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Breaking up with Facebook

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Last July, I wrote about my Jekyll and Hyde relationship with Facebook. I announced my intention to cut back my personal use and only update hoop events. And I did for a while but then I slipped back into using it like an addict. 

So this time I mean it. I am breaking up with Facebook. From tomorrow I am disabling my account. I announced it there a few weeks ago and have been counting down the days so friends don't wonder where I went. I've received a lot of love, some have called me brave, others say they will miss me. It's heartwarming but I am still leaving tomorrow.

For hundreds of people this means I will wink out of existence. They enjoyed my adventures delivered to their timeline, but aren't likely to seek me out otherwise. And they will disappear for me, too. That is OK. If our paths cross again that will bring smiles and long catching-up conversations.

I will miss the camaraderie of some of the Facebook groups, the far flung hoop teachers who share ideas and advice, the truly witty banter of my smart and savvy friends, and the wisdom and insight of others. But those are the people I will keep in my life one way or another.

What will I do with the extra hours I reclaim? Well, I hibernated most of last year and I am finally waking up. I have a long list of goals for this year. I want to collaborate on projects with friends. I want to learn and teach movement. I can feel art and ideas wriggling beneath my consciousness. I may end up beginning a new creative phase. 

Stay tuned here for adventures and their results because I aim to write more regularly again.

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Stagaki, the Status Update Postcard Project

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Though I limited my Facebook use a few days ago, I still find myself wanting to update my status when I am doing something vaguely noteworthy or see beauty in the world. I've been trained to share little moments of my day but I decided not to post personal status updates and I want to stick with that.

So instead of updating my status on FB, I am going to create postcards with status updates instead. 


When I wrote out this first Stagaki (status hagaki*) above, I realised how strange it is for me to be telling my 785 Facebook friends that I am indecisive about painting my nails. My choice to keep my personal stuff off Facebook hit home. It makes sense. Who actually cares about this?

But the postcards make a clever art project because it is weird to do status updates outside the context of Facebook.  What I'd do in a moment on FB without considering at all takes a few moments and a little effort to create as a postcard. Making something real from a trivial piece of personal insight shines a new light on the status update concept.

For the project I'm going to create 50 of them because that is how many postcards came in the pack. Some might have drawings, others all text. Some may be scrawled others calligraphed. It will depend on the moment and my mood. As they are written, I will mail them to friends, family and strangers. It might take a few weeks, or if the impulse to update my status wanes, it might take months. I can say that five days into it, I have nine postcards ready to send.

I will not photograph or archive the postcards. This is an ephemeral project for me and a lesson in letting go. What you do with one you might receive is another matter: stick it to your fridge, Instagram it, tweet about it, even post it on FB and tag me.  I don't mind if you share it and I don't mind if you keep it to yourself. As soon as I drop it in the mail, it is yours to do with as you please.

Do you want a Stagaki for yourself or a friend? Send an e-mail to with your name and postal address. The first fifty respondents get a signed, numbered original postcards. How delightfully pretentious. Hahahaha.

*Hagaki is the Japanese word for postcard. Stagaki is a portmanteau of status and hagaki; the name was Tod's idea. Thanks, Tod.

Sayonara, Facebook

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sayonara facebook color.jpg

Facebook is troublesome. It is the Jekyll and Hyde of online life. Some days I find it a delightful inspiration. Other days, I want to poke myself in the eyes after scrolling through my timeline.

I know I am not alone in experiencing FB as a source of jealousy, anger and frustration. When I see the glamorous, glittery lives of near strangers who appear on my timeline, I feel completely inadequate and full of judgement. That isn't how I want to feel. The self proclaimed goddesses and fairies generally raise my hackles. The people who constantly wave their political views and good causes like flags (I admit to doing this myself; I am not above being awful) make me ignore them and their causes. Worst of all, the people who are doing what I do but getting more positive attention from people whose circles I want to be part of, fill me with self loathing. And I hate them, too. This is definitely not acceptable.

On the positive side, FB connects me to the international and local communities who share my interests. The hooping community used to exist in discussion forums but has largely migrated to Facebook. Also, I am always delighted to see the cool things my sister is doing. Sometimes people who I know in real life post links to interesting articles. I have gotten work, attended events, and learned things thank to Facebook. So it isn't all bad.

Except it's training me to do things I don't like and need to change.

Five Ways Facebook Trained Me

  1. Facebook taught me to communicate in abbreviated form. I'm skilled in writing succinct and clear status updates because more than 140 characters is a burden to my friends, isn't it? I craft a mean caption. I create cute graphics and memes (that go nowhere, see point 3). I haven't posted on mediatinker in a long time because when I think I have something worth writing about, I start and get stuck after a paragraph or two. I can't put together a long thought. I used to write lots, share ideas and recipes and patterns here. Now mediatinker languishes, though not for much longer. I am reclaiming my ability to write in long form. Those dozen unpublished drafts in the system? Maybe you'll be reading them soon.
  2. Facebook showed me how to put my ego in charge. I crave instant gratification and I love numbers, so FB didn't have a lot of work to do on this point. For example, I post a selfie snapped at an artful angle so my hair is in focus and my eyes stare up at you. I get a Like, then another, then there are a dozen. Someone I sort of remember from high school comments that I look great. A hooping friend says I should wear my hair like that more often. More likes. Oh, So-and-so liked this; I haven't looked at her page in a while. I click Like on her cat photos, thereby paying back her like of my photo and acknowledging that I am Paying Attention to her. But back to me! By now, wow, 52 people liked my photo and I have 4 comments. I should post more. It's a wicked cycle. My ego loves it. Then when I post a status update that only 2 people like...ouch.
  3. Facebook trained me to overshare. Modern culture is full of pseudo-celebrities with a group of adoring fans. So why not me, too? And why not you? The expectation is that everyone deserves a trophy and their 15 minutes. I truly want to be recognised and well-regarded amongst my peers. This desire has always driven me in my work. Facebook's easily shareable things allow me (or my idea, cause, event, photo) to become Internet famous for a moment or two. And one never knows what is going to be popular, so I'd better share everything. While I'm are at it, why not make some special things: videos of the event I held, cute graphics with clever sayings on them, holiday greetings that can be passed around to and by my friends.  Ironically, all this sharing and oversharing creates nothing but obscurity. The more I post, the more you post, the more our friends post and who has time to sift through all of that looking for something worthwhile? Who remembers it was me? Oh, you were the guy who posted that kitten and hedgehog video? Sweeet. I'm the one with the hoops, please Like my page.
  4. Facebook coached me not to talk about what I am doing. I promote my events on Facebook. I share my projects there. When I am having a conversation with someone, I don't need to tell them about an upcoming hoop jam or workshop because of course they already saw it on Facebook (though thanks to point 3, they probably didn't). The introvert in me thinks this is terrific. No self promotion! But it means that my events don't always reach a critical mass; they aren't getting to the right people; they aren't anticipated. Did you know I'm teaching at two flow events later this year? Oh, you must have missed that status update...
  5. Facebook taught me who my friends are. This point is a positive one. If I eat a meal with you more than twice a year, I probably like you lots and you are a real friend. You get a reprieve on the once a year thing if you live on another continent and we have a history of meals together. Other people in my "friends" list on Facebook are probably acquaintances, colleagues, or people from my past. They are good to know and touch base with, but they aren't actually friends right now and I don't need to see their activities all the time. Let me focus on the people in my real life circles.
Saying Sayonara to Facebook

Because I use FB for events and connections in my hooping life, I am not going to drop off altogether. But I can address the points above with some actions. The obvious thing is to reduce my time on Facebook as much as possible. I already deleted Facebook apps from my mobile devices. I will reach FB only from my computer. So no more checking in while I am on a train, waiting for someone, or lying in bed.

I will make a concerted effort to release my need for instant gratification. This is going to be the hardest part. It means caring less about the views and likes. Talking directly to people about my work and projects to build enthusiasm and having a vaguer sense of who is interested to what I am doing. Telling my ego to STFU. 

I will stop oversharing personal stuff. No more selfies, dinner pictures, rants about the weather, or happy notes about ukuleles. I will also stop liking your posts. It doesn't mean I stop liking you, of course. I might not even read what anyone's got up on FB.

I will tell you what I am doing lately. You'll hear about my projects when we meet. I will still have event info on FB and Twitter and the Spin Matsuri site, but I am going to assume you never see them.

I will reach you by e-mail, not Facebook PM/chat. If I don't have your e-mail address, please send it to me. I might call you if I have your phone numer.

I will write more here. I have things to say; they will appear here fully fleshed out in a length more than two sentences  You can subscribe, or whatever you do with blogs these days. Put me in your Flipbook. I will post videos to YouTube and photos to Flickr, not to Facebook.

I will invite you to dinner or somehow make more of an effort to see you in real life. If I want to keep having social connections, I need to make sure my friendships are not only virtual ones.

Ada Lovelace Day

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Today nearly 2000 people are writing about an influential woman in technology, thanks to Suw Charman-Anderson inviting all and sundry to do so through pledge bank.

I did not start out to have a career in technology. I wanted to be a doctor or a writer. I ended up with a degree in Elementary Education, but before I graduated I met my future husband and he turned me onto a facet of technology that really interested me, communication via computers. Back in those days, any interest in computers also had to involve hardware and understanding much more arcana than today, so when I got my first jobs as an office temp, I was quickly the go-to-girl for printers that didn't work, writing macros for (now extinct) word processors, and generally sorting out the confusion that was pre-Windows office life.

But this post isn't about me or my life in IT. It is about one of the mentors I had along the way.

I was very lucky to land a job in the IT department of Duquesne University in the early 1990s. Lynda Barner-West headed up the group. She was blind to any limitations that others might have placed on women in IT. Our department seemed nearly evenly split between men and women, with us ladies programming, managing, training and tinkering on an equal footing with the men. It seemed slightly revolutionary then, and comparing to IT organizations I know today, I am sure it was.

Lynda was revolutionary in technology, too. She brought our campus computing to the cutting edge, wiring Ethernet in every dorm room well before that was common, and creating not only up-to-date student computing labs, but pioneering computerised classrooms with kiosks, projection systems and a centralised media server. Duquesne was an early adopter of the NeXT platform, too.

Lynda was not only technically astute, but she had a knack for helping her staff to reach their potential. She coached, challenged and sometimes cajoled each of us to top form. We were loyal, hardworking and constantly exploring new ideas. I started out training faculty and staff on using the Internet (remember telnet, ftp, Gopher, and pine?) and later moved into integrating technology into education by developing custom courseware and online classes. I've never worked with a better team of people than the IT department at Duquesne and I know that it was Lynda's influence, even after she had left for another academic computing challenge, that made us all strive to exceed expectations of the administration, faculty and students.

So thank you, Lynda, for giving me an interesting and educational workplace free of gender bias and filled with so many smart and savvy women in IT. Maybe I will write about some of my colleagues for the next Ada Lovelace Day.

Secret Message Crafting Swap

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Having spent a many hours making necklaces in binary over the past couple of week, I am becoming interested in encoding messages in everyday objects.

Can I knit a binary message? How can I sneak a message into a drawing? What words can I cipher into my meals? I want to add more layers of meaning to my daily life. And I want to see what other people can do, too, so I started a swap just for that over on Swap-Bot.

Secret Message Crafting

Do you like codes and ciphers? Puzzles? Secrets?

For this swap you will encipher a message and send it to your partner, along with the plaintext message sealed in a separate envelope. If your partner needs a tool, key, or hint to decode the message, please include that, too.

The Message

A friendly greeting, sage advice, favorite quote, a personal secret, or whatever you like. It should be long enough to decipher but not so long it will be tedious. A sentence or two? Maybe more, maybe less depending upon the medium.

The Code

Your choice! ROT-13, alphabetic substitution, QR code, Morse code, ASCII binary...there are many to choose from.

The Medium

Here is where the crafting comes in. No scribbling your coded message onto a sheet of paper and calling it done. Be creative in presenting your message. You might create coded embroidery, weaving, beading, or knitting. Maybe a painting or collage. Perhaps a jigsaw, acrostic or crossword puzzle.

Signups are until April 14th, so if you'd like to craft a message, send it off to a stranger and get a coded gift in exchange, then please come play at Swap-Bot

Convenience Foods Exposed

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PUNDO 3000 in Germany did an expose on processed foods that compares the package to the product inside. It should be enough to put anyone off commercially prepared foods forever but I am sure that it isn't.


Is there fish swimming in that creamy sauce? I can't tell. The spinach on the package looks crisp and leafy, but in reality it seems to be soup.


Does this wrapper say "artist's concept" somewhere? The meat in the real thing looks like regurgitated cafeteria fare, not the bright and shiny red cuts that entice us.


How exactly did they create the package image? Definitely not from the food as prepared. Holy wishful thinking and food styling.

Family in the Media


Earlier this month my mother had 3 1/2 minutes of her fame when she was featured in a short piece on NPR's All Things Considered. She told the story of her "obsolete skill" - folding a nurse's cap. Have a listen. I think she left out the best part: how they teased one another when one of the Ten Pins didn't stay in.

Tod's photo of balloons on Chowpatty Beach is scheduled to be published in the June issue of the Sunday Times Travel magazine.

I heard that Sachiko was in FRAU magazine this month, but I haven't seen the article yet.

More desired than less than 20%

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I have a Facebook account and sometimes it sends me mail. Today I received a doozy of an ego-buster.

Subject: Kristen, you are more desired than less than 20% of all people.

In total, you were reviewed for dating 11 times and no people expressed interest in you.
You are more desirable than less than 20% of 23,330,840 people.

Last week you were viewed 6 times and no people expressed interested in you

I guess I already knew that. Thanks a bunch, Facebook, for reminding me.

Morsbags update

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It's been 4 months since I started making fabric shopping totes as part of the Morsbags project. Together with about a dozen other friends, we've sewn up 192 bags so far and given most of them away to strangers, friends and family.

I've been using my Morsbag every time I go shopping, so I'm sure I've refused at least 2 dozen bags. That's not going to reverse global warming or eliminate plastic bag litter, but it makes a small difference. There are more than 6,000 Morsbags in circulation worldwide and if everyone uses their bag consistently, that's a reduction of anywhere from 150,000 to 3 million bags.

You can do your part, too. It's really so painless. If you'd like to get involved, there are many ways to start:

  1. Make a bag (or a few) for yourself & friends. They make gifts, and great gift bags, too! Here's a simple Morsbag pattern to use.
  2. If you're in Tokyo
    • Join TokyoBags for a sewing session. Our next one is Sunday, October 21st.
    • Help pass out bags at an upcoming distribution.
    • Donate materials - old duvet covers, cotton curtains & table cloths are ideal. Sewing machines, irons, thread...we're happy to have them!
    • Host a workshop: I can teach kids or adults how to make Morsbags.
    • Start a new pod in Tokyo; TokyoBags doesn't want to hog all the fun! Register your pod with Morsbags so you can add to the tally.
  3. If you're not in Tokyo
    • Join a local pod or form a group of your own. Register your pod with Morsbags so you can add to the tally.
    • Get your school or community group involved.
    • Donate money to help keep morsbags running

More about Morsbags:

P.S. Check out Tracey's related post on plastic bags in Yokohama harbour. We're both posting environmental topics today as part of Blog Action Day.

LibriVoxing again


It's been a long time since I'd recorded anything for LibriVox, but after receiving a message about Jumping July, their latest push for completion, I had the urge to spend some time in front of the microphone. I've churned out 4 chapters of Howards End and two sections of Stops, or How to Punctuate this week and last. Now, I really ought to work on the duet of Isabella Bird's Adventures in Japan which has been languishing for half a year. I'm not sure I'm that jumpy, though.

If you want to record a chapter yourself, have a look at the list of books in the Readers Wanted:Books section of the forums. Unclaimed chapters are noted in blue inside the Magic Box in the first post of the book's discussion thread. All the instructions are in that first post, in fact.

If you want to listen to me reading about footnotes from Stops, or How to Punctuate, download this WAV file: It is certain to cure your insomnia in 3 minutes, 2 seconds flat.

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