Monday, July 31, 2017

Cage The Elephant, Anti-Snapchat & Girlboss

Weekly Update 2017-31: Bluesy rock from Cage The Elephant's new live album, trying to understand the appeal of Snapchat, and whether or not Girlboss is worth watching.

Music: Cage The Elephant
Coming out of Kentucky but based in England, this band has a pretty cool sound. It's a little bluesy, a little rock & roll, and a whole lot of soul to a catchy beat. I must admit I am late to the party, discovering them long after their breakout 2012 sophomore album Thank You, Happy Birthday. But, better late than never. They're playing Osheaga next week and have just released a kickass live album (which was the perfect way for me to get into their discography).

Check out Punchin' Bag and Instant Crush. There are also some great covers of Whole Wide World (Wreckless Eric) and Golden Brown (The Stranglers).

This week has been an exercise in editing. I took myself to the library to focus on editing my portfolio pieces - I love to write, and the project pages are a little too wordy. My lovely friend Marjorie helped me out with this by sending me some thoughtful suggestions for sharpening everything up.

I also learned that the Bloor-Gladstone library is a beautiful, quiet place with lots of space for working. In some ways, it shines brighter than the Reference library (though don't tell anyone I said that).

I hope to finish the Arduino projects into a workable portfolio piece this week, even if the final project is currently unfinished. It'll be a good reflection for me to see what I've learned so far and get the creative juices of the project flowing again.

Random Thought: Snapchat
Now in its fifth year of existence, it boggles me that Snapchat continues to be so popular. Yes, the stocks probably aren't selling as quickly as the company might have hoped now they they're publicly traded, but I still see people using Snapchat and their branded Spectacles all around me.

Snapchat's Spectacles allow their wearer to record everything happening from a first-hand view for their audience.

Since I have the unpopular opinion about the product, I thought I might dig further into what it is about it that I find so...un-sticky.

We can all agree that the user interface of the app is confusing at best. At worst, I have seen new users struggle with frustration because the screens all exist as swiping gestures in relation to other screens, with zero affordance of this functionality. I have read that Snapchat designers made this decision purposefully to force users to interact more in-person by teaching each other how to navigate the interface. In other words, manuals (or onboarding) are for suckers.

Beyond the UI, I find the UX just as confusing. Honestly, I don't want to know the intimate things that happen in people's days unless I am there to experience it with them, or they tell me specifically because they want me to know. I don't understand the exhibitionist lifestyle in the 21st century, which seems to place high importance on broadcasting humdrum activities like making toast or brushing your teeth. Perhaps if I moved away from a lot of the people I know in Toronto, I would find more use in the app. Then, these boring activities might become the easiest way to keep up with people, making them more special than just the act of brushing one's teeth. It just seems like people post things in a quantity-over-quality sort of way, and I'm not about that life.

So, for now, don't send me videos of you brushing your teeth unless something REALLY interesting happens.

Inspiration: Girlboss
Continuing my quest of rating all the series on Netflix, I have just emerged from the final episode of Girlboss. I usually jump into shows without knowing anything about them (hence low expectations), and was pleasantly surprised. Though somewhat unpopular with critics and cancelled after one season, don't hold your breath for more. That said, one season was certainly adequate to tell the success story of Sophia Amoruso, female wunderkind of the early tech scene in San Francisco in the late 2010s.

If you're familiar with the world of online shopping and fashion, you may know Nasty Gal (originally an eBay store run by Amoruso out of her tiny apartment). While Amoruso has since stepped down as CEO, she really made a mark for herself and for young women in tech to break into the scene despite the despairingly commonplace ageism and sexism.

The show did receive mostly negative reviews, owing to the main character's no bullshit attitude, and selfishness-driven actions that only appear to have a feminist front. While I do agree that Sophia's character in the show (whether a real depiction or not) does seem somewhat unlikeable at first, I do know that the tech industry is extremely cutthroat and brashness is certainly a key to success. Were the character a man, maybe critics wouldn't be so unforgiving of her actions.

In any case, the show is certainly worthwhile if you like hard-won success stories and beautifully crafted outfits. I definitely do.

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