thinglets: time & again - the workday goes existential

Samuel Beckett certainly grasped something about life when pondering Vladimir and Estragon's dilemma in Waiting for Godot. As stark as the setting of that play was, it still serves as an allegory for the cyclical redundancy of the middle class in the 21st century.

This short video is a simple and effective deconstruction of the existence that many of us feel caught up in on our worst days. We trade time for money... everybody's working for the weekend.

thinglets: An Eight Minute Animated Exploration Of Subservience


An amazingly stark, dark and ironic consideration regarding themes of servitude, reverence, classism and futility - all in eight minutes! You may not feel happy after this. In fact I felt pissed off. But that eight minutes of film can make someone feel anything is probably proof positive that it has struck a chord. Kudos to Patrick Bouchard for the vision and for the pipeline.

thinglets: Is it better...?

Is it better to do more with less than less with more?

Is it better to eat less of a good thing than more of a bad thing?

Is it better to watch 3 hours of okay television or 15 minutes of great television?

Is it better to write a film sequel that makes hundreds of millions of dollars than an indie film that breaks even?

Is it better to have three fast food coffees over the course of a day or one cup of your favorite Starbucks blend?

Is it better to have an affordable vehicle that you can use all the time or a sports car that you're afraid to drive in bad weather?

Is it better to believe in your god, your country, your family or yourself?

Is it better to have copyright laws that cover intellectual property for eternity or none at all?

Is it better, on a deserted island, to have the entire Nickelback discography or one song you love?

Is it better to have one slice of great pizza, three slices of good pizza, or five slices of crappy pizza?

Is it better to pack thousands of inferior sounding music on your portable player than less songs is higher quality?

Is it better to read a brilliant two line poem or a pretty good novel?

Is it better to DVR, download, wait to buy the DVD, or give up if you've missed your favorite TV show?

Is it better for your hot dog with the works to be without ketchup, mustard, or relish?

Is it better to drink warm good beer than cold bad beer?

Is it better to have a glass of good wine or a bottle of bad wine?

Is it better to be a late adopter of technology at the risk of being uncool or an early adopter of technology at the risk of being broke?

Is it better to have the chocolate 1/3 of the Neapolitan ice cream or the Strawberry and Vanilla 2/3?

Is it better to have 4 second floor toast (butter down) than no toast at all?

Is it better to type five pages or write one?

Is it better to know every lyric to 70's music or 80's music?

Is it better to remember the past with reverence or caution?

Is it better to wish success for your friends or wish success for yourself?

Is it better to know what's better in advance, or discover what's better along the way?

Is it better to not even consider better and go forward full bore, or consider what's better before choosing?

lovehate: The Lulls

I've recently been noticing that I've got a bad case of the Lulls. Such are the circumstances where you become hyper-sensitive to all of the times of the day where you are waiting or expecting something to happen but nothing does.
Most of us are familiar with lulls in conversation that can be awkward at times, depending on the opposing party, and often result in meta-thinking along the lines of "wow, this is a really long lull in the conversation." Depending on the length of the lull, other thought can often spring to mind, like sex, drugs, rock and roll, or maybe something as simple as which delectable flavor of Hamburger Helper are you going to prepare tonight. With classic cliches like "the silence is deafening", we often appreciate the lull in a crowd far more than the lull in a one to one conversation. As the number of non-mutes in a room increases the relative probability of a window where NONE of them are issuing sound is rare. In such a case, one is often thankful for availability of background music so that no one will hear if you pass wind in awkward situations.
The most natural environment for the modern lull: The Elevator... unavoidable without acting like a douche.
Of course there are plenty of situations where lulls can occur in solo life. Many occur with me as I sit waiting for technology to catch up with what I want to do. Whether it's waiting for a website to load or waiting for my PC to boot, I seem to spend a great deal of time waiting in my lull-like states for my plans to be executed.
The solo lull is, by no means, limited to technology. Let's face it, the best laid plans often go awry, or are dependent on external factors. It may be an airport delay, the wait for a pizza or courier at the front door, the time spent on hold through the endless circling patterns of automated telephone prompts when I call for customer service and keep pressing zero over and over again in the futile hope that I'll be able to speak to someone in Mumbai who knows nothing of my product or how to fix it or who I should really be speaking to instead.
Perhaps the most common solo lull occurs between the decision to lay down in bed and actually falling asleep. I have tried to maximize this lull by listening to podcasts as I fall asleep. It's not that podcasts always, by nature, put me into dreamland, but that the noise that occurs in my brain during a late night "can't sleep" lull is louder than any podcast.
And the lull is not subject to only a short term framework. The lull can take the form of stagnation. You may be in a lull and not even know it. The time between jobs is a lull, even though you may be doing day-to-day things. Lulls can last for years and, indeed, can overlap and co-exist with other events that are non-lull-like. Lulls can exist within entire societies. Consider the great technology lull of the black death in Europe. Sure, I know that it sounds a bit crass to reduce the plague deaths of millions of Europeans to a word as simple as lull, but you know the old adage: "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is lull-inspiring."
If we could only learn to maximize the lull potential, we could be far more productive as a people, but I have started to embrace the lull. Just as we appreciate things when held up against their opposites, we should learn to appreciate the lull for the time that we wish there was a lull. Perhaps in the distant future we will establish a lull storage device so that we can bank the lull of a customer service phone call and bring it back up during a really useful event like listening to someone tell you anything that starts with "I don't have to tell you..." Trust me; you'd love the lull at that point.

lovehate: "Getting" Twitter

The greatest thing about the advancements in web technology are that at least, for the time being, they continue. Don't get me wrong, I understand the PC is a tool that will eventually be replaced and the net, as we know it, will become radically different. Just as we went from Grammaphone to turntable to reel-to-reel to 8 track to cassette to CD to download, the PC does have a shelf life as does the this tool we call the web. But, for the time being, the learning curve is immense and expanding.

Perhaps the greatest advantages that I've found lately, however, are not necessarily discovering new websites or technologies, but new ways to use existing ones. Through integration, aggregation, and applications, web programmers are opening up vast new frontiers in web usage and viability.

As an example, I think I'm starting to "get" Twitter. And it's not that I didn't understand the technology or the concept or even the appeal that the platform had to some people. I'd figured there was a way to use the tool properly that I just hadn't figured out (and didn't even necessarily care to take the time understand). In the same way that many non-musicians listen to a jazz improv and find it confusing or self-indulgent noodling. There may even be some who love music and understand the appeal without necessarily it liking themselves. That's kind of where I felt with Twitter.

I was aware of Twitter a long time before I signed up and even longer before I really started exploring it. Going to my page at just seemed stale to me. It seemed, for the longest time, like a weak pretender to a sole aspect of Facebook that was cool enough but not compelling. And I followed the requisite Twitterati to see them lifecasting (which I abhor) and tweeting pearls of wisdom to the adoring masses who sat around all day praying for the @reply. But, as anything on the web, one way communication isn't going to cut it and absolutely no one (I mean zilch) was following me.

I also knew that the easiest way to get followers was to ramdomly follow 10,000 people in the hopes that 1,000 follow you back. I've never been like that on MySpace or Facebook, so I certainly wasn't going to do that on Twitter. I much prefer to pursue an organic growth of followers and, at the time of writing this, I am following 117 people and have 114 followers. Of those followers I assume a certain percentage of spammers and dead profiles. I'm thinking that somewhere around the 100 mark is the stage one critical mass it took for me to find a balance between being just updates from Twitterati and more meaningful content from people that I have formed some sort of relationship with, even if it's just online. I suppose I could have reached higher numbers quicker, but I don't know that I would have cared about what anyone was saying at that point and, as such, may have lost interest altogether.

In addition to reaching this first step of discovering the benefits and relative potential of Twitter in capture my interest in more than an obligatory refresh or two every hour to see how many dozen tweets Scoble had up, the evolution of the API and its associated tools became what truly galvanized this new experience. I found Tweetdeck and, in doing so, gained a whole new appreciation from Twitter by simply being able to visualize the workings and the interactions. I started up search columns devoted to specific hastags and events. I was starting to add followers based on shared interests or, at the very least, evidence of an ability to contribute to something I cared about instead of randomly throwing darts at a print out of the fail whale.

And in learning this first step where I'm getting more out of Twitter than I thought possible, perhaps the most important thing I've learned about this, and other microblogging platforms, is that the API rules the roost. The explosive evolution of snippet commentary has all of its value in aggregation, and in aggregation the value is in the content, and in its content the value is in the users. I know enough to know that a thousand or ten thousand random follows on Twitter will not get me any of the value that 100 thoughtfully chosen contacts will.

Be it Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Plurk, or any social network, you and your content are indistinguishable. Just as when you are not in the room, all that remains is the story of you, social networks are ALL story. The stories are told through podcasts, blog posts, references, subreferences, suggestions, advice, maxims, insights, and links. The snippets are you. How many close friends do you have in real life? How many regular friends? The interaction with one friend over one drink on one night of the week will give you more content and sources for relevant aggregation than a thousand random snippets.

I think I've started to "get" Twitter, but, even better, my hope is that I haven't even started to "really get it".