On WordPress, Thinking Out Loud and the Think:Do Ratio

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 08/11/2010

Hello again. I’m on the subway, tapping this out one handed on my iPhone. I have to be careful about writing about writing. It’s what I tend to do when I sit down on the subway without a desktop or Internet connection to screenshot and fact-check. It’s certainly hard to do the writing for my new hard-nosed pragmatic ShankServer Linux site. I’m tempted to pontificate about Linux and development methodologies for that site during these sessions, but I must resist, for the sake of the hard-nosed pragmatic audience who just wants to get to the tutorials.

So lucky you, I will endlessly drone on here for MikeLev.in. It’s more for me to clarify my thoughts, anyway. The real (hopefully) interesting subject-matter stuff will be on ShankServer, and the soon-to-be-launched WhatsaMetaFor marketing site, which will replace the HitTail blog, now that Blogger shut down their FTP service.

A metaphor is the most powerful weapon in the communicator’s arsenal. I think I’ll use that as a self-referential tagline–ha ha ha. My field of SEO is pervaded by boty metaphors and meta tags, so I thought I’d combine the two–especially with the re-emergence of meta data as important, with HTML5 RDFa and other similar things.

But back to writing about writing. There is a think line between writing and doing in as a knowledge worker in the information age. I have talked about that previously, and a lot of the writing is just along the lines of “thinking out loud” so that when you finally get around to doing, it’s all the more effective. Your “doing” is more effective than the other guy’s “doing” because you did more and better thinking. It’s the whole visualization thing.

But the pitfalls here are many. First, if you get too wrapped up in the writing, it’s for its own sake. And if you can’t publish the writing because it’s too proprietary, all it did was help you run your think:do ratio. Consequently, I believe that you should endeavor to publish as much as you can, even if it’s proprietary, which leads to the next pitfall–where to publish.

I recently have set up two private password protected blogs I’m launching for those aspects of my work that should only be viewable by co-workers or our clients. As it turns out, I have a variety of projects that I’ll be launching with ShankServers, and some of them are just too competitive to start sharing yet, but I have to think out loud to aid in development and inform my internal audience, and I have to simultaneously create documentation so the clients can use the tools.

I doubt anyone will read these blog posts in-depth, and they are in great part for my own benefit–just like this one. But so what! They helped me, and they created the documentation trail that is so often valuable in the field of information technology. People know what I have been working on and when, even down to the thoughts that guided WHY I am doing the work. They just won’t get the whole picture, because it is compartmentalized in a mixture of public and private blogs.

But that’s a good thing, both for me and my audience. Each thing I write, although I won’t have time for much editing (forge on, soldier), I will have time to sort. And sorting means I can cater to my audience and make a better experience for them, at least a little bit. It’s just like this article, on a site branded Mike Levin. People curious about who I am, can delve into my very overriding umbrella thoughts guiding my career, personal life, and the rest. But I’m not giving out he actual proprietary knowledge of work, or over-sharing the journal-like details of my private life.

It’s easier now than ever to run such compartmentalized multiple blogs. First, settling on a single blogging platform is now easy. The whole open source, owning your own data thing has played out. It’s easy both to run your own blog, and own your own data with WordPress. It’s great for SEO, and any features it has left out, are filled in pretty readily with by the robust plugin community. Locking down a blog to be secure for example, even though it’s not a built-in feature, takes about 10 minutes to solve.

After many years of being a Blogger and Typepad guy, I’m finally moving over to WordPress. It just got much easier, with the combination of a Web host using the wonderful cPanel user interface, and SimpleScripts seamlessly taking care of administration and upgrades for me. WordPress seems like the perfect candidate for a Linux ShankServer, but I’m very cautious. First, cheap web hosts already do it so well. And second, I’m not anxious to let MySQL live on a bare-bones ShankServer this early on. I’m on a light-touch and vendor dependency busting mission. MySQL is neither. Maybe with the SQLLite adaptor, I’d consider it.

In the meantime, I’m cranking out WordPress instances on a cheap web host that charges me for one IP and let’s me host as many websites as I want there using virtual hosts. I’m tempted to use the new WordPress 3 multisite feature, but again, it’s just so easy to make and maintain new instances, that I’m not quite ready to go off the beaten trail.

So anyway, it’s time to “cut” this post off. When I’m doing this thinking out loud sort of writing, I’m not so much trying to make a smooth writing transition for you the reader, but rather just finding the appropriate stopping point to switch over to “do” so as to maintain a good think:do ratio.