READ ME ... yeah, right. Right?

I'm sick of everyone else having on-line diaries. I want one too.

What is this all about? Maybe you should read the READ ME READ ME.

january 20, 1996: a clean desk is the mark of a cluttered mind

there is so much karma in the air that i want to bottle it and use it as shampoo. in light of certain recent events, i am starting to believe that there are no coincidences; that some schwa somewhere is scripting these events so it can look back and laugh at how fabulously goofy i must look that i am actually surprised when the same events and people keep re-appearing in my life. it is almost as though some force is just dragging and dropping me somewhere; and i might as well give in, and let it. i hope so. i have rarely been so jaw-droppingly and eye-poppingly impressed with what i see around me.

last night i slept in a real bed. alone, even! but instead of savoring the five nights sleep i am behind, i woke up bright and early at 8, bought kristin some beer, diet seven-up and crackers, and hit the apartment search hard. ... well, for a little while, at least. it's so easy to get distracted in such a great city, especially if you happen to be me.

most of all i have been distracted today by a very intrusive obsession with this idea called by some as "content on the web." most people who have read anything i have written up here have heard me sob and groan about the banality of most internet content and the lack of quality-of-writing standards on the ideas presented there. yet, at the same time, i have been fascinated by the way that this medium allows process in itself to create content. it seems to me that i am really moving back to san francsico to devote myself to -- perhaps in a somewhat pretentious manner -- making sure that the web remains "intelligent" and creative.... and somehow, i have at least partially decided that i have the ability to participate in that judgment.

at the same time that i am dedicating myself to the notion of content on the internet, i myself fear that my mind is growing weak due to all of the time i spend surfing the web versus reading books and articles and srutinizing theory. although i have not given up on books and the print medium and have no intention of doing so, i cannot help but wonder whether, because i am on-line so much, i am faced less often with challenging ideas, am forced less often to question my identity, am presented less often with difficult hypothetical dilemmas, and, am ultimately, less often "thinking." and, if that is the case, then is that condition incurable? is there any way to ensure a steady diet of thought-inspiring content through this medium? and, if it is possible, do those who direct and consume this medium want to think?

i must say, i am in love with the internet and all it offers as a means of communication. so i am not about to sacrifice this love for the perhaps irrational fear i harbor over a thinking mind gone soft.

in the past, this fear rarely arose. when i was still in school and then practicing law as a judicial law clerk, even though i despised my work environment, every day i was forced to think out difficult logical questions. basically, i engaged in a process of defining the question to be answered, discerning where the answer could be found, answering the question, than communicating the answer in coherent form. when the questions involved issues i found interesting -- which occurred primarily in law school rather than beyond -- i found myself incredibly taken with my work, and do believe that my "thinking quality" benefitted as well. nowadays, i am not as sure.

and, if i am not sure that i am expanding my mind through spending so much time in this current medium, why then do i carry so much respect for people who are good at computer related-fields as opposed to the liberal arts? and, even more crucially, why do i consider myself in the latter rather than formal category, just because it is my strengths in the liberal arts rather than in technology that have earned my paychecks over the majority of the last five years?

for example, the other day, a twenty-year old talked down to me about macintosh computers, and at first i felt mad at myself for being in a position where a twenty-year old could talk down to me. it wasn't until i returned home that i realized that my true anger was not directed at myself, but rather, it was directed at that twenty-year old, who, while perhaps (but not certainly) possessed superior knowledge on macs, truly lacked standing to assume that he possessed superior knowledge on macs.

my first computer was an apple 2e -- obtained by my parents in around 1984, when this twenty-year old was about 8 years old, and, i can reasonably imagine, could barely read. the first mac i worked on was a 512K -- version 1.0. over the eleven years i have been a mac-user, i have owned, and used daily, a mac plus, mac se/30, powerbook 170, and powerbook 540c. i have planned, budgeted, and scheduled a stanford new-student orientation on macs; planned, created, and statistically analyzed several psychological experiments on macs; and i have organized, databased, and print-merged at least 15 job hunts on macs. in my current position, i have maintained a macintosh internet server running macHTTP and ftpd, set up and maintained a macintosh localtalk network that has included a sophisticated cisco router, a several scsi devices, such as a scanner and external cd-roms, a laserwriter, and a 56K leased line to the internet. although i don't always know how to solve a problem when i approach it, my 12-year mac experience helps me find the answer, which i almost always do, eventually. nonetheless, instead of remembering my experience, i felt bad that i could be talked down to.

therefore, what truly bothers me is my lack of faith in myself, the level with which i am too easily impressed, perhaps wrongly, with people whom i perceive as having greater knowledge about computers, and that i somehow give off the image -- perhaps partly because i am female, and perhaps partly because i don't seem to present myself as some sort of intellectual giant -- that i am not technical. and it further pisses me off that i had to run through this laundry-list of experience to prove to myself -- and, i am sure not at convinced, to others -- that i know anything about anything technical whatsoever. (we can leave the issue of whether mac-knowledge is technical knowledge for another day.)

yet, hypocritically, i maintain this point of view while at the same time engaging in a form of idolization for those people who have the creative vision to imagine a new way to present images and ideas through so-called new media, and i relish the manner in which the tools they design allow content to be created through the process they have dreamed up.

and, to add a second layer of hypocricy to my illogical cult-like thought process, i do not let this idolization end when, after they have created the tools, the tool-inventors fail to implement their tools in a manner that is as thoughtful, insightful and creative as what would seem possible given the imagination and vision that they possessed in order to invent the tools in the first place.

can i blame this ball-dropping on capitalism, greed, laziness, or, perhaps, undue idolotry on my part?

what i should do is stop worrying about whether people perceive me as technical or not, and i should not assume that i could not do what they are doing if i really wanted to, which, when push comes to shove, i do not want to do. and i should stop respecting people who do not respect me, and who do not respect what i respect most ... which is using their new processes to create intelligent and creative content.

from now on, i am going to remind myself at least fours times a day what it is i respect in humans -- creativity, humor, flexibility, musical taste, imagination, commitment, logic, common sense, principle, and, -- most of all -- vision. these qualities can be found among many of the people who are lucky enough to be currently dubbed the "technologically elite." however, it is not contained to that group. and to be truly visionary, it seems to me, one has to be able to have a history to look back upon, as well as a future to imagine.

finally, in my quest to achieve some sort of closure and peace of mind, i must also remind myself that i would rather be poor and honest and do what i believe in, which includes worrying about whether my mind is turning to mush, and seeking out standards of quality of content, than be rich and believed in and respected in a way that i never even suspect is undeserved.





or, if you must, back to Rebecca's Revenge

Copyright 1996 Rebecca Eisenberg