Posts Tagged: Internet

Musings on the Digital Life and the End of the Daily Dish


An online hamster illustrating my life from 2008-2013.

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan of the long running blog, The Daily Dish, announced his retirement from blogging and the closing of the blog.

I like the Dish. I am not and was not too fond of all the intricate details of the Washington D.C. political scene, but I very much liked Mr. Sullivan’s perspective, breadth of blogging interests (Hello, beard of the week!), and insights into worlds and cultures that I don’t live in. And that is what the best of blogging does no matter the subject matter, it gives the reader a personal view into a world(s) or culture(s) or interest(s). In particular, Mr. Sullivan and his team gave me insights and views into many worlds. Thank you, Mr. Sullivan.

It is this quote in his going away post, that reflects a similar trend in my own life that I have not written about much here on this/my blog:

“The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully.”

I have been online daily since 1994. I have been creating websites and various bits on the web and internet since 1996. I have been receiving my primary income from web work since 2000. In the late summer of 2010, a large tumult occurred when the internet start up that I co-founded and spent up to 16 days in a row without a day off coding for failed and I had to ‘pivot’. While my pivot to mobile web and app development made a great deal of sense at the time, it took a toll. By 2012 I realized that I was burnt out – burnt out on web design client work, burnt out on bigger project contract work, burnt out on trying to get my own app ideas out of my computer, and just plain emotionally and psychologically burnt out.

In real life, I got sick – weekly or more migraines, bad environmental allergies, insomnia, bad stomach acid issues, etc – my body was sending me several large notice to cures and I felt pressured by work ethic guilt to not listen. In real life many wonderful and well-meaning friends and web colleagues encouraged me to get back up on the saddle and find another music or mobile start-up to work in or write that tech book on mobile user experience or… or…

In 2012, I traveled, I came back home refreshed, some family stuff hit the fan, I traveled again hoping to regain my perspective, then the family stuff really hit the fan. I found myself trapped in 2013. Sick, stuck, angry, stuck, working on a couple of mobile apps that would never see the light of any app store, broke, and did I mention angry and still sick?

A little over 9 months ago, I pulled the plug. I gave notice at my overly expensive apartment, I lined up a few house sitting gigs for family & friends, I stopped checking and posting to social media sites more than once a day, and off I went to figure out how to slow down, to live, create, and thrive in the actual world again.

I did something that I have wanted to do for years but never could allow myself to do in my rush to always be on and always be useful/working, I started reading fiction again – both in paper book and ebook form. And shooting film on two actual real live film cameras, as well as a weekly photo walk with my Nikon D800 DSLR. And went out to look at the stars as much as I could with my binoculars. And I discovered the wonderful world of online fan fiction.

It sounds odd but the world of online fan fiction helped me to remember what I loved so much about the internet in the beginning and middle of my life on the web: folks from anywhere and everywhere gathering together in communities over specific interests and sharing their d.i.y. creations to their online friends in those communities. The creations may not be polished, they may not be shiny, and they may never have a business plan or V.C. backing, but they are really the best of the web.

Much like Mr. Sullivan, I wanted to slow down, get off the web hamster wheel and figure out how to live again. Sorry if there has been much silence in the public facing parts of my digital life, especially on Twitter, but I don’t regret the last year of silence. Like Mr. Sullivan, I am also a human being before I am a person on the web, I am a creator before I am a web worker, and I am a creator and a human being and a friend before I am a social media __________*.

One of the things that I am looking forward to in the supposed future of the internet of things – a digital life that is an embedded, ubiquitous, and mundane part of every day life rather than a screen that demands all attention. To quote the old Nokia taglines, it is the act of creating with the technology and connection to people that makes the digital life interesting, not to be subsumed into it.

Good luck to Mr. Sullivan in his reading, writing, and personal life endeavors. Good luck to me in attempting to find a good work / life balance between creating for earth monies and creating for the love of it.

* Given how much I truly hate the words that social media and marketing industry folks use for people with high to medium numbers of followers on the major social media sites, I won’t be using the term(s) to describe myself. My hate for one particularly gross term, that starts with an ‘i’ and ends in an ‘r’, is the subject of a whole blog post to come.

Net Neutrality Explained Brilliantly by John Oliver

Net Neutrality explained brilliantly by John Oliver on his new show, Last Week Tonight. Watch the video to both laugh and be educated on a very important issue.

Great quotes from the video, plus a wee bit of commentary from me:

“Maybe, Maybe it is because of their lack of competition that we get such shitty service…” – John Oliver on Cable / Internet providers in the U.S. – “Yet, and yet, the download speeds we get lag behind Estonia!”

This is all too true. My best speed from TimeWarner broadband was 34 mbps down and 5 mbps up. Last summer when I was in Helsinki, my rented apartment’s wifi was 76 mpbs down and 54 up. Lick that TWC.

“O.M.G. How are you still SO DULL!!!! And that is the problem, the Cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil put it inside something boring. Apple could put the entire text Mein Kampf inside of the iTunes user agreement and you just go… Agree.. Agree… Agree…”

“This is the moment you have been made for…” – John Oliver on Internet Commenters

It is time for all of us to ask our government to break up the monopoly of one cable provider per city. Go make your comments at fcc.gov/comments, go do it now!

Sunday Tidbits: After a bit of a lull – Apple says Game On!, Sharanya, Mie, and Fusion!

A quick round of Sunday tidbits and links for you…

1) T’would appear that Apple is waking up from its rather sleepy mobile photo lull and is declaring game on to the newly minted Microsoft Mobile (entity formerly known as Nokia Device and Services) in two sweeps with the declaration of:

Apple Patent Shows Off Unique Use of OIS for “Super Resolution” Photos

and the defection of a certain Mr. Ari Partinen from the top ranks of the Nokia Camera team

Now it should get interesting. One wonders if a certain Mr. Alakarhu and a certain Ms. Björknäs will stay put at the newly signed building in Espoo? Will Google / Samsung up their mobile camera game or will we have round ___ of the Apple v. Microsoft tech brinkmanship?

2) The ever amazing Sharanya Manivannan has published a short story, “Sweet”, in the debut issue of The Affair and is interviewed in “A Q&A with Sharanya Manivannan on her story ‘Sweet’, published in the inaugural issue of ‘The Affair’

If you aren’t already following Sharanya on Twitter or reading her blog, go do it now.

3) In my searches for good recipes for various Japanese recipes, I have found myself at Cookpad and a bit baffled by the translations that Google gives me. Thus, when I read that Mie is now the North American office / staff member for Cookpad En, I was very excited. Not only for a great position for Mie, but also that means that Mie’s excellent abilities in blogging, cross cultural exchange, and blogging will mean the opening up and un-confusing a great wealth of contemporary Japanese foodways. So EXCITED. Go Mie, Go!

4) 3QuarksDaily asks: When are you Past Your Prime?

5) Charlie Stross has two great blog posts for thinking about technology, now, the future, and the world, read the comments:
a) The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative – A call for the internet protocol to be rebuilt before it is too late:

The trouble is, the success of the internet protocols created a networking monoculture that the NSA themselves came to rely on for their internal infrastructure. The same security holes that the NSA relied on to gain access to your (or Osama bin Laden’s) email allowed gangsters to steal passwords and login credentials and credit card numbers. And ultimately these same baked-in security holes allowed Edward Snowden—who, let us remember, is merely one guy: a talented system administrator and programmer, but no Clark Kent—to rampage through their internal information systems.

b) The prospects of the Space and Freedom Party reconsidered in light of the crisis of 21st century capitalism – Given that the U.S. spent over $4 Trillion on the most recent Iraq War, what is a few fusion reactors at $100 billion a pop?

I’ve got two candidates for such investments: (a) commercial thermonuclear fusion reactors, and (b) colonizing Venus.

Fusion: we are not fifty years away any more. We’re about thirty years and $100Bn away. Or we’re about 8-10 years and $200Bn and a Manhattan Program level of urgency away—it depends on the political and legislative framework. However, building tokamak fusion reactors (like ITER) is never going to be cheap; to get 1Gw of electrical power out implies a 5Gw thermal reactor (and a third of its power is going to go into maintaining the fusion reaction). More realistically, tokamaks will come in 5Gw power output and larger sizes, making them an order of magnitude larger than today’s big-ass 1Gw PWR, AGR, and AP1000 reactors. We’re looking at startup costs of $25-50Bn per reactor, and a requirement for up to 1000 of the suckers if we want to roll it out globally as a major energy source.

So: it’s a project that will plausibly soak up $25-50Tn and take 10-30 years to roll out while needing 30-60 years to break even and start to provide a return on the capital investment. A good way of making the Koch brothers atone for their sins while preserving the illusion of their wealth, right?

Naah, that’s small beer

Go read, people, go read. Then comment.

It is Ponds All the Way Down

In late September a friend was telling me about a big event he was inviting photographers and influencers to. He was very excited about inviting “Insert_Name_of_Photographer_Here”. I was happy for him, smiled and nodded but had no idea who he was talking about.
Then my new issue of the PPA magazine came and had big ad for “Insert_Name_of_Photographer_Here”‘s workshops. I looked at it and thought, “Oh, that’s the guy that _____ was so excited about.” Huh. Flip page, move on.
Today, Nasim Mansurov did a write up on the Photo Plus Expo that occurred in NYC this past week. As I read Nasim’s review, I saw the name of “Insert_Name_of_Photographer_Here” and my first thought was, “No wonder I have never heard of this guy, he is a Canon shooter.”
This made me think out loud the reality that I can’t keep up with everyone who does everything and that my personal photography interests are with friends who I have met, Nokia, Nikon, film, and quirky photographers. Other than Petapixel, I don’t read any of the big news photo blogs like fStoppers or Strobist or the like.
The power of the internet is that you can find your people group and also have a depth of knowledge in a thin slice but not know everyone on the planet who is doing that activity. None of us can, there are too many spheres of influence and interests for any one person to know everything in a field of contemporary knowledge.
I am excited for my friend that he is able to hook such big fish for his client, but really people, it is small ponds all the way down.

Sunday TidBits: Delete, A Class of her Own, Farming, and love letters to Nokia


Sun 09.15.13 – Various and sundry bits from around the internet that are worth your time:
1) She Makes War has a spot on layered vocals-only song & video (above) called “Delete” about one’s life online. After nearly 20 years online, I would like to delete bits of myself.
2) More Intelligent Life on Humaira Bachal’s fight for her own education and then schools for many others in her community of Moach Goth on the edge of Karachi, Pakistan. This is both a tear-jerker and absolutely inspiring story, go read it:

“Humaira was 13 when a crazy idea struck her. “My mother used to get us ready every day, tie two ponytails for us, put 2-kilo schoolbags on our backs and send us off. We would walk for 20 minutes–but on the way not one other child in this settlement would join us. One, they did not have money, and two, nobody considered girls to be anything. Those who didn’t mind sending girls to school couldn’t afford to, because of fees, and the cost of books and uniforms. By then I was in sixth standard [the equivalent of year eight in Britain]. I thought, I’m a big star, I know everything, so I will teach them myself!”
What would become the Dream Model Street School began in 2001, with one blackboard, at home. Humaira taught ten friends of her age, seven of them girls. She started with the alphabet, in Urdu and English, and proceeded to the names of things. She supplied blank pages from her own notebooks, until it got her into trouble with her teachers. Then the friends went round asking people to donate paper, or bought scrap.
Soon, Tahira, who was 11, and three other girls were teaching alongside Humaira. “We were militant about time. Time for study, time for play, time to eat–and time to go out and recruit. We didn’t have the sense to realise we didn’t have space, books, teachers, money. We went around to houses, telling people, ‘We’ve opened a school, send your children, you must send your children!'””

3) Mother Jones’ reports on how Ohio farmer David Brandt is having great success with the old trick of crop rotation with legumes as well as not tilling the soil between crops, sounds dull but it isn’t. The future of our food and topsoil depends on experienced farmers speaking out.
4) Jay Montano says Thank you to Nokia in “Kiitos, Nokia, and Nokia fans. Love, MyNokiaBlog.com“, which is a love letter to the last 6 plus years of Nokia’s mobile history.
5) C. Enrique Ortiz bets that Nokia’s future will be bright because they will be able to focus on the upcoming mobile lifestyle use case in “Betting on Nokia“.
Happy Sunday and may your upcoming week be delightful.

Thankful for the Mobile Web, plus a lot of links to get Started!

As a creative who persists with Nokia Symbian mobile phones, because they have the best mobile cameras on the planet, I spend a lot of time on the mobile web. And I am very thankful for all the designers and developers and others who have put the time, effort, and thought into creating great mobile web experiences.
The good news is that I have a great camera phone with me at all times, the not so great news is that daily I as I surf the web on my mobile I discover that a lot of web designers and developers need to make their web sites and apps more mobile friendly.
So, I am going to be future grateful and thankful that all the folks creating on the web are going to be making great web sites and apps that are not only mobile friendly, but kick bootay on a wide range of mobile devices and connections.
If you are a creative or a technologist who wants to know where to start, I got a list for you after the jump:

(more…)

Abhi’s Big Fat Indian Wedding

In February 2008, I went to India for the Nokia Urbanista Diaries photo mobile blogging trip. It was great.

My second day in India, I met up with a bunch of Chennai area photographers to participate in the 4th Chennai Photowalk.

As I walked up to the arranged meeting area on Anna Salai, I did not see anyone else with a camera and began to panic a bit about getting the directions wrong in my jetlagged haze when I saw a tall guy wearing cargo shorts and a Quicksilver t-shirt with a big DSLR camera. I walked up to him and asked if he was going to the photowalk, he said yes and that he didn’t know where folks were. We introduced ourselves and then he then called and found out the meeting place was around the corner.

Abhi and I have been friends ever since and every time I have come to London in last three years Abhi and I meet up for a meal and sometimes a photowalk. Tomorrow morning I am flying from London, where I am now on a layover, to Chennai to go to his wedding.
Big Congrats in advance to Abhi and S on their wedding this week!

Ben Hammersley: The Internet of People

“1990 will be seen, I will posit, as being the first year of the great revolution that we are living through. It is also the first year of the great confusion for the vast majority of people who are in power today. … The internet is fundamentally different, it thinks in networks, not in hierarchies.” – Ben Hammersley