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Apr. 25th, 2015


"The Neal Shankman Generation - A Blind Spot in the Social Media Discourse"

If you were born in a certain time and place -- specifically, Rochester, New York, in the waning days of the Ford administration -- You can't help but feel more than a little invisible in the endless stream of speculation about the Millennials and how social media transformed what it has meant to grow up in America in their time.

After all, you spent your college years in Northwestern University's Class of 1997 reading about the failings of "Generation X," and even though commentators eventually extended its sell-by date to about 1981, you couldn't fully identify with the "disenfranchised slacker" label the Boomers affixed to their foreheads. After all, you loved the goofy sarcasm of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the bouncy and clever tunes of They Might Be Giants, and the clever-yet-plodding plotlines of Doctor Who. You had a hopeless crush on your best friend's sister. You drove a 1981 Mazda RX-7, which looked cool from a distance of 50 feet, but which cost a fortune for even the simplest repairs, handled in the snow like a cow, and guzzled gas. (Luckily, the Hess station at Route 250 and Penfield Road sold regular unleaded for around $1.20 per gallon!)

You also managed to get to college with absolutely no experience of "The Internet." Sure, as a chubby, sensitive nerd, you were familiar with the world of "BBSing," dialing up from one modem to another to leave public messages on the "boards," download monochrome pixelated pornography, and play "Pimp Wars" until you passed out. But you got your first email address in the fall of 1993, when you filled out a paper application for network access in the basement of Norris Center during New Student Orientation. For you, "instant messaging" meant dialing into a Unix time-sharing system called "Merle" and invoking "talk" or "ytalk" from the shell to hit on girls you knew from high school, instead of figuring out a real social life.

Heck, you didn't have your own cell phone until a couple of years after you graduated college, and it could only *receive* text messages! It didn't matter anyhow, because it's not like you generally had a girlfriend or a posse or anything where you needed to coordinate social logistics in real time across many people.

If this all rings a bell to you, congratulations - you are part of the Neal Shankman Generation. You click and refresh Facebook every 9 seconds, but you respond to texts and PMs in full English sentences, most often with your wife, Carey. You were never involved in much in public in high school or college that would make for a horrifying photograph, but if you had been, it wouldn't have been memorialized forever on Instagram. You still don't understand how "torrents" work despite no fewer than 5 people trying to explain it to you, slowly. You miss Hot Doug's a lot, and you think "Other Space" needs more background music. Like "Red Dwarf."

From your experience of using tools like library card catalogs and back issues of periodicals on microfilm, to your early adoption and continuing use of professional tools to produce and manage online content, "Neal Shankmans" bring a unique perspective to social media, living as they have on the border between the older analog world, with its girlie magazines in the third drawer down on the left in your brother's room, to the vastly accelerated, "connected" world of today and its various "tubes."

Aren't we special?

Mar. 1st, 2010


(no subject)

This is a gratuitous "still alive" post. Were this an actual post, I would have something more to say... probably.

Oct. 25th, 2009


Power of Cello - tonight!

Chicago-folk: Anyone or anytwo want to join me for the Lindsay Mac show tonight at uncommon ground (Devon) at 8? Folk-rock'n cello played like a guitar + super singin' and songwritin', occasionally channeling Ani, etc. Also, great dinner stuff and desserts. Carey has *BAND PRACTICE*. Grr.

Sep. 14th, 2009

Lies and Fish

(no subject)

If you post a post to LJ, and your LJ world has disappeared and/or put you on their "mom-safe posts only" filter due to your incipient creepiness (or for just having not posted for awhile), does it make a sound?

Work too late, stay up too late, get to work too late, work too late, repeat. Bleh.

I probably sing in public places more than I should, and nothing impressive. I quit it when people actually come into proximity, at least. Mostly.

Given the shape of the world today, I feel like the only permament solution to ballooning unemployment in the United States is to dissolve the massive agribusinesses and replace them with the return to a model of agriculture on the scale of one farm feeds 5 to 10 families. Otherwise, what are all of us Americans *for*, now that we produce nothing (including human knowledge and understanding) that someone can't produce cheaper?

Here are some other things Americans might be good for intead of growing food:

1. Early childhood teacher/care provider
2. Physician (and similar/allied health care providers)
3. Tradesperson (Carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, roofer, etc.)
4. Civil infrastructure engineer/builder/repairer/operator
5. Mechanic/machinist

Most everything else, it seems, can (and therefore must) be done for us virtually by someone with a much lower standard of living. Ultimately, of course, most of us will have something like that standard of living, which is either the coming of the Boot Stamping The Face Of Humanity Forever, or the beginning of the revolution against the accumulation and exploitation of theoretical wealth.

Jun. 29th, 2009


(no subject)

From today's Chicago Tribune, page A8:

The article on the left is a nice big, positive piece about the Pride parade, through which I was lucky enough to ride yesterday on a double-decker bus co-sponsored by my company.

The article on the right is (I presume) the "equal time" piece about a new Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate, because, lest we forget, the Trib will be a tool of the right until they eventually shut down and just start Tweeting to people, or whatever.

Secret Message: If you don't like this stuff on the left, you may want to consider this guy on the right...

Jun. 7th, 2009

Lies and Fish

(no subject)

Finally bought a reasonably priced KVM switch today and hooked my home desktop's monitor, keyboard, and trackball mouse up to the extra work laptop docking station that's been locked in a drawer in my cube the last 5 years or so. So, now I have a sorta worky-type place where I can actually work at home. Still need that new desk and chair, tho.


After a disappointing Neil Innes show at the Abbey Pub that was *supposed* to be a happy celebration of Carey's being done with comps, we deported up to Evanston for a late dinner at Dave's Italian Kitchen. Carey and I like to read the Reader Matches to each other over dinners at Dave's, and we used to find a fair number of nerdy, interesting-sounding girls to imagine we might lure into our spiderweb of deceit. Lately, though, we mostly find material to feed our need to scorn. Today's best ad in that vein was an "I Saw You" based on this encounter at our very own "beloved" Mayfest last weekend (paraphrased, slightly):

"I saw you with some friends at Mayfest. You asked me how the pretzels were. I said they were good, and you said, 'They look good.' You were wearing a red shirt and had brown hair. I was with three friends, and I wore a blue cardigan with a gray sweater."

And that was it. I wonder if this was seriously the prettiest girl this guy had *ever seen*, or if he just *always* posts these ads based on this sort of random, casual encounter. I suppose many great relationships have been launched over a shared "good" appraisal of carnival fare.

The other thing I noticed in the Matches this week was how many women *and* men expressed a suprisingly earnest desire "not to play games." This confused me. For one thing, games are a fun social activity and a low-intensity opportunity to talk for awhile -- perfect for people getting to know one another. So I asked Carey what she could make of this comment, and she said it had to do with people saying they will call, and then not calling, and that sort of thing. And this made me think that it usually takes two people to play that sort of game, doesn't it? And is anybody really looking for someone who does? This seems as superfluous as the common trope that a person is looking for a partner who "is intelligent and funny" -- as though there's a significant number of Matchers who consider themselves "dull and dim-witted," and who will self-select out of the pool based on this requirement.

Feh. They'll all get what they deserve. If they're lucky.

May. 25th, 2009


(no subject)

I got sidetracked from useful things and instead pulled a bunch of pix off my cell phone. Now they can waste *your* time, too!

May. 14th, 2009


(no subject)

I'm not sure I was built to withstand these seismic shifts in dewpoint. Tuesday morning, the NWS reported that water literally would not precipitate from air in the liquid phase (dewpoint = 26 degrees F). Tonight, at bedtime, a glass of Tab with a single ice cube evinced perspiration (dewpoint = 67 degrees F).

I wish I could just go indoors... to the comfort of Chromalox.

May. 13th, 2009


(no subject)

European Union fines Intel $1.44 billion for monopoly abuse

They *always* take the cool car and make me be the *shoe*.

Apr. 30th, 2009


(no subject)

Going on hour 13 with this client team's benefits documentation. For this population, the author notes, "cleaned up spacing and grammer from Jon's document above."

I guess she didn't say anything about *spelling*, so points for honesty?

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