Monthly Archives: October 2009

Autumn in Amsterdam

Autumn Colors 001

Autumn Colors 005

While walking in Amsterdam Oude West today, I came across colorful leaves and a curious cat.

Autumn Colors 007

Autumn Colors 008

The Angst of Creative Dreams

creative angst

“It’s time to accept that there’s never going to be a perfect sea of endless days when i can write. I will always have other stuff to do. So if that’s the case, then i may as well just get on with it. I don’t want to be one of those people who talks about the book and never actually writes it. It’s time to face up to what’s really going on here – blatant fear of failure. Why do our creative dreams cause us so much angst? – and just start somewhere. Even if i do feel like my days are already full-to-bursting, I can still eek out some time. No more talk; it’s time to put my pen where my mouth is.”

(via inkonmyfingers)

Despite the fact that I actually write a lot — for work, research projects, on my blog, World Pulse, and a dozen other places — sometimes it never feels like it amounts to anything substantial. I have never published a book, although printing my MA thesis did feel like quite the accomplishment. All the research I do for clients is ‘protected’ under NDAs, never to see the light beyond internal boardrooms. Yet, as much as I relate to this observation, I can’t help but think perhaps we’re too hard on ourselves.

A recent article in Seed Magazine describes The Writing Revolution in which we all are now authors. Although their definition of an ‘author’ (someone who has written anything, whether a blog post or Tweet, that has been read by more than 100 people) needs some reworking, the point is that technological changes have enabled us to move from Consumers to Creators. The Seed article is reminiscent of the article We Are All Writers Now. With so many writers and authors running around these days, it’s hard for those of us who consider it our profession to not feel a rising possibility of failure. The quote is spot on with its conclusion. What other solution is there than confronting the creative angst and just getting on with writing?

Polderlicht

polderlicht

Light art, sound art, video installations, and performances this weekend in Amsterdam Oost! The fifth and final year of Polderlicht.

An Original of the Clumsy Copy

dreamspots

The horrible ‘here’, the dark dungeon, in which a relentlessly howling heart is encarcerated, this ‘here’ holds and constricts me. But what gleams shine through at night, and what—. It exists, my dream world, it must exist, since, surely there must be an original of the clumsy copy. Dreamy, round, and blue, it turns slowly toward me. It is as if you are lying supine, with eyes closed, on an overcast day, and suddenly the gloom stirs under your eyelids, and slowly becomes first a langorous smile, then a warm feeling of contentment, and you know that the sun has come out from behind the clouds. With just such a feeling my world begins: the misty air gradually clears, and it is suffused with such radiant, tremulous kindness, and my soul expanses so freely in its native realm. —But then what, then what?

Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir Nabokov

Fifty People, One Question

Fifty People, One Question is a project by Crush + Lovely who film the answers of 50 people in one place, answering one question. A small peek into the lives and wishes of some people on the street. The question asked in Brooklyn: Where would you like to wake up tomorrow?

Encounter with a Snake

Yesterday I was woken at 5:03 by the shrill sound of my phone. My fingers instinctively pressed ‘Silence’, but then I started to wonder why my sister would call so early. Only if something was wrong, of course.

My brother Elliott is in Indonesia working with the local Marines on humanitarian missions to distribute medical supplies, food, and water. While they were in the middle of the jungle in Java, they had an incident when a presumed-dead cobra suddenly came to life:

“We were in the jungle on the island of Java in Indonesia and we were doing a jungle survival course. We were catching and eating snakes and making dinner using plants, berries, fruits, and roots from plants around the area. It is a big deal in lots of Southeast Asian countries to drink cobra blood. They wanted me to help cut the throat and bleed it into a cup. They don’t cut all the way through the head because then you get venom on the meat and in the blood. The Indonesian Marine lifted the snake’s head up while I was holding the cup. But the snake was still alive and, as soon as he saw me, shot venom into my eyes from a foot away.”

A quick life-flight ride landed him in Bali, but not after the locals sacrificed the snake and offered the beating heart to my brother.  The venom entered his bloodstream and caused his vision to go out, which caused quite a scare. Although his eyesight is still not 20/20, I can pronounce this story as awesome since he is on the mend. Stay away from snakes Elliott…

A Gathering of Women

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Earlier this year, I became involved in the project Voices of Our Future with the organization World Pulse Media to help train women around the world to use social media as a tool for social change. A group of 31 women participated in an online training course in citizen journalism and I was honored to work with six of them as an Editorial Midwife, helping them research, write, and present their voices to a growing community.

The women I mentored came from Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Alaska, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. Over the months, our friendship grew and I learned what citizen journalism is really about as they wrote about life in their communities and they issues they face: female genital mutilation, access to information, youth suicide, social inequality, and other subjects. Many of these women struggle to sound their voice in the face of oppressive regimes or smothering patriarchs, but they are determined not to be silenced.

On Sunday, the women submitted their final articles and I was awed by the transformation that had taken place in the period of a few months. These women are emerging writers that are eager to share their experiences of life, their communities, and their struggles and successes as women in the world. I hope you’re listening.

Thou Shall Not

thou shall

I spotted this photo in my blog roll, blithely attributed to Ryan Paonessa. Ryan! One of my favorite perks of my job is that I get to work with a cool bunch of researchers around the world. Ryan pitched in on a year-long research project I headed up last year as our voice from Brooklyn. Not only is he taking great pics like this, but he’s also keeping a mobile photolog, OurMoFoto, with his girlfriend Morgan.

A Collaborative Year

one year

the3six5 project. 365 days. 365 individual voices writing a collaborative diary to chronicle the year of 2010.

I just received word that I am on board for the project initiated by Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman. On May 28, I will write a 250 word entry about my experiences throughout the day. One day. One person. There are a few famous writers, comedians, TED speakers, etc. in the mix, but for the most part the journal will be crowdsourced by people who just want to write and participate.

A published book is planned, depending on the amount of funding raised. Make a donation at Kickstarter.

Ink on Their Fingers

state of play

Looking for a nice Hollywood fix a few weekends ago, I watched State of Play and enjoyed seeing a familiar subject come up in the plot line: the dichotomy between online and print journalism. At the beginning of the film, the seasoned reporter (Russell Crowe) is introduced to the reporter in charge of the newspaper’s blog. A young woman who is capable and eager, but doesn’t have the personal connections and experience of Crowe. And she never has a pen on hand. The plot thickens thanks to their investigative reporting that does not involve scouring the internet. Along the way, the eyes of the blogger are opened to see that ‘real reporting’ is about all the ‘offline’ work. As they are about the send their big story to print, Crowe asks his learning blogger if she’s sorry it’s not breaking online. She responds, “I figure when people read a story like this, they should get some ink on their fingers.”

While a big proponent of sustaining journalism in all its forms, I think many of the discussions around the death of print journalism miss the point precisely because they put online and print in two opposing corners. Perhaps State of Play is an extreme example, but it’s not alone. Online and print are not mutually exclusive, but obviously complement each other on many levels. Online content isn’t driving print to its death, but it does reflect changing habits of media consumption. Today content is more dynamic, coming to us non-stop from a vast array of sources. Rather than relying on one media source, we are now the creators of our own information circuit. Sure, the staggering loss of revenue in the newspaper industry is very real. But I believe this changing media landscape is prompting print to undergo an evolution, as it takes a cue from online content. And I hope that it, in turn, revitalizes some of the elements that give print so much value.

Domino Effect

Cute animation for the World Wildlife Fund by Wyld Stallyons.

Lolita Cover Contest

winning_cover

On his blog Venus febriculosa, John Bertram challenged designers to design a cover for Vladimir Nabokov’s masterpiece Lolita.

The winning design by Lyuba Haleva of Bulgaria was announced yesterday.

“What I really love about Lyuba Haleva’s cover is that it really gets at the poetry of the novel. Humbert is transported by Lolita, so the wings are an intriguing choice. Whether they represent Lolita and Annabel Leigh or Lolita the fantasy and Lolita the real person I have no idea…Somehow it all feels right to me and very inspired, and although the typeface is anachronistic and suggests to me a classic European novel, it seems to work.”

— John Bertram (via The Bygone Bureau)

Deutschkurs fängt an

Wiesnplakat

Und natürlich studieren wir über Oktoberfest. Hier sind einige schöne Wiesenplakat.