One way to build something big is to build something big. Like a pyramid. Or a multifaceted bank. Or a university. Another way is to build something that is architected to be full of small pieces, small things, small units.
Khan Academy is one of these "build small things" that became big services. Another is Quizlet. These services, among others, have probably done more to advance knowledge for millions of people than anything else in the last decade. But I think that they work not simply because they advance learning or that their respective missions are to offer education to as many people, anywhere, and for free, as possible.
In fact, they may work in spite of those lofty goals. Instead, they work because they start small in what they can accomplish for an individual user. Quadratic equations. French animal names. Telling time in Spanish.
At a specific level, they each work in a way that is consistent with how people think and, 20 years into the web, desire to find information. For example, someone may think to herself, "I forget how to subtract fractions." They then conduct a search for it, and Khan delivers a 4 minute video lesson. The whole process may take 5 minutes and is hardly interruptive.
Similarly, on Quizlet, a student will think, and search for, "-AR verb combinations in Spanish." Flash cards appear and the lesson is on its way.
Then, in aggregating all these small pieces, something much grander and transformative appears. Before anyone realizes it. Knowledge and sharing bases that are used by millions and millions of people.
(Khan, of course, has historically centralized production of this content. Quizlet, on the other hand, has a peer produced model.)
This morning I was reading an incredible article about a company that reads Amazon reviews to find out what consumer electronic products people want - and then manufacturers and sells them in small batches. This company's customer research, if you will, is to simply listen to what people are saying on a micro level on another service. I want a bluetooth speaker for my shower. It thereby can and does compete against the behemoths of its industry. "A tiny company with one speaker can compete against anyone."
Small things can mask grander ambitions. They also can be an amazing way to create something really big.
Nov 19, 2013
One way to build something big is to build something big. Like a pyramid. Or a multifaceted bank. Or a university. Another way is to build something that is architected to be full of small pieces, small things, small units.
Nov 7, 2013
A few months ago I watched on video a talk by Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University (where I went), called "Beyond the University." In this talk Michael lays out a framework justification for why a broad based liberal education matters. If so inclined you can watch it here. It's great, but I am not that interested right now in the merits of that discourse, as interesting as they may be.
Instead, I've been thinking of that framework he lays out. He says that liberal education matters because it provides four things for individuals: the ability to liberate, animate, cooperate and instigate, in their lives and the world. More specifically,
*liberate - giving people more autonomy and be able to decide on their own destinies
*animate - helping the world come alive
*cooperate - listening to your neighbors to improve our collective lot
*instigate - the ability to instigate change in your worldMy wife Susan just got back from a conference - people who were united over a medical condition and who came together, initially through blogs, Twitter, Facebook. This was the first time many of them were in the same room together - in person at this event. They didn't describe it this way, but as I listened to the planning and heard about goings-on at the three-day conference, I realized that they too had used tools - modern, Internet based tools - to liberate themselves in part from a medical system that wasn't paying attention, to animate what that world looks like, to work with each other, and to instigate change.
at 10:16 AM
Oct 25, 2013
There are many examples of online communities, as well as many examples of ways to engage, promote and respect those communities. At USV we think about this a fair amount.
But sometimes online communities can surprise you in unexpected ways. Sometimes in being the shepherd of a group of people and businesses you can learn about yourself too. Sometimes the way you interact with those communities takes different shapes than you would otherwise expect.
Science Exchange is a transactional marketplace for scientific experiments; USV is an investor. The participants in this marketplace are on the one hand scientists with specific experimental research needs and on the other hand organizations with capabilities to do pieces of those experiments. Recently, the company moved down the street in Palo Alto to a new office, one that is open and bright. With large, blank walls. Looking at the blank walls was not fun, they needed to fill them with something. Being an early stage company, buying art wasn't really an option. So, they asked their community, the providers, for help.
Which those providers did. Various members sent in pictures of the work they do. Microscopic images of the experiments they run. The main office wall is above (Tess did a great job here). Below is some more. On the left is "Histopathology" (the providers named the "works" themselves) - a microscopic picture of gut wall cells. The provider that sent it in is the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource which provides histology services (you can see their prices and ratings on the linked page).
The art in the right of the additional picture below is an image of mouse vasculature from the Mouse Biology Program - again, you can see their services on the linked pages.
When you walk into Science Exchange the effect is striking. Last week I was there and I was buzzing. Gorgeous images line the walls. It is pleasing and interesting to the eye. The office is filled with artwork. Artwork from and of their scientific community providers. Of their science and services. Just looking at the wall, it not only looks great but I imagine it also enhances the team's commitment to their mission, to what they are doing, and their focus on customer service.
There are many ways to increase the connections in your online community. Sometimes they are not what you think. Sometimes they involve another kind of hacking.
at 7:59 AM
Oct 21, 2013
Everyone is, rightly, talking about the wonderful and heartfelt and authentic essay by Macklemore about the incredible year they have had. It's that good, it should be read. It is a measure of how, sticking to your principles can lead to wonderful things.
But something about it bugged me, something I couldn't quite figure out. Then I realized it. Macklemore writes:
To date we’ve sold over 1 million albums in the US this year. We’ve received platinum plaques from counties I’ve never even been before. We have 3 multi platinum singles (Thrift 7x, Can’t Hold Us 4x, Same Love 2x). We’ve performed on Ellen, Conan, Letterman, Leno, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, Billboard Music Awards, Good Morning America and the MTV Video Music Awards. It was just announced today that we’re nominated for 6 American Music Award’s, and yesterday it was announced we’re performing at The Grammy’s nomination night.What confused me was that while, yes, he and his band deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work, using as metrics millions of albums sold, multi-platinum singles, performances on late night television, awards shows, Grammy's, are only one measure of validation. More so they are all *analog* measures of validation. That is, they all existed before the advent of the Internet.
In this new, DIY, direct to fan, social connected world, there are many many more measures of what one can now aspire to. Indeed, isn't the promise of the Internet in part the broadening of who can create, and what the results of that creation can potentially be? Isn't the promise of the Internet the allowance for the actualization of many different types of goals. Macklemore's is, in fact, not the only one. Maybe it isn't the important one.
For example, Jonathan Wilson seemingly plays live and on record with anyone and everyone. He has released only 3 records in the last 6 years but is seemingly omnipresent.
James Jackson Toth, Wooden Wand, on the other hand, has released dozens and dozens of records, under different names and formats. He is very active on twitter where he tweets about his partners' PhD candidacy as much as anything else.
Yo La Tengo tours and releases on their own schedule, just the same as they have been doing since 1986, 25+ years. Bob Dylan has been on the Never Ending Tour since 1988 - touring continuously according to whatever strange rhythm he sees and in venues varied and random. Lyrics Born is one of the best lyricists of the last decade, and he makes e-books and is Kickstarting his latest tour as Latyrx. Jay Babcock decided to bring back Arthur Magazine as a broadsheet.
Most of these artists will never play from the Barclay's stage, they wouldn't know how to get to an awards show, and for the most part late night TV means something very different. But they each, and many many others, seem to find their inspiration in a very different output, but by also going directly to their listeners, their supporters, their friends. And maybe they each aspire to a very different path, a do-it-yourself path, to get to that output, using many if not all of the same tools and techniques as Macklemore. Yes indeed, Macklemore is one of the good ones, I'm psyched for all of that. I just don't want to forget the other paths and results afforded to other artists, who only aspire to traveling their own road with their own form of results that don't get measured on charts, but who are just as worthy of attention, and are also just as successful. Just search for them on the Internet, you will find them, they can be found.
at 5:43 PM
Oct 14, 2013
"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think."
at 10:49 AM
Sep 30, 2013
If dreams came true, oh wouldn't that be nice
A bunch of years ago I was in a meeting listening to a technology company pitch a potential buyer, regaling with all the incredible things, the potential value, that would be unlocked by tying all these tools together to give the buyer unprecedented visibility into their hiring processes. The buyer listened closely, and said "I agree with everything you describe. But it's the nirvana state, the end goal. What I want to know is actually how we get there."
Do What You Love is a nirvana state, an end goal, and output. It too simplistically describes the nuances, the ups and downs of life, the journey. It's valid, sure, but maybe not helpful in the day to day.
I was reminded of this while reading Andre Agassi's wonderful memoir, Open, last week. Agassi - one of the greatest tennis players ever, winner of numerous tournaments and accolades. On the first page of his memoir, the very first page, he lays it down:
"I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have."His journey ends with peace and yes, love, but man was he tortured getting to be the best in the world at something. It almost destroys him. Hate, not love.
It made me think of my professional journey. When I zoom out and look at it from the perspective of 20 or so years, it looks like a well-planned out series of moves and progressions, doing things that look pretty cool. When I zoom in more closely it looks more accurately like a series of serendipitous, random steps, lots of missteps and mistakes, and many many many regrets. In fact, not until 2006 or 2007, when I reconnected with John and started betaworks, can I ever really say that I was satisfied, maybe even happy, and definitely the only time I really felt good at something. Not until I was 40 fucking years old! And there were parts of building betaworks - getting office space, hiring people, setting up payroll, forming subsidiaries, raising money - that I am not sure I would describe that I "loved" doing. They were tedious, stressful, and hard.
But I was happy and satisfied and intellectually challenged. Maybe that's enough?
Bob Dylan's memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, is also a remarkable, and related, work. At the height of his fame, coming off an unreal string of about 8 epic all-time great records, he dropped out. On the one hand, he is pretty clear why: to focus on being a parent, a father. Incredible. I also read another, related but different, reason. You see, Dylan couldn't explain to himself how he was able to channel something within and without to become maybe the greatest songwriter, and poet, ever. Quite simply, he didn't know how he did it. And he feels it slipping away. So he himself slips away into a place of different satisfaction.
I've come to the conclusion that doing what you love is the end game, the nirvana state. I'm not sure it's really even that attainable. Instead, it's probably a good framework, but also maybe nothing more, only to view the journey you take to get somewhere. That's more useful.
at 9:53 AM
Sep 20, 2013
at 11:33 AM
Sep 12, 2013
We are in the middle of the sharing age - Internet media allows (and empowers us) to share our thoughts, friends, sounds, videos, pictures, feelings. This is fundamental, and good: self-expression is a base human need and desire, and for too long our media was projected at us, and not with us.
I was reminded of the power of sharing, a different kind of sharing, the other day. I was walking down the street with a friend, a very successful entrepreneur and creator. He and his partner had sold their last company, and were now embarking on new projects, new companies; this time however they would be starting their new things not together but separately.
In telling me this, my friend turned to me and said, "we've given each other equity in our new companies, you know, we want to diversify our risks." He told me the number, it was a material amount.
As we walked on, I thought to myself that his reasoning - diversification - was exactly backwards. They were starting Internet ventures - both very ambitious and crazy risky ideas. The last thing they needed to do was have more equity in that.
But I don't think that's what was really going on. I think they were just simply sharing. Sharing equity. No strings attached. Doing it just because, maybe to them, it felt like the right thing to do.
At that moment I was humbled to my core. And tried to think about things that have been shared with me for no real reason other than maybe it was right just to share for the sake of sharing.
It's really easy to share a song lyric that means something to you and I will keep doing that. I was reminded this week that it's also easy to share things that require a different kind of time, a different kind of forethought and planning, that result in a different kind of smile. I need to do more of that.
at 6:25 AM
Aug 12, 2013
Last winter someone gave me a Nexus Android device they got at a Google event. It didn't have phone service so I gave it to my son to play with. He took to it immediately, especially having a mobile camera. He started snapping pictures of everything. Then sharing them. As a result, earlier this summer we got him a camera - a simple Canon point and shoot. He also took a photo class this summer. At the end of the class they printed their pictures on a office printer and made photo albums.
It reminded me of a photo class I took when I was 14 or 15. I remember clearly the purple hue of the dark room; I can still recall the smell of the chemicals and the magical process of watching a photo come to life in a pool of substances. I remember the photo kids with their beefy eyes dilated from too much time in those dark rooms. I got sad for my boy, thinking that he would totally miss the process of creation, the science of it, the solitary and group pursuit. He wouldn't get to experience the context, rather than only the content.
He also experimented with layered pictures - taking photos of photos:
In a taxi yesterday afternoon we were chatting and while looking at me and talking he lifted his camera to the window and snapped a photo of the outside motion, without looking. A new style he was trying, he told me.
All these techniques were driven by his ability to see the photos immediately after taking the picture. He could see, right away, the results of his tinkering. Something rarely available in the past.
As a result, he became fearless. About experimenting, using what he had but also trying new techniques, methods. Seeing the results and reacting to them, altering them, discarding them. In real time. He's wondering if should save up and get at some point a digital single-lens reflect camera. Maybe he will, maybe he will lose interest in all of this.
Regardless, a new technology, one that I worried took away a most important part of the process for him (using the lens of my own experience), instead taught him something much different. And maybe more important. And he didn't need to inhale any chemicals to learn that.
at 11:41 AM
Jun 20, 2013
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through
I've read many many music books (the best: Positively 4th Street, Chronicles Volume One, Please Kill Me, Our Band Could Be Your Life, The Trouser Press Record Guide, Beneath the Underdog, Miles, Rock of Ages, Lipstick Traces, Just Kids) and magazines (such as Spin, Uncut, Mojo, The Big Takeover, Forced Exposure, Backstreets).
The reality is, I'm not a great writer, at least not in the sense of what a professional writer is (or I believe should be). That's alright, I was never trained as such and never really learned to write well. Not sure I even aspire to that. I leave that to my partner and friends.
However, self-expressive services, like Tumblr, aren't concerned with notions, objective or otherwise, of quality. They don't make a value judgement about whether I am a good writer or not. They are a canvas. To create, with freedom. They implicitly say, do it yourself. They are about, first and foremost, self-empowerment.
I believe that rarely in history have we had places that allow us to express ourselves, who we are, at mass, to the world, with little rules other than as we might create to govern ourselves. Requiring no permission. Until recently, and via the Internet.
On May 25, 2007, I posted a photo on my Tumblr site. A few months later, on February 16, 2008, I first posted a song (New York Groove, Ace Frehley). Pretty much every day since then I have posted some song, some thought, some music related randomalia. 4,837 times. I even once wrote an "open letter" to a hero journalist of mine, Jann Wenner, about Tumblr and Rolling Stone.
Without thinking about it or even trying; without any plan; and clearly without anyone judging me (quite the opposite: with quite a bit of encouragement from people I only know through their pseudonyms), I know now that I realized my fantasy. I became a writer. Sure, no classic definition of music writer would ever list this experience there, and my writing usually sucks, and I'll never make a living from it, and god knows only a few people even ever notice it. But it's there, and no one's permission was needed for me to play out a small scale alternate reality fantasy, in my own little way.
Presciently, Thoreau told us to “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”
Empowering new people to do things is fundamentally important. Empowering new people to have the option to themselves be creators is as important. This completely changes the way we access, or perceive, media, because individuals have the power, the ability, to be in control.
That gives us all the opportunity to be rock stars, on a large or small stage, but a stage of our own, with no permission required.
So, regardless of the armchair analysis that will occur, at least today I am going to try not to forget that, while I may never really get to be that music writer I dreamed of, no one can stop me from writing about music. Even if it's in a small, but my own, way.
at 11:36 AM
May 29, 2013
at 1:01 PM
Apr 29, 2013
Well, I guess that it's typical
To cling to memories you'll never get back again
And to sort through old photographs of a summer long ago
- Conor Oberst
Luckily, in NYC then there was this thing called Public Access Television. It used to be on channels 16 and 17 via Manhattan Cable. Community, DIY programming. Anyone could have a television show. In a moment of Wayne's World delusion, we figured that we could make our own program. We walked into the offices of Manhattan Cable on East 23rd Street, filled out a one-page form (that's all that was required), handed it in, and got a slot on the spot. Thursday at 7:30pm. Right before the Simpsons. Prime time. Just like that. We had to come up with a name so we did so. The Underground Railroad: Independent Music for the Independent Mind. All we had to do was have the video tape - a 3/4 inch tape - delivered to 23rd street every Friday at 6pm for the following week. It was as easy as that. We were on our way.
Now the real work began - we found an old portable video cassette recorder with integrated mic. We called and wrote letters to labels asking for videos, for interviews, for anything. We plastered the east village with flyers. We got introduced to a ex-tank operator named Amit with war stories to tell but who was also an editor and had studio time - from midnight to 3 am. He accepted payment in cash or contraband or any combination thereof.
Over the next few years we pretty much put on a show every week. Hundreds of 28 minute episodes. The first video of the first episode was Shonen Knife - Red Kross. The second was Ween - Pollo Asado. My friend Steve and I were the "hosts" of the first episode, filming the introductions and "wrap arounds." Somehow, I think by calling up Mammoth Records, we were invited to interview Julian Hatfield, on the eve of the release of her first solo record, outside CBGBs. I had never interviewed anyone before. Luckily, she was more nervous than me. It was a disaster.
But we did it, each week, for a few years. Spending half a day driving around in an Econoline van with Mike Watt. Meeting Mudhoney. Drinking with the Afghan Whigs. Interviewing Evan Dando in 1992 and listening to him play on acoustic guitar a song called "Fuck and Run" by an unknown female singer from a demo tape he had been listening to. Writing letters to Sub Pop. Meeting Jon Spencer. Begging SST for videos (they never gave them up). For years we got on the guest list of every show, everywhere, backstage and all. Had to get a P.O. box and cut a special deal with the mailbox operator because we got too much mail - videos, CDs, swag.
When I tell people this story, they mostly have the same reaction. "You need to put the shows on Youtube!" The video tapes - cartons of them - are spread out. Maybe in California. Maybe at my mom's place. Some in Woodstock. Maybe they are gone. These requests usually set off a flurry of internal emails amongst ourselves: should we do this? Have you watched them? Which one should we digitize? This year we will really get around to it, yes this year we will, right?
And then when I think about it, I realize we probably shouldn't, and most likely won't, digitize them and put them on Youtube or Vimeo or wherever.
It would ruin the memories.
Those memories are amazing. We had no idea what we were doing. It was DIY. It was punk. We were going to be famous. Get a "real" show someday. Something like that. The memories are also bittersweet: there are episodes we filmed downtown with the Twin Towers in the background.
And as the years go by, and the specifics fade, these memories retain and enhance something even more. The romanticism of youth. Of music. Of friendship. Of Greenwich Village. It all seemed so fun, the stories are wonderful. We still tell them to each other.
But the reality was also something different. The memory is that editing the shows with a stoned tank operator editor was exhilarating. The reality was that it was a huge hassle doing it in the middle of the night, we were tired and cranky and fought all the time, and he was a terrible editor, it took him hours to do something simple.
The memory is that calling Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop and speaking with him was fun. The reality that was that bothering a small businessman and begging for music videos was lame, tedious stuff, as was debating endlessly over and over what was really "independent" or not.
The memory of meeting and hanging out with your "heroes" was spectacular. The reality was that these were just people, sometimes cool, sometimes jerks, living in some surreal existence and we were bothering them, playing along to some bizarre post-teenage groupie game.
If I think hard about it, I recall that we fought all the time making this show. Oftentimes, it felt more like a burden than a joy. Friendships were strained to the breaking points.
You see, I don't need to remember the pain, humiliation, the crap. If I watched those episodes again, if I posted them online to be available for posterity, I am pretty sure I would be disappointed. Embarrassed Reminded of alot of time and money wasted and stupid things done and said.
Instead, I just want to remember that, for a little while, we got a little closer to something, maybe to being cool. We got to touch those who we thought we ourselves wanted to be. We got to pretend we were rock and roll. It was, yes, romantic.
As the details fade, the stories - what we remember of them - become more interesting as the rough edges smooth out. My memories are better than the reality. Not only is that ok, it sustains me as I get older.
Maybe not everything needs to be preserved outside of our minds. As imperfect, fading and fleeting as our memories may be, maybe that is precisely what makes them - and us - special. I'll stick with those instead.
at 7:39 AM
Apr 10, 2013
The musician Prince recently found short videos clips from the Twitter-owned video sharing service Vine to be offending because they contained clips from his music:
A representative of NPG Records wrote to Twitter to say eight video clips hosted on Vine contained “unauthorized recordings” and “unauthorized synchronizations” and asked the company to remove them immediately - The Next WebHere is one of the clips in question.
This is not the first time Prince has gone on this crusade: "Prince, of course, has earned a somewhat unflattering reputation for his tireless efforts to hunt down unauthorized fan recordings across the web and have them obliterated."
In all likelihood, this is simply a case of a control freak "optimizing for control" (says @anildash). Not realizing the passion of his fans who want to share their experiences listening to his music.
But what if this is something more than that, something maybe ingenious that may not only be inoffensive to his fans, but also may enhance aspects of their fandom that were otherwise lost in the digital era. What if Prince is trying to manufacture scarcity where it no longer exists.
Back in the pre-Internet day, buying a record took some work. You had to find out about it (radio, fanzine), scrounge up some cash, get yourself to a record store (Tower Records on Broadway, for one), buy the platter, get back home, and listen. Then get a cassette, record some tracks, give the tape to a friend. A lot of friction, sure. But also a process that, because of the scarcity of getting a new record, had its own rhythms of fandom. Being the first to have something mattered in a different way. Not a better way, but a different way. I remember the first time my friend Steve played us Husker Du - he was the guide, we were his followers. We felt inside the process of discovery.
Which is why I always struggle when something, some content, is described as "quality." For isn't a degree of excellence purely subjective? Which is not to say that content does not have value, it's just that maybe it has less inherent value than we previously thought. My idea is that, prior to the Internet becoming a mass distribution platform, the value of a piece of content was more related to its scarcity of distribution than it was to any measure of its value. In equation form, we could think that traditionally Value (V) = Scarcity (S) * Quality (Q). Q of course, being largely subjective, is hard to measure. But S is not. I believe that S then acted as a multiplier of value. Seinfeld was a good show, surely; but it was only available at 9pm on Thursdays. Tuesdays were the exciting days when new records were released. And we didn't have even near to the number of alternative choices to occupy our time as we do now. Thus a massive S, and thus a massive V.
Maybe it follows then that, because there is so little scarcity of distribution anymore, the whole value chain has been disrupted, maybe even inverted. We need new forms of finding and exchanging value. Live performances. Kickstarter campaigns. 15 episodes of a new show all released at once.
Or, you can try to create scarcity, or at least the appearance of such. The feeling of scarcity.
What if this is exactly what Prince is doing. Regardless of whether he cares or not about his rights or control, what if, by policing or attempting to police Internet distribution about himself, he is making it feel as if Prince music is scarce? Manufacturing scarcity. You can't get it everywhere. You can't user-generate content about it. You can't bootleg it. He would be wrong, of course; there is no way to stop this sharing of digital content. But by issuing take down requests of random 8 second clips, he sure is ensuring that everyone is talking about . . . Prince.
This also does more than simply keep him top of mind though; for it then spawns a subculture of people who want to share and trade Prince content. But they have to use obfuscatory techniques. Like posting videos of live recordings that don't use "Prince" in their title. By pushing it underground, it then becomes cool again. Hardcore fans know how to find it, what to call it to ensure it remains hidden. You can't simply use Google to find it. You have to know the passwords, the secret handshakes. You have to work to find it. And then real personal points are scored when you do, and you pass it along.
By aggressively trying to prevent sharing, maybe he has engendered a richer culture of sharing itself. Maybe he has somehow increased S, and given people the feeling of an increase in V.
And therefore - maybe - Prince has created an environment where the perceived value of his art, his content, has increased. He has manufactured the elements of scarcity. Perhaps the information age technology which has basically eliminated this scarcity has also created new, different methods of value.
I'm sure all the above are the ravings of someone with too much on his hands to think about conspiracy theories. And to be clear, I don't necessarily believe that withholding in this way is the best long term value creator. See, e.g., this.
But what if.
at 9:00 AM
Mar 7, 2013
For many introverts, the Internet was and remains revelatory. Allowing for intimate (yet distant) connections that are asynchronous (yet real time), anonymous or pseudonymous (yet expressing identity), frequent (yet levying no cost to walking away from), and multi-dimensional (yet involving no eye contact), at some level it feels like the "Internet" was designed definitionally to solve each and every insecurity of the introvert. I recall with total specificity the first time I dialed into the SonicNet BBS in 1995 using a Gateway computer from our apartment on T Street in Washington, DC; really, it blew my mind. People just talking about stuff. Strangers. Compadres.
And therein lies the Introverts Dilemma. Because the Internet so readily solves the problems for us, it has also spawned new ones. For these online connections, discussions, friendings, tweets, message boards and sharings, over time all invariably lead to . . meet ups, IRL get togethers, face to face human contact. Participants in the online groups we join in eventually want to meet each other with real life person-to-person interactions. "Hey we should get together in person." "Let's do a meet up someplace." "Let's have coffee we should get to know each other better." It's natural and beneficial; but man, the horror for the introvert.
I was thinking about it this morning, however. Maybe unlike other dilemmas this introverts dilemma is not a problem, but a solution.
I force myself to talk in public even though I abhor it. I am pretty sure I have chosen the profession I am in even though it forces me to meet people all day. I have made amazing (or lucky) personal decisions because she makes me confront the quiet.
Perhaps all these things occurred because otherwise I would sit alone all day and talk to myself, in my head. Thanks Internet for, in part, solving this dilemma for me by opening up the world to these possibilities.
at 4:16 PM
Feb 20, 2013
Yesterday I was on the subway, listening to music or something. We came to a stop and a gentlemen walked by me to exit the car. As he did, a button on his jacket caught my headphone cord, which pulled my phone out of my pocket, flipped it up in the air, spun it around, and then we both watched it fall into the crack between the subway car and the platform.
He looked at me, and me at him. He half-apologized; it was a very weird event seeing the phone spin up and down through this 3 inch crack. A guy next to me shouted "No Way!" The doors closed and the train moved on.
Shouting man asked me what I was going to do. I shrugged, dejected, and said "I suppose I will go to a store and buy a new one and set it up." He went back to looking down at his phone, I could see his hand tense up as he held his device tighter.
So later that morning of course I went into a store and bought a new phone and went back to my office and set it up. It took longer than I wanted, so part of my day was spent restoring things. I lost some pictures, apps, songs that weren't backed up. But I got it back and running eventually.
This could be a story of how amazing our technology and devices are. After all less than one day later I have most of my things and you wouldn't know the difference. All my phone numbers and email addresses magically appeared - even some old voice mail messages. If I didn't write this you wouldn't know it happened.
This could also be a story of how technology doesn't work and we are slaves to digital devices - I lost some pictures that weren't backed up of my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party the other night, as well as some gorgeous shots of mountains in Utah where I was lucky to be last week. Some apps too, maybe. Probably some email and I missed some text messages. I was stressed being disconnected while this happened.
Instead, I don't think it has either of those meanings, and it probably doesn't have any meaning whatsoever. A few years ago I lost a chunk of archived emailed - a few years worth. Some interesting things in there - a few key digital years of my life in the technology business, gone, forever. It sucked. Whatever. We move on. Our technology is wonderful and amazing and connects us in ways we couldn't imagine a few years ago. It can also disconnect us if we don't remember that the crack between the subway car and the platform is only a few inches wide, but pieces of our lives can fall through there. It's both things.
"We were born before the wind, Also younger than the sun"
at 6:35 AM