Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Art fail

I was going to write about personal branding and Barthes' "Death of the Author." But then Heidegger, Derrida, and Kant came along and started to call me names and throw things at me. They're such bullies. So now I can't get my mind straightened out in order to wrap it around authorship and branding as I'd intended to.

I watched The Strangers last night. It wasn't very good. The whole thing was like the last reel of any good slasher - the killer's in the house! - but for a whole movie. Steven Tyler may be the Demon of Screamin', but Liv's just not cut out to be a Scream Queen.
Because it left us with such a bland aftertaste, we watched Scream. Damn. That movie gets better every time I see it.

Image of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" stolen from here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Discretion and Disclosure

Last night I went out to a bar in Harvard Square with some friends from high school for trivia/karaoke night. Despite getting all the answers right in the first round, we came in last place. Oh well.
I rocked karaoke, though. A group of girls were cheering me on. I felt so loved.

I feel like I'm in a somewhat difficult position when it comes to blogging and other internet activities. How much about my personal life do I want on the internet?

If you google my name, this blog doesn't show up. My LinkedIn profile is the second search result. The rest of the results on the first page are not me. My Twitter page showed up until I removed my last name.

I have my Facebook privacy settings set up so that I do not show up in search engine results. I will show up in a search on Facebook, but only friends and members of my University network can access my profile. I try to pay attention to the privacy settings. There are certain people - some relatives, former campers of mine, colleagues - that can only view my limited profile. The Office of the Dean of Students put out a pamphlet called "Your Face on Facebook: Thinking Carefully, Posting Conscientiously" which encouraged responsible use of social networking sites, reminding students that faculty and future employers may be able to see what you post.

The bit about future employers is where the difficulty comes in for me. I'm always conscious of what shows up on my Facebook profile. There are pictures tagged of me holding a drink - whether in a martini glass at a club or in a ubiquitous red plastic cup - but they're all in good taste. Besides, I'm 22; I'm allowed to drink. You often hear that employers want to hire someone they would have a drink with. If I were really nervous about what potential employers might think of me based on my Facebook profile, I could up my privacy settings. But if I'm going to be working with social media, potential employers need to be able to see that I'm familiar with Facebook and that I use it well. I try to keep a balance between personal and professional. I do not think I will get a vanity url when that option goes live on Saturday. I do not use Facebook in such a way that it would be useful to be able to direct people right to my profile.

For the sake of my job search, I feel that I need to solidify my personal brand. If potential employers search for me on Facebook, yes, I'd like to use it to sell myself. But to what extent? And at what cost to my social life? I use Facebook primarily as a social tool. If I keep it too polished, it won't be of any value.

And then there's this blog. I usually don't share personal details. My first blog - the LiveJournal I had in high school - was all personal. It was a diary that I kept on the web instead of under my pillow. This blog is a little more public. It is attached to the e-mail address I use for both personal and professional correspondence. But when I blog about certain topics - feminism, for example - I like to relate what I'm saying to my own life experiences. In those circumstances, where sincerity matters, I feel confident that I can divulge a little bit more. It's not gratuitous, not gossipy.

Perhaps I will put my last name back onto my Twitter profile. I don't have anything to hide.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spice Girls vs. Special Relativity

I couldn't sleep last night. While tossing and turning in bed, I had a realization. Please note the lyrics I have bolded in the first two verses of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls:
If you want my future forget my past,
If you wanna get with me better make it fast,
Now don't go wasting my precious time,
Get your act together we could be just fine
What do you think about that now you know how I feel,
Say you can handle my love are you for real,
I won't be hasty, I'll give you a try
If you really bug me then I'll say goodbye.
What's going on here, girls?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Martha Stewart follows Snoop Dogg, apparently.

Yes, this is a post about Twitter.
I've been on Twitter for just over two months.
At first, I signed up for Twitter to use it similarly to the way I used MySpace, as a consumer of content, a spectator. I used MySpace to get updates from bands I liked. I figured I would follow a few choice people on Twitter, but I didn't think I had much to add myself.

In a recent post, Brian Solis of the blog PR 2.0 asked "Is Twitter a Conversation or Broadcast Platform?" The statistics he puts forward suggest that most Twitter users are spectators. 1/4 of users aren't following anybody, and more than 1/3 of users haven't uttered a single tweet. My guess is that many people are driven to the site out of a curiosity that the MSM's preoccupation with Twitter has instilled. Flipping through Us Weekly in the bathroom, I saw a page that compared different celebrities' Twitter styles. So readers of Us Weekly, as well as viewers of CNN, want in. They sign up. They don't know what to do next. They abandon it and become statistics. I too abandoned Twitter.

The next stage in my personal Twitter story was that of broadcaster. I started a new account to tweet my random food cravings: tater tots, chicken salad with craisins and walnuts, meatballs, sweet potato casserole, etc. My friends are all familiar with these cravings I get. And Twitter seemed like a better platform than texting my friends "I want cinnamon sugar pita chips" at 11pm. Around this time, I also started to follow people I know rather than just celebrities, brands, and services. Along with my food craving tweets, I occasionally responded to my friends' tweets.

Then came #lofnotc
On Friday, May 15th Amanda Palmer tweeted:
@amandapalmer i hereby call THE LOSERS OF FRIDAY NIGHT ON THEIR COMPUTERS to ORDER, motherfucker.
I re-tweeted it - the first time I re-tweeted anything. Not even ten minutes later:

@amandapalmer holy shit…judging from replies there’s like 200 of us in the LOFNOTC. what has become of rock n roll? what is wrong with us? i feel shame.
200 soon became 500. People starting using the hashtag #lofnotc so that all our posts would go to one place. #lofnotc soon became a trending topic. People who didn't even know who Amanda Palmer is began to join in. The search results page for #lofnotc began to resemble a chatroom. Amanda designed a t-shirt. We plotted a government takeover. We had a toast.

@amandapalmer i present to you....our official logo, comrades!!!!!!! (yes, that thing on the right is a pizza.) #LOFNOTC

Amanda blogged:
so anyway, there we were, on twitter on a friday night.

we hung out for two hours, came up with a list of things that the government should do for us, created a t-shirt (thank god sean was awake and being a loser with me because he throw up the webpage WHILE we were having our twitter party and people started ordering the shirts - that i designed in SHARPIE in realtime) and a slogan: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG” (thanks emilyn brodsky).

and basically had a real-time party on the fucking internet. we ended with a long toast to the power of friday night loserdom and drank virtual wine togehter (well, i know MY wine was real. and tasty).
THAT, my friends, is the "collaborative, two-way meaningful dialogue that represents Twitter's greatest promise" that Brian Solis is waiting for.

Amanda Palmer is an inspiration to me in many respects. For the purposes of this post, she is my Twitter Hero. She had been harnessing the power of Twitter long before #lofnotc. She uses it for instant ticket giveaways and organizing impromptu soccer games and pillow-fights on the road. She does Q&A sessions with fans while she's bored on the tour bus. She takes songs requests via Twitter - onstage. Of one surprise gathering she writes,
i twittered some random flashmob-come-say-hi gatherings in australia and was overwhelmed to see that it WORKED.
i would pick out random places on a map nearby and twitter the night before.

i was at a point in auckland when i was just at the end of my rope, barely holding it together and i twittered the night before the show for people to meet me in front of the spiegeltent at 3 the next day.
(i also did this because the shows were not booked as all ages and i was getting heaps of sad emails, so i figured i would give people a chance to at least come and say hi and see me attempt to play the ukulele and get shit signed).
anyway: 10 pm twitter, and by 3 pm the next day, i walked over from my hotel with my ukulele case and was fucking shocked to see a group of over a hundred people.
a little teenage girl who spotted me first ran over and dive-bombed me. i let her. and then a bunch of people ran over and sat down and i just burst into tears. i couldn’t believe how simple it was.
all i had to do was ask, and all these people came, and it was so simple.
But for all its ability to bring people together, it can seem awfully atomizing. I think many people have the love/hate relationship with Twitter that Amanda expresses:
twitter hurts me. but i love it, but i hate it. i am always afraid of running into a human experience-camera-machine.
but it’s so fun. and awful. torn, torn, torn.
we’re all going to die anyway.
In a recent article in the Boston Globe IT professor Tom Davenport is quoted as saying, "As a professor there's a certain 'Decline of the West' aspect to the Twitter idea that you can say anything meaningful in 140 characters." Has this guy ever heard of Hemingway? And one particularly alarmist article from CNN.com reports:
Rapid-fire TV news bulletins or getting updates via social-networking tools such as Twitter could numb our sense of morality and make us indifferent to human suffering, scientists say.

New findings show that the streams of information provided by social networking sites are too fast for the brain's "moral compass" to process and could harm young people's emotional development.

Before the brain can fully digest the anguish and suffering of a story, it is being bombarded by the next news bulletin or the latest Twitter update, according to a University of Southern California study.

"If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality," said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

I don't really buy it that Twitter is hindering our ability for compassion. As I write this, two trending topics on Twitter are "Euna Lee" and "Laura Ling." Aside from sex-tape-spam, the tweets are all outcry, prayers, and petitions for the US journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea.

So that's my post on Twitter. Take it or leave it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Old news

Today while cleaning my room I found a copy of the Boston Metro from October 31 - November 2, 2003. The front page headline is: "Jobs outlook bleak" and the subheading is "Unemployment duration among worst in country"
BOSTON. The more than 1 in 9 Massachusetts residents who are either unemployed, underemployed or no longer actively looking for work face the fourth highest average duration of unemployment, according to new research by Northeastern University that claims the state is failing to recover from the recession.
Comparing 2000 and 2003 statistics, researchers found unemployment during the first seven months of 2003 increased 140 percent.

At the end of the article there is a little teaser "National economy soars p/24." So I turned to page 24. The headline: "Economy at best pace since '84"
The economy rocketed ahead at its fastest pace in more than 19 years in the third quarter of 2003 as consumers, their wallets fattened by tax cuts, went on a buying spree, an unexpectedly strong government report showed on Thursday.

I also found what appears to be a list of daily accomplishments. Some highlights:
- I played well in Hockey
- I got a good score on my Math Journal
- I got an A- on my LA quiz
- I won in Scrabble
- I handed in a science extension
- I handled a lamb heart

- I stayed up all night

- I got a 90 on my Tanach quiz
- I did my Math homework ahead of time
- I was nominated as "excellent" in reading comprehension by my class
- I walked with Sandy for 1/2 an hour
- I wore my headgear
Cleaning my room is more like an archeology dig than anything else.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Away We Go (2009) is awesome! Here's why.

I just got back from a free sneak peek of Sam Mendes' Away We Go, which is to be released later this month. All I knew about it was that Dave Eggers was involved and that John Krasinski was in it. But hey, it was free.

I was blown away. I think I liked it more than American Beauty. (Although I should note that I saw American Beauty years after it was released, and saw Away We Go before it was released. The hype around American Beauty may have lessened its impact on me.)

This post may include "spoilers," but they wouldn't actually spoil your viewing experience.

The movie is about a couple in their early thirties that gets pregnant. They visit friends in a few different cities, trying to decide where to settle down.

From the opening scene I had a good feeling that this would be a feminist-friendly film. I was not disappointed.

The protagonists, Bert and Verona, played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, look like real people. In fact, all the characters look like real people - and the cast is quite impressive, I might add.

And finally, a film that obeys The Rule!

I'm actually realizing that I'm a little too tired and scatterbrained to write coherently right now, but I want to get this down. The movie is hilarious and touching. It really is wonderful.

What I like most about the film is that from beginning to end, Bert and Verona are in love. Like all of the families in the movie, their relationship isn't perfect. But they love each other. One of biggest problems with romantic comedies is there is always some Conflict: things start out smoothly, The Conflict comes along, the couple fights or breaks up, there is A Resolution, and they get back together, the way it should be. But that's not how relationships work!! There is no epic battle to win a person's heart. You get to know somebody over time.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write more about the film. Now, sleep.


I want an apartment. I really, really want my own apartment. I want to move in and settle.

I've been working on cleaning my room. I'm a pack-rat, and my room hasn't been cleaned up in ages. I'm finding all sorts of things - newspaper clippings and ticket stubs, mementos and souvenirs. I don't have anywhere to put all of my photos. I don't have enough space for my books. I haven't unpacked my clothes from school yet because I don't have anywhere to put them.

I want to move into an empty apartment and start from scratch. I want to find a place for all my things. I want all my knick-knacks to have homes. I want to decorate a new living space.

But first I need a job, so I can pay rent. I'm working on it.
Moreover, I *want* a job. I want my potential energy to become kinetic.

I also want this skirt.