The kid is back in school (yes!!) and summer is just about to close the door, so I’m just dropping in with a little gratitude before the fall.
1) Terence Nance’s Random Acts of Flyness on HBO is SO BLACK and gorgeous and genius and one of the best things I’ve ever seen anywhere ever. If you are a fan of the strange and beautiful you will love it too.
2) Claws Season 2 just finished on TNT. Now Claws is trash but it is high trash made by people who know how to make trashy tv. It is overly violent and squishy and campy and everyone is a little bit to a lot queer. So highly enjoyable.
3) Late summer has looked a lot like this, except also with laughing friends and kids racing around and wine glasses.
4) Summer never fails to serve JAMS. Here are some of my favorite of the season.
As for Nick, he is bringing the queer disco house glitter and black boy joyousness but not shying away from the pain and also making it weird and liberated with those gorgeous and larger than life sound suits. I highly recommend going to see it before it closes.
2) Mina and Bryte on NTS Live
I’ve made no secret of my love for NTS Radio. The amount of sheer spiritual energy they broadcast to me is immeasurable, and this episode is no exception. Mina is a talented producer and Bryte is a wicked new MC out of Ghana that got me swelling with pride.
This whole episode is excellent summer hiphop, reggae and Afrobeat vibes.
In this sea of bad political news and even worse neoliberal & “progressive” responses to that news, I’m holding tight to social ecology and municipalism. Last year, the incredible Barcelona en Comú municipalist government hosted likeminded folks from around the world at the first ever Fearless Cities conference to explore how we can build this movement. They tasked everyone to go back home and hold a regional summit. This year the American one will be held in NYC.
I sadly have to miss it but I’m in touch with organizers and a lot of my beloved comrades will be there. Lots is and will be cooking in this space. Join us to find out how we can build power by embracing the small and local.
Believe it or not, I only just sat down and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack this month. It is so adorable and catchy! Lin-Manuel Miranda kept reiterating in interviews that the soundtrack is the whole show but it only clicked for me when I heard him say it again in this chat with Damien Chazelle, Donald Glover, and Issa Rae.
I bingewatched season 1 of Chewing Gum and I am officially obsessed with Michaela Coel. Issa Rae is cute and all, but I am LIVING for Michaela Coel right now. She is my cool younger cousin in my head and since her family is also from Ghana, I am hoping it turns out that we are somehow related. Not likely, but I can dream. Oh, also no Season 2 spoilers please.
The Women’s March was controversial and problematic (this interview really resonated with me) but it still felt huge and important and I was glad that I went. This is a sociopolitical moment I have been waiting for, and if it were anything less than messy then we’d surely be doing it wrong.
So towards the beginning of this year, a colleague of mine walked into the office and announced that he’d quit both Facebook and Twitter. The decision immediately struck me as drastic, but as time moved on I too became increasingly irritated with looking at the unsolicited family photos and reading the asinine political opinions of nearly-forgotten high school acquaintances and random people I’d happened to have had a friendly chat once at a wedding rehearsal dinner.
Younger, more tech savvy people advised me to create filters in Facebook but as I went to do that, I weighed out the time it would take to make those filters against the actual joy I think I would ever get out of using Facebook and decided just to stop using it.
Months passed and I began to feel similar rumblings towards Twitter. Upsetting shit kept happening in the world and reading the opinions of the great unwashed masses was starting to dampen my mood and make me cynical. I thought to dump Twitter and discussed it with a friend who reminded me that there was still some business value there if I could put in some structure, prune my follows, create lists — basically not let it get as far gone as I’d allowed things to get in Facebook. So I took that advice to heart and began making it more manageable for myself. Here is what I did:
I Deleted the Twitter App from My Phone
I was recently on vacation and midway through I realized I was using Twitter as my main source of news. Forget about major world events, according to Twitter a Taylor Swift beef was really what demanded my attention before I even brushed my teeth. It was ridiculous. I found that when I deleted the damned app from my phone not only did I not go to it for news but I felt less inclined to tweet out knee-jerk responses. Using it on the mobile web browser is not a fun experience so I tend to only tweet when I am at a laptop and when I am at a laptop I usually have more important stuff to do than sit on Tweetdeck.
I Stopped Responding to Randos I Disagreed With on the Internet
I know some people kinda have no choice or that engagement is part of their brand, but talking to people I don’t know about things I don’t agree with them about is not my idea of a good time. I’ve received a fair bit of cyber bullying in the past and I would never victim blame, but I find that making Twitter bearable for me means trying to only tweet things in agreement with people I already like and leaving the other people alone.
I Stopped Looking at Trending Topics
Madness lies that way. I just don’t want to know what the majority of Twitter thinks is popular and I don’t think it’s a nice way to find out that a celebrity you liked died or did something heinous.
I Stopped Clicking Hashtags
If a certain term seems to continuously reappear in my timeline, I will look it up in Google News. I’ve just clicked on enough hashtags at this point to realize that it can just be an abyss. And we all know what Nietzsche says about the abyss, right?
I Participated in More Structured/Safe Online Communities
As a person that has been a “net native” since pre-AOL days, I know there are always warm and welcoming places on the web and I continue to seek them out. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to many wonderful Slack groups with nice people who treat each other respect. I also (snicker if you want) still maintain a Livejournal where I follow (and am followed by) an intimate group of people, many of whom are my friends IRL. I also maintain a private Instagram where I can share and follow images of people doing happy things with people they love and respect.
I hope that this list has been helpful and helps you to find a healthy medium for yourself, since the digital options are dizzying and can get dangerously habit-forming and mood altering (to say the least!). I’m a big girl. I don’t need every minute to be a “kumbaya moment” and I know no place (online or in fleshspace) is perfect, but life is too short to spend time in places that are unpleasant because you think that one day there will be some sort of pay-off (I kinda wrote about that here). So whenever possible, I see what I can do to make a situation work for me, but when I can’t it’s important to remember that the welcome mat is always laid out for me elsewhere in the nets.
Every time I see my good friend Sumana, we try catch up on books we are reading and other things that we have been excited about since last we met. I mentioned a book that I thought she really ought to read and she said, “Hey, why don’t you blog about it?” And I was reminded that I hadn’t blogged in a while. SO here is a roundup of things I’ve been reading, watching, listening to as of late. Kinda for you….but mostly for Sumana. 🙂
Growth Hacker Marketingby Ryan Holiday — The whole “growth hacking” thing is annoying to me too but hey I work at a startup and I need to know this stuff. The people I work for ain’t about that growth hacking life, but the book did give me a lot to think about in terms of getting creative when your drive is big but your budget is small.
Do It! Marketing by David Newman — Well written book with lots of actionable ideas although it does get repetitive in places. I’d recommend it to others in the B2B space but recommend it even more to people running their own small business or personal consultancy. I did bristle at the one mention of Donald Trump but hey it was written well before he become an unfortunate part of our daily news cycle.
I Love You More Than My Dog by Jeanne Bliss — This book is less of a how-to and more a series of brief case studies on what others have done. That said, if you read it with your current processes in mind, you can start to look at places where your approach might be more fine-tuned or personalized. As the main “customer-facing person” at my org, I am acutely aware of how important interactions with our support desk are for customer retention and overall perception of our brand. Users who reach out to us and have a good experience are users who stay on and refer us to others. While not everyone can be Tony Hsieh (of Zappos) or the folks over at Trader Joes (especially if you are working in B2B), beginning to run more company and product questions through the “customer love filter” can help you make decisions that will keep your business growing.
This episode of the Track Changes podcast on the topic of NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) was surprisingly riveting. I have a lifelong, unwavering passion for the clean lines and unprejudiced sterility of tedious paperwork and I’ve issued, scanned, and signed a great number of NDAs in my days, but I appreciated this humorous takedown of the whole practice. Paul and Rich are fast becoming the Jerry and George of the tech industry and I love it!
I can’t stop listening to Along the Coast by Azaelia Banks and Long Live the Chief by Jidenna. Summer? Jammed!
Episode 4, Season 3 of Bojack Horseman on Netflix is a work of pure art. Stop what you are doing and watch it. You don’t have to watch any of the episodes that preceded it or any after. Just watch that one.
Joshua Kerievsky’s talk on Modern Agile from the Agile2016 conference is a revelation. I am not a person who really cares a whole heap about agile stuff, but I found his talk engaging from start to finish. I was particularly moved by his emphasis on psychological safety in the workplace, and think it dovetails very well with a lot of the dialogue around fostering diversity in tech and moving beyond the pipeline. Curious to see how/if other orgs implement this.
What have YOU been watching? Reading? Listening to?