synthetic zero

December 19th, 2008

Email is for old people, they say; younger people have moved on to IM, Facebook/Myspace, and text messaging as their preferred means of communication.  Though I certainly fit into the “old” category (my peers are probably the oldest people to have grown up with personal computers at home), and I still use email (mostly for work, which I suspect most of these “young people” will end up using for that purpose as well, later), I also have moved on to IM and Facebook (though not text messaging — which is a total ripoff cost-wise, in my opinion) for most of my social interaction.  A lot of my age-peers, though, haven’t, which is quite annoying … but there’s an even worse communications tool, this thing people call a “phone.” I try to avoid it as much as possible but I find is it still used, often by people even older than me.

Phones, from my point of view, are useful for coordinating with people you’re trying to meet with for a concert or dinner or something, emergencies, and maybe ordering pizza (though even that is being replaced by the web).  Beyond that, they’re annoying devices: when someone calls you have to either take the call or let it go to voicemail.  You then have to pick up your message, which involves listening to it and then somehow writing down the information in the message, which is often inconvenient.  Etc., etc.  I have gotten to the point where I tell people: I much prefer email or IM as a means of communication; if you call me don’t expect to get a call back quickly, if at all… and please don’t call me if you can at all avoid it.

On the other hand, I’ve also noticed a generation gap with people vis a vis email vs IM.  I’m a very IM-oriented person, and have been for a very long time — been using it from the ancient days of ICQ.  In fact, my friend Doug Cutrell and I once designed an IM service long ago, before it had been invented — we decided not to implement it because we thought it was “too obvious”… ha.  I like IM because it combines the back-and-forth quality of a conversation with the asynchronous nature of email.  But, I’ve found some people (often my age) either prefer email or don’t even use IM at all… it’s definitely a culture gap.  I’ve used IM as my primary means of communication for a long time, and I use it also for work, quite a bit; I was surprised when I got to Google (a job I have recently left, by the way — I’ll write about that another time) and found they still communicate primarily with email… a little behind the times!

ps Armi Chan reminded me that hearing someone’s voice can be nice.  That’s true — I like to hear AND see people, sometimes … for that I prefer using something like Skype video chat.  But then it makes sense to start on text IM, and transition to Skype video later…

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December 16th, 2008

Check out the first episode of the new mini-series Vibrant Futures, by my friend Lea Cetera of Imagination Explosion, and Robin Schavoir.  I have a brief cameo role as the closeup version of “Spirit Bear”, in a later episode…  In their words: “Vibrant Futures is a mini-series about a community of anarchist tree-dwelling hippies living in giant redwoods that experience a rebirth of consciousness. Originally written and conceived as a five hour long film, it has been subdivided into a series of open-ended episodes being produced and released in consecutive order.”

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December 3rd, 2008

Went to my home state of California, and my home city of Los Angeles, for Thanksgiving, as usual, and it was warm, sunny, casual, and … plain, which is actually what I like about it. One thing that always seems far more exciting, however, in Los Angeles, is seeing movies … people are more excited in the theaters, there’s more of a sense of something happening; perhaps it’s because the movie industry is headquartered in LA, but people act almost as though the makers of the film are there in the audience, watching the film with them (and some of them may well be, in fact.)

I saw a movie at the Landmark Theater, for example, in West LA.  It’s a “premium” theater, charging $12 for a ticket, which is actually pretty much the price of an ordinary ticket in Manhattan. For this you get assigned seating, ushers, a little speech before the film by one of the ushers, a guy in the bathroom making sure the towels don’t run out, etc. All slightly tongue-in-cheek (unlike New York, which takes its luxury accoutrements seriously, to the point of absurdity, in Los Angeles, people play with luxury as though it is a game … which is, of course, what it is…)  Moviegoers are drinking POM and having lattes in their super comfortable seats.  The picture is very much in your face, low to the ground (giving it a more visceral, present feel, more like theater, rather than this screen you’re craning your neck to see, project high above everyone’s heads), it’s in focus, and the sound system is expertly calibrated for the room. All in all, a fun, engaging, irreverent, and strangely joyful community experience. It’s too bad the rest of the country, and the world, don’t experience going to the movies the way people in city that makes the movies experience it…

Later, we went to Sacramento to see my aunt Mariko Yamada (my mom’s youngest sister) get sworn in to the California State Assembly (!) She was just elected, even though she started as the underdog in the primary race in her home town of Davis, California. Congratulations, auntie!

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