Kindle My Faith (Book Pitch 2.0)

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/02/06

I’m not working as of yesterday and I have a Kindle on backorder — which is kinda funny when you think about it.

I’d been debating ordering one for a year or so. Would I really use it?

My friend Randy Stewart said he didn’t like his and got rid of it — recommending I wait until v2.

My pal Lee LeFever kept raving about his.

Then a month ago I was in a training session that really kicked my ass about writing. Not tweets. Not blog posts. But articles and books and presentations.

It was a huge wakeup call.

And when I thought about what it takes for me to write fluidly and well — I came back to a writing hack Scott Berkun and I have talked about a lot — you need to read to write — and not just surface read, but deep read.

Which is a conclusion that kinda sucks for me, big time — because I don’t deep read anymore.

Twitter and TechMeme have ruined me.

They’ve rewired my synapses so that I scan >> scan >> scan for nuggets (and pass them along so that the important news can find its way), but then I never take the time to go deeper than that.

And for all of the fruits of these new patterns of information consumption — I really do feel guilty for not picking up a printed book and reading — it leaves me feeling like I am less of a person — the poser who snuck into an American Lit Class and is hoping that none of the liberal arts majors find him out.

But life’s taught me to really examine any guilt/shame feeling I have — even when it seems to be a very minor thing like this.

Whenever I get the guilts, I know I am supposed to dig deeper and ask — what’s at the root of making me feel this way?

That’s when I realized something that made me order the Kindle — which is going to take a little bit for me to explain, but stick with me, skimmers, ’cause I think it’ll be worth it.

I don’t read print books because they are inefficient, in an “if the news is important, it will find me sort of way“.

If I come across a nugget in a book, anything I want to underline or dogear or tape to my bathroom mirror, I am completely frustrated that I cannot link to it, note it to one of my action lists, or copy it, without interrupting my flow.

I know I could go back and transcribe it, but the truth is, I never do — just like I’m never gonna digitize the hundreds of hours of MiniDV tape of great events and people I’ve captured over the years.

That little barrier to efficiency stops me from starting.

Then I began thinking about that little barrier through the lens of Clay Shirky‘s, Here Comes Everybody, which I bought in print (with the cool button cover!) and haven’t read yet.

But! — I have seen the videos and skimmed the posts ;) — which have me agreeing that I, too, am completely baffled by information that has no mouse.

Which is why I decided to buy a Kindle.

I talked to Lee at Mind Camp 5, to confirm that the Kindle has copy, paste, and notation functions — because that, to me, is the minimal definition of Shirky’s mouse notion.

Now I’ve got a decision to make.

When I ordered the Kindle back on January 8th, it was listed as backordered for 7 weeks. Being the impatient person that I am, I even contact friends at Amazon who used to be on the Kindle team to see if I could get it any faster.

They said no way — Oprah cleaned them out and there were none left.

Which wasn’t a big deal at the time, ’cause I figured, maybe the stars would align and I’d be one of the first people to get a Kindle v2 — which, if you’ve ever had that happen before with a market disrupting gadget, is a total geek high — doesn’t often get better than that for nerd edge cases like me.

So I was hanging in there, but today the plot has thickened, as they say.

I now have no steady paycheck coming in, a limited amount of savings, and no firm work lined up.

Reason tells me I should trim staff and aggressively cut expenses.

But poetry tells me something else.

It tells me that it might not be the right decision to trim this $350 expense — maybe what I’ll learn from the experience will be worth the price, despite the risk — this is a heavy thought when we’ve still got preschool and day camp to pay for.

Poetry tells me that this might be the exact right kind of “illogical anti-bean counter” decision — the tale of which might help explain through story (in lieu of bullet points) what I’ve been trying to articulate to all of my dear friends from the print side of design — that the world is vastly changing — it’s happening much faster than any of us ever imagined — and it’s probably a good idea for us to get ahold of some new wineskins.

When I start to talk like that to friends who have not had their synapsis fucked with like mine have been, they either look at me blankly, like I am Charlie Brown “mwah, mwah, mwahing” it, or — they look at me like I’m intentionally trying to be a dick (instead of intentionally pursuing them with a deep love and doing my damnedest to explain something very urgent).

Poetry tells me this might be the exact right kind of “hang onto your hats kids” moment that we will remember years from now — when the form magically came alive and transformed into the content — showing how I can’t hardly imagine writing anything without a mouse anymore, either.

So, I think I’m gonna keep the Kindle on order.

I’ve got a funny kind of faith that it’s all gonna work itself out.

: : :

I have imagined writing deeper think pieces for many years now, maybe even books — always trying to find the time to stop for a minute.

Right now I’m thinking that this shitty first draft might make a nice chapter in a book called “Google and the Search for Soul” — which would be about the wonder of this age and how its changing, and challenging, our humanity.

That book has been a baby I’ve nurtured for a while — and when I’ve shared my secret with friends like Scott or Don, I always try to infect them with the spirit of the thing by describing what the cover would look like —

It’d be the Google interface with the word soul in the search box — and the mouse hovering over “I’m feeling lucky”.

Then I usually add something about how I’m sure Larry could back me up if Larry had any objections to that design.

Then I tell them how I’d get ahold of Tim in a very Book-Pitch-2.0-ish sort of way and we just do this thing.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m kinda infected with a crazy imagination right now — and I hear Tim likes Chesterton.



Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/21

Kendall Guillemette and I are gonna get a discussion session together at Seattle Mind Camp tomorrow on sustainable work/life patterns. We’re calling it “Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns (…is Calacanis a Saint? Something Else?)”.

See flier below. Some seeds for the discussion —

  • How do you structure your work?
  • Is banking on a buyout like saying, “I’m gonna play in the NBA?”
  • What’re your successes?
  • Your epic fails?

Also cool — we plan to use an iPhone audio meter to insta-poll the crowd on what we should talk about (if it’s a decent size).

Special shout out to all those who need a refresher on “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”.

Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns



My Chumby Just Arrived

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/01/07

My Chumby just arrived — here it is (except mine is black) — and yes, this is a realtime reflection of what it is showing —



Frozen moments in an age of technological wonder

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/17

There are moments that, ages from now, you will remember exactly where you were at when you heard the news.

Like last night.

I was driving back to my hotel in Palo Alto from the Web 2.0 Expo at San Francisco’s Moscone Center West. I turned on the alternative station and heard Loveline come on with Dr. Drew.

I could tell something was different as they started the show — there was a quick note that they had rescheduled the guests for the evening (two porn actresses) and were going to take calls about the Virginia Tech shooting.

What ‘Virginia Tech Shooting?’ I asked myself.

I listened for a few minutes. Not much info. I scanned the FM stations. Nothing there but entertainment. I switched to AM and moved from news site to news site, picking up details.

What a sad moment.

This AM as I listened to CNN while getting ready to head back to the conference, I heard an account from a professor in the building where most of the murders occurred.

He described hearing gunshots and barricading himself into his office. He detailed how he went to watch video on CNN’s web site to get an idea of what was happening around him.

And I am at one of the biggest tech conferences to ever focus on how we, as an industry, create things like streaming media tools, etc. — and how they [might]((http://chris.pirillo.com/2007/04/13/live-internet-video-stream/) be used.

I honestly never imagined that one — streaming video to monitor a massacre in your immediate proximity.

Stranger still is the fact that, after the Dot Com Crash, I worked at Real Networks for a year — monitoring the live performance of those CNN feeds — rallying the troops when surges brought things to a halt — triaging the system when it all went to hell.

I was the guy who woke up the Real news chief when the space shuttle broke up on re-entry in 2003. The team I was on monitored the video readiness as the U.S. prepared to invade Iraq and the fall(?) of Bagdad.

Sigh — may you live in interesting times is both a blessing and a curse.



Web 2.0 Expo Target Sessions for Monday

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/16

Here’s the sessions I’m scoping out for Monday at the Web 2.0 expo —



Web 2.0 Expo Notes: Building Social Applications

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/16

I really enjoyed Stowe Boyd’s 3 hour workshop at the Web 2.0 Expo yesterday AM on ‘Building Social Applications‘.

Web 2.0 Expo: Building Social Applications - Stowe Boyd

He really helped me get my head around some of the foundations of designing these next generation online social experiences.

Highlights quotes were:

  • “Social apps is the world that IM has made”
  • “I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections”
  • “I give up personal productivity for network productivity. I sacrifice for the group.”
  • “Fashionista recommendation is a different UI than a feature lookup (size, color, etc)”
  • “What happens when the money gets serious? Well, what happened to the blogs? TechCrunch is no longer a blog per-se, it is a media property.”
  • “Reputation is fragile both online and offline. Squander your rep and CBS may fire you.”
  • “I often play psychologist for social apps. I set them on the couch and ask about their childhood.”
  • “Find people who tag items the same way you do and you will find a social group based on shared ways of thinking and speaking.”
  • “To understand social apps, you have to be in the flow, not outside. You can’t get it unless you are using them and you can’t explain it to people — you’ve got to do it. You can’t learn Karate by thinking about it”

Took notes in MindManger — here’s the .PDF or the .MMAP files.



Have arrived at Web 2.0 Expo

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/15

I am at the Web 2.0 Expo at Moscone West in San Francisco this AM. Got here early to scope out the power and do a Sightspeed video call with Jen, Thomas, and Ruthie back in Seattle.

If you are here for the conference, shoot me a note or twitter me (bryanzug) and let’s hang out.

Am looking forward to Stowe Boyd’s 3 hour workshop this AM on ‘Building Social Applications‘. I hear he know his $#!7.

Also — the first Ignite session outside of Seattle is happening tonight at the Expo. Brady has put together an excellent lineup — including Justin.tv — should be interesting.

IMAGE_169



Creating Passionate Users: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video…

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/16

God bless Kathy Sierra.

Over the last few months I’ve found myself trying to explain the deepening (and real community) aspects of meatspace interactions that my wife Jen and I have been drawn into as a result of participating in online community.

Ruthie's Shoes at Northern Voice 2007

Usually we are trying to explain to business colleagues or friends or family or members of our church that, yes, indeed — online community is a part of real community and not the equivalent of social cheese-whiz that some describe it to be.

But, yeah — as I’m working to explain it I often see eyes begin to glaze over — and I can tell that folks are either not buying it or I’m not communicating very well.

Which leaves me — searching for ways to compellingly relate how online community has become real community for us — looking for the stories and patterns that engage both the emotion and the intellect.

Enter Kathy Sierra.

This morning I read her post from yesterday describing her keynote at SXSW. The post is called Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video… and is full of great passages on how all this social web software drives a deeper desire for face-to-face community.

My favorite quote —

…all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y’all are building, we now have more far-flung friends–including people we’ve never met f2f–than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.

Nice insight — sticking that pattern in my bag of tricks — something tells me the “online community isn’t real community, is it?” questions aren’t gonna stop anytime soon — this stuff is continuing to disrupt everything.

Did I mention that my mom who just got her first computer for Christmas is now IM’ing all the time — the world really is getting flat.



Udell on ‘Video Knowledge’ and my riff on the death of the specialist

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/12/20

Father of screencasting, Jon Udell has great post on the move toward video as a knowledge/rapid-documentation repository. After a few technical points, he hits this gem that completely jives with my experience on getting into the flow of screencasting —

…you have to overcome the same natural reticence that makes dictation such an awkward process for those of us who haven’t formerly incorporated it into our work style. You also have to overcome the notion, which we unconsciously absorb from our entertainment-oriented culture, that video is a form of entertainment. It can be. Depending on the producer, a screencast documenting a disaster recovery scenario could be side-splittingly funny. And if the humor didn’t compromise the message, a funny version would be much more effective than a dry recitation. But even a dry recitation is way, way better than what’s typically available: nothing.

Just another step toward the seamlessness of media where real headway means that this will be less and less of a specialist skill — who is a ‘word processing’ specialist these days?

No one — every one.

There is a point in the future (near? mid? far?) Jon alludes to here where things like screencasting will be a natural repository for business/education/whatever knowledge — a time when this stuff will not be a specialized skillset.


Last night with the wife and kids, I brought YouTube up on the family TV and searched for my wife’s username and my daughter’s name. We all sat mesmerized for 30 minutes while we played the various clips Jen has uploaded over the past 6-8 months.

It’s content that I, as a professional multimedia producer, had little to do with — All video my wife produced on her own through mostly self developed knowledge and a digital camera (not a miniDV camcorder).

What does TV look like to my daughter and my wife? Something much less specialized than I could ever imagine — and I’ve got a good imagination.

On with the flattening of the universe…



Less about eYada and more about participatory cultures

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/11/08

Tama points out a couple of reports this morning on technology and learning that focus less on the tools and more on how they enable folks to engage in participatory cultures.

From Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by Henry Jenkins and the MacArthur Foundation —

That is why we focus in this paper on the concept of participatory cultures rather than on interactive technologies. Interactivity is a property of the technology, while participation is a property of culture. Participatory culture is emerging as the culture absorbs and responds to the explosion of new media technologies that make it possible for average consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content in powerful new ways. A focus on expanding access to new technologies carries us only so far if we do not also foster the skills and cultural knowledge necessary to deploy those tools toward our own ends.

That seems like a really compelling way to describe all this eLearning 2.0 stuff to me.



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