i am now posting from micro.blog. wordpress was annoying me just because it is kind of big and clunky for my purposes - i am now trying to reduce my internet presence to a skeleton so that i can fully flesh it out a little bit better.
this week i just learned about the indieweb. i am embarassed that it took me this long to actually truly discover this. so, i am doing a ton of reading and am generally excited about my upcoming projects in making my social media and internet presence more indieweb-friendly.
that’s it. if i am going to be completely clear and transparent, this post solely exists to make sure my ifttt trigger works for when i post here.
do you really need a website? do you really need a twitter account?
it really depends.
we all know that the internet allows you to reach a worldwide audience. what’s funny is that not everyone needs a worldwide audience (for example, talented designers). all you need is to be able to reach the people who need to hear from you. if you’re an artist, fame and notoriety helps, along with ease of access. once you get into finance, design, and certain other fields, sometimes the harder you are to find, the better.
a week ago i met a person who makes a living building out websites for clients. they didn’t have any kind of social media presence. “how do you get clients?” i asked. all through word of mouth, they told me.
this was frustrating, because at times it feels like i am running a media company - i update my twitter, i write on my blog, and i share interviews on my youtube channel and via podcast. it’s full time work, and my hope is that one day it will get me more clients. but here is someone who reduced the amount of work they had to do - they are credible in their circles and gain employment from those spheres.
there are no hard and fast rules. finding the people you want to work with is an art form. every platform offers its opportunities, as do your real world experiences. but, it is helpful to remember that twitter, facebook, squarespace and (shudder) wix are not necessary for success if your audience doesn’t need to find you there.
good morning. yesterday (thursday, september 5th, 2019) i arrived in portland for xoxo. i am staying with my friend josh and melissa, who have a son who is in fourth grade and cat who is two years old.
josh (@stickwithjosh on twitter) is a programmer-turned-videographer whose ultimate goal is to shoot feature films out of his backpack. he may have been the first people to get me interested in programming as well. as a computer-y person, he also was instrumental in introducing me to xoxo. when i was on the fence about buying my ticket earlier this year, josh told me that the online message board alone was worth the price of admission. and lo, here we are today.
yesterday i got all registered for the weekend. swag included the badge pictured above, a t-shirt (extra small for moi), a calendar of events, notebooks, and pronoun pins to let others know my preferred identifiers (he/him). once i checked in, i spent the rest of the day doing portland-y things (hanging out in cafes, going to powell’s, etc.). it is so nice here! i texted cheyenne throughout the day to let her know that i was having a consistently good time and that i was very, very relaxed. vacation = two thumbs up.
then, in the evening was the opening party, a late-night mixer with drinks and food. i met a bunch of folks and it feels a bit exhausting to recap the interactions with all of them. this weekend will be filled with a lot of meeting new people, and once i get my bearings you will definitely hear more about it. [sips coffee] oof, yeah, the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.
today is a “social day” so there are many different meetups happening around the main venue, revolution hall. i’m definitely going to the glitch “appy hour”, i’m going to try and attend a mixer with volunteer lawyers to discuss copyright law, and if time allows i’ll also make it to two other meetups, about patreon and twitter bots respectively.
that’s all i have in me for now - coffee (read more coffee) and breakfast are my current short-term goals, and i’ll be posting on instagram and twitter if ya’ll wanna see more of the festivities. onwards, upwards.
xoxo fest (link) is a conference for people who work and live online. a handful of people i follow on twitter went in 2018, which sparked my interest in going this year. i am very excited to be surrounded by artists and web developers that generally inspire me.
i often try to think about how we can use computers for good, as in creating positive change for individuals and communities. we know the risks (as showed to us in fictions like “black mirror”) but now we are trying to prevent a dystopian future by creating an open, accessible, and inclusive internet.
for me, i want to know what the future of work looks like. i am sick of 9-5, i am sick of navigating a broken healthcare system, and i am sick of the gaps in public knowledge when it comes to technology and its capabilities. my attendance at xoxo is a step towards a future that i would like to live in, under the banner of tabletop games, youtube videos, and coffee.
i once hear that some sidewalks are designed to encourage the walker to slow down and to enjoy the shops, sights and diversions of their walks. similarly, i find that certain cafes also encourage their patrons to cozy up with a good book so that they can really savor their beverage in a pleasant atmosphere.
where are these places online?
many websites i visit are all about speed (maybe i’m just spending my time in all the wrong places). google returns search results quickly, twitter is rapid fire of news, opinions, and images. facebook is, well, garbage. but, funnily enough i don’t spend that much time on medium either. even though it is supposedly designed to be that breath of fresh air on the internet, there is very little vetting for the quality of the content i am reading. more often than not, i feel like everyone is selling something, so i trust nothing.
now, i am in a cafe with a book, and i don’t feel like anyone is trying to fuck with me or mine me for information. where are these places on the internet where you can simply pass the time?
youtube comes to mind. youtube! an endless sea of content with varying degrees of intensity and engagement. i have the option to turn on lo fi hip hop beats, or open a video of someone making pastries in japan. this might be exactly what i needed in the first place. however, i do not enjoy watching youtube in a coffee shop - for some reason i need it to be a more private experience.
youtube is also passive, in contrast to reading, which takes active effort for decoding symbols into ideas. reading a book in a cafe is doing something, while watching youtube is letting something happen to you.
i don’t really know they answer, but i am always looking for ways to slow down and enrich my experience on the internet. i am biased towards books (one of my first and longest standing loves) but i hope there are places on the internet where i can get the same kind of peace and engagement that i do with a good book. maybe it is games - video games along with the games of organizing my documents or making websites or learning to code.
here’s a problem with the future of work: we’re all brands now. at least on social media, i think about my brand and how i present myself in the same way i think about business marketing. sometimes when i am advising clients, they ask me how to brand themselves properly on the internet.
this makes me think about my favorite people online - some of the folks that i love the most are authentic. this means that their content feels personal, and i feel a special connection because they are being genuine with the amount of personal and professional content that they can comfortably share online.
authentic doesn’t mean constantly available. i follow an instagram account in which an unseen user makes bubble tea against a white background. this user is more or less anonymous, and i don’t have any kind of emotional dialogue with this person, but the interaction still feels authentic: “here is something i like that i am comfortable sharing with you”.
i get sad - a lot. sometimes it is very difficult to manage, and for a while it was difficult to maintain an internet presence when i had intense, intermittent sadness. in order to be transparent with my engagement online, sometimes i’ll just let people know that i am sad. it gives some context as to my online habits, and it has become part of my brand. “connor is professional and creative, and sometimes he is very sad.”
a brand communicates to your audience “here’s what you can expect from me”. so, why make a brand that is too expansive for what you can give? for companies, branding connects products to specific people
“if you are x type of person, you might be into product y.” since we all engage in mini-forms of sharing on the internet, clarifying your brand can help manage expectations from the people you share with.
ultimately, we are human beings, not brands. however, when we step out into the world, we are always communicating - what we wear, how we carry ourselves, where we spend our time - all of this communicates something about our values and alignments. being on the internet, in a sense, is a form of being out in the world. and if we choose to participate, we can be focused about the way we style and brand our presence.
further, as human beings, we also have the capacity to grow. your brand is not a cage - if anything, it should help you move from one goal to the next. if you need to change your brand, you can (and should). of course, you have no obligation to change, or to explain your change to anyone. being online (being a human) is hard, and finding your truth and your level of comfort with being authentic online allows you to gracefully mediate your inner and outer lives.
a portion of my tech-savvy friends give talks. software developers get together for show-and-tell sessions that serve as networking and hiring opportunities (the events that i have attended have been very casual). some friends give their talks at conferences (e.g. deconstruct conf), and others at meetups (like donut.js). one of the best talks i’ve seen was one in which the speaker showed us how they used code to create the most dissonant music possible. they were followed by a woman (a banker by day) who used code to sort through produce plu codes.
so talks are happening and they’re useful and cool - i wanted to get in on the hype. so i put together my presentation using what i had learned from interviewing folks on ‘the orbit’. i asked my contact at impact hub if they could fit me into the calendar, and they said yes. easy peasy.
the hard part was making / rehearsing the presentation. i really had no idea who would show up, which meant that i didn’t know if my talk about seem stupid or inaccessible. i figured it would be best to not overthink it, and just focus on the things i liked and thought were useful.
i outlined the presentation in notion several times, then put together a google slides document. i went through three drafts before i settled on the one i was going to give. i practiced out loud in front of my girlfriend, and then video’d myself and sent it to lito who has a lot of experience with giving talks. both of them gave me meaningful and constructive feedback, which helped me further tune in the talk.
eight people showed up (less than i expected but still good). this meant that i could get to know my audience deeply and learn about their businesses and what they were hoping to get out of my presentation. my favorite bit was hearing about their projects. i find that many folks are embarking on really interesting, individual projects and i am always happy to see ways i can help (usually it is recommending a tool or a book).
if i were to do this again, i would really want to lean into the data more. i want to show hard and true facts that will illustrate my point: the future of work is coming, and its for everyone. if we figure out how to adjust to sustainable work structures, we’ll be well positioned to have meaningful careers that are fueled by our individual interests, passions, and talents.
this past week i interviewed sahil lavingia, the ceo of gumroad (an online selling platform). he told me that he believed the future of work was going to be decentralized, software-enabled, and small. you don’t even have to predict the future on this one, he told me. it’s already starting and you can see evidence of it around us.
my whole mission is to assist with the transition from the “old trappings” of 9-5. one friend i spoke with said that it was almost like i was a doula for the future, which i don’t think is too far off as a metaphor. what i appreciate about sahil is that he welcomes the future of work with open arms, and encourages others on twitter to try and fail and try and fail again and again, because together we are proceeding into uncharted territory.
this week, i’m excited to speak to an audience of my peers about some of the things i am working on. i am afraid that some people may not understand where i am coming from, or not recognize the importance of adjusting to the impending changes to the structure of our workdays. the talk is fun, informative, but i think it scratches the topmost layer of what i am thinking most weeks. i hope it goes well, and at the very least i am pleased that it is happening.
i’ve been promoting the hell out of this thing (it’s this week on july 31st in seattle, washington, link here) but worry not if you can’t make it - at least two people will be filming it and we’ll push it to youtube as soon as possible.
perry is a co-worker of mine. he’s in his twenties, and makes a living doing cafe maintenance. i asked him what he does for fun and he told me, “well, i’m building a boat.”
perry laughed. “you can pretty much learn anything on the internet these days. sure, if i was formally trained i could probably do a better job and make less mistakes. but you can learn a lot of the basics on youtube.”
next, i talked to nelson, a friend who likes to talk about philosophy. “i know a lot of philosophy isn’t immediately useful, but i like learning about it because it’s stimulating.” nelson picks up dense philosophy books from the bookstore, and uses youtube and google to further research terms and concepts that he wants to know more about.
lastly, my friend nat tells me that they are so impressed by how much their friends know. “it seems like everyone knows so much stuff about random subjects. i want to be one of those people, but i don’t know where to get started.”
more and more, when i ask friends how they got good at their hobbies or work, they’ll tell me “youtube” or “google”. this is super exciting to me, and also checks out with how i’ve been learning to program. i embark on a project, get stuck, then google my problem. i look at other people’s code, watch people on youtube, then try again. soon, i am better than i was before without having to set foot in a physical classroom.
the people i want to help are the people like nat - they know they can learn anything but need someone to help them figure out their interests. cultivating curiosity, building your own curriculum, these things don’t necessarily come naturally to folks who are used to sitting in a classroom and having a teacher tell them what they need to learn. i am lucky to know so many interest-driven learners, and i am currently inspired to lend a hand to those who want to become one.
this week i’ve released a couple experiments. one is web app, one is a video essay. neither is perfect, and that’s hard for me to deal with. however, i know i have more to lose by agonizing over the quality of my work than by actually sharing it and moving on.
in this video, i challenge some of cory doctorow’s ideas about copyright, based on my amateur understanding of how the internet works. i am fully aware that i am likely wrong on a lot of points here, and if anything this video is my best attempt at putting my interests into words. i hope to get some feedback or to do further research on copyright so that i can speak more eloquently on the subject. but, in the interest of posting videos weekly, i felt compelled to settle and say ‘welp, this is good enough for now’. it exists and it’s not terrible, and i know it can be better.
secondly, this is an app that i made using glitch. it takes data from your most listened to song on spotify and makes guesses at your personality based on that song. it’s funny, not necessarily built out to its fullest, but it works. writing and learning code is hard, and the majority of the effort was figuring out how to get spotify data from individual users (‘authentication’ they call it). i managed to do it, and the app works for most of the people that try it out. i could have made it more expansive, deep, or user friendly, but again i hit the ‘good enough’ point and knew that i needed to move on to the next thing.
as a perfectionist and a performer, i am often uncomfortable with releasing half-baked work. but, i am putting my focus more on the process rather than the product, and i know by continuing to release my experiments into the world, i will get immediate feedback and learn ten times more than if i were to build private projects and theorize in private.
here is the aforementioned vloggo, in which i discuss two books that i recommend most often, ‘whiplash’ by joi ito & jeff howe, and ‘the circle’ by dave eggers.
in other news, i just bought the book ‘the knowledge economy’ by roberto mangabeira unger, which came up on joi ito’s summer reading list. it’s a very… crunchy book, and aligns with a lot of my studies of the future of work.
anyway, i’m a bit shy about this new video because it is my foray into the world of video essays. i am inspired by the big players that have changed my life with their content, and sometimes releasing mine own thing make me feel small and feeble. but, the plan is to snowball some momentum and to keep these coming, similar to how i’ve been doing the interviews.
yesterday i made an attempt at producing a video essay. it is not as easy as creators make it seem. inspired by lindsay ellis, jon bois, and jenny nicholson, i thought “hey, why not take a stab at it?”
it is very hard to talk to a camera. i took this for granted during my interview series. both me and my subjects alike probably seemed as comfortable as we were because we didn’t have to talk directly to a camera. instead, we chatted with each other and it was easy to forget that we were being filmed.
jaron and i filmed one interview where i sat out of frame and the subject sat in front of the camera. the resulting footage was unusable - our subject was visibly nervous the entire time and didn’t really answer the questions we were asking.
now that i am in the hot seat, i get it. being filmed can be very difficult for a novice. i talked to chey about this. chey is extremely comfortable talking to a camera, though she credits this to a combination of her acting training and also years and years of practice.
so, for me, i’m in practice mode. i’m going to continue to make vlogs and no one is really going to see them until i find out how to do it properly.
i’m back in seattle and a lot has changed. for one, my boss got fired at my day job. i liked my boss and i liked my day job. but now i have the option to leave, and i really want to. so i’m looking.
i first applied to work at a bookstore (familiar stomping grounds). i quickly received an e-mail back, but they informed me that i would likely have to work during the holiday season. i really, really don’t want to do this - i’ve worked the holiday season for many years and i’d rather not do it again. i called chey an expressed my dilemma, and she recommended i look at other industries (“not retail”) so that i could have my holidays off.
further, i’ve been doing some solid reading and writing, which is culminating into some presentation projects. one of which is at seattle’s impact hub on july 31st. i’m very excited to share that i will be giving a talk about my work at “the orbit”. you can read more about the event here.
2019 is a big year for me. we’re already halfway through it and i feel like i’ve laid down a solid foundation for self-employment, though the path right now still seems muddy. all of my friends and family have incredible confidence in me and my ability to chisel out a career for myself, which helps a lot. we will see.
i don’t care for linkedin. but i know i need it if i am going to get the career that i want. so, i fleshed out the descriptions of my previous work experience, added some credentials i have, and generally focused on making my profile look full and fresh. like a bouquet or something.
at the end of this month, i will be giving a talk at seattle’s impact hub. it’s part of their “lunch + learn” series for entrepreneurs. i’ll be talking about professional and creative orbits, which is an obsession of mine. instead of burning out, i will be sharing strategies for sustainable workflow among folks who freelance or run their own businesses.
i’m excited about it, and i have a hunch that this talk will give people a better idea of who i am. more so than my linkedin. you can check out the details of the event here.
or, rather, i’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks. it’s been relaxing, wholesome, and fun, though i find myself itching to get back to the rhythm of my work routine.
if you’d like you read about my trip, i posted a couple recaps that you can find on medium.
i’ll be back in seattle soon enough, and we’ll hit the ground running. i’ve gained perspective and inspiration while abroad, and i plan to bring this cognitive freshness back to the pnw for talks, video essays, and new job opportunities, so help me god.
“how did I get an interview with kurt cobain? I ASKED.”
nardwuar the human serviette is an eccentric radio personality known for hosting incredible interviews with musicians. he is loved for his quirks, his personality, and in-depth research/preparation for his interviews. his subjects are often surprised at how much he knows.
in his ted talk, nardwuar tells us the secret to how get got as many great interview subjects as he did: he asked.
sahil lavignia is the ceo of gumroad, a kind of commerce platform for the indie creator. his twitter (and gumroad’s twitter) is full of encouragement. you’ll find that both accounts root for the underdog on a daily basis, because it’s the underdog who needs that extra push the most.
me? i’m encouraging you to ask. ask for help, as for your next gig, ask someone you admire for a pointer in the right direction. you don’t necessarily have to go at the entire journey alone.
today i’m pretty tired. i did a bunch of ‘productive stuff’ yesterday. now, i’m moving slow in the morning and taking some time to do things that i like. this includes reading, poking around the internet, and not pushing myself too hard.
burnout happens to a lot of us, and i am wondering if there is a way for me to overcome it. i often compare the struggle to calming a wild horse - my brain is bucking and itching to run, and it takes muscle and finesse to get me to a point where i am not destroying my body in the name of being ‘productive’.
it’s thursday. the weekend is soon. you’ve done a lot. don’t burn out.
my friend lito got me a game called “the witness”. it’s a series of puzzles that get increasingly more difficult. i find that i lose track of time when i’m playing this game, and usually i walk away when i am simply too frustrated to continue.
“that’s video games,” chey tells me.
lito pushed me to play “the witness” because it illustrated the concept of constructivism, which is a particular theory of how people learn. i am not an expert in constructivism, but it seems to explain the relationship between ideas and experience.
this is particularly interesting to lito because he works in education. for me, it makes me think about how i go about teaching myself new things, like programming. but in the meantime, i’m still just scratching my head over the latest puzzle in “the witness”.
seattle is not cheap. lunch, on average, costs $15 downtown. coffee costs $4. rent is a whole ‘nother story. i make it work, but it takes a extra amount of effort to get by. it means that i have to be smart, scrappy, and always on the hunt for a better opportunity.
and, thank god, the city is full of opportunity. living in seattle has connected me with incredible friends, cool communities, and great stories. the pressure has pushed me to learn a lot as quickly as possible. i live in an expensive city because it offers all the things that get my brain going.
i expressed my concern about seattle’s cost of living to a friend, who told me “the reason i came here is for opportunity. coming from a smaller town, i know that there is not a lot there for me. that’s why i am here.”
sometimes i feel tempted to move to a smaller town, but for now seattle is checking all my boxes. i get discouraged, but every once in a while the city throws me a bone, and it’s just enough to make be believe that i’m making all the right moves to secure a meaningful career in the long term.
as we saw yesterday, writing is fun, but it doesn’t pay very much. it’s a little bit of a slower medium as well, which is generally a good thing unless you are writing a non-fiction book.
but i believe in it, which puts me in the tricky place of trying to find a way to get paid to write. it’s not easy, and the options i have are pretty bleak. my best bet so far is to continue making content for no pay, since i know firsthand how annoying ads are. what is a young writer to do? i’m not entirely sure.
i want to make more podcasts and video, which i think is possible but also a bit difficult when i’m working from a chromebook and a laptop. but dangit i’m going to keep trying.
if you’re digging the vibe, please consider buying me a coffee on ko-fi, or checking out my patreon. i know i mentioned this before, and i’ll be sure to ease up on this soon. but the boost helps, especially when i am figuring out the next direction for getting good information to you.
writing doesn’t pay very much, but we do it anyway. art doesn’t pay very much, but we do it anyway. some people get lucky, some people don’t. it appears to boil down to a combination of skill and chance in terms of who gets to make art for a living. i don’t think this needs to be the case, especially now that each of us with an internet connection has the potential to reach the entire world.
i run a podcast/video series that you may know about, and my goal is to figure out what people are doing right. i want so badly to get paid to do the thing i love - to write and to help creative folks make money. but this means i have to first learn how to make money for myself. that means having my day job. that means doing a lot of unpaid prep work.
it is disheartening and i don’t know when this will end, if it ever does. but i hold on to the hope that it will pay off. and my research suggests it just might. and the best i can do in the meantime is to try my best, and to take care of myself in the process.
here’s a link to one of my favorite this american life episodes. it’s about a blind gentleman who learns how to ride a bike. the takeaway is that there is power in believing in someone. you increase the likelihood that your friend will accomplish a task by simply believing in them.
this goes the same in reverse. if your friends believe in you, you are more likely to accomplish your task. belief is an energy, and is contagious. it creates motivation and community. it feels good.
of course, blind faith or false beliefs are destructive. we must always ground our beliefs in evidence and subject our faith to scrutiny. however, sometimes this means that our faith is strengthened in our friends, and ourselves.
negative self-talk is destructive.
“i’m not good enough”
“i don’t matter”
not only are all of these things false, but they are false and pervasive. these thoughts stick in our heads and its hard to shake them. they almost seem to multiply and compound on themselves until our brains are burdened with a cloud of negativity.
guess what? your brain is wrong a lot of the time. you are dope, and there is a lot of evidence of that. we just tend to forget it, or even ignore it.
for me, i try to do my best to combat my negative self talk by being aware of it, and also writing lists of things i am grateful for, things i’m proud of, and things i’m good at. sure, we all need to be critical of ourselves for growth, but talking ourselves down is not helpful at all.
i am prone to overthinking, and sometimes it feels like both a strength and a weakness. overthinking allows me to plan, to dive deep, and to understand a topic more fully. it also slows me down significantly, almost to the point of paralysis.
sometimes i overthink so much i miss my mouth when i’m eating or drinking.
there are some things in our lives that are worth examining. but oftentimes it helps to just keep our methods simple, and to follow the natural flow of our environment and our bodies. sometimes i am so busy trying to find efficiencies that i become inefficient.
shake it up. take some deep breath. go outside and enjoy yourself. once you free up your brain and “not think” for a while, you can return to your deep dives in a more productive way.
we are living in a world of accelerating change. technology, careers, and strategies become obsolete at an alarming rate. if you want to be marketable, you have to be creative. the jobs of the future don’t exist yet, and its up to you to figure out what these jobs are.
this week i interviewed moji, a woman who created her own title as a environmental sustainability consultant. she told me that a lot of her job was education - she had to explain to clients what she did and why it was important. it’s an emerging field and more and more companies will experience pressure to become environmentally conscious, and moji saw that she could help.
for you, i’m sure you’ve noticed gaps in the market. if you see an opportunity to try something that might benefit a friend, a business, or a community, it’s possible you might be inventing a career for yourself. test it out, and see if you’re right.
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