Alan Watts and his advice, or lack thereof, on writing:
Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.
I have a lot of friends who have recently hung up their Facebook boots. It sounds wonderful to be free of that nightmare.
I can’t just get rid of it though. I need it professionally, and there’s a lot of people on there that I really like but would probably never talk to again if I left.
Deleting my account just isn’t an option.
What I need is less Facebook.
Maybe a couple minutes of Facebook a day.
So yesterday, on a whim, while I was waiting for someone to grab some pretzels from the AV group’s snack stash, I deleted Facebook from my phone.
Just to see what happens.
And let me tell you brother, what I found out about myself was horrific and embarassing. I have seen the face of addiction, and I had no idea how out of hand it had become until it wasn’t there anymore.
I must have compulsively unlocked my phone 4 or 5 times while getting ready this morning. Momemtarily confused when I came to my senses, realizing what had just happened.
I felt the urge at every stoplight on the drive in. That surge of domamine gets going and the phone is in your hands before you know it. When you catch yourself, the happy chemicals in your brain are shut off with an abrubt harumph. Like it hits a wall.
That wall is sanity, my friends.
It’s amazing. And I’m more convinced than ever that life would be better with less of it.
iPad is next.
Then I’ll just need to figure out how to remove it from the Internet.
I’m not so easily worried by semantics, but the ambiguousness of social is causing problems. The word is out of control, having become a buzzword as sticky as it is devoid of meaning.
Is it a social idea if it’s a game that prompts you to post something to Facebook at the end?
Is it a social idea if it’s a microsite that pulls in Twitter feeds?
Is Skype a social idea?
Is a Facebook post a social idea?
Is Game of Thrones a social idea?
Is a hashtag a social idea?
Beer and wings is definitely a social idea.
It’s become the digital equivilant of the term widget (the business school use, not the precurser to apps). Which isn’t a big deal until you have a team working on a social idea, not realizing until the idea is killed (or terrible) that there were 10-different expectations of what a social idea should be.
After all, the Internet is social by design.
But really, an idea needs to be good before it can be social. Or, ideas have the potential to become social if they’re good enough. Things can be done to help out, but social is an outcome, or use case, of an idea. Social networks are places where social behavior can happen, but even there, social is a behavior. It’s not a deliverable any more than viral is.
So let’s get more specific. Words should mean things. Especially in the communications business.
Borges, Foucault, and Perec on Lists
Jorge Luis Borges relates in his essay on “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins”, in La Nación, 8 February 1942 of a certain list ascribed by “Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into
(a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance.
He also cites other, less memorable, examples of classification, and concludes: “Obviously there is no classification of the universe that is not arbitrary and conjectural. The reason is very simple: we do not know what the universe is.
His point is that ” there is no classification of the universe that is not arbitrary and conjectural. The reason is very simple: we do not know what the universe is.”