Introducing informal informality

typewriter keys

Question: what is informed informality?

Answer: My latest blog.

More specifically, it is a blog that I write that roughly and not always exactly centers on my work as an ombuds and mediator, dipping when the mood strikes me into my other academic interests of history, gambling, games, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, conspiracy theories, jazz, and a few other things. I might even throw in some talk about improv or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with Star Trek, Fallout, and other references here and there.

I’m starting a new blog because From the Ombuds, which I have been writing since 2021, can no longer be hosted by UNLV due to technical issues. Since I’m now hosting the blog on my own server, I figured that I would take a chance on personalizing it a bit.

For a few weeks, I wasn’t sure that I would continue blogging. Even though I’ve been doing it, in one form or another, for about 20 years, there are other things I could be doing—like finishing a book that I’ve been writing for far too long. But attending the recent International Ombuds Association annual conference, several people shared that they enjoyed reading my posts, which reminded me that I really do like writing in this medium.

I thought about writing on another platform like Substack, which seems to be working out well for quite a few writers, but decided against it, mostly for two reasons. First, Substack, at least what I’ve seen of it, seems to be best for writers who want to monetize their blogging. Now I would love to get paid for this as much as anyone, but realistically I’ve gotten used to using this space to spread the word, either about ombuds work in general or what I am doing at UNLV, and putting a paywall around that seems counterproductive. With a book (and a second book and maybe a novel) that I’m already not writing, I am not confident that I could produce enough content each month to justify asking readers to pay for a subscription.

And hey, if someone reading this really wants to support my work materially, they can always buy a book or two or invite me to give a workshop or talk.

The second reason I’m hosting my own blog instead of using another platform is that I have been using other people’s platforms for most of my writing career, and it hasn’t always turned out well. For years I published biweekly columns for the both Las Vegas Business Press and Vegas Seven. You won’t be able to find any of them online today. That is frustrating. And while I have enjoyed writing for other outlets, I’ve often felt constrained by expectations to write for clicks rather than my own curiosity.

Since I already had a website, I figured I could just host it here.

I’ve been thinking about my blogging history. I started writing casino stuff back in 2001 or so on a blog I created called Casino [PTZ], a reference to pan/tilt/zoom cameras and a nod to my then-recent vocation as a casino surveillance officer. The first post captured on this site dates to 2003, and for a long time I alternated between brief slice-of-life posts and posts promoting my latest column. I also wrote for Two Way Hard Three. After Seven sevened out, I was a Forbes contributor and wrote for a few gaming industry sites.

So blogging on my own site is a return home for me.

I am going to continue writing primarily about interpersonal conflict resolution since that is where my ombuds and mediation work focuses me. I will have fewer UNLV-centric posts, though my work there will continue to suggest topics and themes. I’ve learned that I have more readers off-campus than on, so I will endeavor to speak more about generalities than the specifics of my institution. And if you are at UNLV, and you would like to know how those generalities impact us, feel free to make an appointment to see me—that is exactly what I am there for.

In addition to introducing folks to informed informality at the time of writing (March 2024), I’m planning to link to this post as a general explainer for new readers or the idly curious. To that end, I think it would be helpful to explain just what I’m trying to do here.

About 700 words ago, I offered a sketch of what to expect: writing about interpersonal conflict resolution, with artifacts of my other interests mixed in. I hope to make this a regular biweekly effort. A good example is my last From the Ombuds post, “You’re Not Happy; When Do You Do Something?”  So I’ll be writing more about unmet expectations, communication lapses, and other things that frustrate organizational harmony. Since I’m writing on my own dime, I’ll take a few more chances and take detours into areas like conspiracy theories or jazz, both of which I can connect to interpersonal conflict (to see how I can, you’ll have to wait for me to write about it, though).

Finally, I want to explain the title. I wanted something that was a bit less pedestrian than From the Ombuds, something that captured a shade of the personality behind the words. I considered many, many things before being drawn back to the ombuds work that I have found so much meaning in. Why not, I thought, find a title in something ombuds-related?

My initial sortie was to riff on “confidential.” Something like “Conflict Confidential,” which sounds catchy but maybe a bit too catchy, like a gossip column. Confidential wasn’t speaking to me anyone, so I moved to informality, another of the four ombuds standards. And then I happened on “informed informality,” which I think connotes exactly what my writing here is about: speaking not as an authority or  to proffer formal wisdom, but as someone merely helping the reader explore their options and consider what they want to do next. As for “informed,” I hope that my writing is informed by serious consideration and genuine thoughtfulness.

So this is a blog that is about informal interpersonal conflict resolution, informed by my professional and creative explorations.

One last note. If you are a fan of From the Ombuds, don’t despair. I have archived it on this site, so even if it goes away at UNLV, you’ll be able to read three years of posts right here.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to going on this journey with you.


Informed Informality: People, Organizations, Conflict, and Culture

Spread the love