Signal-to-noise, David-to-Dave (via Kathy)

Over the past 8 months, I’ve idly kicked the tires on Twitter — about eight times a month, I see.  My expectations were low, and for a while they barely got met.  Most of the people I follow, I have other links to.

Everybody's tweetin' at me... can't hear a word they're sayin'...The signal-to-noise ratio’s pretty low, though I think that’s true in most information streams: what you consider signal (potentially useful) can be pretty situational.

I was complaining earlier today about Mr. Tweet, a service that “looks through your extended network to help you build effective relationships.” (Unfortunately for me, that slogan reminds me of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.)

Have leapt first, I decided to look for suggestions.  Mr. Tweet will suggest “influencers” you might want to follow on Twitter.  Several were people whose blogs I read, but one was Kathy Sierra — whose blog I wish I could read (she stopped adding to it nearly two years ago).

So: a good feature of Mr. Tweet is that you can look at recent tweets from the suggested folks and think about that signal-to-noise business.  About five tweets back, Sierra had a link to David Kadavy’s blog — his post on Eight Life Hacks for Creative Thinking.

It’s a crisp summary of things he does to foster creativity in himself.  Several of them apply, I think, to anyone wanting to grow personally and professionally.  A couple I especially like:

  • Express your thoughts
    • “Minimize friction between your brain and the medium of expression.”  In other words, don’t just think — move on to expression, even if it’s only for yourself.  I realize that you can express yourself far too much (well, not me, but you know people like that…), but I’m reading this as saying: get it out, even if only on the back of a placemat and only for your own consumption.  Or, as those wacky Trappists have it, contemplenta tradere (“pass along the things you’ve been meditating about”).
  • Isolate.
    • This follows “socialize,” and the two engage in a creative dance.  “If all you do is socialize with passionate people, you aren’t creating much, are you?”  Or, as Kathy Sierra said a few tweets back, “Socializing plays a huge role in learning, but importance of individual practice is greatly/gravely undervalued in some areas.”
  • Invite serendipity.
    • “Put yourself in a place where something random yet magical can occur.”  In other words, get out of the house (or the blogosphere, or the rut).

Not a bad morning: Mr. Tweet makes more sense, and I serendipitously found Kadavy’s blog through a person I admire without having ever met.

And with that, I’d better align myself with his first technique: move your body.

Photo by mab @ flickr / Matt Blaze.