I've lived here 15 years and never took the double decker bus. Putting it on a list of things my 7 year old son and i want to do this summer made it possible. We still have a few more things we have to get off that list, but this one is crossed out! It was really fun actually, to see the city as a tourist.
After over 8 wonderful years at Lucent Technologies, I have finally decided to move on. Over the past few months a few really terrific opportunities presented themselves to me, and I have decided to go to work for Sling Media to help start up the Sling Entertainment Group. This new group was created to design the web experience for the Clip N Sling technology that was announced at CES last December. I'm coming on as the information architect. A very talented team is putting this group together, so I'm very excited for what's to come.
I expect that I'll continue to blog about information architecture and interaction design, but the frequency and volume of my blogging is likely to diminish. I tend to write long blog entries, but can't see how I'll maintain that pattern given the change in work and lifestyle I expect. But do look for a wider array of topics to be covered, including web video.
As I've mentioned in a previous entry, I am no longer providing consulting services. On to new things!
In a week I will be leaving Alcatel-Lucent after 8 years to help start up a new web business for a tv electronics manufacturer. More on that later. This move means that I will no longer be offering consulting services.
For the time being, I'm stripping down this site, by using the white skin, removing the home page, the splashy top graphic, and all references to consulting services. Oh, and have finally upgraded to 5.x since the contributed modules I use are all up to date now. Call this phase 1. I'll most likely evolve the design of this site to use graphics and extraneous navigation a bit more minimally, and will focus on the blog again. That will be phase 2, but don't know when I'll find the time to do that.
Luckily, my new office is in Manhattan, and I'll be bike commuting most of the time, so I'll have a lot to blog over at love & sprockets, the new bike blog. Anyway, hope you enjoyed my orange phase. On to the white and gray site for the time being.
I'm a total subscriber to LowFi living when it comes to doing information work on the road and on the run. I'd long ago stopped carrying around my PDA for most jaunts around town in favor of a Hipster PDA-type organizer.
For a while I simply carried around a small Moleskin Notebook and a pen. My setup has since evolved to be extremely low-fi. I now carry around the Fischer Space Pen I got for Christmas a few years ago, a Nick(it) wallet I got for free in the goody bag from MAD Museum's Mad About Dance event, and a small stack of index cards.
Dimensions are 3 7/8" x 5 3/8". Here's the folded and closed view:
Problem is that I often take the pen out and throw it in a bag or something so I find myself on a subway train with an idea, but nothing to write with. Tina pointed to the Inka Pen, which looks perfect.
If I attach it to my keys, I'll never be without it. Sweetness.
UPDATE: There are a good deal of reviews on the Inka on Merlin's 43 Folders. Check them out before you buy. So far it's seeming to me that the Space Pen might still be better and that the Cross Ion might be a viable competitor -- fewer steps to open/use the Ion. Nice to have found some blogger reviews of the Inka before I went out and looked for it. I'll still play with it if I make it to the NYC location that carries it: Art Brown at 2 West 46th St.
Well I decided to can the last skin. The purpose of that skin was to try and create a more professional looking site. In the past year I combined studioid and urlgreyhot and was having difficulty figuring out how to organize the site. So in the last skin, I created main categories for professional and personal content. It worked I think at positioning my publications and portfolio better, though I haven't updated the portfolio in about 3 years.
The problem now is that I actually do not want to do freelance work. In the past 6 months I've been turning down about 3 freelance jobs a month. Most are small jobs, but some have been medium to large size projects. For various reasons, I just can't take on any extra work right now. So I've reverted this site to a minimal design that just puts everything out in front and doesn't try to make my professional work so prominent. The only different thing I've done with this skin is to use Dave Shea's CSS Sprites image replacement technique for the navigation bar. That has to be one of the coolest CSS ideas I've seen in a long time. I hope to get that brown palmtree skin working some time in the coming months as well if I have the time.
In any case, with the cancellation of the Miami conference and some depressing bouts with illness these past few months, I've been spending a lot of time researching a warm place for us to go real soon. We're also talking about researching warmer climates where we might be able to spend longer term stays during the winter. This is what a lot of NYC retirees do. They're called snowbirds, because they fly south, usually to Florida, for the winter. If we can afford to, I'd like to eventually find a place where we can rent initially for a month to start. Then it would be ideal to buy a small condo or something and rent it out. I'm seriously looking at San Diego. Looks like a wonderful place to be.
In any case, this site will be changing very slightly. I'm awaiting a Flickr API and hope to use the Flickr module for my photos section.
My list of 43 things to do with my life.
Wayne Dunn's article on "progressive education" in the school systems discusses the origin and obsession of school educators with socialization as the primary goal of grade school education. Dunn writes, "the socialization mongers are busily sacrificing kids' minds for the sake of society." I cannot agree more with this. After spending a good deal of time reading through the arguments over home schooling in an Internet Infidels forum -- and finding great pleasure in the articulate postings of Lisa Pea (Elisabeth Higgins) -- I find myself more and more turned off with people citing socialization as the key benefit to conventional public schooling.
Dunn provides some background information on progressive education to help readers understand why and how educators have become obsessed with using this idea as the central focus of grade school education.
The shortage of factual content in public schools is no accident. It's a consequence of a doctrine of education teachers themselves learn in the universities, called "socialization."
The socialization approach, known by the innocuous title "Progressive education," has dominated the educational establishment ever since philosopher John Dewey ushered it in early last century. According to Dewey, the purpose of school is to encourage "the child's own social activities."
"The mere absorbing of facts and truths," Dewey maintained, "is so exclusively individual an affair that it...tends toward selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for...mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat."
Imagine if Galileo had spurned the "mere" truths of astronomy in order to bow to his era's social standard, Church dogma.
I'm glad to finally know where this "socialization" idea as it refers to education comes from because it gets thrown around liberaly by people who argue that home schoolers will fail to benefit from the great socialization lessons learned in school. It's difficult to avoid the "What about socialization" question when you talk to someone about homeschooling. But, being people who favor ideas that are viewed as fringe, such as home schooling and even attachment parenting, we're used to these types of questions. The people who ask them, on the other hand, have read very little about what they question and, it appears, have thought just as little about the issues as well. Martha Ransom provides an interesting response to people who ask the question, "What about socialization?"
Oh, I think the word you are looking for is socializing. Socialization is actually defined as the process by which the norms and standards of our society are passed from one generation to the next. I've never really thought that a complete strangers six-year old child would be a good source of information on the correct standards of behavior in our family and in society as a whole.
Harsh! Not what I would choose to say. In general, I think, people refer to socialization as the process of learning to engage in social activities. Socializing is quite precise, but people refer to socialization as if it were meant to convey some different meaning. In the final analysis, I take the meaning of socialization to be teaching children for 12 or so years to conform rather than to be individuals.
Groups of people who riff on the socialization and education aspect of Dewey summon the "S word" in arguments about home schooling, calling it the key benefit of school and one of the main reasons why home schooling is a bad idea. Socialization is the most important aspect of education? Wow. I agree with those people who thought that learning would be the most important aspect of education. To prounounce the importance of only one aspect of childhood development, very often misses the fact that the imparting of knowledge to students is as important if not more important than learning to be socially adept. Why is it so difficult to try to take a holistic view of education and not deem one approach to learning as right and another wrong?
In the Internet Infidels thread, a few people have actually claimed to prefer to be socially adept and stupid than to be smart and socially inept. Wow! I find that sad. I personally don't see why one can't become both, especially as someone who lives in a busy and culturally diverse city that offers social opportunities every time we walk out our apartment door. But besides the fact that I refuse to generalize here about what works best for whom, I know that what some kids learn from school socializing is how to be treated like a social outcast, how to deal with cliques (avoiding them or trying to join them), and how to supress individuality to become more accepted. Some kids learn how to overpower others and use power to be cruel. Some kids experience this. Other kids escape unscathed and are able to survive the social life of school.
The thing that I find particularly irksome is that when people talk to you about school and you mention your interest in home schooling, without knowing your child and his needs, they are very often quick to try and pursuade you away from it because of this socialization issue. It's truly amazing, the amount of unsolicited advice you begin to get when you become a parent. Such generalizations with an ignorance to individual needs don't interest me, but a well-rounded education on my part of what our options are does. With every piece of literature or email discussion that I read that informs my growing capability to parent, I become more and more equipped to debate in public the ideas we are forming and the decisions we are trying to make to support our child without conforming to conventional practice.
(Thanks, Daryl Cobranchi for the link.)
We returned to a soggy evening at JFK after a week of sun and some rain in Jamaica. Even with occassional showers the trip was still worth it. I'll forever have burned into my memory the image of Lorenzo walking on the tarmac swinging his arms wildly. This happy strut, which he does from time to time continues to make me smile. Some highlights, besides having a lot of time to be together: swimming with Lorenzo in the sea, feeding Sergeant major fish with Lorenzo and Robin while wading near a coral reef close to shore (I got some video of them eating out of our hands), snorkeling with a local who brought me down to get a close look at lobsters.
I totally agree with Deane's thoughts in Do Yourself a Favor and Stop Learning. Maybe that's why I decided to stop reading/blogging so much on iaslash. I just wanted to start doing more CSS and eventually get to starting to do more PHP, e.g. to create my own Drupal modules. Of course, for me there would be a small bit of learning involved in actually doing CSS and coding PHP, but the goal for me is to focus on those things that live on firmer ground (CSS, PHP) and to stop chasing around those more elusive subjects (user experience research, knowledge representation). I've already invested some time into both of these areas, so the idea is to stay within those technologies rather than looking for/chasing all the next best things that are around. This is what a lot of the Perl programmers I know are like. They do one language extremely well (although they can also use others, e.g. C++, Java, Tcl) and can solve most problems with that language because of their proficiency with it. That's where I want to go.
In my life in the real world I'm actually spending more time making things right now (crafts, making pictures) than reading/researching. Strange. This somehow reminds me of the summer when I worked on an archaeological dig doing the actual digging and washing of finds. I found that so much more satisfying I think -- the tactile and physical work -- than the intellectual work I do now. I wonder what that says about me? To a large extent I think I engage in intellectual pursuits to satisfy needs that are important to others besides myself -- parents, society, peers. And that's just not the way I want to live. So now to stop writing and start doing.
I was sitting at the StarBucks on 7th Avenue at 4:10pm on Thursday when the lights went out. It was wierd to be in a blackout in New York. A few of us kept working on our laptops on battery power before we walked out and realized the power outage was not just local to the coffee shop. Walking down 7th Ave. was wierd with all the people hanging around on the streets. But, when I found out that the blackout was widely affecting the North East, I started trying to locate R and L. With wife and son (R and L) found, and emergency supplies purchased, we began to make the most of the evening staying in the house as we heard the streams of people and cars making their way up Flatbush Avenue outside.
Entertaining L was the biggest challenge of the night, but we found a lot to keep him busy. Above, he's playing by booklight with his Bob the Builder cookies. He talks about them rather than eating them.
R was also smart enough to buy some craft supplies for us to play with. We made little pipe cleaner insects and played with all the pom poms. The glitter glue was a big hit. The glitter has found its way onto L's face everyday since we got it, making him look like he's ready to got out to a disco.
But the best idea of the night was R's shadow puppets and animal sillhouettes. Against candles and her booklight, they had fun casting the shadows of make believe animals. We later watched the shadows of L's plastic animals walk across the room as I moved the book light behind them. It was really sort of magical. All in all, the blackout was actually one of the most fun evenings we've spent in the house. Who needs electricity?