Random Thoughts

Typical – I don’t post for a week and then I go and put two up in one day! This one is going to match the title of my blog and just be two random thoughts. If you can see any connection between the following ideas please let me know.

The first idea to share with you came from an article in a writing magazine that I subscribe to that talked about boosting your profile on Twitter. Now Twitter is something that I keep promising myself I will use more so I was keen to see what I could learn. However, as so often happens, you find yourself taken down a path that you were not expecting. What stuck with me most on reading the article was how one person was using it to write stories, his name was Simon Sylvester (@simonasylvester) and this is one of his stories:

They walked up the hill together, father and son. He emptied the little urn from the top of Wasdale; he walked down on his own.

I thought that this was such a great idea and couldn’t wait to have a go. It goes without saying that it is not easy. The constriction of just 140 characters in which to tell a story is extremely demanding. It has got me using Twitter. I am also enjoying just getting my journal out, scribbling a few lines and then beginning the task of fitting the idea into a story of 140 characters. Here are two of my attempts, which I know have got to get better! I was inspired to write the first one at the conference I went to last week:

The first power point slide appeared on the screen. Followed by too many more. As the voice droned on delegates lost the will to live.

He stood on the bridge staring at the water below. A trip he’d made every day for 20 years. Nobody understood why he chose today to jump.

Moving on. One of the speakers I listened to at last week’s conference was a chap called David McCandless who talked about information being beautiful. Now his slides were anything but boring. He has developed an amazing way at taking dry data and presenting it in unique and often beautiful ways. He particularly like to work with big numbers. The sort that we hear on the news every day but can’t readily visualise.

Don’t the numbers just make so much more sense. Have you ever wondered just how big Africa is?

In one picture I now have a much clearer picture of the true size of Africa. What a wonderful idea.


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10 Responses to Random Thoughts

  1. JennyD says:

    Hey, Mike, good to see you! I LOVE this 140 character story idea and I can see why it would catch a person up and almost become an obsession. You know who else is going to go crazy over that? Pen. She will love it and start to work on it right away.
    As for me, another blogger talked me into setting up a blog for my 2 cats. I did it. I’m crazy. I’m tired. I can’t keep up. Why did I fall for that? Now I’m signing in and out every other second and have no time to even TALK to my own cats anymore. Sheesh. My own regular blog will probably sit there for years without another post. Well, an exaggeration I’m sure. Anyway, here’s the cat blog but for heaven’s sake understand I will NOT be put out if you don’t look at it. Some cat people are just plain crazy.
    Oh yeah, and even though I’ve seen plenty of maps of Africa but never been there, there was something about this one you posted and made me sit up and take notice of the sheer size! Wow.

    • Mike says:

      Glad you liked the 140 character Twitter story idea Jenny. I am finding it a great way to pass some time in the local coffee shop.
      I was lucky enough to go to South Africa earlier this year. I can now see why it was such a long flight!

  2. metoo says:

    The ‘information being beautiful’ blog is also very interesting. Forces you to think differently..
    As many have said before me, Facebook is for family, Twitter is for friends, and blogs are for strangers.

  3. SethPopowich says:

    It’s Friday and the weekend is upon us. Here’s hoping that you will make the most of the next few days, make them count! Enjoy your weekend Mike.

    • Mike says:

      Great picture and quote Seth.
      One of the joys of being retired is that supposedly every day is like the weekend, but I find that there is still something special about Friday’s.

  4. JennyD says:

    Oh my gosh, I must have been half asleep when I visited earlier. I forgot to tell you that the information is beautiful video is fantastic! In fact, I came back to watch it 2 more times. Really a fabulous piece of work. I can see why you loved it so much. Completely memorable in every way.
    NOW I can say have a good weekend to you. It’s 20 of 4 in the morning here and I am calling it a night.

  5. penpusherpen says:

    I really enjoyed the video Mike, it has a compete ‘wow’ factor…( how can so much be owed?) and makes everything so simple to ‘compute’ in your brain from mere figures to recognisable comparative amounts.., (that small amount compared to everything else to save the Rain Forest?. ) and the map of Africa, I was searching for the UK..and then found it sheesh!! Madagascar…who’d have thought it?..Certainly not me…and I feel so small now… teeny, weeny, little dot >.< ( and here's me complaining about feeling overweight!! 😉 ) xPenx

    • Mike says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Pen.
      I am in the process of ‘reading’ his book ‘Information Is Beautiful’ – I say ‘reading’ because it actually contains very little text but is, none the less, fascinating. In the introduction David McCandless says:
      “In a way, we’re all visual now. Every day, every hour, maybe every minute, we’re looking and absorbing information via the web. We’re steeped in it. Maybe even lost in it. So perhaps what we need are well-designed, colourful and – hopefully – useful charts to help us navigate. A modern-day map book.”

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