Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Knowing the Rare Circumstance of Falling in Love

This a.m., @agahran tweeted a link to a story in the NYTimes by Louise Rafkin on Rafkin's work interviewing couples on how they met. Amy was a bit peeved that Rafkin's assignment didn't include polyamourous couples. Yet poliamory aside, Rafkin's meditation on her work, (as it is more than an essay) and her own troubles with finding love, struck a chord with me on so many levels....

I, too, have often found myself on the outside of love, looking in at the relationships of others, trying to discern what it is that makes their relationships work over the long haul. It's true that some are in a "staying together for the kids" kind of thing, but some of the couples that I've known over 20-odd years have gone thru that and come to the other side with many becoming stronger for what they went through.

Granted, a few have divorced--mostly because one or the other partner realized that she/he had "outgrown" the other. In other words, that their lives and values had changed so dramatically that they were no longer on the same page.

That's the thing--sometimes our values do indeed change from 20-somethings to Middle-Agers. We want more children or less children. One emerges a raging conservative, while the other slides into born-again liberalism. One 'fesses up, finally, that he's gay, while she decides she needs some younger stuff to keep up with her sex drive. One can no longer deal with the penny-wise, pound-foolishness or paranoid thriftyness of the other.

Life happens and changes us, this is true. But what of the whole "love" thing? Rafkin, like me, wonders how we know when we've found it, if so many people have such odd and unconventional falling in love stories.

Some of us just never had a good template to begin with. Like Rafkin, I didn't have good home role models to understand what love looked like in action, let alone what it might feel like. When I did fall in love, with my first husband, as I now know I was in retrospect, I didn't believe it nor did I understand what I was feeling. There was all this fear, all the time--this butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling. We shared so many interests, taught each other so much about art and music and all sorts of things at such a young age (I was 19, he was 21 when we met)but had no clue how to take all this love and build it into something that would sustain us over the long haul.

There weren't any parents to help. In fact, the parents were more willing to break us up than help us stay together....

How could love feel like fear? Well, when you've never really known love, or have seen something that was pretty horrid, and told it was love, then you can easily have a bellyfull of fear when love comes into your life. At least that's what I've figured out about my life in relation to love.

I've sat for a lot of tarot card readings in my life. Growing up with a lot of superstitions and a weird kind of Sicilian Catholicism married with oddbal Fundamentalist Doctrine of Predestination, the idea of fortune tellers as true seers of our life paths was presented as more plausible than the ideas of free will and mastery over one's own life. I've had a lot of fortune tellers tell me I'd have multiple soul mates. That idea doesn't give me the warm fuzzies. And makes me wonder about the veracity of fortune tellers anyway.

Esp. since I believe that if I can figure out what's "wrong" with my decision making on the mate thing that I'd find the right one.

But, like Rafkin, when I hear other people's stories, I'm not so sure that tactic will work any more than listening to fortune tellers.

I'm thinking more about this these days because I've decided to get out there and start dating again--because while I'm very independent and like my own space, I'd really like to share some of my secrets with someone who will understand, and will go crazy wild places with me, who knows pop culture, and may even find rollerball and Blade Runner to be his favorite movies as well. I've had a relationship for about 8 years, but we are a City Mouse, Country Mouse temperament combination that just will not work over the long haul. Lovely man, really, but as I become more comfortable with my essential adventure-geek nature, I see how we can't work unless we're living separate lives, with him on the mountains, observing me appreciatively when I cruise into his world from a drive on Adventure Road.

I've wondered about this, too. If I'm not being too shallow and wanting someone who shares what some might think are "superficial interests." So many of the long-term loving couples I've known share a foundation of religious beliefs, attend a church, and all that. While I studied religion in college, and have a love of it, I'm not a church attender. Church, no matter the denomination, isn't all that welcoming to single folk. And yes, there's the whole church-lady-with-single-son thing, but that doesn't mean he's going to be the kind of guy who can spend hours in funky comic book shops looking for British horror novels and enjoy art books with titles like "Robots and Donuts."

Doesn't mean he's going to go for a good martini and pizza dinner either.

One good thing though that I've learned in all my examination of myself and my reactions is that when I meet certain types of guys, I hear bells. Literally. Now, most of y'all might think that this means I've found that True Love Soul Mate. Hardly. As I've recently discovered about my relationship with my Dad, the bells are really alarms, telling me I've met a guy like my Dad, who's very charming on the outside and very messed up on the inside. The bells mean "stay away!"

At least I know now.

Character is something I know more about, too. I can tell a guy's values through conversation--if he's hard-working and has empathy, or is superficial and judging me by superficials rather than listening to what I'm saying. So, it's a combination of senses and observations....

Knowing all this, and no longer apologizing for who I am and the geeky things I like (although IMO, in some ways, by saying the things I like are "geeky" or "weird", I may still be apologizing) I'm looking at different things. I'm looking at cues of character. I remember meeting my first husband, and there weren't huge clanging bells at first (as there was with the second, which I now know was a big warning.) I thought he was cute, and we liked the same kind of music. It grew from there. (caveat: that doesn't mean it was all peaches and cream and other people's fault that we split up. he had a pot-smoking problem, and I had some other issues, too. marriage was too much for us. so much that love couldn't conquer all.)

So, like Rafkin, I'm wondering if love will ever happen (again) and not when. I wonder if I've examined things too well, and if I'm expecting some kind of perfection. Not really. I'm not looking for a 1970's Robert Redford look-alike who's got a shelf full of collector SpiderMan comics and works as an art restoration specialist, has never been married and exudes empathy. No, not at all. Prince Charming doesn't necessarily exist, and waiting for him is a living death. I also know that, as I slowly careen towards 50 (it's two years away) that the pool is getting more and more shallow (boy! is it shallow in W. Mass), or the baggage is getting larger and larger. We all have baggage, just as long as it's reasonable and not held together with emotional duct tape, then we're good.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that I have to get out more. That's something that's very different from when I was younger. I used to be out and about a lot, which made it easier to meet guys. I used to yell at my friend Marge that she wasn't going to meet anyone sitting on her couch in her fuzzy slippers watching a Yankee game with her cats in her lap. Well, I'm not going to meet anyone in sweat pants flip-flops, eating a stake and drinking leftover wine while watching CSI. There's fear of getting out and about, for sure, as I'm not the slimmest or cutest any more (as I once was, trust me on that.) But unless I'm perfectly happy alone, and I'm not, I can't settle for a life of books, tv, and good friends.

There is more to me than that, and I want more.

I have to stop observing. I'm not like Rafkin, where observing and writing is her SF Chron assignment. It's not mine.

I'll never know if I don't jump in.

I have to jump in, no matter how fearful I am, and no matter how much the despair of being "too old" and never finding anyone might grab me by the throat and throttle me into senselessness.

I've got to shake that off like Chev Chelios and keep going...

I have to find my heart too.

That's all there is to it....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy (and then some)

From time to time I have to take a blogging hiatus. It usually happens because I'm up to my eyeballs in things and can't seem to dig myself out...and that I need to engage more in the f2f world....

Well, it's one of those times again.

I seem to be quite busy with a number of projects, including some teaching about social media--from which I've learned that I absolutely love teaching about social media and new media. It's actually fun to convey my love of all this great stuff to a bunch of people who want to learn about it.

Recently, I had something of a work-vacation. Was out in L.A., S.F. and New Orleans. While I was on the road, I realized I really like being on the road. I like being able to take a day and see a city, and I'm learning, that if I'm staying in a good hotel, to go to the bar and find out from the bartender the cool places (I don't have to know all of this in advance.)

Here I am, on a rare off-day vacation day, standing in the courtyard of the Egyptian Theater in L.A. I was tired, but I felt good. I was where I wanted to be, exploring Hollywood Boulevard, being myself for a change.

It's been a very long time since I've taken a vacation to places where I've wanted to go (not where someone else wants to go), it's been a long time since I've met interesting people who were artists and musicians and bouncers and tattoo artists. A long time since I met guys who found me attractive(yes, that's been an issue for awhile, believe it or not.) It's been a long time since I've had fun for any length of time, that wasn't punctuated with some sort of media.

I'm talking about the kinds of fun I like to have: art shows and good movies in incredible theaters and music and friendship. Even maybe dating again at some point...

And it's been a long time since I've been really, really me.

I had to go on a long journey to find me. In that journey, I had to come inside this space of social media, feel it out, make connections, re-form me, start something of a career in here, one that would be in tune with me. I have, in many ways, done that and on my terms...

So, in some way, the break from blogging is because there are other places for me to be in the social media space. There are also other places for me to be in the f2f world, where there are experiences that delight all of my senses, and people who want to talk with me and hear my voice, not just thru a device of some kind.

What may result is some re-branding. A new look, a new image, a new something. Maybe I'll come back to this. I don't know.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, May 04, 2009

SIIA Afternoon Keynote: Brewster Kahle on Universal access to knowledge

This afternoon at the SIIA NetGain Convergence of Content and Technology conference, Brewster Kahle, the Founder & Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive is speaking. I am most interested in hearing what Kahle has to say, esp. with regard to the work that's done at Placeblogger, and with numbers of sites that simply vanished when web hosting services like Geocities have been shut down.

I asked Kahle about this before he spoke, and he and I agreed that, unfortunately, a lot of it will just go away. Some is archived and could be found via the WayBack Machine. Still, some is lost forever.

Kahle begins that we could indeed have universal access to all knowledge. He's going to show how technological, copyright, etc issues are coming together...

Looking at Text, if we try to put everything online, how much is there already? and what needs to be added? the 26million books in the Library of Congress? and how hard is that to get online. One book is about 1MB. It would cost too much to put all of the Library of Congress online. But what would you get for it and would anyone care??

We're starting to get print on demand services, as well as things that let you read online in a manner similar to turning pages in a book. So, we can go from digital to print, and then from print back to digital.

When print on demand went to countries such as Egypt, they found they had lots of old books, but not a lot of new books...

Amazon does much print on demand--we just don't know it!

One Laptop Per Child devices can be used like Kindle. Kahle shows us one used in this manner.

How do we get all those books online? Shipped to India and China, but found that scan-your-own was better. Robots broke down. Created a special scanner with two mirrors that, while looking primitive, is highly effective at $0.10 per page! It takes about 12 hours for the computer to do the processing to a PDF (very time consuming but effective.)

There are 18 scanning centers across the U.S., with 200 people working for the Internet Archive and 50 scanning books. They get about 1,000 books scanned a day!

There are about 1 million books in 8 collections. All are out-of-copyright books. Copyright raises issues.

Audio: how much audio is there? and how does it get processed? About 2-3 million. and could be easily put online, but it is highly litigious. So, they stay away from highly commercial works.

One big success is among rock musicians. Greatful Dead in particular. Allows for trading of music as long as *no money is made from the activity!* But as stuff got online, trading became harder. Internet Archive offered unlimited storage, bandwidth for free. Turns out there are other bands that do what the Dead does. One to three bands a day signed up, and now there's 3,000 plus bands and their live recordings. Some communities can be helped and supported, like this community, in open ways.

Internet Archive has 200,000 audio items in over 100 collections!

It's smaller than text and different legally, so not handled the same as text

Moving Images There are about 150,000 around, and about 1,000 that are not copyrighted. 50 percent of the 150,000 are from India (!?!?!) Formats of moving images keep changing. Movies that are in IA were converted and re-coded to make it easier to find. There's maintenance of moving image archiving.

The Internet Archive has tons of old public service films and educational films that are out of copyright and uploaded regularly. But, however, IA doesn't know why people would want these films ;-)

Moving Images also include television programs. Tons of TV programs are recorded daily. See the Television ArchiveS

On site staff at the Presidio (where the IA is localted) is about 35 people. That's very small

Software has lots of difficulties in archiving. Copyright, platforms, etc. Lots of the storage of this is difficult becuase of these issues.

Started collecting the WWW around 1980's Nowadays, 4 billiion pages are archived.

Want to see your old website: go to the WayBack machine to find old sites.

If you're doing something to help people, they won't get angry at what you do with content online. If you do something wrong, you'll get in trouble.

If we're working to create the Library of Alexandria 1, might not be a great idea.If we build this thing up, what should be do differently: MAKE COPIES! Digital copies are easy to make.

They designed their own computer! (I'm very impressed)

So, we can collect up, and preserve all kinds of media over the long haul

But the library industry is imploding like many other industries. Monopolies forming--which isn't good. Libraries are getting to be central controlled, not local controlled. They are ruled by contract now, raterh than ruled by Law. They aer for-profit and not non profit.

What about the future of books? Books play a different role in our lives than other forms of media. They are like the mind. They are written by one person and are one person's idea.

What's going on with books: Book publishers having trouble making money. A couple of big players are controlling aggregation of works, as well as distribution in order to try to control the distribution on media. Google is aggregating libraries (public domain works) and putting restrictions on what they aggregate! (how awful!)

Class action law that was used to control digitizing of content--so that Google can lock up content. To Kahle, it doesn't seem right that literary "orphan" books should. Class action settlements are making changes in content. Secretly negotiated class actions effective in making legislative decisions without legislating.

What we need is a set of standards. We're also missing distance lending of copyright.

If we keep our eye on the ball (on the potential monopolies), we can have all this knowledge at our disposal.

At the end, someone confuses Kahle with the digital utopians who believe all content should be free. That's not what he was saying. What he said was how we should be careful that content doesn't get owned and monetized by monopolies--esp. "orphan" books, which no one has made money off of for a very long time. But he is not against paid-for content. Just that the payment goes to the right people