Runaway Future


The court of public opinion and the highest horse

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 2:04

Today, I watched this video, in which a TV reporter airs a mock apology to Chris Brown for engaging him in discussion about the infamous Rihanna incident. The video itself is a year old, but it’s relevant because today was also when Chris Brown deactivated his Twitter account.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way defending domestic violence. But I’m wondering about the self-righteousness here, especially when it comes after the existing justice system has played their role. This is touchy ground and I’m not sure writing about it makes sense, but here goes:

As a society, we have deemed some things acceptable and some things unacceptable. That is the basis of law and order, the core of the justice that runs our society, the rules of life. Chris Brown was found guilty of breaking one of these rules and he was punished for it. The idea of punishment is two-fold: retribution and rehabilitation. In Chris Brown’s case, he had to provide community service, is under probation and had to take counselling. Now, if we, as a society, feel that the punishment was insufficient or did not fit the crime (as argued by some at the time of his sentencing), that is one discussion.

But what’s happening now is completely different from that. Instead, members of our society appears to be taking it upon themselves to try to extract their pound of flesh from the situation. So the situation is brought up constantly in an attempt to antagonize Brown and prompt a response, which then furthers the discussion that Brown is an unstable young man as he’s being hounded by all sides.

In the same breath, members of our society appear to be completely ignoring the history of Brown, simply because he makes music. So at the same time that people are attempting to continue to cut him down at every step, his fans are always at the ready to defend him to equally illogical degrees.

There’s a chasm here, which will never be bridged. Each side set in their ways and neither willing to budge. He’s either a saint or a demon and there’s no grey area. I don’t think I agree with that.

No longer the target demographic

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 1:31

Let me preface all of this by admitting that I’m not much of a CFL fan. In fact, I’m not really even a football fan, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

Today was the 100th Grey Cup and I watched it. The Toronto Argonauts really spanked the Calgary Stampeders in front of their home crowd (the Argonauts actually talked about how this was one of the first times they felt they had a home field advantage in the cavernous Rogers Centre).

But the big rigmarole was the halftime show which curiously featured Justin Bieber. Most of the story is captured here.

As can be seen in the article, Bieber’s inclusion wasn’t really what most football fans had in mind and so it was the target of a lot of derision, booing, etc.

But I’m not sure how I feel about that: the CFL was definitely trying something there (and there was no financial risk, as Bieber was doing it for free). Granted he’s not my cup of tea, but I also understand that I’m not the target for his brand of entertainment, which goes back to what the CFL was trying to accomplish. The history of the CFL halftime show features a lot of Canadian rock staples, but also some forays into something more, with performances like the Black Eyed Peas. In Bieber, the two efforts (Canadian content and relevant music star) combine, even if it might not fit the venue.

But not fitting the venue is kind of the point. Bieber is most popular with the young’uns and as I enter into my late 20s, I realize that if the CFL hasn’t caught my interest by now, it’s highly unlikely that it will (unless I move to a CFL city or something of that nature). I can admit that much through my effort this year to follow the NFL as a quasi-replacement for NHL hockey (which in itself is a long story). In any case, I can’t see myself ever being a passionate CFL fan and I don’t even see myself becoming a passionate NFL fan anytime soon (I’ve attended two games in my life and I guess I have a “team”, but that means little).

The fact of the matter is, the CFL understands this too. So why would they waste time trying to woo me? Sure, I think the Tragically Hip or Wintersleep or someone of that nature would be my personal preference to play halftime, but I’m also admitting that even if that’s who plays, it’s not going to change anything. So the effort is wasted on me, which leads to Bieber.

We all know he draws a younger, more impressionable audience. It’s also predominantly female. Without knowing too much about the market reach of the CFL, I would assume that females under 20 are hardly their core demographic, which means it’s an extremely enticing area to grow into. So even if the Bieber performance doesn’t turn his legions of fans into die-hard CFL fans, I don’t think that’s the point. The CFL was provided with an opportunity to try something new, something that has minimal risk (at this point, who would they actually be disenfranchising by the Bieber performance? even those that booed him will probably not care by the time next year’s season begins) and something that has the possibility for high reward. Even the smallest margin of penetration into this new market is more than they would have before.

 On a completely side note: I watched most of the response for the halftime show by reading Twitter and Facebook. I thought it was interesting that by and large the main CFL talent who was tweeting about the Grey Cup (Producer Tim, Cabbie, CFL Kate) were all talking in an extremely positive manner about not just the halftime show, but the Grey Cup as a whole. It reminded me a lot about a book I read on ESPN which talked about the sports network sacrificing journalistic integrity because they were also broadcast rights holders and thus financial partners with the league. Curious.


We must do our work for its own sake

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 1:57

This is somewhat related to the previous post and then somewhat related to what’s to come:

The only thing important is content.

I don’t know really what that first nugget of that idea is, but let me explain further. Somewhere over the past few weeks I’ve been reading about framework, tools and design. The basicpremisewas that you could waste time worrying about tweaking a layout, choosing a platform or designing an interface, but the most important piece is always going to be the information that is being conveyed, regardless of how that is packaged or how pretty that package is. Now it’s in full-fledged Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, where that same thought is continually expressing itself.

Some of it definitely came from Steven Pressfield’s War of Art, which might be most influential book I’ve read this year. It basically focuses on getting serious. If you want to do something, just fucking do it. I read it over the summer and need to buy it soon. (I’ll probably cover that influence sometime in the near future on a post)

Some of it probably came from random articles I’ve found on Twitter. That’s an ever-growing beast that will never be contained or organized.

Some of it might have come from something I read on the Svbtle network where there was a post (which naturally I can’t find now) talking about how a platform is less important then what is being delivered over that platform.

Some of it came from a symposium at King’s I attended recently that talked about a lot of things when it came to the online world of writing and how you don’t get to choose integrity or credibility, your audience does. That’s something else I’m going to get into a bit more with KForbesy, I believe.

Some of it came from Rework, which talks a lot about the Agile methodology, the importance of just going forward, not necessarily planning, but just having your core beliefs and values and running. The focus is getting something up, even if it’s crap and then working off that. Maybe you have to tear everything down, but if you just plan until perfection, you’ll never take a step forward. This is something that I’ll need to talk about more soon and that some previous posts have hinted at: this year has basically culminating in a run: focusing on a single goal, dropping everything and running for it, knowing that this is the right thing to do, this is what I need to do, knowing my core and being happy with that and then moving forward at an incredible pace.

Pulling this all back to what this all boils down to is simply stupid stuff like the fact I think the design here is dated. I don’t like it, I think the dashboard for WordPress is overwhelming and distracting, providing too many options that stand between me and just letting things flow. I yearn for something that focuses more on the content and less on the expansive list of months upon months of previous drivel I’ve posted. I had to pull myself away from wanting to update that blogroll in order to write this. I drool at the minimalist design of the Svbtle platform and could have spent hours trying to put together one of their emulators and mesh it with my existing work. There’s so many more themes and designs and layouts that might be better, might be worse. I’ve got oodles of bookmarks about that stuff.

But none of that matters (partially because there’s no traffic here and so any futzing with platform/design/layout would be just for me, which at a certain point just feels like even more of a waste of time). In any case, the only thing that matters is the process.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the process of writing. More than anything else, that’s important. That’s why my desk in front of me is covered in notes, why there’s a notepad on my nightstand and another clipboard on the floor by my bed, why my blackberry is filling with notes. I started using Microsoft OneNote at work to organize myself there and I just installed it on my computer at home to try to bring a similar organization to some of the infinite pieces of paper here.

But more importantly is that I’m writing. I’ve always been writing.

Hiring by 37Signals

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 0:44

I read Rework over the weekend after being recommended it by a co-worker. It’s the story of 37Signals, the company behind Ruby on Rails and Basecamp. Rework speaks to a lot of the work we’re currently doing at my new job (which I need to gush about further in the very near future) and where our company should be going. But first and foremost, their advice on hiring really spoke to me:

Hire great writers

If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever; their writing skills will pay off.

That’s because being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate.

Writing is making a comeback all over our society. Look at how much people e-mail and text-message now rather than talk on the phone. Look at how much communication happens via instant messaging and blogging. Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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