Can you Contentate this Cowboy? You Could Become a Professional Contentist

contentiate-meI just received an unsolicited email (spam) from a company promoting its “content marketing software platform.” As today is not April 1, I assume this isn’t a joke, although, after reading the following way in which they describe their “system,” I can’t help but think I’m being punk’d:

“Our system manages the ideation, production, distribution and analysis components of the content marketing process, so marketers can efficiently and successfully operate their own content marketing machine, driving new business at lower cost.”

Obviously, the company’s content machine spit out that description, as I feel certain that any type of bipedal mammal, even if you buy the infinite monkey theorm, could nit possibly put together such a string of, uh, contenturdity.

As the 12 readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of the term “content” when applied to the highest forms of human expression: literature, art, music, and similar content stuff.

Slap a label like “content” on those things which a culture is measured by throughout the rest of history and the next thing you know, you don’t really need talent or imagination or insight: you just need ideation, production and distribution. You don’t need skill or experience, you just need a content machine driving new business.

Haven’t you heard? Content is king. And a cowboy drawing is content as sure-as-shooting as the Mona Lisa is content.

No one will notice the difference in the era of content marketing.

You, too, can be a professional contentist by attending a one-day conference and buying a content marketing machine.

Cory Doctorow: “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

From a comment by Doc Searls in the context of a message-thread related to the death of Aaron Swartz:

“Self-definition is so huge for young people. And yet, it’s not so important as it seems. I was fifty before I realized that I was none of the labels I carried, but simply my self. One result of that realization is that nearly everything I’m known for is stuff I’ve done since then. It’s good to be liberated from the burden of expectations.”

Unless you dwell in a very specific, but highly technical and influential, corner of the Internet, the name Aaron Swartz probably didn’t ring a bell before Friday. But for those who dwell there — and, in some cases, helped to create what “there” is — his suicide on Friday is serving as a form of collective Rorschach test as some very talented ubber-geeks try to make sense out of something so senseless as suicide.

The news of Swartz’s tragic death has cross-over appeal to the general news media, as demonstrated by this WSJ article. Swartz is being portrayed as an archtype of the gifted young internet prodigy as tormented rockstar — a geek Kurt Cobain for today.

It goes without saying that I am deeply saddened by this young and gifted man’s death. And I appreciate how so many people who knew him are celebrating his life and his accomplishments. He deserves such praise, I’m sure. And I agree with those close to him who believe the circumstances contributing his belief that suicide was his only way out are worth investigating and analyzing.

I hope, however, that these deserved and appropriate rememberances and expressions of mourning, do not have the unintended consequences of glorifying the act of taking ones life.

I am grateful that a writer with so much credibility and standing in the tech-community as Cory Doctorow wrote what will be the definitive obituarial essay about Aarron, for in it he praises Aaron’s life, while emphatically condeming his decision to commit suicide.

Writes Cory:

“Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever. If he was lonely, he will never again be embraced by his friends. If he was despairing of the fight, he will never again rally his comrades with brilliant strategies and leadership. If he was sorrowing, he will never again be lifted from it.

“Depression strikes so many of us. I’ve struggled with it, been so low I couldn’t see the sky, and found my way back again, though I never thought I would. Talking to people, doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, seeking out a counsellor or a Samaritan — all of these have a chance of bringing you back from those depths. Where there’s life, there’s hope. Living people can change things, dead people cannot.”

I began this post with the quote from Doc as it speaks directly to those who assume that [fill-in-the-blank with whatever it is that you think will bring you peace: success, money, a job, a boy- or girlfriend, fame] has to come by a certain time, a certain age, or a certain accomplishment or circumstance.

Peace can come anytime, even without those things you may use to fill in the blank.

But it doesn’t come at the end of a rope.

As Cory writes, “Living people can change things, dead people cannot.”

To believe anything else is just a rock ‘n roll myth.

Rex-a-Sketch, a 2013 rexperiment

tumblr.thumbWhile I’ve had a Tumblr account [tippy title="(...)"]Tumblr is a blogging platform. You can learn about it here. My Tumblr account can be found at either of these two URLs: RexHammock.com or Rex.Tumblr.com[/tippy] since April, 2007, I’ve never quite figured out what its best use should be. So I experiment with it.

Unlike this blog and its fairly consistent look, I change themes on the Tumblr account all the time. And while this blog has a consistent 12 readers, my Tumblr account has a consistent readership of, well, I’ve never added Google Analytics to it.

Mainly, I’ve used it to post quotes or photos that I might run across. Things that are bigger than a tweet and smaller than a post.

During then next 12 months, I am trying a new experiment with my Tumblr account.

I’m posting sketches to it that I create using the iPad App, Paper by FiftyThree and the Tumblr Theme, Paper Stacks Pro.

I haven’t established a sketch “style” yet and it will probably take me a few months to figure out what exactly I am doing. I’m going for something between stick figures and something evoking the Renaissance.

But as I’m limiting myself to less than ten minutes per sketch, I’m guessing my style will approach that of a really bad courtroom sketch artist.

Feste, RIP

Feste, co-writing a Rexblog post.
Feste, co-writing a Rexblog post.

Feste, the dog our family has belonged to for the past 15 years, died today. In my life, I have never loved, or appreciated, or learned so much from a dog as I have Feste.

I was lucky to belong to Feste.

Feste, a Coton de Tulear [tippy title="(...)"]The Coton de Tuléar is a breed of small dog. It is named for the city of Tuléar in Madagascar and for its cotton-like coat. See: Coton de Tulear in Wikipedia[/tippy], lived a long, loving and healthy life. In the end, his body started shutting down, as all of our bodies will one day. Great vets and modern medicine helped extend the time his heart and lungs worked well, so we were able to live with him for the maximum possible period. But during the past few days, post-holidays, he began to visibly decline and suffer from what we’ve learned was renal failure. As he is within a few months of being 15 (100+ in human years) and has lived with such good health for so long, our primary desire was to prevent him from suffering and so we’ve spent the past day weeping for his loss, yet celebrating the joy he brought our lives.

Feste was my rock — he loved me, no matter what. He was never disappointed in me, even when I was. Feste was all the proof I need that certain dogs provide magical therapeutic power through their gentleness, friendliness and willingness to be petted and handled by anyone, no matter what their age.

Feste was a lover; an expert companion dog, knowing precisely how close to snuggle up to someone on the sofa — even learning different family member’s preferences for how they liked to pet or scratch. He loved to be petted for as long as possible, but was never demanding when you decided it was time to turn the page of a book or stop due to the cramping of your fingers.

And, as is displayed on the accompanying photo, he wrote most of the posts on this blog.

My wife, always Feste’s favorite by any measure, has anticipated this day longer than I have. Feste loved my wife more than any dog I’ve known has loved a human. Every time she would mention the inevitability of Feste’s death, I would quickly change the subject and say something like, “Let’s just love him today and appreciate every moment he’s with us.” While doing that, her practical side would also kick-in — denial is not my wife’s strong-suit.

A few weeks ago, my wife told me that she had been in contact with the breeder who allowed [tippy title="(...)"]after an interview and careful screening[/tippy] Feste to join our family. My wife, when recounting the recent phone conversation, used the word “puppies” in a sentence. It was then I knew that she was anticipating this day with the type of understanding that only she and Feste truly shared.

Their way of preparing for this day, I guess.

Today, however, my family has weeped for Feste’s loss and smiled as we thought about all the joy he brought us.

And we thanked God for letting us live with Feste for the past 15 years.

Below are just a few of my favorite photos of Feste.

Condé Nast Traveler’s five ‘must visit’ cities of 2013 includes my home town

Nashville’s Lower Broad (on a map, it will say “Broadway”)
(Photo by Thomas Hawk. Click to see an awesome set of photos he shot in Nashville.)

The other morning on the Today Show, Condé Nast Traveler’s Lisa Gill appeared to present what one of the show’s hostesses described as the “coolest, must-see cities you’ve got to visit in (2013).”

In the whole world.

Here are the two must-visit cool cities on the list that I’ve never visited: Seoul and Amsterdam. Looking forward to visiting both some day.

Here are two that I’ve visited several times: Toronto and New Orleans. Also look forward to re-visiting both.

Here is the fifth cool, must-see city on the list: Nashville.

Here’s Lisa’s description of “the new Nashville”:

“The new Nashville offers two things worth traveling for: a hot, trendy new food scene and its famous, funky music scene. The ‘haute southern’ cuisine is flourishing in Nashville at restaurants like The Patterson House and The Catbird Seat. Not to mention some of the tastiest and most creative cocktails we’ve ever tried. At night, you can’t walk two blocks without coming across some incredible live music, from bluegrass to brass bands, zydeco to country. Where to stay: Try the Hutton Hotel for a sophisticated yet modern atmosphere, with rooms starting at $197.”

I’m glad Condé Nast Traveler’s listing of Nashville included a shout-out to the Catbird Seat as it is the only restaurant I blogged about in 2012 (and probably, any year since 1999). And had it not been for super trend-spotting blogger Joe Stirt‘s urging, that would not have happened. I’ll note Joe beat Condé Nast Traveler by a year.

Nashville is a great place to visit.

It’s an even greater place to live. I’ve lived here 34 years. It may not be where I was born, but it’s definitely become my home town.

Whenever I visit cool places, it’s the going home place I love.