lovehate: 10 Things I've Learned Since Starting Lovehatethings One Year Ago

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Lovehatethings and I figured Anniversary Eve would be a good time to reflect on the past year's most valuable lessons in my latest round of blogging. Lovehatethings is not my "side" blog or my picture/clip repository; it is my only solo blog.

  1. Subject be damned - I thought, when I first started lovehatethings, that I would try to stay on things tech and web culture with a dash of ephemera thrown in for good measure. I soon came to grips with the fact that no matter how I tried to craft a theme or topic for the blog, ultimately I was the theme. While I never wanted or considered lovehatethings to be a lifestream (and it's not) I was hoping I would have time to write longer sweeping pieces about pop culture on a more regular basis. In lieu of essays and longer reflections, the ephemera fleshed out the opinion and what resulted was a clearer scope of my views on culture instead of the culture itself.
  2. Staying current is currency - Having more time in the summer to keep up posting made the first couple of months easy to satisfy at least a post per day, and even when I have had little time to "construct" a written post, I have always tried to maintain some output on a daily basis (this is post number 483 in 364 days).
  3. Podcast or Perish - Lovehatethings is/was my first foray into podcasting (I know I arrived on the scene late). 98 podcasts later I've gone through scripted, unscripted, rants, recoils and rambles with the only expectation being that I would have a blast doing them and learning by them... mission accomplished.
  4. The medium is the message - In so much as anyone can put up content and hope that people consume, I really have to thank the Posterous team for giving me tools that allowed me to gain greater distribution control of content over the past year. Posting and podcasting by email, notifications, analytics, custom domains - anything I could've wanted in this first year was not only provided but made simple. My career isn't coding, but it does entail some heavy duty communication. I loved that I could handle the words while someone else handled the code.
  5. Buying into the community - My work with lovehatethings prompted a greater interest in the subcultures that are blogging and podcasting and social media in general. I attended Podcamps, tweetups, and become an advocate among friends and peers for social media growth and involvement.
  6. Words are not dead - As much as many web consumers seem transfixed with keyboard cats and memes-a-plenty, I have found more value in words over the past year than I have in a long time - and this comes from an English teacher. I do not, nor will I ever buy into the fact that a blog idea should be said in as few words as possible. The artistic sensibility in blogging should be found in words. While brevity is certainly economical, I don't read a blog or listen to a podcast to get headlines as quickly as possible. I want to be entertained and a well-crafted story, sentence, or turn of phrase can make the topic more enjoyable no matter how bland it should be.
  7. Fueled by stupidity - While I could easily accept others accusing me of this, I really mean to say that the stupidity of the world around me has really inspired some of the better posts on the blog. Whether it's a celebrity or a person who cut me off in a parking lot, disgust, disbelief and sometimes outright rage inject prose with a certain maliciousness that is therapeutic. It is also this stupidity, especially by people around the city, that inspired the Impromptu Podcasts that started up as a way to relieve the podcasting bug when longer written pieces were too far between.
  8. Readers and listeners are irrelevant - Not to insult you if you're reading this now, but if I was doing all this work for someone else, without getting paid, and agonizing over results, it all wouldn't be much fun. And it has been fun. I've always enjoyed watching band that were having fun on stage. I don't care how sloppy the arrangements or how many missed notes, but show me a band that smiles at each other and the crowd and I'll show you a crowd who smiles back.
  9. Plus ça changeplus c'est la même chose - As much as many Social Media people like to trumpet the vast differences between "new" and "old" media, the basic construct remains the same: sender to message to receiver. That the feedback loop has been shortened, when required, is an improvement, but has always been available even by Pony Express. The basic tenets of any media studies still apply: know your audience, know your medium, know yourself.
  10. The new web realities - Authority is awkward. Recommendations are required. Networking is knowledge. Parsing is premium. Cognition is key. And while some of you will recognize the acronym PWEI from a band called Pop Will Eat Itself, I've become half convinced that such is the fate of the web as bloggers write about other bloggers who write about other bloggers and somewhere in there is a fact or two. Facts are like Waldo.

Tomorrow - the Anniversary Post!

lovehate: The One Minute Lesson

In as much as I have trouble staying concise (especially when I get on a roll) the ability of a person or organization to convey a story or message in a short period of time is admirable. It is a skill that especially becomes necessary when acknowledging that learning skills are diversifying to include "snippet education".

I can't complain. Most of my knowledge of US History (being a Canadian) came from three minute Schoolhouse Rocks cartoons sandwiched in between the Superfriends and Laff-a-lympics. I suppose that's where I also got my basic knowledge of Parts of Speech, because Verb is What's Happenin'.

I do not think, however, that either extreme of learning can be sacrificed totally for the purposes of today's educators. The one-minute long Amnesty International video showing the different faces and horrors of war over the centuries is a fine example of making an impact in a short period of time. But, as much as we might like to believe this is learning in a minute, the process of comprehension and analysis takes us far beyond what could be termed "snippet education".

The descriptor "snippet", which I like to join to not only education, but journalism as well, doesn't really speak to a full education process in as much as an introduction of a concept. But that is really what the web is turning into, brief (sometimes very brief) introductions of concepts. The Twitter link referral often doesn't even introduce a concept so much as provide an advocacy gateway for the link itself. The greatest use of "snippet education" can be derived from elective learners, i.e. people who get to pick what they want to learn next. Quite frankly, if someone doesn't want to learn history or grammar or multiplication tables, even one minute is too long.

So while there is a constant push to integrate web2.0 and like technologies into modern education, there is often an inconsistency between the methodology and the pedagogy. The web has become the great repository of elective learning and, for that purpose, is unequaled in scope and accessibility. While education advocates have been clamoring for free education for years, the web can provide a great tool for self-instruction and free learning. The web and its like technologies are not, however, the be all end all of formalized education.

Multimedia can be great, but can also cloud a concept. As much as students are more likely to think an impactful snippet is cool or memorable, such an impact is shallow. The deep learning starts to arrive through discourse and discussion, which, on an individual level, could be facilitated by the web, but on a real life level is much better achieved through face-to-face interaction.

Someday all public schools will be able to afford the tools which will allow these methods to be meshed together seamlessly, but one or two computer labs doesn't cut it. Until then, a thousand shallow dents of knowledge is probably better than tabula rasa, but one or two deep wells of knowledge is probably preferred in the long run.