Gary Winogrand on Risk Taking

I just read a post on the O’Reilly Digital Media Blog about a prolific photographer named Gary Winogrand. I hadn’t heard of him before, but the guy shot well over 300,000 photos during his career, all on film.

“You don’t learn anything from repeating what you know, in affect, so I keep trying to make (the process) uncertain. The nature of the photographic process – it is about failure. Most everything I do doesn’t quite make it. The failures can be intelligent; nothing ventured nothing gained. Hopefully you’re risking failing every time you make a frame.”

– Gary Winogrand, in an interview with Bill Moyers (1982)

Gary also had an interesting take on the editing process. He would apparently leave film undeveloped for at least a year (or longer) after a shoot, so his editorial decisions weren’t clouded by the emotions felt during the shoot. He didn’t want to be selecting the best shots while he could still remember any details of doing the actual shoot. That is an amazing level of self restraint, something that is probably much, much harder now in the days of instant digital processing and cataloging.

Online death threats are still death threats

I just found out via a Twitter post that Kathy Sierra, the author of the Creating Passionate Users blog, which I read religiously, has been receiving a series of threats. Cyberbullying, even death threats. Threats of violence. To the point that she had to back out of presenting a session at the ETech conference, and is canceling all public engagements.

[ED – I removed a paragraph that could be perceived as inflammatory. I wasn't trying to imply that any specific individual(s) made a death threat, only that some had been named in Kathy's post.]

This is seriously not cool. I don't have the entire story, but from Kathy's post, a group of people self-organized to inflict threats on her and a few other people online. She suggests that some of this goes with the territory. I disagree. This is not acceptable.

[ED – I removed another potentially inflammatory paragraph that didn't add to anything]

Starting the bike ride again

I started riding again this morning. I'd been on my butt for far too long, and almost 2 weeks of constant eating and relaxing on tropical beaches didn't help by any means. I'm not going to be hardcore. There's some craptastic weather scheduled for tonight, and the next couple of days, so I'll likely wuss out and bus it if it's white out. But at least I started.

I picked up a bike computer on the weekend, so I don't have to track stuff manually (or through my blog). It turns out that the ride is actually farther than what Google Earth calculated. It's just a hair over 13km, as opposed to the 12.54km I'd thought it was.

First Ride, 2007

I’m a cell phone luddite

It was pointed out to me in a recent email exchange that it’s a little odd that I don’t have a cell phone.

There. I said it. I don’t have a cell phone.

My wife has one, for work, but I don’t have one. Never have.


The cell telcos in Canada basically suck. By design. Every transaction with the phone is intended, designed, counted on, to suck cash from my pockets into theirs.

Samsung CellphoneTake the new family (i.e., her) cell phone. It’s a relatively uncrappy Samsung. Has a decent-ish built in camera. Actually takes pictures that don’t make me cringe. And I can take lots of pictures with it. But, if I actually want to KEEP any of those photos, they cost me 50 cents each, because the only way to get them off the phone is via Rogers’ email service. I can’t use the bluetooth functions of the phone. And the phone ships without a USB cable.

Hitting the “menu” button is another example of who actually owns the phone. What’s the most common action I’d want to do with the menu system? Probably look up a phone number in the contacts list. What’s the default-selected menu item when activating the Menu? Rogers Store. Yeah. By default, they expect me to shop for crap on the Rogers Store. When I’m done with that, maybe I’ll remember to look up that phone number…

Want to change the ringtone? SURE! Enter the Rogers Store. They’re only a couple of bucks. Never mind that you’ve got a computer capable of processing audio files, and should be able to add your own sound clips as audio files (I have the absolutely perfect ringtone sitting on my hard drive, but no way to push it to the phone).

Want to check email or view a web page? Sure! First, it’s painfully slow. Second, it’s even more painfully expensive. I’ll pass.

So, when a Canadian cell telco gets hit with a clue, and decides to make the phone work for me, instead of for them, I might have an incentive to get a phone.

On top of that, I hate phones in the first place. They’re all about “stop what you’re doing! someone else has something they need, right frakking now!” synchronous communication. Maybe I’m spoiled with email and IM, but there is very little of my communication with anyone that demands RIGHT FRAKKING NOW responses. I don’t really look forward to bringing that level of intrusiveness with me in my pocket…

Maybe an iPhone with the ringer turned off most of the time? Except I have very little faith in Canadian cell telcos to not completely screw up the iPhone by locking stuff down in order to maximize revenue generation. In the meantime, this is my ideal phone:

Wainright lobby phone

Back in town

We got back into Calgary early this morning (possibly the last flight to land at YYC for the night). Maui is great. A little more developed than I'd have liked (CostCo and Wal-Mart don't fit into my ideal mental image of relaxing tropical islands) but we had a blast nonetheless. Photos are now on Flickr, and I will try to do a braindump about the trip so I don't forget the details.

Now that I'm getting my head back into the mainland side of things, instead of being a haole-wannabe-local with my head in the waves, I'm realizing how successfully I was able to ignore things back home. I did have the laptop, but internet connectivity was crappy enough to make it useful only for checking email for emergencies (of which there was only one, thankfully).

Next up is the Web 2.0 Online Learning Festival. I have been graciously allowed to put my name on the billing, which means that since I was away for the last 11 days, I'm really just riding on some coat-tails. Brian, Jim, Gardner and (at least nominally) myself will be hosting a session at the NMC Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video – tomorrow (March 21). Nominations are open, so if there's some awesome web-2.0-ish video that should be featured, add it to The List, and it might make it into The Envelope.