Top Tops of 2013

So it’s the end of another funky, flashy, media soaked year and everyone is coming out with their top 100 whatever lists. In that same spirit, and because I noticed that blogs love lists, I decided to make my own top whatever list. Only, I couldn’t decide what whatever to list…so here is my top three list (not much of a list, I know) of lists I would make if I didn’t hate lists. Still with me? They are in descending order a la David Letterman.

3. 2013 buzz-worthy things according to me, and some other number crunching, algorithm-running type folks:

  • Miley Cyrus Train wreck or marketing genius?
  • Twerking Now in the dictionary! (see above)
  • Typhoon Haiyan Amidst thousands of user generated posts asking for prayer and spreading encouragement, Facebook put a link at the top of its newsfeed for three days so people could easily donate, and be prompted to. Bravo.

2. Top social media sites and/or apps I still haven’t joined, despite how helpful they would be to this blog:

  • Instagram I’m self-conscious about invading teen-world and not having 400 followers my
    first day.
  • GetGlue Really? TV news? News about TV?
  • Tumblr Scared of teens as stated, plus Pintrest is better- that’s right I said it!
  • Google+ What even is Google+?
  • Foursquare Super cool concept, but too stalker friendly.
  • The new Myspace Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee.

1. Top tech guilty pleasures:

  • Huffington Post– because it is kind of like those for dummies books. A little rehashed, copied and pasted post suits my often-lazy mind just fine.
  • Pintrest Yes, I said I didn’t like it, that it is for old ladies, blah, blah, blah. But guess what? I am totally hooked. I actually do the workouts and make the recipes. Ok, I have done one workout twice and have bought some ingredients for a recipe, but still. It is like browsing through all the magazines at Barnes and Nobles and not buying them, but you get to rip out the pages.
  • Facebook stalking– my guiltiest and saddest confession. I took a five day fb hiatus and experienced some mild twitchiness and irritability. Why? Not because I just had to tell people what was for dinner, I had developed a compulsion for checking on certain friends and was hooked on the incomplete and carefully constructed knowledge of their daily lives. Still doing it, but at least now I am aware I have a problem.

Happy holidays dozen of readers! Thanks for your loyalty!

 
 

It’s About to Get Real

I’ve been trying to write for days so I apologize to my dozen of readers for the delay. The truth is the idea for this blog was born partially from my own desire (need) to bask in the happy. Lately I have been coming up short. You may have noticed from the rather whiney tone of the last two posts.

I do have something interesting to say though and it is about an old article I recently read called “Look Who’s Talking”. In it, Wired.com writer Howard Rheingold discusses the complicated relationship between the Amish and technology. More specifically, the piece focuses on Amish communities’ rules for acceptance of technology for communication. What I found most useful in their individual evaluation of each tool and nuance was their question, “Will it bring us together or pull us apart?” The piece was written in 1999 but that question is even more meaningful now because of the many sound-clip-esque and “disembodied” ways that we communicate. The Amish are concerned about telephones minimizing face-to-face interaction, but what about texting? What about Facebook? What about Twitter? Do these build community? Are these online communities real or imagined?

Farmville

An even more critical question posed by these cultural rebels is whether the use of technology changes us. I say it does. This blog says it can, for good, not just bad. So I continue to look for real encounters where micro-blogger turns journalist, as many did during the start of the Arab spring, and where art school weirdo becomes entrepreneur because of platforms like Kick Starter.

Sorry for the serious tone of this post. It’s been a serious week (life), and we can’t always cling to cat violence gifs for relief. Sometimes we gotta think deep.

Here’s a serious cat gif to go with the conversation. I couldn’t help myself.

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Not That Pintrested

pinterest-pinboard-600In trying to be well rounded I wanted to look at other ways that we communicate and create online and realized that there are a couple of significant social media apps that I haven’t mentioned yet. Among the most influential of these are Twitter (which doesn’t really need much debate, anticipated IPO notwithstanding) and Pintrest.

So, who uses Pintrest? According to my savvy 23 year-old admin mostly middle-aged women (a group that I vehemently refuse to ever be absorbed by). I’ve seen Pintrest around for a minute (that means a long time, like at least 2 years), but never really got into it. Finally I gave in to an invite by my bestie and created an account. Today was the third time in 6 months that I have been on it. Why doesn’t it capture my attention, because I refuse to be a middle-aged woman? Because I love the words, and short of a little word art and typography, text is not really Pintrest’s thing? Maybe. The more I think about it though, the more I believe it is my #shyness. I am afraid to pin outfits I like or décor that inspires me because I am one sarcastic (lady) and think that others would respond to my eclectic tastes with similar subtlety. So Pintrest is not for the insecure at heart.

Also, Pintrest is way organized. In fact it is more about organization than it is about interacting with other users and this is another wah wah wah area for me. I am a technology extrovert. If I am going to be sitting alone at home getting irradiated by a 15 inch screen then I want to at least believe that someone is on the other side. Therefore, being in constant need of validation is another factor. Hmmm, starting to think Pintrest is not the one with the problem here.
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From a marketing perspective Pintrest is brilliant and I can see it doing for a home décor niche (like CaribbeanGingerbread.com) what Tumblr did for Nutella. Did you catch that plug? I work for those guys (Caribbean Gingerbread, not Nutella) and helped develop the site, wrote most of the copy, … please validate me. There I go again.

Breakthrough moment – Pintrest is awesome for creating a Christmas list!

Bitstrips and Zombies and Babes, Oh My!

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I have wanted to post for a couple of days now but have held back due to my annoyance with Bitstrip, which I originally wanted to write about in a positive way. It is too late for that though, as it is quickly becoming Facebook’s second most obnoxious feature (#1 is still invitations to play Candy Crush). What is with the obsession folks? A few weeks ago, when like one guy was using Bitstrip and no one even knew it was an app, it was cool. It was cool when a girl made her avatar actually look like herself– forehead lines, kinda round face, blocky suit. But now, everybody has got Bitstrip, every personalized female avatar is wearing the same kaki shorts and pink scarf, nobody is old, overweight, or has frizzy hair, and everybody is “on the five alarm wake up.” This insipid lack of creativity and honesty is just bringing out the worst in me. Yes, that was redundantly repetitive but essentially necessary. Sorry for the complaininess.

Now that I have got that out of my system, let’s get back to talking about zombies and Jimmy Kimmel. It is Halloween after all.

I came across an amazing TED Talk for zombies and, since it basically combines my entire Netflix queue in 3 ½ minutes, I feel compelled to let you in on it. TED Talks is one of my favorite things to do so I don’t feel guilty about watching TV. Their basic theme, “ideas worth sharing,” is like what this blog is about- participating in the exchange of information, creativity, and emotion across digital platforms. So zombies… yeah well, I happen to think that it is high time we hear what they have to say. Apparently this video is not actually a TED Talk but it very well could and should be.

Finally, as a mom I wanted to give other parents a way to know if their parenting sucks. Here is a test invented by the psychology experts at the Jimmy Kendall show. Watch the video below and then do to your children what these parents did to theirs; tell them you ate the candy they got trick or treating. If they are like my kids, or like me to be honest, they will cry as if their baby bunny died and you are telling them to flush it. The kids toward the end of the video though shame those of us whose parenting techniques include frequent practical jokes and my favorite, stop, drop, and cry. The last girl has got to be the most well adjusted small person I have seen since that daily affirmations girl. Wow!

Happy haunting!

The Day We Almost Lost the Internets!!!

Wow, so Facebook was having some issues yesterday for a couple of hours and there was some global, ok American, freaking out going on. I heard a lady on the radio say that her son in Guam wouldn’t be able to wish her a happy birthday, – feeling Image. Some people were upset that the lapse in functionality was being called a “short time,” appalled at the volume of neighborly information they missed out on. Others were just upset that people were upset, commenting things like, “I could care less if you like Wal-Mart, or had a few tacos for lunch that were ‘yum!’” That guy (silverharbinger) needs to lay off the haterade (or is it hatorade?).

But seriously, if we asked ourselves “who cares?” before every status update, there wouldn’t be any, and based on FB’s colossal success, I will wager, as plenty of stockholders do, that someone out there will care that your baby ate a grasshopper and finally went #2 in the potty. That is the cool thing about online communities; there is strength in numbers. Your middle school drama teacher sort of remembers you and wants you to know she <3’s your new haircut- come on people, what’s not to ❤ about that? – feeling Image.

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When you are – feeling Imagealone, and let’s face it even the most crowdy of us are at some point, something like that goes a long way. You have carved a digital heart in the sand that caused a bunch of people to have to walk around it, and then, someone draws the arrow that goes through it, or adds your initials to its center. You exist.

So thank you FB techies for handling the October 21st Facebook debacle with at least three times the veracity and resources as have been dedicated to the Affordable Care Act’s shopping site.

– feeling Image

My fav complaining comments (from engadget.com):

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The Walking Daybed

What do reanimated corpses have to do with joy, or technology for that matter?

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(that’s my baby, post zombification, courtesy of Dead Yourself App)

As everyone in the developed world probably knows, last Sunday was the season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead. For cord-cutters who could not wait till Monday, when AMC would post the full episode online, that meant reaching out and touching someone with cable. (That was a really old TV commercial reference for those <30.) Were it not for streaming services, many cord-cutters like myself would still be working for the man (paying for cable) and would have lonelily watched the show in our paint stained pajama pants and head wraps. But thanks to technology, people are coming together in the name of entrail-eating zombies. Heat games have a similar effect.

Let me clarify, while you cannot stream live shows or games, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the like make it possible to live a fairly normal life without cable. Because many of us are choosing this alternative lifestyle, when there is something live we MUST watch, we leave our eeky dens and mooch off of those who do pay for cable. Many a getty have been thrown on this premise and vegging in front of the TV is quickly becoming a social activity. The enjoyment, I dare say, is augmented by the company. When an amateur commentator exclaims, “it’s raining cats and zombies” some nail biting is lost, but for the sake of a much needed chuckle.

Here is a pic of our Walking Dead premiere party, I’m the smiling girl on the left. It’s hard to miss the daybed in my friend Jose’s TV room. Love it!!!

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Epic-kest Prank Ever!!! – well, in the last couplamonths.

This week I want to discuss a slightly stale phenom- the Jimmy Kimmel twerk fail prank. For those of us that have been living in a safe bubble of healthy media, away from the 2013 VMA’s and possibly even lucky enough to not know what twerking is, here is a breakdown of events:

A couple of months ago a video went crazy viral – 90M views in one week! The video was of a lady in yoga pants and a pepto-pink top twerking (a most vile, upside-down booty-shake) against a door. Then someone walked through the door and the twerker came crashing down on her coffee table, breaking the glass, and setting herself on fire with a lit candle. My reaction: laughter, delight, then self-reproach as I finally thought, “I hope she is ok.”

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In the weeks that followed, the video dubbed “The Most Epic Twerk Fail,” and a number of other superlatives, had made national news and had been featured hundreds of times in the media. It seemed my thoughts were echoed times a (million? billion?), idk, a lot. Everyone was sort of glad to see the cautionary tale of twerking gone wrong. “See kids, do this, and you will catch fire, and not in a glamorous Jennifer Lawrence sort of way.”

Ah, but the plot thickens. A few months after the video’s blow-up and the subsequent flood of publicity, my friend (although he doesn’t know he is) Jimmy Kimmel revealed that he was behind the video and that it was a fake! The girl in the video was a stuntwoman. The whole things was staged and then posted only on YouTube, and then “the magic happened” as Jimmy said.

Why talk about this? Well, I think what my bud Jimmy did was sort of brilliant. He played on our thirst for blood. We love watching pranks that involve bodily harm- it is sad but so true. That is why we laugh when our grandma slips on a skateboard. Later we are concerned, but whether it is nerves or just some sick sense of humor some come equipped with, watching something go physically awry can result in exuberant giggles. Accidents caught on tape or pranks that involve a victim produce about the same guilty joy. Add yoga pants and twerking and yeah, we want retribution.

What is more buzzworthy about the Twerk Fail Debacle, though, is that the prank was not in the video itself. Kimmel pranked the media on a huge scale. He staged a prank within a prank and I have to wonder what all those commentators and writers are thinking now. Maybe they are like, “I told you it was a bad idea to talk about that video, we should have stuck with the cat that says ‘I love you’” or maybe they are not at all embarrassed to have been used in the experiment. The stunt-parfait also served as social commentary on what we find newsworthy. As one night show host said after discussing the video, “good thing nothing is happening in Syria right now.”

So here is the video from Jimmy Kimmel Live. Enjoy it as if it was your first time watching the media get burned.

PS-

Ok, so being out there, the space Frank talks about, can be as scary as standing in front of a packed house. This blog has hidden, refused promotion, shied away from even a virtual conference table worth of eyes. But no more. She (this blog is female) will be outed, flung into a world of shameless Facebook begging, link posting, and face to face – that’s right – plugging. Who knows? Maybe by December she will have a dozen followers and a steady readership of about 20. “Oh what lofty goals!” she cries, but as author and shameless promoter, I proclaim “It will be done!”

How You Will Become My Friend

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What is the difference between happiness and joy? The pursuit of happiness is a wild goose chase- we may never achieve happiness, that ethereal and elusive state, because wanting it is what makes us, well, want it. Joy on the other hand is obtainable in little bite-sized moments, like your first taste of a really good piece of chocolate or when you hug someone you didn’t expect to see and didn’t realize you missed. Enjoyment and connection make joy possible. If you can get both in one shot then you are doing pretty good.

Recent media trends have made it possible for us to relate and reach out to each other through entertainment that is more interactive than the old consumption model. Some of you haters might be thinking, “technology is creating false intimacy, kids are not developing social skills, naggy, nag, yada, yada…” For a lot of us though, the internet is the perfect place to connect to other human beings. The protection of semi-anonymity brings out our inner Bat Dad or allows us to be more vulnerable than we could be with someone face to face.

I was inspired to think about our ability to experience joy via some seemingly wasteful applications (like Vine or meme generators) after watching a TED Talks video with Ze Frank. Incidentally, he is the one who coined the term “techno-joy”. Frank has created a bunch of interactive projects that link us across age, gender, culture, across the world. He argues that, “life is being lived in there,” the virtual space we share, and this life is legitimate. Most of the time we interact individually with online content. We experience a prank one person at a time, we wonder how the victim reacted after the video ended, we admire or hate the perpetrator. The connection between creator and consumer are valid and meaningful.

I hope to engage with you in a similar relationship through this blog. I will post things that make me feel, things that are sincere, joyful things. Please comment with similar findings and your reactions to the content noted here. It is nice to know you.

“To feel and be felt, is the most fundamental source that we are all after.” –Ze Frank

Beer Squirrel