Category Archives: purpose

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.

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.

My goal in life: sales and marketing?

I spent a leisurely afternoon walking around Toronto, wandering into
the buildings featured in Doors Open. I was fascinated by the
historical displays of medals and photographs in the Royal Canadian
Military Institute, the stateliness of Osgoode Hall and the rich
library of the courthouse. Seeing all these places steeped in history
and story helped me think about how I want to change the world. =)

I cooled off in Chapters, reading books on things like T-shirt
surgery, business, and small talk strategies. The ideas blended in
with my reflections on the past few weeks, and I realized something
about myself that I hadn’t dared admit before.

The things I’m good at and want to get better at? They look
suspiciously like sales and marketing.

Now, before all the geeks start booing and hissing me for selling out,
let me explain why I think this is perfectly in line with my geeking.
;)

I love the way technology makes my life better. I love technology so
much that I want to help other people figure out how they can make the
most of technology. I can’t hack _all_ the things I want people to
know about, but if I know other people who can, or I know of products
or services that can do the job, I want people to discover them.

I want to learn more about building relationships with people and
between other people, and I want to build those relationships by
helping people discover things that might be useful for them.

It fits me, too. I love telling people about cool tools and
interesting technologies. I love writing down notes during
conversations and following up with people afterwards. I love
connecting with people and understanding where they’re coming from.
Heck, I love reading every single blog post inside IBM, getting the
overall picture, and connecting people whenever I can.

Hooray! I have more words to describe what I want to do. I can
recognize more opportunities. I have a better idea of what help I need
to get. =) I need to learn more about sales and marketing in order to
figure out how I can get started and how I can scale. I have a long
way to go…

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きです。何故なら前者の方が後者より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter.

More thoughts about what I want to do with my life

Here’s a sketch of what I want to do:

I want to help people connect with people through social software.

That’s a very broad goal. What does it mean?

What do I want to do?

I want to help people make sense of technology. I want to help them
figure out which tools they should try out and how those tools fit
into their ways of working. I want to help them bring the tools into
their culture and adapt the tools to their needs. I want to help
people look at the big picture and see how everything fits together. I
want to help people look at the leaves on the trees and figure out how
to make the most of each piece.

I’m particularly interested in technology that helps people relate
with people. I’m interested in ways for people to discover other
people and other resources, share their insights with others, and
organize things for themselves.

Why is that a good fit for me?

I’m good at keeping track of technology news, which makes it easy for
me to recommend something that fits a situation. I also like
collecting and sharing productivity tips.

I enjoy speaking, writing, teaching, evangelizing, and all these other
ways to help people learn.

Most of all, I love listening and drawing people out. I love learning
people’s vocabularies and telling them stories about other people’s
successes and failures, helping them imagine their own success. I love
stepping into someone’s shoes and figuring out which tools might be
useful. I love coming up with ways for people to slowly make new tools
part of their lives.

What do I need to learn next?

  • I know about the tools. I need to learn about
    organizational behavior, organizational change, information
    technology diffusion, and technology adoption.
  • I know how to spread enthusiasm. I need to also learn how to
    communicate solid business benefits.
  • I know how to set a few things up. I need to become more familiar
    with the different technologies so that I can prototype them
    quickly and show how everything fits together.
  • I know a few people in different areas. I need to develop a rich,
    wide directory of consultants and companies who can implement
    particular solutions.
What’s my next step?

  • Continue with my research at IBM, which is exactly in line with this anyway.
  • Make another speech at Toastmasters, then another and another.
  • Meet other people who are working in the same or similar area. Talk
    to them, ask them for help figuring out this passion of mine, and
    see if I can do anything to help.

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Random Japanese sentence: 秘密を漏らす。 Let the cat out of the bag.