Technology: Your Work Becomes a Document

In 1996, having recently completed a fermentation program in Davis (CA), I moved to San Francisco to brew beer.

Everyday, I put on rubber boots, gloves, and a protective, industrial version of a farmer’s overalls.   The work I did with my colleagues ended up in either kegs or bottles.  Packaging beer is an explosive, messy process.  Bottles would break, sending glass and beer around the room.  Kegs became geysers.

But at the end of the day, our work had physical presence.  We would move the cases and kegs into a truck, knowing that within days and weeks, our work would be in the bellies of people all over California.

But in the digital world, I feel like everything I do ends up in a document.

Additionally, my work sometimes seems shaped by the constraints of the document.

Powerpoint? Ok, I’ll create slides to create an emotional impact (making sure not to just put up bullet points with no images).

Excel?  Ok, I’ll show the relationship between everything.

Word? Not a problem – we’ll create a table of content and you’ll see what a great writer I am.

I wonder what my work would become if I didn’t have to design its embodiment by reverse engineering from the document options.

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Your MySpace Page & The Fame You Await

So, I checked out your music on MySpace.

You probably get really excited to see all the additional plays you get when people stumble on your page because of all the ways you have cleverly marketed yourself.

But you know what?

I moved on.

There are so many of you. Thousands? Millions?

And even the good ones are only worth checking out for a few minutes.

And the best ones? Well, I’ll listen to their music a few times.

If I really like you, well I might stream you on Rhapsody. That’ll get you a few pennies every month. But then I’ll probably blend you into the 600 other musicians I consider genius and when the musical honeymoon period wears off, you’ll fade into the background.

You’ll have to work hard to find another new fan to make up for the ones that are getting distracted and moving on.

After I first discover your MySpace page, I’ll move on to another deliciously short-lived entertainment fling: it might be a YouTube video, I might go to Facebook and see what all the hot women I went to college with are up to, or I might just navigate Wikipedia for 25 minutes.

I’ll probably start on a page about someone like Parker Posey, then 15 minutes and four clicks later find myself on a page about Service-Oriented Architecture.

I won’t really be sure how I got to this page from the one about Parker, but I did.

I’ll explore my Technorati Profile for awhile.

And with so many options in front of me, I keep clicking and moving on to a new experience in a seemingly infinite world of options that reduce the best and most talented to a short-lived moment, like a kiss on the cheek: it was nice but there is no looking back as long as there is a world of more in front of me.

And the sad thing is that you so believe in your talent that you are waiting for fame. But you know what? Fame was something that came to musicians when the world of options was far less infinite, when everything wasn’t free and ready to jump out of thin air and into your computer’s speakers.

Fame was something that happened in a time when things would come and stick to you for years because it’d cost you $15 / album to move on to something else.

We are in the age of the entertainment fling.

Internet Access When You’re Traveling

I’m staying at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago for the Adobe MAX convention, where I am speaking on RIA and search.

There are hundreds of us geeks in this 30 story building.

How dismayed I was when I got to my room to discover that the hotel charges $10 / day for Internet access.

So that’s $30 for my three days here.

That’s bullshit.

I think that Internet access should be a free utility for traveling professionals. Asking someone to pay extra for something they consider a necessity makes you an opportunistic, whereas the role of the host is to create the illusion of gracious enabler.

And to add insult to injury, to charge such a high fee is an echoing bitch slap.

I was having dinner with a few Flex developers tonight and they bitched about the same thing.

I told them my solution:

“From now on, I am always going to travel with a wireless router, and if I have to pay for access, I’m going to give it away for free as a big FUCK YOU to the hotel. I’ll give my SSID a name like “FuckTheHyatt_FreeWebGuy”.

I’m going to start doing this, and I’d love to see a movement here.

Imagine a website that, like a GPS system, shows where you are in relation to FreeWebGuy hosts who are paying some fuckhead $10/month so many others can not pay.