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Archive for the ‘new media’ Category

Still unsure how I feel about Google Buzz. I’m a bit creeped out by the sudden inclusion of all my Gmail contacts suddenly being privy to my Tweets and Google Reader shares. Another part of me also wishes that more people would participate. Some friends have told me that Buzz is my crack, that I’m the only person they ever see post anything. In my defense, it’s part of my job to surf the intraweb for cool things and I really, really like sharing information…one of the reasons why I love journalism.

For all Google Buzz’s potential pitfalls, I was happy to sign on this morning and see two Buzz posts that made me smile. The first from my friend, Chelsea, who posted a Foreign Policy slideshow (this magazine is quickly becoming one of my favorites and consistently features incredible photography) on “A Dog’s Life in China.”

This was one of my favorites:

I spent last January in China with an Economics class, studying the cultural, environmental and socioeconomic changes associated with the country’s rapid growth. At one dam visit, I noticed a group of older men sitting together on some benches, with bird cages hanging in the trees around them. One of our guides told me that this was so the birds could sing together.

My roommate, Maren, posted this excerpt from Eve Ensler’s latest work “I am an emotional creature.” I heard Eve perform this on the show where I interned in the fall, On Point, and it gave me the chills. Good to see it in print form:

I love being a girl.
I can feel what you’re feeling
as you’re feeling it inside
the feeling
before.
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears.
I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off
even though she appears to give you what
you want.
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won’t call back.
It’s a vibe I share.

I am an emotional creature.
I love that I do not take things lightly.
Everything is intense to me.
The way I walk in the street.
The way my mother wakes me up.
The way I hear bad news.
The way it’s unbearable when I lose.

I am an emotional creature.
I am connected to everything and everyone.
I was born like that.
Don’t you dare say all negative that it’s a
teenage thing
or it’s only only because I’m a girl.
These feelings make me better.
They make me ready.
They make me present.
They make me strong.

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The Daily Beast has decided to publish its list of the 24 laziest countries in the world. And, surprise surprise, according to their calculations, Americans win. Here’s how the “Coach Potato Olympics” were judged:

We evaluated four criteria, each weighed evenly:

Calories Per Day: from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations from the 2009 Statistical Yearbook; 2003-2005 data.

Television Viewing: combined data from the OECD Society at a Glance 2009 and OECD Communications Outlook 2009, tracking hours of television watched per day and the percent of people who prefer to watch television with their free time.

Aversion to Playing Sports: from the OECD Society at a Glance 2009, tracking the percent of people who prefer to play sports with their free time.

Internet Usage: average hours per capita for December 2009, provided by ComScore.

Forgive me for sounding like an Anthropology major here, but aren’t we being a little Western-centric in defining laziness? True, the only participants were 24 developed countries as determined by the OECD.

One of my good friends is living in Thailand (not ranked on the list) and she noted that laziness manifests itself differently everywhere. One country might not have an aversion to sports, but what if individuals from another country have a tough time working independently? Doesn’t have a rich history of innovation?

I know the ranking isn’t remotely scientific, but I’d hope the Daily Beast could do better in its press on random international rankings.

Oh wait. Done.

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Blogging 2.0

The truth is: I wasn’t really crazy about this blog.

I’m trying to be a journalist here. A serious one. So I have to write about serious things. And try to be smart and poignant, yet also somewhat detached.  And include the right links and make sure I don’t sound like a dumbass.

No wonder I lost steam.

But I’m really, really missing writing. I don’t know who is going to read this. I’m going to try not to care what they think.

Over the past few months, chiding myself because I should be writing, I’ve come up with idea after idea for a new blog. “I’m going to write a letter to everybody in Congress urging them to effing pass health care already,” I once declared, nearly gushing over the idea. Then: “I’m going to write a blog that will single-handedly make the environmental movement sexy.”

But then I get all caught up and distracted trying to think of quippy blog names and end up shelving the idea.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Andrew Sullivan, prince of the political blogosphere, during  my editorial internship at The Atlantic. His blog is almost more successful than the venerable old mag itself, if you measure success by page hits (which, let’s be honest, is kinda true). His idea is that blogs are the new magazine…only instead of being held together by staples, they’re held together by a person.

So I’m going to try it out. I’m not presuming that it’s really worth it to you to read this blog. But it’s worth it to me to write it. And what will you find here? Who knows. Photos of cute pandas. Venting about filibusters. Recipes. Rants. Videos of the Founding Fathers if they were in a boy band.

I love absolutes. I like to make declarations (I’m a vegan! I’m a yogi! I’m a party animal! I’m a serious journalist!). I also have a hard time believing in anything absolutely. So maybe this blog can be dedicated to the extremist in my heart and the moderate in my head (ughhhh did I really just make a heart/head analogy? Sorry, vom!).

I like this coyote graffiti. I like the sound of the phrase “coyote graffiti”:

Stay tuned for my favorite things ever this week, coming up after the break.

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I deleted my Facebook account two days ago.

I’ve done this before. Usually during finals. Last year, I had my roommate change my password so I could maintain my account without being able to access it. I cracked pretty early in and was back posting and probably stalking you before my last exam was over.

This time was different. I just got fed up with the whole thing. The whole fact that I was (we all do?) create this persona that exists online. It’s starting to creep me out. The friend requests, the new privacy settings, the people popping up in my newsfeed—the majority of whom I don’t really care much about now and have mostly never cared much about.

But I also have little self-control when it comes to Facebook’s unique synthesis of shameless narcissism and voyeurism. Not only was I assaulted by photos of people I don’t care about, I found myself actually looking at them.

Yes, Facebook is an extraordinarily useful tool. But right now, the pluses are being outweighed by the minuses for me. The people that really matter have multiple ways of getting in touch without poking and tagging me.

I also have this weird theory that Facebook is the antithesis of mindfulness. Maybe the whole internet is that. But Facebook especially seems to be caught in the future and, of course, the past, having very little to do with the present. Which is why I’m redirecting my social networking attention to Twitter. Something about Twitter seems more Zen than Facebook. Nobody reads old tweets or judges you on pictures from four years ago. It’s all about spreading ideas and following trends, and less about…stalking people you’ve hooked up with. This piece in the Times by David Carr this weekend got me started thinking about Twitter in a new way. A year ago, I made fun of it. Shamelessly. But now, I see that it can really open your eyes to what’s out there on this big, bad intraweb.

One interesting thing to ponder, however, is that I did most of the promotion for this blog on Facebook. I now automatically post all blog entries onto Twitter. Will clicks go down? Up? Will I get a fantastic job offer from someone who reads my tweets (yes, that word is ridiculous)? We’ll see.

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I love making resolutions. I make resolutions so much, it’s like every day is New Years. Sometimes—training for a marathon, giving up soda— I’m really successful. Sometimes—never ever touching tequila again, for instance—I’m not. I like the language of absolutes. But language and reality aren’t the same thing and I have a less than stellar follow through rate on resolutions.

Still, because it’s New Year’s and because I might actually commit to one or two resolutions, why not? Next year (this year), I plan to:

Sing in the shower. Spend less time on Facebook. Keep my room clean. Blog at least three times a week. Stop biting my nails.

More than anything else, I’d really like to make an effort to be more mindful. To slow down and appreciate things and spend more time thinking in the present tense.

One of my new favorite things is GOOD. My friend Danny got me a subscription to the magazine and every time I get it, I learn at least ten new things, both from the content and the way it’s produced. According to its website:

GOOD is the integrated media platform for people who want to live well and do good. We are a company and community for the people, businesses, and NGOs moving the world forward. GOOD’s mission is to provide content, experiences, and utilities to serve this community.

GOOD currently produces a website, videos, live events, and a print magazine. Launched in September 2006, the company has garnered praise for its unique editorial perspective and fresh visual aesthetic and is quickly positioning itself as a significant new voice in our culture.

Anyway, the newest issue is all about slowing down, complete with a guide to slowing down. It includes the obvious: unplug the smartphone, take deep breaths, plant a garden. My favorite tip, however, is Number 4: Build a Backyard Dumpster Pool. Basically it involves renting a dumpster and filling it with water. Maybe I’ll try it next summer.

Anyway, I’ve decided the official start date to my new year is tomorrow. Until then, I’m drinking some Diet Coke, watching the Biggest Loser, eating ice cream and procrastinating.

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I visited two of my best friends up in Portland, Maine this weekend. The weird thing about graduating college is that you’re suddenly not surrounded by your best friends, who are more than people you hang out with–they balance you, give you perspective, make you whole.

These two friends are probably among the crunchiest of my friends (in the best way possible). One just got back from four months of organic farming in Colorado, Oregon and California. The other is living in Portland, reading, writing, playing music, just being. We went out for a delicious Maine diner breakfast and over French toast with blueberries, I told them about my networking efforts (neither had really heard of LinkedIn). I felt kind of crazy.

Yesterday, my commentary piece came out in the Chicago Tribune. I know I should be proud to be published like that…instead I feel weirdly embarrassed. Did I just pimp myself—my story– out for some weird sort of fame? Am I coming across as some spoiled and sheltered little ignoramus? I don’t know.

This is the first time in years that I haven’t felt like I’ve been helping and participatory in my community. I’ve always volunteered and all that jazz, but in college and high school, I was able to engage in my community. Last year, for example, when there were some issues with multicultural dialogue at Colby, I threw myself into understanding the issue, trying to explain it in the Echo, and then doing my part to alleviate the situation–participating in Campus Conversations on Race, for example.

Now? Yes, I know things like NPR do a lot of good, but I still feel wracked by selfishness. Journalism is so important to a functioning society. But is this–updating LinkedIn, reading Twitter, posting things about myself on Facebook–really what I wanted to do when I saw All the President’s Men as a 14-year-old and decided that I wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein?

I don’t think the solution is totally changing my path. At least, not right now. Because I do have it really, really good. I think I need more balance. I need to go for a hike and read something that’s not on my computer screen or on the Foreign Service Officer Exam reading list. I need to learn how to cook.

I need to close my laptop and go to bed.

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Back in the day, I made fun of Twitter, scoffed at the idea of cold-call networking, and felt silly about the idea of having my own blog. Back in the day, I was a college student with all the resources of a first class institution of higher education at my feet and the desire to reach out and grab everything.

Now, things are a bit different.

I’ve decided to start taking better advantage of the aforementioned institution of higher education and make use of the Colby Alumni Network. I ended up connecting with Betsy Morgan, the former CEO of the HuffPo and a Colby alumna. We chatted today and she had some good insight on blogging.

One: you [meaning, me, the aspirational journalist] should blog.

Two: you should blog often [whoops].

Three: it doesn’t have to be perfect.

The third point is hardest for me. Perhaps it comes from the days of being the Echo’s Opinions editor, when I had to write a weekly column. I sometimes agonized over it. “I’m 19! What the hell do I know!” I tried to write honestly. I ended up with a confessional poetry-type style of opinion-editorials. Usually, my columns went like this:

XYZ is something I believe in. But what the hell do I know? I’m 19! And I’m white and privileged and live a cushy existence at Colby College. But I still believe in XYZ. Also, I love the environment.

To my own credit, my columns were usually more engaging than that. And I think I was pretty successful…I got a lot of good feedback.

But thoughts (and blogs) don’t have to be perfect…or even good…to be worth sharing. So here’s to the end of trying too hard. Instead, I’m going to try to express interesting things I’ve learned or weird thoughts I’ve had or whatever strikes me as worth telling the world about.


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