Tag Archives: technology

Great Textpectations

I so wanted to officially name this essay “Great Textpectations” but my (excellent) Role/Reboot editor vetoed in favor of something that I’m sure will drive more search traffic. I would have done it up though, with some thesis-style, colon-ated, alliteration-heavy titles, like:

Great Textpectations: The Modern Myth of Constant Communication

Great Textpectations: Varied Virtual Contact in the 21st Century Land of Love

Great Textpectations: Keeping it Klassy and Torrid Textual Triumphs

Okay, so that last one was realllly bad, but damn do I miss naming college essays! This week, I wrote about texting (and other digital communication) and how to handle it when your wavelength and your partner’s wavelength are not even close to the same frequency. I’m not sure how wavelengths and frequency work, so that analogy might not make sense.

Is Technology Ruining Your Relationship?

Related Post: Why I love Foursquare.

Related Post: Counting Facebook friends.

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So What Do You Do Exactly? Presidential Library Edition

For the second time ever, the featured interviewee of my jobs series So What Do You Do Exactly? is a dude! Yay for diversity! This is Kevin. Kevin works at the JFK Library Foundation in Boston live-tweeting things, writing things, planning things, and trying to understand why people are so fascinated by JFK eating an ice cream cone.

What’s your actual title? Communications Associate at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

What would your title be if it actually described what you do all day? Something like Communications/Development/Events/Research/ Administrative Assistant. We have a ton of things going on as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Administration, so we have a lot of cross-departmental cooperation

Describe a sample day: My days can vary greatly depending on the type of project we’re working on at the time. Last week I got to work at 6:45 so I could shoot photos and video of Freedom 7, the space capsule that carried the First American into space, as it arrived at the Library. In general, I usually kick off my day by doing a quick email check, creating some content for our social media pages if we don’t have any saved, and getting administrative tasks — writing thank-you letters to donors or filing meetings notes, for example — out of the way as quickly as possible.

Beyond those everyday tasks, it’s hard to say what each day will hold. In the past few weeks I have spent afternoons building invite lists and coordinating RSVPs for our event at the DNC, writing press releases for the Library’s upcoming programs, editing our monthly newsletter, and live-tweeting a Q&A we held via satellite with two astronauts currently living on the International Space Station. In short, I’m either preparing for major events, or handling the events as they happen; but the events are so varied, I’m always finding new ways to be engaged in my work. I might interview the son of a former Soviet Premier next week, (hint: last name sounds like “crew shave”) so I spent my afternoon today writing some interview questions — and may or may not have stolen a few of yours.
What is the purpose of a Presidential Library? What role does it play in society? Seems like a relic…Though other Presidential Libraries have fallen by the wayside, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum has thrived not only as a collection of artifacts from the president’s life, but as a cultural institution devoted to carrying on the Kennedy legacy of civic engagement and social consciousness to future generations. (OK, that sounded pretty PR, but it’s true.)
Other presidential libraries have stayed small and local, which suits them just fine. But JFK Library has the benefit of being located in a thriving cultural hub like Boston, and can therefore plan programming for a large audience. We had an event in Charlotte this week featuring Deval Patrick, David Gregory, Chris Hughes (Facebook co-founder), and contributors from the New York Times and CNN. We house an incredible collection of Kennedy memorabilia, as well as the largest collection of Ernest Hemingway’s works in the world (donated by his wife Mary shortly after his death). The MFA, ICA, Museum of Science, Gardener Museum, and nearly every museum in Boston reach new audiences by celebrating the past while embracing the present. That’s what the JFK Museum is all about.
How has social media/technology changed museum culture? Has JFK embraced this stuff or shied away from it? Technology has only enhanced the Library’s ability to bring exhibits to the masses. We recently began a digital archival project, preserving nearly every piece of Kennedy media we own. We’ve used film restoration companies to restore audio and video of Kennedy speeches from unusable to crystal-clear quality.

As for social media, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know our audience, and what kind of material appeals to them. It seems that posting archival material from the 1960s has been more successful than our present-day stuff. People just love looking at photos of the Kennedys or reading inspirational quotes from JFK’s speeches — we even have a Twitter account devoted solely to re-living the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Administration day by day, and people love it. I spent last week trying to get our social media audience excited about our International Space Station event, but they were more interested in a photo of JFK eating ice cream. A photo of JFK and Jackie in Hyannis Port would trump a forum with Obama, Elvis, and the ghost of Henry Clay.
In a tough economy like this, why should people donate to a museum given all the other deserving non-profits out there? The mission of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation was first articulated by Jacqueline Kennedy, who, when describing the yet-to-be-built library, envisioned it as “a vital center of education and exchange and thought, which will grow and change with the times.” There will be ups and downs in the economy, but cultural institutions are crucial for a society’s growth. It’s hard to argue that the Library is more deserving than any particular charity, but given the drastic cuts in education funding and marginalization of teachers striking for a fair wage, I think any institution continuing to make an impact educationally and culturally should be celebrated and supported.
Which is the best Presidential Library? Having been to none of the other ones, I can say unequivocally that ours is the best. I’ll give the Reagan Library second place because my Uncle works security there. And I’ll give the Coolidge Library third, because whoever works there is going to be really excited when they get their first Google alert in 3 months. (Kidding, of course. They don’t have internet at the Coolidge Museum.)
Kevin would also like you to know that, “like a drunken sparrow, he tweets and tumbls. He also co-runs a TV blog he’s hoping to update before this interview gets published so he doesn’t look bad.”
Related Post: SWDYDE: Ambika is a social strategist

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Filed under Education, Politics

Sunday Scraps 72

1. ZOE: British Olympian Zoe Smith strikes back at body haters in an extremely articulate and extremely badass blog post.

2. RACE: Nicole Moore at the Huffington Post addresses the recent announcement that Nina Simone will be played by Zoe Saldana and the controversial history of casting famous black women.

3. KATRINA: For the New Yorker’s Letter from Louisiana Katherine Boo reports on one town’s reaction, years later, to Katrina evacuees.

4. WRITING: How do contemporary writers address texting, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare, Skype and the like in new fiction? The Millions addresses the “awkward but necessary role of technology in fiction.”

5. WHITE HOUSE: New York Times profiles White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on her role in the Obama administration, especially during his courtship of female voters.

6. MEDITATION: Men’s Journal follows one man’s journey into total silence and total boredom in a 10-day meditation course at Dhamma Giri in Western India.

Related Post: Sunday 71 = Cosmo around the world, Helen Gurley Brown, Dr. Ann McKee

Related Post: Sunday 70 = Louie CK interview, boys in dresses, tween books


Filed under Body Image, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

Sunday Scraps 67

1. TELEVISION: Someone took the time to make a Lego-animated recap of The Wire. It’s disconcertinly accurate, down to McNulty’s boozing and Lester’s dollhouses (via The Atlantic Wire).

2. NAMES: File this under things “Things I Worry About A Lot.” NPR investigates what happens when hyphen-girl meets hyphen boy and they try to name their offspring.

3. CRIME: Great, complex New York Times Magazine essay on the fate of Greg Ousley, who killed his parents at age fourteen, was tried as an adult, and is now a “model” prisoner.

4. BOOKS: Do you like books? Do you like the history of books? How about the history of the deckle edge (that rough, uneven way that some printers style book pages)? Then this piece from The Millions is for you.

5. BEAUTY: Just a little reminder that we could all be supermodels if we had the resources, and cheekbones. Or, at bare minimum, supermodels are really just very tall normal people when you take off the make-up.

6. TECH: TimesCast interviews Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, about her new project, Pinwheel.

Related Post: Sunday 66: Library propaganda, Nancy Pelosi, dying languages, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 65: Nicki Minaj, Margaret Atwood on Twitter, lady scientists.


Filed under Art, Body Image, Books, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

GenderSwapping the Internet

Short post today, but this is just too cool not to share. Jess, the awesome developer/robot-maven, sent over a nifty Google plug-in called “Jailbreak the Patriarchy.”

Install it, and your browser will be granted magical genderswapping powers. Click the toggle button in the top right and pronouns and other gendered words will be swapped.

Also, note my Pinterest button. Obviously.

For example, I jailbroke a paragraph from the NYT on Marissa Mayer (swapped words in blue):

Mr. Mayer’s first task will be to articulate a vision for Yahoo. He was the first male engineer hired by Google, and he spent 11 years there perfecting Google’s Web search, still the dominant search engine, and became its most recognizable public face. He confidently appeared at conferences, company product announcements and on network morning shows to explain innovations in search and Gmail. The clean look of the search engine was credited to Mr. Mayer’s sense of aesthetics.

“My focus at Google has been to deliver great end-user experiences, to delight and inspire our end users,” Mr. Mayer said in an interview. “That is what I plan to do at Yahoo, give the end user something valuable and delightful that makes them want to come to Yahoo every day.”

What do you think? When I re-read this jailbroken article, only two words jumped out at me as interesting. First, “confidently” in paragraph one seemed, I don’t know… superfluous? Of course this engineer who is being described as extremely talented and innovative was confident presenting his or her accomplishments! Second, I chuckled at the use of “delight” when it was coming from a “male” quote.

Nothing egregious at all, and quite possibly all in my head, but I think the point of Jailbreak the Patriarchy is to compel me to think a little harder about speech patterns, adjective choice, and contextual clues that color how I write and think about public figures of both genders.

Related Post: Brogramming

Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? Interview with Grubhub’s first female developer.


Filed under Gender

Sunday Scraps 64

1. WEIGHT: Super stellar essay from my recent Jezebel favorite, Lindy West, on the intricacies of talking to pre-teens about fitness, nutrition, weight, and body image.

2. ART: Ahhh, this short comic by Chelsea Martin, “Heavy-handed Acne”  is just so beautiful and poignant and I love it (via The Rumpus).

3. PRIDE: Buzzfeed collected 32 images from Pride that will probably make you cry… in the good way.

4. WORDS: Basic but superbly addictive word game from Shy Gypsy. Make word associations across the map to keep the game branching out (i.e. Cow and Horse share the word Cowboy).

5. TECH: Fabulous, fascinating interview with Genevieve Bell, the director of interaction and experience research at Intel,  about the contents of our cars and the life cycle of technology (Slate).

6. CAREER: The unbeatable Jessica Hagy (of This Is Indexed) has contributed a series of her trademark line graphs, on the subject of finding a career path, to Forbes.

Related Post: Sunday 63 (Cabrini-Green, Merkel vs. Rae Jepsen, Anne Friedman, school lunches)

Related Post: Sunday 62 (Is this racist? Authors in bikinis, Sandberg, grammar points)


Filed under Art, Body Image, Books, Gender, Media

Sunday Scraps 59

1. WEIGHT: Michelle Obama takes a rare misstep with her support of The Biggest Loser. Ragen Chastain and Virginia Sole-Smith (Beauty Schooled) explain why.

2. KICK: New York Times has a kick-ass interactive graphic mapping the fundraising efforts of kickstarter drives over the last three years. What gets funded, and why?

3. GAY: Comedian Rob Delaney explains where homophobia comes from, and it isn’t pretty.

4. THRONES: My writer crush Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker covers Game of Thrones in all its nude, violent glory and explains why patriarchy, in Westeros and L.A. both, is what it’s really all about.

5. FOOD: Besides Guy Fieri, have any winners of The Next Food Network Star done squat with their title? NYMag breaks it down.

6. PSYCH: Fabulous, fascinating, chilling article in the New York Times Magazine about recent studies in psychopathy in children. At what age can we detect a future psychopath, what does it mean, and what can we do about it?

Related Post: Sunday 58: Alison Bechdel, boy-free prom, 10 most read books

Related Post: Sunday 57: nudity in Central park, David Brooks on higher ed, child stars


Filed under Body Image, Food, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 58

1. TECH: Great analysis from NYMag about the technological differences between Facebook and Instagram, and what makes one distrusted and the other beloved. What happens after the billion dollar purchase?

2. PROM: Religious and cultural restrictions prevented many Hamtramck students from attending a co-ed prom, so they had their own (via New York Times).

3. PLAY: Design blog This is Colossal has an awesome collection of super creative play structures. No basic monkey bars here!

4. BOOKS: Can you guess the ten most read books in the world? The Bible is number one, but what else makes the cut?

5. AUTHOR: Surprisingly, Barnes and Noble has a really interesting interview with author Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) about her new book, her mother, and process (she had a font created from her handwriting.)

6. INTERWEBZ: Comic strip Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour explains why the machines have won, and we might as well give up on ever disengaging from their shiny, glowing grasp.

Related Post: Sunday 57: Naked in the park, David Brooks on higher ed, child stars all growed up.

Related Post: Sunday 56: Hef’s letter to Chicago, Barney Frank, Evernote founder.


Filed under Art, Books, Media

Sunday Scraps 57

1. GEOGRAPHY: Lovely essay by Ciara Flynn at Thought Catalog about the lure of a geographic change when you’re looking to jumpstart your life.

2. CULTURE: Should you check your email? Here’s a flowchart, but I’ll cut to the chase: The answer is probably no (via The Rumpus).

3. HOLLYWOOD: Where are they now? Buzzfeed has a gallery of child actors from the 90s (supporting characters only) and what they look like these days. Generally speaking, not good.

4. EDUCATION: David Brooks’ column in the New York Times is about institutions of higher education and the growing trend to measure students’ progress after $250,000 and four years. Reasonable, right?

5. SPREAD: CNN has a pretty sweet gallery of images from space documenting the spread of humanity around the world.

6. BOOBS: Thanks to New York City’s topless-in-the-park laws, a brave contributor at The Gloss ventures out sans shirt to see how the law works in practice.

Related Post: Sunday 56: Letter from Hef to Chicago, interview with Barney Frank, Come to Bed with Bryn and Caro

Related Post: Sunday 55: Photos from juvenile detention centers, fake MA towns, geeky tattoos


Filed under Education, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People


I have a confession that is rather embarrassing. This site is hosted by GoDaddy.com, purveyor of horrible, objectifying, moronic ads with the GoDaddy “girls.” I wish this were not true. When I started this blog, I didn’t even realize I had options. That sounds silly, but the only brand I’d heard of that sold domain names was GoDaddy. Ick. I feel unclean.


GoDaddy is one of the many, many tech companies that transform a male-dominated culture (which is just demographically true) into a misogynistic culture. There’s Sqoot, which lists female bartenders as “perks” at their hackathons. There’s Geeklist and their dancing girl ads and the preposterous defense of said ad by an exec who uses the line “I have a family” as if that makes him incapable of sexism. There’s Klout, who recruits with signs that read “Want to bro down and crush code? Klout is hiring.” There’s a friend of mine whose boss prefaces conference calls with “Careful boys, Kim is on the phone, watch yourselves” and sends around photos on something he calls Bikini Thursdays.

I now sit in a row full of 20-something developers, “brogrammers” if you will. I listen to them all day long, and most of it goes something like this:

Brogrammer 1: Dude. I worked out so hard last night. That gym was my bitch. I bitchslapped all over that bench press. 

Brogrammer 2: Fuck yeah. Worked on my lats and delts. 

Brogrammer 1: That’s what’s up. That is WHAT IS UP. Did you deploy your branch yet? No? Let’s deploy this bitch.

And it’s like that all day long. Girls, exercise, code. Girls, exercise, code. And it’s all one big “bitch.” I should add, these are really, really nice guys. Every conversation I’ve ever had with them was polite, courteous, and completely pleasant. It’s just the hyper-masculine posturing that comes out at work that makes their environment not just male-friendly, but female-unfriendly.

Why do they need to change?  I like the way that Dan Shapiro (of Google) puts it best in this Mother Jones piece, “It is a widely understood truth that the single biggest challenge to a successful startup is attracting the right people. To literally handicap yourself by 50 percent is insanity.” To think that you are getting the best people, if you’re only looking at half the people, is idiotic. These guys tend to be good at math, so you would think this would be obvious. What’s more, the majority of their consumers (social networkers, internet consumers, online shoppers) are female! Forget fairness, equality, and social consciousness, just think about your bottom line for a minute!

Back to GoDaddy. I believe in trying to put my money where my mouth is. And my mouth is decidedly far, far away from GoDaddy.  This weekend, I’m tasking myself with figuring out how to make my ideological aversion a practical separation. But I’m a lady after all, and this is pretty technologically complicated, so we’ll see how it goes….

Related Post: Blowjob jokes in the work place?

Related Posts: Work life balance doesn’t mean one, specific work life balance.


Filed under Gender