June 2009 Archives

June 28, 2009

Do what the crowd says

What will you tell your children to be when they grow up?

When I was a child, I often heard that I could be anything that I wanted, but in my mind I always hear the same occupations: doctor, lawyer. As an adult I generalize doctors as often unhappy, overworked, and not passion-driven. Lawyers I equate to low ethics, licentious lifestyles and paying your dues--forever. I'm not sure I'd push my child to be either, though they should do whatever they set their minds to.

Why would people tell their kids to be doctors and lawyers? They make a lot of money, yes. But was there anything more? I like to imagine that the original incentive was the ability to do something desperately needed and in short supply. This guaranteed perpetual demand, unlike the factory and machine-based that perhaps was the norm of that period. Looking back even further, perhaps one encouraged their child to be a metal worker rather that worry after the finicky harvest of farming and animal husbandry.

Today, however, there are tons of doctors, and even more lawyers. I wouldn't go so far as to say that there is no longer a demand for these fields, but the return is not as guaranteed as it was even a decade ago, let alone a generation.

The thing most concerning, however, is that these jobs are information based. It is the information that the doctor, the lawyer, the MBA gained through years of study that made them valued. It was the checks and balances of their peers that made them trustworthy, and it was the relatively high cost to order this information that kept them well. In today's era, where information is much easier to sort, qualify and transfer, where records are available both as reputation and as precedent, and access becomes pervasive, I wonder whether the bell tolls for the mediocre of the craft (in much the same way that it has for the mediocre journalist, the mediocre print designer, and so many others).

The same with going to college. It was a certain advantage that clearly set one apart; now, it is basically expected that all high school graduates should go.

Should I tell my kid just to get into computers? What if software and hardware development and maintenance become the equivalent of writing recipies and changing oil? Sure, there will always be some people who need it, but mainly because they have chosen not to learn the ability themselves.

Perhaps I'll tell my little one to learn to see what it is people need. If they can provide that--even if it means several different careers over a lifetime--they will have an adaptive security that should weather any economic or technological climate.

There is a word of caution in this; I am telling myself not to be comfortable in the status of a position. Needs ebb and wane, and only those able to stay afloat avoid being pulled under. Trust demand rather than norms, and even if you're overly cautious, you'll always be relatively safe.

June 23, 2009

Old birds, new tune

Nostalgia is never progressive. So when I start waxing poetically about what Twitter used to be, know that I'm totally aware I'm living in the very recent past.

You see, I was very early on the Twitter wagon. Before #fixreplies, before the fail whale, before desktop apps and even before @replies. After reading the news of something new on Ev's blog, I joined shortly after launch--August 4, 2006, account number 3796. And so, I've been on twitter just short of three years.

Most of the people I added back then that still use twitter I consider friends now. Which is odd because I've only met one (that'd be @brad). When I mention them offline I usually refer to them as an "acquaintance", but the reality is that I've done considerably more with them than I've done with my apartment neighbors.

And we really are close. While we have our own friends and acquaintances we operate as a circle. I follow @brad, @mykul, @j1, @phenobarb, @jessie and @fru--and they all follow each other. @gorgeoux follows @crystal, as do I, @j1 and @jessie. @brad and I follow @super_mandy who was more a part of the crew when she was @jetpackjane. #fixreplies was made for people like us.

The problem, however, is that it's not the same twitter. the web app has gone novel, then kinda broke, then got fixed, then blew up, and now I'm not really sure what it is. It's a lot more about "What are you doing?" but less from the relationship perspective and more towards the whole social branding perspective. Which really makes everything feel a lot like high school, fighting for popularity and wondering if you're cool enough.

tweet_friends.jpgNostalgia is never progressive, so I'll look forward to Twitter's next iteration and be the first to board that ship when it arrives. I'm just glad I was able to make friends here when it was possible to do so.

June 21, 2009

Unlocked, Increasingly Tethered

There are two reasons why I cut my hair. The first is that I was tired of long hair. I never wanted long hair, I just wanted a hairstyle I didn't have to do anything to. Somewhere along the way, I adopted the persona and maintained it until now, when it was just unreasonable. Think about how many people have had the same hairstyle for 12 years and still are considered fashionable, and you have reason enough to change.

The other reason I didn't realize until after I had cut it. In fact, I didn't realize it until about two weeks ago. Walking on empty streets in an evening rain, I realized I cut my hair to become more like everyone else.

At that moment, I realized that I was no longer interested in being better, cooler, more connected, less forgettable. Social climbing was suddenly repulsive, recognizing that the footholds were other people being stepped on. Every hope of achieving something that another could not was preventing me from the dream of a world that was unequivocally accepting to all.

That night, I refrained from tweeting a possibly sacrilegious comment about searching for a tree to make my enlightenment complete. It seemed as if puzzle pieces had fallen into place, revealing a picture with greater meaning.

  • My interest in removing status, and in being equal or empathetic to all
  • My advocacy of public transportation, not only for resource-friendly transport but for a leveling of current socioeconomic isolation and real exposure to the everyday life of others
  • My recent focus on a personal sartorial style that was not label-based or class-indicative
  • My continuing reflection on truth and its pervasiveness when stripped of culture-specific tradition
  • Countless initiatives to bring people together, and to share experiences with a larger audience. 
Some had asked, "why did you cut your hair? You just look normal now; you don't stand out," and with each prodding I came closer to belting out the reality, which was even unknown to me--I no longer want to stand out, because standing apart prevents me from being interconnected with all humanity.