February 22, 2013
The Goal

I wrote this last year as a guest post for Byron at Bikehugger. I'm reposting it here as well. While I talk about cycling and injury here, I think you might be able to see how what I say applies to many things in life.

When you are a cyclist, life is often all about the goal. Sometimes the goal is the hill, the time, the stop sign, and for a lucky few, the podium.

Everyone is moving toward something. An objective that rolls around their brain pushing and pulling them past the comfort zone into the suffer.

A friend coaches athletes and his motto is "Train focused." For a long time I thought it was some new-agey bullshit. Kind of like the motivational speeches I've heard from coaches all my life, a purely emotional tug to pull that last ounce of energy from deep inside. I have to admit, that kind of thing can work, but the effects are fleeting.

Recently, I learned what he was actually getting at.

My cycling goals have always been stuff like beating my time on a local hill, staying with the fast group on the club ride, completing a century, riding cyclocross, and similar things that you read about in magazines. Most cyclists have their list of goals and ideas that percolate in their mind when they pull a jersey over their head. Staying focused on the goals is key to completing them.

But sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Recently, I crashed my bike. Hard. In a cycling trifecta, I broke my collarbone, wrist, and back. Leaving the hospital with both arms strapped to my body, pain shooting with every bump in the road, my wife's eyes still red from tears, I couldn't help but think about when I could ride again.

The first week I tried to do as much as possible, fantasizing about how to get back on a trainer or spin bike. And it was impossible. I literally could not feed myself and had to drink meals from a straw. Finally, my wife said, "Your job is to heal. That's it. Leave the rest to us."

At that moment I realized what Training Focused really meant. Knowing what you are trying to do and stop being distracted by all the crazy ideas. My job was to heal. My goal was to recover. Cycling could wait. And in reality, starting back too early would hurt my 'goal'.

Once I accepted my real goal, I could get back into my athlete's mindset and start focusing on doing what was needed to reach my goal. Getting enough sleep, eating right, ice, heat, taking pills on time, and even a little walking. Going in for the weekly x-ray became a event to be won, by focusing on my recovery.

Setting unrealistic plans of getting back on my bike too early, would have done nothing to help me with my real goal of healing. It's easy to be lured into the false goal of trying to be a tough guy that can ride through injury, but in reality, it's the worst thing someone can do.

Know what your goal is. Even when that goal is sitting in a chair wearing an ice pack. Work as hard to podium in the Doctor's office as you would on the road.

Posted by michael at 09:10 AM | Comments (1)
February 13, 2013
13 years of blogging - What's next


Last January 21th marked the first day of the 14th year of Cruftbox. I've been blogging for 13 years now. Clearly, I'm not on top of my day & date blogging lately.

I've talked a little about where my blogging has been in the past, and compared it to social media like Twitter and Facebook. But I'm going to talk about where I think blogging is going next.

First, let me define what I mean by blogging, since, like many terms, it means many things to many people.

Blogging is an individual's thoughts and interpretations on a particular topic, presented in a unified way that creates a fuller picture of the person and their ideas.

Not a perfect description, but close enough for my purposes. Sure there are the occasional group blogs that might qualify, but most could be considered group sharing, not group blogging. Metafilter is a site for group sharing, not blogging. Comments are not blogging.

Many of the popular sites may have their origin in individual weblogs, but have morphed into online magazines, newsletter, and newspapers. Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Drudge Report are all newspapers, virtually indistinguishable from print originated newspapers. Even sites like Daily KOS, Redstate, Talking Points Memo, and Breitbart are almost exactly the same as supermarket tabloids. They focus on gathering information and reporting on the information to their particular narrative for commercial purposes.

Some may quibble about my distinction, but they are the types that quibble about everything in life, so we pay them no mind. ;)

Social Media and your Digital Life

One issue going forward with individual blogging is how it continues in relation to social media, most of which is ephemeral, with an exceedingly short life of relevance.

I enjoy the social services as much as anyone. It's fun to get likes, retweets, and favorites. The majority of stuff posted there is OK to fade away. Your photo of a plate of pancakes captioned as "Noms!" is not going to be something your grandkids are going to frame and hang in the living room.

Social services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ aren't going away anytime soon, but at some point they will essentially be gone, due to evolution of platforms, trends, and relevance. Don't believe me? How are your usenet posts doing? Maybe your explanations in the AOL forums are still easily accessible? Or your witticisms on MySpace?

But there are things from the social feeds that are special, that you do want to keep, and are important to you. But you need to realize that those things will fade unless you are the one to store them away. And you need to store them somewhere where you have a modicum of control.

I think that part of the future of weblogs is as a scrapbook of sorts for your social media 'moments' that you want to capture and preserve within your own control and outside the remit of ever changing privacy and usage policies.

A few groups are toying around the edges of this, but I think it's going to become more popular to exfiltrate your social media content to your own blog so you are not beholden to others. Thinkup is a start, but more focused on the analytics of social media feeds rather than sorting and storing the nuggets you feel strongly about.

The cost of storage and servers continue to plummet, in most cases far exceeding our ability to create content to fill what's available. Also, the faith in 'the cloud' to store your content as a service you pay for, like you pay for gas, electric, broadband, and water. It would be fairly straightforward to offer a blogging platform that allows you to write traditional posts as well and store whatever you want from your social media feeds.

Talking about this with my friend Greg, he talked about assembling the individual 'atoms' of social media into the large 'molecule' of an event or experience. Being to save and store these molecule outside the volatile they exist now will become de rigueur.

My friend Eric Freeman used to talk about lifestreaming and how we'd end up with a way to keep track of our 'digital life'. Today, most of us in the first world are living a digital life with bits and pieces scattered across the web and Internet. Time for people to take control of their digital life and bring it together in a way they like, rather than the way developers in Silicon Valley like.

Posted by michael at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)