Any sort of "connoiseurship," which might be described as an extreme
knowledgeability and affection for a certain subject or practice, is a
potential "rabbit hole" down which one could descend quite far if one allows it.
And the internet often makes that hole deeper and, shall we say,
smoother, all the time. Easier to fall in, easier to fall down it, both further and faster. It might be also possible that just as there are addictive personalities, there might also be personalities that tend to do this (is this the same as obsessive-compulsive?) - not about just a single interest, but that are more susceptible to getting geeky about any specialized area. Because "geekiness" is another word for this, isn't it - either geekiness or its dark twin, hipsterism. Hipsters differ from geeks in that they want to use Read more>>>
As the New Year slouches into being and beyond, one thing that is a goal I have is to write more, including writing more here on this blog. Blogging has fallen by the wayside for me in the last few years, I think mostly because of Facebook. I think this has happened to a lot of good people with blogs. On the other hand, lots of friends who could never have been bothered to have a blog are now very regularly posting the same sorts of things that they would have probably put on a blog if they had bothered, so I'm not saying Facebook has been a complete disaster, socially at least.
However, for me, to the degree that writing helps to center the thought
process and provide a map or template for life, Facebook has served to
fragment and defocus my thinking and leave me wandering a territory I'm a
little lost in. And so, not a 'resolution', but a loose goal, to write
more here. And if you start coming back here you will probably see it
To start, here I'm going to simply provide a bit of textual accompaniment to some recent photos. Because what our favorite social networking service has also done is fragment and defocus my photographic practice. Or rather, the practice of organizing and presenting the output of my photographic practice. Because I've continued to takes lots of photos, some of them even quite good. But I used to be very diligent and prompt, for the most part, about posting the better ones on my Flickr account. I invite you to click through and peruse them more thoroughly at some point. Read more>>>
From the "If you don't do it yourself it might just not get done" Department:
About 1 and a half years ago, I took part in a now-yearly event where filmmakers all over the world go out and shoot footage of, well, stuff, everywhere, and then it's compiled together by the non-profit One Day On Earth group. That first one was on 10/10/10 and they've now finished a feature film that compiles the best of that footage from that day. I'm proud to say some of my stuff made the final cut, including shots of my friend Glenn Weyant, who went with me down to the border with Mexico near Sasabe, Arizona, and let me film him using the border wall as a musical instrument, which is a thing he does a lot that he's becoming pretty known for.
Anyway, I'm happy that both of us will have our work shown on screens all over the world at the premiere of this film, which will be April 22nd, Earth Day. With the help of the United Nations and others, the goal was to get screenings set up in every country (footage came from every country, by the way). I'm not sure if that's going to be achieved, and I'm sure some locations will be more challenging than others, but sadly for me it looks like the nearest screening to me will be in Phoenix. The distribution effort is very much a distributed, crowd-sourced kind of a thing, just like the image-production was. So a couple of months ago they asked if I could bottom-line setting up a screening in Tucson, and I said no, I'm busy, but i suggested The Loft Cinema and that they just contact them. Unfortunately that did not work... and I don't think I'm up for driving 200 miles on Earth Day just to see a film and do a Q&A about the 60 seconds of my work that appears in a feature film.
But, if you're in Phoenix, you may want to hoof it up to the
Marriott Desert Ridge ResortAMC Desert Ridge Cinemas at 5pm that day and check it out. And if you're somewhere else, you may want to see if there's a screening near you. It will probably be a really interesting film to see, regardless of my small part in it. Read more>>>
I get a lot of spam, of course, like we all do, but I also get a variety of unsolicited email from people I've never heard from before about various projects of mine that they're interested in or have questions or kudos on. Rarely do I get totally anonymous and context-free insults out of the blue. The other day I received this, via my website contact page:
----------------------------------------------------- This message was sent by someone looking at: http://detritus.net/cgi-bin/contact from: 126.96.36.199 ----------------------------------------------------- Poor Steev. Must be difficult to be an intellectual when you're not very smart. You're a shining example to all who wish to appear to be trafficking in ideas.
This was sent using the address LucilleDMcKenzie@teleworm.com, which it turns out is a fake address generated by the wonderful http://www.fakemailgenerator.com - a service I had not known about before and which looks quite useful for various things, so in a way it was worth getting assaulted in this way. This person clearly didn't wish to engage in conversation but simply wanted to attack me with no opportunity given to respond - when I sent a query asking for more information I got a bounce (the fake email service seems to allow replies, but perhaps only for a limited time, perhaps governed by the life of a cookie it hands out. not sure of the details. at any rate, my reply bounced). My message, btw, noted that I don't recall ever calling myself an intellectual, and therefore would take the statement as at least partially a compliment.
however, I have a pretty clear idea who the sender is because the message is not entirely without context, or drama. I recently removed from my list of facebook friends a certain Kim Scarborough - I honestly am not sure why I was ever friended by him or recall why I agreed to the friending. I don't think I have ever met him face to face, though we were both at WCBN, the University of Michigan student radio station, at about the same time and he's from Ann Arbor and knows some other Ann Arbor folks that I know. I think I recall him being on my Detritus Rumori mailing list and some other underground music related online communities like the negativland Snuggles list, etc.
But he's the kind of person I would never want to spend time with or be friends with IRL. He's a computer geek and somewhat smart, but he's also a libertarian, and a devotee of Milton Friedman (who I consider just shy of Hitler or Stalin in terms of the misery he's brought upon the world). He worked at Playboy as a system administrator, I think, and now does the same at the Chicago Stock Exchange, I think. (Both worthless, at best, employers.) Most of his facebook posts were kind of vaguely philosopolitical pronouncements that seemed carefully calculated to produce debate, but which cleverly did not clearly state exactly what he was talking about or believed in, so that later when people argued with him he could change the subject in a weird attempt to make disagreement seem inappropriate. He was also a master of the "straw man" rhetorical tactic and of cognitive dissonance. I eventally just got tired of him, though I spent about a year thinking over and over after every exchange I had with him, "gosh I'm just wasting time reading this guy's posts and getting worked up and trying to engage in conversation." I resisted unfriending him for that long a time because I believe the "Filter Bubble" effect is a real problem in our society right now, and I felt like I should be exposing myself to opposing worldviews, at least if it was from people relatively articulate and intelligent. But at some point you realize that even having an open mind is with some people not doing anybody any good. He's got an entrenched opinion of who I am so he's not really listening to me when I say anything; he's clearly just being a troll trying to create online drama and attention for himself.
He lives in Chicago and that IP address above traces back to a chicago network, and the message, which I just noticed today, came in 3 days ago, the day after my last reply to a string of email harrassments that he peppered me with after I unfriended and blocked him on facebook. So this latest attack is pretty likely him. This is an interesting and sad phenomenon, and the truly objectionable thing is his refusal to just give up and go away. People are going to disagree and argue, and that's fine. But if one person chooses to withdraw, after repeated attempts at fair and good faith attempts at conversation are met with purposeful obfuscation and intellectual dishonesty, the LEAST that the other person can do is honor repeated requests to cease contact. But this jackass continued to pester me with emails feigning surprise and shock that I had unfriended and blocked him, asking me stupid questions I'd previously answered and uttering further straw-men style provocations. Then after I blocked his real email addresses he now uses a fake one.
He must be really invested in a view of himself as some kind of tolerant and friendly guy with a wide variety of social connections, and it evidently bothers him and angers him when someone severs one of those connections. This is supported by previous and numerous facebook posts in which he complained about other people defriending him, supposedly unjustly and unfairly. How pathetic. He just can't seem to accept with dignity and introspection that maybe a lot of people consider him an annoying bore at best, a malicious asshole and waste of time at worst, and maybe he should do something about that or else accept it when people give up trying to put up with his bullshit.
It's kind of mindboggling when someone so unknown and inconsequential to me, and so different in terms of politics and belief system, is so set on maintaining contact. I've already wasted too much time on this guy today with this post but I do it not as some kind of vengeful counterattack but just to note it as an intriguing pathology. Read more>>>
I learned very early in life that the best way to begin figuring something out, fixing something or answering some question or solving something or just getting anything accomplished at all is to first DEFINE what the problem, question, or goal is. I've never forgotten that but many apparently never learned this in the first place.
Of course another key to life is communication. Always strive to be the very best you can be at communicating whatever it is to the other person or persons. Your level of communication will deterimine your level of sucess at whatever it is you're trying to do that involves other people besides yourself.
Put these 2 basic rules of thumb together and of course that means, when you're trying to get something done, or some problem fixed, or some trouble troubleshot, and you're asking someone else to help you with that, you have to accurately and clearly communicate to them what that problem IS, or if you don't know that yourelf, at least communicate with them clearly enough all the bits and piece so that you and they can help you figure out what the fundamental goal is. Until that other person or persons has a good idea of what your goal is, what problem you're trying to solve, they literally can't help you. They can maybe randomly get you closer to what you're going for, but this will be accidental, and probably frustrating for both parties even after eventual success.
The reason this is important is this: let's say you are asking someone to help you with something but you already have an idea of how to do it, you just need need them to help you execute it. you ask them because they know that area of expertise, they have experience doing this sort of thing, possibly more than you. But what if you're wrong about what it will take to solve the problem? So you ask them to solve it in your wrong way and they either try to do your wrong way, not realizing what you're up to, or they just get confused and they start asking questions in a wild goose chase attempt to figure out why you asked for such a a thing. If you're just started out describing what your problem was, instead of asking them to help you with your incorrect solution, then the other person would have been free to apply their expertise to help you come up with the right answer, quickly and without fuss and frustration. The other thing is that this gives the other person some sense that you respect his expertise and trust him to help you generate a solution, rather than that you look at him as just some unthinking pack animal that you expect some aditional brute force from.
Two weeks ago Greta, Josie, and I were in San Carlos, Mexico, on the sunlit eastern edge of the Sea of Cortez. I'm just now getting around to writing a bit about it.
When planning the trip, I wanted to not camp, because the week before I had just had a cold wet camping experience for a few days. I wanted a good ol' semi-luxurious vacation. I've never really done that. My travels have always been about cheapness, and hardship, and doing worthwhile things along the way, like activist projects or making films. For once I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself. We also wanted to be sure to stay at a hotel that allowed dogs. I went online and found a sort of hotel search engine site for Mexico, and one of the criteria was permitting pets. When I chose that criterion, only one hotel in San Carlos came up - this place that looked quite fancy, the Paradiso Resort. However, it was within my price range and we decided to risk being surrounded by yuppies and shallow sorority girls and just go. Read more>>>
This past week roughly (depending on how you count it) marked the 10 years since the start of the Independent Media Center, as part of the seemingly sudden outpouring of anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, anti-globalization activism that erupted in Seattle during the WTO ministerial there. The IMC was really a part of that "movement of movements": there, a small group of media activists put into first serious use a new web platform called "Active" in November 1999 that allowed anyone to report on what was going on in the streets of Seatle and otherwise. The idea and the tools and the energy spread like wildfire and in a few years there were about 200 local IMC collectives and sites around the world. Read more>>>
Well, as you've probably noticed, especially if you read this blog on the actual website rather than a feedreader, I have rennovated this blog site extensively. This involved switching to new software, from a 5-year-old Moveable Type installation (the last free version) to Drupal. (my content management system of choice - I've now built or worked on about 10 different Drupal sites and am getting pretty adept at it.) This is just in time for this, my one-thousandth blog entry since starting this blog in April 2004.
What this new system does that is really cool: it's not just a place for my blog entries but it also brings together content of mine from several different sites and services - my photos from Flickr, my book reviews from Goodreads, my videos from Vimeo, my tweets from Twitter and my bookmarks from Delicious.
There are still some things to adjust and tweak here. But as I was building this new site and thinking about how long I've been blogging, Read more>>>
I feel like Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networking has definitely sapped my energy and will to blog as much as I used to. These cyberplaces trick your mind into feeling like you've expressed yourself in a much more meaningful way than you really have. For people who never had a blog and couldn't be bothered to have one, much less don't partake in other forms of writing, The little "status update" blank might feel like a tremendously liberating opportunity to speak your mind to the world and/or your friends and/or your adoring fans. Just a little, open-ended text-box, telling you to blurt your barbaric yawp out, no matter what it is or how banal or profound it might be. Just keep it short or your friends' attention will wander to somewhere else, that other browser tab they have open or the rest of that youtube video about squirrels snuggling with cats.
Yes, in a sense it's a great development, encouraging people to communicate and start little conversations with friends and family at any time of the day, no matter how spread over the whole world they are.
But for me it tends to use up precious energy that I could have spent writing a blog post or even a private journal entry, in a more thoughtful, careful, creative and discerning way. It accelerates life even further, making one feel like you don't have the right to sit and slowly compose and extended text, that you should instead just say it now, fast, and move on.
Of course the blog entries don't have to be extended essays. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that's what I should be doing and if I can't then I shouldnt blog at all. I am going to endeavor to do less of that kind of thinking. A blog entry can be any length, and much more under my control than my facebook "wall".
I just spent a few minutes intending to find a relevant and entertainingly ironic photo that i might have on my flickr account that i could use to cleverly illustrate this blog entry. But in the process, i got distracted trying to decide if there was a browser tab I could close. I have about 15 open, some of which are pages i've been wanting to read for as long as 5 months ago but have never taken the time. Eventually i gave up and came back here. forget the picture.
This is enough.