June 25, 2006

Epiphanies

June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, reflection

Sometimes it takes an unexpected conversation to clarify certain
things. Today’s conversation was informative and inspiring. There’s
_so_ much for me to learn, and I can’t wait to get started.

I think I’ll take a week off from certain issues in order to
concentrate on my work. At the end of the week, I’ll give the matter
some more thought. It’s not as cut-and-dried as I thought it was, and
the conversation reminded me that there’s more to now than now.

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Random Japanese sentence: ジョンはディックを、もてあそんだ。 John played cat and mouse with Dick.

Blog visualizations

June 25, 2006 - Categories: blogging

We Feel Fine visualizes people’s moods through dots, pictures, and text. Good stuff. Link from Alex Schroeder.

Random Japanese sentence: その猫は魚を食べようと魚の入った缶をひっくり返した。 The cat upset the can of fish so that she could eat them.

A taste of politics

June 25, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Not content with experiencing Canada’s medical system, I also dipped
my toes into its political system. Simon told me that the Green Party
was having a leadership debate at OISE. I tagged along because
politicians live and die by their public speaking abilities, and Ian
gave me a lift there.

It was absolutely fascinating. The two candidates present – Elizabeth
May and Jim Fannon – were as different as night and day. I spent most
of the evening not only listening to the points they made during the
debate but also watching how they made those points, taking notes on
their speech technique and manner.

Elizabeth was by far the more seasoned speaker. Here are a few things
she did particularly well.

Interesting…

I learned a lot from the conversation afterwards, as Simon and Ian
discussed a few of the points that were raised. I need to develop
political thinking. It’s a great way to practice critical thought.

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古い話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

What’s the value proposition of a student?

June 25, 2006 - Categories: connecting, life, reflection

One of the reasons why I’ve never quite felt comfortable in
networking-focused events is that the value proposition of a student
is hard to define. Deal-oriented people will probably overlook me
because I can’t offer them immediate value. What can I offer people?
What’s my value proposition?

I don’t have much business experience yet, and as geeky as I can be
sometimes, I’m not as into technology as are people I know. Why should
people want to spend time with me?

I’m a student, a wannabe, an apprentice of life. Right now, I can’t
really offer anything. No, that’s not entirely true. I bring my
comfort with technology, my experience of being alien (in a good way),
my passion and enthusiasm and peace. Perhaps I also offer people an
opportunity to pay back their own mentors for all the opportunities
they’ve received, too.

It’s silly of me to doubt life, considering how I’ve been so, so, so
lucky in the past. At conferences and conventions, I’ve always managed
to sit beside or otherwise discover people who totally inspire me. I
don’t deserve any of the breaks, but I should learn how to make the
most of them so that I can share the benefits with other people.

I’m hungry for more knowledge, more learning, more connections. I’m
excited and interested and alive. Maybe that’s my value proposition
for now – not that I’m some subject matter expert or anything, but
that I’m curious. I should learn how to ask good questions and how to
get to the heart of things. I also want to learn how to tell stories
and write articles and books…

Other things: Hmm… I need to know who’s who. Note to self: add
business magazines to my weekly diet. That’s what access to the
university library and the dorm reading room gets me. And I _should_
take advantage of the library. We have access to all these journals
and educational resources that businesses don’t have. I should take
advantage of that! Maybe that’s part of the value I offer, too.

I can take risks. I can spend time learning about something that
eventually pans out. I can try different things and get to know
different people. Maybe that’s part of it, too.

Hmm…

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Random Japanese sentence: 私たちは庭でかわいそうな小さな猫を見つけた。 We found a poor little cat in the yard.

Congrats to Hrbs and Krisette!

June 25, 2006 - Categories: friends

Congratulations to Hrbs and Krisette on their nuptials. =) My friends
have been telling me all about it, including how my dad totally rigged
the garter thing to set up poor Kel, and how my mom was joking around…

I love how my friends get along with my folks! And I love how my
friends are just such characters! If there’s one thing I regret about
being here, it’s that my friends here can’t experience that part of my life…

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は1日中行方不明の猫を捜した。 He hunted for his missing cat all day.

Listening

June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, reflection

I asked my mom how to converse with people who have far more
experience than I do. She said, “Brilliant people need ordinary people
like me to listen to them. Sometimes, I ask questions that provoke
some thinking on their part. Call it the yin and yang of conversation.
You can’t all be brilliant. You can’t all be talkative.”

I’ve received a number of compliments on my listening skills. It’s
rather odd to think about that. I’ve been asked to sit up front in a
presentation because I’m an enthusiastic listener, complimented on my
ability to include people in conversation and help them feel at ease,
thanked for helping people relax and express their thoughts… I want
to play to my strengths. I want to be an even better listener and
conversationalist and host.

I see listening as a way of drawing people out. I’ve experienced that
before, shaping a conversation to bring people in. I feel distinctly
uncomfortable when people are left out of conversations. I like giving
people the opportunity to show different aspects of themselves. I also
enjoy the dynamics of groups because people bring out such fascinating
aspects in others.

I’m lucky that I got to practice this so much at home. I loved
bringing my mom into conversations with my friends, knowing that she
loves discussions and that she and my friends would get along well.
I’m thrilled to hear that even though I’m no longer part of their
day-to-day lives, that link endures.

Maybe I do have value, then, as someone who listens and keeps stories
and remembers and perhaps – from time to time – has something to add.
Not much, yet, but eventually…

One of my mentors in the company also had insights to share:

Some people can’t pass up a blank space in media without wanting to fill it
in with their thoughts. Partially to create and partially to preserve a bit
of themselves.

That’s one value a student holds – especially one who presents a vast canvas
that is well prepared for all the content and texture that’s out there.

I am a canvas for conversations. Fill me with ideas and thoughts. I’ll
remember them and share them with others.

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Random Japanese sentence: 「はい、でも私は、ただのみっともないねこでございます」と、こねこは言いました。「だから、あなたが、どのねこが一番きれいかと、お聞きになったとき、私は何も言えませんでした。」 Oh, I’m just a very homely little cat, said the kitten, so when you asked who was the prettiest, I didn’t say anything.

Ego surfing

June 25, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

http://www.egosurf.org

Have fun. ;)

Thanks to Gabriel Mansour for the link!

Random Japanese sentence: その少年たちはかわいい猫と一緒に2人きりで暮らしていた。 The two boys lived alone with a lovely cat.

What I want to do with my life: tell stories

June 25, 2006 - Categories: life, purpose, reflection

In the process of helping a friend get some insights from David
Allen’s book on Getting Things Done, I found myself telling a few
stories about how other people use the thoughts in the book, and how
he could adapt it to his life. Stories!

I’m not a technology evangelist as much as I am a storyteller. I can
tell stories about non-technological things, and in fact I _love_
telling stories about so many different things and so many different
people.

That’s it! I want to tell stories!

Here’s how my grad school research ties into it. My master’s thesis
will be about how to tell newbies stories about a social computing
system so that they can understand the value of the system, so that
they’ll _get_ it.

I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow. I plan to be on the
first bus out and the last bus back so that I can catch up on all the
stories on the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to writing, to calling
attention to other people’s stories. I’m looking forward to preparing
more talks and articles, polishing stories and facts and ideas into
presentations that might persuade people to try things out. That’s
what my life purpose translates to in terms of my very next action.

Short-term? Let’s talk about one year. My master’s thesis is one of my
top priorities, of course, and I see it as a good reason for me to
find out if stories are useful and what kinds of stories might help
people understand social bookmarking. Orgchart, location, network?
Lots of other ways to take advantage of someone’s context… Anyway,
it’s shaping up to be a really exciting project, and something that
I’d love to see translated into other areas like blogging.

No, I have no idea yet how I can make a living through storytelling. I
want to learn how to write books and speak well. I may need to figure
out what to do in the middle, while I’m still not “respectable”…
<laugh>

I want to listen to people’s. I want to tell people’s stories. I want
to learn about how to do those two things really, really well.

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Random Japanese sentence: 1匹の猫がカーテンの陰から現れた。 A cat appeared from behind the curtain.