Vitaly Kolesnik's Personal Website

Prose Poem: Spring in the Air

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The spring is in the air, still imperceptible, like a subtle smile, like a fresh young voice barely audible above the buzz of the crowd.

We don’t know what we’re asking for, but the Spirit himself pleads for us silently, in a breath which has yet to find the right words, as the soul finding the body.

The voice of the Spirit is heard from afar, a song with only scraps guessed: the time has come to heal the brokenhearted, to set free the oppressed, to return sight to the blind.

Just as mountains rise on the horizon at a sudden turn of the road, so too a time comes in life when the hidden becomes manifest.

First published on Steemit

Free Verse: The Power of Words

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Just as a key matches a lock, so too the right word reveals your truth. After this word sounds, there are no doubts.

As a boat slides over the water’s expanse, as a river flows, embraced by a bank, as a moonlit path trembles on a clear night, so freely the spirit breathes in truthful lines.

As fallen leaves die to feed the earth, as seeds sprout to become bread, as vines stretch to the sun to bring a feast, so gently a sequence of insights changes a human being, intangible, like a bird’s line of flight.

First published on Steemit

Everipedia: a Decentralized Wiki Based on EOS, IQ Token Airdropping Soon!

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Everipedia is a modern and more inclusive alternative to Wikipedia with a slick interface and less bureaucracy. The big news is that Everipedia is going to be decentralized and will become the first app based on EOS blockchain, with IQ, their internal points, becoming a cryptocurrency token. Moreover, every EOS holder will soon be airdropped with some IQ!

Knowledge and crypto both being my passions, I couldn’t resist but asked for an invite, and thanks to the responsiveness of Everipedia team I’m already an editor.

How Everipedia is different from Wikipedia and other wikis?

  • Basically every single thing can have its page on Everipedia (that’s why the name I guess).
  • Every English page from Wikipedia is already on Everipedia to build on top of and improve. (This doesn’t mean it’s ok for users to copy content from other wikis as this has been made not by users and no IQ has been acquired through the import).
  • Everipedia has a modern look and is visually appealing. And you don’t need to use awkward formatting symbols. That said, not every functionality works as expected yet as the transition to the EOS blockchain is in progress.
  • Instead of talk pages, there are discussion threads where editors can continuously discuss news about their favorite topics.
  • Celebrities have verified accounts and can have conversations with their fans on their own page.
  • After Everipedia is hosted on EOS, countries that block Wikipedia (like Turkey or Iran) will no longer be able to block it.

This will be big and I think there are chances Everipedia will become one of the three EOS supported community benefit apps to receive a percentage from new annual token supply. Brock Pierce, Block.One’s Head of Strategy, has recently twitted that

Everipedia is my favorite consumer DAPP coming to market.

With EOS.IO Dawn 2.0 public test network released and venture capital coming, chances are high that other new exciting dapps follow Everipedia example and choose EOS and maybe also use their airdropping model.

If you wish to contribute to Everipedia, ask for an invite in Everipedia Telegram group. The IQ airdropping details will be announced there, too.

Links

My Related Posts

Prose Poem: Time for Peace

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The forests glow in a milky sunshine, treetops finely silvered with frost. The faraway mountains float, groundless, on a white, bulky pillow of fog.

Hidden are the unspoken secrets of the soul, hidden in gloomy firs, all that’s forgotten and lost on my forest path.

The frozen world says: now it’s the time for peace. All things should stay still. Let the renewed force grow in the roots of the earth, in the depths of the mountains, under the sparkling ice of the ponds.

It’s a day of magic born from nowhere, a healing power flowing from the ancient wizardry of words, a childhood memory of the mysterious physical presence of a miracle.

Everything done is done, and everything said is said. The only thing left is joy.

First published on Steemit

How to Give Feedback and be Heard: Use Nonviolent Communication

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Often we are trying to help others with advice but instead feel rejected or misunderstood. It happens especially in situations where a substantial inequality is present: in the interaction between teachers and students, leaders and team members, parents and kids, and so on. The main reason is we think that our habitual ways of communication are also natural and effective, which isn’t always the case.

I’ve written this post as a continuation to How to give feedback on writing. In that post I focused mostly on feedback content, while now I’d like to say more about the form, which is equally important.

The Principles of Nonviolent Communication

First, let me introduce to you a few ideas of Marshall Rosenberg, the author of an approach known as nonviolent communication. Marshall Rosenberg was an American psychologist, teacher, and mediator who started conflict resolution programs in many war-torn areas throughout the world.

  1. The source of conflicts and misunderstanding in communication lies in the very human desire for autonomy. We want freedom to decide for ourselves. We can’t get rid of the desire for autonomy because it’s part of human nature—we only can respect it, especially if we really want to communicate, not command.
  2. Punishments and rewards are never reaching their goals, because they don’t respect human autonomy. That’s why the idea is not to try to get a person to do what we want, but instead to create a quality of connection based on mutual respect and concern where everyone’s needs matter and can be heard.
  3. It requires a shift away from the language based on evaluation/manipulation to the language based on needs. We need to learn how to tell others in a safe, guilt-free manner whether what they are doing is in harmony with our needs or conflicts with them.
  4. Human beings need empathy. They may want advice also, but only after they receive the empathic connection.

Many people believe that reward is good, as it’s the opposite of punishment, but in fact both reward and punishment are manipulative as they use power over others instead of empowering others. By using rewards or punishments, we try to influence others to do what we want. We need a way to help people hear one another, learn from one another, and contribute to each other’s happiness freely, not out of fear of punishment or hope for reward.

Communication Blocks

Below you will find the twelve «communication blocks» listed by Thomas Gordon, a pioneer in teaching communication skills and conflict resolution methods. I tweaked the examples to better reflect the writing feedback theme. Note how habitual many examples look and how well-disguised, sophisticated, hard-to-discover manipulations they are. If taken as advice, many of them are not wrong at all, but so often we don’t have enough empathy to base them on. So here’s the list:

  1. Ordering, directing, commanding: «Don’t do that.»
  2. Warning, admonishing, threatening: «You’d better not write that if you care about your reputation.»
  3. Exhorting, moralizing, preaching: «You must always respect others.»
  4. Advising, giving solutions or suggestions: «Why not to talk to X about that?»
  5. Lecturing, teaching, giving logical arguments: «If kids learn to take responsibility, they’ll grow up to be responsible adults.»
  6. Judging, criticizing, disagreeing, blaming: «You’re wrong about that.»
  7. Praising, agreeing: «I think you’re right.»
  8. Name-calling, ridiculing, shaming: «Look, Mr. Know-It-All.»
  9. Interpreting, analyzing, diagnosing: «You’re just jealous.»
  10. Reassuring, sympathizing, consoling, supporting: «All people go through this sometime.»
  11. Probing, questioning, interrogating: «Who put that idea into your head?»
  12. Withdrawing, distracting, humoring, diverting: «Just forget about it.»

We may believe that we use similar sentences with purest intentions, but have you ever thought about what the other person actually hears? Most probably, something along these lines:

  • «You don’t accept my feeling the way I do.»
  • «You think I’m not as smart as you.»
  • «You think I’m doing something wrong.»
  • «You think it’s my fault.»
  • «You don’t seem to care about how I’m feeling.»
  • «You don’t take me seriously.»
  • «You don’t feel my judgment is legitimate.»
  • «You don’t trust me to work out this problem myself.»

Alternative Methods of Giving Feedback

After reading this long list of communication blocks you probably ask yourselves: «So how to give feedback to people if we don’t use those habitual tricks?»

In fact, giving feedback is simple. We don’t need tricks or complicated methods, however it requires training to get rid of them. Paradoxically, in our critique-based culture we need to learn to be ourselves, be authentic.

The first, easiest, and most important method is to describe what’s happening inside you when you are reading the other person’s writing (or interacting with her/him in another way) instead of trying to evaluate the other side or give advice.

You can start with «When…» (here goes the fragment you give feedback on), continue with «I see/feel/think that…» and end with the description of your feelings or thoughts. Be careful: it’s very easy to slip into judging, so keep an eye on whether you really describe what you feel. Thomas Gordon calls this «I-messages» as opposed to habitual «You-messages.»

Compare:

  • «You are too verbose in this part.» (evaluation, You-message)
  • «When I was reading this part, I felt tired.» (description, I-message)
  • «When I was reading this part, I felt that you are too verbose.» (You-message disguised as I-message)

If we’re speaking about writing feedback, this is what we really want to know—what kind of movies are happening inside of others’ minds when they read our writing. (Of course, we also secretly want a wise one to tell us objectively the truth about our writing so that we could correct and conform, but the only truth is that nobody knows anything and we have to guess what’s going to work.)

The other ways of non-manipulative communication include:

  • Using passive listening (you confirm that you are listening without further action).
  • Using active listening (you emphatically describe a mental state the other person speaks from).
  • Asking open-ended questions or just inviting the other person to tell more.
  • Bringing facts, information, examples without advice or comparison attached.
  • Using metaphors and stories that illustrate what’s happening inside yourself.

Useful Books

First published on Steemit

Lojban: The Language of the Future for Both Humans and Bots?

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Lojban is an experiment in constructing a human language which could be universally understood by humans from different cultural backgrounds and unambiguously parsed by bots.

Lojban (pronounced loʒban, where «ʒ» is like «s» in «pleasure») can serve as a speakable language, a literary language, an intellectual device for creative writing, a potential machine interlingua, a programming language, and even a speakable logic.

In Lojban, the meaning specified by the speaker cannot be interpreted entirely differently from how it was intended. Also, a Lojban sentence, spoken the right way, is uniquely segmentable into its component words—an invaluable characteristic for the computer parsing of speech. Lojban is described in its reference grammar as lacking syntactic ambiguity, just like most programming languages.

Imagine, you just send a voice or text message to your city administration and get what you need without filling out complicated forms or humans interfering. Or you call to a call center and solve problems without long discussions with operators. Or imagine a programmer simply dictating instructions that can be univocally translated into program code. It supposes everyone speaks Lojban of course, but maybe it would be cheaper in the future to teach it at school than to manually process infinite user requests. 🙂

If a language is unambiguous, then one’s words can easily be legally binding. If we speak blockchain, I can imagine a DAO (a blockchain-based decentralised autonomous organisation) running smart contracts which use a universal, legally binding, unambiguously parsable language.

On the other hand, Lojban isn’t a soulless, rigid language. It can be vague if one wants it to be. It also has a nice feature, attitudinals. These are essentially spoken emoticons which can be dropped in anywhere to spice up a sentence.

Lojban has been built for over fifty years (that is including its predecessor, Loglan). Its 1341 root words were created from the six most widely spoken languages (as of 1987)—Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. It has a live community of speakers expanding its vocabulary day by day.

And to expand our horizons a bit more, here’s an inspiring Youtube channel on constructing languages called The Art of Language Invention. It’s hosted by David Peterson, creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for «Game of Thrones». David’s been creating languages for more than fifteen years and published a book on the subject—a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers.

Useful Links

For Coders

  • Lojban on GitHub
  • la ilmentufa, a collection of formal grammars and syntactical parsers for the Lojban language, as well as related tools and interfaces

Pyramiding: A Writing Technique Helping to Make a Text Richer

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Pyramiding is a warm-up writing technique used at the initial stages of writing. It can be used to start writing on a totally new topic or to find new sides of a very well-known topic. In both cases, it will make your text richer in ideas, points of view, and details.

To describe a pyramid, we need to look at each of its sides, that is, to change a point of view four times. In pyramiding, we take and reflect on at least four different points of view on the topic in the text to develop it deeper and find the main focus.

How To

  1. To try this technique, take a small object which has at least four sides. Put it in front of you and write for two minutes about what you see. Then turn it to see another side and write for another two minutes about what you’re seeing now. Continue until all four sides are described. Your goal is to express as many ideas, thoughts, or feelings as possible. Keep track of time and don’t stop even if it seems to you that there is nothing more to write about.

  2. Now instead of a physical object, you can choose a topic, concept, or idea. Dedicate three to five minutes to each of the four points of view on this topic.

You can use the following prompting questions:

  • Description. What is it? What properties does it have? How do you feel about this topic?
  • Comparison. What else can this topic be compared to? To what other topics is it similar, and how is it different from them? What symbols, analogies, or associations come to your mind?
  • Analysis. What parts does this topic consist of? In what context does it appear? To what other topics is it connected? What are the pros and cons?
  • Use. To whom and for what purpose could this topic be useful? How could it be useful to you personally?

As a result of such a work, you can clarify your own position, discover new points of view, and try new directions of development. This technique helps to test how much a topic is rich in content, determine its most interesting sides, and choose a focus point. It can be used not only for writing, but also as a creative way to get acquainted with a new topic or generate ideas about it.

If you’re interested in becoming part of a writing group, let me know in the comments! I’ll announce the details very soon — stay tuned!

Background

Pyramiding is my modification of Cubing, a technique by Peter Elbow. I reduced the number of sides from six to four, converted a cube to a pyramid, and added a grid of four groups of prompting questions.

First published on Steemit

How to Give Feedback on Writing

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The art of giving quality feedback is a tricky one. Most of us were taught by the education system to criticise, measure, compare, evaluate, express approval or disapproval, rate, grade, and so on. Unfortunately, this kind of feedback doesn’t help much when it concerns creativity. It’s hard to imagine how one becomes a better writer by being criticised or evaluated. In fact, this kind of feedback is sort of manipulative: we position the other person in a particular way and influence her/him by that.

The other kind of feedback is still very rare. It isn’t about our opinions regarding the other person’s work. It’s about ourselves — we just describe what we feel and think when we’re experiencing it, and there is no place for marks and grades, no right or wrong. This shift of the focus point makes a big difference. The other characteristic of non-manipulative kinds of feedback is empathy. We’re accepting that the other person has the right to feel and think in that particular way and are aware of situations in our own lives when we have had similar experiences.

In the context of writing feedback, it means I only describe what I’ve been feeling and thinking when reading the text and avoid critique, evaluation, or advice.

Here are some creative ways of giving useful feedback from a very inspiring book I’ve written about recently, Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow:

  • Note which words or sentences you’ve experienced as full of energy, true, powerful.
  • Summarise what you’ve read: quickly recap what you see as the text’s main points; then summarise them into a single sentence and then, into a single word.
  • Describe the feelings and thoughts you’ve had like a story: what you felt or thought first, what next, and so on.
  • Use metaphors if it’s difficult for you to explain your perceptions directly: if the text were weather, what type of weather? What animal or plant? What color, geometric figure, landscape, musical instrument, etc.?

There are many more ways of giving feedback on a written text. In fact, there are plenty of things one can learn from others’ writing. But let’s leave that for one of the next posts.

In conclusion, a few tips on receiving feedback:

  • Don’t try to explain what you wanted to say with the text and keep from making apologies.
  • Don’t try to answer to others’ feedback, just accept it.
  • Don’t argue about others’ reactions; everyone has their own vision and this diversity is necessary to give you a larger picture.

Perceive the feedback you received as a message for you to interpret, in the same way as your writing has been perceived by your reader.

If you’re interested in becoming part of a writing feedback group, let me know in the comments! I’ll announce the details very soon — stay tuned!

First published on Steemit

A Teacherless Writing Group: Why It’s Needed and How It Works

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As I said in my previous post, writing is not just about getting things down on paper, but also about getting things inside the reader’s head. Writing is not something happening in my mind only; it’s also a transaction between me and the reader. But how do we know what our readers think and how they feel about our writing?

A teacherless writing group is a place where people share their writing and give each other authentic, constructive feedback on how the author’s words were actually experienced: sort of like movies happening inside your mind as you’re reading. It’s important to note that this is not about offering advice on what to improve in a text. In fact, advice helps in a very limited way, as everyone has unique personal histories, values, and modes of expression.

A teacherless writing group:

  • consists of diverse people.
  • brings together group members committed to writing and giving feedback regularly during a set period of time.
  • offers its members «impact feedback», answering a simple question: what happened in your mind when you were reading the text?
  • provides a facilitator who makes sure the group and feedback rules are observed.

A teacherless writing group helps make writing easier, more pleasurable, and more prolific.

The man behind the idea of a teacherless writing group is Peter Elbow, Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of several influential books on writing including Writing Without Teachers and Writing With Power.

I’ve been thinking about setting up such a group for a while. Previously, I conducted several writing workshops and online courses. Now I’m feeling it’s the right time. In the next post I will describe in more detail the kind of feedback that will be practiced in the group. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in becoming a member of such a group, let me know in the comments!

First published on Steemit

Visual Design: 10 Inspirational ICO Websites

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ICO is one of the hottest trends in IT world now, so I as a UX designer have started my own collection of hottest ICO website designs. Today I’m sharing with you 10 inspiring ICO websites I’ve manually selected from over 100 upcoming or currently active ICOs.

Fashion is changing fast — in ten years we will smile looking at it the same way as now I’m smiling looking at my ten-years-old collection of dot-com era websites. But for now it’s definitely worth our attention as it personifies the zeitgeist and shows some evident trends a smart designer can use… or avoid 🙂

To make things more stimulating for crypto investors, I’ve took all the websites from active or upcoming ICOs. I’ve also added short ICO descriptions from icodrops.com in case you wonder what a particular ICO is about.

So, let’s have a look at these websites:

1. Envion

Highly profitable, global crypto-mining-infrastructure — Hosted in mobile, modular CSC containers — Decentralized placement directly at energy source.

Visit this site, it’s nicely animated. Made with a great taste and attention to details. The team is Swiss, and Swiss people is known for their love to good design.

2. Bounty0x

A decentralized bounty hunting platform enabling anyone to manage bounty programs, and bounty hunters to receive payment for completing bounty tasks.

Made with humour and skill.

3. Bloom

Bloom is an end-to-end protocol for identity attestation, risk assessment and credit scoring, entirely on the blockchain. Bloom allows both traditional and digital currency lenders to serve billions of people who currently cannot obtain a bank account or credit score.

A very delicate, neat, decent design.

4. The Bee Token

Decentralizing Short-Term Housing Rentals. Blockchain Powered Platform With 0% Commissions, Network Effects, Bank-Level Security, and Immutable Reviews.

A conceptual design, the first two screens are especially nice. I less like the typographics and the bottom half in general.

5. EOS

The Most Powerful Infrastructure for Decentralized Applications.

«And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it». The only thing I don’t like here is the grey shadow under the logo.

6. Universa

Universa is a blockchain protocol with high speed and low cost of procession operations.

A very clear, systematic, well-thought design with a typographic accent.

7. Sirin Labs

SIRIN LABS — the developer of SOLARIN, an ultra-secure mobile phone — is holding a crowdsale event. Funds raised will support the development of FINNEY™, the first open source blockchain smartphone and all-in-one PC.

A cool first screen animation, the rest of the website is rather quiet.

8. HOQU

HOQU is the first decentralized marketing platform that allows merchants and affiliates to interact directly without brokers and ensures fair cost per actions deals based on a smart contracts.

Dynamic design, nice first screen. Way too much animation.

9. STK Token

STACK is a new personal finance platform, built on the idea that using your money should be free.

An animated front page, the rest is just decent.

10. Winding Tree

Winding Tree is a blockchain-based distribution platform for the travel industry.

A neat and clean design with nice illustration.


And now a small gift for you the attentive ones who are still with me:

The three don’t dos of ICO website design

  • Rotating dot constellations and wandering dots. Too much of them recently.
  • Consultant chat alarm sound on site load. Too annoying.
  • Too much parallax and animation in non-essential areas.

Feel free to share more inspirational crypto related website designs in comments!

Useful links

Related Posts

First published on Steemit