The Great Wall concept was revived again during the Ming Dynasty following the Ming army's defeat by the Mongols in the Battle of Tumu in 1449. The Ming had failed to gain a clear upper-hand over the Mongols after successive battles, and the long-drawn conflict was taking a toll on the empire. The Ming adopted a new strategy to keep the Mongols out by constructing walls along the northern border of China. Acknowledging the Mongol control established in the Ordos Desert, the wall followed the desert's southern edge instead of incorporating the bend of the Huang He.
Unlike the earlier Qin fortifications, the Ming construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth.
As Mongol raids continued periodically over the years, the Ming devoted considerable resources to repair and reinforce the walls.
Are you devoting considerable resources, too, to protect your time? Are you getting more and more sophisticated in your fight for an empty inbox?
And does it turn out to be as futile as the Great Wall ultimately proved to be? Do you have to retreat, step by step? Too many hordes of spammers and other time wasters raiding your northern schedule territories, establishing strongholds in regions that belong to you, at least in theory?
Well - what if actually they aren't raiders, but came at your invitation?
In this mini-series on inbox protection, I'll describe how you possibly opened the gates to some time-wasting scourges - and how you can close the gates again.
RSS feed frenzy
You're subscribed to many (many!) RSS feeds. No big deal? I know. You don't need to read them all. You'll just scan the headings. Sure...
Face your fears of missing something. The truth is: somebody else will always be faster than you. Trying to stay ahead of everybody is like pretending to be the fastest gunslinger in town. There's no such thing as a retired gunslinger. They always get shot in the end. You aren't a gunslinger. You've got real work to do that is different from
pulling a trigger pressing a Refresh button all the time.
There are several ways of avoiding the RSS feed frenzy. Of course, you've found your favorite few famous feeds that you want to follow every day. That's ok. To track a myriad of other feeds, day by day (or even hour by hour) is not ok.
You need to reduce or to filter those feeds. My first suggestion in this mini-series is: visit blog carnivals, instead of clicking on every RSS subscription icon within your grasp.
What is a blog carnival?
A blog carnival is like an elaborate table of contents of a magazine.
The host of the carnival sets the topic and solicits appropriate article submissions. Most carnivals are published on a monthly base. Authors submit their posting URLs and possibly a short teaser.
The respective host selects what will become published and finally turns all acceptable submissions into a list posting on his own blog: an item for every article presents the author, the hyperlinked title of heror his posting and (in most cases) a short teaser. That's why the result pretty much resembles the table of content pages of a magazine.
Blog carnivals are an easy way to stay up-to-date with respect to a given topic.
Pros and Cons
Blog carnivals have several advantages. To name a few:
- somebody else has already filtered out garbage postings and repetitive stuff
- submitters of articles are in peacock mode: they aren't famous yet, so they submit the better samples of what they've written
- emerging trends become visible at an early stage, when more and more bloggers start to post about such topics
- compared to searching by a tag and finding dozens of more or less unrelated, arbitrary posts, reading carnivals provides you with compilations of articles that actually share similar concepts
- you get multiple points of view on the same topic, at the same time
- being a compilation of teasers turns a carnival into a nice preview of what you can expect from the articles
There are also disadvantages. For instance:
- there is no A-list blogger who submits postings to a carnival (but you're subscribed to their feeds individually anyway, aren't you?)
- not all carnival hosts are careful editors and publishers, some accept just about anything
- carnival contents are a few days older than what you can find using services like Technorati, since carnival hosts need to grant sufficient submission deadlines
My favorite carnivals on personal development
The tag line of Evomend is «Timeless resources for personal development». As an example: what blog carnivals do I skim (in alphabetical order, no ranking implied)?
- Carnival of Career Intensity is hosted by David V. Lorenzo. This carnival is prototypical: a clear layout helps you to scan for author, title, link and teaser. As David says, he is looking for «posts that add value to careers of my readers».
- Carnival of Leadership Development is hosted by Mabel and Harry who add short teasers as provided by the respective posting author. Topics are: business, training, leadership, entrepreneur.
- Carnival on Personal Power publishes plain author / title / link items that are easy to scan. Topics are: personal power, self development, motivation, self improvement.
- Made to be great - personal development is compiled by Alan Torres and presents, in addition to authors, titles and links also short teasers, as provided by the authors. Topics are Law of Attraction, positive thinking, goals, money, healthy lifestyles, inspirational.
- Personal Development Carnival is unique, since it is hosted in a rotating fashion by volunteer bloggers. Topics are: personal development, self-help, health, wealth, wisdom, spirituality, prosperity.
Enjoy! And if you come across great blog carnivals on personal development that aren't listed at blogcarnival.com, please let me know in the comments.