August 2007 Archives

August 31, 2007

Why I'm leaving my job

People are slowly finding out that I'm leaving my job at the end of September. Most people don't ask why; rather, they ask what I am doing next. Unfortunately, there are many assumptions that these people make based on the reputation my department has for being a tough department to work for, full of cattiness, politics, and stress.

All of these things are true, mind you, but they are not the reason that I am leaving. I don't have a problem with any of those things in my department--at least no more than I have with a mosquito bite. I have learned to deal with the ways in which people work and can be effective regardless. The reason I'm leaving, actually, is for my education.

A few weeks back, I took a credit-by-examination test which allowed me to skip a prerequisite and have access to a few more classes I'd like to take. Subsequently, in addition to my Asian Philosophy, Critical Approaches to Literature and The Religious Quest courses I have added Electronic Publishing and Internet and Web Design (courses I probably could have CLEPed as well, but should probably review). I now have a max load of 18 credits, which is practically impossible to do with a static full-time job.

Additionally, I've been looking at graduate programs. One that has really caught my eye is the Design program at California College of the Arts. I'm not going to go into why this is so attractive to me; I'll merely suggest looking past the preconceived notion of what an academic design program entails and focusing on how important design is to experience and the representations of both our technological futures and our cultural pasts. The program requires a portfolio of works, obviously, so I hope to create something worthwhile through my freelancing between now and then. While this job deals with communication, design and intercultural issues, what I would have done in this position could not have been submitted as part of my work. So, I'll go it alone.

That being said, this job was not for me. We are adaptable creatures, able to adjust to whatever is given us; that does not mean that what we can accommodate is our ideal. I am grateful to my director for remembering my work in times past and offering me a position even while I was still living in Korea. I will continue to be appreciative as both he and my direct supervisor have wished me well in my endeavors, knowing that this was not my final destination.

One day, this organization will open its doors to a new breed of individuals, committed to the cause and armed with multi-disciplinary, holistic talent honed through a plethora of experiences. When that door opens, I hope to be one of the first to re-enter.

August 30, 2007

The Shelf Life of Social Networks

adaptive path » blog » Julia Houck-Whitaker » The Shelf Life of Social Networks

Right now it seems like Facebook is the new place to be. And right now I'€™m asking myself, "€œWhy would I want to go anywhere else? This place is great!"€ My bet is that Facebook too, like any trendy nightclub, will fade out and there will be yet another cool online nightclub equivalent to join. Which begs the question, should social networks just do what nightclubs do every two years and just shut down and start over?

Interesting concept. How permanent should a social network be? Does it have a shelf life, or are creators obligated to keep it going?

Learning how to create clouds...

Learning how to create clouds..., originally uploaded by gardawind.

The New York Experience

The Sartorialist: After One Year In New York - Kara

Actually the line that I think was the most telling but that she said like a throw-away qualifier was "I didn't know anyone in New York when I moved here...."

I think that is such a huge factor. To move to a city where you are not afraid to try something new because all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say " that's not you" or "you've changed". Well, maybe that person didn't change but finally became who they really are. I totally relate to this as a fellow Midwesterner even though my changes were not as quick or as dramatic.

I bet if you ask most people what keeps them from being who they really want to be (at least stylistically or maybe even more), the answer would not be money but the fear of peer pressure - fear of embarrassing themselves in front of a group of people that they might not actually even like anyway.

I'm used to looking at the Sartorialist for the great photos... I don't know what I'll do if he starts putting out profound tidbits like this!

To be a balance, though, have you ever been to Oakbrook, Illinois, especially in winter? In the first picture her look is very Chicagoland. In the second pic her look is very New York--where she now lives. I agree with what he says but there is also much to be given to the tendency that living things possess to adapt to their surroundings.

What do you think?

Anil Dash: Empathy and Hipocrisy

Anil Dash: Empathy and Hipocrisy

I find myself wishing more and more that we could teach people the ability to see the world through other perspectives. I think we can detest someone's hypocrisy and regret his awful decisions, and maybe even resent his beliefs, while still being sympathetic for his having been in a situation that left him with no good choices.

Perspective and compassion are important tools for greater understanding. Yes, I'm sounding a little Dalai Lama right here, but if it's true there's not much I can do about that. :)

1 in 5 online by 2011

One in Five Worldwide to Be Online By 2011 - World New News - Digital Trends

A new report from market analysis firm JupiterResearch forecasts that the online population will increase from 1.1 billion users in 2006 to 1.5 billion users in 2011, representing about 22 percent of the world's overall population, or just over one in five individuals.

How will things change as more people are connected via internet? How does the internet change for you if saturation in western culture is already around 75%? At first glance, not a lot.

However, when you realize that other countries have considerable room for growth that they are currently taking advantage of (say, China, who may have already more internet users than US despite less than 20% of the population having access)? So many things to think about...

What is an experience

What is an experience?

It isn't a person, place or thing, nor is it related to time. It cannot be expanded, redone or erased. It can be recalled or forgotten, but even in its absence its effect is substantial. In fact, it is the source of our knowledge, so it is very impressive (in the accurate meaning of the word).

Experiences are our responses and reaction to stimulus. It's what we think of a person, the way we feel about a place and how we associate things. In my opinion our life "time" should be spent focusing on the experiences we create rather than goals we set. We are never sure of what we can achieve, but we can definitely gain from every interaction.

Ideally, we want those interactions to be good. But how do we accomplish that? Is it possible to design an experience for maximum benefit? Can our perspective change our experience? The nature of culture, so varying in our species, would lead us to say yes. So why aren't we making better experiences?

The waiting room. The church service. The menu. Can there be improvement to the daily drivel that facilitates an improved life? I sure hope so. My new work as a consultant will focus directly on this (but more about that later), because I believe that in the same way that my personal relationships are enhanced by an understanding of my friends' experiences, business, religion, and community can also be improved. And I think that allowing these stories to flow will create a new level of information that could be, for the first time ever, truly mutually beneficial.

August 29, 2007

satan stole my pencil

Satan stole my writing instrument.

It's the closest thing to a reasonable excuse I have for not writing. I told myself I'd do it later, or that the topic I was currently ruminating wasn't pertinent. A few times I actually sat down to write it and either lost my train of thought or became distracted. All part of an intricate plot of the evil one.

As a result, I'm here creating backstory when I should be telling you exactly what I'm thinking.

There has been considerable conversation these days about storytelling--how rich and vibrant a vehicle it is, how much it shows culture, how sorely it is needed in developing the web and technology in general, let alone cultural understanding outside of these areas. But there are more reasons, the greatest in my book being that not telling the story inhibits communication. Your perspective is lost, and, simultaneously, others make assumptions to fill the space where your input could have created a more definite stance.

All of this to say that the experience, and those related to it, suffer. As I am now completely about experiences, there is no excuse for this type of interactive handicap.

August 28, 2007

An unbelievably brief recap

Apologies for the unannounced hiatus, There were some things I needed to do:

  • test new publishing platforms
  • write for a few different publications
  • CLEP a class, register for a max semester load
  • discover a graduate program that seems perfect
  • tender my resignation from my current job, prepare for a freelance life

That's about all you need to know. The details will come out in subsequent posts.

August 27, 2007


image2-1-1, originally uploaded by udono.

August 26, 2007

What France can do in Iraq

What France can do in Iraq - International Herald Tribune

We cannot ignore the crisis with the excuse that Iraq has fallen prey to a culture of violence. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the Iraqis because they were - over our objections - liberated and then controlled by our American and British allies. Iraq's troubles lie at the heart of the world's problems - the hostility between communities, religious fanaticism and conflicts of civilization that are being played out against a backdrop of terrorism, nuclear proliferation and globalization.

August 21, 2007

Plaintiffs Find Payday Elusive in Vioxx Cases

Plaintiffs Find Payday Elusive in Vioxx Cases - New York Times

In fact, none of the 45,000 people who have sued Merck, contending that they or their loved ones suffered heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx, have received payments from the company. The lawsuits continue, for now in a state of legal limbo, with little prospect of resolution.

In combating the litigation, Merck has made an aggressive, and so far successful, bet that forcing plaintiffs to trial will reduce the number of Vioxx lawsuits and, ultimately, its liability.

Promising to contest every case, Merck has spent more than $1 billion over the last three years in legal fees. It has refused, at least publicly, to consider even the possibility of an overall settlement to resolve all the lawsuits at once.

August 7, 2007

Outsourced Life

My Outsourced Life (Esquire Magazine: Personal Finance) |

It began a month ago. I was midway through "The World Is Flat," the bestseller by Tom Friedman. I like Friedman, despite his puzzling decision to wear a mustache. His book is all about how outsourcing to India and China is not just for tech support and carmakers but is poised to transform every industry in America, from law to banking to accounting. CEOs are chopping up projects and sending the lower-end tasks to strangers in cubicles ten time zones away. And it's only going to snowball; America has not yet begun to outsource.

I don't have a corporation; I don't even have an up-to-date business card. I'm a writer and editor working from home, usually in my boxer shorts or, if I'm feeling formal, my penguin-themed pajama bottoms. Then again, I think, why should Fortune 500 firms have all the fun? Why can't I join in on the biggest business trend of the new century? Why can't I outsource my low-end tasks? Why can't I outsource my life?

Absolutely fascinating. The depth to which this story goes borders on fiction; I'm not sure if I can really believe it at all! But what if it's true? Is it really acceptable to do this? My family in Central America have maids/helpers that help out periodically; is this the internet equivalent?

August 2, 2007

Nepali kids

Nepali kids, originally uploaded by Ingiro.

Korea asks US for hostage help

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Korea asks US for hostage help

Relatives of the South Korean hostages in Afghanistan have made an emotional appeal to the US for help.

They visited the US embassy in Seoul on Wednesday, and were told their plea would be passed to Washington.

You know I love Korea like my right arm (I'm lefthanded), but please, U.S., don't do it. We have enough coals in the fire, we're doing damage control as it is, and an unsuccessful scenario would just give Koreans another thing to add to their U.S. gripe list. Heaven knows we don't need anything else added to that.

August 1, 2007

Americans Remain Woefully Ill-Informed

Infoporn: Despite the Web, Americans Remain Woefully Ill-Informed

A new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that Americans, on average, are less able to correctly answer questions about current events than they were in 1989.

Seoul to Improve Work, Life for Foreigners?

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Seoul to Improve Work, Life for Foreigners

The plan will create three types of zones and provide tailored services for foreign residents by 2008.

Four business zones will offer improved environments for international businesses, six global villages will make residential life easier for foreigners and five culture exchange zones will offer enhanced attractions for visitors.

"The zones will be developed as areas where foreigners who cannot speak Korean can live and work without difficulty," a city official said.

Does anyone besides me find this a little unsettling? Were the toppling of the Berlin wall and the ending of apartheid in South Africa, which we consider progressive successes, moving in this direction or away? Will this improve day-to-day relations between Koreans and foreigners, or promote increased interaction to face social issues?

How strictly will these zones be demarcated? If I have a shop 10 meters outside the zone will I still need to provide foreigner-friendly service? If I move into an apartment one block outside the zone will my landlord have any obligation to translate documents for me?

I'll have to "call home" and see what my Korean friends think about this. I'm not sure I can call it a good idea.