What’s all this about?

Well, “knackered” means broken or exhausted (from “knacker” n. - one who buys and slaughters useless horses.) And a “hack” is a derogatory term for a journalist, describing someone who does the unglamorous work of a jobbing writer; a common literary drudge; a mere scribbler. Alternatively, my trusty Oxford English Dictionary tells me that a hack can be a poor worn-out horse for ordinary riding, possibly let out for hire. And so, Dear Reader, that slightly shop-soiled pit-pony of a journalist is me.

I spent my journalistic career inside the financial information business, as both reporter and executive — a world which was permanently online long before the benefits of real-time news, blogging and streaming content reached a non-financial and consumer audience. So I’m very familiar with the process of fragmenting attention. I used to be very skeptical, but as I find more and more uses personally for these creative technologies, my fascination has expanded — almost as fast as my concern for more traditional forms of journalism.

This blog has had a peculiar gestation, beginning as my running diary, tracking my progress to fitness. Initially, I just wanted to explore the curative powers of endurance training. But, somehow, it has grown into something grander, probably because of the fateful decision of Nassim Taleb to drop me a line.

Now, if it doesn’t sound too pretentious, the knackered hack ethos can be summed up as “the curious study of broken things”. I can’t help but notice that failure tends to go away and not trumpet its story. Yet the failures contain useful data, particularly as the essence of internet and wiki culture seems to be that of trial and error. I’ve spent a not inconsiderable amount of time considering just that. I’ve coined a term for that study of broken things: “knackeredemia”; you can become an honorary fellow in that faculty without any grueling application process simply by leaving a comment in any post.

At the risk of flogging a dead horse here, I have a mission statement: “If it ain’t broke, I ain’t interested.” But let’s not be restrictive. Above all, we’re here to have fun. And to that end, if you are wondering why there is a Fender Telecaster on a lot of posts, it is a long, and not so serious story.

If you want to know what those who got here before you think of the Knackered Hack, the unvarnished truth is here.


Tim Penn

PS. Hiding on the back end of this blog are posts made to my first blog, Not that I’m biased, which ran quietly and intermittently from 2004-5. So if I link to an older post before January 2007, when we started over here, that explains any apparent inconsistency.

PPS. While this blog is not an active solicitation for my professional activities, feel free to contact me if you are an editor with an idea for a commission, or an executive whose organization needs strategic support in the development of collaboration using real-time technologies.

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