I have long been losing trust in online enterprises not to play with me or my data, and the larger they are, the less I trust them. But when I realized I am literally being played with like a toy, that really made my skin crawl.
An email arrived in my inbox from Facebook, one of the standard “someone’s tagged you in a photo” notification. Fair enough. Except I haven’t been out much and I didn’t recognize the name of the Facebook contact. (We’re not still calling them friends, are we?) So I feared the worst. Goodness knows who has digital photos of me doing any number of embarrassing things.
So my good friend Eve Batey at the San Francisco Appeal shot me an email today with an idea so crazy it just might work. She suggested that I — me, Jackson West — might be a good candidate for San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. And right now, even if you live in San Francisco, you are probably asking yourself, “What the fuck is the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force?” Which, frankly, was one of the things that convinced me I might actually be qualified: Because I do know what it is, and not only that, I want it to succeed.
Photo by Marshall Astor.
So yesterday I got a last-minute invitation to join my good friends Eve and Matt to talk about Muni in front of cameras. Naturally, I put on a suit and my new-to-me Cavali shirt ($7.99 plus tax at Thrift Town) because if you offer me an excuse to overdress, I will take it. But I biked there on a hot day (see: new cycling column), and there was no makeup trailer, so I was checking the footage today to see if I looked all sweaty and shiny and gross as un-powdered people on TV do, when I noticed the big World of Warcraft banner ad on the Appeal. Which stopped me dead in my vain tracks and made me post this. Because between hanging out with Eve and Matt, complaining about Muni, wearing my fancy but cheap thrift store outfits and slaying trashmobs with my undead rogue, this confluence of coincidence makes me happy. And a little scared at how well the Internet knows me.
If there was any question I’m an aging hipster, it should probably be settled now that I have a single-speed cafe bike from Valencia Cyclery, live in a room above the Zeitgeist, spent last night perusing the jukebox at the Phone Booth with someone I met on OkCupid and spent this morning riding around the Mission with stops at La Torta Gorda and an indie rock, crafts and food fair on Treat. I’m living the
cliché dream, bitches!
Shit, I even have the now apparently fashionable paunch, though I was way ahead of the curve on that one. In fact, apparently my transformation may yet be complete as I was told in no uncertain terms by the Fahsionist herself Mai Le at yesterdays “street food” benefit for La Cocina that the fats don’t rate for her streetwear blog (granted, it’s apparently for their own protection from commenters). [Update: Mai sticks up for folks across the BMI spectrum!] Give me another twenty pounds shed while biking around the Mish and eating out of the mini-fridge in my SRO room, plenty of appetite-suppressing Four Barrell coffee and some shopping on my trip to New York next week and I will qualify yet!
All that said, I’m not really sure I care. In the counterintuitive conformity of “creative individualism,” only the other can be called a hipster. It’s rare the person who simply owns it, and can build any sort of collective identity around the themes and tropes, and through that build not conformity but community. So while I’m not sure I’m willing, or qualified, to say it loud and say it proud, I do seem to be a hipster on balance (read: art school kid yes, skinny jeans, no). Have been for about a decade.
And honestly, there’s not really anything wrong with that. So why fight it?
A couple of times in the last week I had to stop myself from posting a message to Twitter about how much fun I’m having, even though I’m only partly employed, have no fixed address and am still broke waiting for some invoices to come through so I can settle some debts and start looking for a new place. I’ve shed a lots of material baggage, lost weight, spent a bunch of quality time with loved ones, and been productive to spite myself.
Had I known being a hobo could be this fun, I would have done it a long time ago! (Mom, dad, I’m kidding, promise.)
Nothing new under the sun, not even link roundups of the days top stories.
I’ve been a fan of Yahoo Pipes since it was first released to the public. I first used it to combine a number of feeds1 from sites I contributed to so that my home page was constantly updated with recent work and personal updates. It allowed me to include only my just my posts from sites with multiple authors and to strip the boilerplate and ads tacked on to items. I’ve since used it to prune feeds from sites based on certain criteria or key words to reduce the noise in my feed reader and to experiment with ideas for mashing up or repurposing data from other services.
If you’re still reading, then you probably also know that Yahoo, the company, hasn’t exactly been operating smoothly of late. Many of my friends who once worked there have either quit or gotten pink slips, leading me to joke in an aside to an item about rumors of further layoffs that I would have confirmed the news with my contacts at the company, but I don’t have any left. I understand that new CEO Carol Bartz has her work cut out for her, but her stated mandate to slash parts of the business that aren’t turning a profit scares me.
Why? Because Pipes is free, and while I imagine it isn’t terribly expensive to operate, any costs it generates are strictly revenue-negative. Regardless, though I can’t say for certain there have been significant outages, neither would I assure anyone that it’s speedy or reliable2. Nor can I think of any significant new features added, or any further development at all, since it’s been released. So my question is: If you use Pipes, what would you pay to keep it going, assure some degree of dependability, and even fund continued development?
Hilarious advertising, via my old comrade Nicholas Carlson. I can’t count how many times the vagaries of Soviet toilet paper (or lack there of) have been cited as an example of why anything besides unfettered free markets are doomed to fail.
Anyway, have been quiet of late thanks to the collapse of said unfettered free markets indirectly leaving me hustling for work. Speaking of which, I’ve updated my home page and my about page to reflect some new publications and sites I can be found at.
And I promise even more soon, even though blogging is apparently killing the very business of writing I try to make a living in. Good times all around.
If Barack Obama is really a progressive candidate and not just the new face of the business interests that truly rule Washington, then together with the Democrats that now reign as a party there are some clear goals I’d like to see worked toward: