Photo Tech

In my earlier post Aggregating Steve, I explained that I was studying Steve Moraco in preparation to apply to be a friend. The “About Steve” page states:

There are three things I want to do most: Take pictures, learn cool things, and change the world for the better.

Take pictures? Does that resonate with me? There was a time when I  was radically opposed to photography, at least as practiced by the public at large and in particular by tourists. I think this was when I was in high school, even before I delved into Zen. Somehow I had become convinced of the importance of being in the moment. I felt taking pictures was the opposite of living in the minute. It was trying to capture the minute. I had also read somewhere that certain peoples would not allow anyone to take their picture because they felt every picture evaporated a little bit of their soul. It seemed to me, considering most politicians, entertainers, and other people much in the news, that the preponderance of the evidence supported this belief.

Fast forward some years and I was married, then came the kids. I was taking pictures. I really tried to get into it. I did take lots of pictures. But it always made me feel uncomfortable at some existential level. I was always conflicted. I really did want to capture the cross country skiing treks with my little sons. I really gave it a try, buying the best gear I could afford. I mean I was really into it. I found this harness for my 35mm reflex camera, a Minolta I bought while serving in Viet Nam. (Couldn’t afford a Nikon) The harness allowed my to carry the camera mounted on my chest on top of my parka if we were out cross-country skiing or just over my t-shirt if we were on a summer hike. I tried. But I always felt the whole process was just too cumbersome, and that 35mm single reflex camera felt like lots of bulk and weight on top of the load of gear I was schleping into the wilderness. Hey, a little hard to travel light with kids in tow. And with all that, I didn’t even get a shot of the timber wolf that was stalking six-year-old Brenden on one cold outing in Estes Park. I was too busy chasing off the wolf!

Fast forward another few decades and here we are. The technology has changed everything, at least for me. If something interesting is happening, I grab my phone and snap, several times to make sure. Then in less than I minute I can text it to a friend. I feel now that photography enhances the life experience more than it interferes. Younger folks will read this and be a little puzzled. But there are others yet alive who remember running out of film just when you needed some. Then there was taking film in for developing, waiting to get it back, etc. None of that anymore. And when I look at Steve’s website and enjoy his fantastic photos, I have no doubt that I need to be photography’s good friend. Will photography and I become BFF’s? Why not?

As to whether or not photography evaporates soul, I am not sure. Perhaps that was just an artifact of analog technology, just one more problem banished by the digital age, or maybe not, I think as I watch the political debates.

 

Aggregating Steve

I am working on an application to become friends with Steve Moraco, official friends, that is. If you don’t know Steve, just think of a Steve Gates or a Bill Jobs, i.e. a 20-something concatenation of those two pioneers of Computer Revolution 1.0. I think he knows more about the fine arts than Bill Gates back in the day and enjoys a  more stable personality than Steve Jobs.

Anyhow a month or so back, Steve gave me his perspective on how to get a job: “Be legitimately helpful to their business before they have to choose whom to hire.” Well, this advice entails knowing the business of the person for whom you wish to work. In the case of friendship, it means getting to know what is important to the other person, what they believe, their priorities, etc.

So I began studying Steve’s website and blog. This pursuit made me really wish I had an aggregator app. What I mean is something like on Bible Gateway but with a client-side indexing function. On Bible Gateway I can highlight any passage of scripture and add a note and then find those the next time I visit that particular page of the Bible. What Bible Gateway does not do, however, as far as I know, is push the passage and/or note automatically to a document (not just to a cookie) on my computer. Here is how that would look in the case of a Steve Moraco index:

The one thing that the most successful and prolific creative people in our world (Turing, Tesla, Ai Wei Wei, Grace Hopper, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc.) have in common is that they were willing to work to understand technical details of entire fields of expertise that appeared to have nothing to do with their work. Once they had a good grasp of the first principles and best practices in a diverse range of fields they were able to apply all of those insights to their work in a single industry or pursuit. That is what makes their work outstanding and relevant. (Moraco, S. (2015, February 13). What School Won’t Teach You About Creativity. Retrieved December 28, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-moraco/what-school-wont-teach-you-about-creativity_b_6639556.html)

The client-side app would give me the option of assigning any number of categories to the citation, just like good blog software. That way I could later retrieve the citation not only by title and/or publication but also by the categories I assign.

So  if anyone out there knows of such an app please let me know. I searched under aggregator and didn’t find what I wanted, but maybe there is a better search term.

BTW, I generated the above APA format citation using citationmachine.net, a site that allows you to choose MLA and Chicago formats as well as APA. I found it to be a great tool, but it still needed some human intelligence. I had to find and add the date of publication, even though it was clearly presented in the heading of the online article. Also, it provided no field to enter the dates of updates, but maybe that is not something required in APA format. Anyhow, it would have been a great boon when I was writing my Ph.D. dissertation!

Infamous Days

Monday, December 7, 2015, I went to The New York Times online with history on my mind. With anticipation I clicked on the video of  President Obama’s Sunday address to the nation regarding the December 2 violence in San Bernardino. I thought the President would refer to another infamous day in the history of this nation. He did not make the reference I expected. A bit disoriented, I searched beyond the article. Finally in the “On this day” closing of the edition I found a brief entry:

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II. More than 2,300 Americans were killed.

Am I just an anachronism, thinking back to times long past that are today irrelevant? I can not help but believe that if we do not know our history we do not know ourselves. And if we believe that ISIS/ISIL is just a group of “thugs” as President Obama states, I suggest we do not know our enemy.

Know your opponent, know yourself, no peril in a hundred battles. Not knowing your opponent but knowing yourself, win one lose one. Not knowing yourself, not knowing your opponent, every battle must be lost. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War, last sentence of Chapter 3, author’s adaptation)

If you can spare 4 minutes and 47 seconds, you may see something worth seeing.