Tag Archives: connections

If you have to blame someone, why not Drew’s cancer?

Just a short note today to talk about Drew’s Cancer. ( I know, not a good plan to start a blog with an external link, but bear with me. All these links will open in a new browser window, if that’s any consolation.)

A few weeks ago Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. You can read all about the experience on his Tumblr page. So now he’s facing 6 months of chemo, but since the cancer has a record of being 90% curable, he has a good chance of beating it. He decided he needed to attack it mentally as well as medically so he started blaming the cancer for things happening in his life, losing his keys, his team losing a game, stuff like that. A way of berating and offending the cancer. It is a common suggested treatment to visualise an affliction and imagine physically beating it to help contribute to recovery.

He got together with some friends to take the battle with his cancer to the streets, or in this case, to the interwebs, in case others needed someone/something to take the rap for things happening in their lives.  He invites you to give his cancer a swift kick, in the easiest way possible.  He created a hashtag for the cancer and anyone on twitter can have a whack at his cancer for anything not going right in their day. Something like: I #blamedrewscancer for inspiring me to keep plugging on but also #blamedrewscancer for the current Sydney cold snap! Double-whammy!

He’s teamed up with sponsors who will donate a dollar to two prominent American cancer charities for every participant who tweets with that hashtag in it. The site has been brilliantly designed by 9Astronauts in just a few weeks, maybe only a few days, to great effect. It works well, doesn’t require flash, is very Web 2.0 and is fun. A few minutes after you post your twitter with the hashtag, it pops it onto a placard as if you were at a public demonstration.blamedrewscancer

It’s great to be able to help Drew feel surrounded by people berating his cancer, but it also is a great view of community and social media in action. The spectrum of tweets are anything from people sincerely wanting to make Drew feel better, not alone, to people pimping their own blogs, events, sites, etc. Although the same person posting repeatedly does not contribute to the charity coffers, it does help spread the word, and add to Drew’s sense of not being alone.

This is what makes open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) so powerful and exciting. The Twitter API lets anyone tap into the stream of public Twitter messages and find things of interest or collate research about your brand, company, location, interests or pastimes. And not only that but collate it against something else, like how Jonathan Harris did with blogs for We Feel Fine. You are probably familiar with the example of the Google API where you get to collate maps of things of interest to you using their pool of information about the world… or the moon, ..or Mars… Open APIs are one of the knowledge-sharing elements of Web 2.0.

So if you twitter, take a moment today to blame something in your day on Drew’s cancer by using the hashtag #blamedrewscancer.

Oh, BTW: my WordPress threw away my posting this morning so I had to completely rewrite this, and I frikkin’ well blame Drew’s cancer for that too! i.e.:

I #blamedrewscancer for WordPress not saving my post while I was writing this today!

The site: Blame Drews Cancer

The hashtags showing recent posts: #blamedrewscancer

An expedition into the unknown

I remember the first time I ventured out into the void called the internet, back in 1994.

I had just spent more money than was sensible on a blisteringly fast 28.8k modem for my powerful PowerPC 7100AV (70MHz, 16MB RAM, 250MB HD!), and wandered out into the unknown. I know, I currently have a mobile phone with more power than that now, certainly more storage and definitely more speed, RAM and connectivity; but this isn’t one of those “my how technology has come a long way” blogs. The wondrous thing was the sense of immediate connection with the world. I felt like a new world explorer.

I was a photographer, keen on finding like-minded smudgers out there who wanted to talk lighting and printing techniques. Within a week of painfully configuring the modem with a manual connection string (some of you may remember that slice of arcane coding alchemy!) I discovered the site for Aperture, a photography magazine I highly respected, and ZoneZero, a photography site, early on the scene and still out there. By the end of the next week I managed to have a discussion with the Aperture editor by email, and before the end of the month I was swapping techniques for distressing prints and keeping models comfortable in awkward poses with Joel Peter-Witkin. … Yes, THE Joel Peter-Witkin!

Four letter expletives cannot do justice to the wondrous feeling of being in the middle of everything, connected to my heroes, effectively swapping recipes with the gods. I cannot express enough the amazement I had at finding immediate, friendly and wondrously easy communion with the entire world, for that is how it felt, from my garret studio in London in the mid 90′s. That pretty much made me drop my aspiration to be a highly regarded Commercial Photographer and embark on the road to web expert. ZoneZero was a social network for photographers back in the mid 90′s, and web 2.0 is really what Web 1.0 was supposed to be.

So the question is; do we take this interconnectivity for granted? Is it better to forget that fantastic tingle and stay in the present, glib in the comfort of familiarity, of being an expert? We hear heroin users say the first time they used was the best, and the rest of the addiction is trying to get that initial rush back just one more time. Do I want to be chasing that buzz from the past or be comfortable in my current expertise?

The answer to me is, in true Libran style, both!

I cannot forget what I know (my clients and colleagues would be pretty pissed off for one thing!) but I can try to look at each new site without my cynicism and critical faculties in overdrive. The commercial aspects of photography nearly killed my creative explorations (just how sexy can you really make a box of strepsils and do I really give a f***!) but the practical aspects of website creation continue to make me excited at what can be achieved. The challenges presented to the switched on, “get it” kind of agency I work at keep my veins tingling with the possibilities before me.

As excited as day one, my first hit is refreshed while my progress bar signals the collection of yet another page about to hit my screen with potential. I am still, and will probably continue to be, a fascinated New World explorer.