Posts Tagged 'Technology'

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.

Psycho-technical Updates

Sure, my train may have been delayed six hours due to engine trouble, and we may have finally rolled into Charlottesville at 30mph. And sure, it’s scary as hell to drive through icy back roads in West Virginia with only front-wheel drive… but eventually, finally, I’m here in Columbus, securing an apartment and pumping up my ego to search for jobs.*

I won’t have time to get back to posting for another week or so, but in the meantime I’ve been updating some of my other online presences**, so check them out!

My Goodreads Bookshelf


* Any assistance with the ego-pumping is more than welcome.
** Okay, I admit that these might be time-wasting excuses to procrastinate the job search.

Rurality Online

Rural Recommendations

Browse: Farmgirl Fare blog has friggin’ cute baby donkeys, seriously delicious recipes, and beautiful quilts. To put it simply, this blog is good therapy after a long day of work.

Read: Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, is a rare example of a novel that confronts politics, money, and the environment without being, um, badly written. Which is quite a feat, given that environmental novelists like Wendell Berry and Barbara Kingsolver (as much as I enjoy them) quite often become preachy and one-sided. Refreshingly, Franzen has created some of the most complex and engaging characters I’ve read in a long time. (And the book still manages to be a damn good exploration of the complicated political side to environmentalism)

In other news…

My alma mater, Kenyon College, just received a grant for a three-year project called Rural by Design, which focuses on a cutting-edge holistic approach rural sustainability. Over the past century, urban design has become accepted as a legitimate profession or pursuit, but this grant hopes to put rural design on the same page.

Speaking of rural design, check out these creepy aerial images of disconnected sprawl.

Grist posted this super-interesting article about the “war” between cities and suburbs— which might as well be titled “a real-life enactment of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom”. Unfortunately, this so-called war between cities and suburbs is not about the benefits and drawbacks to each structure of living and communing, but rather about structural sustainability versus the infringement on personal liberty. You might notice that there’s a third party missing from this debate: rural populations.

Obama talks rural communities and energy challenges. I don’t have nearly the leisure time to blog about the question of energy in the United States (aside from the occasional rant about the coal industry), but extraction of natural resources should always be in mind when thinking about rural areas.

…speaking of which, the coal industry is setting its sights on Illinois now that Appalachia is nearly used up and fucked over. Is anyone else reminded of that sleazy guy in college who was clearly dealing with his own insecurities by sleeping with one girl after another?

On the plus side, there’s finally going to be a study released about the links between mining and cancer! Except–oh, wait– we’ll only see it after it’s been reviewed by a mining industry group. Biased much?

Meanwhile, a new study looks at the different lifestyles that young urban people want— and while cushy, it also sounds pretty sustainable…

Hooray, my mountains! The Blue Ridge Mountains preserve 58,000 acres

Farming

Natasha Bowens offers a solid critique of the white majority in sustainable agriculture.

In Ireland, recession is returning the economy back to its rural roots. More evidence to support my quiet hypothesis that underneath the fluctuations of money, rural living is the natural state of communities.

A Kentucky county finds that the Farm-to-School movement isn’t as simple as it should be. Having worked with local food programs at my own college, I know that these projects are so exciting in those early idealistic stages, but are less easy to actually execute.

Native American Indian farmers have settled with the Obama administration after years of discrimination from the USDA.

Digital v. Analog

USA Today discusses the role that e-books have played in renewing people’s love of reading

…while the New York Times interviews college students about the same debate between e-books and hard copies.

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…

A Blogger’s Worst Nightmare!

Forgetting your camera at the other side of your road trip. GAH.

In any case, my Road Trip Post will have to wait until my camera is shipped to me from Ohio.

In the meantime…

Check out what’s been up with Rurality in the News*

__________

*Should I come up with a series title for this? I don’t ever want to be a reblogger, but because rurality is such a broad concept I think it’s useful to compile all these different subjects and articles into one place.

lolconstitution?

When was the last time you received a letter that looked like this? (...If you're one of my pen readers, don't answer that.)

The clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.

–Neil Postman

_____________________________

When Neil Postman writes, “Each medium makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility,” he means that each medium for sharing information (letter-writing, telephone, smoke signals, etc.) re-orients our brains—not in a neurological sense, necessarily, but in the way we communicate, and in what we communicate. More than that, the medium affects what we think in the first place.

For example, I would never think about tsunamis or earthquakes in other countries if it weren’t delivered to me as “the news of the day.” If letter-writing were our main means of communicating information, I wouldn’t find out until months afterward—and they probably wouldn’t even tell me unless I had a family member in the region.

Sometimes I like to imagine…

How different our constitution might be if  it had been composed on the computer. Would typing, instead of writing with dip pens, have altered the things that the Founding Fathers thought important enough to include? Would they have wikipedia’d other nations’ governments first in order to do a thorough comparison study?

But the medium affects more than the contents of the information-document. The difference in information-mediums between the 18th century and the 21st —that is, dip pens and written letters versus email, news web sites, and texting—affects the quality and the meaning of our individual (and national) character. Think about how different a meaning “patriotism” had when it didn’t involve bumper stickers or even military service, but rather it meant: sitting at a desk in a cold, cold house, way out in the boonies, reflecting on the things that you believed in. You wouldn’t have been affected by any media-hype; instead, you would read a bunch of pamphlets, written by other people in cold, dark houses. You would reflect on their thoughts, and respond to them. And each of those pamphlets would have been well thought out– you kind of have to be more thoughtful, when you’re writing more slowly. (Dip…5 words….dip…4 words…)

If we still defined patriotism this way, I think we’d have a healthier nation. How strange to think that we might actually reflect on our beliefs, instead of becoming a “fan” of ideology X on Facebook. Personally, I think we’re damn lucky that the Founding Fathers were writing with dip pens when they declared independence. We at least know that it wasn’t a rash decision (“Shit! I hit “send” on that email to King George too early!”).

Quite a few people have already written admirable essays on the benefits of letter writing–though I embarrassingly don’t have their links on hand–and I don’t need to repeat them. It’s also important to note that none of us are advocating for the demise of technology: emails and quick-composition on the computer serve an important function in today’s world. My point is that we must keep in mind the effect that each medium has on what we write, not just how we write. In other words, it’s not about using “omg” instead of “oh my god” –it’s about how our responses to surprising news have become limited to an automatic acronym—“omg!”—without any real, individual reflection.

So I received this great letter  (pictured at the top) along with my order for ten new dip nibs this past week. I appreciate knowing that this person took ten, fifteen minutes to focus on communicating with me. And it wasn’t multi-tasked with checking email or youtube (because distractions, trust me, are a killer when you’re using dip nibs. India ink dries fast. And the next thing you know, you’ve shellacked your fingers together).

Check back soon to see what projects I come up with for these new nibs. I’m currently working on a big artsy birthday present for a friend, so they might become a useful tool for that…

Rurality in the News

Some of this blog’s overarching themes have been all over the news lately:

_________________________________

*For the record, a “Western Diet” was defined as one that relies heavily on takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products, and confectionery.


Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

Flickr Photos

More Photos

Recent Tweets

  • RT @rgay: There are clearly no circumstances under which black lives matter in the justice system. Each acquittal makes this clear. #Philan1 week ago
  • I use brackets a *lot* in early drafts. Also m-dashes, semicolons, and meta rants in the margins. 1 week ago
  • RT @nytimesbooks: Tracy K. Smith, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the new Poet Laureate, the Library of Congress announced https://t.co/D9… 1 week ago
  • I am making a cute art today and I can't show anyone because it's a prezzie 💗🖌 1 week ago