February 15, 2003

It's time to abandon all processes. creative chaos is the RX

I think I have everything figured out. Really. No, I mean it. I think I know how to get the economy back on uppers, you know. Get us all feeling that feeling again. I know how to get the business world high. I'm ready. Are you?

Okay, stick with me here.

Think THEN, circa 1999-2001. What were we doing? Flying by the seat of our pants. Pumping stuff out--stuff, you know--be it code, product, software, architecture, white papers, corporate brochures that made it look like a company actually existed, articles on things we knew nothing about, business cards with three different company names on it, titles that came from fortune cookies--STUFF. Remember?

Whatever we pumped out, we pumped it out fast. It wasn't always great. Yes, that could be construed as a problem. But I don't think it was. And we need to get back there.

The point is, the difference between now and then (and don't give me the money argument--enough of us are still gainfully employed (she looks over her shoulder) for that not to hold water. put money aside for now...)--and yes, I'm rambling because I'm excited--the most important difference between now and then is s-p-e-e-d.

We ran. We didn't walk. It didn't matter if it was right, it mattered that it was done, out the door, in someone else's hands. We all exchanged things at lightning speed.

Process took a back seat to NOW.

Process? We didn't care. You sat in a meeting where the client told you they needed 12 separate brochures, 2-4 pages each--copy/design/production--in just over two weeks, don't give me a plan and a scope and a content map; just do it. 10,000 of each, please. No, we don't have a logo. No we don't really know what we do yet. And no, we don't have a name--can you do that too? And you looked across the table at your cohorts. And you all got jazzed at the challege (not exhausted like now), and you knew it meant money, and you said, "Okay."

Many of you will want to pull the money thing back into the equation here. Don't. In the begining of it all, the money wasn't there yet. And we started running because we believed. Then the money came. And then it got absurd. But in the beginning--when the match hit the flint--the problem of funding was no different than it is right now.

So, you pumped out what the customer wanted, and you did it FAST, and it looked fan-fucking-tastic, and you got really sassy with the voice, with the writing, with the software, because you could. You had free reign. The only parameters were: get it done fast and make it look and sound like we're for real.

If we all believe we're for real, then we're for real.

For three years we all ran. Didn't walk. We ran ourselves into a new reality. We tossed process out the window and followed our guts.

Specialists didn't do well. Generalists ran this race. You had to be able to do everything. And do it fast. Remember? (and how out of practice are you now?)

I remember the business process freaks having heart attacks. Even knowledge management folks got knocked into the ditch, or the Coke machine, by those of us running back and forth to the printer, to the VCs, to the white board to draw more dreams we could turn into reality within the week.

Then we hit a bump. Then we paniced. Then we accepted that we should WAIT for things to improve.

Since the day BushCo took over, they have had us waiting. Waiting for war, waiting for tax breaks, waiting for a rebound. WAITING. This has been one long administration of wait and see. Talk tough, go nowhere.

Fuck waiting. Screw processes. We've slow-paced the entire market into the shitter. And it has to stop.

I say that the days of buckling down and get our processes in order are over. I say we aren't going to put our ties on. We're going back to t-shirts. We're going to stop caring about what we wear again, what we say, and who we say it to. We're going to allow ourselves to create and we're going to do it so fast that the first thing we create is chaos.

I propose this. For the next two months, every blogger start churning out stuff as fast as you can, just like it mattered again.

I don't care what you churn out. I don't even care if you think it matters. If you don't have any real work to do at work, if your customers won't let you invent because they're afraid, if you're stuck on one long engagement where there isn't money to do anything well, if you're busy shoring up business processes so the business runs smooth as silk and costs are contained and resources are adequately utilized and you get five fucking stars on your forehead for doing a good job, Bobby, well then STOP IT! This isn't who you are. And if it is, will you please go on vacation and get out of our way?

Please start running again.

Put your sneakers back on, start dreaming, start believing, start working really fast and not caring what you churn out first or next because eventually something really beautiful and important is going to pour out of you, and the faster you work the faster it's going to pour out.

Light your own fire.

Don't WAIT another second.

And if you start scaring them--if you go to your boss and say, I just built this, and she asks, why? you tell her why, and if she doesn't use it, or like your attitude, then you remember exactly how you did it and go back and do the next thing even faster. IF you can't do it at work--then do it here. If you blog, then blog as fast as you can, as much as you can, for as long as you can. Don't worry about what, just start writing, start running.

If you write books, write more of them; if you write software, then write something completely simple and stupid and get it done fast, and then do it again. I don't care what you do--just please start doing it faster, for the next eight weeks.

If we all start running really fast, we can pull the fucking economy along with us. I know we can.

And our brothers and sisters who are out of work will have jobs again, even if those jobs are fixing what we've messed up (remember, we did a lot of that when things were good), and all of a sudden, companies won't understand what's happening. The CEO's going to stop in the hallway and say, "Why's that guy running--what's he photocopying, what project is he on?" And no one will know the answer, and by the time they get around to actually asking the guy who's running, he'll be done and on to the next thing.

It doesn't matter if no one's buying it right now. Do it anyway. It doesn't matter if you have permission. Do it anyway.

The shere momentum of us is what matters.

Fight on, entropy. Are you with me?

On your mark, get set, GO!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew he couldn't do it...

I knew that he couldn't be quiet for long.

bad pennies and mike.

trip down memory lane

I don't know why I saved so many magazines from the tech explosion and subsequent demise. But I did. And last night I was reading an old Industry Standard. For fun. Yes, wierd. Well, I miss those days. I remember telling my younger colleages at the time that this was the most exciting time in history to be doing what we were doing. And it was true. They didn't know. They didn't know what it was like not to have a quarter-million dollar budget to do a web site. They'd been in the business for a few years, during the early days of the climb, when everything seemed possible and money was no object. sigh.

So, every now and then, when I get nostalgic, I whip out an old Industry Standard or a 400 page Business 2.0 and read back on where we were.

The particular issue that caught my attention was the April 16, 2001 issue of the Industry Standard. By then, the decline had already started. It was engaged. Nothing to be done but watch the fire burn.

You could measure the damage by the absence of pages in the top pubs. This particular issue was only 85 pages. Suddenly, top tech publications were taking human interest stories and spinning them as tech, instead of taking technology stories and giving them a human interest angle.

There are some pretty funny things, looking back two years in time, in the magazine. It's interesting for me to remember what I was focused on then. And to think, I hadn't heard of blogging. Wow. It feels like 100 years ago in some ways.

Anyway, let me get to the funny part before I start feeling old.

On page 24 there are some statistics. These stats demonstrate what a difference a day makes---well, a day or the death of an industry. I repeat them here, and take a shot at updating them for 2003, based on nothing more than my instinct and what's left of my sense of humor:

April 2001: "48 percent of U.S. workers say a pay raise would encourage them to stay with their current employer."

Feb 2003: "48 percent of U.S. workers say they would like to have a current employer."

April 2001: "9 percent of workers said stock options would encourage them to stick around."

Feb 2003: "100 percent of workers said, "Stock what?"

And from another page...

April 2001, correcting an error from the previous month's issue. The editor writes the following in Errata: "According to e-marketer, 29.7 percent of the email the average user receives in 2003--not 97 percent as previously reported--will be marketing messages.

Feb 2003: Errata to Errata: "Um, no, actually, our Errata was in error. We were right on on that 97 percent number, 'cept we shoulda called it spam."

That's all for tonight. More when I can stand it---you know, after I wipe away the tears...

February 14, 2003

happy mofo valentines day

okay, so you know by now that george is off recording in Washington, and while I was worried about terrorism when he left, I now wish I'd sent a fucking shovel with him because the lead story on drudge report is that Washington's expecting the most snow it's seen in seven years--when? of course, this weekend. Great. That gig tomorrow night? who wants to bet me--none of you. you blog, which means you're way too smart.

sonofa.

On a completely unrelated note--thank goodness I'm getting off of the previous topic because the hairs on the back of my neck are itching--okay--calmness--okay--so, on a completely unrelated note, Gary call-from-his-car Turner is doing some spectacular thinking and writing over on his lapses blog.

I don't know if Gary absorbed some of Halley's undeniable positive energy while she was over there, in which case he would now qualify as "mental" (as he lovingly calls Halley), or whether Halley slipped something into Gary's milk when he was changing Cameron--either way, he's positively glowing. Check him out.

Gary writes in one post about just what bloggers are doing meeting and greeting and loving one another in the physical world as we back circuit this blogging pastime into real-world personal relationships that--in many of our cases--are stronger than most real-world friendships that came before them.

That's entirely the rub.

Gary discusses so eloquently his 'take-away' from his family's time with Halley, who, on her own dime and of free will, flew across the ocean meet her fellow bloggers-become-friends. Halley's met more bloggers than anyone I know. She's like the Julie McCoy of Blogaria, for crying out loud. And it's simply beautiful.

The first day Halley called me--it's been almost a year ago now--she blasted me off my couch and through the roof with her energy--energy I would never, ever, have come across if not for blogging. Because Halley and I, and Chris and I, and Elaine and I, and Marek and I, and Tom and I, and Shelley and I, and Gary and I--we were all strangers a year-and-a-half ago. And now, we don't just write here--we talk out there, in actual brick-and-mortarville, on the phone, through packages. We're not pen pals. We're really in one another's lives.

And in Halley's case, she's actually touching human flesh--she's written friends into real, tangible, physical existence. And it's been an incredible joy to watch her do it.

Gary says it better than I:

"Self-elected representatives of strangers the world over, they sought each other out. Driven only by the instinct to reduce the number of strangers on the planet by a small number, the strangers threw themselves at the scenery of life and stepped out of their stranger free comfort zones. The strangers became friends to one another proving, if nothing else, that they were alive at that same precise moment, that they were steering their own ships, ships which this one time chose not to pass in the night and that, above all, they proved that there exists a unique aspect shared equally between all humans who just need to make the effort to discover it. The fact that we are."



How beautiful is that?

Happy valentine's day.

Turn Signal Truth

The good Lord knew what he was doing when he made children. We could have all come into being some other way--you know, arriving here all grown up, having skipped childhood altogether. But we didn't. No cloning; instead rites of passage. And thank goodness. Cloning would cheat the world of that beautiful cherry-chapstick flavor of children.

I was driving Jenna to school this morning when something caught her eye in the car that she'd never noticed before. We were making a right turn, and for the first time she noticed the blinking arrow on the dashboard, better known to you and me as a turn signal.

"Mom, why is that arrow blinking?"

"It's a turn signal. It lets other drivers know we're turning up ahead."

"How? How do they see it?"

"Well, it's connected to the lights on the back of the car, and when I turn it on, a light blinks on the back of the car so everyone knows we're turning. That way we don't all crash into eachother--mostly."

"Wow."

"Yah, pretty smart, huh?"

"Do all cars have them, or just ours?"

"All cars."

"Whooo."

Then we started looking up ahead, playing a new turn signal game, yelling, "There's one!" every time we saw a car with its blinker on. "Look, he's turning!" she'd say with nothing short of glee, having figured out for the first time how all this car turning stuff works.

It was simple, you know? Simple, beautiful connecting of cognitive gaps. I helped her connect this one, and she'll have it from now on. This morning we sewed together one of life's little secrets: the turn signal truth.

What a wonderous morning for both of us.

been around the block

I've been all over the Web tonight, and I can't find a damn thing to write about. Tired of myself and my wandering mind, tired of this doomsday-feeling-duct-tape-wrapped mood I'm in. Tired of houses and yards and people who try so hard to be what they're not, so hard in fact that they become what they are, and that's way worse.

I'm at a standstill.

No forward, no back. Just here, where nothing seems to be backlit.

No glow, no light, no lemon-fresh scent.

sheesh.

The highlight of my day was stopping at the new dollar store with Jenna, where I dropped a quick $75 on what, I'm not sure. A manic minute where it felt good to be alive and spending. Welcome to Atlanta. Buy now, pay never.

I have this itchy rash thing above one eye lid, and seem to have developed a patch of eczema on the palm of my right hand, which sits, for I'd say 9 hours of every day, on my laptop keypad. And I guess I'm paying the price. I had eczema so bad as a child that they had to put tube socks on my hands and arms when I slept. Inside my elbows and the inside of my knees were the worst. I itched myself into a bloody pulpish mess every winter until I was through 7th grade.

The treatment of choice back then was zinc oxide, which did absolutely nothing but make the rash itch more. By the time I was in eighth grade, real dermatologists were coming out with real ointment for eczema and other skin conditions. That, and a lot of sunshine in the summer, somehow zapped it out of my system somehow (or maybe puberty had something to do with it), and I haven't had a problem since. Until now.

That ought to say something about my stress level.

Breaking out. Sometimes breaking out is just that: the stress is breaking out of your body through your skin.

It's time to sleep. I'm making no sense. This is what I mean--my voice is on the other side of the room and I just can't reach it from here.

g'night.


February 13, 2003

Mobile Power to the People--FREE SIDEKICK!


Amazon is PAYING YOU a penny to buy a T-Mobile Sidekick!
The Sidekick is free, and service is about $35 a month. For that, you can have more blogging fun than you should be legally allowed to have. I'm just bummed I paid $49 for mine after rebates. Free is even better.



If you've been waiting to try mobile blogging, this is a pretty easy and handy device. The keyboard is da-bomb. It's simple as pie to blog at Hiptop Nation, pictures and all, and blogger even has an email interface now that's also quick and easy (you can't send pics with the blogger email though).



Browsing is a snap. The camera is handy and adequate, though not great as far as quality; the phone is a little awkward, but it works fine--you'll love the lights and ringtones; you can add your other POP email accounts to the email application; AOL Instant messenger's included; it's got a calendar, to-do list, and note pad; and it's got a cool little game that makes the Sidekick vibrate when you shoot a meteor.

If you can front the $249, it's FREEEEE!

m-blogging power to the peeps. get it.

February 12, 2003

Now playing...

This was a really good movie. See it. You will dig it.

duct tape dismay



The last time I bought this much duct tape, I was rennovating my first car, a 1976 Pacer that I bought for $100.00 in 1984. New York winters had taken their toll on my big blue bubble; the sides, undercarriage, parts of the hood, and hatchback had been mostly eaten away by rust. Still, I was happy to have it.

I did my own body work, which meant I pretty much wrapped the car in duct tape, constructing parts of doors where none existed, and creating my own half-silver, indestructable ride--a sculpture on wheels--and it made me really proud. As a finishing touch, I bought six cans of blue Rustoleum paint and sprayed the entire body. Amazing, how from a distance, the car looked better than new. Held together with duct tape and Rustoleum, it was still running and looking snazzy when I donated it to charity four years later.

Today I bought into another machine. I went out and bought six rolls of duct tape. What's wrong with me? I know it won't make a bit of difference. It makes no sense.

Yet I thought about it for two days, and finally decided to go get some. That, plastic wrap, and a utility knife. I stood in Home Depot looking at their cool disaster display, and I couldn't help myself. I found myelf thinking that I should have used plastic wrap when I had my Pacer. I could have stuffed it in the rust holes for reinforcement before slapping the tape on. Talk about indestructible!

So I spent $60.00. And I'm not sure if my motivation was some hankering for my youth and my half-taped car, or fear of what's coming and some lame attempt to assume I have any control whatsoever.

I do have some advice for anyone thinking of heading out to get their own 72-hour kits. If you decide to jump on the duct tape bandwagon, pay attention to the conversations in the checkout line.

This is where the really interesting stuff is going on. My checkout lady was telling me that they can't keep the $40 respirators on the shelves, that people are crazy for batteries, but that anyone who knows the Bible isn't bothering with all of this stuff because they know what's coming. The guy behind me, a two-roller (I'm not sure if that makes him a whimp or brave--I mean that he only bought two rolls), told us he's building his cabin in the Georgia mountains so he won't be bothered by a nuclear blast--you see the mountains diffuse the fallout.

Meanwhile I'm standing between them wondering again, what am I doing? Part of me knows I'm buying into terror just as surely as the terrorists and our government want me to. Another part of me does believe that what's coming is coming, destiny or prophesy--call it what you will.

And so why am I at the store buying duct tape? Duct tape won't circumvent the apocolypse, and it won't get me up to the two-roller's safe house in the mountain any quicker. I'm basically hosed with a pile of tape as my legacy.

By the time I got home, I came to the conclusion that I don't need this stuff at all.

Now what?

Anyone have an old car they need me to work on?

i am so sorry and 72 hours

i have been focused on me-me-me. how petty. i am sorry. i will write more tomorrow with links to my reinforcement projects.

i am also busy perseverating on whether or not we really need to put together these fucking 72-hour kits for when small pox is blown into our air ducts at home. in atlanta they are going crazy for duct tape and plastic sheeting. This isn't good news at the Sessum house. George is going to the Pentagon to play music and all I have here is chewing gum and a baby grand piano. will these items work? If so, how to fit into a backpack?

I must get instructions for using household products I already have. Lint. Dust. Mr. Potato Head. Electrolux. Someone help. I am confused. I am hearing we need these 72 hour kits by thursday of this week, which is like 72 hours away, so I'm not sure if they are 72 hour kits because we have 72 hours to put them together, or because you might need stuff to eat for 72 hours before you die of smallpox, or because it just sounds cool. Anyone?

Meanwhile, I found Marek--and he has a message for you. Marek, please send instructions for the 72 hour kit asap.

thank you.

February 11, 2003

when someone steals your brain...

Oh dear. Plenty bad enough. Doc's laptop was stolen this weekend, and his brain was on it. Where have I been? Man. Poor Doc. He's put out a reward. Let's hope the thieves are scared by what they see of Doc's brain and abandon it at a nearby Starbucks. Here's hoping.

February 10, 2003

hugely important

There's enough meat to chew on over at BB's--in the discussion and follow-on-comments related to Clay Shirky's Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality article--to last all of us three days a piece. So if you haven't started, get gnawing.

And me, with nothing to wear.

in other words...

WWJB?



uncharacteristically quiet and blog conscience

Uncharacteristically quiet as ass reinforcement continues.

I was thinking today how blogging is circumventing some of my previous less than desirable behavior--you know, some of my pre-blogging behavior. When I find myself thinking poorly of a "real world" friend/colleague/relative now, and, let's say, I start badmouthing them in my head, or to those within twenty-five yards of me, I find that I trip my little blog-conscience mechanism.

Once tripped, a little voice asks me, "Would you blog that about them?" And then I answer myself, "Well, no. I wouldn't blog that. They'd feel shitty if I blogged it and they happened upon it a year from now. So now. Great. Now what am I supposed to do with my time?"

Aside from taking all the air out of my once-fun maniacal rantings and plots for revenge against my fellow man, there may be an upside. This blog conscience ripple effect may, in the end, make the world a little nicer. Or at least me.

When does school start for you?

I know Halley is proud to wake up at 5-o-damn-clock in the morning and start stair steppin' at the side of her bed, pilates, karates, or whatever such hellacious way she chooses to greet the day. She can do that stuff. She's Halley.

And I know they say morning is a great time to get work done, to meditate, to load the dishwasher--whatever it is THEY say to try to convince you that real people actually enjoy the crack-o dawn and don't whine about it.

I'm here to tell you they are a bunch of liars--conodolisaliesalot liars--that there is no conceivable way they can enjoy morning before it is officially morning--especially hearing an alarm cut through the silent sleepy bedtime land that should be sacred.

Waking up before nature is sick.

It's twisted, it's wrong, it's industrial age nonsense.

And it's what I've had to do since Jenna changed schools in October--her new school starting an hour earlier than her old one.

I know--I'm in my 40s. The last five years notwithstanding, I've done the 12 hour a work-day job thing, the commute, the early push down I-75. Fine. That's fine. That was then. And even then, there was no way to get me out from underneath the covers before 7:20. Usually 8:20. Then once they couldn't live without me, 9:20.

I compensate for it--I work til midnight. And I'm more than happy to.

But 6:00 a.m. crap is beyond even the birds.

What are we training first graders to be--besides miserable and over tired? GM trick workers? Is that what public school is about--is that all we have left?

I hate it hate it hate it hate it. Four times each day I think about how I cannot possibly wake up in the dark one more morning. How much I want to stay curled up under the comforter. How right the song "Is that all there is" sounds when you're brushing your teeth in the moonlight.

I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't do it for four more grades. It's mind numbing and it's spirit killing for me and for Jenna.

I am so lame. But I'm telling you true.

I am not a morning person.

February 09, 2003

Toward Hipper Times

HipTop Nation makes The NY Times.

I can boil the article down for you: we do it because it's fun.

yard blogging



blog in the place where you live.

Is this getting closer?. The problem is I had to strip out the navigation down the page to get it to work... It's too long like this, isn't it?

argh. thoughts welcome.

shout out for help on htmlllllllllll

FARRAGO and I are getting into trouble. She has been the best friend ever by helping me get my online portfolio into order. But I know just enough HTML to get myself into trouble. And I think I've hammered whatever work FARRAGO's tried to help me out with, maybe because I'm stuck with Adobe Pagemill as my html editor.

drat.

The first problem was with this verson, which I did based on a template RageBoy let me use (don't worry--he's fine. you'll see.) Then I sent it to FARRAGO asking, do you know WHY the text hangs off on the right side, to which she did so much great work to fix it, but then my adobe pagemill says it doesn't support the character set and it comes out looking like this one, which is closer--it doesn't have text hanging off the right--yay! But there must be something crossing the wires of my HTML editing because the fonts do wierd things... see?

aaah!

Rather than sending us off for another global round of why/what/how to make this look good in a format that my stinky Pagemill can support--and lest I email FARRAGO every time I want to change a word--can anyone help us get my credentials in order? I think I like a seriff for the body--i don't know. I like FARRAGO's color scheme. I'm open. This isn't my strength. Concepting, content, linkage, page layout, basic HTML yes. Beyond that, I'm in trouble.

Promise to put "page designed by" at the bottom with a link to you. Be creative, go nuts, or just ignore me. Before I go insane with this. And begin to drive FARRAGO insane in the mean time. (Did I say begin?)

p.s, don't you love my name she did for me? weeee!