Our Unifying Force

A couple of weeks ago, the trailer for the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, was released. Several co-workers gathered in our conference room and watched it multiple times on the Surface Hub.

It was a shared experience between lovers of this movie saga. We dissected the meanings behind the dialogue, commented on the music, spoke about how awesome December was going to be when the movie is actually released. It was fun. It was enjoyable. Like I said, a shared experience.

But when I got home, I realized that this unifying experience was not limited to our conference room. Twitter was alive with the buzz of the trailer. People from every walk of life: Geeks, Politicians, Sports Writers, Tech CEOs, Software developers, Literary Writers. The whole gamut was represented in the “audience” of Star Wars fans.

It occurred to me at that moment, that Star Wars is THE unifying force (pun *not* intended) in our current climate. With so much divisiveness present in our collective society, this one movie franchise seems to have the power to bring us all together.

I wonder if George Lucas ever dreamt that would be the case way back when this story was forming in his mind.

Editorial Note: Despite the tragedies that are the prequels, he should be very, very proud.

Apple doesn’t understand photography

Apple doesn’t understand photography

Apart from that Apple still thinks we use photography as we did it 30 years ago: we go on a trip, take a bunch of photo’s then struggle with how to show our friends these photos when we get back from our trip.

Well, I’ve got news for you Apple; that’s maybe 1% of photography, and not really an issue most of us deal with.

What is the problem that needs fixing? It is that photography is changing. I showed my girlfriend some tiny text on the back of a credit card. Without hesitating she pulled out her camera, took a photo, and then zoomed in on the photo to read the text.

I can’t say that I disagree with van Santen on this point. All of my pictures are not of trips or specific people alone. If you look at my Camera Roll, you will certainly see a collection of photos I’ve taken of my kids, my family, and my friends. But you will also find pictures of work whiteboards, screenshots of clever tweets from Twitter, UI example screenshots, pictures of receipts, and so on, and so on.

Not just photos...

Not just photos…

I love the idea of classification at the image level. Apple does it with selfies (a recent addition), but that’s a bit of a cheat because it’s based on the camera being used. I’m interested to see how (or if) their new AI processing can help auto-classify some of these pictures (think receipts for a start).

I was bicycling along the canals with my teenage daughter when she spotted a ‘missing cat’ poster. She pulled out her phone, took a photo of the poster without looking twice, and put the phone back into her pocket. I said ‘That’s pretty smart’ and she replied; ‘Well how else are we going to remember all that information if we ever find that cat?’

What if the system could know that the image was an informational poster? And take that information and convert that image into a note and create an entry in the built-in Notes app? That’s intelligence. That’s allowing the data and the image to work together to implement the intent of the original picture.

Looking forward to see what happens in this space…

Late Night Truths

The more I listen to singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson, the more I like him. I don’t mean just his music, which I like very much already. Twitter has opened the door for artists like Matt to share their personal thoughts as well as their music with fans and followers alike.

This past February 18th, Matt was up late (California time) and tweeting. Here are his series of tweets (unedited in all its Twitter shorthand glory):

I’m not sure how people turn off the world. lately, for me, it just feels like a faucet that’s been left on.

we get so much information. so many voices. screaming their opinion. being an actual expert on something has so little currency.

it’s so hard to get humans to focus on real problems. because no one feels empowered. why is it so hard to love ourselves?

we are capable of so much greatness. but we spend so much of our time squandering our energy on fear-based, useless hate.

90% of people know just enough about things like race and government. and the environment. to be paralyzed. and no one listens.

i mean… we have a presidential candidate who posted a photo of a fucking gun on his socials and wrote ‘america’

the only way to get your message heard through the din is blunt force trauma.

and we are so polarized and hopeless as a country, that NO ONE HEARS ANYONE.

garbage in / garbage out. this is just a fact. where is the nutrition coming from in this culture? we need voices of fucking kindness.

and empathy. on REAL issues. not just photos of fucking cats.

we have to see the bigoted, racist, sexist parts of ourselves. and be honest about them. in order to evolve past them. we have to LISTEN

to other people’s experiences. and shut our fucking mouths. (this coming from the king of privilege over here.. straight, white, and male.)

it is our job to be optimists. it is our job to be kind. it is our job to live our life without hurting ourselves or others.

it is our job to clear space for the voices of those without voices. it is our job to listen to those we don’t understand.

it is our job to treat these fundamental problems at their roots. not beat them over the head with a sledgehammer and think they will die.

most of the stuff we fear and guard against, as individuals, NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO US. what a colossal waste of energy.

I love what Matt is saying here. I love how he’s saying it. The raw emotion.
Just like his music, his words prove to be powerful as well.

Live Your Dreams

2015/01/img_7272.pngRaise your hand if you live by your fears.

Come on.
Raise those hands.
Everyone.
Raise your hands.
Both of them.

I know mine are raised. Fear is everywhere. Am I raising my children right? Am I being a good husband? Father? Co-worker? Friend? Son? Person?

Is this what I want to do with my life? How I want to live it? How I want to leave my mark on the world, my kids, my family, everyone around me?

And those are just the existential kind of fears. What about the small, run-of-the-mill fears? Did I remember to turn the oven off? Did I lock the door? Did I forget something the kids were supposed to have signed?

It seems overly easy these days to get bogged down in fears. Big fears. Small fears.

(Be careful, I might start to sound like Dr. Seuss here in a minute…)

I think this is why dreams exist. To give us a break from that fear. Give us something to look forward to. Some hope. Of a better…

…something.

Maybe what we’re all doing here is searching for our own something.

Keep searching. You’ll find it. And when you do, don’t ever, ever let go of it.

To Be Understood

Someone once asked me why I write and publish this blog. Why take the time to write down my thoughts?

Like so many times before, this got me thinking beyond just the question asked of me. It got me thinking of people in general. And not just blogs. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, other types of social media. Why do we put these things out in the universe for people to read or look at? What do we gain from it? What do our “friends” gain from it?

In perusing my own Facebook stream, there are posts and pictures on all kinds of topics. As of right this minute, I see posts about the death of Robin Williams, an update from my mother-in-law on her television watching habits, and loads of pictures of others’ little ones. Pictures of children, specifically, litter my feed on a daily basis. In the past, I’ve seen people share things from stories of tearing tendons in their pinky toes to asking for prayers for their family. I’ve seen announcements of death. I’ve seen announcements of birth. I’ve seen sadness, grief, happiness, joy.

All online for their friends to read, share, experience. For the world to read.

Why?

For all intents and purposes (thank you, mom, for that ingrained saying), these people are strangers in our everyday lives. They know of us, but they don’t know us. Not like our spouses know us. Not like our brothers and sisters know us. Our closest friends. Even our kids.

Yet, we let them in and share things that once were considered deeply personal. Our anguish, our bliss, our excitement. And in Instagram’s case, even our dinner.

Again, why do we do it?

I think we, as human beings, crave to be understood. We want to be accepted. If not in a specific group or team, then in society as a whole. We try to conform. And even when we actively rebel against conformity, we end up joining a group of others who have also decided to rebel. We want to belong.

Back in 2011, I started this blog with the intent of sharing my thoughts on happenings and experiences in my own life. Stories I had read, events I had witnessed (or been a part of), shows I had watched, thoughts that whirl around in my wandering mind from time to time. It was an outlet.

But more importantly, it was me sharing my own thoughts with others, hoping they would understand me a little better. Hoping they would get a glimpse of what makes me tick, make them see who I really am. In public, depending on how you know me, I am a joker guy, a serious work guy, and/or a wings and beer sports watching guy. (Jayme likes to say the fact that I prefer boneless wings instead of bone-in tends to negate my macho guy persona.)

But what people don’t always realize is that I am actually a very thoughtful guy, in the sense that I sit around pondering random thoughts and playing out various scenarios to their sometimes extreme end. I will watch movies and find myself lost in various thoughts that have nothing to do with the actual plot. And in all of these thoughts and ponderings, I wonder what other people think. How they would respond to the same questions. How they process information differently than me. Are they right? Am I right? Is there a right?

So, to answer that question for others wondering the same thing, I put my thoughts down on (digital) paper. I write posts like this one on understanding things, so you can understand me.

Understand?