“To This Day”

Shane Koyczan “To This Day” http://www.tothisdayproject.com Help this message have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying. Please share generously.

The People We Wanted to Be

A decade has passed since that awful day on September 11, 2001. In terms of your memory, that’s a long time. The major moments tend to stick, but the bits and pieces of it all flitter away into the mind, gone from most purposeful thought.

What it leaves, though, is a filtered version of the things that mattered that day — and the days after. Those moments and emotions that have stuck have become my defining view of that day’s events.

I am prone to disappearing. I find ways to sequester myself from the world, whether driving alone when I could take the train or locking my doors on the weekend and emerging again only when it’s time for work. I am, and have always been, a solitary creature. That’s not to suggest to don’t love people. In fact (and surprisingly), I have a great passion of them.

Many times, I just find all of the emotion to much to handle. I get overloaded with expectations, with disappointments, with joys. To survive, I need solitude to recharge and reboot.

In those terrible hours and days and weeks after 9/11, I remember not wanting that solitude. I remember looking around at the faces in the offices of Wired.com, professionals who were trying to find a way to make our stories make a difference from 3,000 miles away, and wanting to stay with everyone. On that awful day, people lingered about, not wanting to go home. I ended up sitting in a bar with my editor, one with whom I had a terrible relationship, and just processing through what we had seen. There were few words. Just silent drinking.

And So Another Ends To Begin Again

brad_andyI met this dude in 1996, the year I rolled into Austin. We worked together at Trudy’s. We also became best friends over a bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey while discussing how we’d ended up in Austin.

The short story: the women we’d been with decided to not be with us. Good enough: we bonded as men.

Much has happened since then, but one of the constants in my life has been our friendship.

We lived together for two years then, when I moved away in 1998 to go to graduate school I’d stay with him  when I’d return for SXSW Interactive, and when I moved back to Austin in 2002 I bought a house where he’s lived since. (I lived here for two years until the job pulled me away.)…

Anonymous Day: In Which I Remind Myself Of Simple Acts

I’ve been thinking about anonymity quite a bit for the last few months.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed the end of privacy. At this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference, 4Chan CEO Chris Poole disputed that nothing, saying  anonymity is fundamental to digital life. The U.S. government has spend more than a decade looking for ways to reduce anonymity online as Wikileaks – thanks in part to anonymous sources — continues to release secret documents from governments across the globe.

Last month much of what I’d been thinking came together as I moderated an event, “Social Media and Activism,” with students from Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. We were discussing the role of social media in the protests sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East. The protestors, they said, would rather attach their name to their cause – and make everyone else do the same – so that nobody could hide.

It’s all very heady stuff, ideas that are shaping the future of our information landscape. But I’ve been thinking about anonymity on a smaller scale.

And that got me thinking.

Make A Thing

In less than a month, seven former students will publish a book of essays. I’ve written about this and until the book is done there’s not much more to say on that matter.

But their project inspired yet another lecture in my classes today, one that I hadn’t intended on giving. That’s rare these days because my classes are laid out precisely. I have set up the structures within my class in order to build my students’ learning in a certain way. Deviations are rare.

Still, I found myself in one of those rare places. I set about showing the website and community The Invictus Writers have built. I wanted to show them what can happen when you Make A Thing.

I wanted them to understand that the creative process is long, slow, and tedious, which is why focusing on how you create matters. I wanted them to understand that in order to succeed in life, you must focus on the next step in front of you and not pay attention to all the steps that come after that. Mostly I wanted them to see that like their fellow students, they had the capability of creating whatever they wanted.

I hoped at the end that they would want to Make A Thing too.

“Two Kinds of People”

The Tigger Talk: On Life, the Process, and Everything

Grades don’t matter.

This is what I tell my students ever week throughout the school year. Education is about the process, I tell them as they roll their eyes, not the product. I implore them to focus on squeezing out every bit of knowledge from their assignments. I want them to attack uncertainty without fear of failure. I encourage them to fail.

Because in failure we learn.

But the truth is that even those students who try – try – to focus on learning and not grades still fall victim to that red letter penned upon their assignments. I can see it in their eyes, the smiles that beam across their face when they earn As and the sunken, silent despair when they earn Fs.

I want to grab each of them, look them in the eyes, and remind them that grades don’t matter. In class or in life. What matters is the process. What matters is the way you approach your education, your relationships, and your life.

Of course I can’t convince my students to think this way. Too much of our educational system is built around grades. So I do the only thing that I can: I tell them my story.

This is The Tigger Talk.


Part 1: On Life

Grades don’t matter. I’ve told you that throughout the semester. Before every assignment. After every assignment. Grades are simply irrelevant to what you have learned and what you know.

I’ve told you this but I haven’t told you why I know this. Today I am going to do that.


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