Last Thursday I performed Mahler 2, The Resurrection Symphony, with a local orchestra and choir.  For the first time in years, the concert was not recorded.  I made sure to pay close attention to what was happening around me, not just because it was the performance, but because I wanted to be able to recall the parts I enjoyed later.  I was left to my own devices to capture the music in ways that couldn’t be reproduced digitally.  The way I felt hearing a duet between the English horn and bass clarinet, the majestic, sonorous sounds of the French horn section and the hushed, sweet entrance of 80+ singers standing behind me.  Luckily, I had two key advantages:

  1. I sit close to the centre of the orchestra. 
  2. I had a lot of rests in my part when I could just relax and enjoy the music around me.  

It was liberating and magical.  Without the recording, I’m free to re-imagine how the music was played, re-inventing sounds and phrases.  My own imagination grants me a certain sense of fluidity and creativity because I am not confined to a digital recording.  I can re-interpret the music so that it will still feel fresh the next time I play it, making new discoveries because I don’t have a fixed idea in my head of how it’s supposed to go, only how I want it to go.

In some ways, I feel lucky that most of my early performances were not recorded.  If I really knew what I sounded like when I first started playing over 20 years ago, I probably would have gotten too discouraged to continue. Now that I hear other beginning musicians I realize why my brother always complained about my practicing.  At the time I blamed it on sibling rivalry, but now I have a different understanding of what was really going on.

I also have very few pictures of myself playing bassoon.  Every time I see one, I remember why I don’t have more.  For a wind player, the only good moment to capture a photo is before we start playing.  Once we’re in motion, it’s just not that attractive.  Judge for yourself in an artist’s rendition of me playing.

Action shot.

Action shot.

Fragmented Discourse & Social Media

I have a very social group of friends.  Every time one of us plans an outing, it always has to be done through email, or maybe text messaging.  The end result is a lot of email threads and random discussion.  If I’m unable to attend the event being planned, I must ignore the emails piling up in my inbox as final details are discussed.  No option exists to remove myself from the conversation.

Social media seems like it should be a great way to make plans, but it doesn’t stand up to other more reliable forms, unless all of your contacts happen to be using the same type of social media and check it regularly.  Inevitably at least one important guest refuses to be on Facebook, or is only on Twitter and everybody else is on Google +.  This is similar to the challenges raised in an earlier post on Fragmented Discourse when making plans.  With more options than ever for communication, why does it still feel so complicated and fragmented sometimes?

With email, it is really easy to add another person to the thread.  You simply add their email address and hit send.  In most cases with social media, however, an additional step is added to the process by requiring you and the recipient to be connected in some way (friend, follow, link, connect, etc.) before making contact.

The benefit of an email address or phone number is that they are all compatible with each other.  It doesn’t matter if I’m thedeletist@gmail or @hotmail or @yahoo, they can all communicate with one another.  The same is true for phone numbers.  The style of phone or carrier doesn’t matter, only the digits, which can be used for calling or texting.

Can the same standard be replicated with social media?  Do we need so many different ways to be contacted and contact others?

I think it’s a little bit crazy that I can be contacted through snail mail, email (multiple accounts), phone (calls & text), and 3 separate social media applications.  I do realize I can invest in some sort of dashboard application to manage everything more effectively, but maybe I should just try to manage less and eliminate some of my accounts.

Would you, or do you, prefer to use social media over email to make plans?


Snapchat is a social media application that allows people to share pictures/video with each other on a temporary basis.  Once the image, called a Snap, is received it can only be viewed once for 10 seconds before being deleted from the recipient’s device.  A new feature, Stories, allows users to keep a continuous 24-hour feed related to an event. Anything older than 24 hours will be deleted. At least in theory.

Snapchat maintains the present moment as the present by not allowing history to be created through the preservation of the images. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun with Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat, sheds some insight on how he feels about the permanence of digital data, “It would be better for everyone if we deleted everything by default and saved the things that are important to us,” he says. “Right now most businesses are built on saving everything and then writing a ton of software to organize it and hopefully find the things that are important later.”  Spiegel says it is only businesses that are built on saving everything, but lots of individuals are also invested in this idea, except usually without the capability to write all the software to find important things later.

One of the reasons that Snapchat is so popular is because it allows people to be authentic, silly, and spontaneous without the worry of leaving a lasting digital impression to be mined later.  Not surprisingly, one of the apps biggest demographic of users is teenagers.  Parents don’t want their children using Snapchat because they’re worried about sexting, which is not the intended purpose of the app.  But if sexting is going to happen, wouldn’t you rather do it where there isn’t a trace left behind?

Not long after I first read about Snapchat, I discovered a few things that are completely contrary to the app’s purpose.

  1. YouTube video instructing Snapchat users (recipients) on how to retrieve images/video that have already been “deleted” from their devices (smartphone,tablets).  
  2. A new app, SnapHack Pro, that allows recipients to save Snaps to their camera roll all without the sender knowing.  And it’s only $1.99.
  3. People (recipients) can take screenshots of Snaps.

Why are we so uncomfortable with deletion?  Or with the idea that something ephemeral by nature, such as spontaneous conversation, can’t stay ephemeral?

Are you interested in using Snapchat?  Cast your vote in this week’s poll.


Social Media & Vampires

Usually when somebody mentions vampires, people picture an undead bloodsucking creature, who can’t be exposed to sunlight.  I’m talking about real vampires, not the ones from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series who sparkle in sunlight and survive by sucking the blood out of animals.   Something more like this:

Real vampire.  This one will burn in sunlight, NOT sparkle.

Real vampire. This one will burn in sunlight, NOT sparkle.

When I think of modern day vampires, my definition includes anybody with whom I have an interaction that leaves me feeling drained, tired, or lifeless.  This includes electronic interactions. Social media has given rise to a whole new subspecies of vampires, the digital bloodsuckers. Social vamps subsist on the social media life force.  And thanks to mobile devices, it can happen anytime, anywhere.

The #YOLO Vampire

This type of vampire lives for doing silly, reckless actions that can later be posted onto any number of social media sites with the ubiquitous #yolo.  That way everybody knows it’s the kind of thing you do because well, “you only live once,” and somehow that makes it ok.

Performing the actions requires the vampire to put endless amounts of social pressure onto his peers to do something cool, zany, silly or outrageous in the hopes of getting a few likes and retweets for the post.  The kind of pressure that ends up draining people because deep down it’s really about trying to connect with other humans, rather than getting noticed for doing something outrageous.


Give me your energy!

Give me your energy!

The #FOMO Vampire*

This vamp sits around every night trolling various social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) just to make sure he’s not missing out on anything cool posted by his connections. Consequently, because so much of his time is spent reading about other people instead of actually living, he makes asinine posts that clog up other people’s feeds.  Postings about how good almonds are, the weird cornflake shaped like Jesus, and his various mood swings.

The reach of the #FOMO Vampire might not be via a personal, human interaction, but it’s still about feeding off of your energy.

Sucking your life force, one bad post at a time.

Sucking your life force, one bad post at a time.

Do you encounter vampires in your social media interactions?  Cast your vote!

Note: The drawings are part of The Anger Management Deck.  To find out more about this unique product click here.  You can also check out my first Flex Slider!

*FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out


Social Media…& Zombies

A lot of people like zombies.  I think zombies are disgusting, so I’m curious to understand the fascination people have with them. They’re the walking dead with decaying flesh that falls off in rotted chunks.  They eat brains. Gross. They also have some unfair advantages compared to other super-naturals like vampires and lycanthropes (i.e. werewolves):

  1. They’re challenging to kill – you need to destroy the brain, or what’s left of it.  
  2. They can infect you easily.  Just one tiny bite or scratch is all it takes.  

One friend likes zombies because, as a human, she can relate to how easy it is to become one in our daily life. This is reflected in our language when we use “zombie” to describe somebody who is disengaged, unaware of his/her surroundings and/or blindly follows orders without thinking.  Sound familiar?  

I felt inspired by an infographic on the social media zombie apocalypse and identified a couple zombies I’ve encountered.

1.  The Candy Crush Saga Zombie

The game involves sliding pieces of candy around until you get three in a row.

The game involves sliding pieces of candy around until you get three in a row.

I’ve observed people mindlessly playing games that require them to do little more than slide pieces around.  Aside from killing time, there are no obvious benefits, yet these types of games are highly addictive and popular.  A recent article on Candy Crush quotes a woman vacationing in Cancun who would leave the pool to play the game in her hotel room.

2.  The MTMM Zombie (Multi-Task Multi-Media)

muti-task multi-media zombie - does everything but absorbs nothing

“Just let me finish this text!”  The MTMM Zombie does everything but absorbs nothing.

Beware of conversing with the MTMM Zombie, who will be glued to his/her headphones, texting and emailing on the smartphone while listening to you.  They’re completely engaged with everything, but not focusing on or absorbing anything.

We are connected to everything all the time, but we don’t have to do much or think about anything.  Like a rat in a maze, we just need to know how to get to the cheese. Is this what the zombie apocalypse looks like?

I, personally, have always loved vampires.  Perhaps it’s because they’re everything I’m not: fast, agile, stunning… and deadly.  Real life vampires exist around us sucking our energy. It’s not blood, but it’s still draining life.  Read about it in next week’s post: Social Media & Vampires.

Do you prefer zombies, vampires or lycanthropes?  Cast your vote in this week’s poll.


Learning the Language: Anatomy of a Website

I am a huge fan of using google to find answers.  Or watching instructional videos on YouTube to learn how to do something.  They are both great services, but only if you know what question to ask.

Recently I’ve been working on my company website.  I know what I want my website to do, but I don’t know what anything is called. Consequently I spend a lot of time figuring out the name of a certain feature or option so I can ask a question about how to achieve it.  As we become more enmeshed with technology, the expectation is that we automatically come equipped with the right vocabulary to ask the right question at the right time.

For example, googling something like “How do I get the name bigger on my website?”  is pretty useless. First of all, name is a generic term and therefore subject to varied interpretations. Second of all, which name and where?  What kind of website?  What platform is being used?

So while Google can be amazing for searches, if you don’t know how to ask the right questions, finding answers on the internet can turn into an exercise on how to manage frustrations.  If only website templates could provide users with a diagram pointing and naming the different elements, I’m sure it would help users to ask the right questions.

I’m still in the dark:

  • about what to call certain features that I want; and
  • what the features I have do.

Once I figure out the proper terms for what I want to accomplish, then it’s another process to find the answers.

When I installed my website template this ended up in my control panel:

With the exception of Ultimate TinyMCE, I don't actually know what any of these things are.

With the exception of Ultimate TinyMCE, I don’t actually know what any of these things are.

I have a vague understanding of what a slider is, but only because I’ve been working on my website for a couple of weeks.  And I appreciate that at least I know the names of a few things, thanks to options appearing on the backend control panel, even if I don’t yet understand what they do.  This means I will be able to search with the proper vocabulary to ask the right questions.

In short – stay tuned.  The website’s coming!