Monday, March 8, 2010

The Voice

I have to admit it: I've been skimming a book about blogging since being hit with blog envy from reading entertaining, killer blogs. Mrs. Fox sure can't turn away the cheap coaching a library book might offer. Still, am I hopelessly backward? Is getting a book on blogs counter-insurgency? Reading "Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies" (horrifically, printed in 2005) - and placing holds on other blog related books is pretty old school, eh?  But wait! If I have to put a hold on these other books, doesn't that mean there are other yahoos out there like myself?  I.....I'm not alone!

Sometimes it takes a book to tell you what you need to know so you can change things. The ego can take it. MY ego, that is.

It seems my "voice" is all over the place. My attitude is also all over the place. You, gentle reader, don't even know what you might find when you come to my Foxden mailbox. There are times I don't know what I'll find until the writing has begun. The variety of written voices and mishmash of ideas will have to do for now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Q: Shhh! Chop! Shhh! Chop!

Visiting the library is one of my favourite activities. I grew up going to library of my own free will and under my own power. I have many enjoyable memories leisurely looking through and borrowing books, and returning them – more than a few were atrociously late. Things sure haven’t changed much.

Over the years, my SOP for a library visit can be summed up by two words: Anything Goes. My book browsing always begins with picking through the lined up library carts full of returned but as yet unshelved books. The carts represent in microcosm the variety that the library can offer, and there really is no telling what subject you’ll find compelling until you lay eyes on it. On those library carts is a heady mix of chance and chaos. I don’t always select borrowing material from them, but they always deliver entertainment value by making me think about why something was borrowed in the first place. The only thing that makes me wonder more is just how many other library-goers harbour the dirty little secret of being drawn to these carts. I certainly never see them, but they must exist. Sort of like Carl Sagan’s Extraterrestrials – logically and mathematically speaking, but far more earthbound.

Now, my new favourite haunt is the Express Book shelf. It represents in miniature the newest additions to the library and runs the gamut of subjects and fictions. Damn if it isn’t tasty selection. I have a real penchant for social psychology books, and the book express shelf has given me serious food for thought. The latest find that I’m really into is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. A month or so ago I also read “Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children”, which wasn’t a parenting manual as much as it was the book “Drive” with a differing perspective and authors. They both have data and interests that seem to have sprung from some of Malcolm Gladwell’s own researches that produced his books and essays (which I also enjoy greatly).

The idea in "Drive" is that people fundamentally want to produce and perform intrinsically with little thought for reward, especially when the work has a creative facet to it. We’ve been poisoned with rewards, bonuses and little happy face stickers on our tests that we expect when we do well…instead of being encouraged to learn and perform as well as is personally possible. Paying employees bonuses and giving rewards only reward the cutting of corners and selling the future short, and encourages employees to only work when they know bonuses are involved. In short, bonuses or pay increases or rewards for doing your job only corrupts employees and interferes with “Flow” which corrupts any enjoyment that most people can have performing their job. And while employees need salaries because there are bills to pay and lives to lead, Dan Pink states, ‘salaries should be fair so they can be removed from the table’ – this is so the employee no longer thinks about money. It becomes a given so they can move on and not nag at them.

If there is something that should be given more frequently it’s feedback that is sound and comprehensible. We all know that most employees never receive feedback except at annual/semi annual review – if that, actually, and it barely rates as it's not time sensitive or even applicable. Feedback is the most prized “reward” that doesn't corrupt that an employee can receive. Think of it: Productivity could increase with a decent feedback loop!

A: Conan the Librarian