On Social Media

Unfortunately there is no better way to publish photos, writing, or other personal content without using social media. The corollary is also true, there is no better way to follow content from someone you are interested in than using social media.

The open web and RSS were not successful enough to escape out of the tech crowd in the way Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have. I’m a firm believer in owning and controlling your own content. However, even if I publish all my content on my own personal sites, which I do, no one will see them unless I syndicate them out.

I try to use Twitter as a glorified RSS reader, both as a means of publishing links back to my content and viewing others. The problem is Twitter is also a communication platform, filled with all the problems of the internet like nowhere else. It is rarely an enjoyable place to visit, so I find myself doing it less and less and less.

Instagram is quite a bit better staying out of the gutter, especially if you take the effort to cull your follow list to quality people. However, a few things happen on Instagram:

  1. It feels that everyone tries to stay consistent and “on brand” because that is supposedly the best way to build your followers, so everything gets stale. After browsing Instagram over a period of time, it just feels like seeing all the same stuff over and over again.
  2. This may be related to above, but the recent feed changes away from chronological order make me feel like I’m always missing stuff. It removes any sense of timeliness which is especially profound on posts that are around events. It’s confusing to see things out of order. Plus, in trying to be smart it is showing me more content from people I interact with, and less from others I follow, which only reinforces that I won’t see all the content from who I follow.
  3. Instagram has tremendous lock-in which as a photographer I quite dislike. You are locked into their format, limited links, no control over presentation and how sets are delivered. I find myself thinking how do I transform my work so it looks good on Instagram, which is not the same as how do I make the best work I can.

Unfortunately, there is not much choice. Instagram has the biggest and most engaging audience, particularly for photography. If I post to Instagram I’ll get a dozen likes and a few comments – more if it’s a popular cliche shot. If I post the same content on my personal blog, I’ll be lucky to get a few views and maybe a like or two, definitely no comments.

Likes and comments aren’t all that important, though the platforms really suck you into the popularity content aspect. I’m not posting for the popularity, but as a means of sharing and connecting to other. There are numerous family and friends I want to share my photos with who wouldn’t see them otherwise.

This is the great catch-22 of social media. It is hard to live with, and living without just leads to isolating from other’s work and obscurity for your own.

Book Review: Little Brother

After a major terrorist attack hits San Francisco, the government creates an Orwellian surveillance society, a techno-savvy teenager rebels back — a geek focused coming of age story.

The author, Cory Doctorow, is quite knowledgeable and explains technology well. Even though the story was written almost 10 years ago, the technology topics still hold up. It would be a slightly different story written in our post-Snowden, smart phones everywhere world, but not that different.

The book is realistic, though a bit over the top with the author taking the themes of surveillance, freedom, and rights to the extreme to make his points. They are important and good discussions.

I quite enjoyed the book, it is filled with good action and an interesting story; it was a pretty quick read, I ended up staying up late a couple nights to finish it. I would definitely recommend, especially for software engineers and open source fans.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is released under creative-commons and available for free download in numerous formats. You can still purchase from Amazon to support the author.

Length: 387 pages
Reading time: 2 days


Book Review: Creativity, Inc.

Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc is an excellent book for both the history of Pixar, and the business lessons managing creative teams and people.

First off, I’m biased. I love Pixar. I love their movies. I’ve watched several behind-the-scenes and making of movies about Pixar. I was even lucky enough to get a tour of their campus. So I’m predisposed to liking something about them. With that said, even if you do not like Pixar but are interested in business organization & management there is still quite a bit to get out of Creativity, Inc.

The book covers the CEO Ed Catmull career at Pixar from the beginning of starting the company, to selling it and taking over Disney Animation. He discusses the numerous challenges they faced along the way and packages them up into thoughtful management advice.

Here are a handful of quotable quotes from the book to give a sense of its content:

“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better. If you get the team right, chances are that they’ll get the ideas right.”

“When looking to hire people, give their potential to grow more weight than their current skill level. What they will be capable of tomorrow is more important than what they can do today.”

“Many managers feel that if they are not notified about problems before others are or if they are surprised in a meeting, then it is a sign of disrespect. Get over it.”

“The desire for everything to run smoothly is a false goal — it leads to measuring people by the mistakes they make rather than by their ability to solve problems.”

“Excellence, quality, and good should be earned words, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.”

Length: 370 pages
Reading Time: 8 days

Week #26, 2017




Week #20, 2017