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Posts Tagged ‘Gaping Void’

I’ve just hooked myself up with a new RSS Reader. If you don’t know what an RSS Reader is, you can read this article I wrote a long time ago that might give you some basic insight into what a ‘Rich site summary’ or ‘really simple syndication’ is: ‘RSS is a Life Raft, Saving Us from a Sea of Useless Information’.

I don’t think anyone really knows which of these definitions the ‘right’ one is, but they both seem to fit well. To put it ‘really simply’, RSS is having a desktop program that (once your sites are chosen) automatically brings you the latest writings from bloggers, News sites etc. via feeds … What’s a feed? It’s a stream of information coming from a chosen site that will hopefully ‘feed’ your mind and make you more knowledgeable, and a wise human being. Hmmm. Well, that’s debatable – as one can subscribe to feeds from just about any blog or website. For example, if I want to get the new Garfield comic delivered straight to my ‘mailbox’ (They are a lot like an email system, and some are even integrated/configured together with your normal personal email), every time one is published – Bang! It’s there. The question is whether or not Garfield will feed my hunger for wisdom … I think the greater probability lies in that he will feed his fat gut with lasagne, while my mind stagnates and rots in its own slimy green ooze.

In my previous city of residence I used to work at an Internet company who was working on an RSS Reader. Subsequently I got to use the beta version and got my head around how these virtual ‘machines’ work. It’s been awhile since I’ve had one, and as I use a Mac I thought I’d have a look online for a free, easily downloadable RSS that was Mac compatible. I can’t say I found many that fit these requirements and so when I finally came across Shrook I grabbed it. Shrook’s nothing special, but it does the job. I can read new blog entries and News articles from all of my favourite sites that have feeds enabled (it seems not everyone out there does – why?!). I can also see photos and even watch videos (although that function hasn’t seemed to work very well as of yet). The only issue for me is the format. It’s non-adjustable, and the amount of space devoted to the actual written text is only about a third of the screen. Has anyone else had this problem? How are you supposed to read long articles and look at big photos when your total reading area is the size of an infant’s shoebox?

It looks like RSS Readers bring in their feeds in two different ways. One type is where you can see the whole text of each article, while the other is where you are only shown a small sample of a couple lines giving – you a taste of things to come if you click to go further. This type seems more practical to me because if you’re subscribing to multiple sites, and each is publishing multiple pages of new stories or articles on a regular basis, it gives you a chance to sort through them quickly, deleting any topics or stories that don’t pique your interest. We’ve only got so much time to devote to the pursuit of information gathering now don’t we?

So I’m wondering, ‘what kind of RSS Readers do you other people use?’ Are you happy with how they work? Can you imagine a better way to get to all the interesting subject matter that you desire? If you’re a blogger and you don’t have RSS feeds available for your readers, why? Are you crazy? I can’t believe some of my favourite blogs like Gaping Void: ‘Cartoons drawn on the backs of business cards’ don’t have RSS subscriptions; unless they do and it’s just not obvious enough for those whose brains aren’t able to utilise extra-sensory deduction.

If you’ve never used an RSS Reader and you like surfing the Internet for blogs and articles that relate to your interests or take you closer to reaching enlightenment, go and try one out. I think most of the popular ones would be downloadable from the Internet. I know some people who use Mozilla Thunderbird. How does it work? Please get back to me and tell me how your experience goes and whether or not it has made your life better, or conversely, turned your brain into even more of a puddle of oozing green slime.

Once again I’m out on the surface of the river of knowledge, using my staff to judge the depths of wisdom, and keeping my eyes open for sharp rocky obstacles.

Jesse S. Somer is back on the RSS life raft, searching for islands of interesting people and topics of conversation.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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Warning: This post could be longer than usual, and is based around another very long post at the ‘Gaping Void’ blog. (You are going to have to read today.) However, it happens to be the most popular post ever written at that site, so there must be something in it, wouldn’t you say?

Today I undertook a very strange form of research; one I can very positively say hasn’t existed on Earth for very long. Today I researched, studied, and learnt from a blog: from one human being’s online journal of thoughts and ideas. This feels like a crazy phenomenon, so different from the traditional learning media of books, journals, and lectures; yet today I was deeply affected by this blog post. Let me tell you about it.

You know how people sometimes forward along an email attachment to a link, picture, or article that they obviously thought was cool, funny, or poignant in some way? Well, on more than one occasion and from different people (a rare occurrence that needed some looking into) I was sent this link to an archived page of old blog posts that were written under the general title of How to be Creative by Hugh MacLeod. Ok, so it’s not a single post that’s so long, but the now collated post is what’s been grabbing peoples’ attentions, and there’s a lot to read there, but I found it was worth it and then some, so much so that I feel like I’ve done some true research about creativity and life itself. Actually, I know it’s so.

Here’s the list MacLeod puts under the heading, ‘So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.’ I really think you should read the whole post, but I’ve quoted a few of my favorite lines (the ones that affected me the most), and stuck them in under their respective categories. (To be honest I’ve only quoted from the first ten, because if I quoted from all the powerful stuff, this post would be even longer!)

‘So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.’

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.

(Here MacLeod is talking about his own experience with discovering the idea to draw pictures on the back of business cards: his trademark.)

‘It was so liberating to be doing something that didn’t have to impress anybody, for a change. It was so liberating to have something that belonged just to me and no one else, for a change. It was so liberating to feel complete sovereignty, for a change. To feel complete freedom, for a change. And of course, it was then, and only then, that the outside world started paying attention. Your idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.’

3. Put the hours in.

‘I would do something far simpler: I would find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but me, and I would make it productive. Put the hours in, do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually. Sure, that means less time watching TV, internet surfing, going out or whatever.’

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

‘If you try to make something just to fit your uninformed view of some hypothetical market, you will fail. If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.’

7. Keep your day job.

‘THE SEX & CASH THEORY: “The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.”

Or actors: One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction (“Sex”), the next he’ll be in some dumb spy thriller (“Cash”).

Or painters: You spend one month painting blue pictures because that’s the color the celebrity collectors are buying this season (“Cash”), you spend the next month painting red pictures because secretly you despise the color blue and love the color red (“Sex”).

Or geeks: You spend your weekdays writing code for a faceless corporation (“Cash”), then you spend your evening and weekends writing anarchic, weird computer games to amuse your techie friends with (“Sex”).

I’m thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines…. who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.’

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

‘Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And that’s exactly what’s been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their PowerPoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

If you’re creative, if you can think independently, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did. And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isn’t the case.’

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

‘You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

Whatever. Let’s talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

Let’s say you never climb it. Do you have a problem with that? Can you just say to yourself, “Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway” and take up stamp collecting instead?

Well, you could try. But I wouldn’t believe you. I think it’s not OK for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far.

So it looks like you’re going to have to climb the frickin’ mountain. Deal with it.

My advice? You don’t need my advice. You really don’t. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone would be this:

“Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle.”

And you’ve already done that. You really have. Otherwise, again, you wouldn’t have read this far.

Rock on.’

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

‘Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.’

Here’s the rest of the list:

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.

Jesse S. Somer isn’t going to say anymore (You’ve got enough blog to read already!) except that isn’t it incredible how we can now have epiphanies about so many things brought on by a growing community of individual people’s ideas simply read on the computer screen?

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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