Sunday, July 24, 2011

FEAR: Norway, London, Kenya (A Meditation)

I haven't tweet that much in the past week. For a variety of reasons, I am now a firm believer in the conservation of energy. Maybe it's because science has delved itself too far into my brain, but I've come to the conclusion that finite beings bound by finite measures (i.e. time, space) must abide by these rules. There's only so much time in the day. There's only so much ability for us to be awake. As I've grown up, I've seen lots of things, but haven't paid much attention to them.

I have a friend named Terrence-dactyl (...I know, don't ask). He once said, "It's not about doing it. It's about doing it good." I responded, "Don't you mean,'Well'?" He said, "Sure."

That's really been on my mind this week as I feel like I've been less contributory to something that's been usually pretty fun to me.

The Norway stuff from this week got me thinking about stuff I don't know much about. I'm not well-traveled. I haven't read that much on much of anything. I've learned much of what I know from television & film. It's invaded my life, as it has yours. I've lived a lot through telesvision. Moon landings, presidents being shot or liars, storms ravaging deserted people on the coast, people ravaging dessert lands more inland, Towers falling, schoolchildren fleeing. Fuck, I even experienced Ghostwriter & Wishbone, for Christ's sake.

But for the first time, I felt something while looking at my screen, reading news from Norway, from London, from Kenya has really got me thinking in ways that I'm not used to. I'm not mature enough to really undersatnd these things, but I feel something. I don't know what it is. Should I feel humbled by the way the world is out of my control & I'm just left groping awkwardly as this young schoolgirl of a feeling. What do I do with it? Where do I go from here?

Does this finally mean I've made my final transtion from being otherworldy & descending from the heavens to somethign more human? Am I human? Does the mere fact that I feel now mean something more?

The problem is that I don't know what I fear the most. Am I fearing the fact that one of us got caught? Am I fearing that I could be gunned down at any moment? Am I fearing that the choices we've made will finally find a reckoning in the passing of time? Am I fearing my own aging process? Am I fearing that the world is bigger & scarier than I think it is? Am I fearing that there are things that even the mass of humanity can't control?

Did the people of Bable build that build that tower because they knew that was the only way to surpass God's power? Did God fear us & use his power to decentralize us? I fear much.

I guess the introduction of fear has entered my psyche. I don't want to lose anything I value. Before I did not really care. Before, I suppose that the world was populated with different things I could value equally. But my smiles were just a front, and I've realized there are only a few things I truly value enough to pour my momney & time into them. I fear losing these few things.

Norway, London, and Kenya. Chance, choice, and structure. Choice, structure, and chance. Structure, change, and choice.

So I'm enervated since I have higher things I haven't thought about for a while. find solace in routine of the day. The patterns of existence that comfort us into a lull. I have no peace right now. I'm not going to pour my money & time into these 3 events that I've read about recently. I know that.

So I'm left floating through more time & space as I come to grips with what I will decide is worth more of my time & money. Because that's all I have, and that's all I can give.

But my energy goes into things like this, and what is left for everything else? I only hope that I'm doing it "good" enough.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 5th Adventures Along the Bayou

So, if you read my last post, you'll see that I went on an adventure. This post continues where the last left off.

A Few Basic Principles of This New Thing
  1. Always go forward. No turning back.
  2. If it looks like a good idea, it probably isn't but go ahead anyway.
  3. You're going to get wet & dirty anyway.... so fuck it.
  4. The point is the go where there is no control, so avoid those previously tredded paths.

A Few Hard-Fast Rules
  1. Carry a phone, ID card, truck key, and a copy of Art of War. If detained by police, my Harry Potter glasses and this piece of literature will mediate the situation more than any uttered words could ever possibly.
  2. Stay along the bank. People are weird about stuff they paid for, especially their own swaths of land. So making sure no one is freaked out about me traipsing across "their" backyard is important. This is a hard-fast rule for now, but I'm just starting out.
  3. No night-time wanderings.
  4. Take photos... lots and lots of photos.
  1. Sticks are useful for walking along a bank of a bayou or for clearing brush. I noticed that carrying the stick was useful at first for grabbing onto the earth in case I needed to climb up an embankment. As I opted to traverse the wooded area on my way back, I was grateful for the stick because I thought it'd be useful as a weapon.
  2. Once our controls over nature are put into place, we ignore nature's procession unless it interacts with our controls.
  3. Some roots are really strong & can support me. Others cannot.
  4. Thickets suck.
  5. The City's right over that embankment, so chill out.

Things for Next Time
  1. Wear contact lenses. Reduces the number of variables of things that could go wrong.
  2. Long sleeves would help with walking through a slew of branches.
  3. An extra pair of dry socks. Lieutenant Dan knew what's up.
  4. Small backpack for carrying everything I'll decide I need/want.
  5. Better waterproofing. More plastic bags maybe.
  6. Knife, of some sort.
Philosophical Musings
  1. Be prepared to slip and fall on your ass. You have no idea what's underneath the ground you can't see. You have no idea what weight that log will support until you put all your weight onto it. By then, it'll be too late, so just be okay with what you get, as long as it's not a contusion.
  2. Try to avoid keeping your gaze down for too long because sometimes you might hit your head on a low-hanging branch. Look up.
  3. Sidewalks make sense now that I've had to make my own path through the woods.


I'm including a slew of photos in order to get you guys a feel for what I encountered on my jaunt through the woods.

So, ideally, you understand what I'm trying to do here as well as the inclusion of a graffiti tag. This really was an homage to #StickEmUpMovie, but I hadn't seen the film yet. I heard the term "street art" and assumed it was graffiti. After the fact, this graffiti is on the opposite end of the spectrum due solely to the overt/obscure bifurcation of the canvasses.

At this point I'm facing the eastern feeder of 610 between Post Oak & Woodway. It's right at the bridge before the entrance ramp. If I were on the actual road, I'd be staring at the Uptown Park strip mall.

But you may be asking yourself "Why is this shot done so awkwardly?" And I would respond not with words but a visual qualifier like this.

This was how I was able to take this shot: by standing on a utility pipe with my back to the busted up concrete blocks. The jagged shards of concrete & stagnant water did not look nice or welcoming. It really was nothing, but probably more than the majority of you would be willing to attempt.

Below is where the water was coming from the Uptown Park strip mall. It pours from the bottom of the previous photo to the top of the photo. And this side tributary continues in that general direction toward the bayou. This looks like a photo I took from my original post, and I actually started walking inside of it to see what I would find. Unlike the last time back in March when I was unprepared for dirty adventures, I decided I would be as willing to walk into something possibly infected with whatever infests dark, damp, ignored spaces. I pussied out (for lack of a better word) for only one reason: I don't like inhaling bugs. Which is what happened. I was inhaling little knats/bugs/whatever despite my best efforts. I initially was breathing through my mouth due to physical exertion and decided that this was a bad idea. Alternating to breathe through my nose only led to me getting bugs stuck up my nose. Feeling unprepared for something I was ignorant of, I decided this could be postponed until I could locate friends of mine who own ski goggles, gas masks, or both. So onward I went considering my limitations. Onward with the journey...

This is an embankment along the huge Xerox office building I parked in. Notice how the contractors used the chicken wire fence and the compacted rocks in order to prevent and soil from eroding. I enjoyed the rocks for nature vs. rocks for civilization in this photo. There's a way in which naturally occurring elements are manipulated to mark the border between the developed and the undeveloped. Like as if this grey area needs to be padded by a hybrid to transition from one to the other. And then all that intellectual, liberal arts bullshit is blown out of the water by this little gem I traipsed right by...

BOOM. Metal. All metal. Steel? Whatever. It's not rocks. It's metal. Well... there's concrete and a few rocks, but it's mostly just man-made stuff.

See that sloping concrete slab in the background? Yeah... I had to crouch down really low in order to make it across because the angle was so steep. And the imperfections in the concrete formation helped to clutch onto in order to make it across. Control is about imposing one's logic onto another. That logic is assumed to be valid & perfect, but I was able to leverage those imperfections in order to fit into the cracks left available to explore. This is high-minded bullshit, but I still think it makes some sense. I'm standing on the same sorta rocks in the foreground in order to take this picture. But if I look to my right and notice what's at my feet, I'll get this.

Which is basically the same thing as the above, save the fact that it's on a smaller scale. It created a little bit of a babbling brook milieu, but is still circling the concept of control of the natural environment. It's mirroring of the huge steel wall above was what caught my eye. (I can tell right now I'm going to have a hard time coming up with a variety of words which mean "environment", "nature", and "feeling".) Onward...

So something like this is what occurs when you gradually transition the elevated development in to the bayou. See the stairs of the embankment, iterating themselves closer and closer to the bayou. I took the detail photo from above to the left of what this photo was taken. This gives a bigger picture of what is accomplished by those constructions. And all of the details add up so something like the above...

...Could look like this. This is the Xerox building from behind. It's huge. It's really huge. It's spread out. It's an impressive structure once you're on the verge of falling into nasty bayou water. You're like, "Wow, I wish I could be way the hell up there in the A/C playing Crash Bandicoot not worrying about this dumb project where I want to explore the nasty bayou of Houston going into the Spring/Summer months where both the temperature and the humidity will be above 90." Moving forward.

Footprint of an animal. It looks like a lemur footprint, but I don't know what a lemur footprint looks like, so I'm basing this on nothing. It was cool to think that I wasn't alone. I left my own footprint, but it's a shitty photograph, so I'm not going to show it. You'll have to understand that I thought of creating the parallel but was limited on time/energy/dry hands.

I decided I'd follow the bayou around the Xerox building so I curled back from the bayou & 610 to the bayou & 610. The Xerox builidng is to my left. So, further down, the bayou is this bridge you've crossed a million times trying to get to Woodway from Post Oak. I was walking and found a footprint, but I also found this can tied with fishing wire onto this stick. The feeling I had from the Coke can was the opposite of what I felt with the lemur footprint. It was creepy because I didn't feel alone but in a bad way. I suppose the footprint was a communal feeling vs this where you feel objectified & watched. Notice the bridge in the background because everything is forward here.

Sunset underneath the bridge. Not too much of the hobo-age perphernalia visible underneath this bridge, so I knew I was safe for the time being. This beautiful sunset that this picture can't even approach in terms of comparable perspective. The kewl thing was the noise coming from above. It was a perspective of the freeway I had never experienced before. And all I had to do was to look up.

[Put filler here.]

So I turned around and came back down the bayou and posted a photo on the Twitters. I jumped from a mound of dirt to this island of dirt & foliage. After climbing along the bank of the bayou for long enough, I came across this yet-to-be-finished development. Notice how this hill of rocks looks remarkably similar to the Xerox building's erosion-prevention design. Lots of rocks, lots of sloping. Blah blah blah. I look to my left this time.

Voilá. Pretty green stuff attached to less pretty brown things set against a big blue amorphous something. Some wavelengths bouncing off the green stuff at some points in the photo. A lack of wavelengths perceptible at other points in the photo.

I turn the corner and see this overpass. I think it's initially that bridge that is where Woodway & Memorial split off, but that's because I have no concept of geography. It turns out to be train tracks. (Upon reflection, it's probably the same tracks that intersect where Memorial & Woodway branch off.)

And then I get up to what turns out to be train tracks and see more tagging. Still, this was initially an homage to #StickEmUpMovie. Without having seen the movie, I now consider this to be erroneously referring to a film not about tagging at all. (My bad.) In the same way in which this project of mine is about ignored areas of Houston, how does this tagging represent what messages are trying to be communicated?

To the right, you'll see these stumps poking out of the water. This what I'm standing on in order to pass underneath the train tracks. To understand the path I had to take, I get down and take this photo of my boot and the stump.

Yes... I've already fallen into the bayou multiple times by this point. I was actually up to my crotch in the bayou, with my personal belonging sitting in water for 15 seconds at a time. Thankfully, I thought to bring plastic bags. It seemed natural at the time, but I gained persepctive when the train passed overhead and I realized how I was straddling these stumps of wood along the bayou on a Tuesday afternoon.

Here's a shot of the train that passed overhead.

I thought it was pretty. I climbed up on top of the train tracks.

And here's a photo of the train tracks. This is facing the San Felipe crossing, I believe. I could see cars in the distance.

Coming around and over the train tracks, I decided to see back down on where I just had crossed. I don't know why, but I feel that for perspective, I tried to get my path photographed from different angles. Here you see the refuse gathering at the base.

And this is the house with the hill of rocks in the background and the Xerox building behind that. My left hand is used to block out the sun. That's ingenuity.

I circle back around to walk through the woods. Where my path toward the train tracks was defined by water & mud, the latter half of the journey was definitely terrestrial & very forresty. I could use a path that exists, but that violates a basic principle. This is where it gets hairy. The next photo I take is this one after getting caught in the thicket for 15 minutes.

My first 10 minutes was fine, but after that, the thicket got thicker, and fatigue was taking its toll on me. The water in my socks & boots starts to irritate me more and more. My legs are heavy from being water logged & tired. But there's nothing to do but go forward. I can't go back because I know the path that got me here was torturesome, much less retracing it. In keeping with "going forward", it's mentally easier to go forward without knowing when/where it's going to end.

So the photo above is my standing on a log in the middle of the thicket. Looking back, it was probably around the mid-point of my journey back through the woods. I had to crouch down low in order to get past the branches and the vines. Using my stick as a machete to clear a path in front of me, I was glad that I had it after using my hands to clear vines and grabbed onto a couple of thorn-riddled vines. The stick I used on the 1st half to dig into the mud to prevent me from falling into the bayou was latter used to whack at the flora. I later realized it was useful in case I needed it to ward off dangerous animals or people. (The feeling itself of being in the woods versus being along the bank of the bayou were completely antithetical. One was defined by openess and curiosity while the trudging through the forest involved isolation & and a self-consciousness about how my paths were limited. I was definitely in more of a defensive mode while walking back.)

Here's a photo of the thicket after I got off the log and remembered to take photos of this adventure. I mostly forgot to take photos because I was too busy getting touched by the forest's tentacles.

There were moments where I wanted to despair.

I thought back to documents I read of Spanish Conquistadors traveling through the lush Amazonian jungle.
I thought of how Texas was taken from Native Americans.
I thought of how much noise I was making.
Was I talking to myself?
How much of a wake I probably had.
I thought maybe I would get lost forever.
I had a few non-work work things to get done that other people were relying on me for, and I knew I had to get those done.
I thought I had made a wrong choice by not just going along the opposite bank of bayou for my return trip. I doubted myself.
I doubted what this was.
What this third adventure had become.
I thought of my ex.
I thought of work.
I thought of my college experience.
I thought of high school.
I thought of family.
I thought of what not having shoes would feel like.
I thought of what it would've been like if I were being hunted.

Then... a clearing in the forest. Then...

...A phone call. It's my boss wanting me to get stuff done for my non-work work. I had civilization beckoning me back. I had time to worry about. I had to get back. I had to find my way out of this. And I had to get back to a computer to code some website stuff. And to talk about it here. I Twittered this photo because it was pretty, and the last photo I took from my adventure on the 5th of April.

So yeah. Those are my thoughts on this. More to come. Maybe if I remember anything else extremely astute, I'll update this or post again.

And onward go I.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What I Did with My Sunday


About two weeks ago, I found myself needing to not drive home after a night of debauchery. I ended up roaming around the city thereafter. It led to a fortuitous discovery of some exit drain on the edge of the bayou.

It was a brief moment where I felt like I was one of the first people deciding that going through the brush was the best idea ever machinated. It was horrible & awful, but fun at the same time.

Here are the three tweets I made of the adventure I had that Sunday afternoon:

Right when I was having to climb down an embankment in jeans, boots, and a blazer, I realized how amazing it is that this sorta of structure was hidden from view. It's an industrial piece of our civilized world that's been fused with nature (seamlessly) and absconded from view.


I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an outdoors-y type. I'm awesomely athletic and enjoy the competitive aspect to physical exertion but that's about it. Oh... and the camaraderie too. Given the fact I enjoy reading my online articles of import and all the other technological gadgets that allow me to partake in the 21st century, I'm pretty stuck into the digital version of the cosmopolitan sphere. Despite my proclivities, I resolved to explore the bayous & natural spaces that are so hidden from Houston's public view.


I resolved to go on more adventures of discovery around the city I know & love. My attempt in doing so are three-fold:
  1. It will give my public a view of Houston they're not used to. It's not an attempt to explore nature & laud all of its wonderment (despite the awe being there) but more of a reflection upon the parts of the city ignored by the hustle & the bustle. More so than the gentrifying ghettos and decaying industrial districts, the greenery of Houston seems to be so easy to forget since it's so ubiquitous & installed along paths of transit.
  2. Ideally, I'm hoping to come to some cogent conclusions about the use of urban space & elements put into place when designing a city. We design cities for living, and a lot of the space to be utilized never is. I think seeing how nature's organized & our reaction to it will give me perspective on the city's organization.
  3. Since I'm sort of a contrarian, this project of mine will try to counteract the buildings, events, and the foods that occupy my Twitter feed.
  4. These hikes through the woods make sense. They make sense since, if you've seen me recently, I could use the exercise.
And then comes Today...

I was basically at this building off of 610 between Post Oak Blvd & Woodway.

I was only able to spend 45 minutes exploring, but felt like I was starting off on something worthwhile.

I started this great/bad/awesome idea by parking at the bottom level of the parking structure for the Xerox building. I was wearing walking shoes & a pair of khakis. I had not planned fully the events of my day. Whoops. I just hope I don't destroy these pants. I like these pants. They're Dickies, but, hey, they make my legs looks slender. Onward...

So I ventured out like the first time. This time, I've got a more grandiose vision of what's out there. I stare out at the great space before me.

But, alas, I only had 30 minutes before I had to be at brunch with my sister and her boyfriend. So I retreated away from further exploration and returned to civilization, with a clean pair of white tennis shoes & a mildly soiled pair of pants. It was a nice introduction to what I might want to do when I really decided to venture out into unknown territory.


The impetus for all this must seem odd unless you know more about me. Lots of things have changed recently about me with regards to major signifiers I find important. As a result, I'm in flux. Since I've been going through this weird transition between being an immature asshole & a less-immature less-asshole-y jerk, this sorta positive-ish preoccupation makes sense.

I hope to make sense & give good photos. We'll see how it goes. My next post should come in a few days. I'm hoping to do something Tuesday along the same area I was going through today.

Click here to continue this adventure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011



My name is Nich. (Hi!) My Twitter bio is a concise enough explanation of me & my interests. It’s obviously not comprehensive enough, but you don’t have 25 years to get up to speed. Further, I don’t even know myself, so I don’t expect you to either. You have your thin slice, and that’ll suffice.

Second, this rant will be pedantic, high-minded, and hyper-critical at times. It will patronizing-in-simplicity, reductionistic, and broad-sweeping at others. I apologize for any gaps in my logic, but I am but one man with a netbook with small keys & a small screen & fat fingers. So yeah. Feel free to comment to correct my egregious errors. Also, I’m kind of a know-it-all & a cynic, but I’m working on fixing that. I’ve split up the rant into readable pieces.

Thirdly, let me explain the genesis of this post. This Friday, @JRCohen tweeted about how he’s bothered by the new appearance of the daily “papers” that people are pushing on their Tweeters and Facebooks. A reply by @deneyterrio initiated my engagement in the discussion. I’ve aggregated and organized the Twitter segmented conversation below. This piece will refer to comments made but not individually link to each comment since that’s less linear (& messier). I’m not a fan of I first saw it posted from @gracerodriguez but had no desire to read someone else’s repostings. I have my Twitter feed & lists for that. I also have a Google Reader I never use anymore.

Ok, so let’s begin.


FRI, January 7th, 6:54 pm!/JRCohen/status/23537908950503424
I mean no disrespect, but now that 20% (not accurate) of my friends and Twitter peeps have their own daily paper, how does one read them all
SAT, January 8th, 11:54 am!/JRCohen/status/23799628948307968
Original Content is best. This Daily Paper thing just seems like a way to build ones SEO. Someone help me better understand this please.
SAT, 12:00 pm!/deneyterrio/status/23801167997833216
@JRCohen it definitely seems like content jacking. A couple years ago it was blogs stealing your posts. It seems more sophisticated
SAT, 12:01 pm!/deneyterrio/status/23801486316150784
@JRCohen I'm sure most end users don't see how they are inadvertently making money for by repurposing their friends content
SAT, 12:05 pm!/martnehz/status/23802561123328000
@deneyterrio @JRCohen I took it more as a step in the direction of aggregating online experiences. This drives traffic to the sites, rite?
SAT, 12:06 pm!/martnehz/status/23802750710054912
@deneyterrio @JRCohen But I see the SEO angle now that you say it.
SAT, 12:15 pm!/deneyterrio/status/23805109628575744
@martnehz @JRCohen aggregation is good but it seems lazy and categorically wrong at times
SAT, 12:21 pm!/JRCohen/status/23808344569413632
My feeling exactly RT @deneyterrio: @martnehz @JRCohen aggregation is good but it seems lazy and categorically wrong at times
SAT, 12:31 pm!/JRCohen/status/23809122231132160
@martnehz @deneyterrio whatever happen to "Original Content?" Where are all the writers at? Even blogs are getting to where its not original
SAT, 12:32 pm!/martnehz/status/23809266846535680
@deneyterrio It is lazy, but that's the point, right? Trying to think of a wrong type of aggreg'n. E.g.?
SAT, 12:33 pm!/JRCohen/status/23809441593823234
I hope not. RT @martnehz: @deneyterrio It is lazy, but that's the point, right? Trying to think of a wrong type of aggreg'n. E.g.?
SAT, 12:34 pm!/JRCohen/status/23809761732460544
Days of reading original content on blogs seem to dwindle. Posts about posts about posts. That's what comments are for on the original blog.
SAT, 12:48 pm!/martnehz/status/23813305009176576
@JRCohen @deneyterrio In an info'n economy, a orig'l thot becomes just another widget being reproduced over & over until a new 1 is needed.
SAT, 12:49 pm!/spacecitypaula/status/23813516901224449
@JRCohen I hope not all blogs are going that way.
SAT, 12:54 pm!/JRCohen/status/23814821594005506
@spacecitypaula I'm with you on that. Its like reading a book. I don't want to read a book about a book about a book. If that makes sense.
SAT, 1:00 pm!/spacecitypaula/status/23816383540232194
@JRCohen It makes sense. It's one thing if something in a post prompts you to create some new. Its another if it's just a list of links.
SAT, 1:13 pm!/JRCohen/status/23819706863456256
@spacecitypaula exactly
SAT, 1:14 pm!/JRCohen/status/23819838132592641
RT @heritagetourist aggregation let's me catch things I might have missed from 1 important list not lazy, not wrong just another way 2 share
SAT, 1:37 pm!/raissaevans/status/23825693695545344
@JRCohen @deneyterrio @martnehz Diff btw aggreg & curation to me. Eg I trust @btruax looks at his aggreg & reposts best no-miss stuff.
SAT, 1:46 pm!/martnehz/status/23827965104099328
@raissaevans But that's what every1 does, right? You trust bc you find some legitimacy in @btruax. Others may not. Charlatantry is relative.
SAT 1:50 pm!/raissaevans/status/23828865918967808
@martnehz Right. But definition-wise, to me finding a good curator, whoever shows you value, is wise. Aggregator is noisy.
SAT 1:51 pm!/raissaevans/status/23829207905734656
@martnehz But to @JRCohen's point, it all means nothing wo original content. How often do we have brand new ideas?
SAT, 1:53 pm!/btruax/status/23829586034823168
@raissaevans Thanks for the compliment Raissa! I agree with @martnehz to an extent, I can tell when some1 didn't read, only liked the title.
SAT, 1:53 pm!/btruax/status/23829779597758464
@martnehz @raissaevans and posting link-bait is of no use to anyone. Further insight gained, or time was wasted. @JRCohen@deneyterrio
SAT, 1:54 pm!/raissaevans/status/23829863722909696
@btruax @martnehz So true. Like a twitter feed full of RTs or links, no thoughts. Blah.
SAT, 2:02 pm!/martnehz/status/23831879396368386
@raissaevans @btruax Or pics of food, concerts, or random strangers across the street. "Original" doesn't signify "Worthwhile".
SAT, 2:04 pm!/raissaevans/status/23832354837499904
@martnehz @btruax No doubt! The Facebook vs Twitter phenom. One way follow encourages better content, IMO, among other things.
SAT, 2:40 pm!/martnehz/status/23841431592374272
@raissaevans I would argue there is no such thing as new content, just reimaginings of it, a reshuffling of the deck. Or simply memory loss.
SAT, 2:27 pm!/martnehz/status/23845302146433024
@martnehz Why is this?
SAT, 2:55 pm!/martnehz/status/23845302146433024
@jaclyncristine Cynicism mostly, but my POV is that we're simple beings w simple desires. Everything else is elabor'n and obfusc'n.
SAT, 2:56 pm!/martnehz/status/23845616723435521
@jaclyncristine Despite that, I still try everyday for something new and fresh.


Here’s the long-short of the resposne to @JRCohen’s lamentation. It reappears lower down on the page, but I've decided to give it to you quicker so you can go on your merry way.

The basic thread of @JRCohen’s vexation comes from the fact that there is all this “content” being churned out without thought or care to be produce something “of value”. The emergence of as an aggregation tool really demonstrates how there’s a big need for there to be a dump for the knowledge people gather in order to make it seem like they are well-read people. That’s not truly their intent, but that’s the gist of what is going on underneath. I do it. We all do it. We try to be smart, on-the-edge, blah blah blah. My take on the whole deal is that @JRCohen’s biggest problem is that most people are talking more about themselves with these (lazy, sloppy) aggregators than they are trying to talk about a particular topic.

I would argue that the people that post the stuff they’re reading on Google Reader, the stuff they post on Facebook, the content they include in their daily speaks more about what they want to have represent them. In the same way those nice shoes you wear out speak about you in some way, these articles project something inside of us into a public sphere. All of these people are talking about the content that matters to them, so much as they’re talking about themselves, even if it is in a round-about manner.

The issue is that most people aren't original. And there's no possibility for them to be original.

And that's why I consider these aggregators as more of being on a spectrum of originality. They group information and communicate it in a more cogent manner. It doesn't mean the non-producers get off the hook for not being original, but they at least get more understanding from me for not always being worried about being original.



All information is noise. Neither the validity nor the legitimacy of the information matters to the receiver since equal amount of energy must be expended to attend to the information. All information is equal. Given the appropriate external (e.g. time, place, sender) and internal (e.g. mood, attentiveness) factors is the information perceived & received. We are human & only have 24 hours a day to consume all the information we want. Blah blah blah. So there are limitations. No biggie.

This being the Digital Age, the amount of information has increased exponentially given the fact that there is such a minimal cost in producing it. This assertion I’m pulling from a Cracked article, which clarified & cogently stated a few things I had been thinking about these topics. But yeah, lots more noise now than before. Given the increased dissemination of these digital technologies, we’re looking at the more and more noise being put out there.

Add to the equation economic structures that are so sophisticated that we are able to customize widgets to be however the purchaser wants them to be (e.g. cell phone covers, iPods, Twitter, etc.). This segmentation of experience further augments the way in which the noise is being transmitted. So I’m basically arguing there’s a Yeatsian spiraling of our online experiences. (i.e. THE END IS NEAR.) This is just a complication of the technology we've developed throughout time. It is useful to know that technology is the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or create an artistic perspective. Thus, it makes our lives easier, but since we’re human, it also complicates our lives.

So what then do we do with all this information?


What usually occurs with information is that it is either discarded & forgotten or saved & guarded. The saved information is categorized and placed into groups so our brains can make sense of it. (This is how stereotypes are formed, be they good or bad.) With our new Digital World being so decentralized, it only makes sense that putting information together is the next requisite step. You see this in the creation of modern science. Inter-disciplinary scienctific studies are a huge thing now since the knowledge base (within each silo of information) has become so profound & specialized that connecting the dots is where the gaps are.

So the technology should allow us to help us sift through the information we want to keep & the information we want to get rid of. How could it help us discard/save more easily?


The interesting thing with the new technology developed is that it separates us from interacting with our fellow human beings, and allows us to be enmeshed within our own psyches. Connectivity to the outside world, yes, but also the ability to sit at a bar by yourself & not need to speak to the people next to you. Understanding that these examples shed light on why the revealings about Twitter make the most sense. We are just talking to ourselves on Twitter. People may be listening, but probably not as much as we would think.

Production of digital content becomes easier too with technology. And what's the easiest stuff to talk about? Ourselves. Why? Because there's not much editing with discussions of what you're up to.


The comments of @raissaevans about curation plagues me still since I still consider a lot of "curation" as aggregation. In a weird sort of way, any level of aggregation is a collecting of a disparate selection of information, which to me falls in line with "curation" by the sole fact that it entails a minimal amount of selection, regardless of the amount of selectivity. You to figure out what you're going to aggregate, even if you're not consciously trying to create some cohesive message for the received of your noise.

But @heritagetourist's comments about how aggregation is just a different way to sort information makes me feel like I'm on the right path in think that aggregation is not a negative way in which this grouping can occur. @heritagetourist's comments tie into my thesis that aggregation is detached from @JRCohen's desire for originality.

The reason @raissaevans's bifurcation between aggregation and curation plague me so is because they are inherently arbitrarily attributing value to someone. This speaks to the legitimacy discussion. @btruax is found to be a very legitimate source of information to @raissaevans while I am not. But my friends who click on my links because they know it's going to be interesting. I find that legitimacy itself is relative.

A definition I found of curation is "the selective exposition of a group of information." Aggregation is the grouping of information, but I find it not less selective since parameter-ize the information your grouping. My issue is in the value-judgement applied to curation vs. aggregation, but I will not resolve that discussion here.


So gets money off the fact that people want to “produce content”. I asked @deneyterrio what he thought the revenue model was for, and he stated, “There are ads in someones daily page plus all the link juice goes back to They are making money off of people's content for free”.

My opinion is that if someone else figured out how to monetize your content, that's the free market for you. Sure, there are people who make money off their web-produced content, but they aren't complaining that someone is making money off sending traffic to their site. It's a simple interstitial economy that's been created as a middle-man-ry of the intur-webz.

There's a trade-off for everything, and the intur-webz is no different. You can't have the freedom of being easily searchable without the downside of having your content taken without your consent. In the case of, no one expects their to make money but provide content to their public. I don't see it any different than from anything else I see going on within the socialized web experience.


Now, I have spent the majority of the past decade trying to be original, to strive to be different and something more than what has proceeded. For the past 7 years, I’ve tried to achieve this with my writing. This mindset has only led to a lot of frustration & anxiety and mixed results in terms of original content. Only within the past two years have I been able relinquish myself of these negatives affects for something more constructive. My perspective shifted once I made the observation about the sole emphasis on being “original”. The perspective I got is stated concisely by Luis Buñuel:
“I already presume that everything has already been done throughout the history of humankind... As such, there’s a liberation in knowing that you don’t have to be original. It’s contrived. It doesn’t exist. The human experience is so broad & far-reaching that one will never be completely original. Your originality is but a pocket in time. When you’re not racing to be original, your mind frees itself to focus on making something new to you. And that’s all anyone can ask of you."
That’s why in business (as opposed to art), there’s lots of repetition. It’s more efficient that way, given the fact that the primary motive in a business to make a profit. A light bulb factory doesn’t need to create the machine to produce the light bulbs they sell. They just need to take whatever light-bulb-building-machine exists and produce light bulbs the way they think they can make ‘em. The world’s changed, and so has the economy of the developed world. We are an information economy. I assert that these people who use the service are but a new generation of factory workers who reproduce what’s already been created with their light-bulb-building-machine.

Not everyone is original. It’s just a given fact. GE can produce light bulbs, but it took Thomas Edison to first invent it. And we’re not all Thomas Edisons. But even then, Thomas Edison isn’t Thomas Edison. We as a society cling to the few elite producers of originality. That’s why originality is so prized because it’s so rare.

I would argue that despite the fact that people are producing content unique to only themselves, that doesn't mean it's at all quality or original. Some people just aren't able to produce stuff that's original. They just reproduce what they've seen, heard, touched. By doing so, they create their own patische of what's already been done. Most people are like that because it's easier to do it. It requires no effort to create, only minimal commentary on stuff that already exists. Additionally, that's why the tool of irony and irreverence gets old quickly. It's a tool of the young and angsty. Yes, I realizes it's a tool of the weak mind, and I do it too, but to base your whole discourse in a destructive light is general #lamesauce.

The basic thread of @JRCohen’s vexation comes from the fact that there is all this “content” being churned out without thought or care to be produce something “of value”. The emergence of as an aggregation tool really demonstrates how there’s a big need for there to be a dump for the knowledge people gather in order to make it seem like they are well-read people. That’s not truly their intent, but that’s the gist of what is going on underneath. I do it. We all do it. We try to be smart, on-the-edge, blah blah blah. My take on the whole deal is that @JRCohen’s biggest problem is that most people are talking more about themselves with these (lazy, sloppy) aggregators than they are trying to talk about a particular topic. And obviously talking to your friend who only takes about themselves takes a lot more patience than someone who talks about a smattering of world issues.

I would argue that the people that post the stuff they’re reading on Google Reader, the stuff they post on Facebook, the content they include in their daily speaks more about what they want to have represent them. In the same way those nice shoes you wear out speak about you in some way, these articles project something inside of us into a public sphere. All of these people are talking about the content that matters to them, so much as they’re talking about themselves, even if it is in a round-about manner.

The issue is that most people aren't original. And there's no possiblity for them to be original.

And that's why I consider these aggregators as more of being on a spectrum of originality. They group information and communicate it in a more cogent manner. It doesn't mean the non-producers get off the hook for not being original, but they at least get more understanding from me for not always being worried about being original.


The only reason I decided to initially join the conversation was because group of my tech-conscious friends and I were having a discussion with regards to “aggregation” of information we encounter through our travailing through the intur-webz.

We were lamenting the fact that there is no service that really allows an intur-webz keep track of the topics they find interesting. Basically, it’d be an archiving plus RSS technology combined to allow users. Google Reader does this, but it doesn’t segment by topic. So it allows one to see channels & allows one to post & archive what one finds interesting, but it’s very linear. Nor does Google Reader proactively search for keywords that matter to you.

In terms of RSS technology, you could save a search page (on Google, Twitter, etc.), but I had a vision of one “place” where the dynamic search would update with a spot for saved pages you’re interested in. The technology exists for dynamic search, but I think some of the most key ones I’m thinking of are proprietary. Further, there should be the ability of the “place” to download the webpages of interest in their entirety because some pages go behind a firewall after a certain amount of time (think of the New York Times). If you cached a page on some cloud-based server, than you’d be able to refer to the article whenever you needed. This might not be legal, but it’s very much possible with the current technology out there.

So yeah.

So what have I done? Have I aggregated? Have I curated? Have I really created something new? Or am I borrowing from something from my past? Tell me what you think because I don’t know.

The mere task of putting together the Tweeter conversations into one cohesive, linear dialogue took me 30 minutes. That's just simple aggregation, and it still took a long time. I can't imagine how long being truly original would've taken.