Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glossary List, "Shrug Life" and "Creative Commons"

One of the additions to the List of Useful Lists is the Glossary; a list of terms that help form my speech. 
  • "Shrug Life" - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (emoticon by Stewart McKinney) - This term came about as an extension of the "Kanye Shrug", a term used in hip-hop circles to indicate that there was no more that could be said on a topic, or there is no reply. It can be used almost interchangeably with Kanye Shrug, but has the advantage of being not as well known initially, and a meta-like slangification of an existing slang term. 


    Person A: "I can't believe it!"
    Person B: "What?"
    Person A: "Duck Dynasty starts aren't even real rednecks, they've made the show up!"
    Person B: "Sorry to say, but most of what's on Reality TV ain't real."
    Person A: "But I was #teamduckdynasty! How could they do this to me?"
    Person B: "#shruglife  (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)"
  • "Creative Commons" - I came up with this term to indicate in response to "Can I use that?", which is part praise, part request which comes after something particularly witty is said. This refers to the Creative Commons set of licenses which allows one, to paraphrase from the Creative Commons page, "want to encourage readers to re-publish your slang, as long as they give you credit".


    Person B: "#shruglife  (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)"
    Person A: "Oh man, mind if I rock that?"
    Person B: "It's Creative Commons, man, just spell my name right."

Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Curate My Web

Here's a list of sites that I no longer feel comfortable checking out. Perusing their articles can be bothersome for a bunch of reasons, whether:

  • They find content originally discovered from other sources, make some slight alteration (sometimes crediting the source, but often not). I'd rather use my internet skills to trace an article to either the source itself, or the first site that aggregated it (which in many cases, is Reddit).
  • They mask the actual content in warm, vague, smarmy, pseudo-altruistic titles that are intended to make people feel good about themselves by clicking on the title. Link-bait titles are a pet peeve in and of itself (I especially hate when tech or science sites, which should ostensibly not be biased, use these tactics, but supersize that with some teenage-boyfriend-trying-to-get-some cheap emotional manipulation, and Houston, we've got a problem. Unfortunately, Upworthy, the grandaddy of such sites has been declared the Fastest Growing Media Site of All Time by Fast Company. This means the Upworthy clones are coming; the newest one I've seen; SharePowered.
  • They distract me from checking out sites where I could be learning something or read about something that really matters. For an eye opening experience about how much time is involved, I use an extension called Time Tracker. For better or for worse, 15% of my browser's time is spent open on Facebook. I've got to lower that.
So, a week ago, I used two Google Chrome extensions in order to close the door on these sites:
  • Block Site - This extension will keep your browser from going to certain sites. You can configure it to redirect you to another site of your choosing. In my case, I'm redirecting to Feedly, where I've got RSS on tap.
  • Personal Blocklist - This keeps sites from showing up in your Google search results.
I don't miss them, and I don't even know that I miss them. As a result I can focus on finding & exploring better sources of information. More on how to do that in a future post.

P.S., I've got a List of Blocked Sites that shows what's getting curated out of my Web experience.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Communication; a work in progress

I had some thoughts about how my communication style is developing, and figured I'd share.
While I do like to use all forms of communication, I tend to prefer written; text, email, and chat for many interactions, especially when it comes to anything relating to business, or conversations that contain indisputable facts, such as "the sky is blue" (yes, trolls and/or contrarians can dispute almost anything, but I'm not considering those outliers now). I've developed this perspective over the years for a few different reasons; the benefits of the written record, the technologist's quest to maximize time, the realization that not everything is urgent, and most importantly, it's not. all. about. me.

There are some people who would consider this impersonal, or inconsiderate. I'm attempting to explain why this not the case or the intent (for me; I don't speak for anyone else). While there are times and places where it makes sense to have a phone or face to face conversation, I believe that those types of conversations aren't needed for as many things as people think.

First and foremost, I like the record of written communication. It's been helpful to have that written aid back up and buttress the memory banks as I get older. I've also found that people are much more reluctant to put shady dealings/ideas/suggestions down in a written form. As a result, I tend to have less of those.

As a geek, I've immersed myself in years of productivity porn that has led to the creation of this communication policy. Getting a call while I'm deep in some code can throw my productivity off for quite some time. Google "Programmer Productivity Interruption" for more on that, but an unscheduled interruption can result in hours of time lost. Sending and receiving asynchronous communications allows me to have my time to solve problems and interact/communicate with people as well. This is also why I tend to send a text message to my friends saying "would you mind if I called you?"

In this age of instant gratification, there's often a desire to have an quick and instant response to everything. Unfortunately, not everything that is communicated needs or merits a quick response. If you've ever received a call from someone asking why you haven't responded to the grumpy cat meme they posted to facebook, you know what I'm talking about. We now have all these communication lanes that allow people to respond to non urgent things in a non urgent manner without getting lost. 

What circumstances merit a call, you might ask? I'd say any situation that cannot be easily defined through the written word. Any tense, confusing or powerful emotional situation. Any time when I feel like I really want to hear the tone in someone's voice because that can clarify unclear situations, or to make myself feel better when I'm in a bad mood, or when I'm uncertain about something and that makes me anxious. 

The benefit of splitting these communications into these asynchronous channels like chat is that, as a result of this communications shift, the meetings, calls and face to face interactions can go beyond a status update, but veer off into any of the wonderful directions those conversations can go. I believe that the conversations are richer for it. 

So what does this mean from a practical perspective? This means that it's not always easy to catch me on the phone for a voice conversation. If you want to contact me and receive a response, the quickest way is usually chat, text message and/or email. As a side note, I also don't tend to check my snail mail that often, so if you've written something to me that way, I may not have gotten it.

So, I'm curious to hear about other people's communication styles; does this seem normal or strange? Do you read this and nod your head in understanding, or does it seem weird/out there? What methods work for you in terms of reaching and being reached? Inquiring minds want to know.