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Prose Poem: Time for Peace


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


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.»


  • «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

Prose Poem: White Sun


White sun is bathing in the haze of the frosty morning. My freedom is as far away as the sun, unattainable and inviting—a diamond with thousands of sparkling facets, shining with rays of opportunities, each of which is capable of plunging me into the darkness of exhaustion.

Look through the glittering facets, into the depths, to where the mystery lies, to where the force awakens, into the emptiness from which everything has been born.

The eternal dance of the world is created by the one who stays in the motionless center of the circle, the source of all movement. Every bend of the dance returns to the center, every ray leads to the sun, every glare of the diamond witnesses its depth which only gives strength to its glow.

First published on Steemit

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


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


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!


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


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


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

Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow


It goes without saying that writing skills are crucial for a blogger. Peter Elbow’s «Writing Without Teachers» is a classic book on writing which is still fresh, full of interesting ideas and useful advice.

This book is not about «good writing» and «bad writing». You won’t find there advice on grammatical constructions or usage. Instead, this book can help you generate words more powerfully and make better judgements about your writing.

Peter Elbow is one of the most notable proponents of freewriting, an immensely liberating writer’s technique helping to unlock the power of words. This approach is especially helpful to people who get blocked in their writing, and is equally useful for any writing, be it fiction, poetry, essays, or memos.

Peter Elbow considers freewriting practice the most effective way to improve writing. He offers to do freewriting exercises at least 3 times a week. The idea of freewriting is very simple: just write for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping, looking back, wondering about spelling, or word choice. I described the freewriting technique in full detail here.

The idea behind freewriting is that schooling has made us obsessed with mistakes. We are used to censor not only our words, but also our thoughts and feelings, which blocks us from genuine self expression. ‎ Elbow makes important distinction between writing and editing modes. Both are important, but not at the same time: write first, edit later.

The final part of the book is about the teacherless writing class. Writing is not just about getting things down on paper, but also about getting things inside our reader’s head. We need to understand how our readers perceive and experience our writing.

Basically, a writing class is a group that meets regularly and where everyone reads everyone else’s writing and gives feedback on how the writer’s words were experienced.

A very important point: a teacherless writing class is not about advice on what to improve in a text, nor about theories on what is good and bad writing. The most valuable feedback you could give is to show movies happening inside your mind as you’re reading.

Another influential book by Peter Elbow I highly recommend is «Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process». He himself describes it as a writer’s cookbook and it’s worth this title — take a look at it, too!


EOS Review: Why This ICO Promises to Be Big


It’s time to have another look at EOS token perspectives as its price comes closer to $2 after a two-month-long period of staying around $0.5. Looks like EOS token is on its way to new heights with its market capitalisation now about $1 billion. What is even more interesting, EOS price calculated in bitcoin almost didn’t change for three months in a row, so we can suppose that the market believes in EOS as strongly as in Bitcoin (the orange line below).


If you didn’t yet decide for yourself whether this token is worth your closer attention, here are some of my observations.

1. The White Paper

The EOS White Paper offers a comprehensive and detailed overview of the platform.

Long speech short, EOS blockchain will be capable of supporting millions of users with lightning fast fee-free transactions while creating a comfortable environment for businesses building decentralized apps.

You can read my EOS White Paper Digest where I summarized its main points.

2. The Team

The team of, the company behind EOS, includes true blockchain veterans.

CTO Dan Larimer has already successfully launched two functioning blockchains: BitShares and Steem. He is credited with inventing the delegated proof-of-stake (DPOS) consensus algorithm and the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DAC).

CEO Brendan Blumer is a serial entrepreneur in the technology space since the age of fifteen. He has been involved in the blockchain industry since 2014 and is an active speaker at various blockchain conferences.

The team’s Head of Strategy is Brock Pierce, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who pioneered the market for digital currency in games. He is the Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, founding board member of Mastercoin (inventor of the ICO), and an advisor to Bancor.

Advisor Ian Grigg is a financial cryptographer with over twenty years experience, the inventor of the Ricardian Contract and co-inventor of Triple-Entry Accounting.

3. Roadmap, Codebase and Beta Preview

EOS.IO codebase is open source with the preview version code and documentation available at GitHub.

The software roadmap is clear and we can see the progress made. Currently it’s already possible for developers to launch a private testnet to run a node, execute transactions, develop and run smart contracts. The next release planned for early December will bring forth a public testnet and developers will be able to test their work in the public environment. It’s highly probable that the token price will moon after this event.

4. The Token Value

EOS is meant to be a business-oriented blockchain operating system, so its token value is tied to supply and demand of resources such as bandwidth, log storage, CPU, and RAM. With a growing market for blockchain-based decentralized apps we can expect a significant demand for native EOS tokens.

Useful links

Related posts


  • Disclosure: The author owns EOS tokens.
  • All opinions in this post are the author’s alone. You should be aware of the risk of loss before trading or holding any digital asset.
  • This post is not an endorsement by EOS.IO or

First published on Steemit

Visual Design: 10 Inspirational ICO Websites


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 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.


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