BlogOrlando Session Preview: Blogging In Product Development

At BlogPhiladelphia in July, we had a great discussion on Blogging And Business in general. At BlogOrlando this Friday, my session will focus on a smaller slice of that — Using Blogs For Product Development. I’d like us to think about and share ways product teams can use blogs throughout the lifecycle of product management. We’ll go beyond the theoretical and really focus on specific, practical tactics.

Whether you’re on a product team, lead a product team, or work with wily product folks in general, I’d like you to come away with some new ideas for how blogging about your product and process can flow logically from what happens in your everyday working life. I’ve listed some discussion starters and links below. if you have additional ideas for what you’d like us to cover, or would just like to introduce yourself, please come on by and leave a comment.

  • Recent user-driven changes at Palm and Apple
  • Lessons from Joshua and crew’s excellent product blog
  • How Agile development methods can lead to easier, better product blogging
  • Using blogs, your own and others, throughout the product lifecycle
  • Blogging through big product changes
  • Making usability interesting

Looking forward to it!

Ten Least Popular Boy Scout Merit Badges Of 2006

Or “Why Johnny Can’t Public Health.”

I credit with helping me discover a personal interest — potentially enlightening data points just lying around on the internet waiting to be shared.

I came across this data sheet on 2006 Merit Badges a while ago while researching some specific numbers on the membership of the Boy Scouts organization. They have it sorted alphabetically and that makes it hard to see the winners and losers, so I whipped up a simple chart on Swivel and here’s what it revealed — For what it’s worth, the bottom 10 Merit Badges of 2006 were:

  • Journalism (1,272 badges)
  • Surveying (1,201)
  • Entrepreneurship (1,161)
  • Public Health (1,123)
  • Stamp Collecting (1,112)
  • Plant Science (753)
  • American Business (717)
  • Fly Fishing (701)
  • Bugling (627)
  • American Labor (582)

Clearly, there are areas here that the youth of America could use some work on. The UAW and IBEW can’t be pleased to have whatever “American Labor” is ranked dead last. Robust Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Bugling, and American Business are all critical to the ongoing strength of the blogosphere, so those are troubling figures as well.

To be fair, these beauties have to compete with badges that are required for the Eagle Scout designation. Nine of the top ten are Eagle requirements(marked in the chart with single or double asterisks), but that only makes #8, Leatherwork(54,654), stick out like a sore thumb. What’s going on there?

Here’s the complete data table, along with the cumulative totals for each since 1911, if you want to cross this data with anything else.

First Entries Are Impossible

And they can slow you down more than they should. Time’s a wasting, and I need a new online home pronto so I’m launching this before it’s fully cooked. The comment and individual entry page styles are a bit of a mess, there are a few important features missing, and I feel like the front door needs a small infusion of warmth. But I’m close enough that continuing working offline is slowing me down from the main purpose for building this thing — to have a place to write things. So here we go.

A few notes on the design for those of you who care about the guts — I’m using The Sandbox as the codebase and styling from there. My goal is to have a cohesive design across this blog and all of the other content that ends up on I’m starting to like how it’s turning out and once it’s at a more stable point in its development I’ll offer the Extraface theme for download.

At this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the work of my lead designers, Toofis and Max.

I’ve been working with Toofis(right, with stuffed chipmunk) for four years now, but Max(left) is fairly new to the team. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Updates and weekend plans

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be using Vox — maybe this will remain a convenient place to use as a public scratch pad, or it could be that I'll want my new online home at to have all of that. There's a lot I like about Vox, but when the character of the QoTD's didn't really appeal to me anymore and my own neighborhood started to quiet down (with the notable exception of navelgazer, who keeps the fires burning in the trash cans) there was less and less motivation to come around. It never really bothered me that much that I couldn't take my data with me, but now that I'm starting to situate myself over at, maybe I'd like be able to take some piece of my Vox experiences with me over to there. I guess one way to do it woudl be to surface a feed of this there. I certainly don't want to lose track of or touch with my Vox-specific friends, but I figure I can just follow them via RSS either way, and don't necessarily need my own presence here for that.

On the other hand, I like how deliberately informal Vox feels. It's diaryish without being excessively so. There's no expectation here that I need to stick to some kind of deliberate formula or focus.

One thing I can credit Vox with is making Saturday blogging enjoyable. One of my favorite ways to use it has been sitting down like I am today with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, and publicly laying out what my plans are for the weekend. It helps me clear it out of my head, and my track record has been pretty good at doing most of what I say I will, or at least thinking it through. It's a more involved process than just going through a task review on a GTD list, and involves some degree of public commitment, consideration of presentation, and vanity. I end up thinking more about the aesthetics of how I'm saying what I'm saying as I write it up, more so than if I'm just reviewing tasks and picking what I can get to today. It's more constructed, in a good way. It helps me see what conflicts with what, too. That's a habit I hope to keep up whether I keep a presence here or not.

For an update from the other side of the house, there's this.

And here's my list of events, tasks, and things I hope to get to this weekend:

  • Today there's the East Atlanta Strut, which involves a parade, a 5k, local businesses, food vendors, drink specials, and lots of friends and neighbors. Heh, I mistyped "neighbro". Maybe I'll start to socialize that as slang.
  • More work to be done on the aforementioned extraface — I've done a couple of sets of revisions on the site part, and then took a little time off. It's time to do another major push, including using some of the feedback that you good people gave me, and styling a WordPress blog for it.
  • I'm developing a prototype to hopefully present at BarCampAtlanta. Need to spend some significant time with that this weekend.
  • My BlogOrlando presentation/discussion focus plan needs some attention too.
  • Raiders are playing the Broncos Sunday at 4pm.
  • LSU, my adopted college football team, takes on Middle Tennessee tonight. I may have to skip the rest of college football today in order to get anything done. But I'll catch some College Gameday this morning maybe.
  • There's a party tonight at friends' house. Hope to get to some of that.
  • Emails aplenty to get to. Now that I'm maintaining inbox zero I don't like to do much emailing on weekends — rather let everything rest for a while unless it's super-urgent. But this weekend there are lots of balls I need to keep in the air.
  • Sunday dog park of course.
  • Straighten, tidy, and clean, all of which mean the same thing.

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