Doctor, Doctor, please help – I have too many blogs…

As a fan of all that is “social media”, I tend to try new things and to start blogs – or at least promise to start them.

In my personal (that is, non-work) life, I have this blog on WordPress plus a Twitter feed, both of which repeat onto my Facebook page.  (I also have a LinkedIn page as many of us do these days – is that work or personal, though?)

I am a great fan of the daily photo site Blipfoto and have just taken a look at Pinterest and Tumblr too, although I have not succumbed to any of those yet.

At work, when I became IT Director at John Lewis, I also started a closed weekly blog for all IT Partners in JL.  (Well, it’s nearly weekly…)

And, in recent weeks, I have started two new social media sites.  The first was in John Lewis to support the roll-out around all our shops of our new “Retail Revolution” Strategy.  We put this site together in less than a month on Googlesites, with some great help from Google. It is intended to be fun and engaging, and has – in my view – been wonderfully successful so far, with many Partners around the country logging on to get more information in the form of the presentations and videos that support the Strategy.  They have also become involved in discussion threads.  We have had votes on which question to “Ask Directors” where several of my colleagues and myself have gone online interactively to answer questions.  We have also held a vote on which IT investments Partners would like to see made in the next year.

The other site, which went live today – and made me think about this topic – is another closed site: it is a Portal for the SITA Council.  This is built around WordPress and is the forum for members of the SITA Council who represent over 30 airlines from around the World.  This site has the ability to privately circulate papers and briefings as well as to start discussion topics.

Social media in both of these examples has the ability to link together dispersed business communities – in SITA’s case globally dispersed – more effectively than conventional emails, circulation of papers and relatively infrequent meetings.

Now, I don’t claim any originality for any of the above.  There are lots of examples like this that you will be aware of.  However, what has struck me is the number of different social media interactions I now have – now not just in the personal space like Facebook and Twitter, but now in the business space as well.

Technology is breaking down barriers both of geography and time: we are indeed connected any time and anywhere.  It is also breaking down the barriers between personal and work in terms of interaction.  But how many social media entries can you – and should you – make?

Why I love blipfoto

Another interesting manifestation of the current craze for social networking is blipfoto.

This is a free-to-use website, hosted in Scotland but with a global following.  The idea is that you post a photo once a day: no more than that are allowed.  Like most of the really good ideas on the internet, it is remarkably simple but also highly effective. You can post a comment with your photo, if you like, and you can post every day, a couple of times a month or whenever you choose.

There are some fantastic professional shots on there and then there are people like me who post, simply using their iPhone, on a particular theme.   The content, in my case, is more important than the technical quality – or at least that’s my excuse!

Blipping is strangely addictive and pleasing to do, since it’s a way of sharing favourite images and highlighting things you are interested in or amused by.  It’s a very friendly place too, where my amateur efforts have received only encouraging comments.

So in this post I wanted to share my enjoyment of blipfoto, in the hope of encouraging others to have a go too.  Initially, I kept my blipfoto persona separate, while I got the hang of it – but I’ve just recently started linking my blips into Twitter.

My first blip identity was Traces of Past Empires, which started with Columbus’s son’s Palace – the Casas Reales in Santo Domingo – built between 1503 and 1520.

The idea behind Traces of Past Empires was to take interesting (and if possible nice-looking) pictures of exactly that.  Since Santo Domingo blew my proverbial socks off last summer, with its staggering number of ‘firsts’ in the Americas – the first cathedral, university and monastery, that seemed a great place to start.

Given my long-standing interest in the Roman Empire, and my predilection for visiting Roman sites, I originally thought that Traces of Lost Empires would consist largely of pictures of wind-swept British fields with sheep standing on bumps where Roman or Iron Age forts once were.

I have got some great Roman sites – here, for instance, is a reconstructed Roman wine ship (actually it’s a river defence vessel) from the Moselle – but other ‘traces’ kept coming into view, like this one of the ghosts of transported convicts at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney.

Given that I live in London – which has traces of a lost empire at every turn – and also given the places I tend to travel on business, my blip journal has more than a few pictures of Georgian and Victorian statues from London and around the World. Here is Charles James Napier in Trafalgar Square and here is Nelson’s Column, but in Montreal – yes, that’s Montreal!   Other past empires do statues very well too: here is Charles Duke of Brunswick’s Memorial in Geneva, a magnificent lion at the former Dutch Admiralty in Amsterdam, and Yuri Gagarin outside the British Council on the Mall in London.

You start noticing things more and wanting to photograph them: here is Sir Henry Wilson’s Flag of Truce from the South African War.  You also start noticing similarities, so here is a Roman Road from Norfolk (probably built after Boudicca’s Revolt to surpress the Iceni) and here is the Old Mafeking Road in South Africa used by Cecil Rhodes (leading, with very much the same ruthless colonial intent, into Zimbabwe).

I think this is my favourite, a statue of hunting dogs at the Duc de Orleans’ Chateau at Chantilly – where delicious chantilly cream was invented.

I liked capturing past empires so much that I recently started a second blipfoto identity – Traces of Past Railway Empires – which is about my fascination with railway history.  This journal is just getting going with a view of the ‘Chatham’ station which is buried within the larger ‘Brighton’ facade at Victoria Station.

You see, it really is addictive!

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