My personal blog pretty much lies dormant. With so many other blogs
to write for, I'm often at my wit's end. What on earth is left to write
about on this last little blog? Plinky has arrived to put an end to that.

Plinky is a microblogging service that intends to put an end to
blogger writer's block. Plinky offers a series of prompts – questions –
that you can answer. So far I've answered the equivalent of  "What was
your first job?" and "What do you wear when you get home from work?"

When you answer the question, you have the option to expand upon
your thoughts and even add an introduction. After you publish to
Plinky, you can still come back and edit your answer.

Like any good social network, you can follow others and people can
follow you. On Plinky, interacting with others is sort of like a
virtual brainstorming session, helping you to piggyback and learn from
the ideas of your friends.

When you've written your short Plink, you can publish it to Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.

Founder Jason Shellen told VentureBeat that he started Plinky to help fight blogger’s block. “After years of blogging, it turns out I’m that person.”

(re-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs |

Dear Santa …

11 December 2008

From today's Shoebox Greetings blog

Shoebox Greetings Random Russ
 | Posted by | Categories: Weblogs |

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this class has been postponed as of 11/11/08.


Well, it’s official. Write Technology (that’s me) is offering a class on The Art of Blogging


Here’s the thing – there are a lot of people out there who have blogs, but they don’t know how to really use them.  You see, there’s a lot that goes into writing a blog. You need to know who your audience is, understand what they want, and find your own unique blogging style. This 4-hour seminar focuses on just that – content creation and everything that goes with it. The course is geared towards business blogging, both large and small, but anyone is welcome to attend.

We don’t just talk at you; the class is an engaging discussion to help you improve your blog.

1. What is a blog?
this portion of the class, we’ll define blogging, understanding what
makes blogs different from your average web site. We’ll discuss what
blogs you enjoy, and why. What makes you participate? We’ll talk about
the ROI of corporate blogging and review some successful corporate
2. Blogging Goals
At this point, we’ll
define goals for your blog. There are a few goals you should always
have. What else do you want to get from your blog? What are your ideas
for reaching these goals?
3. Blogging Voice
this section, we’ll define and understand your audience and your style.
What does your audience want to hear? How do they want to hear it?
We’ll work to understand subtle marketing on a blog and developing your
conversational style. We’ll also dive into sharing opinions on blogs,
and whether you want to share them with your readers.
4. Content
most important thing on a blog is content. We’ll talk about where to
find it and how much to research. We’ll discuss consistency, quantity,
and quality. Curious as to where to find images that you can legally
use on your blog? We’ll cover that too. Finally, we’ll review how to
deal with proprietary information and blogging about your company.
5. Blogging Etiquette
cover the 10 Commandments of Blogging, as well as other tips and
tricks, including page breaks, linkbacks, internal links, corrections,
and citations. We’ll also talk about comment moderation and dealing
with negative commenters and criticism.
6. Quick Tips for Growing Your Blog with New Media
finish the day with the phenomenon of talking to yourself, etiquette
for commenting on other blogs, understanding tagging, and some basic
SEO principles. We’ll also cover RSS feeds in more detail.


new comfort level and knowledge for maintaining your blog, participant
guide, access to a private class-only wiki for on-going discussion.

Cost & Payment:
course, regularly $199, is being offered at the introductory rate of
$179 through November 1. The rate returns to $199 on November 2, so
sign up soon!

Credit card accepted via Paypal. To pay with a check by mail or at the door, please contact
Credit cards will not be accepted day-of.

Download a course outline.

November 18, 8 am – noon

Hamilton County Business Center
1776 Mentor Avenue
Suite 160
Cincinnati, OH 45212

How much?
The cost is $179 through November 1. After that, the price goes up to $199.
You can register online and pay via Paypal. Alternatively, you can contact me and we’ll arrange payment via cash or check. Credit card payments will not be accepted day-of and you must be pre-registered.

Anything else?
Make sure you tell your friends and colleagues. I’d love to see everyone there!


Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology, on Twitter, Pownce, and FriendFeed.
You can also catch Michelle presenting on Twitter at the upcoming DevLearn ’08 in San Jose.

Just a couple quick, but important items to mention today:

First off, I’m dipping my toe into the professional blogging pool. Really. I’ll be writing tech posts on Brian Solis’s If you follow PR at all, you might know Brian from his PR 2.0 blog. If not, perhaps you know him through his book, Now is Gone, with Geoff Livingston.

As a side note, in a previous post I mentioned how Twitter flattens the org chart. This is particularly true in this case. Here is an author of a book I happen to really enjoy, and a leader in Public Relations and Social Media. I followed him on Twitter. He expressed a need for a writer on Twitter, I replied, and here we are. He may be in California and I may be in Cincinnati, but Twitter flattened it all out and made everyone approachable. I love the new Web.

Next, on Tuesday we had the first Social Media Breakfast in Cincinnati. SMB was founded by Bryan Person in Boston and is infiltrating other cities. The first Cincinnati SMB included Cincinnati, Dayton, and Louisville. I took some notes, but none of them are half as great as the writeup by Jason Falls, so check that out here.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0, Weblogs |

Blogging to Death

29 April 2008

Sometimes I get so caught up in my Real World Work that I have no time to catch up on RSS feeds. That means I miss stories like this in the New York Times. Two prolific and well-read bloggers have recently passed away, at young ages, and a third had a heart attack.

While it took the NY Times to come out and say it, many are putting this towards Type A personality stress. They blogged themselves to death. Particularly in technology, the stakes are high. You want to scoop other technology blogs out there, you pull all nighters, and you survive at your computer.

There is a direct correlation between the weight I gained this year and the increased time I’ve spent at the computer. Now, I’m not trying to scoop someone else (heck, I can’t even keep up with all my feeds), but I am trying to at least stay on top of social media. Every day there’s a new app out there and I try to get a beta invite and at least familiarize myself with it. That’s on top of my Real Job, which is, at this very moment, a technical documentation project.

I’ve taken control and made the decision to get healthy and spend less time at the computer and more time visiting the gym and eating regularly and correctly. But not all bloggers can do that – there is an amazing amount of blog fatigue and stress if you let it get to you. If I actually worry about it, the wine blog can get to me – I haven’t had an original post in days. As great as it is, blogging can have a downside, but you just have to take control and maintain a work-life balance. And you have to remember that it’s just a blog. The world won’t end if you miss a day or two.

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Weblogs |


17 April 2008

In our current [to use a buzz phrase] new media landscape, industries are overlapping. I increasingly see overlaps between marketing and learning. I find myself doing more than just dipping a toe in the marketing pool anymore, as use of social media tends to encourage a full dunk.

So I was happy to see it works both ways. I was reading Digital Next, an Ad Age blog, when I came across a post on "Unlearning" that I think is something we should consider in the Learning field.

The writer was watching his 4 year seamlessly adapt to using a Wii controller. When his mother tried it, however, she was unable to adapt.

And then it dawned on me. The technology itself isn’t difficult to
understand. In fact, Nintendo makes it painfully obvious that they
intend to casualize the console. There is very little to retain when
using a Wii. What is difficult, is the "unlearning" process. In fact
I’d argue that "unlearning" is far more cumbersome than "learning."
Through the eyes of my mom, I’ve handed her a remote control — one
that looks very similar to the same remote she may have at her house
that she uses to change the channels on her television. Her use of a TV
remote is a learned, patterned behavior, unbreakable and obviously
indistinguishable from a product of similar form factor.

The Learning industry is facing something similar. What happens when the digital natives outnumber others in our companies? Many people will need to unlearn a lot of how we do things – how we approach things.

Right now, it’s all still new enough that we sort of let it go when our attempt at integrating new media fails. For instance, I am part of a small charity committee. After our first benefit was over, I lost patience with the amazing amount of email and attachments flying back and forth. No one ever knew if they had the latest version of a document and keeping up with the changes in emails was next to impossible. So I created a wiki.

For over a month, I’ve been pushing the wiki. Posting on the wiki. Adding attachments to the wiki. Then at a meeting last night, one girl says, "I don’t like the wiki." Why? "I’m just not happy with it. It’s easier to use email."
Translation: I know how to use email and see no reason to add a new behaviour or admit there might be a better, newer solution.

Sigh. She’s only 30. But it proved to me that age is not a defining factor in adapting technology. This particular girl is highly intelligent and highly organized. But she relies on paper, binders, and email. This works for her the way a chalkboard works for an older college professor. Why put the notes on Blackboard LMS when the chalkboard works just fine?  Why change what works?

We all have habits we hang onto. I just really believe that in the next few years we will all need to adapt or be left behind. We’ll need to unlearn if we want to participate. We can’t be afraid to unlearn. So the question becomes, how do we cope with those who don’t want to participate? The girl who refuses to use the wiki?

 | Posted by | Categories: Marketing, Training, Web 2.0, Weblogs |

Blogging is Mainstream

18 February 2008

It feels like I go to a lot of conferences, although its truly only 3 or 4 per year. When the conference is learning related, I usually find myself talking about blogging, whether it’s in an informal meeting or an official session. What surprises me at these conferences is that so many folks still treat blogging as a "new" technology. (Wikis, by the way, get the same reaction.)

Blogging isn’t new. I’ve been blogging for at least 5 years now and I was, in my opinion, a late adopter. Companies have blogs. There are personal blogs. There is a blog for any topic you can think of. Bloggers are no longer the techies that walk around your business casual conference in t-shirts, jeans, and long hair. Bloggers are anyone and everyone.

Blogging is mainstream.

To prove this point, the International Olympic Committee has approved blogging by athletes for the Beijing games. Apparently, so many athletes were already blogging from both the Turin Winter Games and the Athens Summer Games that it was easier just to cede control. But not all control – athletes can now officially blog, but there are rules:

"It is required that, when accredited persons at the
games post any Olympic content, it be confined solely to their own
personal Olympic-related experience," said an IOC statement.

Posting confidential information about other people is also outlawed.

"The IOC considers blogging… as a legitimate form of
personal expression and not a form of journalism," the Olympic
authority said.

"Blogs should be dignified and in good taste."

The IOC guidelines follow concern that the games could
become highly politicised, with China’s human rights record, its
treatment of dissidents and links with Sudan becoming major issues.

They’re taking a chance, trusting that people won’t blog little political statements, but I do appreciate that they’re opening up the floor. I disagree that blogging isn’t a form of journalism (and I’m sure my wine blogger friends would concur), but it’s a start.

Now, if I can just figure out how to use my blogging credentials to get into the Democratic National Convention …

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Weblogs |

Twitter Humour

31 January 2008

I love this cartoon from the prolific Hugh at the Gaping Void:


Click the image to view in full size.

Hugh posted this back in April. I think that’s around when I first
found Twitter, although it took a lot longer than that to allow my
micro-blogging to often substitute for my real blogging on one of my personal blogs. I do blame
Twitter for my lack of blog posts. All my thoughts now get written,
stream of consciousness style, to Twitter. The cartoon, however, is
incredibly dead-on. Makes you wonder about 2008.

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs |

One blog post can affect everything from marketing to spamming to other bloggers. Wired has taken the time to detail the blogging ecosystem in an interactive (read: Flash-based) flowchart. Check it out – it’s very accurate with one exception. No matter how many keywords and tags I use, it tends to take anywhere from a few hours to 1 day in order to pop up on Technorati and Google and the like. Now sploggers (spam bloggers) and scrapers seem to move much faster.

Check out the blog ecosystem here.


 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs |

Last week I heard about a couple of sites where you could build your own social network. Pretty fascinating stuff. I checked out Zude and Ning.

Zude is cool, but I didn’t find it user friendly. It’s one to watch, though, as I think those ease of use features are coming. It’s still too obviously a content management system for my taste and truthfully, some experiences I had with some open-source CMSs have instilled a slight fear in me of the CMS.

Ning, however, is incredibly user friendly. I re-designed our family web site,, using Ning. For me, it was useful to bring in several of my blog feeds and my photos – all in one place for our family to see. That is really one of the minor benefits to Ning. I failed miserably at explaining it to my husband because I used it, used it well, and yet used none of the really cool features.

With Ning, you can build your own community. In a way, you’re building your own Facebook.

If I ran a book club, or owned a small store, or had a knitting group or any sort of group, I’d want to build my site on Ning. First off, it’s free. Second, they have amazing technical support. I got incredibly fast and personalized responses. (I found a bug, now fixed.)

What does it offer? Basically Ning is a content management system. You can build pages and sections for your actual web site. You can also have a forum. You can bring in RSS feeds. Your readers can join, becoming part of a community. They can comment on pages, on photos. Once someone is a member, they can then contribute their own information. You can create groups within your network. Each member gets their own blog. If you as an admin want to feature their blog or their photos, you can. Your own member profile can be used for whatever Ning community of which you are a part. You can customize your profile for each Ning community, pulling from your basic information, but changing the look and feel per network.

It’s quick. It’s easy. And I’m really impressed. It’s an easy way to bring a Web 1.0 web site into Web 2.0. Ning specializes in customization/personalization for each user. And that is a huge part of Web 2.0.

The beauty of any social network is the ability to have your members/users interact not just with you, but with each other. Ning allows that through forums, comments, photos, and more. It’s worth checking out.

Some great sites using Ning include the Wine Spies, Broadway Space, and Ask a Ninja.

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs |