Friday, January 16, 2009

Looking Down

I look down when I walk alone. It’s a habit I picked up in high school when it was a lot easier to focus on the floor than make awkward eye contact with a complete stranger (or worse, someone I vaguely knew) in an empty hallway. Despite the positive or negative nature of my little habit, it does help in the observation of the world around me. Or, more honestly, the world just below the ankles of my fellow pedestrians.

So, I notice footwear. From shoes to boots to sandals to nothing at all, I instantly look to people’s feet when I walk. This is an entirely self-preserving practice, one that was again cultivated in my early teens to look somewhat normal in a crowd – or, better yet, not to be noticed at all. For instance, if I noticed enough people wearing sandals in March, I knew that it wouldn’t be entirely foolish to pull out my Tevas. If I saw classmates with barn boots in November, I could wear mine without too much fear of scorn. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that anyone a) really cared about my potentially embarrassing footwear, and b) looked at my feet at all, as shoes are one of the last things that most people seem to notice on a daily basis. Nonetheless, my search for proper attire below my ankles has flourished to this day.

With my eyes to the ground, my internal footwear catalogue has blossomed – too bad my shoe collection hasn’t followed that trend.

I wonder what other people see when they look down.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Big Bird, China, and Me

My first glance at China was through the eyes of Big Bird. With CTW's production of Big Bird in China (and the magic of VHS player and my patient parents), I went to China over and over again and saw magic. There were mythical phoenixes, dancing monkeys, beautiful writing, and stone lions that came to life. To my elementary mind, China was magical, plain and simple. And that still holds true today, just in a different light. A light that, ironically, Big Bird himself mentioned in the movie, saying:

"Well, what a good thing it would be if a great big American bird went to meet that beautiful Chinese bird! I mean, she could tell me everything about China, and then I could come home and tell everybody here!"

I'd like to be Big Bird. I never thought I'd utter or write that sentence for the whole world (okay, that's a hyperbole) to read. But in this instance, it makes sense to me, to be Big Bird.

And it's possible - The 2009 Spring Student Ambassador MOJO Experiment makes it possible. It's almost too much to grasp - me, in China? But it's real, tangible.

Now, I may be able to see China through my own eyes, all thanks to Big Bird.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And the fat lady Tweets

Ever since finishing this article about the expansion of social media in 21st century life, I've wondered. Yes, wondered. I've wondered about this idea of ambient awareness, virtual connectivity, and the addictive nature of micro-blogging, Web 3.0, and creating your own identity defined by 0s and 1s.

I've wondered... and realized that wondering does very little to confirm or deny my curiosity. Action is where the answers lie.

In my life, I have acted as a member of the "9" in the 1-9-90 rule (90% of users are "lurkers," 9% of users contribute from time to time, 1% of users participate very often and account for most of the contributions ). I maintain two blogs (one for 7 years, the other here), contribute the occasional video to YouTube, and finally created a Facebook account last year. And yet, I'm not truly active in creating content, in my own opinion.

So, why not do something that requires little attention to create a lot of content?

It's called Twitter and now I tweet here. 160 characters to make the most mundane elements of my day worthy of 15-minutes in the limelight. Maybe now I can start to get some questions answered.

But I still think I'll be wondering by the end of this...