Internal Debate

Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 11:17 pm in Embroidery, Quilting, WIP | 2 Comments

For those of you who asked, I did not go far to take the pictures for my blanket.  I did not leave Austin.  In fact, I did not even leave my apartment complex.  That lovely porch, that huge live oak and those bluebonnets are located approximately 50 yards from my front door.  For those of you that have been to my home and are thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding” I promise you, it’s true.  And if you looked slightly to the left of those pictures, you’d see a hill that overlooks most of Austin.  Pretty cool, eh?

Internal Debate:

Lazy StitchesI thought hard about whether to continue the birches quilt, and I eventually decided to forge ahead. I think I’m pushing it now that it’s spring, and this is such a winter sort of idea for me.

However, it’s true that the stitching I want to do is minimal, and I can complete it within a week.  I also really want to finish it.  My other option was to put it away until next December, and I just didn’t want another unfinished project lingering around in the back of my head.  I know it would do that.

So  I just wish I’d finished it more quickly, but such was not to be.

So there’s a hint of it, those are stitches I’m keeping.  There are more where those came from.

And do you know what?  With all the blanket-crocheting-and-blanket-stitching, I’m going to completely finish all four seasons of Bones before any of this is done.  I’m very glad for Hulu.  Hulu is my stitching savior, the thing that give me stuff to watch when I don’t feel like sitting and talking to myself.  I sort of wish I hadn’t ended up watching Grease 2 on one of those crochet binges, but what can you do?

Why it’s called “crafting”: Flower Afghan

Sat Mar 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm in Crochet, Finished Projects | 7 Comments

Last night at about 1:30 am I finally finished my daisy flower afghan.  I’m quite pleased with the way that it turned out, which is really lovely, because putting that much time and effort into something you felt ambivalent about would be distressing.  I was so pleased I actually made a special effort with my photography for the finished project.

This blanket epitomizes for me the nature of crafting: a bit of this, a bit of that and a lot of effort.  The patterns are mine and not mine:  part flower pattern I found, edited appropriately, part pattern I made up, a multi-colored checkerboard pattern I came up with and some brown and red borders.  The end result is only a tiny bit talent – some hand-eye coordination and a bit of visualization.  Most of this blanket is just sheer time and effort.  I got a lot of practice crocheting.

So how long did it take?  Well, it took me about an hour to do each block plus a little, and there are 48 blocks, which means about 52 hours.  It took me another 24 hours to do the stitching and borders.  Plus a little time when things go wrong or I have to fix mistakes, another 3 hours.  I’d say that’s a good but conservative estimate of how long it took to make me, and that means I spent over 100 hours of my life spent making this.  I’m quite a bit better at crocheting now.

For the next month or so, you should expect to see a lot of flowers here, this is the beginning.  It’s springtime in the Hill Country, which means wildflowers, which is just about as pretty as it gets for me.  I’ve always preferred simple field flowers to cultivated ones in almost every case.

Afghan on Tree

So there you go! Nice, eh?  I’m very happy it’s finished, and happy it turned out well!

Opinions, I has them … 2009 SXSWi

Tue Mar 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm in Craft Fairs & Conferences, Inspiration, Nerd + Tech | 1 Comment

I have been attending the South by Southwest Interactive conference here in Austin since last Friday. I have promised myself that in light of all this technology stuff I’ve been doing these last few days, I will actually participate in technology this evening before running off to crochet.  Et voilablog post.

I go to this conference hoping people will argue with one another. I want expert panelists who don’t agree on stuff answering interesting questions, and I want to be around my tech peers.  That was sort of the case this year, less than I’d hoped.  This year the public relations, marketing and monetization crowds were out in greater numbers than I’d seen before, which alters the conversation from one of “what are the challenges and joys of making better interactive technology” to more “how does this materially benefit me.” The latter question is difficult for those of us who are here out of love for this stuff, particularly when the asker is only there because they feel like they have to be. Takes the joy out, you know?

As a very longtime Internet user (I got my first two email accounts in 1993 and learned HTML in 1996), I am hopeful the Internet continues to be a place where people can form positive communities and relationships, and where diversity of opinion and freedom of  self-expression are the rule. I hope more people can come to it and have that same kind of good experience.  I understand needing to make money from things, but I don’t want it to become another place where I am bombarded by commercialization and pitches. I want people and businesses to see the Internet’s value as a collaborative medium beyond pushing their agendas and advertisements in the never-ending quest for a piece of the pocketbook.

So I thought I’d note a few of the points that I saw over the course of the conference, little nuggets of wisdom to chew on.

  1. Googolplex: Everyone reminded us that there are billions of people out there on the internet, all of whom come with differing motivations, levels of experience, beliefs and intent. No one can even begin to predict what all that communicating will produce each day, but the possibilities are endless.  Still, they will be guided by the same thing that has guided every other major human institution:  human behavior.
  2. Quiddity: Adaptive Path would like us all to think about what will make our corners of the internet better.  What will make the web a transcendent experience, instead of just a collection of mediocre brochure sites no one particularly enjoys or cares about visiting. And then she suggested a bunch of ideas on how to go about doing so.
  3. Be Great: Merlin Mann of 43 Folders and John Gruber of Daring Fireball (pictured before their panel began, to the right) would like us to please try to be the best (better than 80%, anyway) at what we do, if we’re going to bother to try to do it at all. Even if we don’t achieve the heights we aspire to, at least we’ll get a lot better at it. To not be  shill or a jerk, either.
  4. Relationships: Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic would like us to use our websites to talk to others as if they were people. She would like even corporate writing to be comprised of engaging, well-written communications instead of just dry press releases and company messages.  A fellow panelist, [updated] Lane Becker of Get Satisfaction, would like to encourage companies to treat their customers/clients as relationships instead of potential transactions.
  5. Respect: The community managers of Etsy, Flickr, YouTube, Metafilter, Current TV would like us to participate in their communities (and others), but to please do so in a way that is respectful of others.  Don’t call them names.  Don’t be That Crazy Guy or That Crazy Woman who can’t seem to operate without being uncouth, churlish, coarse, inconsiderate, boorish, etc.
  6. Data Warehousing: You have no idea how much data is being collected about you online, and you have no idea to what purpose that data is being put. Don’t you think you ought to?  Checked out those privacy settings lately? Read any good Terms of Service? It’s fast becoming another credit reporting system, but larger, and right now there’s no way to find out what items are attached to your name or dispute them.
  7. It’s a Good Idea: Nonprofit personnel (chiming in for the billionth year in a row to say the same thing) would like to please, please have senior management buy into the idea of having a web presence, and especially to buy into the whole social web thing. Even if they don’t use it themelves. And please, can we not have the PR department doing it?  We promise we’ll be good and stay on message, and we might even make some money.  But we want to do it right and get new people involved with us.
  8. A Matter of Trust: Elisa Camahort Page of BlogHer believes that blogging is about community, and community is about trust.  In a world where we don’t trust the institutions in our lives to tell us the truth, care about our troubles or connect with us on a personal level, we have formed our own networks.  The masses of people involved are creating a responsive, interactive media that’s proven to have a powerful political, economic and social impact.
  9. Reciprocity: If you want people to pay attention to what you’re doing, you need to pay attention to others. Why should people have time for you if you don’t have time for them?  Social media is all about two-way conversation, whether it’s blogs, Certain Unmentionable Uber-Popular Sites (everyone was pretty sure they were tired of talking about those), Flickr, forums, YouTube or anywhere else that comments are enabled and preferences are collected.
  10. Heart: The stuff that the best, most interesting online folks produce is about heart and belief and philosophy, not money.

You can see recurring trends in the messages I’ve picked out.  The internet’s applications and communities are no longer in their infancy and no longer the province of a fringe group of nerds or young people.  Like any other social medium, the internet has its guidelines, appropriate behaviors and social norms.  We’re in the process of trying to negotiate that in this time when it’s becoming a commonplace part of so many people’s lives.

How do we manage it?  What do we do with all this data?  How can we make it better?