Jonathan's Blog

Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology


Writing Influence Blog

New Theme, Same as the Old Theme

Posted on .

I switched back to the Mots theme so that I could put full posts on the home page.

I did this so that someone arriving here can see content directly and no clicks are required to get there. Although you do need scrolling, since some of my posts are long. I may shrink the font at some point to get more on the screen.

It took only some minor mods to Handlebars files to make this happen. Great design from Ghost that you can make this type of change with only simple modifications.


Influence Writing

Dissecting Seth's Blog - Part 1 - Fences

Posted on .

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm a big fan of Seth's Blog and I'm going to take a closer look at what he does. Partly for my own edification and partly because I think it is worth studying a master's style.

Here is the first post I want to consider (it's very short, click the link and then come back):

The Invisible Fence

Why this post in particular? Well, because this is something that I try to talk about regularly in check-ins and mentoring with colleagues and employees. So, it speaks to me. And it does it in an interesting way.

For the record, I've never conveyed it as eloquently as this. See the quotes below to get a better sense of how this has gone for me.

Seth, in a very concise and inviting way offers his vision. That fence is in your head. What makes it easy to hear when he says it?

This is the narrative structure of these three sentences:

  1. It starts with the concrete. A fence starts out just being a fence. Which leads to 2:
  2. Where's he going with this exactly? There's a small amount of suspense about the fence and where this particular post is going.
  3. Next, he turns this somewhat obvious statement about a fence as a deterrent (can't really stop you) into what it implies metaphorically inside the reader - we are conditioned by fences to obey fences.
  4. Oh, this is about me you say? That's surprising.
  5. Which leads to the last part - you (the smart one reading this) can see the fence for what it is. What are you gong to do about it?

It works a lot better this way than simply saying: "Those things that your boss does are not really impeding you, you are impeding yourself."

Because, with that approach the person you're talking to is inclined to say, "No, it's not. My boss really does those things and it's hard."

By doing it this way it starts out not being about you the reader at all, and only becomes that way once you identify with it.

What makes this all work:

  1. It is about you the person reading it, but it doesn't come out and hit you over the head with it in the first sentence.
  2. Slowly it reveals itself as being about the reader. It does this in the gradual progression from sentence to sentence. Sentence 1 no obvious pronoun, general statement. Sentence 2 uses we - so we are all in this together at this point. Sentence 3 now it comes out and hits you with you - you ignore that fence. OK?

An excellent piece of writing, packed into a small space.


Influence Writing

Seth's Blog

Posted on .

I've mentioned, linked to, and tweeted about Seth's blog repeatedly because I think it's routinely inspiring, creative, and fun to read.

Here's a link if you've never been there. Go, read it, come back later. I'll still be here:

I'm a reader. As a reader, it's just flat out great. You should read it. It's interesting and informative. That's a no-brainer.

As a writer, what interests me is the breadth of the work. I feel like he's able to write about a lot of different things and they always tie back thematically to his main focus which I will sum up like this: creativity in the workplace.

He might not sum it up that way, but I will. Because that's what I think ties it all together.

He's not writing for artists living off the grid. He's not writing for people who have no interest in creativity or change. It's pretty clear and gives him breadth on topics ranging from the psychological, to the cultural, to the career-related.

Still, how does he do it?

I'm going to write some some of my own blog posts dissecting a couple of his recent posts to figure it out. I'm interested and I think I can figure it out.

More to come. (Here's the link to the next piece:


Writing Work Inspiration


Posted on .

What if the thing you once called inspiration was simply your mind distracting you from your real work and purpose?

What if real inspiration turns out to be something else entirely?

Well, perhaps not entirely. Consider, how a stream that flows into a river is now only part of the river. Similarly, the old inspiration is part of, but much smaller than, the new inspiration.

The two things can be so different as to not seem much alike at all.

Be glad, in the end, that you came to the river. Know that the river will lead you to other rivers, lakes, eventually the ocean. There are depths there, things which today you don't know, but may yet be revealed to you.

(Many thanks to Paddle-to-the-Sea and also Headspace).


Poetry Poetry on the Web Writing Technology

Trouble @ Work - Minimum Viable Poems

Posted on .

The side project that I've posted about occasionally (here, here, and here) is in a beta state, and ready for a few eyeballs.

You can check it out here: Trouble @ Work.

This is what I am calling an MVP, which stands for Minimum Viable Poems. I have put together what I feel is good content (poems), and I have basic site navigation and responsive design working.

I realize there isn't huge overlap for those who might be interested in this blog for the technical or work related stuff and those who might be interested in poems and literature.

None the less, it's an area of interest for me: poetry and technology. I am curious about these two things, how they overlap, and how they can help us in our everyday lives.


Writing CSS Poetry Poetry on the Web

CSS for Formatting a Poem on a Mobile Device

Posted on .

This took me longer than I thought it would to get right. In the end the solution is simple.

The main idea is that each line of a poem needs to wrap in such a way that you can tell it is a line. So, to accomplish this each of the lines of the poem are contained in a <p> tag.

Here was my final class:

  p{margin: 0px 0px 0px 20px; text-indent: -20px;}

This works for both mobile and non-mobile. The crux is that text-indent: -20 will outdent the first line by 20 px. The margin setting ensures that the text doesn't accidentally overlap something else on the page.

If the screen is small enough and any lines wrap, text-indent will not impact any subsequent lines causing them to appear indented, which is the poetry convention for a wrapped line.

This is web-only, and not designed for e-readers. I started with an article on that here, but ultimately the first-line stuff led me astray for a while. For my purposes, text-indent alone was enough.