Status Updates for 2009-10-24

24
Oct
2009

Getting back on track

24
Oct
2009

My friend Ricardo left this morning to go back to Peru, and while it was nice seeing him while he was here, I am glad to have my space back. What with the various visitors that I have had in my apartment recently, I really haven’t been as focused on my work as I need to be (especially in generating income). Even when they weren’t here and I tried to work a few hours, a bunch of extra stuff in my small room really cuts my productivity. I find I need a clean empty space with few distractions to really focus on my work.

I am about at my most broke point ever right now, and while some of that is waiting for client payments to come through, some of it is also a lack of billing and work. I really need to get focused on generating more income and billing more regularly, especially given the high cost of living in New York. I am really loathe to take a full time job, but that may be an area to explore soon if I can’t find a more steady stream of contract work. I am going to try to keep to a strict schedule of work hours, winning new business, and monastic life over the next couple of weeks. Let’s see how it goes…

Which way is up?

20
Oct
2009

One of the great things about working on a variety of projects is the opportunity it gives me to confront various ideas. On one such project I had decided on a world map background for the site, and dutifully started researching various graphic styles that I would use for it. My client approved one direction with time zone demarcations and then asked if I could use a Peters projection instead of the more common Mercator projection.

I had been familiar with the Peters projection for some time, but since it isn’t in heavy usage, I had all but forgotten about it. And just about all of the map examples I found were Mercator. My client hails from the San Francisco Bay Area (where I myself lived for many years) and so it gave me a lefty chuckle of recognition that he was asking for this map projection. That is because the Peters map is far more socially “just” than the Mercator. Why is this so, you may wonder? Because the Mercator map vastly benefits the northern (and colonizing) hemisphere over the southern one. While the map doesn’t correct for the orientation of the planet (why is Alaska where it is near the top instead of Australia, for example), it does correct for the size distortions (Africa is roughly 14 times larger than Greenland, for example, although you would never know that to look at the Mercator). This begins to present a more accurate and equitable way for the inhabitants of the world to picture themselves. For a wonderful summing up of these concepts, check out this great clip from an old “West Wing” episode:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8zBC2dvERM

Experiments in capitalism

19
Oct
2009

Several weeks ago, I was walking around with Josh and came up with a few pithy quotes, something I am constantly doing (along with the rest of this disaffected, camp and irony aware generation).

He said, “you should put those on a t-shirt or something”, and I laughed.

But then I found this site, and became intrigued by the idea.

The internet has clearly put publishing into far more hands than ever before. It used to be that you needed some pretty hefty capital investments to be able to publish anything to a large audience. You needed to own expensive printing presses or TV or radio stations and equipment. With the web, the cost of entry is approaching zero, even for people who don’t own a computer. While it is of course true that those who have a lot of money to invest will have an easier time attracting the most eyes, it is also true that billions of people can get to anything you publish on the web if they can be made aware of it. This kind of reach is unprecedented and highly democratizing.

The site I found also benefits from a number of technological advances that allow the upfront costs to be reduced significantly. Because this site will only produce items “on demand”, a tiny entrepreneur with a stupid idea (read: me) can test out all manner of idea at zero cost of entry. The company makes a profit off the base items they sell, and I make money (potentially that is) off nothing other than my ideas or artwork. As a test, I uploaded one of the dumb quotes, and will probably upload others in the next few weeks, just to see how the system works (or doesn’t). The idea is pretty interesting and allows even the laziest of entrepreneurs (read: me) to take part in the process.

If you want to see what I am talking about, go for a visit to the Satoristephen Stuff Store. It is surprisingly user friendly and professional for how little time I put in to it (oh, about 15 minutes total).