A Podcast is Born

Swamp Meadow Community Theatre LogoI am in the midst of revising Take Control of Podcasting (a fascinating venture given that Apple has gutted GarageBand of all the useful podcasting features) and in order to actually be able to speak from knowledge (rather than from memory) I needed to start podcasting again. It so happens that Swamp Meadow Community Theatre, where I have been acting, directing, and doing tech these last four years, is in some need of social media marketing. So, I proposed starting a new podcast to promote theater activities.

A few weeks later, I have produced two shows with another two planned. I may only do this in the run up to actual shows but we’ll see how much content there is to be had in the quiet times between productions. At any rate, it’s great to be back to podcasting. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed it in the last few years. I doubt I will start a new one up for just myself. But I enjoy producing one for others and may even look to expand on that.

French Press

French Press, Mug, and CreamI have a new obsession: French Press Coffee at Brewed Awakenings. Brewed is a chain in Rhode Island that has fantastic food, pleasant interiors, and, honest to Gods, the best damn coffee I have ever had. Their regular stuff is pretty good but on a whim I ordered the French Press one morning. I figured they’d make it fresh for me and I’d take it and go. But, it turns out, you are given a french press pot, and all the other supplies you need and after a few moments, you pour yourself an amazing cup of coffee. Along with my favorite breakfast sandwich, I now go there after I drop my son off at school and spend about an hour working into my day. It’s the perfect time to have breakfast, sip my coffee, and review my schedule and to do list. When I get to my home office, I am ready to start my day and the coffee is an amazing sustainer. More than any other coffee I have ever had, I feel like it just keeps me going.

I’m doing a lot of reading and research on modern parental attitudes towards their kids and social media. I’m writing about this on my other blog, Navigating the Waters (and am overdue to post something but I want to finish at least one of these books first). One thing that I am finding over and over is the fact that so much of parental attitudes towards their kids (both from Free Range Kids and from It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens) is due to the echo chamber of the media.

Noam Chomsky famously put forth the idea that news is often biased by what sells. One example (from an article by him I read in grad school and cannot for the life of me find online to cite here) is how in the 80′s, the New York Times reporting on the Sandinistas and Contras in Nicaragua was overwhelmingly anti-Sandinista, something that did not reflect the reality on the ground. He contends that the reason the paper did not print more than a tiny handful of pro-Sandinista op-eds is because the common belief was that they were horrible people and that saying otherwise would hurt newspaper sales. Essentially, news is a business and they have to print what people accept. If they don’t, people won’t buy the paper.

Regarding teens, the dominant meme in the media is that they are in constant danger and social media is a horrible thing that is making their lives hell, making them dumber, hurting their future, and all kinds of things like that. I will speak about this in greater detail in a forthcoming article in Navigating the Waters. But I find it a fascinating subject. And I see the media trying to combat it but they are doing it in a ham-fisted way with the false equivelency. Now they will present one side of the story and in an effort to be fair, they will present something or someone on the other side, regardless of how ridiculous it might be. This is why, despite the vast majority of scientists accepting global climate change, we always have to hear from the one who does not agree as if this dissenting view is equal to the other. Same with giving equal time to intelligent design/creationists despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence for any of that and there is overwhelming evidence on the other side. This is why any time someone comes out and says that social media is actually a good thing in the lives of many teens, we have to hear from so-called parenting experts who have done no research and only have their unfounded opinions to share tell us how wrong the researchers are.

This brings me back to my morning french press. Brewed has a policy of always having Fox News on at least one of their tvs. Much has been written and researched about their complete lack of objectivity and the many subtle things they do to influence opinions. And they are hardly the only ones who do it, they’re just the most blatant.

I just find a nice seat where I don’t have to watch it (spoiler: It’s Obama’s fault, whatever it is) and I’m happy. Every so often, MSNBC is on for some inexplicable reason and I watch other regulars get worked up about it. “Can you turn off that propoganda and put Fox back on?” I am amused.

But I think about media that caters to specific groups. People get what they want to hear. Conservatives watch Fox News. Liberals watch MSNBC. I try to get my news from multiple sources to get a more complete picture. This includes the New York Times, BBC, Al Jazeera, and so forth. But I have a liberal arts degree from Dartmouth College and if any one thing was drummed into my head it was to always find as many sources as possible.

Despite all that, I love my morning french press. Much as Colin Firth’s saddest time of the day is driving Aurelia home in Love, Actually, mine is realizing I am near the bottom of my morning coffee. But the swirl of dark brown at the bottom of my cup promises one last blast of flavor before the end. Reminds me of camp coffee when we’d camp with my son’s troop. There were always grounds in the coffee. I loved it. I called it the crunchy surprise at the center.

I really like coffee, did I mention that?

Fear and Panic vs. Education and Common Sense | Navigating The Waters

My latest article is up! Fear and Panic vs. Education and Common Sense | Navigating The Waters. This echoes some of what I have said before about parents being responsible for understanding what their kids are getting up to online but it also points out something that is so often neglected in the media: the rules for being safe and for being a good person are basically the same online and off.

Getting Back in Touch/Looking for Work

There is one upside to looking for a new job, you get to speak to a lot of friends and colleagues you haven’t spoken to for some time. I try to stay in touch with people and there’s quite a few I do manage to speak to regularly (and one I keep finding jobs for and owes me more than a few *cough* *cough*) but there are those few that I have not been in touch with for some time. So, today I sent out an email to a large number of people looking for ideas/leads/encouragement/whatever and I’m getting all these great emails back from people and getting caught up on their lives. So, silver lining.

The flipside, of course, is that I am, in fact, looking for new work. I’ve had a wonderful 3 years leading the development team at Ozmott but by April 1, I need a new job. I’ve learned a great deal these past few years that I can bring to my new employers and am looking forward to learning new things there as well. So, there it is. Resume available on request, just drop me an email at Andy at the domain of this website (really not that hard an email to figure out…)

Oh, and if you did not get an email from me (and you think you should have) then I humbly apologize and invite you to chastise me in an email (where I will blame an out of date email address for the problem.)

Housecleaning, and a new Venture

So, it’s been asked so I’ll answer: no, I haven’t given up on the photo-a-day project. I just changed the backend processes that directed where newly shared pictures go so they send them to tumblr instead of here. Click on the Photography link above and you’ll see them in all their glory.

The big news is that I am starting a new blog. I am creating a place for my long-form posts (such as posts like the one on Kids and Social Media from a few years ago) to go. The idea is to create a space where I can explore our modern digital world and make sense of it all (or at least try to) and to ¬†encourage myself to write more often. I hope to launch it shortly so watch this space for details. This blog will remain for my experiments in photography, autobiographical posts, and things that are less serious and not appropriate for the new blog. And I’m hoping that my writing more will actually bleed over to this blog so I will have more content to post here.

And now you know.

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