We’re Not Robots

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

This sign at Go Fish says it all. We're not robots, we're humans. So don't make yourself work like one. Be patient and kind to yourself (and others). Take the time to relax.

So on last night, I went to a Flamenco/Live Music Tweetup at Kino Cafe. Was a fun and relaxing couple of hours with great music, dancers, and company. I had posted this event on both Facebook and Twitter to see if any of my other friends wanted to go, but the response was generally the same. “Don’t you have exams?” “How do you have that much free time?” Well, yes I do have exams starting next Monday, and I’ve started studying already. And I have “so much” free time (a couple of hours at night, c’mon) because I’ve been getting up early and doing work all day anyways. But the answers to these questions aren’t really the important part. It’s the fact that so many people think that we always need to be working. That even the smallest break is going to ruin us. Even though our lives seem to demand a constant state of working, we all need to relax and take a break every now and then. We’re not robots. Even if we have an exam or major deadline coming up in a week, we need to have sometime to unwind. When we’re all wound up and stressed, we don’t perform as well as when we’re even a little bit more relaxed. In addition to a drop in performance, our health suffers. It’s been proven in studies, and we’ve all felt the symptoms of being stressed. So why don’t we all take the time, regardless of how long it is, to just unwind a little bit and just enjoy life? Whether it’s going on a photowalk, or enjoying some live music with friends (as is in my case), or simply just sitting outside and soaking in the world around us, we’ve all got our ways of relaxing. Sometimes all we really need to lighten that load and brighten up our day is just 5 minutes.

So how do you relax and unwind?

Note: That final post from the F5 Expo on Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote is coming soon. I apologize for the delay, but I just haven’t been able to hit my stride with that post and I don’t want to put up something that I’ve forced rather than just let flow for you guys to all read. Thanks for understanding.

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Categories: life Tags: ,

F5 Expo – Part 2 – We Are The Beta Test

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment

So in the little bit of time that I had between the panels and speakers, I walked around the Idea Zoo to ask people about their opinions about the future of social media. I posed the questions of what do they think is going to happen with traditional media, and how they think that social media is affecting society’s interpersonal skills. I talked to a variety of people, from members of the media community, to individuals not really involved with social media.

Kris Krug @ F5 Expo

The highlight of these discussions was with Kris Krug (@kk). I actually got in touch with Kris the night before the expo when I simply tweeted that I was going to be covering the event. Kris replied and asked me what I was covering and offered to do an interview with me. I managed to find Kris when he wasn’t busy during the expo and was able to sit down with him and just ask him a few questions. Here’s a transcript of the interview. I’ve edited it slightly for ease of reading,

HJ: So I’m here with Kris Krug, @kk on Twitter, coming by to talk about a few things about social media. When I was tweeting with you last night, you were talking about how social media is the future of all media, so what do you think about magazines, newspapers, and traditional radio. Do you think that they’re going to fall by the wayside? Or do you think that they’re still going to fill a smaller niche in the background?

KK: I think that in general, business models that rely on a scarcity or a control of information are going to fail. So, right now, I got some newspaper. You pay for a newspaper, you get it. So, that’s based on the you can only get the news here, this is very valuable and you pay for it. So when I say that the future of social media is the future of all media, I mean to say that newspapers and magazines, and even broadcast mediums, that don’t re-architect themselves from a newspaper delivery and service, to a media company essentially, are going to fail. So we can look at other places and see this. Like the music industry. It used to be about shipping CDs and how many CDs and product you could ship, and then the value of that dropped to zero because people could download it off the internet right? And so they started re-architecting themselves, such that music and the bands are still what they’re selling, but the way that they make their money is different. So apply this back over to newspapers. Newspapers that stay a newspaper and rely on subscription sales and ad sales, and things like this,  are probably going to struggle. Ones that reinvent themselves as a media company and start to engage and build an audience will probably continue on in the future, but I think they’re not going to look much like they look now.

HJ: Do you think people reading the news is going to change, with the fact that with twitter a lot of  people get the headlines and pick and chose, where as with radio, magazines, and newspaper, you kind of have to read a little bit of everything? Do you think that people are going to be a little bit, I guess, more focused on what they read, or do you think people are going to go and be able to soak in a little bit of everything?

KK: So I think that people’s human nature hasn’t changed at all. I think human nature is the same. So what you saw emerge was, in the old world, overwhelming amount of news. It got filtered up through editor-in-chiefs and gatekeepers. Kind of told you a bit of  story and selected and curated for you the news and stuff you were presented with. Well really we see that now today as well, there are certain highly engaged cultural curators and taste makers who suck in thousands of RSS feeds and parse it all and apply their own judgement, taste, and discretion to it and then  spit back own their own feed of highly distilled content. Are you interested in hip-hop culture in Vancouver? You gotta follow this guy because he curates the world of Vancouver’s hip-hop culture into a stream of stuff. That’s not that much that different than a sports editor or a finance editor, or something like that. So I view what’s taking place as a dis-intermediation and upheaval of traditional higher hierarchy, but the human nature is fundamentally the same. I can’t listen to every band in the world. I position myself close to first order musical taste makers who tell me what’s good right? And I can’t follow every social media story in the world, so I find 2 or 3 guys who I know who are highly engaged in doing that and I listen to those guys. So thats the newspaper of the future, the mix-and-match Google homepage where it’s like these two bloggers who represent my community, my block in Gastown, giving me their news. And then this other guy who writes for sports illustrated, but he’s an activist, so he writes about activist athletes from sports perspectives. So I’m curating my own newspaper here together through other people’s tastes.

HJ: So how you feel that social media is changing how people interact with each other when it’s actually in person. I know Malcolm Gladwell has talked about this several times in his interviews in the past, but how do you feel about it? Do you think with the younger generations, it’s going to be an issue? Or do you think it’s not going to be as big of a problem as some people are making it out to be? The interpersonal skills that is.

KK: These are the kinds of questions that i think about alot, so i want to step back from “Is Twitter [messing] up interpersonal human communication?” and look back  as technology has changed, the phone, the televsion, we’ve stepped farhter and farther from the face-to-face, oral cultures of our past, and i think that there are tradeoffs. i think we gain the ability to instantaneously reach a network around the world of people, but maybe we give up other things. I think there’s tradeoffs for sure. I’m a bit (?????), I think that the medium is the message. What i mean specifically about that in this context is that when you’re sitting back sucking tweets all day, maybe the format you’re being delievered the tweets in is as important as the payload of that particular tweet. We’re staying headlines and soundbites are more important than substance or context. and so those are the more subtle biases that a particular medium has towards the type of conversation that takes place there. But I think the most important thing is for us to continue to develop our media literacy skills as individuals and as a society, and continue to ask ourselves,  “Who are we? Who are we becoming? Do we like the way we’re becoming?” and to self correct. There was no beta test. We are the beta test. It’s not like they ran this social media experiment in a laboratory and optimized the results and came back and implemented it in the world. No. You’re the lab rat. I’m the lab rat. So it’s important for us to keep evaluating what does this all mean.

HJ: On a similar note, I know that I am getting a little bit jaded with all these invitations to charity functions and things like that. Do you think that people are getting a little jaded just because there are so many of these mass Facebook invites or mass tweets about events that are happening, but there’s no personal connection compared to someone just telling you about it?

KK: Again, I’m almost like close your eyes and go on this visualization with me. The landscape has changed. Before, a charity would fund raise through a 3rd party source, and these people were experts and were able to uniquely touch their donors and constituencies in a certain way. Dis-intermediation, power(?) hierarchy upheaval. The landscape’s changed. Union Gospel Mission can now via the internet and fund raise directly to their constituent base without the kind of lag and process with more ability to do AB testing and different things like that. I think that as happens in a land grab, new frontier type of environment, people are just coming and putting up shop because they can, but we don’t have best practices. We don’t have industry standards. We’re all looking to each other. Even with this interview and events like this, it’s like “Hey dude, tell me what it’s like out there for you and what’s working for you, and what do you see on the horizon.” So it’s this process of, we’re literally creating the future of how charity fund raise, how they talk to their donors and  constituents, how news is delivered and consumed. Even, generated and reported, how it’s sourced. All these things are like, it’s like its trying to say that internet really changes everything. Throwing everything in a bag, shaking it up, and dump it out, and that’s what you got. We’re putting it back together as I see it. Yeah, we’re a little ways into that, but that’s what I see going on.

We continued to talk a little bit more after that about tips he has for bloggers and photographers, but that’s for another post.

So through these few interviews, and just listening to what the speakers had to say, I’ve come to see the future of social media as something that inevitably going to be an important part of everyone’s life. Now, what function it serves and exactly how important is still to be seen. After all, social media has been around for a while now, but it is still incredibly young and only recently has begun to hit mainstream culture. What do you think about social media and its future? What are your answers to the questions I had asked? Leave a comment, start a discussion. Just because F5 Expo is over, doesn’t mean the discussion has to sit on the back burner.

Stay tuned for part 3 of my report on the F5 Expo. Don’t miss it, as I’ll be discussing Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote speech. If there’s something you’d especially like to hear my opinion on, just leave me comment.

*EDIT*
Here’s the audio for the above portion of the interview.
Interview with Kris Krug @ F5 Expo

Categories: F5 Expo Tags: , ,

F5 Expo – Part 1 – Taking Crazy Back

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday, at the Vancouver Convention Centre, a diverse group of social media enthusiasts, business people, and gurus came together for the F5 Expo. A combination of trade show (the “Idea Zoo”), panel discussions, which included such individuals as Brian Wong (@brian_wong), Kris Krug (@kk), and Ryan Holmes (@HootSuite), workshops, and keynote speeches by Tod Maffin and Malcolm Gladwell, the Expo was a great place for people from all levels of social media to learn more about it and how to effectively use it. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be putting up a series of posts covering the various panels, speeches, and interviews that I had with people, culminating with Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote speech.

Tod Maffin (@todmaffin) was a leading CEO of a tech company that was worth millions during Web 1.0. With a personal networth of millions of dollars (on paper, as he stresses), he led the busy and successful life that many people strive to have at some point in their life. But somewhere in his 16 hour days of running his successful publicly traded company and hosting a national radio show on CBC Radio One on technology, it all came crashing down. (Source) Being so successful, one would expect him to talk about his secrets to success in the era of Web 1.0. Guess what, he didn’t. Rather, he talked about something that most of us don’t really think about on a day to day basis: being overworked and overstressed, and just “Taking Crazy Back.”

“Multitasking Doesn’t Exist”

He started by discussing (and dispelling) what we all believe to be an essential skill to have: multitasking. We all pride ourselves on being to do several things, and being able to put 100% of our focus/brainpower towards each of those things. However, if we’re doing 3 different things, we’re actually splitting our focus and mental capacity into thirds. He brought up the example of talking on the phone while driving. He refers to a study that took three groups of drivers and sent them on the same route. The control group was told to drive quietly, while the second group held a phone conversation without a hands free system, and the third group help the same conversation, but with handsfree devices.  Now from what we’ve been told and what legislation has seemed to tell us, we would think that the second group would have performed the worst, the third group better, and the control group the best. Wrong. Well partially at least. It turns out the second and third groups performed equally poorly. So it’s not the action of holding the cell phone, but simply having a conversation and holding our brains somewhere else. This is even true when you’re talking with someone who is sitting in your car. According to studies, that when you’re driving and simply having a conversation with someone, you’re operating with a BAC of 0.08. You’re legally intoxicated. He showed this fun video that very simply shows how we’re not all the multitasking masters that we claim to be, and that we really can’t completely focus on more than one thing at a time. (As a side note, I love how this was done as a cyclist awareness campaign. Also, I admit, I’ve been guilty of “multitasking” while writing this post.)

He proceeded to talk about how we’ve all become “technocrazy”, with our multiple phones and email addresses. Many of us have a phone for work, a cell phone, a home phone. Then add on a work email, family email, junk/spam/signup email, a social media email, etc.  We multitask in our every day lives, with having multiple methods of contact and we continue to do it to ourselves. But somehow, we never seem to realize that multitasking doesn’t actually work. Now, the definition of insanity used in the AA 12 step program is “Insanity is the process of doing the same thing over and over, but expecting the different results.”

“We stopped being human beings. Nowadays we’re human doings.”

Taking a step back in time, Tod began to look at how working life has drastically changed. Back in the day, working individuals would work 8 hour days, answering their phones, and sending replies to letters and such. Afterwards, they would go home and spend time with their families. So how is that different today, you may be asking. Well, with technology allowing us to complete these tasks in a fraction of the time it used to take, Tod estimates that we could probably complete the same amount of quality work in a 5 and a half hour work day, a shorter 9-2:30 day. Technology really has given us more time in our days. But Tod poses the question, what do we all decide to do with that time? “It’s like the ads say, they do give us more time, these devices. The problem is with us, is what we choose to do with that time. We end up working more.” As Tod put it, where we used to have absenteeism, we now have presenteeism. People will continue to goto work even if they’re ill or simply just need time to recover.

I’ve noticed this everywhere, every one is hustling and bustling about trying to make use of all the time they have in the day. People are afraid to just stop and soak in the world around them. People are afraid that if they stop moving, even for a split second, they’re on the road to failure. People are afraid to just be. “Why do we feel the need to keep ourselves so connected? So busy? Always tweeting?” At this point, Tod asked how many people had tweeted since he started talking (This was about 20 minutes into his talk), and a quarter of the room raised their hands. I’m guilty of always doing as well a lot of the time. I often get restless when I’m not busy and I feel the need to find something to do. My photography has really helped with this though. When I go out on photowalks, I’ll just stop and sit and soak in everything around me. I will make the effort to just stop, put down the camera, and just enjoy the world.

“Something has to give.”

Tod also spoke as to his experience, and his own personal life changing experience that changed him into the man he now. As his success continued to rocket beyond all expectations and his networth grew to just under $10 million, on paper as Tod stresses, he teetered closer to and ultimately resulting in a complete nervous breakdown and alcoholism. This was Tod’s personal tipping point. Maybe one of the biggest things that Tod learned during this time can be embodied in this this simple question “Have you asked anyone for help?” He realized that in business world, asking for help is a sign of weakness and is looked down upon. Perhaps the thing that makes Tod’s talk so powerful is that he isn’t one of those individuals you see on pedestals who have overcome all obstacles with relative ease. Tod is human. Tod is like one of us. The fact that he continues to struggle with his inner demons, makes him someone everyone can connect to.

“Crazy gets things done.”

Tod ended with a piece of wisdom that I have been trying to utilize more myself: use your gut. With a background in biomedical engineering and now going through an accounting program, I’ve trained to rationalize everything through a set of formulas and measurable metrics. I’m trying to break out of that shell, trying to find that balance between doing things on my gut, and thinking things through. I’ve seen it work, even with going to F5. I heard about it, and I just felt like it would be a good thing for me to do. And did it turn out to be a great experience. What did some of my friends think? They thought I was crazy. But as Tod Maffin summed up at the end of his talk, it’s those crazy people and crazy ideas that get things done. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something big. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something that changes the world. It doesn’t need to be something that everyone sees. You just need to be crazy and change things in your own realm, in your own world. Don’t just be another face in the crowd.

I’ll leave you with this old Apple ad that Tod showed at the end of his talk. Remember to check back in over the next couple of days for more posts on the F5 Expo. Follow me on twitter @hjue87 for updates and say hi!

Categories: F5 Expo Tags: , ,

Social Media: Interesting Thoughts from Malcolm Gladwell

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Image from The Globe & Mail article online. Photo credit unknown.

I came across this interview that The Globe & Mail did with Malcolm Gladwell, who will be speaking at the F5 Expo here in Vancouver on Wednesday. Bestselling author of BlinkThe Tipping Point, and recently published What The Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell briefly provided his insights to the world of social media and its use in today’s world. He brings up an interesting point of how the ease of how easy it is to organize people or to try to rally people to a cause (at least online), has essentially eliminated the need to form a strong foundation of whatever you’re trying to publicize and to create a strong message that will draw people to your cause. It’s something we all see daily on Facebook, with people creating groups and events and proceeding to send out mass invites to every one of their Facebook friends. It’s all just too easy to create something quickly online and try to start the movement with a few keystrokes and clicks of the mouse. When I see those things, I don’t even bother to RSVP or join the group unless it’s something that I truly support, and usually that support comes from me actually having a direct connection to the cause itself. It’s something I’ve been guilty of too, with my fundraising blitz for the Ride to Conquer Cancer on Facebook. What have I noticed out of it? Nearly all of those people who I invited who I have only met once or twice and haven’t really talked to say they’re not attending, or simply don’t even RSVP to it. It’s those people who I know personally and who I have built that personal connection with who have donated to me and are supporting me. So in the end, to really try to get this going, I’ve had to actually go out and talk to people, building that personalized message that’s more than just a call for donations, and showing through my actions that this isn’t something that I’ve just slapped together and am doing for the hell of it. Ultimately, Facebook as simply served as an easier way for me to provide people with information on how to support me, rather than trying to get them to support me.

He also talks about how having hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter is useful for somethings, such as organizing flash mobs or for publicity. However, for anything truly important (starting a political movement to overthrow a political regime is his example), it’s not quite as useful. Why not? It all goes back to his first point of how little effort and thought most people put into their online rallies. There just simply isn’t that connection. As he simply puts it, “If you follow me on Twitter, I do not own your heart. I may own your pocketbook momentarily. And I may own your attention for five seconds, but that’s it.”

The Globe & Mail also asked Malcolm Gladwell if he felt that social media accelerates the spread of ideas, as he discussed in his book The Tipping Point. Gladwell makes a very true statement that social media isn’t really a vehicle for ideas, as it is a vehicle for observations. Most of us use Twitter and Facebook to share cool things or interesting articles we’ve seen, but rarely do we use it to share our ideas with each other. So is social media useful really? Or is it is simple an online billboard of interesting things? Gladwell puts it this way, “If social media or online communication is the means to the creation of a personal connection, it’s a fabulous thing. But if it’s an excuse to not make a connection, it’s ultimately a trivial thing.”

I’m excited to hear more as to what he has to say at the F5 Expo on Wednesday at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Be sure to check back here later this week to check out my coverage of the expo and what he and other speakers had to say there.

Categories: Response

Blues Jammin’ At The Yale With Jay Leonard Juatco

April 2, 2010 2 comments

You know those extremely talented and passionate people you meet in high school or in college who are simply amazing at something? Be it a sport, music, art, or just anything that could lead to what most people would consider to be a “non-conventional” job. You remember thinking, “Man, this guy/gal could sure make a splash if they were to actually make a career out of this?” only to watch these passions take a backseat as they go and pursue an office or other white-collar job? Only to watch them stop doing what they love and what truly made them happy (and in a lot of cases, made other people happy and also inspired some.) I’m still young, but I definitely know a good number of those people. I’ve seen talented musicians nearly abandon their craft for medical school and day trading. I’ve seen photographers trade in their cameras for pens and keyboards. I’ve seen athletes slow down and sit down at a desk. They all still partake in their passions occasionally, but that flame just isn’t there anymore. Or it’s deeply buried somewhere, asking to be shown to the world again.

Jay Leonard Juatco rockin' it out at The Yale

Jay Leonard Juatco is not one of those people.

Before last night, where he was guest performer on Steve Karzak’s All Star Blues Jam at The Yale Hotel in downtown Vancouver, it had been somewhere around 8 years since I had heard and seen Leonard play. I remember watching him play back in high school with an energy and talent that just blew everyone away. Even back then he was already more than a simple musician, he was already a performer. He was way beyond the level of your typical high school star guitarist/singer. Even back then, he was versatile, playing a wide array of genres, from rock, to blues, to jazz, and not just dabbling in each. He was awesome back then and 8 years later, he’s even better.

When he was on stage, the energy and passion that he played with was contagious. You know when you hear a musician play and there’s something more than just the notes there? A story, tale, or emotion woven into every strum of the strings? That’s how it is with Jay Leonard Juatco’s playing and singing. His heart and soul poured into every bar of music, every verse of song. He captured people’s attention with every riff, every solo, every note.

You should definitely check him out if you get the chance. Guaranteed good times and rockin’ beats. He’s playing tonight and tomorrow night at Malone’s from 10pm – 1am. You can also check out his YouTube channel, Facebook fan page, website, and twitter.

More photos will be up on the photo blog and Flickr soon.

Categories: Music Tags: ,

Who’s On Your Side?

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Great post by Scott Bourne (@ScottBourne). Definitely worth a read. Not just applicable to photography, but really any hobby, especially ones you get serious with. Not necessarily going professional, but just something that becomes important, or even integral, to your life. There will always be those who will have something negative to say about whatever you do. Whether its telling you that you’re never going to make it, or telling you that you’re no good at what you do and that you suck, or even that you’ll never amount to anything of worth (in that area), they’ll always be there. But really, what they have to say should never dampen your spirits because as soon as it starts getting you down, that’s when you subconsciously believe it. From that point, it’s an uphill battle to get back to that point where things were fun for you and made your days that much brighter. Instead of brooding on these people and what they have to say, it’s all about finding those people and that community that is there to give you support, whether it be through constructive criticism, words of inspiration, or just joining you in the things that you do. Just remember, as Scott puts it so simply, “For every person who doesn’t support you – I bet you can find one who does.”

Categories: Response

RTCC Training Update #2: Les (Homemade) Noms

March 25, 2010 1 comment

So for the past while, I’ve been looking for good recipes for snacks to take with me when I go riding. A few days ago, I came across a simple little recipe and decided to give it a try. They came out pretty well and I predict that I’m probably going to somehow finish all of them (ended up making about 8 squares) by next week. This is only a first run, and there some small-ish adjustments I plan to make for the next batch, but here is the recipe for what I made today.

Original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats (I can’t remember exactly what kind I used, as we always empty the big bags we get into jars and I can’t find the big bag anywhere. I think any kind should work though. Let me know the results if you try making these!)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or other chopped dried fruit)
  • 1/2 chopped/crushed peanuts (I used cocktail peanuts and just crushed them by rolling a glass jar over top of them. You could use other nuts if you like too. If you’re allergic to peanuts/nuts, you could probably use soy nuts or something similar.)
  • 1/6-1/4 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Thoroughly combine egg, vanilla extract, and brown sugar in medium bowl.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients until well combined.
  4. Transfer to small baking pan that you have either buttered or lined with parchment paper (I used parchment paper, as it’s easier to extract the bars after baking and requires less clean up.) Pack firmly.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Divide into portions.
  8. Enjoy.
  9. Ride.
  10. Repeat 8. and 9. until you wonder how you ate them all so quickly.
  11. Repeat. =D

I used a 7×10 baking pan and found that the resulting bars were a little bit too thin for my liking and fell apart a little bit. This might be due to the raisins not really binding things together, so next time I’m going to add fewer raisins and maybe just bake a double batch in the same sized pan to get a thicker bar.

If you happen to try this recipe out, let me know how it goes and how you personalized/customized the recipe. If you have suggestions for me to try, let me know as well!