Monthly Archives: May 2003

finding nemo

There’s nothing more charming that sitting in a rural moviehouse watching the brand new Pixar movie, Finding Nemo amidst crowds of kids, families, dates and other Americana. Of course, this quaint environment did not restrain my desire to sit and shout for my friends during the credits. As for Nemo itself… wow. I realized that i paid no attention to any of the CG, which is a good indication of how cleanly the film was done… one could simply get wrapped up in the wonderful story of familial love. I will always remember meeting Ed Catmull when i was 18 and him telling me that CG does not a movie make; the story is everything. He’s definitely proven his point.

mass moca

As the world always seems to work, i end up at Mass MoCA annually. This year, i was stunned with a beautiful exhibit called fantastic!.

In particular, i was stunned speechless by Gregory Crewdson’s work and this Opelia picture in particular. This image creates a surge of conflicting emotions – awe at the beauty of the image, shame at the love of the horror, confusion over her intentions and the calculatedness in which she participated in the scene. The notion of the fantastic makes complete sense in a room full of these images. Visual raptitude.

people can still surprise me

A friend of mine talks about a genre of people in his life who share a familiar set of traits such that they live their lives exclusively their own way. They operate successfully on an alternate form of reason and logic that makes no sense to me, but is highly effective. They are non-rational. Through their passion and their ambition, they make things work, but life will always be led their way. I met my canonical representation. She wore high heels camping and threw the bowling ball over her head into someone else’s lane. But she can walk into the UN and get whatever she wants. I’m in awe.

[Note from 6/3: Every example of this type of person that i can think of is a woman. Are there examples of non-rational, powerful, effective men?]

a quote by darwin

Tonight, i read a quote by Darwin that really made me think:

“Let theory guide your observations, but till your reputation is well established, be sparing in publishing theory. It makes persons doubt your observations.” (The Moral Animal p. 299)

I have to wonder how relevant such a thought is today – are us youngin researchers forbidden from hypothesizing new theories? It’s funny… i really think that the notion of research has turned topsy-turvy in my lifetime and i still don’t know how to properly negotiate the intellectual community in a subtle, yet effective manner. Perhaps one day i will learn some tact…

gossip blogging

Gossip columns have appeared everywhere from the local rag to the grocery store trash to the elite magazines. People love to talk about other people. Thus, it should come of no surprise that there’s a whole genre of blogging dedicated exclusively to gossip.

Once again, i have to ponder how digital searchability will affect the social impact of this new form. While we may one day forget the atrocious outfit of some celebrity as reported in Vanity Fair, how will we judge those famous folks as a collection of their appearance in gossip blogs? Needless to say, i imagine that most gossip is going to be slanted, and most likely in the derrogatory direction. What happens when most of our impressions are based on negative hearsay?

Blog certainly create fun new ways to screw with social dynamics…

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graduation groaning

It’s graduation season. Every year i think all of these wonderful thoughts about graduations – fun robes, academia in the spring time, joy and glory and happiness. And then i remember that i *despise* graduations, because they also mean families running around stressed about participating in a massive activity that never lives up to anyone’s expectations. Magnify that by really horrid student speeches about embracing the future or dreadful politicians campaigning masked as commencement speaking and you have a recipe for my irritation. Needless to say, i was a cranky graduation attendee this evening and luckily my brother sympathized.

What made this graduation special was that RIT still doesn’t seem to understand that the majority figure in statistics is not always the most interesting. Three years ago, RIT proudly printed t-shirts which stated that 92% of RIT guys stop sexual advances when they’re asked. At graduation, the president proudly announced that 67% of RIT students believe that racial diversity is a good thing for RIT. Does the idea that 8% of the campus population are self-described rapists and 33% are racists not disturb the administration?

Of course, there were many other aggrevating parts of the graduation process, but this… this topped the cake.

the familiar stranger

One of the more powerful concepts that i learned in the last few years is the notion of “familiar strangers.” The term comes from Stanley Milgram and it refers to the people that we see regularly in a non-intimate fashion that we develop a sense about, but never directly interact with. A good example is the person that one sees on the bus every morning. If that person fails to appear, we notice. What is cool about familiar strangers is that when we see them out of the context of non-interaction, we will immediately interact with them, because there is a presumption of shared knowledge. The further we are from our normal interaction with this person, the more likely we are to connect. Thus, we are likely to treat our bus buddies in New York as close friends if we run into them in Italy.

Underlying this behavior between familiar strangers is the function of multiple contexts in common. In common social introductions, we proceed through a ritual of figuring out what we have in common – what people/institutions/cities/interests we have in common. We do this to develop a common grounding. Likewise, when we see someone in an additional social setting, we feel as though we have exponentially more in common with which to bond.

The power of the familiar stranger is ringing loudly in my head right now because i continue to talk with folks about LinkedIn. I fear that too many of the social software folks don’t realize why context is essential for giving folks a reason to interact, to connect, to bridge one’s social network. People are not simply motivated by what they need or could give, but by what fundamental reasons they have to connect… Introduction rituals are essential for connections and to properly do so, one needs more contextual information than a limited version of one’s resume. Social negotiation, even in the professional realm, is not limited to strictly business… it is inherently social.

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people are real

Most people know that i have a small problem (think Biblioholics Anonymous). In particular, i love having my books signed. This allows me to confirm that the person who wrote those magnificant words really does exist and is not simply a figment of my imagination. People are real and i love to make the connection between the real person and the literary/digital author.

Today, i got to meet one of the people in my blogosphere – Liz Lawley. It was wonderful fun to be able to map an auditory voice to the written one she presents online. As she is a gender conscious presence within the social software community, it feels great to have actually put a face to a digital identity.