Sunday, January 16, 2005

Ben Franklin, Blogger

I am almost done with the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Aside from his pursuit of virtue, the thing that stands out the most is his constant use of writing as a means to spur public action or sway public sentiment on different topics.

His skills with written argument were honed in a small group. From his youth he belonged to a club for mutual improvement called the Junto which consisted of twelve other select individuals. They met regularly and discussed and debated various topics. They also wrote and read papers on different questions and topics. Franklin published some of his papers written for the Junto in his newspaper.

Throughout his adult life Franklin used the power of the written word. He published pamphlets and articles in his paper in support of many public projects such as public libraries, hospitals, the University of Philadelphia and others. His writing skills actually helped him secure positions in the colonial assembly and on many boards of directors.

The point is that the arguments that he crafted in his written works helped him accomplish great things throughout his life. I think Blogging can do the same thing for a person if they put some thought into it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Books

I'm working my way through a pile of books that I got for Christmas. I already wrote about First, Break All the Rules, which is now one of my favorites. I have finished two other books and am working on another.

One of the two books I recently finished is What the CEO Wants You to Know: How Your Company Really Works by Ram Charan. It's an excellent primer on business taken from the mean streets of India and the board room of GE. I think this book ought to be required reading for non-business majors because it lays out the basics that every business must master to be successful. It has served as interesting discussion material for the group of developers that I manage.

The other book I just completed is Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. I didn't like the fact that there are no chapters or other organizational helps in the book. It just runs on and on from the beginning to the end without any change in formatting. It's also pretty fluffy, but what do you expect from a mainstream book on customer service? In between all the fluff are three main points/steps to customer service: First, decide what you want; second, ask the customers what they want; and third, deliver plus one percent. These ring true to me. They are amazingly simple, but rarely followed. Too bad for us consumers.

Finally I have broken from my pattern of reading business books to read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. What an interesting guy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Another McNamee?

It is very rare that I bump into someone else with my last name that is not a member of my immediate family. Windley has blogged a posting with a Roger McNamee in it, which was fun for me. I feel sorry for people name Smith or Jones because they do not get to experience the feeling of uniqueness that comes from having a rare last name unless the move to Uganda or somewhere else like that.

I think there are a lot of underlying human nature issues and technology issues here. We all want to have our own unique identity. I guess my subconscious (until today) satisfaction in having a strange last name is confirmation of that fact. It is also fun to find someone who shares some unique attribute with you, to find someone who is wierd in the same way that you are wierd, like speaking the same obscure eastern european language or sharing a birthday.

This need to have a unique identity is part of the reason I am considering purchasing an i-name and causes me to regret very deeply letting lapse into the hands of some unknown dominican entity. I am who I am in real life, but this blog and i-names and domains and eBay ratings are becoming more and more important. They become a very real part of who I am. They are our present day Avatars. I am not breaking any trails by saying that these things will become more and more important as time passes.