Book Recommendation Challenge, day two: The Contortionists Handbook. 📚
File this near Chuck Palahniuk in your mind palace. I recall this being a tough read. I need to re-read it myself as it’s been years since I read it but remember enjoying it a lot.
I absolutely love hearing stories of musicians inviting fans onstage to perform with them.
For the performers, it must be a risk/reward calculation when you see a fan holding up a sign asking to play onstage with you. I assume you’re concerned with putting your energy out there to make connections so that people can be as one with music as the main thread. You want to make sure that everyone connects.
Do you suck? Don’t fucking say ‘kinda’, cause I wont invite you up here.
Here’s Foo Fighters bringing onstage a fan to play one of their songs. Dave Grohl, the singer asks the kid this. He’s making connections with the kid, “Kiss Guy” and ensuring that everyone can connect.
Almost twenty years ago, my wife and I were babysitting our friends baby. She was about 6 months old, I guess. Our friends went to a Green Day concert.
They came home with a similar story. As they tell it, the band solicited the crowd to find fans who could play one of their songs. They took some time and found people who could play bass, guitar, drums, and sing. They turned over all their instruments to these people, kids, probably who could play the respective instruments, and knew the song, but didn’t know each other.
My friends said it was the best concert experience they ever saw.
You may not like Foo Fighters, rock and roll, etc but Grohl’s laugh at 3:24 into that video is amazing. He forgets the lyrics to a song he’s written, and performed many times. What fun. I miss live performance so much. Here’s Grohl on The Day the Live Concert Returns. “Sonic Cathedral” indeed. I hope to see you all there.
Book Recommendation challenge, day one: Einstein’s Dreams 📚
Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, about time, relativity and physics.
PS - get the smaller, square form factor if you can. The paper is very nice.
The first issue of Where Light Gathers just went out. My new personal newsletter! I talk a bit about a project I’ve recently written. It’s about setting up websites and/or blogs with good, cost-effective tools. No code required. Join us?
Had a great chat with some friends tonight about “time travel”. No not cool sci-fi, but looking back at the past, and worrying about the future. We reminded ourselves to be mindful of now, as it’s the only thing we can control.
Most interesting distraction while working from home to date… My 13 year old son dismantling an old play set in our yard by “_Yeeting_” it with an axe.
Micro Challenge Photos: Color-A-Day Challenge, Day 3, Yellow.
I forgot to take a picture when I was outside earlier. This will have to do. Stay weird, everyone.
I’m starting a newsletter. The first issue goes out on Sunday.
Where Light Gathers intends to be a campfire. A place where creative people can sit and share their hopes, fears, and experiences on making things. And why making those things is important to them. I’ll write about the things I’m creating, the ideas growing in the garden, and what I’m finding when I dip my toes into the digital streams.
I hope you’ll join us at the campfire.
Micro Challenge Photos: Color-A-Day Challenge, Day 2, Orange (the best color).
Micro Challenge Photos: Color-A-Day Challenge, Day 1, Red
Happy Mother’s Day.
To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends I want to offer my love and respect till the end.
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
We are not inheriting this planet from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children.
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
It was strange, how readily authority could be conjured with nothing but a bit of strutting jackassery.
This entire series is fantastic. If you’re looking for a new fun adventure, give it a go.
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Thank you, @chrisjwilson - You’ve made me feel inspired by your awesome sketchnote quotes!
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
The Empire, your parents, the Resistance, the Sith, the Jedi… let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.
May the Fourth be with you.
Micro Challenge Quotations 💬
Things are hard for people who make their living creating. Especially now. I write this on Thursday, April 29, 2020. The entire world is being affected by COVID-19. It doesn’t care where you’re from, what you look like, or what you do for a living. Here in America it’s showing us the disparity of those who have empathy for others, and those who do not. Hopefully some good social and health care changes can come from this.
Those who work creating and performing are impacted pretty hard with many public spaces closing to “Flatten the Curve”. It’s hard to express yourself without the space to do so.
The internet does provide a space for self expression, but the technical and cost barriers to entry are still pretty high for most people. There are many great user-friendly and relatively affordable products and services that allow anyone to get online. Understanding how to use them is the second problem, however. The first problem is finding them.
Now, more than ever we need human connectivity. Through art, performance, and conversation. Humans evolved from tribal connectivity and we still need that, so very much. We need your stories, in your voice.
I’m not a programmer, or designer. I’ve worked with, for, and inbetween some very good ones, and I love to tinker with art, design, and technology. I’ve been doing this for twenty years. My strengths are:
Empathy … I can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations
Developer … I recognize and cultivate the potential in others. I can spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
Individualization … I am intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. I have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Relator … I enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
Futuristic … inspired by the future and what could be. I can inspire others with my visions of the future.
Those are from the Strengths Finder book and survey and they really resonated with me personally. More than any other self assessment that thing out there (I’ve tried many).
Professionally my makeup leads me to positions of project, and personal management, and coaching of creative people. I’ve worked in the Animation, Video Games, Design, and Software development fields. This isn’t my resume so I wont bore you with the details.
So those are my qualifications for bringing you this info. I just like all this stuff. I’ve spent hours tinkering, and I want to share. I recognize that I’ve been afforded opportunities to have this time and tech to tinker. Maybe I can pay that forward a bit with what I’m writing.
I’m an aspiring minimalist. I enjoy figuring out what is the simplest way to a solutuion or process. I’m exploring mindfulness, stoicism and improvised performance as the overlap of these concepts really speaks to me.
I believe in the indieweb. I believe in privacy. I don’t like using products or systems that track my or others peoples moves.
When I talk about setting up websites, and blogs, etc, I believe in POSSE. Posting on your Own Site, Syndicating Eslewhere. This is a main mantra of the Indieweb community. You own your content, and can put it anywhere. Even move it from place to place. Things like Twitter, Instagram, and FaceBook own your content and make it very difficult to take your creations elsewhere. The more people they have, and longer they stay the more revenue they can generate. You are the product, and your data is sold for a company’s profit.
I have a twitter account, and FaceBook as well. It’s hard just leaving that all behind. That’s where everyone is, after all.
My recommendations will skew towards POSSE and Indieweb but I recognize that not everyone will care as much about this stuff as I and others do. To each their own. The point of all this remains to help people get online and speaking in their voice.
There’s a ton of info, courses, advice and what-not about how to build an online audience. Some of it is better than others, just like anything. Some of it focuses on techniques that are shady at best. SEO is an area I do not know much about at all. That’s Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s techniques to arrange and broadcast your content so that it rises to the top of search results. Most people just look at the top three results in a google search, after all.
There are good people doing honest work in SEO. It’s an interesting mix of writing and preparing content so that it helps humans discover it. That’s a noble cause. I’m concerned about the content farming and other nastier aspects of it. But again, I’m not a go-to resource on this at all.
I write the above to get us to this point, which is what I believe in. Building an audience takes time. Frequent posting things of value, so that you make connections is how to build an audience. Simple, but not easy.
Seth Godin is a marketer, author and blogger. He posts on his blog every single day. He’s been doing this for years and years. He just recently updated the technology that ran his blog, after many years. He made a technical choice, stuck with it, and wrote every day.
A while ago, I asked myself “How does he write every single day” and the answer I provided to myself seemed obvious, even silly. That answer was just that “_he writes every single day_”. Not every post will resonate with every one of his readers. Consisentcy is his key.
A thousand true fans is the way to build an audience. I like to re-read that on occasion :)
Thanks for reading along so far. I’m opinionated and if you disagree with me, or have further questions please email me.
Tomorrow, I’ll send an email about design. Design of the way you want to represent yourself and/or your products and services as well as specifics on visual design.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe.
Continue to Part two …
Welcome back. Hope you’re well. Today I wanted to talk about design. In two aspects. How you present yourself and your products or services, and how your website looks. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Oh, that sounds so gross. You are not a brand, you’re a person! Putting yourself online is putting out a version of yourself, arguably. Why not take a while to figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it? That’s all I mean when you read “Brand” in these posts.
First, the hard part.
Here’s one technique for organizations to help them understand themselves. It’s a called a Three Hour Brand Sprint, and the term the authors use for “brand” is similar to what I’m referring too. It’s put together by some designers formerly at Google, who wrote a neat book called Make Time, and have a blog and courses over at Time Dorks.
It’s intended for Starups, but I think the exercises are useful for individuals and small teams as well. Maybe not all of them, but the first four of the six, in particular.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. It shouldn’t take a single person or small team three hours. Always remember:
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.
Bruce Lee said that, and he was a badass. You are too!
If you go through with the exercises, I’d be really curious to what your Why is. Let me know.
I am by no means a visual designer, but I’ve picked up a couple tips and tricks from 20 years working with really talented folks. These are boiled down and simple steps, not fully explored design mantras. Professional designers may disagree with the choices I advocate. Let me know if so.
See Design for Hackers for more detailed info on these topics too.
My thought process is to make small decisions that remove more thought process. If you want 10 colors or fonts, you have to balance each with the other. That’s a matrix of decision making that can cause you much frustration. Go smaller. Avoid friction. Have less.
No more than two is good (headline and body). Using just one is even better, as it keeps it simple and reduces load times. As for sizing, make each size down 75% of the larger size. So if your Headline (aka H1) font size is 3, your body size should be 2.25, for example.
Font choice is a huge topic. Grab something you like from fonts.google.com. You can paste in your bio or any other content into the google fonts site to see how it looks.
Serif fonts (fonts with feet) are harder to read with a lot of text that sans-serif fonts (without feet). In other words, a wall of cursive text is hard to read. The tool I’ll recommend to you tomorrow will help with all this Font mumbo-jumbo. Hang in there.
Finding colors to represent yourself or company can be a challenge. A good rule of thumb is to pick three colors and a gray, maximum.
If you aren’t sure about colors schemes, these are great resources.
Color.adobe.com is an interactive color wheel. Try picking one color you love, and looking at the Color Rules to find great combos. The little triangle in the bottom of the color swatch indicates the primary color. You can toggle other colors as primary to explore.
Get design advice via crowdsourcing at Color Lovers. That link shows the most loved color palletes this week. The community at Color Lovers submits and votes on their favorite color combos. Pick one you like and play. Note: That site has gotten really spammy recently. I’ll look for alternatives.
PS - I know as much about color theory as an ant understands an airplane, so you might want to do some research as to what emotions the colors of your website will invoke in your visitors.
PPS - Every color is represented by a hex value aka internet color. White is #FFFFFF and Black is #000000, for example. You’ll need to remember this value for your “branding”. You can find it in both the sites I mentioned above. Again, the tool I’ll recommend tomorrow will help with this. Don’t stress, we will get there.
Unsplash is a great resource for high quality images. Resize and compress the images and always give credit. You don’t need photoshop or other heavy photo manipulation software. Ask a friend or look at online tools.
If you have a Mac, and are friendly with the terminal (or want to be) check out the
sips command. Or don’t if that’s too technical for you! It’s all good.
SustainableUX is an online conference, and has some nice articles on how designers can reduce their carbon footprint and improve the user experience of a website. I worked with a couple of the cofounders, and they’re some of the best and smartest people I know. By having less, you increase the positive experience your website visitors have, and decrease the amount of energy it takes to run your online stuff. Win, win.
Less is always more, in my opinion.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about actually building your website!
Continue to Part three …
Hey, thanks for sticking around for part three. We’re going to talk about doing some work today! Let me know if you have questions so far.
Before we talk about a little tech, let’s see what you’ll need to have in-hand before starting.
Are you looking for a page to represent yourself? These are generally called Landing pages. People land here and then dig deeper into your info, any products and services you may provide, and social media, etc.
These tend to be one-page websites, simple and to the point. They’re used for products and services, but also as a new kind of business card for personal use.
To start building these kinds of sites, you first need to know what you need to share. Write down what things you need. If you did some of the Design activities noted in the last post, you might be able to reference that.
Examples could be:
- A bio
- Your resume
- A way for you to offer something you provide, if you do have something like that. Online classes you may offer, schedule for zoom calls, etc.
- A way to contact you, as much as you’re comfortable with of course.
Here’s a pretend website as an example. I’m using a fictional character from my favorite novels for the example here. Locke Lamora is the main character from The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by the author Scott Lynch. If you like fantasy novels with great adventure and characters, check it out.
Building something like this (and adding advanced features) is easy with Carrd. The first image is on a desktop, the second is from a phone. No extra work needed to make the site look good on multiple devices. Carrd does that for you…
The features of that website are:
- An image. This is fan art of the fictional character by the artist Keja Blank (such amazing work!)
- Bio - I wrote this up based on the character from the book. Some of those words are gibberish if you haven’t read the books of course. Garrista means boss of a group of criminals, The Nameless Thirteenth is a God in the fictional universe (although the other 12 Gods might have something to say about that) and I won’t spoil that last bit. Read the book to find out more :)
- Links to social account (these all link to my websites)
I built it in about 10 minutes with Carrd. Let me walk you through how to use Carrd. There’s a video walk through below. But first some front-matter on the service. I don’t work for carrd, I don’t get a cut if you sign up. I just love it.
For the free plan, you can build up to 3 sites. The Pro plan allows you to do more, of course. There’s a free 7 day trial of the Pro plan. That Pro plan starts at $9 USD a year. Not per month, per year. It’s a great deal and the service is run by one indie developer, not a Silicon Valley startup looking to turn it’s users into profit.
So I’d do the free plan, try things out and upgrade to the Pro plan, if you want to.
Each of these templates will look good on computers, tablets, and phones. That hard work has been done for us. Experiment with different templates to see which is closest to what you have imagined in your head. There’s a little demo button on each template that you can use to open the template in a new tab, so you can check it out.
Explore and play. Find the one you like most. Also, if you’re really into it, you could start from a blank template. I don’t recommend this for first time users, but it’s a great way to make something unconventional or super customized.
You can tinker and simply delete sites you make if you want to start over.
Once you create the site, Carrd should show you a layover with all the functionality the system provides.
Take a few minutes to read through this, it’s really concise and to the point. Further help is available as well, if you want to dig deeper.
Carrd works with these building blocks. At the most fundamental layer is the background, then page, and sections, containers, and elements. Tinker away to get the feel, undo is your friend.
So, if you tinker and get something you like, you have three options to save your work, under the Publish button, which looks like a typical save icon.
I’ll walk you through how to do this build out here in the video. I kept very close to the original template. I didn’t manipulate the containers, or add sections. I clicked on the elements, and replaced the text. I did use the color wheel on the “bio” to find a color close to what was in the illustration.
Lastly I added some links to give credit and adjusted the buttons on the bottom to link to my personal sites.
Grab the trial, play and experiment. If it’s not for you, that’s cool too. Remember Bruce’s wise words…
Adapt what is useful, ignore what is not, and make it uniquely your own.
You may be familiar with git and gitHub if you’re a coder of any kind. There’s a neat, but not well known feature of gitHub that allows you to host a personal page. See this tutorial.
You’ll still need to point the GitHub page to another domain, if you want that level of customization. Again, hang in until day 5 for that info.
I came across this fun site generator recently. It’s easy to use to generate the content, and could suit your needs if your looking for something “text heavy” or “brutalist” in design terms. But you do have to host the code somewhere like if you own your own server, or use the gitHub technique. It’s called Temper. It’s free and kinda fun.
Here’s a quirky option, that might be fun for those in comedy, or those who just Ike fun: Host your site (and get an email address too) on omg.lol. 5$ a year. You’ll have to code it, but its kinda fun. Find me there at chad.omg.lol.
Another super minimal option is txti. It’s also free, and great for getting simple sites focused on text up and running quickly. Again, like the two options above, you need to point it to a hosted domain if you want to control the website name a bit better. Post 5 will go over that in some detail.
There are more ways to do this online as well, these were just the ones I’m most familiar with and provide a range from a UI to more technical options, including some quirky stuff too.
No matter which way you go, you’re going to wind up with a website like locke-lamora.carrd.com or something.github.io. Again, we’ll get to addressing that in day five. First, let’s talk about a blog. See you tomorrow!
As always, email me if you have questions.
Continue to Part four …