Headlines for Monday:

  1. E-mail interview oddness (1061 words)
  2. Always write to your favorite authors (122 words)
  3. Developing a personal style (394 words)
  4. WOW! (43 words)
  5. Learning more about keeping in touch (194 words)

Work on research



1. E-mail interview oddness: 12:03

I received an e-mail interview from a Philippine-based popular IT magazine, and something about the interview made me think about how e-mail interviews are conducted. I've copied the letter here sans identifying details. I plan to write articles in the future, so this reflection will help me remember tips for when I'm the one conducting an e-mail interview. You can find my comments below.

Dear Ms. Chua,

Good afternoon. I am XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a writer for XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I am writing an article for the magazine XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, where the story will focus on Filipino teenagers and the cyberspace. I plan to angle the story on the general behavior of Pinoy teens online as well as that of the parents on the idea of their kids linking up to the cyberspace. I also hope that my interview with you will help in shedding light to teens and the MMORPG industry.

I have below a set of questions; pardon me for this, but may I request for your answers by Tuesday morning? I hope that it will be alright with you.

If you have any questions or objections/clarifications, you can text me at XXXX-XXX-XXXX. Thank you for having the time to read my letter. Have a nice day.


Generally, how do Filipino teenagers see the Internet? Is going online a more common phenomenon among teenage Filipinos? Do they prefer this more than other types of media like TV or radio? How so?

With only a small percentage of the local household owning computers, as well as going online through cafes and getting connected are still expensive for some, is linking up to the cyberspace a difficult affair for Pinoy teens? What do you think should parents as well as the government do about this?

Should chatting, Instant Messaging, or joining social network services like Friendster be allowed to teens? How so? Should parents allow their teens to build relationships =96 platonic and/or romantic - online? Again, how so?

How about blogging, should teenagers go for this online trend? What do you think is its appeal to Filipino teenagers?

What dangers do these services pose to the Filipino teen? How about the other malicious elements lurking the cyberspace?

What makes MMORPGs very popular among teens? How do these affect teenagers? Should parents let their kids go for online gaming?

Should teenagers pursue their entrepreneurial spirits online? How is it helpful to teenagers?

How do you think can the Internet help teenagers become responsible adults? What should parents do to ensure this happens?

How often are you online? What do usually do when online?

I like journalists. Journalists have a hard job. They always need stories, and they're always chasing deadlines. They never have enough time. I love helping journalists as much as I can, pinging them when I hear about something interesting. I've even taken a few hours to review articles and provide additional information and stories.

There's something about this e-mail interview that distracts me from replying to it, though. I started happily replying to a couple of questions, but then I trailed off. The interview felt wrong.

What gave me that feeling? The questions were too generic and too broad. There's nothing of me in it, nothing to show how I would bring a unique perspective on the issue. I felt like filler material that can be dropped in to help the writer meet the word count. This didn't make me too keen to spend a lot of time imparting pearls of wisdom, not that I had any in the first place. ;) This kind of shortcut-taking also made me wary of cut-and-paste quoting, which would require me to think in terms of soundbites and could lead to me being quoted out of context.

One way this e-mail interview could have been better is if it focused on one or two key points, mentioning my background and showing how I'm relevant to the issue. The entire e-mail was about the writer and what the writer wanted, and I didn't feel like my participation was at all that I didn't matter as long as the quotes came from somewhere. It felt like a totally generic e-mail. Had the e-mail opened with a note about how the writer found my blog or a personal referral from a friend, talked a little bit about why the writer wanted my perspective, and asked a couple of questions that tapped into my interests, then I would've probably spent more time and energy answering those questions than I did writing this blog post. As it stands, it gives me the feeling of doing someone else's homework, y'know?

I like journalists a lot. I've been tapped for quick quotes before, and I've always risen to the occasion with helpful thoughts and summaries. I hate to be unhelpful, but this e-mail interview doesn't make me feel good. I have great personal stories to share about how blogging can be an incredibly good thing (I have no end of examples for that!) and how people should be encouraged to explore their entrepreneurial sides online (like my laptop ad campaign), but I don't want to be just filler, just a short line in a grab-bag of quotes.

<sigh> Is it a matter of just getting my ego stroked? I don't think it's just that. I won't say anything just for the sake of saying something. If I'm going to say something and be quoted for it, I want it to be based on personal experience. I want to be able to stand by it. I'm not going to wave my hands and generalize about entrepreneurship for teenagers, even though I think it's a terrific thing. I'd rather tell my story of taking a crazy idea and running with it, or stories like that of Gary King, who started a Web business when he was in high school and managed to talk his way into a Web 2.0 conference even though the student tickets were sold out. I don't want to say dry facts that anyone could say. I want to tell stories.

I'll give this issue some time first. If I happen to blog a story related to the questions the writer asked, then I'll send a link along. If not, well... it'll be the first time I've said no to a journalist. <sigh> Ah, those important little things.

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2. Always write to your favorite authors: 12:23

Little things can make someone smile. I wrote to the author of my new favorite statistics textbook, "Discovering Statistics with SPSS." I included the text of my blog entry about it entitled "Wow. Statistics can be fun."

Dear Sacha,

Thanks for your email and nice comments about the book: it goes without saying that it's nice to have positive feedback! I also, for the record, think it's the first time I've made it into someone's blog. So there you are, a world first!

Interesting website by the way. Good luck with your stats and thanks for taking the time to write: I appreciate it.
Best wishes,

Authors like getting mail. Write and put a smile on their face. =)

3. Developing a personal style: 14:20

Today's laundry gave me an insight into what kinds of clothes I love and would like be part of my personal style. With limited space on my clothing rack and not enough time to handwash everything, I picked out just the pieces I love wearing. The clothes that made the cut today? All of my malongs, my Thai silk pants, and a couple of nicely textured tops. Jeans, t-shirts, stretch pants, buttoned blouses: all stayed in the laundry pile for another day. And there's the fact that I'm typing this blog entry while dressed in a black sari...

I don't think I'd be happy just shopping at Gap. Or at a Vera Wang boutique, for that matter. I like clothes with stories. I can get away with my ethnic clothes now because people give students a lot of latitude when it comes to outfits. If I can figure out a way to wear clothes with character throughout my life, that would be fantastic. I may have to be semi-conservative for a while if I work with IBM, but if I can find out how to get ethnic accents into business and business casual clothes, I'll be happy. =)

If money were no object, I'd probably be more likely to bring a wallet from Sagada than one from Louis Vuitton. If I could have anything I wanted, I'd rather bring to light an obscure designer than clothe myself in Armani. I'd rather have tailored clothing than designer ready-to-wear. I'd rather wear homespun cotton than crisp pinstripes. Clothes may make the man, but I make my clothes - that is, I can make my clothes special.

All of this is academic, of course, because I have other things to spend time and money on - particularly as a grad student! <grin> But I get the sense that this is probably one of those unchanging things, and I'd like to find role models who've gotten away with it. The woman from Sonja's Garden, for example - I remember really liking her outfit.

So here's the deal: I'll keep a few business-type suits around just in case I have to wear something conservative. I'll probably use those a lot if I work at IBM, anyway. But if people want me to wear anything fancy, they should give it to me. ;)

More thoughts on this eventually...

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4. WOW!: 14:30

Kevin Aires of IBM just called me up to tell me to check my e-mail. I just might make it to the Greater IBM Connection party in New York! Woohoo!

I *really* love this company, and I really love this universe!

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5. Learning more about keeping in touch: 20:58

I picked up a package from the front desk today. My mom had sent me a box of Crane stationery, perhaps reminding me that I still owe her a handwritten letter for my birthday. I have to admit: I've been absolutely terrible at keeping in touch. I haven't talked to my barkada at home in ages, although I check LiveJournals once in a while.

I need to set aside time for this. I'm missing out on people's stories, on the cool stuff that's happening in their lives. I miss hearing about my dad's adventures and my sister's colorful goings-on. I miss listening to my mom's insights and chatting with my barkada.

I should schedule that in. It's at least as important as meeting my research supervisor regularly or hanging out with my friends here. I'd like that time to be less about me telling them stories or asking for advice and more about me listening to their stories. My mom doesn't blog, so that's the only way I'll get to hear about Ginger and Adphoto and all of these other things...

(Which reminds me - I still owe them the map thing.)

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E-mail sent

  1. E-mail to "chaya thanhauser"
  2. E-mail to Stephen Perelgut
  3. E-mail to "chaya thanhauser"
  4. E-mail to Ernest Baello III
  5. E-mail to Byron Richard Uy
  6. E-mail to Cheryl Morris
  7. E-mail to Roger Yang
  8. E-mail to Simon Rowland
  9. E-mail to Anthony D'Costa
  10. E-mail to Helen Overland
  11. E-mail to Sarah Calley
  12. E-mail to Greg Wilson
  13. E-mail to Mike Tsang
  14. E-mail to Quinn Fung
  15. E-mail to Michael McGuffin
  16. E-mail to Michael McGuffin
  17. E-mail to Michael McGuffin
  18. E-mail to Baryon Tensor Posadas
  19. E-mail to "Ronald James Panis"
  20. E-mail to Shengdong Zhao
  21. E-mail to Shiva Shahmohamed