Seeing my Purpose through Others #21 #cong22


It’s taken several decades, but I’ve finally achieved a purposeful focus in my journaling through a process of digital transformation.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. My grandfather questioned me whenever he saw me doing something different.
  2. We often achieve a purposeful routine over time.
  3. Digital transformation has become a watchword.
  4. Looking forward to teaching people how to build a second brain.

About Bernie Goldbach

Bernie Goldbach teaches digital transformation to university students. He is @topgold on all good social networks. He recently started microblogging and he hopes to see a rise in people using the fediverse to offset the demise of Twitter.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach

Ping Bernie @topgold on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Or subscribe to his newsletter at TopGold

By Bernie Goldbach

So many of my embedded memories flow from family moments around a creaky kitchen table where my grandfather would light up a cigarette and share his wisdom. I remember one of those smoke-filled moments as he sucked on a Marlboro and asked, “What’s the purpose of collecting all those index cards, Bernard?” He couldn’t understand why I would have hundreds of 4×6 record cards in a leather catalogue case.

“It’s for the debate team, Grandpa,” I said. The old guy cleared his throat and coughed aggressively. He watched me build my Zettelkasten collections through high school and then continue the process for the first year of my university before he passed away. But my grandfather’s question of purpose still remains at the front of my mind.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had carved out a purposeful process that combined my unfortunate hoarding instinct with a research method. Those two forces remain instilled in my lifestyle today. I can feel the gaze of my two children on me as I decide what goes into my hand-written journals and electronically scanned notes. And I can sense my grandfather from above, shaking his head.

I have life-defining memories of unloading the family business trucks as a young teen. I’d unpack canvas and stack poles in one of our warehouses before walking back into the smoke-filled family kitchen. I’d restart a familiar process of spreading out colour-coded index cards on the table, stacking them up on opposite sides of the annual debate society resolution. I remember having an over-sized collection of cards for the purpose of debating for and against environmental protection. My grandfather (on the left below) was a die-hard anti-government small businessman so he didn’t want to hear about federal regulations even though I had dozens of cards that might sway his opinion.

I have iterated my note-keeping process in the half century since my grandfather passed. Now I’ve digital tools to serve as my Second Brain. I have purposefully initiated a personal strategy of digital transformation. The smartest tools of my digital transformation automagically upload and annotate content. More than 70,000 of my images sit inside Flickr where they’re systematically tagged with content suggestions and placed on maps based on where they’ve been snapped, scraped, or scanned. Every document I draft, edit, or share drops into OneDrive where its metadata ensures it can be easily relocated. An AI has sifted through hundreds of hours of audio recordings to produce short text summaries of the most engaging parts of conversations. When viewed in aggregate, these purposeful processes have made me smarter.

In early 2023, I will teach strategies and tactics of digital transformation. I will lead hands-on sessions with students as we collaborate in the production of a shared vault of information about twelve emerging trends in our world. Some of the collaborative moments involve thumbing through a small collection of record cards.

And to keep me honest, I plan to key up the raspy voice of my grandfather as he challenges me about the purpose of all these digital records and index cards.

Leadership in my Second Brain #51 #cong21


Leadership is a prime topic that has followed me from my days as an Air Force officer. Thoughts about leadership are deeply embedded into my second brain.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Deep thoughts about leadership are on my book shelf.
  2. There’s a visual dimension of leadership I can see in photos, screenshots, and whiteboard snaps I’ve saved.
  3. I’ve learned a lot about leadership by culling flows of social media.
  4. I make my biggest impact with leaders when (1) I share high quality snippets (2) I can suggest and track action steps.

About Bernie Goldbach

Bernie Goldbach is an American in Ireland who teaches creative media for business in the Technological University of the Shannon.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach

Find Bernie Goldbach on all good social networks as @topgold. He posts regularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. For deep thoughts, head over to Inside View.

By Bernie Goldbach

Since #cong21 is very public, I asked my bookshelf about leadership and I fell into a rabbit hole about ancient history. Deep thinking about leadership is a good thing.

While in university, several professors revealed the important role of leaders in military campaigns. I read part of Edward Gibbon’s seminal work on the Roman Empire and heard Robert Paterson cite the legions during his opening address at reboot9 in Copenhagen. Ten years ago I recorded a podcast that combined elements of Paterson’s speech along with some thoughts of my own about fraternity and literacy that complement leadership. I wish I had a better audio library because that podcast segment included some very deep thoughts. Fortunately, one part of my second brain (Flickr) has a note from the podcast session.

Leading with Data

I know I’m lucky to occupy a senior role as a university lecturer. I have taught students since the early 80s and should be retired but instead I want to soldier on through the next iteration of the creative multimedia degree programme that I helped articulate in 2002 in Ireland. To ensure I can lead from the front of the classroom, I continue to refine and share information that I cull from my second brain. When reduced to its core essence, it’s just a set of trusted sources. I plan to share these sources during a virtual huddle with people connecting in the Congregation.

Some of these trusted links extend back to webmaster-shoptalk, boing boing, slashdot, and I don’t actually visit those sites regularly. Instead, I listen to musings on those sites and then ask AI to surface the most interesting snippets.

Working with the data

It means nothing to gather information if you don’t intend to master elements of the data you trust. In my working world, a lot of important data points surface inside email threads. As much as I abhor email, I know it’s important to master its flow or I am relegated. So I’ve started setting up alerts that push to my mobile phone and I’m using “focus” as an essential service inside Microsoft Outlook. Best of all, I’ve convinced university students to circumvent email and use Teams chat or direct messaging to reach me fastest. And I’ve totally removed the whack-a-mole sequence of “when can we meet” by using Calendly to book time to chat.

Leading with Data from Second Brain

I realised something very important while locked down during COVID when my main channel of conversation happened only during virtual meetings. I realised I made my biggest impact by sharing (1) qualified snippets with (2) suggested action steps. This realisation has become a hidden aspect of leadership for me.

How this works for me and how someone might borrow the workflow is something I intent to share during the 2021 meet-up in Cong.

The Rest of the Story

To follow more thoughts about leadership, you could visit, my Old Skool Blog.

Because Community Reveals #30 #cong19


Colleagues with arched eyebrows ask, “Why Cong?” And I tell them, “Because community.” It’s community extending beyond the small town of Cong and reaching levels deeper than the conversations I enjoy every November.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. I go to Cong because of community.
  2. I’m reverting to Old Skool community watering holes that are text-heavy and require deep reading.
  3. I like listening to community conversations through podcasts.
  4. I’m updating my thoughts. Search “big reveals at congregation”.

About Bernie Goldbach:

Bernie Goldbach, an American educator in Ireland, teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Business Campus. He is @topgold on all good social networks.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach:

Reach out to @topgold on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

By Bernie Goldbach

Colleagues with arched eyebrows have asked me, “Why Cong?” And I tell them, “Because community.” It’s community extending beyond the small town of Cong and reaching levels deeper than the conversations. The connections grow new leaves through networks I’ve discovered and thoughts I’ve shared with people I’ve met on the streets of Cong every November. Eistaigh lom.

Humoured by simple mailing lists in the 1990s when I first noticed how full stops between words communicate passive aggression, I was chuffed to sit across from Sean McGrath in a Cong gift shop as we shared our memories of the earliest days of RSS feeds. Sean was one of the key members of an internet engineering community who helped articulate how information would be seamlessly shared across websites during the last century. Now that same elegant technical specification for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) distributes podcasts without any central control.

Unfortunately, my email services today often restrict easy viewing of mailing lists I use for edtech today. Had they been in use in the mid-90s, I might have never spotted the technical community discussions revolving around RSS. And I certainly would have never heard the respected voice of Catherine Cronin, something that seamlessly happens now since audio apps have become mainstream.

Always a prominent voice in huddles around Cong, the ebullient Maryrose Lyons sparked a memorable session of discussion 17 years ago with me and my wife about the protocols of recording public conversations.  I wonder how she would have expressed her alarm as an Instagram story back then. Her concerns take on a greater significance today in our era of surveillance capitalism.

From his grizzled face to his economical expression, Brian Greene is a walking encyclopedia of all things internet. BHG is one of those “Old Internet People” who is distinguished by a high level of computer literacy. He could probably share a story about whо came up with thе acronym “lоl” and if asked via the Facebook Group for Irish Podcast Producers, Brian might spin out an audio story that explains why the meme is оldеr than thе іntеrnеt.

Most of the people I met before the first coming of the Congregation could be classified as “Full Intеrnеt People” and “Semi Intеrnеt People”. Thеy dialled in during thе lаtе 1990ѕ and 2000s, whеn thе іntеrnеt wаѕ becoming accessible аnd mainstream. They wrote blogs like Paul O’Mahony did when he moved from Bath to Cork with Baby Grace. Today, I’m more likely to hear @omaniblog sharing audio snippets using the closed app Limor or the open platform Anchor.

People in the Cong community who I already know also use direct messaging services like Twitter and WhatsApp. I’ve become dependent on archaeologist John Tierney for highly sophisticated technical and legal assistance he offers about Irish heritage sites. John has shared his perspective from the stage of Ashford Castle and he has led groups of my creative students on walkabouts around Georgian buildings and on tours inside walled towns.

The book “Because Internet” offers a perspective on “Semi Internet People” who use “thе internet for work and other funсtіоnаl tаѕkѕ, like rеаdіng the news. Thеу mіght mаіntаіn rеаl-wоrld relationships оnlіnе, but аrе gеnеrаllу mоrе ѕkерtісаl about electronic communication. Thеу’rе often hіghlу ѕkіllеd іn ѕресіfіс рrоgrаmѕ оr tаѕkѕ, lіkе Phоtоѕhор”.  Some of my most proficient digital animation students are like Zanya Dahl and they appear to be cast from this mould. Some analysts would place these GenZ students into the “Post Internet” segment of the community because they were born into families who already had an internet connection. They finished secondary school with Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger. And although they feel comfortable tapping into services like banking and weather forecasts, they are more likely to delete apps on their phones than subscribe to a new service.

I wish #cong19 would attract members of this new cohort into the Community of Cong. From what I can see, the 19 year old students in my academic classrooms often reimagine themselves as new online personas by the time they turn 21. For whatever reason, they ditch their old handles and discard their former avatars for new identities—sometimes three different times throughout the four year Honours Degree programme on the Clonmel Digital Campus where I see them mature into young professionals. And in surprising entries to Media Writing Journals I’ve reviewed, these post-internet teens aren’t having sex as often and they don’t drink as much as previous creative students I’ve watched during my previous 20 years teaching third level arts students. A significant portion of them now use text-based services such as Reddit and Discord to dive deep into topics of interest.

I think it’s worth reading the perspectives of other people about what community means to them. I’ve learned I’m not a boss of any community (if I ever was). As I plan to attend #cong19, I wonder how collegial conversation with these new faces will unfold in the huddles, during meals, and in the pub. I read various blog posts from prospective attendees and I wonder when did they first come online? Were they in Ireland when they first saw the internet? Will I meet people who waited until their phones could browse the web before they jumped into online communities? I’ll share my thoughts about community if you catch up with me during the #cong19 community huddles. And I’ll update my blog post about “Big Reveals at Congregation” as people share what “community” really means.


Easily reach Bernie Goldbach on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Or listen to his “Topgold Audio Clips” on Spreaker.

Bernie Goldbach has snapped and saved images from meetings of the Congregation.

Sean McGrath – “Community—A Disability Perspective” on the Congregation website.

Catherine Cronin – “The essence of the Open Education Community” on Spreaker.

Maryrose Lyons – “Average. Great. Or Extraordinary” on the Congregation website.

Brian Greene is “Radio Connecting Humans” at

Get on-topic advice about podcast production from Irish Podcast Producers and Listeners on Facebook.

Hear Paul O’Mahony on or read him on

John Tierney – “The hardest part of starting” on Congregation website.

Gretchen McCulloch – “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language”, 2019

Zanya Dahl – “Communities are born out of thin air” on the Congregation website.

See more about #cong19 on Twitter.


Max Hastings – “The Effects Technology Has on People” on the Congregation website.

Ailish Irvine – “You are not the boss of my community” on the Congregation website.





While Talking to Myself in My Attic #51 #cong18


Sometimes I just surround myself with boxes of my old Moleskine journals and talk out loud about old ideas. The A.I. does the rest.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. You shouldn’t hesitate to talk out loud.
  2. Let your voice make your story into text.
  3. Read and listen to influential voices.
  4. Share your ideas through immersive experiences.

About Bernie Goldbach:

Bernie Goldbach is a drone instructor pilot and a creative media lecturer at the Limerick Institute of Technology–for the next 590 days.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach:

You can read Bernie at Inside View or tune into his podcasts at Spreaker. He uses both and for teaching and learning.

By Bernie Goldbach

I’ve been in situations where my gut tells me something feels just right. And over the decades, I’ve broken down what “feels right” by what I hear, how I’m influenced by what I’ve heard, and how easily it is to immerse in the feeling.

Writing about ideas for #cong18 feels right. Moreover, it feels right to talk about my thoughts because my Notes to Self are better formed when I articulate them through my voice.

Over the years, I’ve heard myself talking about good ideas. And through the emergence of clever technology, I’ve been able to share my thoughts through podcasts and through the written word. Surprisingly, my voice feeds my typing.

I’ve started using free voice-to-text services as a method of jump-starting my creative process. I just let myself talk and Artificial Intelligence takes over. It’s so easy to ask your phone to create text as you speak. Google Voice does that on many Android handsets. I’ve taken a few additional steps and educated two other apps to the nuances of my voice and now I’m producing this written copy just by talking about it.

I use the free app and also the machine language app. Once trained and then used in a quiet space, both of the apps produce text content that is better than 90% accurate.

I also talk to myself in my attic while surrounded by several hundred Moleskine journals. Each of those hard cover journals have 190 pages. I normally fill seven Moleskines every year and my collection spans the every year of the 21st century. Occasionally I will go back ten years in my journaling to see what I was thinking about then. And then I start talking to myself while cranks out my thoughts on screen. I feel like a storyteller in my attic during my deep dives into my Moleskine archives.

Throughout my 18 years of teaching third level students, I’ve accumulated hundreds of electronic titles on my Kindles. I don’t simply read on Kindle; I write on Kindle pages. Kindle annotations are another major source of ideas for me. It’s so easy to extract both the original text as well as the notes I’ve made surrounding key parts of books, documents, and newspaper clippings on my Kindles. I’ve created lectures and practical lab sessions emerging as ideas from those Kindle extracts.

I buy most of the content that appears on my Kindle. Those authors I read on Kindle influence me. They add to the ideas germinating in my head as I try to sort out what I really think or what sort of plan I believe should emerge from unformed thoughts.

Sometimes I sketch snippets of thoughts as four frames of a storyboard. Other times I just let my pen flow and create word clouds inside hand-drawn rectangles and spontaneous circles. I can actually feel an idea coming into the light through this tactile kinaesthetic process inside my Moleskine journals.

These ideas have to get out of my attic, be spoken to my favourite A.I., and then shared outside my private space. In my case, that means taking my unformed ideas into casual chats like #cong18.

Every year, I block out a weekend in November to visit Cong. I’ve missed more sessions than I’ve attended but if you looked at my Moleskines through the past five years, you would probably think I was in Cong since the very beginning. This year, I’m talking out loud about sharing ideas and watching those ideas form on screen. If you’re in Cong on 24th November 2018, you can hear me voice my thoughts out loud. I hope to share ideas from friends whose stories I’ve followed.