Sunday, December 28, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 23

In today's story we complete the stories from Legends of Judah the Macabee with the story of the Miracle of Chanukah.

If you haven't caught the whole series here are the links to the series in order.

The Rise of Antiochus Epiphanes
The Hellenizers

Antiochus Takes Action
The Death of Eleazar the Priest
Hannah and Her 7 Sons
Rebellion in Modiin
The Death of Matisyahu
Judah the Maccabee Goes to War

And today - The Miracle of Chanukah

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 22

Today's story is a continuation of the book, Legends of Judah the Macabee, Today we read chapter 8 - Judah the Macabee goes to war.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Friday, December 26, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 21

Today we continue the daily story from an adaptation of Aggadot Yehuda Ha Makkabi. Today's story is about the passing of Matisyahu.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 20

Today's story, the continuation of the history and story of a Chanukah - Rebellion begins in the mountain town of Modiin.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 19

Today's chapter is the story of Hannah and her Seven Sons. This is an incredibly sad story associated with Chanukah. (In fact, I could not keep entirely from crying at the end.) With that in mind I have also included a happier Chanukah story that I recorded last year of Herschel and the Hannukah Goblins.

Hannah and her Seven Sons:

The previous story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins:

The previous (and second) story comes from Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Goldie's Stories - Episode 18

Today we continue the daily story from an adaptation of Aggadot Yehuda Ha Makkabi, which tells the history leading up to Chanukah, as well as the story of the Miracle of Chanukah. Today's story is about the Antiochus's challenge to Eleazar the Priest.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Monday, December 22, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 17

Today we continue the daily story from an adaptation of Aggadot Yehuda Ha Makkabi, which tells the history leading up to Chanukah, as well as the story of the Miracle of Chanukah. Today's story is about the Antiochus's first actions to attempt to crush out Judaism.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 16

Today we continue the daily story from an adaptation of Aggadot Yehuda Ha Makkabi, which tells the history leading up to Chanukah, as well as the story of the Miracle of Chanukah. Today's story is about the Hellenizers.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 15

This week we have something a little different. In honor of Chanukah we will be reading a daily story from an adaptation of Aggadot Yehuda Ha Makkabi, which tells the history leading up to Chanukah, as well as the story of the Miracle of Chanukah. Today's story is about the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes.

This story comes from Legends of Judah The Maccabee
by S. Skulsky

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 14

During the time of the Alter Rebbe, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, there were many who opposed the teaching of Chassidus, that is, Jewish Mysticism. Some of these opponents trumped up charges that resulted in the Alter Rebbe's arrest. This week we hear some stories from the first imprisonment of the Alter Rebbe.

This story comes from the book The Arrest and Liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi: The History of Yud-Teth Kislev

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 13

This week we hear the story of a student of the Baal Shem Tov and the directive that the student was given to follow after the Baal Shem Tov's death.

This story comes from Volume 3 of Extraordinary Chassidic Tales, an unfortunately out of print series of books.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twitter and Links

Chances are you may have come to this post because someone (me?) twittered the link. (Or you may be someone who stops by regularly via rss or other means, for which I thank you.) At the same time I have fairly recently complained about linking in twitter. Of course a real explanation takes more than 140 characters and's a blog post.

The person, who had followed me so I was checking their twitter feed, and the top tweet asked, "How do you get more followers." My response was provide more content than links (as 90% of the page was links to their blog.)

So are links bad? Of course not. I tweet links all the time, including about my blog posts, and just as this person replied - I do like to know what other people are looking at on the internet. But that comes, of course, with a caveat.

I want to know what people I think are interesting, or I think have some common interests with me, or people I am friends with are looking at on the internet. There is plenty of stuff out on the internet I have no desire to look at.

When I use twitter to find these links I essentially am filtering by who I follow.
And how do I chose who follow? I ask, is the content of that person's tweets interesting, is this someone I know by other channels is interesting or shares a common interest, or is this person a friend.

As you can see by how many I follow, I follow back most people who follow me. I once tried cutting back the list followers to a "manageable amount" and that very day I had great conversation via @ message from someone I had just unfollowed. At that point I decided I'd follow those I think are interesting and would be someone I'd have a conversation with, and trust I'll catch the right things in the mighty flow of the twitter stream.

If you want people to follow you - and that is your stated goal, share who you are so people can known if you are a person they want to follow. That's the real secret, and I've read the same or heard the same from many. So share your links and announce your posts but also share some thoughts and comments in your twitter stream. We'd like to know you.

Goldie's Stories - Episode 12

This week is Thanksgiving in the USA. So this week we have a story of Herschel of Osteropol and a goose dinner...or foot to be specific. Story is based on the book The Adventures of Herschel of Ostropol retold by Eric A Kimmel.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 11

This week we read an unusual story about Reb Shmuel Munkis, involving sorcerers, whisky and a trip to Liozna.

This story comes from the Early Chassidic Personalities series book on Reb Shmuel Munkis, by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Your Passwords Are Belong To Us

How much do you value your online identity? How often are you asked to share your login and password to a) find out your ranking b) locate your friends c) easily combine all of your feeds into one place.

I would bet that the answer to the first question is - fairly highly and the answer to the second question (if you are using social networking sites much at all) is fairly frequently. If I guessed your answers correctly then we have a problem.

Today twitter is a flurry about twitterank and the possibility that it was a twitter identity phishing site. Posts on mashable and zdnet talk about it in more detail. But calling the users gullible is really just ignoring the problem.

This problem doesn't just exist on twitter, and it doesn't just exist for people who want to rank themselves against others. The problem is that we have information, sometimes a lot of information, on many sites that we want to share with other sites.

As long as access to this information requires providing the login and password to a particular service to access that information people will continue to give out their login and password.

The truth is the services have trained us (beyond our natural tendencies) to give out that information by not implementing API's to allow access to the data in a more secure fashion.

The solution is not to be found by telling thousands of people to guard their password - that will not work. Rather the services need to implement APIs that allow the sharing of the information (and the revocation of the sharing of that information) that are as easy to use and as widely used as the "give me your login and password" solution that exists today.

Sure some features can be provided by third party tools - but (ahem, twitter are you listening) security actually needs to be implemented on a site by site basis.

There are some people who never share a login and psssword, but there are also people who still refuse to run AJAX. For the vast majority of the public there are at least some services that are critical enough to them to use that they need to share information between sites. It's time for web 2.0 to get to the next stage where there is a way to securely share that information.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 10

This week we read a story about Herschel of Osteropol a common character in the folklore of Eastern European Jews. His stories always have a bit of wit and cleverness. This telling of the story is based on the one found in the book The Adventures of Herschel of Ostropol retold by Eric A Kimmel

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 9

This week's story is a modern day story that takes place in Tel Aviv and is taken from Tuvia Bolton's Torah Online weekly mailing.

(Reference for the video: tefillin)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 8

During the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, there were many women who's husbands had abandoned them without giving them a writ of divorce. This left them without their husband and without the ability to remarry. These women are called agunot. This week we read a story about how the Tzemach Tzedek, helped an agunah find her husband.

Also, I will be at the Thin Air Summit, the first New Media Conference in Denver on November 8 & 9th I'd love to see you there.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 7

This week we read a story about the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, and the work he did with the Cantonists and in helping others avoid that fate.

For those who don't already know about the Cantonists there's a bit of an introduction to that period of history at the beginning of the episode.

This story is taken from the book The Third Judge.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 6

This week we read a story about Reb Shmuel Munkis and the Kabbalistic question he gives to his fellow traveler.

This story comes from the Early Chassidic Personalities series book on Reb Shmuel Munkis, by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 5

Last week we read a story about the Rebbe Maharash, the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe. This week we read an Erev Yom Kippur story about his wife Rebbetzin Rivkah, her son, and her grandson.

This story is taken from Extraordinary Chassidic Tales, an unfortunately out of print series of books.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 4

This week we are reading a story about the Rebbe Maharash, the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Although he was known as the Baal Shemske Rebbe because so many miracles occurred when he was Rebbe this story shows the power of belief to cause a transformation.

For those who are interested in more from the behind the scenes I usually read through some of the dozens of story books that I have in our house (many of them collections of stories) to find ones that seem right for the time (season/calendar wise) and length. One story I had considered I realized was too long, and I didn't feel up to rewriting the story. I decided that the bagel story would be a good one, but I couldn't find the book I had read it from. So, while I am reading the story, what I am reading is my writing of the story as I remember it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 3

This week's story is a story about Rabbi Akiva and his wife Rachel. When Rachel met Rabbi Akiva, then a shepherd in her father's employ, he was illiterate. But she saw wisdom in him and agreed to marry him if he would go to learn Torah...which of course first meant learning to read. The long story short - he became a great sage and his teachings are still taught and studied today. But this story, based on Midrash HaGadol, takes place earlier in the story.

This story can be found in the book No Greater Treasure: Stories of Extraordinary Women Drawn from the Talmud and Midrash.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 2

This Thursday will be the 18th of the month Elul, which is the anniversary of the Baal Shem Tov's birthday. In honor of this, this week I read two Baal Shem Tov stories from the book "Extrodinary Chassidic Tales"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thin Air Summit - Speakers and Registration

I know my blogging about the Thin Air Summit, the New Media Conference in Colorado (Nov 7-9), has been a bit sparse here. In our Web2.0 and New Media discussions on the web one of the mantras that runs through them both is "try something beyond what you've done before." With the Thin Air Summit I've been doing just that, and it has been a little scary, and thus the blogging sparseness. Luckily I have an excellent team working on this with me and it has really come together. I am really looking forward to the event.

To tell you a bit more about the conference (and to quote our website):
We are offering hands-on learning sessions and discussion panels presented by nationally-recognized and local New Media professionals. The size of the Summit is limited to 100 attendees, ensuring an intimate, intensive weekend of collaboration, education and community.

We have our Keynote Speakers, Dave Taylor and Jerimiah Owyang. Right now we are working on finalizing our speaker and panel line up and we are still accepting speaking proposals until September 18.

If you speak on new media, specifically blogging, video or audio and would like to present, I'd love to have you submit a proposal to present.

Proposals will be reviewed by the planning committee and speakers will be selected based on their knowledge level, experience presenting in a 'learning' environment and the relevance of their proposed topic to the conference theme. This is our first year, so we're on a shoestring budget, but the experience we're planning to create should be well worth your time.

You can submit your proposals at:

We will be opening registration shortly and I will post an update here (as well as twittering about it.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Goldie's Stories - Episode 1

At the last Denver Area Podcaster's meetup Len Edgerly spoke on his Kindle Chronicles podcast and gave six lessons on podcasting. One of his points of advice was to start before you know what you want to podcast on, and when your subject finds you, you will already be ready. He also told a story about a poet, William Stafford, who advised his students to write a poem a day. When one complained that he couldn't do that the teacher told his student "Lower your standards."

So in that spirit, I have started a podcast now rather than waiting for all pieces to come together, knowing that it will improve as I continue.

Without further ado - Here is "Goldie's Stories with Goldie Katsu - Episode 1"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life Streaming and Sweetcron

Sometimes I hang back a bit before trying out a new application, especially in a crowded app space (another X app?). At other times I seem to jump in at the beginning. The past couple of days there has been a lot of talk about Sweetcron (no not corn, cron) even though it wasn't released until this morning. This afternoon I downloaded the latest version (already 5 revs out from the version I downloaded this morning) and installed it at which until now just had a placeholder wordpress blog that said come here for more.

Sweetcron bills itself as an "Automated lifestream blogging service." What that translates to is - a way to create your personal friend feed friend on your website and throw in a blogging tool on top of it. The visual style lends itself to a "tumblr" sort of blog, and it will throw in whatever feeds you send it.

I set it up and threw some feeds at it and looked at the result. It is an interesting seeing my "output on the net" in a sequential format. You can see when I blogged relative to my tweets and plurks and photos and whatnot. Even though this isn't that different from friend feed, somehow the visual format, and having it on my host as my website made it a different experience. The stark list made me look at what I was putting out on the web, and variety there was or wasn't in that output.

Interestingly I have never done a "today's tweets" post because I tend to think of my twitters as primarily chatter and conversation and not something to list daily as something of consequence. Ironically on the website that bears my name, that is exactly what most of the content is. 140 characters is much easier to write than most other output.

Right now my sweetcron is an experiement, and it has proved to be a bit of an exercise in self reflection. What am I putting out there on the web, and is it what I want to be the reflecton of me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Trouble with Twitters

I must confess, I am a twitterer. But you probably already knew that, and possibly wandered here from my twitter profile in the first place. I find I get a lot out of twitter, from useful information, social connections, news about events local and virtual, and more. The challenge is in taming the flow of the information.

Way back when I started using twitter I followed the basic policy that as long as someone who follows me isn't a bot, a commercial, or way too offensive I follow back. That was great at the beginning but once exceeding around 200 people being followed it became hard to follow the tweetstream as so much information and so many people are twittering. Sometimes the things I wanted to hear about just got missed in the rapid scroll of tweets. Some people only follow select people I can completely understand that policy, the nature of twitter changes significantly when the number gets large. Some people consider this elitist, I just consider this a different way of handling information flow.

I have considered cutting back the number of followers, but how do I pick. Once I went through a winnowing process and the next day got into a really interesting @ discussion with someone I had just unfollowed, who was promptly refollowed.

I tried setting up a second account with a "short list" but I usually ignored that stream, and keeping it up to date with new connections of people I do want to hear just proved too much bother.

The other problem is it isn't like I have one list of people I want to listen to. I'm involved in many different groups and activities and different people speak to different focuses. What I have wanted for a while was a way to group friends and be able to chose which group to look at. Twhirl's searches came close, but Tweetdeck really seems to have hit the nail on the head. I think that tweetdeck may be the start of a new breed of twitter clients.

For the first time in ages I can actually catch the conversations I was missing, and that also means I catch the main timeline more often too because I am getting value out of twitter again. It isn't enough to just "read what's current when you have time" because not all tweets are equal - I wanted the volume up higher on some tweets, and now I can have that. Thanks tweetdeck for giving me my twitter back.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pseudo Biker Poetry

The hot spell that held Colorado in its grasp seems to have broken and quite a bit of rain has fallen in the past few days. In looking at my old stack of poetry I found a poem from 1991 that seemed a good fit:

The first rain has fallen
Bringing in the moist cool fall.
The oils wick up
And the plastic paints take on a new demeanor.

My tires make their way across the tarmac
That grips half heartedly
And I remember,
Shift smoothly.

The crisp air brings many memories
And the chimneys begin their scents.
The autom rides have beauty
And new challenges to bear.

Ride swift and wll
Before the frosts come.
But remember wet leaves
Grip not as well as warm asphalt.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Memories of the Fourth

So it is the Fourth of July, and a Friday. I'm pondering if I am up to a 2.5 mile walk to go see fireworks or if I will just watch the ones that go high enough to see them from my house. The Fourth of July has always been a special holiday in my family. My grandparents lived in Massachusetts, and so more than one Fourth was celebrated watching the fireworks over the Boston Harbor listening to the Boston Pops.

But even a stronger memory, perhaps because I was a older, is my memory of the Fourth of July in Nevada City. I can't place what year it was, or even how old I was because my summers in Nevada City, from when I was about 11 until I was somewhere in my 20s have sort of a timeless quality about them. It is one place that truly feels home to me, even though I have never lived there. Anyways, one particular Fourth, as usual with my mother's whole family together it was decided that we would be in the Fourth of July parade in Nevada City.

Wait, you might, say, you mean several weeks/months before it was decided and your uncles put an entry in to be in the parade. No, that isn't what I meant. It was the fourth and it was decided there. We all dressed in red white and blue, my Uncle Saul and I had our fifes (my uncle gave me one) and we headed to somewhere close to the start. I recall Uncle David talking with someone but I am dubious that it was anything official, but shortly after the starting point of the parade my family entered the parade; my Grandma, my Grandpa, my mom, my uncles and me all started marching. We waved at the crowd and played Yankee Doodle Dandy on the Fife and Uncle David proudly announced us as the "Levi Clan" and we marched along the parade as the crowd applauded.

So when I think of the Fourth of July I remember sparklers, my dad setting off fireworks, going to the beach north of Santa Cruz that was like a war zone on the fourth (yes, my friends had mortars, yes the sand was sometimes made glass), good food and friends, but most of all I remember marching in the parade in Nevada City because we decided to.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Surreptitious Posting

It's not a Fishbowl, It's a Habitrail

In a lot of places I hear people talking about how we are in our little echo chamber, or fishbowl. I get that concept. I have talked with people who have written (and had published) books on film who when I talked to them about video on the net said "Oh yeah, my husband sometimes sends me funny videos from YouTube." Yes, there is a huge digital divide, no question about it.

Lately though I've been thinking it is less of a fishbowl and more of a habitrail. I have been working on building connections in Colorado and trying to create a network where those of us creating and involved in this new media/social media/web2.0 stuff in Colorado can start to meet each other and know about each other here in Colorado rather than finding our neighbors at some conference in Las Vegas.

What this means is that I am meeting a lot of people who are in the "fishbowl" who only know about some small segment of the fishbowl. Some of these people are well connected individuals yet when I mention people who I think are incredibly visible, like Loic Lemeur, Chris Brogan, Cali Lewis, or Gary Vaynerchuk they respond with a blank look. They have no idea who these people are.

After curbing my initial self righteous response I realize that chances are some of their big name people are unknowns to me. Yes I blog, but I'm not "a big blogger" my focus is video, so yes I know people who are visible in video. For those into audio there may be a whole other group of "must knows" that I may be ignorant of, and then music - who are the connectors there?

I may know a few people in each of these groups through twitter but really I swim in the social media tools, video and virtual worlds areas. Furthermore, even though I treat these areas as contiguous really each is its own area. Rather than being a big fishbowl it is more like we are in a habitrail. These worlds all connect through those tunnels but each section is mostly aware of the room they are in.

So I would say, yes we should ask, "How do we get out of the fishbowl or echo chamber?" But perhaps a first question is "How do we communicate across the habitrail?"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the Other Hand

Transcription can be found in the comments. You can click on the image below to make it bigger (and slightly more readable).

(Why in the comments? Are you reflexively reading my typed text first? For many they do.)
(Normal typewritten posts will be returning shortly.)

Post Mortem on a Handwritten Post

Follow up on my previous handwritten post.

Also, I can add, after transcribing the first post, editing is much easier in the digital form, and length seems more apparent when measured in pages.

Untitled Handwritten Post

Ok, Eric started this meme, and PurpleCar got me thinking, so it is time for me to join in.

What is this meme? Well since I can't just link it here I'll tell you. Write a blog post. No, not type, write. And now you can see my fine hand :)

So a few thoughts popped up when I read PurpleCar's post.
1) All fo my fountain pens were dry. Shows how much I write.

2) If google can't scan and index this is this a way to have a private chat?
(and can google really not scan this - I am reminded of evernote.)

3) The difficult in providing links in a graphical post, andhow on my old websites I used image maps.

Of course if you are reading this (unspellchecked) post in its original you both can see and are good at deciphering handwriting. The text to speech converters won't work on this, and it pr is a slower read, just as it is a slower write.


Of course I can link in the transcript, so I will.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Media Conference in Colorado

In a number of posts before I have talked about the plans for a Podcamp Colorado. These plans have morphed and grown to the point where we realized that we were really creating a New Media Conference and associated Film Festival and should call it like it is.

That said, this November, November 7-9th we will be having the first Thin Air Summit, a conference on New Media, Independent music, and Web 2.0 technologies.

You can read more details about our transition from Podcamp to a Conference here.

This is a project I will be heading up and I am very excited about the project. Web technologies and virtual worlds make it so that we can connect with people globally but at the same time we need to recognize the gems in our own back yard. In hearing about all of these new media conferences all over the world I have wanted to come and meet in person the people I have made friends with through Twitter, Second Life, BlogTV, Ustream and other places. Now I want to invite all of you to come out to Colorado this November and meet me and see what is so awesome about Colorado.

World of Warcraft Academic Conference

This past weekend there was an academic conference in World of Warcraft. When I first heard about the conference I was intrigued by the concept. The topic of the use of virtual worlds for research was intriguing, but even more so I was intrigued as to how the conference would work

As many of you know I have attended more than a couple of conferences in Second Life so the opportunity to explore a conference in another virtual world was right up my alley simply from the point of view of comparing the technologies and the experience.

Unfortunately I was only able to attend one day of the conference, so my observations are limited to how it ran on the very first day. I will post links to other blog posts reviewing the event at the end.

Looking at the content of the conference, the session I was able to attend was more discussive than instructive. Certain questions were presented and the group shared their thoughts and experiences, some backed by fact some backed by intuition. Although less structured than a standard conference session it was an interesting round table discussion.

My personal recommendation for future sessions would be a little more focus, and a glossary. I asked a number of dumb questions, "Can you define what you mean by x," and after each question a number of people whispered to me that they had had the same question. That said, with the question and answer format it is harder to keep control of the discussion and it is hard to know what exactly would need to be in the glossary.

From the technical standpoint it was very different from the experience of Second Life. Although I recognize the focus of this conference was one that would likely appeal to people who already have experiences in virtual worlds I am going to look at the experience from the perspective of the challenges of holding a conference in a virtual world. (Yes, I know that WoW is not designed for it. This is merely looking at the challenges given the design of the world.)

In World of Warcraft there are no ways to limit who can enter an area, kick people out of an area. This presents a considerable level of risk to a conference. You can try to pick a remote location but a horde of people with the same group tag heading in a general direction (with the initial starting place announced in a public place) is pretty easy to track. If someone wanted to they could have rounded up a gang and entered into battle with the attendees which could have been pretty disruptive, unless we all decided to hang out as ghosts for the duration of the conference.

Another challenge was getting to the conference. Luckily I had been in at the beginning and had been added to a group for the pre-conference raid. This meant I had indicators on the map indicating where the people in my group were which allowed me to find the location. Without teleport (in general) or an easy way to mark and travel to coordinates on a map getting to a location or directing a person to a location requires that they have a reasonable ability to follow directions, as in go east along the hills and then turn north at the tree.

One thing that they did that was clever was to use the guild chat (think group IM for those familiar with SL) for the conference. This meant that even if a person was not present they could participate in the event. There was no remote viewing of any presentations, but then there is no way to bring a presentation in to World of Warcraft so this was not a problem.

Over allit was a very good first experiment with holding a conference in World of Warcraft. Although a conference is not the standard fare for how people interact in World of Warcraft it is not completely beyond the pale of reasonable interactions. We often see people using applications in different and unexpected ways. I would say that holding a conference in World of Warcraft is not for the faint hearted, but as a place to gather and play and discuss I think a lot of benefit can be found.

More on the conference:
Stereo Left, Right, Centre on the conference
A flickr group of photos

If you were at the conference I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Technology and Travel

While I haven't traveled that often as of late, I have traveled quite a bit throughout my life. As a child I traveled to Europe and about 15 years ago I traveled frequently for work. However, back then travel and personal technology were not so closely linked. As a child I'd get puzzle books to entertain me. When I traveled for work I had a cell phone but it was just to make calls.

This trip I observed how technology was constantly part of the journey. I recognize this is by choice and not the experience for every traveler, but I suspect that in the future it will be the more common experience.

What follows is more simply observations of the experience. There are definitely some points below that deserve further thought. The changing focus of presence will have impact on how we interact and form relationships and what our expectations are of these relationships. It even has the potential for creating societal divides if not done with awareness. But for now, what follows is mainly my observation of my interaction with technology.


Of course I brought my laptop with me, but it stayed in its bag except for when at my parent's house, well and right now as I type this up at the airport. However, my little blackberry phone was in regular use. I was photoing the sights that caught my eye, some every day sights some slightly more artistic. Then these photos were sent up to the web, via email. Some went to Flickr, and more went to Brightkite, which I thought I would try to use more, since I was actually traveling rather than staying all in one zip code.

As I sent these pictures off I realized how much of my life I share and make public, and how different that is from only a few years ago. We live as mini-celebrities. "Look I'm here, and this is what I saw!" I suppose we have no paparazzi but ourselves, but the sharing our life as if others care is an interesting feature of our new digitally connected life. Yes,, I know other's care...but the visibility is far more than just your family/local friends/coworkers that might have seen the photos before. Even more so, because of the ease of taking and posting the photos shots of a grocery store with a Tapas bar got taken while it would have been silly or trivial to take such before.

Beyond the photo sharing nature of the trip there was also the IM client on the phone. I think I had 3 phone calls the whole trip, but I was chattering with people in private IMs and in twitter and even in chatterous.

I may have been no where near my "computer" but my phone stood in its stead. This constant partial connection is an interesting experience. Even wandering about in the world and spending time with people there were moments of communication with those distant.

Even with all that connection when I got online I still was doing catching up on missed messages on twitter and touching base with a few people through email.

I realize I have a few projects getting ramped up, and I also realize that I could have disconnected and the world wouldn't have ended. Even knowing that, it seemed natural and comfortable to be checking in and touching base with electronically connected friends. In a sense I shared my travel with others, which is a different way to fly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Twitter, The Sichuan Quake, and Emergency Response

Eric Rice started a thread of discussion on The Sichuan Quake and the Hubris of Twitter Users on his friendfeed. I had more than 255 characters worth of though (or whatever the comment character limit is), so I thought I would blog about it here.

For those not on twitter or not following the twitter/earthquake discussion, there was much discussion about how the Earthquake in Sichuan China was reported first on twitter (see Scoble's article for an example) and a counter discussion on how we are overstating twitter's importance. What follows is my take on the subject.

Ok there are a few levels here. First off for local response first responders are going to want a coordinated form of communication. Hand talkies - whether ham or other format that convey voice would be my first choice. During a lot crisises these days people are relying on cell phones - everyone has one and they seem reliable. This isn't necessarily bad (at least in the US) because the phone companies have disaster plans and set up temporary communication towers quickly and drill on this. Yeah a ham radio may be more reliable but if you don't carry it on you and your standard system is cell phones it isn't going to help in a crisis. Finding a way to make the tools on-hand work is going to be way more useful.

Does this mean there is no use for Ham radio anymore? No, I would say that Ham radio is still very useful - they can be part of a disaster response, they have an ability to send messages great distances when local trunks will be overloaded even if functioning. Ham radio operators are part of RACES and ARES (and I suspect other country equivalents) and they drill and prepare to respond to emergencies. Ham radio is often part of the backbone that coordinates the overall response.

So that's great for local but what about outside of the local area. Well Ham radio will get some messages out, but tools like Twitter have the ability to spread the message quickly - among those who are watching. This means friends on twitter may be updated by a single SMS message that their friend is ok. This is way more efficient and taxes the phone trunks much less. This also means that interested people can know faster, and it may provide a connection to those in the situation that is helpful. Yeah it may not get a first responder to their door but when you are in a situation like that you can be perfectly healthy and safe but concerned about your friends. Twitter can provide a comfort that way.

More important than the local and the immediate friend/family connections twitter has it's true power in a great way to get the news out beyond the local area. It does give a personal face to a disaster, and it may become the source for news reports in the future, but even more importantly it can be part of early detec and early response, both of disasters, but also of potential epidemics. If you look at the INSTEDD program (video) it was started on the basis that scanning local messages for reports of diseases and disasters (as GPHIN was doing) was finding diseases like SARS months before organizations tasked with detecting this - such as WHO. Things like twitter are going to only speed this up - because the crawling can now see near real time chat rather than blog posts which tend to come a bit later along. I believe it is these features that extend outside of the locality of the crisis are where tools like twitter are adding something new.

So yes, twitter is an awesome tool and it is reporting things earlier - and better yet it is reporting it in a way that gets the message out with details that may help with early detection and early response. Should it be the only communication system. Of course not. Relying on any single system in an emergency creates a weakness in the response system, a single point of failure. Are we overstating twitter's importance. Probably, but some of this is the amazement that twitter does provide this feature so well and part of it is our desire to help explain why twitter is useful to those who look at it and go "Why?" Our excitement about our new tools shouldn't reduce our response and attention to disasters, for that would be true hubris, but at the same time these new tools have a place in improving our response and reaction time to these events.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Found Writings

This past week was Passover, and included in that time was a lot of offline time. The offline time provided quite a bit of time for reflecting on things, but it also provided time to look at what I had on the bookshelves. In addition to many good books I had a wonderful find of a printout of my poetry, a bundle of which I knew was somewhere, and I have been looking for it, but also there were a few additional sheets of paper including a few poems I had thought I had lost forever. (n.b. much of my poetry is somewhere between poetry and prose.)

Ironically all of these copies of poems are print outs, so these all existed in some electronic medium at some time, and some of them (the ones I thought I had lost forever) had been posted on web pages. Although you cannot rely on online data fading away, you also cannot rely on it remaining available.

Having found my poetry I thought I would post a few of poems from the stack:

Pavonia Station
The dragon stirs
It's warm breath rustles the air.
The little mice scurry for cover
In the moldy lair.
Long last the green eyes gleam
And its sleek body slithers forward.
The scales peel back.
Oblivious to our host,
We enter.
"Hoboken Train!
Hoboken, Next stop and Last Stop!
Please watch the doors"


Early Morning Shift
If you wake up in the morning
And see the sun bright rise
You'll know that I have gone
And rubbed my weary eyes.

The morning has come
And i have risen to my task
I sit now at my terminal
In its hews I now bask.

Morning, bright morning
will the sun not rise soon
In darkness I ride
Wishing I slept till noon.


Sunrise comes
Too early and too late.
My dreams have come and gone
In that sotten dark,
'Tween Witches hour
And dawns breath.
The dark road
On that darker mare
Carried me through
My restless hours.
Yet not resting.
Eyes closed,
But not unseeing.
Tossed and turned.
The sun creeps under my eyelids
Telling me to rise.
A new day is come.
And that dark riptide
Shall be left behind
In yesterday.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Bedika Chometz

Last night was when we performed bedika chometz. It is a ritual where we hide 10 bundles of bread (well wrapped) and then search the house for any chometz (including the 10 pieces we just found.) The search is done by candle light after dark in preparation for Passover.

Passover is a holiday chock full of symbolism. Bedika chometz fits in with that definition. Each year it seems a bit different and this year it seemed poignant.

You see - chometz - which is leavened bread - is something which is puffed up, it stands for one's ego. 10 bundles corresponds to the 10 levels of the soul. As we search it is dark, and we are searching by candle light. Darkness, well think of any time that you thought was dark, it is place of limited vision.

In preparation for Passover, which celebrates the redemption from slavery - in particular the redemption from Egypt but in general (or perhaps in a personal sense) it is a time for personal redemption from whatever limitations or shackles we are experiencing.

So as I searched I thought of how the soul of (hu)man is the candle of G-d, and so how in the darkness we search out with the light of our soul to find any hidden ego, at any level of our soul, whether it is ego in our expansiveness or ego in our limits on things and so on. Through this searching we prepare to go out from slavery into freedom.

In a simple ritual we are shown that we hold the keys to our own shackles. If we can see beyond our own ego, burn it away (the found bread is burned the next morning) we can leave beyond that which is holding us back.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Video Photos and Fun

It is fun watching as video evolves on the net and how many different ways video can be served up.

The latest in that genre is "A movie is a moving photo" - the 90 second videos on Flickr. There are quite a few folks playing with that and I'm having fun with that idea too. What would a picture look like if it could move. Or if you were making a snapshot of life rather than a movie. There is lots of potential with the idea. Sometimes imposing ridiculous limitations actually brings out more creativity.

Here are my first "Moving Pictures". I'd love to see yours.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Adventures of the Virtual Sort

Before you is a passage. Blocking the passage is a large sign made up of a wide plank with four pendant planks.
The top plank invites you to press with the words 'Install World of WarCraft(tm)'

A small creaking voice of warning is heard 'don't press that - turn around! turn around!'.

Do you
1) Press Install World of Warcraft(tm)
2) Listen to the warning and press Exit Installer or
3) waver and examine the documentation.

With a bold stab of her staff she presses "Install World of Warcraft" and proclaims loudly to all who would hear her "She who hesistates is lost""

And with a swift motion she was hurled into another world.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Post and Attitude

I've been thinking a lot on the technologies we use, the way we communicate, and on virtual worlds, real worlds, human interactions.

So why no posts. Well sometimes the reason is the distance between idea and cogent post gets to be a little long, but lately it's been more of an issue of attitude.

As I put it today, I've been feeling my inner snark a bit more lately. Most of my thoughts have been on how things are broken, what I don't like about different services and general complaints. A few negative posts here and there I'll let fly, but I'm hesitant to post when my thoughts seem overly negative.

The down side of this is that if I sit on an idea for too long it gets a bit stale sounding to me, and then I don't post it either. Perhaps I'm overly concerned with the balance and that it will all even out in the end.

So what do you think about negative posting?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Does Trademark Use Belong in a TOS?

Hopefully I will correctly have followed the guidelines and read enough in the four of the, I believe, 8 pages of trademarking law and guidelines that this post will not result in my account in the Second Life® virtual world being revoked. The strange wording of the previous sentence was predicated by the new Terms of Service and specific brand guidelines that would prevent me from saying my account with the name of the virtual world between my and account.

Now I agree that the corporation that owns and operates the above mentioned virtual world (neither which I am certain how to properly address since it isn't clear that just mentioning them as proper nouns is permitted) has a right to protect their copyright, and perhaps even a responsibility to do so. However, I have three major issues.

1) The guidelines are not exactly clear. (as is evidenced by the above awkward wording and references.)

2) We are describing a virtual location that lots of users reference. When referring to other trademarked terms a person can a say I love company A and I hate company B and I work for company C and not be violating trademark, even if it they do so in their personal blogs. The new branding rules are very confusing. I've studied law and I find it confusing. The not so great with legalese users are going to get lost in the pages of requirements. I'm not sure how to find the balance between protection of trademark and reasonable use but I can tell you it isn't there yet.

3) This is my biggest complaint. These do not belong in the TOS. Yes, trademark should be defensible, but when it remains trademark law it means if you flub up you will get a cease and desist notice first and you can fix the problem. Sometimes it is an innocent mistake or a use from a time previous to the branding documents. When it goes into a TOS it means that a violation of these rules can result in a summary cancellation of the users account and a forfeit of all of their intellectual property and investment in the world with little or no recourse.

Now, I am not a lawyer, I could be misreading these things. Also it is likely a legitimate thing to put into a terms of service. If I object I am free to remove my account.

That said, it seems to me that it is a valid complaint and a cause for unease that these trademark laws are appearing in the Terms of Service. I know of at least one person who is canceling a project. It certainly has caused me to pause and consider the risk of the projects I am proposing.

Are there any lawyers out there who would care to comment?

P.S. Finally found a 9th page 3 links down from the page referenced in the Terms of Service with the chart of usages, I can now tag my post appropriately.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Having watched so many events from a distance and wanted to be there I think is an an awesome idea. What is Well to quote their press release:

Live events stimulate conversations, but those offsite can’t really respond until later, when “the moment” has passed. What if you could engage from anywhere right as something interesting happened? In real time? Using super flexible, lightweight “social media” tools that make anyone a mediacaster.”

And that is an awesome idea. As I have watched live streaming and chat programs and more evolve and spread I have been wondering - Why can't we create a way for people who can't come to the event to participate and join in the event? I mean, it isn't going to be the same as being there, but it can certainly allow partial involvement and move this "distance is shorter because we can use the network" to the point where it involves participating in actual events.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing how evolves and I'm hoping I will be able to make it down to join in the last day of Boulder Startup Weekend 2 to see it first hand.

I'd love to bring into Colorado Podcamp. New Media is global and local - what a great way to enable both. Thank you Laura "Pistachio" Fitton.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is Griefing Free Speech?

I just went to an incredibly interesting panel at Life 2.0 on Intellectual Property, Privacy and Identity in Open Virtual Worlds. One thing that came up in the discussion was griefing, and was griefing free speech. Several people posited that it wasn't but I think that the issue is not so cut and dried. I also think that the supposition that griefing is limited to virtual world situations is incorrect. There are physical world analogies to the acts of griefing, and we may consider the real world analogies, as acts of free speech.

Just as a note, I am not saying that griefing is just fine - I am asking that we think about griefing in the context of speech and ask at what point an action goes beyond the bounds of valid free speech. Outside of virtual worlds there are disruptive actions taken, ften in the name of free speech. Some of these disruptions are seen as protests that are valid free speech - as they do not threaten the lives of others, and then there are protest actions amd disruptions that go beyond that that leave the domain of reasonable/valid free speech.

Likewise there are disruptive actions that some people define as griefing that may be seen as free speech and then there are points where griefing goes beyond reasonable/valid free speech. Defining that boundary of where virtual world disruption goes beyond "reasonable/valid free speech" is tricky because we want to use physical parallels, but an action in a virtual world is not necessarily identical to its analogue in the physical word.

One more point to mention, free speech does not only apply to protests and speech that are for "valid causes" (who decides valid.) Some of the fundamental cases that defined free speech as we know it now (within the US) were based on the rights of some less than pristine characters. Rights exist for scoundrels and angels alike.

To look at griefing and free speech in more detail lets look at some edge cases.
(For these examples I will ignore the aspect of this being private property verses a public venue. Private domains fall under a much different legal scope than public domains. Private domains can restrict who comes and what they do to a much greater extent.)

Lets take a look one of the more publicized "griefing" incidents in SL, the CNET interview with Anshe Chung. If the protesters had only held up signs protesting Anshe Chung and her business practices I think most people would claim it was free speech. However, when they threw phalluses it was elevated to "griefing" in most people's eyes.

Why? Because of the offensiveness of the object? Is free speech made invalid because it is offensive to some? Because in a physical world throwing something would be a valid action? But an we say that throwing things in a virtual world (which does not have the same physical impact) has the same status as throwing something in a physical world? The flying objects caused no physical damage to the people and created no laundry bills unlike throwing rotten tomatoes or rotten eggs

I am not saying that CNET and Anshe shouldn't be upset by it. Furthermore the effect on the public perception of SL adds to the emotional ire towards the event. But many protests in the real world have caused ire and affect the reputation of institutions. But at what point did the protest cease being free speech? And, at what point did this become griefing? Is that boundary the same?

Lets look at another example. Noisemaking devices can be very disruptive. Lets say that on some sim some group left a bunch of noisemakers that would alternate when they would make noise and turn off and on, over a period of time and then the noise makers would delete themselves. Would this be griefing? It seems disruptive and perhaps pointless and I know some would claim that it is griefing.

Well what about the Cell Phone Symphony at Improv Everywhere. I would posit that this is a near identical example, and something see as a glorious example of making art with free speech. And it also parallels some examples of griefing in the virtual world.

How much does the perspective of where it is (real/virtual), who is doing it, and why they are doing it change our desire to call something a valid act of free speech? Are the difference that change our reactions ones that actually change the validity of their right to speech?

It is true that (at least in the US context) that freedom of speech can be restricted in time, place and manner. But the ability to restrict these (within the public space) is limited and speech cannot be simply prohibited because it is offensive to some. This limitation on the restriction of speech within the public sphere brings us to a few questions which I think need to be asked, and do not yet have answers.

What are the public places within a virtual world? Must there be public places within a virtual world? If there are public places, to whom to we redress issues of excessive limitations of freedom of speech? If there are no public places, does the right to free speech exist within a virtual world?

Yes, right now virtual worlds could simply be left, or the protests published outside of the world, but as virtual worlds become more of a daily reality, does that mean that freedom of speech erodes?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Free Ingrid Betancourt

I just watched this video about and responding to the kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt. It really touched me and if you haven't seen it yet I think it is important to watch.

To do more you can go to the Agir pour Ingrid Betancourt website. I don't know of an English website supporting this cause, but if you do please let me know and I will update this post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Colorado Podcamp Update

If you didn't already know, planning for Colorado Podcamp (yes, I know the word order is usually different) has begun.

If you are interested in it and haven't gotten involved join the Colorado Podcamp Google Group we are using for planning/coordination.

We are also using TalkShoe for weekly meetings (except for the week of the Denver Area Podcaster's meetup.)

The next Talkshoe meetup will be Thursday March 13th at 7PM. There is more on the talkshoe site for the call.

Yesterday's call was excellent. We got to talk with Angelo Mandato who is "point" for Podcamp Ohio. He talked a bit about what makes Podcamp an "unconference" and about what they are planning for Podcamp Ohio. They have also been using talkshoe and have their sessions up on their website - so if you are in Ohio be sure to check them out if you haven't already.

We also talked about ideas for Colorado Podcamp, next steps, fundraising and promotion ideas and all sorts of stuff. If you would like to here more I've embedded the most recent episode at the bottom of this post.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

PC and Mac Brightness

On my previous post I mentioned something in passing about PC brightness versus Mac brightness. Hache asked if the PC/Mac brightness was a Machinima specific thing (in the comments.)

The PC brightness versus the Mac brightness is a general display difference (at least in the default settings.) I first came across this back in the days of the "Browser Wars". Web pages that looked great on a Mac would be way to dark on a PC.

I still find this to be the case that the PC displays things (with the default monitor settings) much more darkly than the Mac does. This is true on both of my XP boxes, a laptop and a desktop.

CGSD has an article about how to adjust gamma for web images images to look good on both PC and Mac. It also points to a few other resources on gamma and explains why the difference exists.

Interestingly the article implies it is an issue of graphics cards but with Macs moving to Intel, and there being PC/Mac cross compatible graphics cards I wonder if it is more a backwards compatibility reason now. You don't want the gamma on everything to suddenly shift if you are on the same platform.

Obviously you can calibrate the monitors differently but most users are going to go with the default calibration, so it is good to know what the differences are. It would be cool if there was an easy way to set up monitor calibration files for both the "mac" view and the "pc" view and swap between them if you are developing graphics and video for the web so you don't need to test it on two machines.

Actually I would be surprised if information on how to set up the two calibration settings didn't exist, but having never looked extensively into calibration (and not having success on a quick Google) I don't know where one would find the settings (other than creating them yourself.) Anyone out there have experience working with the PC/Mac gamma compatibility?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mac Video and Machinima Pointers

Well last night I have a bit of adventure in video editing, and its cause was something I've run into before but just didn't catch this time. Since the best mistakes to learn from are from other peoeple's mistakes I thought I'd share what happened, how I got there, and how I fixed it.

I'll also share some observations from my first attempt at Machinima (movies made using 3d games or virtual worlds)

So the first part will be Mac specific, the second part more generally applicable.

This was a pretty simple project. Take video of a walking tour, take snippets and make a reasonable short video of the tour. I thought I'd do this in iMovie08 1) because FinalCut Pro isn't on my machine and 2) FinalCut Pro sounded like way overkill.

I imported my .mov files into iMovie08 (after having fiddled with them briefly in iMovieHD). I started editing but soon found that every click and movement of the play head resulted in the machine stopping for a good 5-10 seconds. (Spinning beachball.) With about an hour of screen capture footage that was to be cut down to 5-10 minutes things didn't look good.

I finally gave up, exported the video I had made thus far (to preserve voice overs) so I could import it into FinalCut Pro.

And that was when it all became clear - there was no video on the export. Audio was fine but the video was all blank. The codec that the original video was in was one that iMovie08 doesn't like. The solution is - convert the video to something iMovie does like, like H.264. (There are probably other codecs but I know that one works.)

A bit of converting (using Quicktime) and re-importing and iMovie was all happy.

The way I got here was I used Snapz Pro X to capture the video. The default codec that the version I have choses when encoding video is not one iMovie likes. However, when you go to save the video you can edit the video encoding settings and save as H.264 - and you will save yourself a lot of headache.

(And as an addendum. I just found this awesome blog, Unlocking iMovie '08, with lots of good pointers on iMovie08 - including info on features you might think are missing but aren't.)

As I was editing the video I was reminded how it takes practice to take in a scene and see what the camera sees instead of seeing the filtered scene that your brain presents to you. Our mind does a great job of filtering out noise but that isn't what you want on film. Experienced film makers probably know this all intuitively but for the rest of you I'll share my bloopers.

1) Turn off distracting information - I remembered to turn off the display of HUDs, but I left SL voice on - which since I wasn't actually recording the SL Voice resulted in a unnecessary lovely white dot above my head and in odd places in the scene. Turn off extra displays, look again, and then make sure there isn't anything you missed before going on.

2) Look at your lighting - Most of my scenes were fine, but in one area it was night with minimal external lighting. I adjusted the exposure on that scene, which resulted in blown out colors but otherwise the details of the scene would have been near invisible on a windows PC. I could reshoot but the smarter thing would have been to notice the light and done something about it before shooting the scene (force sunrise/sunset)

3) Lose the pointer arrow - Most of my scenes I did ok with this, but in one scene I have this little arrow moving occasionally on the screen. There are times you can't avoid this but use what tools you have when you can (e.g. camera controls) and don't just randomly leave the mouse pointer in the middle of the screen.

I'm sure I'll learn more with my next machinima, but those are my lessons from this round. I hope they proved helpful for at least a few of you. And if you have pointers for me feel free to leave them in the comments, or drop me an email. (goldiekatsu at gmail)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More GTD Thoughts

If you were wondering about my sudden posts on GTD, I've been gradually picking up various projects and tasks and then suddenly work (yeah the one that pays me) started picking up at the same time a couple of other projects did. My "Gee I really should get organized, maybe tomorrow" became a "Wish I'd started this yesterday." That and at the previous BWET (Boulder Women Engaging Technology) meeting Gwen assigned us the first 20 pages of the book Getting Things Done. I have already read the book, and then encourage others to read it so I was ok with reading it again but thinking "Yeah, brush-up refresher no big deal."

Ok, maybe big deal. Right at the beginning Dave Allen talks about a key thing that is so important and obvious that you can totally miss it. So you have something you want to get done. What does "done" look like. Define it, write it down.

It is so easy to get caught up in projects and sub-projects and tasks that the goal you are aiming for, the outcome, can get lost.

For example. I want to start an podcast (as in the formal thing that you can subscribe to). Outcome - regularly produce video content that people can subscribe to. But the thing is I'm into so many different things I wasn't sure what particular topic to do my podcast on - so action define topic. Not a bad action but over time (weeks) you have to ask is it leading to outcome or just holding things up.

Last week I was talking with someone who talked about how she is into lots of things and she tried out different topics as podcasts and them moved on if it didn't work for her. What a great idea. Sure eventually I'll want to find the topic/niche but if the answer isn't forthcoming making various podcasts to find the niche that works for me may get me to my outcome a whole lot faster.

If I was tied to just the actions - well I haven't found my topic, can't move on. But by focusing on the outcome - what done looks like - I can say - wait this next action isn't getting me where I need to go - time to rethink.

So I'm very glad that I had that reading assignment, and I've already benefited from the reading.

And before I go one more thought that was inspired by RJ Moriarty's comment on my previous post.

On first blush GTD seems to expect you to have considerable physical space - the mega inbox and filing. But for those of us who are online/with computer folks a lot of this physical stuff can be moved to on the computer. (See this lifehacker post on the paperless home.) Yes, mail comes in and there is some paper to use, but you can scan in needed documents, and most of my inbox I send to myself in mail. More space than what you have about your desk isn't absolutely necessary.

As far as the contexts (that is where you do a particular task) well that isn't necessarily about place. "On my Mac" can be anywhere my Mac is. And a lot of my contexts are actually hats. When I'm at my computer I can be doing work for my job, doing SL projects, doing non-profit activities and other stuff too. With lots of "bosses" so to speak I do focus blocks - right now I'm @ work, right now I'm @ the non-profit, etc., so even though I'm in the same physical space I'm in different contexts. But really, you only need as many contexts as are useful for you. "Out in the world", "at work", and "at home" may be enough depending on what you do and how you work.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What if GTD Was a Competition Sport

I am, once again, trying to get into the swing of using the Getting Things Done (GTD) method of time (or more accurately action) management. If you haven't heard about GTD I recommend checking out 43 Folders on GTD, however the starting point is gathering all the tasks, projects, things to get done and putting them in your inbox(es). That part isn't necessarily that hard - but the next step - processing that inbox - now that can be a challenge. Just as an example - how well do you process your email inbox - does it get cleared and then magically build up seemingly overnight. (Ok, maybe it is over a week or so but it is still fast.)

Really my email is my main inbox. I will email myself notes on projects/voicemail/etc. so it really is a general collection area so letting it build up is a fast path to ruin. I realize that some of this comes from lingering through my email frequently rather than giving it focused attention at specific times each day but it is sometimes hard to motivate myself to just do it.

Anyway, I was pondering this and in a silly mood the other day and thought, what if GTD was a competition sport. How fast and how accurately can you sort your in-box. In my mind I envisioned the ESPN coverage of the competition and laughed at myself. But I wonder if there was some way to make task management a game where you can win & level up if it would make it easier to keep up on it? Sure keeping on top of stuff is its own reward but sometimes the pain of getting through that inbox seems greater than the pleasure at the end. What tricks do you use to make this process easier.

Oh and for those who want to see the geeky ESPN coverage that played in my head, here is an approximation.

Ann: Ok, Goldie is getting ready
(Goldie stretches & cracks knuckles)
Ann: The clocks are about to start
Beep beep buzz of the starter clock
Ann: And she's off!
Ann: Look at her go
(clicking dragging data flying)
(Cuts between other competitors and similar observations)
Ann: Oh wait - she's spent more than 2 minutes on a task - that's a penalty - 4 points
Ann: Wait...she's getting up? Her filing isn't by her desk!?! Oh this is going to cost her some serious time.
(scene continues)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Peasful Thoughts

It is Friday, which means it's a Frozen Pea Friday.

In an amazing set of coincidences I was just sitting down to eat some frozen peas (that had been subsequently warmed up) when Chel Pixie asked if I could make a video for the frozen pea fund.

If you haven't made it to the site yet, click the link above or the one here, and donate the equivalent of two bags of frozen peas to the fund to support breast cancer research.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Colorado Podcamp

Back in December I mentioned that discussion were beginning in the area of a Podcamp in Colorado and that I would keep you updated on the plans.

We have started working on the initial planning of Colorado Podcamp over at the Colorado Podcamp Google group.

Right now we are still defining the structure of the event as well as a more specific date than "some time in the summer". But the event will be a BarCamp-Style gathering for people interested in New Media which includes blogs, vlogs, podcasts, vidcasts and more.

If you are interested in find out more, participating in, or helping plan this event please join the Colorado Podcamp Group.

We haven't had our first planning meeting but that will be coming soon. I will keep you posted here, and of course on the group.

Social Connection Across the Virtual/Physical Border

What an exciting year this is turning out to be. My official work has begun to pick up, and I'm pushing personal project internally. In the social media/startup/podcasting/tech sphere I've started to meet up with people in person. Very exciting and interesting to watch.

Online social media is an interesting phenomenon. In a sense it is like the old forums/read news and text based chats in that there is enough distance that a person who is perhaps a bit more shy can feel comfortable speaking in the virtual environment. The interesting twist is that with the addition of video and virtual worlds you begin to feel that you are interacting "for real". While this is true to some extent, real friendships and relationships are created, it has been somewhat startling when you transfer that to the physical realm.

I suppose it is a bit more startling for me. I spent about a year homebound with very little personal interaction beyond the online medium. For that time who I was in groups in online reality (whether virtual worlds or twitter or chats on blogtv etc.) was how I interacted.

The real shock came when I could finally walk well enough to go to a meet up where I knew no one and I found myself feeling uncertain and shy. (This was complicated by the fact that I wasn't sure how to introduce myself, my resume has one name, my public presence has another.) I was shocked at the way I reacted.

Then I thought of how I had acted before my convalescence. Sure I'd join in discussions in groups where I knew people but when it wasn't strictly work based I was on the shy side. Walking up to someone I didn't know and introducing myself was not really something I did.

Here I was expecting myself to act as my outgoing online self, but that hadn't been my modus operandi in the physical world. The contrast is probably why I skipped the meet up for the following couple of months. But I also reflected on my reactions (and got some combo/business cards that make introducing myself much easier.)

Today I went to the Boulder Open Coffee at The Cup. It was a great meet up. I also decided that I was going to embrace my online style and make it my in person style. It was a bit scary at times. I could tell I'm still getting the hang of it but it was promising. And I'm hoping to make it to the New Technology meet up this evening, this time with more confidence.

What I have found is that although the online networks are incredibly powerful (and can cause a person to grow) it is important to go try it out in the physical face to face world. The interaction is different. The combination of the two realms is awesome.