Does this mean I'm becomming a Public?

I'm still "backfilling" content from my paper journal into this blog and as I was typing one up today I had an odd memory from my kindergarten days. I was attending a local Catholic School and had several friends in a Public School. So, using the little bit of logic I had at that young age I assumed that they were "Publics" ... if Catholics go to Catholic School... when you go to Public School you must be a Public.
So the question is ... now that I'm heading down this path... Am I becoming a public?

    Posted: Mar 22, 2008

When did it stop being about fun?

Over the last few days I've read a number of blog posts which are all around the theme of professionalism, blogging and new media that's gotten me to thinking about the subject.

Mike Arrington wrote a post early this week about bloggers raising money, the politics involved, and how he has a vision of a group of elite (not 1337) bloggers assembling to take on companies such as C-Net with the goal of extracting the talent from there when they close and move on to the next target.

Robert Scoble wrote a response post on how this was the wrong approach. He discussed the changes to the blogging community. How he's less interested in money and more interested in building the community, having new experiences and building something with a bigger purpose.

Evo Terra wrote a post independent of the above 2 discussing the costs involved in making an episode of "Ask A Ninja" (roughly $6K an episode). He asks the question he concludes with the question "How much do you invest in the PROFESSIONAL part of your podcast — audio or video?"

Where, this might sound like an exercise in name dropping, it's really to set up a question.. When did blogging, podcasting, new media, etc become about making money... whey did it stop being about fun? Where I think the current livejournal strike is a laugh on some level these people get it more then anyone else. They are in this for fun, not profit, not opportunities. They sense that they might be losing the culture they've helped create and they rise up and "strike".

Scoble's points are closest to mine. It's not about financial profit for him, it's about the experience. But even as he was discussing the old days at no point did he say that most of the old folks get into it for fun, something to occupy the time between jobs during the darker times when work was scarce. A way to keep folks skills together. Somehow still he doesn't mention enjoyment, which amazes me because Scoble is the poster child for "do what you enjoy and everything else will follow".

When I blog I do it for an audience of one, me. If someone else enjoys it, great... if not oh well. Admittedly this might be mental masturbation but most of my posts get a few hundred hits, some less, some considerably more when they've gotten picked up elsewhere. At the end of the day, where I don't wonder if my post is going to be interesting to anyone else because would take the fun out of this.

I'm in the early stages of launching 2 new podcasts, the first a fandom podcast with a number of friends from a fangroup I'm in. As we were discussing what we were planning, it really came out that we are going to do what we want to do, for fun.. and it doesn't matter if we get anyone outside the group listening.

The other will simply be me talking to friends out in section 39 when I head to games at Yankee Stadium (assuming I figure out a way to sneak the equipment into the Stadium). As you can imagine, there's little to make that podcast sound professional and I don't care. There are a number of interesting people out there, and I think their stories would be fascinating.

Not log ago folks were were discussing how all you need to podcast was a tin can and piece of string attached to your computer and have something interesting to say now we're discussing how much people are investing in the professional part of their podcast.

You may say "but Sean, if we treat this more professionally, we might get more readers / listeners / viewers, isn't that more important then fun?". 99% of bloggers and podcasters won't be able to support themselves off their work; it's just a labor of love. The only thing that will keep you doing it is the joy you get from creating content. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Evo in a diner a while back. We were discussing podcasting and growing an audience. He said to me "Imagine you had a deal with a local library where you could give a talk. If each week 20 folks showed up and listened to you you'd consider yourself a success. Why is it any different with a podcast?"

So, let me ask a question... what have you done to make your podcast / blog more fun?

    Posted: Mar 22, 2008

"No One Goes to Church Anymore"

So, on Tuesday (which was Holy Tuesday) I left work a little earlier then I usually do so I could get to at least one Mass during Holy Week. I knew that on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday I had obligations that would prevent me from getting to church. When one of my co-workers asked where I was going I told them I was heading to Church. She said to me "Sean, don't know you that no one goes to church anymore".
I know this person was trying to help me. The firm I work for is filled with 20-something hipsters and "beautiful people" and I am neither 20-something nor a hipster (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I won't comment on that) and she (and some of the others) are trying to make me seem more cool; but let's face it I'm a Church going, sci-fi loving computer geek, how cool can I be? Anyone who reads Ezekiel Chapter 1 and sees space aliens (which could have been sent by G_d) is never going to be cool; I've come to accept and embrace that.
I do find it interesting that this person felt a need to try and "save my image" as if I were admitting to some horrible act. Has society in NYC gotten to a point that Religion is only discussed in whispers?
An interesting change in me that I've noticed. Since beginning this journey I am more likely to say that I am going to Church when asked instead of saying things like "I have an appointment". Perhaps it's because most Catholics I know are Catholics on Sunday from 9am - 10am and most Episcopalians I know are more likely to live their faith. They work in soup kitchens and minister to the poor. Perhaps it's because they consider it "bold" to say the Lord's Prayer and I'm extending that boldness into my personal life.

    Posted: Mar 20, 2008

Doctor Who Rorschach Test


A small debate popped up on twitter last night about this photo which was posted by willia4. It's from Aaron Sorkin's Sportsnight.
Is that blue rectangle in the picture over her right shoulder what I think it is?

    Posted: Mar 17, 2008

The reason I've come to like friendfeed

I've been trying to describe to folks why I like friendfeed, the one stop shopping site for web 2.0 presence aggregation. Today Terry Paul Walhus tweeted this which linked a message on pownce :

Hey, you're already my twitter friend and I'd like to add you as a friend on pownce. If you'd like to see me and my work, check out http://austincast.com/blo... where I interview Leah Culver, Cali Lewis, Zadi Diaz, Veronica Belmont and more blogerati/digerati at sxsw 2008 I'm springnet on twitter and walhus on skype. I'd like to do a skype interview with you for my blog like the interviews I just mentioned.

Now, the magic of friendfeed is that you set up your presence across the net. If I'm following you there, no matter what new services you adapt or what services you abandon I'll know and be able to follow you. If I decide to move from flickr to zoomr or twitter to pounce *poof* anyone subscribed to friend feed see it. If I decide to add a new blog, they start getting when I add it. No announcements, no follow me here messages, everyone just knows.

Not a knock on Terry... just a comment on ff.

    Posted: Mar 17, 2008

eConfession

Today I came across this article on CNN about the existence of confession websites and drop in the amount of people going to confession and if there's a connection between the 2 or not. I have a number of thoughts on this from a technical, social and spiritual point of view.

Before I launch into the post I think I need to share a secret. I have 2 blogs this one which is a personal tech / geek / photography blog and this one which is more of a blog on my thoughts on religion and life. The religion blog is still a work in progress where I am moving some things over from a paper journal to the digital realm. The reason I mention this is that I intent to cross post this and no matter who you are you're going to see a different side of me; something you might not be comfortable with. For a minute I thought about 2 separate posts, one on the tech and one on the religion but I think this is better presented this way.

To me, the important part of confession is giving a voice to the thing we've done and the counseling we receive from the process. Let's face it, confessing to G_d is easy, He knows what's in our hearts, He doesn't need the someone else in the process to forgive you. It's the sinner that needs the counsel, strength and support of another human being which is the reason why confession is important.

While I was still regularly attending a Catholic Church (though last December) I noticed that the number of people going to confession had dropped but this is a process that has been happening for a while. The CNN article doesn't discuss other methods of Confession people have been using. As psychiatry and psychology have become more main stream (sorry scientologists), people have been receiving the the human side of forgiveness from other sources. I believe that people are more likely using these sources then some website.

Every now and then I take a look at the "confession" account on twitter (http://twitter.com/confession). I don't follow it, mostly because a lot of it is NSFW and I don't want that popping up when people stop by my desk. Where it's an interesting experiment in social graffiti I'm not sure there's much confession going on there. Currently there's a message on there "I killed the president" (Hi Mr NSA agent, really that's a quote not a threat), there tends to be a ton of angsty "I still love her" type stuff, and the occasional confession of something outrageous involving rape or murder. It seems to be a source of drama and shock then anything else.

I would like to discuss the difference between privacy and anonymity for a bit. In a confessional booth and a therapist's office there is a moral and ethical responsibility to keep the information inside the room. Although you don't leave your name on these confession sites, the server may log your IP address and other identifying information. There have been a number of cases where anonymized data has been tracked back to the source including netflix and AOL search data.

    Posted: Mar 13, 2008

The 7 Social Sins

Just read an article on bloomberg about the new list of "7 social sins" that the Roman Catholic church published this week. I am assuming that these supplement and don't replace the 7 deadly ones. Here is the list:

  1. Bioethical violations such as birth control
  2. Morally dubious experiments such as stem cell research
  3. Drug abuse
  4. Polluting the environment
  5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
  6. Excessive wealth
  7. Creating poverty

I, obviously, do have some thought about this.

  • "Bioethical violations such as birth control" - I'm staying out of the birth control debate because it's a battle I can't win. I will point out that it does little when it comes to circumventing G_d's will (if He wants you to be pregnant, no amount of latex will stop Him).
  • "Morally dubious experiments such as stem cell research" - Leaving abortion on the side for a minute... better yet let's not, let's say abortion is murder then how is stem cell research any different then experiments on cadavers donated to science? I haven't heard many people committing murder to help science lately. Saying stem cell research supports abortion is like saying organ donation is supporting murder
  • "Excessive wealth" - It's not the wealth that's the problem, it's what you do with it. You can't say that Waren Buffett's or Bill Gate's wealth is a problem as they are giving it away. Jesus said "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" He did not say it was impossible.

The others all seem to be restatements of other sins greed for 5 and 7... (what is the difference between Creating Poverty and Widening divide between rich and poor anyway?) , sloth and or greed for 4 depending on your motivation, gluttony for 3,

    Posted: Mar 13, 2008

A playlist for NYC

A long while back I was discussing with my friend Alex the concept of a creating a playlist with music that evoked the different areas of NYC. I finally got around to putting it together and I've finally added my last.fm feed to the side bar I thought it was time to publish it. I know this is a little meme-ish but thought it was a good thing. If nothing else this may show off some of my diverse musical tastes.

  • Yankee Stadium, "New York, New York", Frank Sinatra - song played at the end of every game. In the old days it was Frank if they won and Liza if they lost, so I have a bias towards the Sinatra version.
  • Hayden Planetarium, "The 7 Stars of the Big Dipper" ,Manheim Steamroller
  • Central Park, "Saturday in the Park", Chicago - I don't think I need to explain why on this one.
  • Strawberry Fields, "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)", Elton John - Elton wrote the song as a tribute to John Lennon and, ironically, when I'm there I'm more of that song then The Beatles's own "Strawberry Fields"
  • Rockefeller Center / Radio City Music Hall, "The Spirit of Radio", Rush - RCA (who owned the radio patents in the US, started NBC and was a major influence in radio) was originally based in Rockefeller Center, and that's where Radio City Music Hall gets its name. I'd like to think some of the ghosts of radio are still there, haunting the place.
  • Hell's Kitchen (Not Clinton, Not Midtown West, Hell's Kitchen, you don't re-brand neighborhoods), "The Black and Tans", The Irish Descendants - A good Irish rebellion song. I like the Irish Descendants version, but take any version you like.
  • Hotel Pennsylvania, "PEnnsylvania 6-5000", The Glenn Miller Orchestra - Song was written for the Hotel, 212-PE6-5000 is the phone number of the hotel to this day.
  • The Bowery (Former home of CBGB's), "Let's Dance", The Ramones - Some old school punk for the former center of NYC punk.
  • World Trade Center Site / Ground Zero - "Miami 2017", Billy Joel - "I've seen the light go out on Broadway, I've seen the Empire State laid low".. in retrospect their are powerful lyrics.
    Posted: Mar 13, 2008

Just email us your credit card information...

So, while in LA at Gali some friends an I went to Star Trek: The Tour and did the geek take the pics on the bridge thing. The company that does the photos ustar will sell you jpegs of the images for 20 bucks. I figured I'd get the pictures and print them myself at the Adorama. So, we don't get the photos there just the instructions on how to order the pics. We are also told to give them a few weeks to get the photos from the tour to their corporate offices.
So, Today I decide to place an order... There is a form on ustar's website which I fill out (just some basic information) and am told someone will contact me. I then get this in my email

To complete your order we will also need you to please fill out the attached order form to complete your order. You may return the completed order form to us by email[cut for brevity]UStar Video will accept Master Card, Visa, Discover Card, American Express and Personal Check.For Credit Card orders please complete the following:Name as it appears on the card - ________________________Billing address - _______________________________________City, ST, Zip - _________________________________________Card number - ________________________________________Expiration date - _______________________________________CID (security code located on the back of your card)- ___

I'm shooting them an email explaining why this is a bad idea and questioning their sanity (how hard is it to setup paypal invoices, where I don't trust pp, they are better then sending my CC info in the clear). I'm just shocked that a company even thinks about doing things this way.
EDIT: to make things clear... this is a problem with ustar, not adorama, whom I adore and does great work.

    Posted: Mar 11, 2008