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October 2012

Post image for Steal this post!

As usual, at first there was nothing, then I sat down with some coffee for a few hours, and then there was something : a collection of words that might give you a good idea or teach you to do something. It wasn’t always brilliant, but I made it myself and I hoped you like it. As of today I’ve done this 250 times for this website.

When it’s done I click publish and set it free. Within a few seconds it’s in a thousand places. On a bench in Prospect Park, looking up from someone’s Android. Glowing on a white-blue iPad screen in a midwest dorm room. Waiting behind an envelope icon in some accountant’s Outlook, in Brisbane. Any stranger who finds it can beam it someone else a few minutes later, anywhere they want.

I like that this can happen. This is the future. It has never been easier to find the like-minded, to broadcast your personality, to click with a kindred mind in another city or on another continent, to find an audience for your creative thing you do. I love that I live now and not some other time.

As a consumer of creative works, it’s also easier than ever to find what you value, at least of the type that comes in the form of words, images, sounds, or anything else than can fit through a cable or shoot through the airwaves. Information is a boring word for it, but that’s what it is, and a lot of it has real value to us.

Today’s free flow of information also means it’s harder than ever to retain control of what you create. That seems like it would almost defeat the possibility of actually selling your work, given that anyone can find information on the web and have their way with it. People who create digital products today have to deal with an issue that the brick-and-mortar era never did. You can’t tie anything down, and everything you offer can be duplicated, by anyone, anywhere. You can’t lock up when you leave the shop at night. Once they’re on the internet, your wares are up for grabs.

It’s easier than ever to steal. You can lift someone else’s words, songs, pictures and tell people they are yours. Or, at least, you can neglect to tell people they aren’t yours.  Read More

Post image for Why big changes are so big

My last six weeks of being 31 years old were glorious. Easy and beautiful. I had been a pessimist since I was a kid (most of that time without realizing it) and then in late August, something clicked and I no longer saw things in terms of their downsides. It was dramatic and almost effortless and I can’t fully explain how it happened. I just got used to thinking about what I want, and catching myself whenever I started thinking about what I don’t want. It worked.

It wasn’t mania or self-delusion, just a clean, consistent sense that at any moment life is good enough to smile about, and it’s only getting better. My surroundings looked the same but felt different. It was a very different mental landscape, which happened to make much more sense than the one I was used to.

My six-week cruise in a state of near-effortless optimism ran aground somewhere around last Wednesday. There were several factors. The weather changed. Indian summer became cold and nasty overnight. I was stuck in a small town again, which tends to make me a bit loopy.

But it was hubris that sunk me. Optimism felt self-sustaining, and so I kept up cruising speed, even while I eased up on my vigilance around cultivating positive expectations and weeding out negative ones. I steamed on with the smugness of the Titanic’s captain. Unsinkable! I thought. I fell asleep in a deck chair with a smile on my face and a cigar burning in my hand.  Read More

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