recap: registration day at xoxo

ahoy 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.

this is nimbus and i love him.

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.

my badge for the festival!

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.

personal & professional

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.

decentralized, software-enabled, and independent

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.

building a car as it is moving

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.

This is a screenshot. Check out the live app here.

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.

i’m baaack

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’m on vacation

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.

in other news, i’ve been making a few little javascript projects on glitch that i am very proud of, and i am brainstorming ways to solidify my foray into remote work. i’m really not supposed to be thinking about “business things” while i am abroad, but it is something that is a little bit difficult to turn off. chey is the same way – for the first week we stuck to our rule of “no work while on vacation” but once the second week hit, it became apparent that we would have a less enjoyable time if we didn’t do something productive.

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.

tired

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.