Friday, February 29, 2008

Exercise is Torture (s544#7)

The phrase "Exercise in tedium" is redundant. I hate exercising. I've done it 3-4 times a week for the last million years and everytime it sucks. Every day I have the same conversation with myself that involves whining and cajoling and bribes. Luckily I have learned to distract my inner 3 year old with pretty, colorful magazines and an ipod shuffle. I prefer to use the elipsoidal because I don't have to use a second of brain power to pay attention to where I am going or what I am doing. Even still, I find that as the end of the preprogrammed routine gets closer, the more I have to bargin with myself, "Micro-goaling" is what the experts call it. The dialog goes like this:
Me: "Bah! This is boring, let's go eat cookies"
Me: "Come on, you're at 27:00, let's go to 28:00, then if you want to stop we will.
Me: "Does it really matter if we quit 3 minutes early?"
Me "Yes, remember that quitters wind up miserable and alone, penniless and unloved by all."
Me: "Geez, ok, we are at 28:30 now can we quit?"
Me: "Look, just another half song and we will be done, and riteous because we reached our goal."
Me: "You are seriously no fun."
Anyway, tangent aside, I feel like working on a widely scoped project needs to be micro-goaled. If I look at a project like the Wiki as a whole, I start to freak out and demand cookies. If I break it down to pieces and trust my team mates implicitly, I spend less time trying to fit my brain around the task and more time being creative.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wiki Wackiness (S544 #6)

Sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist the silly name. This week I ran into a little bit of a roadblock on my Web 2.0 journey and here we get to the crux of the issue. I want to customize my test wiki site and it's kind of a pain in the butt. I spent a good long time trying to remove the grid lines from my table. The CSS for wiki pages is weird because it's all prefaced with wikithis and wikithat. Plus, space is usually divided up with DIVs in CSS and not tables. I wish I could just design up a section to go into the wiki shell and dump it in. and this is what you find with the warm fuzzy 2.0 applications. It's easy for anyone to start, but once you know a little bit, you can quickly run into limitations and start to resent them. I know you can customize, but each site is different, over at MysSpace you can use html to hack your profile by planting it all in the "About Me" window. Anyway, It's back to the drawing board for me, I'll bet I'm not the only one who is experiencing these problems in my class.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Death of 2.0 (s544 #5)

Sean Robinson and I made a podcast about Sean's opinion that "2.0 stuff well that’s dead also. The .com bubble burst so will the 2.0 bubble. Sorry I really liked this trend but it’s gone. This is fashion not technology." The rest of the list is here.

I tend to side with Steve Rubel on this issue, he says "Web 2.0 is definitely here to stay. The tools overall empower people to do what they have been for thousands of years and that's express themselves."

I see Web 2.0 as a revolution. Not in the vein of the Gutenberg Press, more along the lines of what happened when artists in Medieval Europe stopped using tempera paint and started using oils. If you were a painter in the Middle Ages, you used a very difficult to work with medium called egg tempera. The egg acted as a binding agent to the pigments. This sucked. The stuff went bad over night, it had to mixed up in little batches and pigment was so expensive and hard to get during this time that if an artist mixed up too much, it was a waste.

Then, in the Netherlands at the beginning of the Renaissance, the practice of mixing pigments with slow drying oils such as linseed became popular. This changed everything. Artists could mix up large amounts of the stuff. Trade routes opened and pigments became cheaper and more easily attained. The physical process of painting became easier. People didn't have to know arcane paint recipes, they could just buy it and do it. Artists didn't have to understand every single stinking step in the manufacture and application of snooty egg tempera. This change in medium and its ease of distribution leveled the playing field, allowing people with a vision to create without having the limitations of the medium tripping them up.

I see a correlation between egg tempera and the difficult process of building and maintaining a web presence the old way, i.e. owning or buying server space, hosting your own video and pictures, writing your own html code, actively collecting and organizing all your contacts. I see oils as being the easy to use 2.0 applications that move the power of communication out of the hands of the few and into the realm of the many.

Friday, February 8, 2008

s544 #4

I was grabbing a quick dinner at Henry's last night when an acquaintance walked up to my booth and set a cd of his latest poetic work down on my table. He retreated quickly, saying as he walked away,"This is some of my latest stuff." I don't know the guy very well, but our paths cross occasionally and I was intrigued. The whole interaction was interesting to me, talk about peer to peer file sharing. It couldn't have been more direct unless he sat down and recited the poems into my ear as I sat chewing away at my salad.

While I respect the guerrilla marketing technique of handing your work to someone in person, I was less impressed by the packaging. Sharpie on a CD-r in a plastic sleeve. This gets to the core of my posting today. You have to be able to effectively market your service/idea/vision/work. I think there is a resistance to hustling in my life, my library department and my library. It seems, er, unseemly to worry about gussying up your pure information so that people will want it. They should want it based on its academic merits. I know, I get it, I feel the same way, but not all advertising is evil. Making someone feel fat or unattractive so they buy something symbolic yet useless is an abuse of power. Persuading someone to use your service to increase their access to life enhancing information is almost a mandate.

But back to the poet. As I sat there looking at his offering, turning it over in my hands and my mind, I felt compelled to help him. Perhaps use my computer and my printing press to whip up some unbelievably compulsively over-designed CD case/objet d'art. Would that be offensive to him? Or would it be as inspiring to him as it had been to me?