Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Starship Pegasus - Italy, Texas

Always on the hunt for goofy roadside architecture, I had to pull over during my Spring 2013 solo trip to visit Andy Gee's Starship Pegasus, once a cafe and gift shop, now closed.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Small Group Communication Strategies

Preparing a presentation on small group communication strategies for the SJSU Salzburg Club, I found it useful to develop a list of conflict management strategies. This list is telegraphically written and can hardly be considered complete. I might return to this collection sometime down the road.

10. Presume that the "right people are in the room"
9. Balance individual and group needs
8. Clarify objectives and deliverables
7. Rotate devil's advocate position
6. Explore alternative venues
5. Assess first; evaluate later
4. Practice active listening
3. Strive for win-win
2. Take a long view
1. Breathe

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

San Antonio Street Art

More pix from my 2013 Solo road trip. Today's destination: San Antonio, TX.

503 Jackson Street [Street View]
121 Warren Street [Street View]
573 Jackson Street [Street View]
573 Jackson Street [Street View]
215 S. Colorado Street [Street View]
205 S. Colorado Street [Street View]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Baylor Street Art Wall (Austin, TX)

The Baylor Street art wall has transformed an abandoned condo construction zone into a gathering place for Austin's particular brand of weirdness. During my recent Spring Solo road trip, I had to check this place out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Animated Neon Sign: 500 Club

Footage of the 500 Club's lovely neon martini glass. As usual, I recommend that you select HD for decent quality video. Select 720 from the settings menu.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Notes on Photography

Recently I was asked to offer some comments about photography for a Hawai'i Pacific University graduate student. Given that ongoing projects have forced a slowdown in my blogging habits, I figured I might as well post my replies here too. 

Why do people share photographs?

Initially I would note the distinction between the acts of “taking” and “sharing” a photograph, observing how mobile phones blur two previously discrete actions into a singular gesture. In this context, to “share” a photograph is to offer an ironic proof of life. We intend to convey something like “I am here,” yet the receiver’s impression is usually (though certainly not always), “[that person] was there.” While one may discern a wide range of surface-level objectives in the sender’s action (to demonstrate success, to evoke envy, or, borrowing from Susan Sontag, to affirm labor), I imagine the deeper goal is to strengthen tenuous strands of connection.

Is the experience of sharing photographs different between print, email, and social media?

Let us begin with the notion that our photographs are increasingly ephemeral. Snapchat, for an obvious example, is designed to share a purposefully transient experience. Ten seconds: the image is present; then it is gone. So I would begin with the proposition that the sort of permanence one would seek in a yearbook or photo album – the sort of totem one might rescue from a fire – becomes abandoned for the pleasure of immediacy. Consider Facebook's Timeline feature. While a few folks have dutifully scanned old photographs from birth until their first post, most users ignore that feature. Maybe they hope that Facebook will do it for them, using databases and intelligent agents to populate the otherwise empty years of their lives. In this case we become less confident in our ability to say (as did Peter Gabriel), “This is the picture.” Our lives become streams.

Do you think social media comments change how we view photographs?

Social media promises an obvious addition of expanded feedback opportunities, the hopes that otherwise esoteric photographic hobbies (I specialize in architectural ruins, neon signs, and street art) will find audiences, maybe even friends and collaborators. In this way social media’s various iterations of the “like” feature surely impacts our expectations of photography. I also imagine that the artifact will mutate, such that an image becomes one point in an expanding constellation of comments and other images. In this process of unlimited semiosis, we become less concerned with the “authorship” of a unique image and more focused on an image’s utility as a meme. Maybe that’s why the internet is made of cats.