Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Tag: blogging

Ecto is dying, long live… what, exactly?

For years I’ve used Ecto, and loved it. However, for the last few months I’ve had problems with it: it’s crashing or hanging up constantly, and that’s getting in my way.

So what should I switch to? I tried Mars Edit a long time ago, and have the vague memory that it was all right. I’ve installed the ScribeFire extension, and will play with that a bit (though I’n not seeing an ability to set categories, which may be a deal-breaker). But I liked having a stand-alone blog editor for offline writing, and would like to find another one.

Blogging elsewhere

I realized I’ve not been writing much here, but have been doing more stuff on my professionally-related blogs. So, here’s a list of recent posts on Future2:

And on End of Cyberspace:

Just don’t want to seem like a slacker…

[To the tune of Michael Nyman Band, “An Eye For Optical Theory (from The Draughtsman’s Contract),” from the album The Essential Michael Nyman Band (a 1-star song, imo).]

New blog: Future 2.0

I’ve started a new blog on the future of futures, called Future 2.0. Essentially the blog covers the territory I explored in my Futures 2.0 article (which is due out any day in the next issue of Foresight, by the way) and am still very interested in– basically, how we can use Web 2.0 technologies, ubiquitous computing, and science to make futures more perceptive and persuasive. It’s also the nucleus of a new enterprise I’m starting to realize some of the projects I suggested in the article.

The blog includes material I previously posted here and on IFTF’s Future Now (and its Typepad predecessor), but from here on will be the main place I post about futures-related subjects. Given that Signtific seems to be on indefinite hiatus, I didn’t want the stuff I wrote for Future Now to disappear down the memory hole and be lost (most of all to me!).

[To the tune of Howlin’ Wolf, “Moanin’ At Midnight,” from the album Chess Blues 1947-1967 (a 3-star song, imo).]

Time for a new blog banner

It seemed like a while since I’d created the last one, and of course I had more complex, pressing things to do this evening, so I created a new banner for the blog. This one is from a September 2009 picture I took in London during my customary evening walk.

[To the tune of Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way,” from the album The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac (Disc 1) (I give it 3 stars).]

“Blogging constituted a kind of gateway drug”

Adam Greenfield on craft, localism and infrastructure:

[O]ver the last several years, San Francisco in particular has become a field of premium and super-premium, small-run craft production: Ice cream. Bicycles. Coffee. Spirits. Clothing. An audience primed to expect, desire and demand the provenance of the “lovingly handcrafted,” and pitch-perfect retail tuned to that demand. Especially for someone like me, whose senses have become inured to the increasingly homogenized material landscape of Manhattan, it’s hard to escape the sense that the last decade’s activity amounts to nothing less than a local renaissance of craft and technique and pride.

It’s not difficult to infer that this all happened when it did, where it did, because of the post-dotcom-crash emergence of a healthy cohort of talented (and relatively well-capitalized) folks hungry to make something with their lives just a little more tangible than some evanescent Web portal. I’m also willing to bet that the relatively low barriers to entry involved in successful push-button publishing of the early blog era convinced a whole lot of people in the Bay Area that it was safe to try their hand at other, more ambitious endeavors – that is, that blogging constituted a kind of gateway drug….

The San Francisco resurgence would not – could not – have happened if there were not at this point literally several hundred years of insight into craft technique just lying on the ground, for just about any domain of productive activity you can imagine.

[To the tune of Alban Berg Quartet, “String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18 No. 3: III. Allegro,” from the album Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets [Disc 3] (I give it 4 stars).]

Typepad Strangeness

There seem to be some issues with Typepad right now. Grrr.

[To the tune of Thievery Corporation Feat. The Flaming Lips, “Marching The Hate Machines (Into The Sun),” from the album The Cosmic Game (I give it 3 stars).]

I’m not the only one who has trouble talking to today’s youth

A very funny exchange among Wonkette writers over using the term “Bonus Army” to tag a post about AIG:

The five-minute silence after the joke is what makes it COMEDY GOLD.

Local bloggers as city guides

Another data-point (from the Guardian) on how the decline of cyberspace encourages digital information to migrate from screens to streets, from planning and research phases of activities to decision-making, and from formality and permanence to informality and immediacy.

Spotted by Locals is a network of city bloggers providing up-to-the-minute local information – from a cosy London hideaway to Madrid's best kept museum secret.

Like many great ideas, Spotted by Locals was conceived after a few beers. Dutch couple Sanne and Bart van Poll were on a city break to Brussels in 2007, and abandoned their customary guidebook in favour of tips gleaned from a Belgian blogger whose jib they like the sound of. "We went to the bars and restaurants he frequents, and walked around in the hidden local neighbourhood that was certainly not in our paper guide," says Bart. And in one of said bars, they came up with the idea that would imminently lead to both of them quitting their day jobs.

Spotted by Locals is a network of European city blogs written by over 80 local bloggers who Sanne and Bart have met personally since coming up with the idea. Each city blog is manned by a number of enthusiastic local "spotters", ranging from 18-year old Czech medicine students to 60-year old Belgian retirees. As the bloggers are all writing in second (or third) languages, the prose can occasionally be a little clunky, but therein lies its beauty: authentically local, on-the-ground advice. And, like all good blog content, the focus is on keeping up. "All tips are always up-to-date. Our Spotters only write about places they visit regularly, and update the information in the article frequently."

You could also do this in a more fluid fashion, if you mined Technorati for city names plus certain other terms, like vacation, travel, or a word that a service looks for.

The personalities of my blogs

Sean sent around a link to Typealyzer, a site that reads your blog (or the first page? or the last X posts?) and assigns it a Myers-Brigg personality type. My three blogs are all different.

This blog is a Doer:

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. [Ed.: awww]

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. [Ed.: Ain’t that the truth.] They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. [Ed.: All too true, I’m afraid.] They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time. [Ed.: So too true.]

End of Cyberspace is a Thinker:

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. [Ed.: Well, I like that.]

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about. [Ed.: Ummm. What about being especially attuned to people?]

Future Now, finally, is a Scientist:

The long-range thinking and individualistic type. They are especially good at looking at almost anything and figuring out a way of improving it – often with a highly creative and imaginative touch. They are intellectually curious and daring, but might be physically hesitant to try new things.

The Scientists enjoy theoretical work that allows them to use their strong minds and bold creativity. Since they tend to be so abstract and theoretical in their communication they often have a problem communcating their visions to other people and need to learn patience and use concrete examples. [Ed.: Hmmmm….] Since they are extremly good at concentrating they often have no trouble working alone. [Ed.: During those few times I can sit still and remain inactive.]

Is this something to worry about, I wonder? Put another way, should one be concerned by whimsical but totally spurious applications of dubious science? Probably not.

More on solitude and scholarship

Geeky Mom recently gave a talk about blogging her dissertation. Go check out her presentation:

SlideShare | View | Upload your own

Elsewhere, she writes about the problems of isolation in scholarship that echo things I noticed at AHA:

Although I consider part of what I do scholarship, I don’t think many others would consider me a scholar. I’m not sure I want to be a scholar, at least not as it’s currently conceived–the isolated individual hunched over books (or maybe more contemporarily, the screen)….

Here’s what I learned, or what I’m chewing on right now. The real work of scholarship takes place in isolation and through individual work. From that isolated position, isolated works get created and those works are read only a few people. There are exceptions to this, of course, and the sciences are much more collaborative than other disciplines, although they also are at greater risk of being scooped than humanities faculty, for example. In my work field, instructional technology, much of the thinking and work that looks like scholarship happens online, via blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. And that’s one of the things that draws me to the field. I like thinking out loud with others. I feel more comfortable moving the thinking and scholarship that happens online within the ed tech community into formal publication than I would going from online to formal within rhetoric and composition field.

Partly, of course, it’s because I’ve lost touch with that scholarly community and what I know of it from reading and contact I’ve had with people in the field, it’s both going in directions that interest me and in directions that really don’t interest me. Honestly, I think to some extent, I’m skeptical of scholarship in many (most) fields. I find some of it very valuable, but the way that scholarship is produced and the reasons it’s produced (for the sake of getting tenure and promotion, maybe to forward the field, maybe to say something new) tend to make it less valuable to me personally.

The assumption that “the real work of scholarship takes place in isolation and through individual work” is one that many humanists, and a fair number of social scientists would recognize; certainly for historians it’s the default. We may have colloquia and seminars and dissertation reading groups, but the core of historical work– the work in the archives, and especially the work of writing– is done alone.

In contrast, my work at the Institute is, at its best, effervescently collaborative. One of our most important research tools is the expert workshop, which is what it sounds like, but is actually more fun. We write just about all our important stuff using Google Docs, sitting around in a space, talking through suggested revisions in real time, batting opening lines and transitions back and forth. (For someone who spends so much time reading, the opportunity to do it in a fundamentally new way is really refreshing.)

Today, working on things like the end of cyberspace book is pleasant a break from that ultra-social routine, a chance to step inside the venerable courts for a few hours. (Not that we should completely abandon older ways of working. The ability to make creative use of solitude is something that psychologists have recognized is quite valuable; and good work often requires moving between collaborative and contemplative modes.)

I’m not sure I’d be happy going back to a life in which I was mainly working by myself. But I’m also curious how long a life like that– one lived, in its most essential parts, alone– will be available to professors of history and literature and the like. Already they’re mild anachronisms on campus: for most departments, I’m willing to bet, collaboration– or at least joint authorship, and a lot of work in which your research projects plug clearly into someone else’s research agenda– is the rule rather than the exception. (It would be interesting to compare the number of jointly-authored articles in leading history journals to the number in, say, economics and sociology.) The infrastructure for more intimately collaborative forms of historical research and writing are emerging, at least for a few specialties. Will it be very long before the students in first-year methods classes all have to work together on joint projects, and before people who become accustomed to working with others don’t feel that that capability makes them different from scholars?

[To the tune of Howlin’ Wolf, “Goin’ Down Slow,” from the album Chess Blues 1947-1967 (a 3-star song, imo).]

© 2017 Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

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