A Generation of Narcissists and Voyeurs

For some, photo-sharing sites have become public shrines to personal vanity. Particularly among teenage girls. Like Narcissus of old, they are absorbed in reflections of their own beauty.

Boys, on the other hand, are entranced by an endless stream of maidens who, like the ancient nymphs, are more fantasy than reality.

In this cycle, the voyeur feeds the narcissist and the narcissist the voyeur. The camera, rather than bringing people closer together, maintains an untouchable world of distant and augmented realities. Both ends of the spectrum lose perspective on what is real.

Beauty and appreciation of beauty are part of the sweet joys of life. Yet, beauty in the eye of the narcissist is no longer beauty for the sake of beauty. It is a commodity for sale on a path to fill a hidden emptiness. A void that is unable to accept the true value of beauty.

May the rising generation embrace a reality where the greatest moments take place off stage without camera or script. Moments that reward patience and delayed gratification. Moments of simple joy far beyond the hollows of narcissism and voyeurism.

Why we know less than ever about the world

I watched a brief yet revealing TED talk this morning by Public Radio International CEO, Alisa Miller, titled “Why we know less than ever about the world.” Sadly, American news media spends most of their resources focusing on myopic issues, like personal tragedies in the lives of pop stars, while ignoring the rest of the world. Watch this four minute and twenty nine second clip to see the statistics and hear Alisa Miller in her own words.


Note to news media: Next time you’re tempted to report on something relatively trivial, like an athlete turned actor running from police in his white Ford Bronco, chances are high that something of true importance, like the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, is happening at the same time. If you don’t tell us, how will we know?

Matthewrlee.com: Expanding My Online Identity.

Two days ago I purchased the rights to three domain names: matthewrlee.com, matthewrlee.org, and matthewrlee.net. Currently they point to this blog.


Any content related to these three URLs prior to 08/26/08 belonged to someone else. For next decade anyone who visits these sites will find, me.


To all the other Matthew Lees, Matthew R. Lees, and yes even Matthew Russell Lees out there, I have an interest in your name. We have a shared identity. As I work to separate my identity from yours, I wish you all the best in defining your own virtual persona.

iStockphoto Free Image of the Week

I’ve been using Istockphoto for about three years. Each week they post a free image for registered users. Each image is available in multiple sizes with the same basic licensing agreement that accompanies purchased images.

Below is an image from this past April. A simple design that’s just right.

Living in a “Fill the Space” Age (Or the myth of emptiness)

Life is great and small

We are living in the “space” age. Not the science fiction version with flying cars and tight pants but an age where every moment, every space, must be filled.

In our cities homes are stacked on top of each other. We build in as much as we build out. Hollow space is considered either a potential commodity or a design flaw. If you have empty space, or “free” time, the American question is; what will you do with it? What will you do to fill the space you’ve been given to make it larger, to make it better?

In our market economy product saturation, or infiltration, presides. Competition for space in the most precious of all real-estate markets, the human mind, is in constant flux. It seems no space is too sacred for the adviser’s pen. The desire to fill ourselves, to fill our own sense of emptiness, makes nearly every space, and every item, exchangeable.

Nothing is its own for its own sake. All can quickly become a token, a trading card for something else to fill the ironically increasing void in our expanding world.

As we look deeper into the origins of life and farther into the expanse of the heavens we find that both are endless. The visible world is growing as we gaze into what we thought was invisible, with new eyes. Yet there is a harmony in what appears to be chaos. The order runs deep and balance is maintained. There are limits keeping order between the spaces.

While in this accelerating age of space filling I hope we will choose to value the sacred space of the human mind and stop catering to those who would exploit our most vulnerable locations.

Don’t shoot: Stop Bullet Point Overkill

Bullet Point OverKill 

Bullets points are not the answer. What value do they add to a presentation when the text is already in a 28 point font and is the only text on the screen?

If you must use bullet points, use them sparingly and use them well.  Here is one slide example (Click once to advance the slide).* 

PowerPoint presentations can shine without bullet points.

Think before you shoot.

*The animation is better in PowerPoint, NOT PowerPoint Viewer.

Google More

 

You’ve seen Google Maps, Google Images, and Google Video, yet Google has so much more to offer. Here are four examples.  

  1. Ever wondered who categorizes the images on Google Images? Try Google Image Labeler and find out.  
  2. Tired of sending documents back and forth through e-mail for editing and wondering who has the current version? Try Google Docs & Spreadsheets. 
  3. Want to know who invented the first pocket protector, the electric tooth brush, or the hulla hoop? Try Google Patent Search 
  4. Want to know exactly what people are searching for on Google? Go to Google Trends.

These are just a few of over 50 services available from Google. As a co-worker of mine, Kurt Fanstill, said after attending an indexing conference, ‘this is not an information age; it is an information retrieval age. Sorting through the data to quickly find what you need is the key and Google continues to unlock the doors.

Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two. . . Well Almost.

missionpossible.png (A)       70.png (B)

This is a fun idea; it can be good and fast, but it’s won’t be cheap, or it can be good and cheap but it won’t be fast. Fortunately, this not always true. There is no universal standard for good, fast, or cheap. Each of these words is relative to the specifics of the project, and being expensive and slow doesn’t guarantee it will be good.  

When developers adopt this mind set, and consistently apply it to all their projects, they become prisoners to the “or”. It has to be this OR this, because it cannot be this AND this. Who made up this rule and why do so many adopted it as truth? Yes, it can be used as a reality check on the constraints of a team, but it should not become the team’s motto. I’ve seen great results done quickly and on a low budget.  

Here are two examples of good, fast, and cheap ads created for an internal campaign directed towards a technical support team. The goal was to get everyone to record the exact version of the customer’s software on every call. They were getting the major number, but too many were not recording the minor and release numbers.  

We needed something in their face that would capture attention. The life cycle would be short and the problem needed to be corrected as soon as possible. What they didn’t need was to be lectured by their managers, pulled into a training room for an hour, or given a traditional job aid.  

This ad (A) [click the image to enlarge] was printed in color at 4” x 6” and taped on the shelf in everyone’s cubical next to their monitor. The image was a free download of the week from iStockphoto and the text and formatting took ten minutes. I used SnagIt but could have easily created it with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. This ad (B) was used in a follow up e-mail a week later. 

The number of techincans recording the version number increased dramically. By the following week we were reached 100%.

Sometimes things can be good, fast, and cheap. Especially when the life cycle is short. Here’s one more example (C).

istock_000001275827medium702.jpg  (C)