New Site, New Direction

I’m back but with a new direction.

First off, just a quick note to let everyone know that I’m no longer working at Squarespace. In addition, I want to thank Anthony for giving me the opportunity to work with him at Squarespace and letting me see the inner workings of such a great web publishing service such as Squarespace. It was a wonderful opportunity.

With regards to work, I’ve got some of my own ideas that I’m going to be pursuing over the next little while (that still relate to Squarespace though) and you’ll see these appear on my site in the days ahead. In addition, I’ll probably be adding a "Services" page sometimes soon that will explain what I’ll be offering.

"Where’s my journal?" you might also be wondering. I took it down, as I don’t see a need for it right now. Depending upon how things go, I might add it back in the future but I’ll have to see how things go. Instead, I’ve just created this "News" page that will just relay occasional news and updates relating to my site. If you want to get a hold of me and chat though, feel free to give me a shout via my Contact page.

UPDATE: Journal is back up. Think I’ve found a "structure" I can live with.

Feeling Connected Revisited

A very simple article entitled Living Without The Internet on Design Observer seems to have sparked a very heated conversation in its comments about how people use the Internet and does it make them feel connected to others or not.

Personally the Internet itself as a technology does not make me feel connected to others. For me, it is more the people I interact with and the stories that are shared that make me feel connected to people on this planet. The Internet is just helping to make this interaction a little easier than previous methods of communication.

Do I “feel” disconnected from people when I’m off the Internet? No, not at all. As I’ve stated before, I actually feel more connected to the world and the billions of people on it when I’m alone in nature then when I’m online. But could this be because I don’t have very many meaningful relationships online? I mean I have various meaningful relationships offline but I barely can think of even a few online. Maybe this is why I don’t feel disconnected when I’m offline because I’m not truly connected meaningfully to people online. And I guess the next question is should I be?

Or should I taking advantage of the ability to search globally with the Web to help me find more meaningful relationships locally within the city in which I live, similar to what Marko Savic mentioned in the comments of this article.

Perhaps because I’m younger and grew up on the internet my prespective is different, but, the internet is our social landscape. I moved to Toronto for school 2 years ago, and knew nobody. Through the wonders of LiveJournal I “met” many new friends. Ironically, these people are the ones when I met in person, became best friends with, and eventually moved in with. All the people I met “in person” at “social functions” were all friends of circumstance than any true bond. We aren’t in touch any more.

Even more so, should I start using the Web in different ways than I normally think. I’ve been touting that Web 2.0 is more a change of thinking than a change of technology. Maybe I need to listen to my own words? Should I be creating different journals as different ‘spaces” to help maintain relationships with people I already know in real life and possibly even foster new relationships with people who come across them? For example, one journal could be focused towards the public with regards to my research and work. Another could be focused towards family and friends, relayings what going on in my daily life. Another could be a very private journal that I only share with a select group of people and so on. Interesting. Now that I think about this, I had actually thought of this before with my “rooms” approach in terms of structuring content. This takes it step farther though. In effect, each space / room / journal is like a different social environment with different rules of social conduct (with your journal settings effectly helping to set the environment).

In closing, I’d like to finish off this train of thought with a few more words by Marko Savic again.

Between first and second years, my internet friends (I’d met them at this point) and I all moved to our respective home towns, and one of us went to Europe. We used LiveJournal to keep up with the events of eachothers lives while we were apart for 5 months, its like we were with eachother the whole time. We actually orchestrated renting a house between Windsor, London, Kitchener (Ontario) and Scotland from a landlord who lived in New York. He gave us the place over another group after he stumbled upon my blog and decided he liked my character.

And finally, I’ve moved out on my own and purposely didn’t have the internet for the first month, so I would go explore my community. I just ended up reading a lot of books instead. I was overpowered with feelings of loneliness, very disconnected from the world. It’s a strange feeling, but just seeing someone else is online – on MSN or Skype, a LiveJournal post or flickr update, its like they’re sitting in the room with you. Perhaps its a bad metaphor. Sometimes we can’t meet in person, and the internet bridges that gap.

Transparency: Coudal Pitches Subway

This video by Coudal Partners is hilarious! When it comes down to marketing a product, it doesn’t matter how much money you have for an ad campaign, if the product can’t stand on it’s own two feet, then nothing you can say can really make a difference once you let it out into the "real world" on its own.

That’s because there’s a huge separation from the fictitious make believe world of TV and what we actually experience in real life. I personally don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to walk into a fast food restaurant and say "Can I have a sandwich that looks EXACTLY like that one in the picture there?!" as I point at a picture of their product behind them. Yet what you get from them is a far cry from what is advertised by them. I stopped going to Subway a long time ago because I got tired of the compost heap that was being served to me as a "sandwich". Sandwich Artists? How about Sandwich Sanitation Engineers?  🙂

The video was sickenly hilarious in a sad sort of way as well (if you can persevere watching it all). The "will sell soul for money" feeling just seemed to be so smothered over the video, it was almost as though they were trying to make some kind of sandwich themselves (of what kind I couldn’t be sure). The sad thing is that they were supposed to be pitching a product, yet most of the video all they talked about was themselves. "We rule! We’re passionate about marketing anything, as long you give us lots of money! Hire us!"

Idea for RSS > XML-RPC Web 2.0 Service

I’ve been looking for a while for an RSS to XML-RPC routing service that would in effect relay content from one site to another. If anyone has seen such a service please let me know.

Basically you’d log into the service, add in RSS feeds (mix multiple ones together even) and then select an XML-RPC method (such as MetaWeblog API) to relay and post these feeds onto another site. The amazing thing is that this service would really only need to relay the feed content, not store it.

Why am I looking for this? Because it would alleviate the need for blogging services to include feed aggregation within their services itself.

How would I use this? To create my Connected Communities idea. In effect, allowing many individual local sites to collaborate together on a collective effort through the sharing of information.

Letting The Poison Out

I believe I caught a bug this last Thursday because ever since then I’ve been feeling like crap (i.e. exhausted, minor sore throat, nauseous, slight occasional dizziness, etc). Sunday I went to bed just before 11 PM and woke up late for work yesterday at 9:20 AM (I usually start around 9 AM). Feeling like crap again, I decided to hit the bed early last night just before 10 PM. I’ve now been up almost an hour since just after midnight, tossing and turning, feeling like I’m going to throw up at any minute. Of course during this hour, thoughts have been tossing and turning around in my head as well, so I thought I’d at least get something out of me (and thus hopefully prevent the “other” from happening).

The last hour I’ve been thinking about my Exploring Squarespace site and already I’m having second thoughts about creating it. Don’t get me wrong though. One thing you have to realize about me is that I love helping people. Yet while my Exploring Squarespace site is a great outlet to let me share my knowledge of Squarespace with others, it isn’t my passion. Ever since the Katrina disaster of last year, I’ve stated that I want to start focusing on changing the world to make it a better place. For some people, this may seem like idle dreams but for me I’m dead serious about it. Actually ever since I landed up in the hospital on New Year’s Day at the start of 2003 (with stomach pains that reminded me of the Alien movies), my mortality has constantly been on my mind. Life is precious to me, mine own and others, and I’d rather not waste a single moment of it. “Don’t save time, savour it” is a little expression I’ve created to help remind me of this.

Therefore, ever since the Katrina disaster, I’ve been trying to research various ways we as a people can utilize the Web to help connect our various communities (online and off), to foster a better culture within them, and most importantly of all, to allow us in times of need to unify all of these communities together in one focused global effort (like aiding people in a large disaster situation like Katrina) by each of them working collectively on a local level. And actually when Anthony approached me to work at Squarespace, I was ecstatic because it was the perfect job situation, as I only needed to work a six hour day which would give me plenty of time to pursue my passion on the side. Or so I thought. Of course, once I started working on Squarespace, I started getting all of these ideas relating to the service and my Exploring Squarespace site is a culmination of a lot of those ideas that I’ve spent my time on. And yet even though I’m enjoying sharing this knowledge with others, at the same time I’m very upset with myself that I’ve deviated so much from my initial path that I had started on.

So what happens now? Well, I obviously want to get back on track in spending most of my free time focused on my research as I had done before. Yet I obviously don’t want to throw all of my work on my Exploring Squarespace site out the window or stop sharing this information with people either. For now, I’ll probably just let things ride and see where they take me. My primary concern though is the feedback on my Exploring Squarespace site. I feel bad about it but I honestly don’t have the time to respond to these additional queries. In effect, I can share the basic examples with people to get them going in the right direction, but people will need to help one another if they have problems figuring out how to apply the examples to their own site. As I said, for now I’ll let things go as they are but down the road, who knows, I may have to close off comments and possibly even the forums I just opened on the site as well. Or at the very least I suppose, ensure that everyone is fully aware that I’m just sharing the basic information and I can’t provide much more support than that. As I said, I feel bad about it but at the same time, I have greater goals and passions that I need to pursue in my life and they’ll need to take precedence, as my time is a precious commodity to me.