Tag Archives: podcast

If you’re not paying for the product (You’re our product)

Noticing how one idea for a post begins and watching it become something completely different after a new idea or perspective gets introduced is an interesting process.

This post was going to be along the lines of what the author-publisher dynamic meant to me. Being an Editor in a small publishing house means these relationships are absolutely crucial for the success of our business; this may also have been the start of a presentation I was due to deliver in Corfu at an international information law conference at the end of this month. But that’s all changed now.

Instead, I’m taking a different tack; I’m betting it’s something that is familiar to us all: the way social media has been woven into our lives. I use social tools everyday (at home, work and on my phone) and I wouldn’t be coining a new phrase by saying “how did [I/we] ever live without [insert preferred social tool here],” or that we really are “living in interesting times,” what with all the sharing and accessibility these tools promote.

But how exactly did we ever live without electricity and running water? And isn’t every time interesting for those people conscious enough to know that they are the ones living through it? I would hope so.

What I think is most important about these “interesting times” are the new levels of accessibility and openness we have, and just how easily most of us (not all) have this burning desire to divulge our most intimate details onto the social web. Again, nothing new, but occasionally it’s good to be reminded of this concept because it lands a little bit differently for me depending on whose in the hot seat.
This time it was “Silicon Valley Controversial-ist” Andrew Keen in the hot seat with his anti-social manifesto on the BBC’s Digital Planet. I’m becoming more interested in his ideas and I think he is someone who stands on the other side of the fence when it comes to online sharing. I don’t think it has to do with the over connectedness, but the actions we take with our personal information, posting it freely and finding out how unprotected our privacy really is – what these companies do with our data. Nothing is ever done freely online.

Keen said that the age we now live in is perhaps the biggest socio-economic shift our society has ever experienced – similar to the shift from the agrarian society to the industrial age. This is the core of his argument warning. What appears free, isn’t really free at all. Keen calls for new business models tailored to social networks.

Think about it: if you could pay a small monthly fee to access Facebook, would you? I hear you scream “NO!”…. but knowing that by paying for the service you use, provided by this newly minted public company, you each make an agreement in the understanding of how your data is stored, shared, and used (by whom)? If you’re tired of the ever-changing move-counter move/automatic opt-in terms of use, where you’re constantly having to adjust your privacy settings each time. Then a small payment might be the way forward.

Which is why I plan to read his new book, Digital Vertigo and figure out what side of the divide I fall on and the impact the commercial success of these companies is having on our experience.

So what, if anything, do we gain from living life online and in such a public fashion?

It’s a balancing act, but we really have no way of controlling how our data is used, or where it goes (unless you make the conscious choice of not having any kind of online profile anywhere). I could try to maintain my anonymity through this blog, or my Twitter feed, but would have a harder time of it on Facebook. So I’ve learned to embrace my online life, I’m taming my online self as it were, but it doesn’t work like that, because every bit (literally) shared is data. And data is the new oil.

I’m learning that I can’t treat my online life the same way I wish my physical life would go, as my ‘thirtysomething’ year old self’s experience of the world begins to influence the adolescent side of me online. I’m beginning to become more selective of what I post, or think before I share something (and where I share it), but at the same time I want you to know that I’m accessible, open and able to have my ideas challenged, which is why I don’t hide behind some randomly created avatar, and typically use the same handle across a lot of my online profiles.

And while I don’t always want to confess my darkest secrets in an online forum, I’ll keep using my social tools in the way that allows me to speak and share what I really want to share.

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Getting clear (or so it would seem)

This weekend was truly a glorious, sun-filled weekend here in the south of England. It took me outdoors on both days, first a 45-mile bike ride around Oxfordshire, and today a 10-mile tramp over the footpaths dotted about the Cotswolds. I had some homework given to me by Jeffrey after our call on Thursday, which the walk gave me ample time to listen to.

It included listening to a podcast of a show I’m already very familiar with, and it was good to check back in with The New Man Podcast again, hosted by Tripp Lanier. Episode 80 with Reuvain Bacal: How to handle a breakup or loss.

After listening, I immediately sat down to free-write how it felt for me, whatever came up and from my call with Jeffrey. There are memories of an old, very serious (to me) relationship that still live with me. And this is what came out:

I sit beneath a big tree, cross-legged, breathing in what I’m feeling as I hike around the Cotswolds near my home. Then it hits me. A dull, yet sharp twinge in my lower back –  I get it all the time when I’m sat on the ground, unaided, with nothing to prop me up. No support. Support is what I had in my OLD relationship with my first-serious girlfriend, a few years back. And it’s not there any more and I’ve based each subsequent relationship on that, which is not very healthy. How does that make me feel?

*         *          *

Sad. Scared. Lonely and wishing for her to be back in my life in some way both intimately and in friendship. But what for? What possible reason could I want, no, need her back in my life? Because with her I felt safe in being me and who I was (or who I was trying to be for her at the time).

I spot two large raptors, flying high overhead in the clear Sunday afternoon sky, riding the thermals, higher and higher together. At this moment that symbolises the togetherness I seek; I know companionship is what I want in my life. But is it killing me being alone at this time in my life? Being a single man? No. Not. At. All.

My ex (going on three years now) and those memories still linger because she accepted me for who I was when we first met. All 250-plus pounds of me, a relative stranger in this new UK-land and  culture that surrounded me. She made me feel seen, wanted and appreciated. Show me someone who doesn’t want that kind of connection, and I’ll show you someone screaming to be heard.

I’m not that way any more now: 30 pounds lighter, a broken smoking-habit that only numbed me to the riches of this world, and now cycling like a man possessed.  This is who I am! I set targets, cracked many goals, and I am loving the ride and being in touch with my emotions this way, and in some way I imagine I’d be alone even in her company as I feel now; it’s a way I could never be with her. Out of the fear that she would leave me. Well, she left me and no matter how much I want to show her how I’ve changed, I can’t.

I’m noticing that a part of me really wants to show her how far I’ve come, in a spiteful way, rubbing her nose into it just a little. That sounds horrible, and it isn’t who I am day-to-day, but that feeling is there and even when I had the chance once before, I couldn’t even hold it together long enough to say so. I was nowhere near as secure in myself (and growing) as I write this then when I last saw her. I collapsed into a leg-shaky, arm-twitchy fool of a man, unable to hold my own space because of the effect seeing her had on me. That’s why I feel I need a second chance, I think I deserve it…but the only way you can escape the past, is by jumping the fence and leaving it behind.

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