Archives For May 2008

Running Lean

May 31, 2008 — 16 Comments

I’m moving again. In the process, I took stock of my possessions and realized that I don’t have any.

There’s the DVR that I never used for anything but The Office, Intervention, The Hills and every episode of the Real World I could find. It’s hooked to a TV that sits on the floor. More white t-shirts than I can count. Sorted only by presentable and runnable. I bought a peacoat sometime during the winter on one of the rare occasions that I added to my wardrobe. A pair of Pumas that the company sent me because of a client. They’ve been out of the box exactly twice. I was supposed to get a dresser but I never got around to that either. I bought more books instead.

A legal pad full of drawings that Joe Hahn gave me. A Mont Blanc that’s probably worth more than anything else I own. I’ve been instructed how to use it ‘strategically’. They’re stacked in my closet, on top of a first edition of Belligerence and Debauchery and signed copy of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell that says “Ryan – Don’t fuck this up.”

The Books. They’re everywhere. Unshelved; I never felt like I needed any. I’ve taken recently to stacking them under my desk rendering it pretty much unusable. The rest are packed in Amazon boxes in my extra closet. From a glance I can feel what song I listened to as I read it, if I was stable or depressed or excited or hopeful. I can get drawn right back in from the stains on the pages. Carl’s Jr spicy chicken sandwiches with ranch or pepperoni and olive from Philly’s on La Cienega. Did I breeze through it or did I struggle? Well, that depends on the crack in the spine and the bends in the cover.

I feel a little like Erasmus when I look at them, “when I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.” It’s one of the few times I am proud of myself. I would die if anything ever happened to them.

I’ve got a friend who’s moving to L.A next month, borrowing money from his parents to pay more in rent than I do – plus roommates. Telling me something about how he doesn’t have the funds to start the site he desperately needs to do what he’s supposed to do. Which is like so many people, entitled about the things that don’t matter, ambivalent to the rest.

If I was doing it again, sure, I’d probably be less of a cheapskate. But I got what I needed accomplished. Many, many times over. The asset I carry around with me is worth my salaries multiplied together. Because when turn the drive from acquiring to inquiring, you start to accumulate things that no one can ever take away.

The funny thing about not having anything is that I never think about money. It’s not a concern. It’s not a burden and it’s not a curse. And I’m poised to make more than I know what to do with. Exactly where I said I wanted to be.

The Firm

May 29, 2008 — 3 Comments

The main law of entrenched businesses is that it’s always cheaper to keep something going than to start something new. I think the main law of Office Politics is that it’s always easier to prevent someone from doing something than it is to do something yourself.

In an Australian first, NSW HSC students will from next year be able to take a course in studying Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia.

Wikipedia, which ranks among the world’s top-10 most visited sites, has been listed by the NSW Board of Studies as prescribed text for an elective course in the English syllabus for 2009-2012. – Sydney Morning Herald

I’ve been saying it for a long time . Being familiar with Wikipedia has been a huge asset for me over the last year. Not just in terms of traffic – a site like Robert’s gets 15% of all its visitors from Wikipedia – but in understanding how to work within a community from the inside. Having an outlet like Wikipedia, makes you a better reader and gives you a reason outside of school or work to be didactic.

BUT the last thing you should do is act like you’re entitled to the benefits without paying for your share.

Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to rack up edits [contribute]:

1) Fix grammar and spelling

2) Work on pages for books you read, as you read them

3) Double or triple source citations

4) When you’re reading an news article that mentions hard sales figures for something (for example, that certain book sold 20,000 copies) add it to the product or artist’s entry. Those are rarely ever featured on Wikipedia and are great, credible support. They are also really easy to cite.

5) If you go to a decent university, use your schools account for Lexis Nexis to dig up old press than other people can’t find. A lot of interesting stuff is stuck behind the pay wall.

6) Delete PR fluff when you see it. (this entry is a good example. You could do this page a big favor using only the delete key)

7) When you see articles tagged for Notability, add sources until you can delete the tag. You can usually find enough through Google News.

8) Link relevant articles together. Every good article should have a See Also section, if it use it to connect the dots as you find them. (or create the section)

9) Cite books whenever you can, they are much harder to dispute and give you more room to paraphrase.