Category Archives: purpose

On this page:
  • Remembering my purpose; hooray for writing!
  • Imagining the future
  • What I want to do with my life: tell stories
  • Anxiety
  • Another aspect of what I want to do
  • More thoughts on Barcamp, no answers

Remembering my purpose; hooray for writing!

I tried to go to sleep earlier than usual last night, and I was hit by
a bout of existential angst. (I’m 22. I’m allowed to have existential
angst. ;) ) I started wondering what on earth I was doing here, etc.

I think I came to those thoughts because of various heavy things Simon
and I had been talking about over the weekend, like the senseless
tragedy of the war in Lebanon.

Looking around at my room, I poked fun at my inability to keep things
as neatly organized as people here have. I said even after a year in
Canada, I still hadn’t gotten used to it, and I’d probably make room
in my professional budget for managed housing or a housekeeping
service.

Reflecting on that further, though, I realized that that weakness of
mine wasn’t a core part of my identity and that it should never be. I
_can_ keep things neat if I take the time to, and if I can’t make the
time for that, then I should scale back my life until I can.

This led me to think about the difficulties people had around me, and
thus the existential angst. With all these problems in the world, what
am _I_ doing to help? Is what I’m doing with my research really worth
it?

Instead of ignoring it or lying awake thinking about it, I pulled out
a flashlight and one of my reflection books. There in brightly-colored
markers were all these diagrams showing how I felt about life and what
I wanted to do. (Thanks, Diane Lazaro, for giving me a creativity
kit!)

In large blue letters, one page read: “I WANT TO TELL STORIES!” With
that reminder, everything clicked into place again. I’m doing my
master’s research in social computing because I want to learn how to
effectively tell stories about technology, not just because I want an
excuse to stick around in Canada for a while. I’m part of Toastmasters
and I’m exploring writing because I want to tell stories.

I want to tell stories because so many people have such interesting
stories that can touch the lives of thousands and thousands of other
people. I want to draw people’s stories out and help them understand
themselves more. I want to tell stories that will help people imagine
what they can do with technology or how they can improve their
relationships with other people.

Maybe that’s how I can change the world. =)

I’m glad I drew those diagrams before. I love writing and drawing and
talking and thinking. I know I’m going to run into similar questions
again and again—I’m human, I forget myself—and having something to
go back to gives me great joy.

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Random Japanese sentence: 虎を大きな猫というなら、同じように猫を小さな虎といってもよい。 You may as well call a cat a small tiger as call a tiger a big cat.

Imagining the future

Wow. Don Marti has career advice for me. Wow.

Sacha, saying that you don’t want to be a programmer in
the 21st century because you don’t want Marketing between you and the
user is like saying you didn’t want to be a programmer in the 20th
century because you didn’t like waiting for the operator who carries
your stack of punch cards to the computer. The way software
development gets organized is always changing. It’s getting lighter
weight all the time.

And he’s right, you know. I enjoy stitching systems together and
thinking of just the right tool(s) to fit people’s needs. I love
working with people to figure out how they can make those tools a part
of their lives. I need more actual practice doing this, I think – the
technology evangelism I’m doing at IBM is barely a taste – but it
seems like a lot of fun.

I want to be a technosocial architect. From Thomas Vander Wal’s description:

Looking at the digital tools we have around us: websites, social computing services and tools (social networking sites, wikis, blogs, mobile interaction, etc.), portals, intranets, mobile information access, search, recommendation services, personals, shopping, commerce, etc. and each of these is a social communication tool that is based on technology. Each of these has uses for the information beyond the digital walls of their service. Each of these has people who are interacting with other people through digital technology mediation. This goes beyond information architecture, user experience design, interaction design, application development, engineering, etc. It has needs that are more holistic (man I have been trying to avoid that word) and broad as well as deep. It is a need for understanding what is central to human social interactions. It is a need for understanding the technical and digital impact our tools and services have in mediating the social interaction between people. It is a need for understanding how to tie all of this together to best serve people and their need for information that matters to them when they want it and need it.

Maybe I can hack code _and_ people. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女がドアを開けるやいなや猫が走り出た。 No sooner had she opened the door than a cat ran out.

What I want to do with my life: tell stories

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.

Anxiety

Birds on wires

Photo by Automatt, licensed under Creative Commons (Attribution)

After reading my post about being a girl, one of my closest friends wrote:

I never thought you ever got such thoughts:

And when the shadows in my head whisper that I’m not as good as the others,
not as geeky as the others, I drown them in Emacs Lisp. ;)

I always saw you as someone strong and has everything together – yeah like
you are a hitchhiker with your towel with you all the time ;)

I get that a lot, the nagging thoughts that I am not as good as others.
It’s kinda tough when that happens because I still haven’t figured out what
my strengths are. I am something like a Jack of all trades but a master of
none. And that is something I have to live with everyday.

This is one of the reasons why I think out loud. I want to connect
with other people on a deeper level. It is important to me to be
human
, approachable and understandable. This blog will not be a
polished, professional archive of useful articles. It will have my
cooking misadventures, my existential crises, my questions. My
issues, as a friend put it. Yes, I have issues. Not very
earth-shaking ones, mind you, but I have more questions than I have
answers – and I love that!

I talk a lot about feeling insecure, but that’s because I love looking
for what I can learn from other people. I don’t feel threatened as
much as I feel inspired. My confidence is not a show that I put on for
other people. When I’m in my element, the energy I get from people and
from the situation fills me.

When I falter, friends help me remember. You help me remember who I am
and why I’m here. My blog lets me go back and look over things in my
own words, searching for similar times to find out what I did and how
I resolved the situation.

Sometimes it may seem that I’m worried too much about how I measure up
to other people (5’1/4″? ;) ) or that I feel too insecure. But hey, we
all have different strengths, and I love exploring different things in
order to find out how I can be of most benefit to the world. =)

(Besides, one of the cool things about this picture is that the bird on the lower line can see everything that’s going on! ;) )

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Random Japanese sentence: 寝る前に猫を外に出すのを忘れないでね。 Please remember to put out the cat before you go to bed.

Another aspect of what I want to do

From netsquared comment:

Although I’ve studied the material provided here, what I would really like is to be able to hire someone who is 100% comfortable with these technologies to help me get accustomed to them. Like a “new media coach” ;-).

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More thoughts on Barcamp, no answers

Dominique helpfully offered suggestions on adapting
BarCamp to the Philippines. He said that
it was doable, but challenging. He asked me the top five people I’d
like to be there. He suggested having interdisciplinary talks by
invited speakers on entrepreneurship, physics, biology, etc. Many of
the Linux geeks who regularly speak at events would no doubt turn up,
too.

I had such a strong reaction against his ideas that I had to stop
myself from being frustrated. I recognized that I felt he didn’t
understand what unconferences were about. I also recognized that I
couldn’t yet articulate the differences between unconferences and
conferences in a way that would make the changes and benefits clear. I
was frustrated, yes, but I was frustrated with myself for being unable
to figure out how to hack unconferences into Filipino culture without
turning the event into yet another thing that divides speakers from
audience instead of creating a community of participants.

I knew Dominique wanted to help me think things through, but the
strength and irrationality of my reaction made me realize that I
needed to first think things over with people who know the
unconference culture and who may have insights into helping a new
community adapt.

I need more insight from people like Chris Messina and David Crow. How
does one hack unconferences into a society’s culture? How can I help
people go from a strongly hierarchical culture to a flatter one? Must
ask Don Marti, too…

I don’t have answers. I don’t even know where to start. One good thing
is that I can recognize when I’m hitting a wall, though. When I heard
Dominique repeat his suggestion for inviting talks from outside
disciplines and I knew I just couldn’t listen well enough to do him
credit, I thanked Dominique for sharing his thoughts and confessed my
inability to discuss things further at this time. I need to talk to
the others first. I need to figure things out.

You know, it’s just _so_ tempting to not think about how to hack
something like unconferences into Philippine society. It would be so
easy to just enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor in a tech
culture that’s starting to take off. But I want to bring these ideas
home…

And you know what? Maybe I don’t need to figure out how to get people
out of their chairs and into the conversation. Maybe I can focus on
just meeting the Web 2.0 entrepreneurs, the connectors who are
reaching out to me and to each other. I’d like to meet them in person
and get them to talk to each other. Maybe I don’t have to think about
doing that this August. Maybe I can do that this December, if I can
afford to go home.

I don’t feel bad about being asked tough questions. I feel bad about
not knowing the answers and not even being able to explain why
something doesn’t feel right. I just need to talk to more people and
try more things in order to figure out what to do.

And I seriously need hot chocolate and a hug, but that’s just because
I’m feeling all lost again… I’ll try to postpone thinking about it
until Friday, as I’m booked until then.

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Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫って甘えん坊で、どこでも私のあと着いて来るのよね。 My cat is such a baby, she follows me around wherever I go.