Features, Lifestyle

Happy Birthday to Me

September 14, 2015

happy birthday to meYesterday (September 13th) was my Birthday 🎂🎈 This past year has been a total blur of wonderful & challenging experiences and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to take on another year of living in this wild world of ours! 🎉🌈 

Articles, Net Culture

Structure of Content on Today’s Internet

September 9, 2015

While browsing my self-hosted bookmarks archives of articles, quotations, and reading-for-later hyperlinks, I happened to rediscover this Medium article about our responsibilities for content and the role of a information curator on the internet. It seems like a happenstance moment to be reading this article after completing the quit social media project.

Originally written two years in response to the redesign of Facebook’s Timeline/Feed in 2013, or more specifically, the future-hopeful position of Facebook as the sole communication platform in our internet communities, it’s still a relevant and terrific analogy of why we curate & interact with content in our social networks, and the future of the social web.

The network that was built to connect people is transforming from a communication platform with sharing ability into a content platform with communication ability.

It doesn’t take much looking around at the state of the web to figure out why Facebook is changing its strategy. We have never produced more content nor consumed it more than we do now. There’s so much to watch, to read, to listen to, to look at, that finding the best ways to consume all of this content becomes a problem that needs a solution.

More specifically, determining what content to consume and where to consume it becomes a problem. And that’s where the massive world of online curation comes in, and it’s the point of this post.

Curating is how we’ve dealt with the incredible amount of content on the web, and all of these services are competing to be the final destination of the content — the place you’ll discover and consume the content. Where they differ is WHO does the curating.

As we all venture further and further into the depths of the internet we find people that share our interests. Lots of them, actually. Letting these people — people you look up to or share interests with or share careers with — curate the content you see starts to make more sense than letting your great aunt Sally run the show.

That’s the problem Facebook really faces: What if people don’t enjoy the content their peers share? And if that’s the case, who or what should curate the content in their place?

That’s a tough question to answer.
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Articles, Features, Habit, Net Culture

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

September 5, 2015

you, me, and the sea

It’s been almost a month since I decided to take a break from Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

I considered de-plugging from all of my social media accounts entirely, then thought it would have been strange to see ocean waves and vegetable gardens being uploaded to Flickr and Instagram in September. If you’re interested on why I did so, you can read this article on why you should quit social media (for the month of August) from Wired Magazine.

We all know that social media is a mixed bag. Regular studies connect its use to anxiety, and episodes of depression. There are legitimate questions about its impact on our brains. But it has also transformed many tasks, made us more productive, and at times, helped us to feel more connected. Like any technology, it’s not the tool that poses the problem. It’s how we use that tool. I write often about how people and businesses broadly design and use this software; my August sabbatical is a regular opportunity to reflect on it personally.

Unlike the author, I wasn’t entirely away from Facebook, though my main interactions were with the Messenger client and the Events section. I also figured out how to permanently turn off notifications for all Friends activity on Facebook while viewing my Time/News feed, which I figured out how to do earlier in January 2015, so there wasn’t much of a difference.

Being disconnected from the social communities where the majority of online news goes viral was a huge feeling of relief, which was the result of not feeling accountable for being aware of unexpected memes, gun-shootings in the USA, and the usual round of natural disasters and political events that occur on a weekly basis around the world. Which is, incidentally, the same sense of detachment and ambivalence I experienced while the blue-gold dress brouhaha was going on.

Since I’m always sharing ideas and new inspirations (it’s a creator-maker process that’s as natural as breathing to me), I was pleasantly surprised that without the input of feedback, I was actually creating more and more output on a regular basis. The New York Times also wrote an article on the subject of this creative phenomenon in the summer of last year,

Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

With the extra time on my hands, I went on more explorer-photowalks, devoured books, attended social events with friends, listened to podcasts and lectures, completed tutorials for skill-building, practiced cooking new Thai food recipes, attended a meditation retreat, and, most importantly, spent more time with my parents and younger brother as a family.

Overall, this past summer has been pretty happy, and August has been especially wonderful. I wake up each morning feeling excited to start the new day, and, literally, something awesome or wonderful has happened to me every single day since.

I’m tempted to stay away from the internet for a month longer, but my birthday is in a few weeks and I’m super excited!! Typically, January is the beginning of the year, but for me, September always feels like a brand New Year.