Another family vacation is coming up, which for me means thinking once more about the pre-nostalgia of family photos. While blog posts are ostensibly for visitors, the audience I care more about is actually future me.
Just before a 2013 trip, I wrote “Nostalgia Comes Early,” a post about memories and why I go to the trouble to share these posts — as much with my future self as with readers (I continued this thought later with Recovering the Past Through Photos).
Every successive family trip creates a magnitude more data than the one preceding it. I have exactly 10 photos from the first time I visited Walt Disney World, with my then-fiancée in 2001. I have only fuzzy memories of the trip. A year or so later I returned back to Florida (Key West this time) for a honeymoon with her, a trip that has zero photos. I remember maybe a half dozen things we did but few locales visited.
Contrast this with a 2013 Disney World trip, for which we made a whole blog, A Special WDW Family. The focus was traveling Disney with autistic kids. There’s a lot of information in there. We wrote about meals and rides, small victories, and child meltdowns. The bandwidth of memories isn’t just in the number of jpeg files but in the distinct memories I have of the events of that week-plus.
We took many hundreds of photos over our most recent family vacation in December 2015, only a small fraction of which went online. In addition, I have Google Location data for the trip and Foursquare checkins logged in Evernote. I know how many steps I took each day. I know whether I had a good sleep. We didn’t make a public blog but we have a long annotate log of each restaurant and stop, with annotation tips to remind our future selves about how we could do things better in the future. The metadata is in itself not so important, but it’s useful to be able to drop into a day and remember what we did and see the smiles (and tiredness) on faces each day.
I was in early high school when I got my first alarm clock radio. My parents were a bit older when I was born, so the LPs in the back of our hall closet were a generation-and-a-half out-of date: I remember mostly musical soundtracks like South Pacific and West Side Story. My older brother had brought the Beatles into our house but he had moved away for college and adulthood years before and the only trace of his musical influence was a Simon & Garfunkel greatest hits 8-track tape my mom had bought for a penny from the Time-Life record club.
In my bedroom late at night in the early 80s, I explored the sounds inside my new radio. I would bury myself underneath my Star Trek sheets, pull the radio inside, and listen with volume barely perceptible. Three was no real reason for the secrecy. I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have particularly cared. But I was a private kid. I didn’t want to let on that I was curious about the adult world. Pop radio and MASH reruns were my secret.
I had had a shortwave radio in middle school and brought the thrill of long-distance discovery to my radio explorations. Geography and sound had more mystery in those days before the internet. On a cold, clear night, I could tune in AM powerhouses half a continent away.
One particularly cold night, one of these distant signals played a song I had never heard or even imagined. It was half-drowned out by static. The signal drifted in and out in waves but I listened mesmerized. To a introverted kid in a sleep Philly suburb, this song was a key to a yearned-for future. I was instantly certain that that no one around me had ever heard this song. If only I could make out some words, maybe I could spend the next year scanning the distant radio bands to hear it again. As I got older, I could go into the city to scour bins in the seediest of indie record stores. This song no one knew would be a touchstones to a new adulthood I was constructing in the secret of my bedroom.
As the fade came, I barely caught the DJ’s words through the static. “Hotel California.” I vowed to myself that someday, somehow, I would find this song and hear it again.
RIP Glenn Frey.
I’m part of a discussion at the Pendle Hill conference center outside Philadelphia next month. Everyone’s invited. It’s a rare chance to really bring a lot of different readers and media producers (official and DIY) together into the same room to map out where Quaker media is headed. If you’re a passionate reader or think that Quaker publications are vital to our spiritual movement, then do try to make it out.
Youtube, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, books. Where’s it all going and who’s doing it? How does it tie back to Quakerism? What does it mean for Friends and our institutions? Join panelists Charles Martin, Gabriel Ehri and Martin Kelley, along with Quaker publishers and writers from around the world, and readers and media enthusiasts, for a wide-ranging discussion about the future of Quaker media.
We will begin with some worship at 7.00pm If you’d like a delicious Pendle Hill dinner beforehand please reply to the Facebook event wall (see http://on.fb.me/quakermedia). Dinner is at 6.00pm and will cost $12.50
This is part of this year’s Quakers Uniting in Publications conference. QUIP has been having to re-imagine its role over the last ten years as so many of its anchor publishers and bookstores have closed. I have a big concern that a lot of online Quaker material is being produced by non-Quakers and/or in ways that aren’t really rooted in typical Quaker processes. Maybe we can talk about that some at Pendle Hill.
These ‘public conversations with today’s boldest voices’ are the brainchild of San Francisco, California-based activist journalist Anne-christine d’Adesky. She’s traveling the world interviewing policy makers and on-the-ground organizers on issues of global health and AIDS. The site uses Google Video and Movable Type to create an online video magazine.
Visit: Talktothefuture.org and Acdadesky.org
I’ve been quiet on the blogs lately, focusing on job searches rather than ranting. I thought I’d take a little time off to talk about my little corner of the career market. I’ve been applying for a lot of web design and editing jobs but the most interesting ones have combined these together in creative ways. My qualifications for these jobs are more the independent sites I’ve put together — notably QuakerQuaker.org—than my paid work for Friends.
For example: one interesting job gets reposted every few weeks on Craigslist. It’s geared toward adding next-generation interactive content to the website of a consortium of suburban newspapers (applicants are asked to be “comfortable with terms like blog, vlog, CSS, YourHub, MySpace, YouTube…,” etc.). The qualifications and vision are right up my alley but I’m still waiting to hear anything about the application I sent by email and snail mail a week ago. Despite this, they’re continuing to post revised descriptions to Craigslist. Yesterday’s version dropped the “convergence” lingo and also dropped the projected salary by about ten grand.
About two months ago I actually got through to an interview for a fabulous job that consisted of putting together a blogging community site to feature the lesser-known and quirky businesses of Philadelphia. I had a great interview, thought I had a good chance at the job and then heard nothing. Days turned to weeks as my follow-up communications went unanswered. 11/30 Update: a friend just guessed the group I was talking about and emailed that the site did launch, just quietly. It looks good.
Corporate blogging is said to be the wave of the future and in only a few years political campaigns have come to consider bloggers as an essential tool in getting their message out. User-generated content has become essential feedback and publicity mechanisms. My experience from the Quaker world is that bloggers are constituting a new kind of leadership, one that’s both more outgoing but also thoughtful and visionary (I should post about this sometime soon). Blogs encourage openness and transparency and will surely affect organizational politics more and more in the near future. Smart companies and nonprofits that want to grow in size and influence will have to learn to play well with blogs.
But the future is little succor to the present. In the Philadelphia metropolitan area it seems that the rare employer that’s thinking in these terms have have a lot of back and forths trying to work out the job description. Well, I only need one enlightened employer! It’s time now to put the boys to bed, then check the job boards again. Keep us in your prayers.