grab bags has always been to enable my clients and readers to learn from my never-ending learning process. However, it simply takes too much time to write a blurb on every item I discover that’s worth sharing. If I fall too far behind in noting useful items, some of them lose the value of timeliness.

So here’s my solution: – an amazingly useful online tool I’ve long overlooked…

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Media & Journalism Grab Bag

Here are a few items on the theme of media, journalism, and news that have caught my attention lately…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Out of the Rubble, A Public Housing Drama Rises, a three-part video feature from the Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2004. First-rate storytelling that works well on a very small screen.

Now that we’re entering the age of TV programming delivered to mobile phones, I hope more news organizations start producing and deliver more of this kind of content.

Read the rest of this list…

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Tools Grab Bag

Here are a few cool tools that have caught my attention lately…

Mind mapping: See what you’re thinking
, by Dave Pollard, How to Save the World, Jan. 5. Lately I’ve grown to adore mind mapping tools. This article is perhaps the best introduction to the topic, with no hype.

Excerpt: “Recently I’ve started playing with mind maps as a personal thinking out loud tool, to organize my thoughts and think creatively all by myself. I’ve always learned best by writing, synthesizing and distilling books and other voluminous materials down to their essence: the message, the meaning, and the necessary actions. So perhaps this learning by writing down style is the reason I find mind maps useful.”

YES!!!! That’s exactly why I love mind mapping tools, too.

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E-Learning Grab Bag

Here are a few items on the theme of e-learning that have caught my attention lately…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Experiencing knowledge to succeed, by Michael Jones,, Dec. 13, 2004. Excerpt: “Many in education – and especially many in e-learning – forget a simple truth. It’s not what you learn, it’s the process by and environment in which you learn it…

“Those who attempt to boil down information to a set of standardized learning objects that can be consumed interchangeably and acontextually risk losing sight of the contextual and collaborative elements of learning. Now, for some types of learning (e.g., procedural training), it’s perfectly correct and efficient to simply transfer information from A to B. This is simple knowledge transfer and acquisition. More complex learning, however, is essentially experiential and deeply contextual.”

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Writing & Editing Grab Bag

Here are a few items on the theme of writing, editing, and content rights that have caught my attention lately…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Any fool can learn to write for an audience, e-editor, Nov. 29, 2004. I’ve worked on a lot of style guide projects, and this article nails precisely a key point which is wholly omitted in most conventional in-house style guides: The first duty of the author is to write for the audience. A skilled editor is needed to handle the rest. Editing (real editing, not just proofreading) is not optional! It’s a mistake, usually, to expect most writers to be their own editors.

Excerpt: “Producing business text to suit a particular audience is a thoroughly misunderstood process. Getting the content right for the reader is the responsibility of the author. And in 99 cases out of 100, that is exactly where the limits of the author’s responsibility should be set. Presenting that content to the reader in its most accessible and striking form – honouring every nuance, but striking out every windy cliché and cavalier contradiction – is the other half of the exercise. That depends on editorial skill and judgement, and on the editor having the humility and stamina to check all those names, facts, details and dates the author couldn’t be bothered to question.”

Also, don’t miss e-editor’s Dec. 9, 2004 followup article. Excerpt: “Even after the skilled e-editor has done his or her worst, cutting and polishing like some dedicated craftsman in an Antwerp diamond house, the shorter, clearer, stronger piece that emerges should still have something of the author in it.”

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Webfeed Grab Bag

Here are some items related to webfeeds that have caught my interest lately…

TOP OF THIS LIST: E-mail v RSS, let us move on… by Alex Barnett (Online Customer Experience Manager with Microsoft UK), May 22. Useful matrix, with links, which demonstrates why the now-perennial debate over whether e-mail publishing is dead should be laid to rest. Bottom line: E-mail and webfeeds are complementary.

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