Sunday, January 25, 2009

"So Random, So Rare!"

Being a bore was, quite simply, not permitted in my family of origin; a boisterous fivesome of Southern storytellers.  We each only opened our mouth if there would be an object lesson or some other punch line at the end of our utterance.  My folks never told me to “add value.” Hey, they'd never touch something like that Yankee Harvard Business Review.  They were just following their own Southern tradition in which boring others was seen as a high form of selfishness.

Forgiveness was irrelevant; pity was the standard reaction given to the self-centered offending bore. A quietly murmured,  "Thay jez don git it,"  came way before the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas confirmation saga gave rise to the feminist rant about men's cluelessnesson on harrassment issues, "They just don't get it!"

Enter Twitter.  Didja see the NYT article by David Pogue this month that points to the Twitter Paradox.  News flash social media mavens  à People don’t really want to know “What You’re Doing” which is the question appearing above Twitter's empty 140character field.  They only want to know what you're doing if it’s wittily stated or perhaps includes a useful outside reference.  The idea is to add value, not --yawn-- compulsively self-disclose.  Agreed, I’ve read way too many management texts.

But give it a nanosecond of thought here.  If Twitter really was about marveling at our own belly buttons and chirping about it; could it have grown this fast?  The thrill of an immediate cross-section of humanity, articulating  answers, forwarding referrals, and mostly riffing off of others’ ideas, juxtaposes the collaborative intuitive concepts of jazz with the prosaic desiccation of a reality-starved geek living vicariously through his keypad. Right brain style and left brain obedience to procedure are thrown together on Twitter, which is,  as Laurie Anderson says in Home of the Brave’s Smoke Rings, "so random, so rare!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Writer Writes, Always!

There is a muse and she lives in my shower, giving me Shower Thoughts.  Her companion, the merry prankster (like Puck, only aquatic) lives in the tub.  He gives me ideas for beverages I thirst for and books to read while soaking....but only AFTER I've gotten in.

Shortly after giving birth the first time, overwhelmed with my full load of college classes, my full time job, and nursing every 2-4 hours, I started bringing a dictaphone into the morning shower.  The muse hadn't taken up residence yet.  I'd list groceries, errands, and many random unfinished or unstarted tasks on my AAA battery powered dictaphone; grateful that I never got some sort of mini shock from the small wet electronic device. 

The kids are all born now, and aging gracefully, I must say.  The 13 year old came down to see me when I returned home from work and an evening seminar at 10pm.  He again measured his height against mine, toe to toe. We agreed to go out for chocolate shakes when his height surpasses mine.  Could be tomorrow...he's that close.  

The 11 year old came down to see me too.  He'd been tossing and turning, so I told him to sing himself to sleep with "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."  He said, "Mom, you're strange!"  If he only knew what strange could be.  I'll guarantee you that he'll sing himself to sleep and the redundancy will have him crashed out before 92 Bottles.  I'll sing something sweet to him another night, not this one, and he knows it.  Otherwise he would have bargained harder and won me over.  In our house, no one is ever too old, or will ever get too old for songs, snuggles or  out-loud story reading.  (With  boys' screen time limited to 10 hours total between Friday and Sunday, out-loud stories remain rock stars on weeknights.)

I'm writing this night without my muse, but as Billy Crystal says in Throw Momma From the Train (what a wierd remake THAT was)......"A writer writes, ALWAYS!"  And there is some truth to the discipline that one must write it out, purge the pipe, even when the convenience of the fabulous shower muse is not there.  For the record, I'm certain her visage is like one of those Maxfield Parrish babes.  

And so I write on, looking forward to the beauty, sense and insight of a morning shower tomorrow.  My muse lives in the shower.  She moved in the day the dictaphone moved out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shutting It Out or Letting It In

A favorite selective ignorance excuse when it comes to fear of social media is, "Hey!  I'm too busy to chit chat online with strangers." Or some form like that.  Translation:  "I'm busy yes; I don't understand social media, yes; I'm so insecure, I won't admit I don't like learning new tech things, yes; Let me put down those who do, and try to make myself feel better by belittling their burgeoning interest."  And most tech-friendlies just roll with that kind of statement (and the meta statement) and smile.  We are confident in the knowledge that the day will come, as it did w/ "killer app." email, when the ubiquitiousness of social media will make online connections too tempting to pass up for anyone, anywhere, on the tech spectrum.

True, many of us reject social media using selective ignorance because of social media's irrelevance. After all, we've made it this far with out it.  Not all of us reject social media in tandem with disdain for it. Emotionally and intellectually secure individuals come to mind.  However. it won't be long now, before social media's network effects  kick in. Some of us will be readier than others.  Author and Longshoreman Eric Hoffer wrote, "In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." 

And so it goes--my low-tech/hi-tech rant since leaving Silicon Valley seven years ago for High Altitude Heaven / Low-Tech Hell (Los Alamos, NM).  While the world's fastest computer (the IBM Roadrunner at one quadrillion calculations/second) lives at Los Alamos National Laboratory along with some of the world's fastest, best tech brains  (many who commute in from Santa Fe and environs); across the bridge at the Townsite, many residents would think "workflow" was the name of a nearby creek or river, not a business process map with human, mechanical and logical touchpoints, subject to optimization via application of the latest software and implementation methodologies.  Hey, I'm not complaining here!  On so many other fronts, Los Alamos rocks.  Just describing the whole "Land O' Contrasts" thing.

As a side note on this blog's infrequency....I suppose one must post more than twice every five years to have their blog be considered a blog.  But Hey!  I'm just  a slow starter...or would that be late bloomer.  Anyway, Kudos to Google, Blogspot, Blogger whatever my host is calling itself now, for storing away my ancient writings, and enabling me to re-access the same site.  How cool is that!?  Great user interface design and continuity through what must have been the usual rattle of priorities when M&A activity happens.