Fish, a Tap Essay

I let slip to my boss recently that something has changed in me and I may be now more interested in journalism than I actually am in theatre. I’m not quite sure why this is happening to me (it might be a phase!), but I know I’ve become enamored with the “ideas circuit” as I once heard it called. What’s the idea’s circuit?  I’m not quite sure who coined the phrase and what exactly they meant, but I imagine it to be entities like Slate, NPR, Ted Talks, RadioLab; and people like Neil Degrass Tyson,  Malcolm Gladwell, and (until recently?) Jonah Lehrer. Look at your Fish

Well recently  I came across a new one for me: Robin Sloan.  Robin has led what sounds like an interesting life being a Media Inventor.  In his own words, these are people that are “primarily interested in content—words, pictures, ideas—who also experiment with new formats, new tools, and new technology.”  Robin held a position in this vein at twitter in the early years of social media. And Why am i talking about him? well he’s created this mobile app called FISH which he describes as a TAP ESSAY. Basically it’s an essay broken up into slides, and you tap the screen of your iphone to advance while you read it one slide at a time. Each slide contains about one sentence (or sometimes one word, for dramatic effect) and is styled slightly differently in terms of font and colors to make the journey dynamic.  And I really love it. Sloan’s thesis of the essay you can read for yourself, but I want to say that I think the delivery of the message is one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen.  Here’s a list of reasons why:

  1. Something about the interactivity of tapping to advance makes it feel like play
  2. Because you’re not confronted with the FULL ESSAY at one time there’s no urge to scroll to the bottom and think: this is too long. And stop reading
  3. Because each line is carefully delivered and styled appropriately it feels like your hearing someone talk.

It’s a really well done product.  I have actually loved “slideshows” for a long time (mostly for that reason that you can control how  much writing is released and pull major focus to a point if that’s what you want).  A while before discovering Fish: A Tap Essay I created a “click-through” essay in service of my Undergraduate Alumni Association titled The Third Thing College Gets You, hosted on slideshare. The idea came to me out of nowhere and I’m actually quite proud of it. Every now and then I tweet it, or post it on facebook hoping that someone important sees it, stands up at their desk and shouts: That Kid’s a Great Communicator!

That will be Mission Accomplished. Enjoy The Third Thing…  below. 🙂

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Men’s Bags: Hold-alls, Barrels, Messengers, Duffles.

Recently I went with some good friends to a “gay days” at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. We had an excellent time, and I got to ride the fastest and tallest roller coaster in North America. Although most of us were stone sober we did finally arrive back in New York exhausted at 2AM. As we piled out of the van and hugged good bye I collected a whole foods canvas bag which I had used to carry snacks in that afternoon. Justin and I said goodbye to our friends and walked home. The next morning I realized that I had left my shoulder bag in the trunk of the zipcar.

I’m not quite sure how it happened. I think that the Whole foods bag satisfied my need to be holding something, otherwise I probably would have felt naked and would have figured it out.  Also, we were tired.

Since I live in NYC and I’m ALWAYS carrying around books, gym clothes, extra food, etc. the loss of this bag has disrupted me immensely.  But before I I really go searching for a new bag I decided I would really shop around, and take some time to think about it. Here’s a picture of the bag I lost (the colors are a little different):

Fred Perry Blue Shoulder Bag

There are 3 things to consider for the replacement bag:

  • It needs to work in the office, or at least over casual office attire.
  • It needs to be big enough to hold my gyms stuff (the bulkiest part of that is my sneakers)
  • I like the Retro-look, Bright Colors, and typically don’t wear things with huge logos splashed across the front.

So here are some choices.  Since this bag was Fred Perry I decided that I’d look hard at some other Fred Perry bags, but eventually the search stretched out to other designers.  What does everyone like?

Fred Perry Blue and Gold Barrel

Fred Perry Black Hold-all

Goodale Grey Rain Duffle

Lacoste Blue (or Red) Gymnasium Bag

Speedo USA & UK Hands

Puma “Ferrari Collection” Brown Weekender

French Connection UK Red Shoulder Bag

 

Fashion aside, there are some pricing/sizing concerns,  but it’s fun to cast a wide net .

New Tech

I’m somebody that cycles through a lot of Google calendars. First of all, when you have close friends who don’t mind sharing their calendar with you it’s not hard to collect a whole fleet of them because it makes planning events much more easy. When can I force you to come over and make soup with me?  Well, it looks like you’re free Thursday!

[On the topic of soup.  I’ve been thinking lately about home much I like inviting people over and cooking for them.  It’s such a nice thing that I don’t think I have much opportunity to do in NYC. Part of the reason is because there’s no room in our apartments, but also everyone is damn busy. My plan is to have a staggered dinner party that takes place on 4 different days throughout the month, that way you can invite everyone you like, and there’s a chance they can make one of the 4 days.  I would tie the days all together with a common menu theme, like serving a different soup each night.  The entire series would be called “4 Great Soups,” or maybe “Soup’s On!”  don’t you wanna be friends with me?]

Any anyway, calendars. I also I tend to set up a new google calendar for each project I’m’ involved in.  Lately I become a volunteer event coordinator for my college alumni group.  It’s a lot of fun but it fills my calendar with deadlines and events.  For this reason I created a new Google Calendar and, more than any other supporting calendar to date, i decided that I REALY needed this to sync alongside my general calendar on my iphone.

I’m just going to warn everybody.  This is more tricky than you expect, because you actually can’t do it from you device.  I snooped around in my settings menu for about 5 minutes before googling for the answer which takes exactly 1 more step than i would have expected in 2012.  You can visit this link for all the hairy details, but basically you’ve got a few steps to link you phone to your google account, THEN you gotta switch to your computer, sign into your google account and visit m.google.com, a place you’ve never been to before, to select what parts of your google calendar get sent over to your phone.

If you need to do this yourself. good luck. 🙂

People’s History

Why does school happen before you’re grown up?  There are so many things that I would have valued more now that I’ve grown.  there is a book called the People’s History of the United States, by historian Howard Zinn.  When I was a rising junior in high school I remember that we had to read this tome (it was a very thick book) as summer reading and write a summary of each chapter.   By the end of this assignment I should have had a solid overview of all of the major events and time periods between 1942 and Today.  HOWEVER, because i was young and dumb and on summer vacation, I somehow found a way to do the work without actually paying attention to anything.  And nowadays I feel like my historical knowledge is a little patchy, so I’m actually planning to read the whole book again!

Just think of the time I would have saved if I had cared more earlier.  But I guess you can just never predict when a future conversation about the musical  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is going to make you regret your attentiveness in 11th grade.

I also occurs to me that I should probably look for those summaries the next time I’m home at my folks house.

Did this need to be invented?

I’ve got a lot of friends with gift registries right now: for babies, for weddings, etc.  Actually.  Those are the only two reasons I can think of.   the end result is that I’m getting a huge array of home goods paraded in front of me, and some of them are quite funny.  Usually I think their funny because they are so specific. Here’s on i saw today:

The All-in-one avocado tool

Now. I love avocado almost as much as I love air.  In fact,  you’ll notice it ranks well on my all time list of favorite things:

  1. Air
  2. Alligators/Hippos from Fantasia
  3. Avocado
  4. Playing the piano
  5. Singing
  6. NPR
  7. Stationary
  8. Funny Drag Queens
  9. Surprise Endings
  10. Bodybuilders

But do you really need an all-in-one avocado tool? maybe a knife and spoon would get the job done.

Meet your Hero 2 weeks from today

I have a pretty cool job, at a pretty cool place.  and that’s good enough for me.  But sometimes something really cool happens at my job that makes me giddy.  It just so happens that one of these things has happened!

Alan Alda is coming into my office in a few weeks and I’m totally stoked.   You’re all asking: are you a really be fan of M*A*S*H?  No, I’m not, but I was a somewhat regular viewer of the PBS show Scientific American Frontiers when I was growing up.  Something that I’ve always admired about Alan Alda is that he’s an artist (an actor) that spends a lot of time explaining and promoting science.  I actually once read him referred to as “actor and science communicator” because that’s what he does. He himself isn’t really a scientist, he just communicates the science, and makes it interesting and digest-able to laypeople.

Sometime this last year I decided that this exact activity, interpreting science for people using art and media, was just about my favorite thing in the world.  It happened when I got obsessed with NPR’s RadioLab and then I realized that my ideal job in life would be to host science documentaries.  My mind raced: who are my heroes in this field?  I came up with two answers:  1) Bill Nye the Science Guy.  I follow him on twitter, but unfortunately many people have told me he’s a jerk… or was it that his stand-up is really dirty? (or was that Bob Saget?)

2)  Alan Alda. Because He’s so genuinely fascinated by the science and I gotta love him.

Did I get to the point yet?  He wrote a book about Marie Currie and I work for the company that’s publishing it. And in a few weeks he’ll actually be coming into the office to meet everyone.  I have friends who claim they’re used the secret to make things happen. Perhaps this is my own version of that.

Jonah Lehrer and Imagine

Right now I’m reading a book by Jonah Lehrer, called Imagine.  It’s pop-science about how creativity works.  Author Jonah is this prodigy reporter who at the age of 31 had become become a staff writer at the New Yorker and found himself in line behind Malcolm Gladwell as the modern “Idea Man.”  Then his world fell apart.

You can read all about it here, but basically he fabricated some Bob Dylan quotes in his newest book and he has been forced to resign from … his life.

What really interests me is that his publisher Houghton Mifflin has recalled his book, Imagine, the book I’m reading.  The BF asked me if they were also recalling digital copies, which reminded me that Amazon, B&N, and Apple can actually REMOVE books from your digital readers.  Am I alone in thinking that this is crazy and a bit authoritarian?  It’s like you don’t really own it, you just own access to it.  For a while i wasn’t turning my Kindle’s wifi on because I was afraid that the book would evaporate the moment I did! (and I haven’t finished it yet!)

It’s a shame that this guy’s life fell apart.   He was developing into a hero of mine: Smart and driven, all about thinking and science, and not bad looking in certain pics (see below).  If he had been gay too I would have been in love!

Jonah Lehrer