April 2010 Archives

April 30, 2010

Lamborghini Ankonian

Somehow I missed this Lamborghini concept, but, having seen it, I’m quite smitten.

/found at fubiz

10 Tips for International Relocation

Don’t tempt me, Jan. Moving abroad again would be so nice…

April 28, 2010

Colors in Cultures

Eye candy for the infographic set. What would make this actually usable is a list of sources—so that one could understand the context of color usage.

Found here /via @aaker.

April 26, 2010

Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure-the ones who are driving the action-we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white.

Oh man, this is rich. A must read by Tim Wise.

April 25, 2010

What the U.S. Looks Like to Europeans

It’s sad because it’s true.

/via @nicholasngkw

Discovering the Absurd

Albert CamusAbout a month ago I read a blog entry entitled, “How to Become an Expert: The Effective Way,” which I thought was really compelling. At the bottom of the article was a quote from French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus:

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?

It was interesting enough that I wanted to confirm its author, and, by doing so, I came to discover more about Albert Camus—particularly his viewpoints which seem to have lent support to the concept of Absurdism. From Wikipedia:

“The Absurd,” […] is commonly used in philosophical discourse to refer to the clash between the human search for meaning and the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible,” but rather “humanly impossible.”

Coincidentally, I’ve also been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and this whole idea concept of the absurd struck me as being significant to this reading, particularly as I was early in the book where Lewis discusses duality.

Most have heard of the Daoist principles of yin and yang, though I imagine only a small percentage of those people actually understand what “yin-yang” represents. Daoism seeks to align humanity with the Way of all things (Dao), and the push and pull of forces that creates balance is what yin and yang encapsulate. As such, yin and yang are the manifested intent of Dao (this is important to Daoism because Dao itself is nameless and undefined). To put this simply (and perhaps poorly), the duality of yin and yang exist within Dao.

This got me thinking about the duality of good and evil, which is often is equated incorrectly to yin and yang. While there is duality in the concept of good and evil, there is no good or evil in yin and yang for the opposing forces rely upon each other; the absence of yang would be the absence of yin. For many of us, we dream of a world where evil is diminished or extinguished, and this is not possible within the constraints of yin and yang. In a Christian’s mind, God is greater than evil and will conquer it once and for all.

If, then, one believes: * in duality of good and evil * in God’s superiority over evil

I’m thinking that that person must accept one more thing: in God’s superiority over good.

It sounds weird at first to say that good cannot define God, but the more you think about it the better it gets. What is the meaning of good? If it is to be desirable or approved of—appropriate or qualified for usage—then there must be some superior thing that defines that criterion. In the same way that I cannot use the word “pretty” to define the word “pretty,” I cannot call God “good” if good comes from Him. He is the source of good, not good personified. C.S. Lewis alludes to this in his case for the existence of a God but does not follow it for, I assume, fear of confusion.

So if God really is “beyond good,” what do we really know about Him? If human life is colored through the shades of good and evil, how can one illustrate something that lies beyond? Do humans even really know God? Can we know God? Now you see where Camus and the Absurdists have place in my thinking about these things.

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It struck me as fascinating, for the more you think about it, the more you realize that humans who believe in the existence of a God at some level believe that they are that God’s primary purpose. For the first time in my life I realized how self-centered and ego-driven my own opinions on this subject are. Perhaps the reality is I—and all of humanity—equate to nothing more than a pet project on a shelf that God attends to on the weekends. There is no way we can prove otherwise.

Just food for thought. If you have some interesting opinion on the topic, have at it in the comments.

April 24, 2010

Dissatisfaction as a Means to Determination

I’m constantly concerned with making correct choices and optimizing potential. In fact, the critical eye I cast is the largest source of resolve for my life and work decisions. I want to be an expert at it, as it is directly related to my work and vocation. This can often be misunderstood, however; here’s an example.

Working at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has always meant that you would be working with an older crowd. This is my third time working for this organization, and if my memory serves correctly I remember being told at the most recent new hire orientation that the environment has improved—the average age is now in the low 50s.

I remember that first temp job I worked about a decade ago; a girl slightly older than me walked past my cubicle, then walked back, introducing herself and declaring that I now was to hang with her small group of under-30 friends in the building. We had a lot of fun together, and built a presence for younger employees that was both natural for us and non-threatening to the older majority.

Fast-forward to 2008. When I accepted my new position, all the people I knew from back then were now in their mid-30s with many of them gone to new opportunities and experiences. While the number of young people had increased, there were only three or four friends who hung out at lunch or otherwise. The presence which we had built was lost.

I linked up with these old friends and made plans for outreach. The plan was simple: if we ever saw a person under 35 sitting alone in the cafeteria, we’d sit next to them (with their permission). The rest of us would join and hope a good lunch conversation lead to a new friendship.

photo.jpegIt worked. Boy did it work. We’ve had on-site events, happy hours, weekend activities, a Facebook group, and our loosely connected group of “lunch table friends” has swelled to more than thirty—with many old members additionally reconnecting through our online channels.

Yet I still wasn’t satisfied. Why? Two reasons:

  1. I never felt that the group was self-sustaining—it required constant management, which is an indicator of participation without engagement. The idea of reaching out to anyone who was alone was replaced with welcoming anyone who sat with us. As a result, we hit a growth plateau.
  2. I sensed other groups forming in direct response to the level of intimidation that our group’s size and energy (unintentionally) generated. Increasingly when reaching out to others I found our table perceived as a clique—the exact opposite of our original intentions.

Auditing our group by the the standard “The Purpose of a System is What it Does” (thanks, Adam), I asked people at the table what they imagined would be next for us; where would we grow? The resounding response was that of complacency—the table had done, in fact, much of what it thought was reasonable for a group to do. Soon it became clear that my intentions for the table (identity, advocacy, camaraderie) and the intentions of the table itself (camaraderie, sociality, fun) were rapidly losing alignment. My conversations only served to exacerbate the situation.

espresso22_leftsiderasfrankenstein.jpg

Contrary to appearances (even to myself, at times), my critical observations were intended as a means to identify and rectify the flaws in our system. Unfortunately, I think our society has developed a habit of allowing criticism without expectation of critic involvement in change. As a result, no one looks to my pointing out what’s wrong as a challenge to collaborate on making it right.

I often tell Fru that I only ever complain about the things I care about most. You will not see me whining about traffic or the lunch menu but you will always hear me go on about functional living, technology and culture, or human value. In these areas I want to make the best choices and optimize the potential available for growth.

I still haven’t solved the problem of the lunch table; I’m looking at options available. I take great interest in the dynamics this group displays and the tremendous potential it has to be a tool for growth, development, and inclusion into the organization at large. These are the things that stretch my brain (as well as my interpersonal relation skills!), and it is the determination that comes from dissatisfaction that seems to proffer the greatest gain.

April 23, 2010

사과


사과
Originally uploaded by Hyun Chung
사과 (sah-gwah) means "apple" in korean. Isn't it a lovely apple?

Germany's First Drinking Room for Alcoholics

Very interesting concept; would you be ok with providing a state-run place for unemployed alcoholics to drink if it meant they no longer loitered around your neighborhood, leaving broken bottles and the smell of urine?

/via @dgroundsel

April 21, 2010

Thinking About the Tiger Ad

A friend of mine gave a very “instant reaction” write-up of the Tiger Woods ad that caused such a firestorm a few weeks ago. I replied, and thought I’d share my reply here for posterity. Click through to read my response.

Continue reading Thinking About the Tiger Ad.

April 20, 2010

So You Need a Typeface

I’ve been leaving a lot of tabs open and I’ve forgotten were I actually found this, but I thought it was quite interesting—probably only if you’re into flowcharts and/or fonts.

April 18, 2010

Bowlerina



Originally uploaded by Eddie . .
one part bowler, one part ballerina

April 17, 2010

Why This Work Works for Me (For Now)

Taking Kyung to the airport yesterday, I said a lot of things that I figured I should write down. He tends to ask me questions that really get me to the core of my philosophies, and I don’t think I’ve ever written about my job’s relation to my personal interests, though many have asked.

For nearly two years I’ve worked as assistant communication director and web manager at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Yes, I am an Adventist, and this makes it a no brainer as far as my faith (and the faith of 16 million others in over 200 countries) go. Still, there’s more to it than that.

After returning to the US in 2006, I realized my vocation: studying the relation between culture and technology. I believe we are in a momentous era where humanity is no longer required to adapt to technological conventions—for the first time in history cultural conventions can dictate technological interactions without compromise. As a result, understanding people’s values, beliefs, fears and concerns has never been more important.

Working in my position gives me access to a very large and very diverse community bound together by very specific beliefs. How can technology serve them? How can technology bolster (or even expand) their spirituality?

To answer that question, I first must define two terms: spirituality and religion. I take most of my academic understanding of these two terms from David Fontana’s “Psychology, Religion and Spirituality,” which uses the following descriptions:

  • spirituality: belief in another reality that can, through interaction or awareness, improve our existence in this reality.
  • religion: a system of beliefs, practices and rituals directed towards the interaction or awareness.

While we’re at it, we should go ahead and define faith, which is an unusually firm form of belief based on various teachings and observations which seem conclusive to the individual. As a result, a person’s convictions generate both faith in a type of spirituality as well as the construct of interaction—the “religion,” as it were.

This is important for a couple reasons. First, it allows for the whole lame argument, “I’m spiritual, but not religious” to persist as valid. Unfortunately, it does not make the person claiming this any less lame; If you believe that there is a reason to experience a greater reality but have not attempted development of a system for interaction, you are pitiful in every sense of the word precisely because of the second reason—all who attempt a link with the unknown require religion (as described by the definition above).

The sticking point is not that religion is unnecessary, but whether corporate religion is necessary. Quoting Fontana,

Religion has been on of the major formative influences upon human thought and behavior throughout the centuries. It has had a profound effect upon the lives of individuals, and upon groups and cultures. […] However, religion has also had a negative side, serving during various periods of history as an ultra-conservative and repressive influence upon scientific development and upon the freedom of thought and speech. It has led to social and cultural divisions, and been the excuse for some of the most barbaric wars in history.

If you happen to be the type of person who likes books like Clay Shirky’sHere Comes Everybody” or Brafman and Beckstrom’s “The Starfish and the Spider” you’ll immediately see the potential for technology to help “unstick” this issue. Since the advent of the printing press—and increasingly ever since—people have had less incentive to rely on corporate organization to provide the conviction that creates faith.

Could this mean the death of corporate religion? A resounding yes; one which I wonder if leaders of world religions have actually discerned. Does this mean the end of organized religion? It does not have to. I believe if there is value to participating in something, participation will persist as long as value is retained. There may no longer be an interest in a large entity to tell you what to believe, but there will always be a desire to find and be a part of a community of like-minded individuals.

To that end, I find it a very exciting and humbling honor to be in my position; with thoughtfulness, perceptiveness and partnership my colleagues and I can guarantee the future of Adventism—and its natural transition into a new era of organized religion.

I intend to write more about that as we go along. For now, consider:

  • What would have a greater impact: a million unique visitors per month on a well-designed site about Adventists, or a million Adventists with well-designed methods for showing who they are in the online and offline social networks of which they are currently a part?
  • Should an organization work to make their online presence user friendly or their users online-friendly?
  • What exists in the definition of the Web today that is not the antitype of the historical definition of the church?

I hope you find these questions as intriguing as I do.

April 16, 2010

New Friendships, Old Friends

4125866333_af9354422c.jpgOne of the highlights of last year’s holiday in Korea was meeting up with a guy named Kyung-hoo. We were classmates and good friends my junior year of academy. I hadn’t seen him since that year. We talked a lot about old times (catching him up on what people from high school I still new of) and our current lives. He told me he worked for an NGO and promised that at some point he’d visit us in the US this year. When I came back, I was sure to tell my old friend Al[ex].

I met Al first, and started hanging out in his dorm room where he, his roommate also named Alex, and Kyung stayed up until the wee hours of the morning hatching nefarious plans. The room of the two Alexes had a steady flow of colorful characters of whom I became a regular member. When Kyung left our academy we quickly lost touch with him and only our memories kept him a part of our lives (even until very recently—Al asked me to see if I could find Kyung-hoo when we moved to Korea in 2004). Naturally, he was ecstatic to hear the news, as Al and Kyung were best buds that were nearly inseparable.

kyung_alex.jpg

A few weeks ago I had a “Coming to America” -themed birthday party. When I announced the event on Facebook, Kyung-hoo chimed in that he might be able to attend if we postponed a bit; he was working in Haiti and wanted to drop in and visit us on his way back to Korea. The party went on as planned, but we set up plans for him to come stay with us for a bit.

Well things got complicated and U.S. customs had their way with him and he missed his flight—ending up in Pittsburgh yesterday morning with little more than 24 hours before his flight to Seoul. He called me before catching a Greyhound to D.C., And I immediately texted Al, who also works in the D.C. area.

Several hours later, two best friends who hadn’t seen each other in roughly 15 years were back together:

photo (1).jpg

Of course there was a lot of getting up to speed involved, but soon enough things were starting to click. What really made it gel was when Alex showed up and completed the team:

photo (2).jpg

At this point Fru headed back to the house and the four of us roamed the streets of Bethesda like we had never been apart. We talked business, politics, religion, morality, girls, drugs, cars, plans, dreams and so many other things that it was no surprise we ended at my apartment around one in the morning. To be sure everything was covered, Al, Kyung and I then pulled out two yearbooks and scanned every page for stories, memories and updates. Finally after two we all passed out.

After breakfast, I dropped Kyung-hoo off at the airport. He’s going to South Korea for two weeks—to tell his family that he’s accepted an assignment in Haiti for the next three years and to train his replacement. Then it’s back to Port-au-Prince, where he’ll build the house he’ll live in. He says he’d be back to visit us every chance he gets.

When I got back home this afternoon, there was a pang in my heart similar to one felt last October; the feeling that something valuable I had lost had returned—only to be lost again. In october it was the feeling of home found with the people and places in Korea; this time it was my first successes with camaraderie. Both propel me forward with renewed intentions to do better at connecting with the past and incentive to look to a bright future.

photo (3).jpg

April 13, 2010

What happens in Vegas

I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone buzzing. It’s the office; 10am is a reasonable time to call in DC, but it’s 7am here. I take the call anyway.

I lay in bed enjoying doing absolutely nothing. My room is awesome; being cooped up here for two days has been a joy. Finally at 8am I get up and take a shower as the huge tub fills. Hot soak for twenty minutes or so… bliss.

After the second shower I don a bathrobe and call for room service. The tray arrives as I’m dressing: muffin, danish, croissant, orange juice and peppermint tea. Read the USA Today as I munch. My head perspires slightly, still reeling from the soak.

The music from my iphone (connected to the alarm clock/ipod dock) shifts from languid to peppy. I empty the drawers of my clothes, throw away excess paper, pack and write this post. Soon it will be off to the airport and back to the pamper-free grind.

Thanks, Vegas, just for this morning. I hope things that happen like this don’t stay here, but if it does I’ll definitely be back.

April 10, 2010

Kevin Stewart, Patron Saint of Transformation

Just spent a generous amount of time pouring through Sartorialist archives for the entry that showed the fashion transition of this guy. His name is Kevin Stewart, and at the time he was first featured on the blog he was style director for Essence. I believe he now works in the same capacity for Mens’ Fitness and ESPN.

I often think about that blog entry when I think about growing out of familiar things and into new territory. As a result, Mr. Stewart has become something of an icon for me, a bold representation of bold moves.

He’s not the only one whose transformations were chronicled in the Sartorialist, and i’m hope there will be many, many more. Ask yourself this question: how much change has come to your life via your own hand? Would someone look at you today and wonder how you came so far from yesterday?

April 6, 2010

Playing with the OP-1 Pulse & Sequence School

If you’re sad you missed my birthday… something like this will make it easier to forgive you.

/found here

April 4, 2010

Another year, my dear

I’m now thirty-one. A prime number for a prime year. In this most un-remarkable of age ranges, I intend to:

  • Be a little less childish, a little more grown up
  • Do real work, at my own pace
  • Help others through the spreading of my craft
  • Be unapologetic for my interests (and disinterests)
  • Keep looking up at the sky

sunset.jpeg

April 2, 2010

Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)

If you want to live in the creative universe where anyone with a cool idea can make it and give it to you to run on your hardware, the iPad isn’t for you.

If you want to live in the fair world where you get to keep (or give away) the stuff you buy, the iPad isn’t for you.

If you want to write code for a platform where the only thing that determines whether you’re going to succeed with it is whether your audience loves it, the iPad isn’t for you.

Interesting point of view from Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing. I’m inclined to agree with him but will reserve my opinion until I finish reading the rebuttal that pointed me to the article.