Photography

15 Days, 15 Photos

My process for leaving Facebook will involve reviewing what I’ve posted there and moving the good stuff to my blog. So here’s a start. Back in September 2017 I challenged myself to post one photograph each day for fifteen days.

Although photography makes up a large portion of what I share online, I feel a lot of internal resistance to posting my photographs. What gets posted is a minuscule portion of my growing collection. The resistance comes from a sense that the online world is a spectacularly bad place for concentrating on photos, and that to do justice to the images I love, I should make the effort to print them, frame them, and find somewhere to hang them, rather than taking the easy route of launching them into the noisy, crowded chaos of the internet. The goal of my September 2017 experiment was see how it would feel to bypass this internal resistance, suspend all my doubts, and just freely share my images for a while.

It felt pretty good. I appreciated knowing that my friends were finding some interest or pleasure in the pieces.

Here are the photos I chose to share on each of those fifteen days. On the first day, September 1, 2017, I posted three images of the same subject so there’s actually a total of seventeen photos here. To be clear, the photos were not taken on the days when I posted them; they are all older photos that had been waiting in my archive for a moment on stage.

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September 1, 2017: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, View 1
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September 1, 2017: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, View 2
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September 1, 2017: Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, View 3
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September 2, 2017
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September 3, 2017: “Crossing Borders”
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September 4, 2017
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September 5, 2017
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September 6, 2017: One of my interests in photography is finding and documenting unknown and fleeting works of abstract expressionism in dumpsters (example above) and other non-ticketed venues.
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September 7, 2017: Jantar Mantar (Garden of astronomical instruments), Jaipur, India, 2016.
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September 8, 2017
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September 9, 2017: “Gentrification”
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September 10, 2017
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September 11, 2017
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September 12, 2017
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September 13, 2017
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September 14, 2017: Here’s a beautiful and harmless Cross Orbweaver spider that’s been spinning and re-spinning its web in my garden in the past few days, catching mosquitoes and flies, and meanwhile being photographed by me. I’ve been doing a personal experiment this month, trying to share more of my photography — some images from my archives and a few new ones like this. I’ve really appreciated the feedback and commentary from everyone here — it has encouraged me to go out and take more photos. After tomorrow I’ll probably stop the daily posting for a while, leaving this experiment as 15 photos for 15 days, but I’ll be back…
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September 15, 2017

 

Leaving Facebook, Life

2019 Resolution: Leave Facebook

My resolution for 2019 is to permanently leave Facebook. I’m giving myself an absolute deadline of December 31, 2019 to do this, but I’m hoping to achieve it sooner. I say “achieve” because it’s going to be hard. I don’t want to lose my connection to my friends but I can’t maintain my self-respect if I stay.

It’s been said that leaving Facebook is an ineffective form of protest because Facebook doesn’t need any particular user. Leaving Facebook hurts the departing user more than it hurts Facebook.

I look at it differently. The power you wield when you leave Facebook is more than the power to deprive Facebook of your own future content stream. It is the power to help others make the same decision. The reason we’re all on Facebook is because all our friends are there. Your friends are the bonds that hold you in place. If fewer of your friends were there it would be easier for you to leave. So, when you make the decision to leave, you’re paving the way for your friends to do likewise in the future. This is not to say that enabling your friends to leave should be your primary reason for leaving, but just that it is a powerful consequence of your choice.

What if you’re not ready to leave? I would offer this New Year’s message: Be faithful to the people in your life, but please cheat on corporations; specifically, please cheat on Facebook. Let me explain by asking you a question.

Is Facebook the only place online where you offer your favorite recipes, your music recommendations, your travel photos? Is Facebook the one giant corporation to which you contribute your wit, wisdom, and humor? Is Facebook the only advertising behemoth with which you share your dinner plans and your deepest secrets? Is Facebook the only place online where I could go to find out what’s happening with you, what’s important to you, what’s funny to you?

If the answer is yes, my next question is why does Facebook deserve your fidelity? Why have you let yourself enter into a one-way exclusive relationship with Mark Zuckerberg’s profit engine where it receives everything you’ve got while only pretending to keep a reciprocal commitment to you, to your privacy, security, and well-being?

If you’re not ready to leave Facebook yet, at least consider playing around with other platforms. Next time it seems to you that the easiest way to share a thought is to post it on Facebook, try tweeting it. Maybe start a personal blog. Want to share a photo? Experiment with a photo-sharing site other than Facebook or Instagram.

You don’t have to leave Facebook to take action towards reducing its grip on all of us. You can do that by avoiding one-sided monogamy with Facebook. You can do that by turning to Facebook less, depending on it less, and sharing outside it more.

I’ll be delighted if you join me in leaving Facebook this year. I hope you’ll copy my New Year’s resolution. But for those who aren’t ready to leave, please resolve to start cheating on Facebook in 2019 if you aren’t doing that already. Meanwhile, stay good and true to the people in your life – they’re the ones who deserve your faith. Happy new year!

See also: The Myth of the Guarded Facebook User

Music, Voice

Silent Night

I had a full day to myself yesterday to record a Christmas song. Here are two versions of Silent Night:

Making these recordings was a chance to experiment with a few performance concepts that I’ve been interested in. The first is the idea of singing with a smile. After making a handful of recordings and reviewing them all, the ones I liked best turned out to be those in which I had decided to physically smile while singing. I was surprised at how clearly I could “hear” my smile wherever it occurred.

Some voice teachers say that smiling improves vocal production, but others say that smiling with the mouth creates detrimental tension and a singer should really only smile with the eyes. In these recordings I’m unabashedly smiling with everything I’ve got, and this leads into the second concept I want to mention: vocal acting. In roughly seven years of taking voice lessons, I’ve spent a lot of time on the physical technique of singing but much less on the technique of acting, assuming a persona and conveying it through vocal nuance. In these Silent Night recordings, I’m imagining myself as someone who is ecstatically devout and I’m trying to convey that sense of devotion as overtly as I can. I think that’s what the song calls for.

I never expected that Silent Night would become such a significant part of my musical life, but it has. Back in 2014, when I was trying to build my knowledge of jazz harmony, I followed the pianist David Berkman’s advice to practice reharmonizing simple tunes like Silent Night. I made a dozen reharmonizations of this very tune and arranged my favorites into the first piece of what would become a full Christmas album. While I remain fascinated as ever by the complexities of harmony, and I’m now exploring some of those complexities in my guitar arrangements, I’m paying more attention to some “simple” things that I feel I skipped over in my musical journey. What have I skipped? Well, if I could go back and add one positive element to my teenage years, it would be that along with picking up classical guitar, I would learn to strum and sing folk songs (by myself, yes, but also in groups). Well, I’m thrilled to be doing that now.

What is possible with a voice and the plainest, simplest guitar accompaniment? In 2019, I’m hoping to sing more, strum more, and make more recordings like these to find out.

Music

Phrasing Exercise: Anticipation

Performing a piece of music is a challenge in temporal awareness, in the sense that you have be conscious of the past (what you’ve just played), the present (what you’re playing now), and the future (what you’re going to play next). You want to be aware of the past so you can respond to it and build upon it. You want to be aware of the present so that you can stay connected to what you’re actually playing. And you want to be aware of the future so that you can hint at what’s coming next and be ready when it arrives. How can you do all these things at once?

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Leaving Facebook, Society

The Myth of the Guarded Facebook User

When I heard that Wade Roush is planning to leave Facebook, I took note. Wade is a veteran technology journalist and the host of the podcast Soonish. He is not the first person to take a stand against Facebook, but when someone who follows technology and thinks about the future as a profession makes such a decision, it’s a big deal. Wade’s announcement reminded me of my own plan to get off Facebook, a plan that’s been in the works for, oh, five years now. It made me wonder if there’s anything I can contribute to the “Fexit” discussion, so I’ll explore that here.

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