Video

Dance Because You Can

April 9, 2014

This style of dancing seems to really fit this sort of music, and also stuff from the electro swing scene. For example:

Video

Tom Waits to Start Your Day

April 9, 2014

“Nirvana” by Charles Bukowski, performed by Tom Waits.

(For those who are curious, this is off the Tom Waits album, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards. Good stuff.)

Surfacing

April 9, 2014

I’m still here.

Fair warning: I’m going to ramble here for a little bit. I used to write my blog as a personal journal, and that slowly shifted into its current state as a semi-neglected platform for interesting quotes, random essays and commentary, and the occasional video. That’s likely what it’s going to continue to be, but sometimes you just need to get back to your roots and have a proper life-update braindump. (more…)

WordCamp Portland 2013

August 11, 2013

Welcome to WordCamp Portland 2013! It’s being run a little different this year in that there are only two sets of unconference slots, the rest is actual speakers. There is also a theme to the event this year (a first, at least for the Portland WordCamp), discussing permanence.

A few event announcements:

  • A lot of us are introverts here, or shy. Please try to be welcoming and encourage talking to new people. Just join in the conversation if you hear something interesting.
  • Code of Conduct is up on the website! Please follow it.
  • If you’re just on your computer/tablet/smartdevice for non-participatory reasons, try putting it away — if you’re taking notes, sure, fine, but still, be present if you can.

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Quote

On Learning to Learn

June 30, 2013

I was thirty years old before I learned how to learn things. Nobody has ever taught me. Either I could do things or I couldn’t, and there was never anybody who explained to me that no, you have to study. You have to fail. And keep failing better (and trying different things and researching and stuff) until you’re not failing any more. Elizabeth Bear

Quote

Offense and the Eye of the Beholder

March 21, 2013

Prudish woman: Are you Monsieur Joyant?
Maurice Joyant: Yes, madame.
Prudish woman: You should be arrested. To hang such a thing on your wall! Look at this woman. She is undressing, with a man looking on! Disgusting!
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec: Forgive me, madame, the lady is not undressing, she is dressing. The gentleman happens to be her husband. They are celebrating their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. They are going to have dinner with their oldest son. He is a taxidermist. I am appalled that you should thus malign these good people. It goes to prove what I have always maintained, that evil exists only in the eye of the beholder. I will thank you to stop looking at my pictures. (Moulin Rouge)

Video

Paperman

February 5, 2013

I’m sick today. Enjoy a video.

Hypersigils, Identity, and the Internet

February 4, 2013

Back in 2010, I ended up having a really rewarding Twitter conversation with some very smart people, talking about hypersigils and how they apply to the internet. I’ve been thinking more about the topic lately, and wanted to expand on what was said before.

Let’s start with the term hypersigil. The term was coined by Grant Morrison, but the concept has been around for a lot longer than that. The term has a certain magickal [sic] connotation because of its origins, and I know that some folks get squicked out about that. If it makes you feel any better, just think of it as a psychological focus used to affect personal change, in the form of creating a narrative. If that’s still not enough, come up with a better term that does an even better job of wrapping a complex concept into a compact term, that does an even better job of packing loads of exformation into one word, and then popularize that instead. I’d love to hear it.
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Thoughts on XOXO

February 1, 2013

XOXO Festival LogoIt’s been a few months since the XOXO Festival happened, and it’s been written about to great effect in a number of places. The recordings of the talks are now up and available to the public, even. All of this means that it’s probably time I sit down and share my own thoughts about it, as well.

A little background: the XOXO Festival was a conference conceived of and planned by Andy Baio and Andy McMillan, funded through a Kickstarter drive, targeting creators and makers. The goal wasn’t technical discussions of How to create, so much as exploring Why we create, the process we take to make it work in our lives and our culture. It was held at the YU Contemporary in Portland, Oregon, in mid-September, 2012 (a great time to be in Portland). The event was a rousing success, and there are a number of factors why:

Crowdfunding

By funding the event through Kickstarter, they were able to keep the focus of the event where they wanted it, rather than needing to kowtow to corporate sponsors. That’s not to say there weren’t corporate sponsors — there were three — but there was never a point where it turned into shilling a product or service (they were thanked on the website, in the program, and at the opening and closing. That’s about it). It felt refreshing, and allowed the focus of the event to stay where it belonged.

Establishing the Social Contract

In the opening talk, Andy Baio made a point of calling out that everyone there was a peer, and that all should feel welcome to come talk to anyone else. By doing so, he established a social contract among the attendees and staff. It explicitly demolished the social inhibition of joining what appears to be an established group or discussion, and it felt like the attendees took it to heart — there were no cliques that I could see, and the amount of commingling and interaction was fantastic. I’ve been to a fair number of conferences, un-conferences, conventions, meetings, and other events, and I cannot think of any other occasion that was so committed to openness and communication. It felt great. I’m not alone on feeling like this — it was a recurring observation while chatting with people during the after-party.

Including Portland

A lot of events could basically be held anywhere. XOXO, however, had a distinctly “Portland” flavor, and attendees were encouraged to get out and enjoy their time in the city. The opening party was Thursday night, but the talks didn’t get started until Saturday — Friday was used to host social events for the attendees around town. Panic graciously opened their offices for an ice cream social, while Wieden+Kennedy held a rooftop cocktail party, and Ground Kontrol opened their doors for an attendee-only “free play” afternoon. As the day rolled into the evening, this was all followed by the “Fringe” portion of the festival, with music and an indie arcade set up within walking distance of each other. To top it off, half a dozen food carts were invited to set up directly outside the event, providing a wide range of incredibly delicious food. They even brought in Stumptown Coffee to provide fresh coffee (as a volunteer, I particularly appreciated that the baristas decided to hook staff up with coffee for free).

Also? The talks didn’t start until 10-10:30am. People had time to go have a good breakfast, or sleep in a little, so no one felt rushed or harried. It’s amazing how much giving people a bit of morning time can help set the pace and mood of an event.

Keeping it Focused

It’s easy to try and ratchet on a bunch of extra topics and themes to an event like this. Instead, the talks were targeted to creatives (and more specifically, creatives who were involving in Doing something, the folks who took something they were passionate about and made it work), and the surrounding events were likewise very specific. It even applied to the schedule itself — there was only one track, so speakers didn’t have to feel like they were competing with others for attendance, and attendees didn’t have to weigh which talk to go to next.

The whole event was like this. The vendor area was curated — it wasn’t just anyone who wanted a table, it was groups that the organizers felt made something genuinely interesting and crafted with care and intent. The food carts outside were all explicitly invited and carefully chosen as some of the best Portland had to offer. The Fringe portion of the festival highlighted specific independent games and musical artists — again, curated with an eye towards craftsmanship and the quality of the experience.

When there is that sort of clear attention to quality and aesthetic taste applied, people pick up on it. They are more likely to try something new, because they feel they can trust the taste of the curators. That all leads to an event where everyone is interested in trying everything, and makes for an amazing participatory experience.

I’m really glad I was able to participate in the XOXO Festival, and I sincerely hope I’m in a position to participate again whenever the next event happens. It’s had a pretty lasting effect on me, causing me to seriously pause and consider what I’m doing with my life, and what direction I want to go now.

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