Connecting the dots

"If you try to connect the dots of your career, if you mess it up, 
you're going to wind up on a very limited path. If I decided what I was going to do in college -- when there was no Internet, no Google, no Facebook... I don't want to make that mistake. The reason I don't have a plan is because if I have a plan I'm limited to today's options."

--Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, from the truly fantastic profile of her in next week's New Yorker

I was so impressed with Sheryl Sandberg when I saw her in April on this panel about Women in Tech, which I maintain is the best panel I've seen at a conference ever (and I've seen a lot of them.) Both the article and the panel are highly recommended -- whether you're a woman, in the tech industry, both, or neither.

That love and pain stuff

I'm a little behind on this, but all of this New York Times Op-Ed based on Jonathan Franzen's commencement address to Kenyon College's Class of 2011 is worth reading. I particularly wanted to share one bit about the difference between "the world of liking" things on Facebook, and loving things and people in real life.

Franzen's speech isn't pertinent only to today's new college grads-- those supposedly super distracted kids that grew up with Facebook, texting, sexting, and all the rest. People of all generations are now tempted to spend more free time in the shiny, simple world of online social networks. We're all busy, and maintaining real life relationships can be much more hassle than keeping up with the hundreds of electronic connections we have online.

But in the end, loving someone in the flesh is much more rewarding than "liking" things online-- or really, anything else that we can do in this life.

"The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

...When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, 'Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s' is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer."

Vintage 2005

Talking with friends last night about the sexy new MacBook Air, I realized that I must have had my current laptop for nearly five years. A look back at my iPhoto archives confirmed that indeed, next week will be my trusty (and somewhat crusty) little iBook G4's 5th birthday!

Me and my new toy on the Embarcadero, November 5th 2005

The iBook was an early Christmas present from my then-boyfriend. I came out to California for the first time to visit him during my senior year fall break in November 2005. I was pretty surprised when we walked into the Apple store in downtown San Francisco and he turned and said we were there to get something for me-- I hadn't ever pined for any of Apple's slick products. But, he graduated a year before me and had just started to collect his first paychecks, so he was feeling generous and insisted.

I now know the iBook was as much for my boyfriend as for me: He's a die-hard Mac person, and I learned later that it killed him to be dating a girl with a virus-ridden clunker of a PC. Turns out he winced every time I sat down at the 3-year-old HP that didn't work unless it was plugged into the wall (which I'll admit did kind of defeat the purpose of having a laptop.)

Me and the old PC in my dorm room, September 2005. I still don't think it was *so* bad!

I guess nobody ever told him about not trying to change someone you love, but I became a Mac fan, and the boyfriend and I ended up getting married-- so it all worked out for the best!

It's kind of funny that Apple has rolled out dozens of gorgeous new gadgets since Fall 2005, and I still just have this one. But my iBook still works like a charm and I've had practically zero problems with it-- the only maintenance I've had to perform is installing additional memory.

I suppose what I take away from this whole trip down memory lane is that there's something nice about sticking with something as long as it will stick with you, you know?

On linking in, and out

"The artifacts of our past accomplishments can become so engrossing in digital form that it can be harder to notice all we don't know and all we haven't done. While technology has generally been the engine that propels us into unknowable changes, it might now lull us into hypnotic complacency."

-from a NYT Magazine article by Jaron Lanier (also recommended: his book "You Are Not a Gadget")

I've been putting off adding my new venture to my LinkedIn profile. It might be because Ookoo Media is still in its initial stages, but that doesn't quite make sense-- I've been working on it since May, and have finished products for very satisfied clients. And I can't pretend that I forgot about my LinkedIn profile after I quit my job.

Lanier's comment made me realize I may be neglecting to update LinkedIn because what I'm doing now is a relatively big departure from the other things on my resume. I'm nervous about how my foray into "unknowable changes" might be received by my existing "network."

Now that I've put it in writing, it sounds ridiculous, but then again so many of the fears that hold us back actually are.