Weekend

So the weekend was spent in a relaxed way in the city, we both were kind of exhausted and the weather wasn’t much to cheer for which meant we cancelled the planned teaching-allison-to-bike session.

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On Saturday we visited the quirky Museum of Musical Instruments on the Mont des Arts. The name pretty much describes what it is – a nice twist was that they gave you a pair of headphones that would tune in to samples of the instruments as you walked by them.

The roof of this beautiful art nouveau house has been turned into a restaurant where you get an amazing view of Brussels – clearly this place is something to visit if you’re in Brussels over a couple of days.

Sunday was spent working and reading and in the evening watching the football. As most people who know me would contest to I’m fairly uninterested in football but I have followed Allison as a support in the Irish sportspubs when she’s been the lone person cheering for Russia amid huge groups of Dutch and Spaniards. Too bad for Russia they just weren’t good enough.

Productivity: Intro

Up until a month or so ago (some weeks before I came to Belgium) I was having quite a huge workload. I probably spent somewhere around 20 hours per day working, 7 days per week.

A lot of that work was very interrupt-driven, I would get e-mails, phone calls (constantly), people asking me for stuff and so on. All this lead me to the necessity of developing a system for my own productivity and how to handle all this input.

I read a lot before finding my way of managing it and the tools for me to do so, but mostly it is the system that David Allen outlines and calls Get to Done. I still am just beginning to get it all working, but for the next couple of weeks I figured I would outline how I have been working with this.

For this first one I will just post some links to blogs that inspired me on my way to start discovering my own ways of dealing with life

Busy language learning

I was thinking today about one of my future goals which is to become fluent in French and Chinese. In both languages I have a basic understanding, in French I can read whereas in Chinese I have a bigger spoken vocabulary.

However, I would need a daily practice of speaking. So I have been thinking about tandem partners and the like, but it’s not really possible for me to meet someone regularly enough right now nor can I attend classes.

So, ChinesePod and FrenchPod are great alternatives for vocabulary and listening. But what about tandem-practice? Being a technophile I naturally think about technical solutions to solve this. So, why not hook up a website/facebook widget that would connect with Rebtel so that you could meet a language partner and then speak with them for 10-15 minutes each day?

3 competencies needed to be successful online…

I have somehow repeatedly over the last few years ended up working with promoting stuff/places/services/peoples online, and it has caused me time and time again realize that there are some competencies that anyone who thinks internet will be a big part of their lives needs to handle:

  • Being offline

    You need to be able to create attention, contacts, networks offline. Some of the most successful people online also possess great respect offline. This encompasses everything from networking, presentations, negotiations etc.

  • Being searchable

    Search engines control the user experience of most regular users of the Internet. Spend some time and money on learning how to position and advertise yourself online. Learn about SEO, SEM, Adwords, Facebook advertising or whatever ticks you. Start a small webpage and promote that.
  • Being social

    Learn how to interact with the Internet, don’t just be a visitor of websites, interact with them. Start a small blog, comment on others, develop a good MSN/Facebook/LinkedIn/whatever account with your contacts. Stay in touch with them, communicate and then allow your network to enable what you do – from gathering input to promoting your product.

Even if you’re not going to work in the search engine marketing industry, or going to blog-for-profit, I find these skills to be useful for any project online – the amateur as well as the professional.

Now I should get back to work honing my own competencies in these areas 🙂

Launching Bobex.se

After two weeks at Bobex it’s now high time to announce Bobex.se – the Swedish B2B marketplace for products and services.

Below is a snapshot of how the website looks right now:

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Within the next year, my task is to make this site the leading B2B marketplace in Sweden. I’ll keep you updated here on how it goes :). In the meantime – visit the website and if you or anyone you know have a need to buy services or products, then you know where to go (or point them!).

A course search engine?

Today I have been spending most of the morning searching for courses for my girlfriend Allison. She needs to find a sociology course in Belgium to complete her bachelor degree. This is a long and tedious process – first finding all the universities, then looking up the course directories and then finding the appropriate course.

So an idea struck me – why isn’t there a search engine that combines all these course catalogues into a single search engine? Most course catalogues are published online, they should be easily crawlable and eventually you might even get the universities to offer you access to their database (it is after all in their interest to promote their course offering).

This is of course an area where Google might move in and dominate eventually, but until then it would be an interesting experiment. Maybe this is what I should use my Google App Engine account for.

What do you think? Is there a similar product that I have not yet found? Give feedback!

The age of conversation?

A conversation the other day with my friend Björn got me thinking, and I continued to think the whole day today as I took a walk. The internet has been said to have initiated the age of conversation, where the medium itself is a conversation between people, advertisers, politicians, corporations, and their cats.

I am working with a student organization and many, many of the organizations in this context (including to some extent my organization) has such a strong belief in the conversation. You create events, you have seminars, you discuss and you create awareness. Even at my previous job – it was about the conversation, albeit with a focus on action.

Then what is all this conversation leading to? Right now – it feels like more conversation and not the change that all this conversation wants to bring about.

So, the message is, simple, converse less and do more. How? Get off the internet, get on the streets, decide what you want to do and measure the result not by how much awareness you created but rather about how much you actually did to solve the problem. Easy? Not really, but then again nothing worthing doing is easy.