Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Pick Your Own

When I gather articles to share it sometimes feels a lot like wandering through one of those Pick Your Own orchards. When I was a kid we used to visit the strawberry fields, and later blueberries, and towards October, the apple orchards. (For sunny childhood memories, I highly recommend letting your kid stain her or his hands in berry fields)

But oh boy, the internet is like everything in season all at once. And not just berries and apples, but also mangos and starfruit and Cava. The infinite choices, and the enormous wealth of apples–er, articles–give me two contradictory instincts: I want to grab every single article worth sharing--totally unrealistic, and pretty greedy as well–but I also want to search every single tree and find only the ripest, roundest, juiciest articles.

So I’m going with secret method 3, which is the various interesting fruits I’ve picked up along the side of the road from Colorado to Columbus.

Only The Juiciest Links

The Return of The Printed Blog via Cision Navigator

Time to Let Go of Social Clutter via Leigh Reyes

10 Best books of 2010 from the New York Times. Except–wait–the Early Word blog has been collecting all of the “Best Books 2010” lists. Like literally, every one that has been published. So if you need reading recommendations, they’ve got the motherload.

I love this list of the 10 Happiest Jobs from Mint.com blog, and their commentary.

Side Note: I really love the Mint.com blog. I always hesitate to follow financial blogs because all they write about is, well, money. They leave out all of the subtle non-monetary things that affect the economy and one’s finances. And yeah, I get that money is the bread and butter of a capitalist society, but frequently financial writers/bloggers/journalists just seem to have blinders on. Money doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and I like that Mint’s financial blog is thoughtful, ethical, and culturally conscious. Plus they always have great infographics.

Gender Analysis predicts the gender of any homepage, using… some sort of data, I’m sure. If I had the free time, I’d contact this website to see what their method for analysis is. (P.S. Thanks to FPNOkami for the tweet that eventually lead to me this!)

Hooray for inspiration! Slide show review of 2010 watercolor artists (via Brush – Paper – Water)

It’s never too early for wish-lists. In this case, from the new Exaclair catalogue (via Rhodia Drive)

The best articles from 2010 on art, marketing, and social media (via FineArtTips.com)

Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing than Typing (via Lifehacker)

A post on Fearless Creativity from the Etsy Storque. I could use a little fearlessness right now.

On Resolutions, Goals, and Playing Cards

“We must imagine the possibility of a more just world before the world may become more just. That’s something that poets do well.”

– Martin Espada

In the progressive artsy sector of the internet, it seems pretty well-accepted that New Year’s Resolutions are over-simplifying things, at the very least. Even Oprah thinks that keeping a journal is a better method for self-improvement than making some spastic once-a-year goals (and I agree). I also like Stephanie’s (aka Biffybeans’) guidelines for making manifestations instead of resolutions.

There’s something about Boulder the United States the Holidays that leaves me exhausted. And maybe that’s why people find the idea of New Year’s Resolutions so refreshing, like a deep cleansing meditation after a bad hangover. But the general sentiment from friends and fellow bloggers is that a feeling of “stuck-ness” is more than a matter of internal motivation. Unfortunately, there really are external factors that affect your success – a shitty economy, for one. A highly motivated, optimistic, and qualified individual is not guaranteed a job, at least at the moment. In fact just such a friend of mine is currently on food stamps.

One of my big-picture goals has always been to bring these larger systems up in conversations, especially with people who believe that the individual is 100% responsible for his or her fate. Having tried to live as a low-income person in a high-income city for the past few months, I can tell you that positive attitudes and initiative can only take you so far. Chance has a lot to do with it, and so does the willingness of luckier people to reach out to you. There isn’t a lot of outreach here in Boulder, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities for poor folks to mingle with the rich folks. Let alone different racial groups.

In 1994, the KKK held a rally in Boulder. When Boulder residents vehemently protested, a KKK leader gave a speech in which he identified Boulder as a model city for the KKK because (contrary to the image of being one of the most progressive cities in the nation) “it is impossible for a lower middle class family with multiple childeren to live here.” In fact, he congratulated Boulder on achieving 90% white demographics. It took a member of the KKK to give the city a wake-up call about privilege, to show them that no amount of Buddhist meditation groups and African dance lessons will create real diversity.

Having said that, I’m no fatalist when it comes to success and happiness, and I don’t think The Man can keep you down forever. Re-examine the cards you’ve been dealt: the privileges and the opportunities, the options and the limitations. There are a lot of people who don’t have the opportunity to save or invest money, and will never have the financial padding to move to a different city or switch professions. So heck, I feel real good about being able to miserably pinch pennies in order to move across the country (yet again). Miserable, sure, but lucky as hell.

I propose we think of the new year as reshuffling your deck. See if new patterns emerge, or if you’ve been trying to play the wrong hand for too long. (Is this metaphor still making sense?)

My Hand This Year

  1. Do whatever it takes to avoid being overwhelmed by job-searching. Take a day off to rest my brain, and ask for help if I need it. Indulge in self pity if necessary, but don’t be crippled by it.
  2. Fake the enthusiasm that I don’t always have. I know that my tendency is to curl up alone and read or paint, but that certainly isn’t going to make me friends or get a job.
  3. Spend money in ways that enhance my life. I will not feel guilty about going out to a restaurant if it helps me get closer to a new friend. And I will not feel guilty about ordering lunch, if it helps me bond with my co-workers. Sometimes not spending money can isolate you and prevent you from connecting with your workplace or hometown.
  4. Be strategic with the Great Flow of Information. Because damn, it’s easy to get lost in the internet. Instead of zoning out on forums and looking at infinite other artists, use that time to read tutorials on job-searching, or better yet – to actually paint something myself.
  5. Seriously consider whether graduate school will make me happier or more marketable. And if the answer is yes, get going on that.

Lunar Eclipse

No matter how much science you know, watching an eclipse puts you back in the days of Babylon, wondering if the world’s gonna end.

Airport Exercises for Writers

Being something of a shy girl, you’d think that airports would overwhelm me the same way that theme parks and state fairs do. But airports are some of my favorite places, especially the teeny tiny local ones and the big international ones. They’re a writer’s dream: basically a full cast of characters to pick and choose from.

Airport Exercises for Writers

Look at the makeup of the crowds waiting at each gate. Study the general differences between gates and imagine what that says about the place. For example: On my recent flight, there was a disproportionately high presence of camo and hunting boots at the gate to Akron, OH.

Try to guess who’s visiting that place and who’s flying home. A lot of the people flying from Denver to Ohio had small babies. It turns out that a lot of young couples move to Colorado, but have to take the baby to visit their parents back East. Maybe this shows that we as a culture still have an idealized view about “moving out West” to make a fresh start, or to get away from family…

When you book your flight, schedule a leisurely layover. Think about it this way: you may spend a whole day in airports but you won’t rush to catch a flight, and you can use the extra time as professional development. Grab a drink at the bar, set up in a central area, and…

Watch. Airports are emotional places. People say goodbye, part ways, start new lives, reunite with old friends. Watch those stories unfold, and make sure to record as much detail as possible.

Eavesdrop. People don’t really read anymore when they’re waiting for a flight; they talk on their phone. Oftentimes, they talk about the trip from which they’re returning (or on which they are embarking). On my flight back to Colorado, a group of six black women with leopard-print luggage, obviously close friends, were discussing their friend’s son who had either a) committed suicide or b) been institutionalized (couldn’t quite figure out which). Apparently this kid’s dad had experienced similar problems, and they wondered if it was genetic; mostly, they talked about how their friend (the mother) should have dealt with the situation, and how she should deal with it now.

Use your flight to write. It’s the ideal setup for a writer: no internet for distractions, a handy tray that doubles as a desk, and snacks served right to you.

Branding, and Its Problems

I’m in the middle of “rebranding” my online presence– I finally got tired of that damn smirky face always staring at me from the corner of my screen. Unfortunately, the last time I could take a skillful self-portrait was during an egotistical high school phase. So, for the present, you’ll see my ripped jeans hangin’ around the internet.

Also, I got a Twitter account. Frankly, I have no clue to use Twitter (sometimes I even say “twittering” instead of “tweeting” at the office, which is horribly embarrassing, mostly for everyone else), so I’ve been dorking out for the past two days and watching all kinds of free tutorials online. Look at me! Adapting!

But, okay, aside from my discomfort with fragmented Twitter communities and my distain for ultra-hip corporate PR advice,  my real problem with “branding” is, well, etymological. It refers to the process of burning one’s slaves and animals to mark them as your own. And although the method has changed, the motive has not: a good brand can be recognized anywhere. Which, funnily enough, was precisely what helped slaveowners to track down their runaway slaves.

Ricë Freeman-Zachery, the blogger behind Notes from the Voodoo Cafe (who also happens to be visually striking enough to not really need any “branding”), has a damn good rant about this whole concept of online branding, and what it means for the blurry line between internet and real life.

As for me, I’m happy enough to talk about “online presence” instead of “branding.” Although, my biggest client at the office is beginning a major rebranding and new product launch in a few months, so it’s pretty hard to avoid using the word. Sigh…


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