Strangers on the Internet

June 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

I am always surprised when I hear that someone I know met their significant other or best friend over the Internet.  However, once I hear the context of the encounter, it’s never very shocking or shady.  Which leads me to the conclusion that…growing up as a child of the 90s really tainted my image of the Internet as a social meeting place for new contacts.  While I was growing up there were so many horror stories of people preying on young teens through AOL chatrooms and fake social networking accounts.    And because of those stories I think people forgot that there are smart people who are cautious and careful who meet other people on the Internet, not out of desperation or an inability to connect with people in their existing circles, but for a multitude of legitimate reasons.

Thinking back, I have met people over the Internet who are now some of my favorite people.   When I was planning my trip to Asia, I took advantage of the swing dance groups on Facebook in the various countries and messaged the admins for suggestions on places to go and people to contact.  It never seemed weird to me, possibly because the swing community is so friendly and safe, possibly because even though they were all strangers to me, many of these people were part of my extended network (a friend of a friend of a friend, etc.).

I also had to meet people over the Internet while planning Kollaboration.  I e-mailed so many people (potential sponsors, guest performers, contestants, volunteers, etc.) but that never seemed weird either.  Musing over these occurrences makes me wonder how dangerous the Internet really is.  There is undoubtedly a great deal of malicious content, but who are the real potential victims here?  Have I passed that point or am I still in danger of falling victim to a Craigslist murderer or chatroom stalker?   I think that part of the reason I feel so secure online is because I am usually the one seeking out people online and not the other way around.

Of course, people should still be very careful on the Internet and be wary of ever giving out or posting any information that can lead to a physical location.  However, this becomes more and more difficult with the various social networking sites that are popping up every day.   Even if I didn’t know where a person lived, I could easily find out their whereabouts by finding their Linked-in or Twitter.  A simple Google search also works wonders.  A tech-savvy person could also track another person down by IP address as well.

So where is the line now in 2010?  Should everyone not have a Linked-In that says their company’s name and location?  Should we all start deleting our Facebook accounts (because even if you put everything on private, your photo and friends are still viewable in a Google search)? Or should we believe that we are safe and allow ourselves to risk a little bit of our privacy in order to utilize these networks that now seem vital to maintaining relationships with our far away friends?

In the end, all of this will be a personal choice.  But I can only hope two things: 1. Kids who grow up in this digital era will be smart and very cautious regarding unsolicited messages, and, 2. People will not betray each others trust by using the information found online for malicious deeds.


Something worth sharing…

June 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Why write something you want to say when it has already been written?

Nisbett and Ross’s “The Person and the Situation” shows that most people attribute behavior to personality.  However, in reality behavior is driven by much more often by the specifics of a situation, rather than the personality of the actor.  For example, you walk down the hall and see your good friend.  You shoot a smile and say hi — she ignores you.  Most people are apt to say she’s upset with you, whereas in reality she was just very rushed at the moment.

Most people forget that there is high variability in the specifics of the situation.  As an exercise, take something that just happened to me.

I just sent a secretary in an organization a note asking whether she had mailed me an packet of paperwork yet.  She replies saying she made sure to put the packet on the mail cart that just came by, and it was sent out via overnight mail so I should get it immediately.

Here’s a leading interpretation of the situation, an interpretation that the average person would have.  The secretary seems to be very prompt in responding to emails.  She gets the job done right away, is very responsible, and go above and beyond the call of duty in accomplishing a task.   Nisbett and Ross’s point is that the average person would seize upon this small event and infer large personality traits from it.

But here’s another possible interpretation.  The paperwork is a set of documents to me that I have requested two weeks ago.  The secretary then may have felt regret on receiving the email, and rushed out the package on a Friday afternoon.  While promptness doesn’t matter much for me, the contents are very important and it may be that at her organization, overnight packages are treated with special care and integrity.  If this had been the situation, then the secretary’s actions suddenly seem a lot less above the call of duty.*

Or another alternative.  What if my email had triggered her to email her boss, who was responsible for sending the paperwork.  On realizing that he still hasn’t sent the paperwork yet, he just gave a quick order to get it back to me as soon as possible.  She simply followed instructions — all costs are billed to the organization anyway, and then updated me on the progress.*

Or yet another alternative: what if her boss had not given her the paperwork yet.  But since she checks her boss’s email, she realizes that the packet is very very important to me.  She goes beyond the standard procedures and interrupts her boss briefly to retrieve the packet.  Knowing that her organization doesn’t pay for mail yet I seem to be antsy about needing it, she takes her own cash from her pocket and sends the mail over.*

The key point is this: in situations without full information, it’s very hard to infer a person’s disposition by her actions.   Behavior is very situational.

* All speculation of course.  I am in the end very grateful that the packet was sent out to me and reached me very quickly.

Credited to


June 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Presentation makes a WORLD of difference.

Keri Smith

June 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I found a cute little blog today that is worth sharing:

I liked her 100 ideas.  She has a pdf (available here- that I printed out and plan to do.  I also copied and pasted the list below so you can just take a quick look.

In other news, I am moving!  I am actually quite excited because I plan to actually spend money and buy furniture/decorate this next apartment.  Even though it is so depressing looking at the price of acquiring furniture, I am excited to color coordinate and organize everything. =)

Keri’s list:

1. Go for a walk. Draw or list things you find on the sidewalk.

2. Write a letter to yourself in the future.

3. Buy something inexpensive as a symbol for your need to create (new pen, a teacup, a journal). Use it everyday.

4. Draw your dinner.

5. Find a piece of poetry you respond to. Rewrite it and glue it into your journal.

6. Glue an envelope into your journal. For one week, collect things you find in the street.

7. Expose yourself to a new artist (go to a gallery or in a book). Describe what moves you about it.

8. Find a photo of a person you do not know. Write a brief bio about them.

9. Spend a day drawing only red things.

10. Draw your bike.

11. Make a list of everything you buy in the next week.

12. Make a map of everywhere you went in one day.

13. Draw a map of the creases on your hand (knuckles, palm).

14. Trace your footsteps with chalk.

15. Record an overheard conversation (in a notebook, I presume?).

16. Trace the path of the moon in relation to where you live.

17. Go to a paint store. Collect ‘chips’ of all your favourite colours.

18. Draw your favourite tree.

19. Take 15 minutes to eat an orange.

20. Write a haiku.

21. Hang upside down for five minutes.

22. Hang found objects from tree branches.

23. Make directions for a puppet.

24. Create a collage from things you find in nature.

25. Read a book in one day.

26. Illustrate your grocery list.

27. Read a story out loud to a friend.

28. Write a letter to someone you admire.

29. Study the face of someone you do not like.

30. Play with your food.

31. Create a museum of very small things.

32. List the smells in your neighbourhood.

33. List 100 uses for a tin can.

34. Fill an entire page in your journal with small circles. Colour them in.

35. Give away something you love.

36. Choose an object. Draw the side you can’t see.

37. List all of the places you’ve ever lived.

38. Describe your favourite room in detail.

39. Write about your relationship with your washing machine.

40. Draw all of things in your purse/bag.

41. Make a mini-book on the theme ‘my grocery list’.

42. Create a character based on someone you know. Write a list of personality traits.

43. Recall your favourite childhood game.

44. Put postcards you respond to on the inside of your kitchen cupboard doors so you can see them everyday.

45. Draw the same object every day for a week.

46. Write in your journal using a different medium (Brush and ink, charcoal, old typewriter, crayons, markers).

47. Draw the individual items of your favourite outfit.

48. Make a useful item using only paper and tape.

49. Research a celebration ritual from another culture.

50. Do a temporary art installation using a pad of post it notes and a pen.

51. Draw a map of your favourite sitting spots in your town/city (photocopy it and give it to someone you like).

52. Record all of the sounds you hear in the course of one hour.

53. Using a grid, collect various textures from magazines and play them off of each other.

54. Cut out all Media for one day. Write about the effects.

55. Make pencil rubbings of six different surfaces.

56. Draw your garbage.

57. Do a morning collage.

58. List your ten most important things (not including animals or people).

59. List ten things you would like to do everyday.

60. Glue a photo of yourself as a child into your journal.

61. Transform some garbage.

62. Write an entry in your journal in really LARGE letters.

63. Collect some flat things in nature (flowers, leaves). Glue or tape them into your journal.

64. Physically alter a page (ie. cut a hole, pour tea on it, burn it, fold it, etc).

65. Find several colour combinations you respond to in public. Document them using swatches, write where you found them.

66. Experiment with simple print making (ie. monoprint, photocopy, stamping, potato printing, lino, eraser).

67. Record descriptions or definitions of words you are interested in, found in encyclopedias or dictionaries.

68. Draw the outline of an object without looking at the page. (contour drawing).

69. What were you thinking just now? write it down.

70. Do nothing.

71. Write a list of ten things you could to do. Do the last thing on the list.

72. Create an image using dots.

73. Do 3 drawings at different speeds.

74. Put a small object in your left pocket (or in a bag), Put your left hand in the pocket. Draw it by feel.

75. Create a graph documenting or measuring something in your life.

76. Draw the sun.

77. Create instructions for a simple everyday task.

78. Make prints using food. (fruit and vegetables cut in half, fish, etc.)

79. Find a photo. Alter it by drawing over it.

80. Write a letter using an unconventional medium.

81. Draw one object for twenty minutes.

82. Combine two activities that have not been combined before.

83. Write about your day in an encyclopedic fashion. (i.e. organize by subject.)

84. Write a list of all the things you do to escape.

85. Cut a random shape out of several layers of a magazine. Make a collage out of the results.

86. Write an entry in code.

87. Make a painting using tools from the bathroom.

88. Work with a medium that is subtractive.

89. Write about or draw some of the doors in your life.

90. Make a postcard that has some kind of activity on it.

91. Write an entry about a secret. Cut it up and glue the pieces in randomly.

92. Devise an entry using “layers”.

93. Write your own definition of one of the following concepts, sitting, waiting, sleeping (without using the actual word.)

94. List 10 of your habits.

95. Illustrate the concept of “simplicity”.

Your own list (write down and complete your own ideas):







June 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Do you love what you do or do you love what it affords you?

Cool Stuff Online

June 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hmmm… I drafted this posting in February but never actually posted it.  I don’t remember why…

Math learning for elementary school kids:

Top 10 sites:

Learning languages:;;;;

Visual thesaures:


**Edit: Whomever designed this theme for WordPress really failed with their inability to automatically set hyperlinks.  Really! Who ever copies and pastes urls anymore?

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