Archive for the 'internet' Category

fifteen sites that have affected my life and this blog

There’s a list of some of my favorite and most often used links on the sidebar to your right, but they don’t always reflect what I’ve been seeing lately on the Internet (such as Super Lamb Banana which I love, but… What? Exactly). I read the news as a form of procrastination and stress relief; however, there are only a certain number of times a day that you can refresh The New York Times page. As a result, over the past year I’ve amassed a collection of news sites and notable blogs to draw on for inspiration, nostalgia and brain candy. You may have come across some of their articles and posts through links in my own blog posts.

The news sites are international and opinionated, the blogs all have a personal voice and touch, and the “mix of everything” sites (blending Webs 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0) are just a dead giveaway that I live in the Bay Area.

News and opinions

BBC News – Other international news sources claim that they report with a broad scope and without bias, but the BBC is the only one that comes close to actually doing so. 

Salon.com – Super-liberal SF-based online magazine full of people who care about things. I can only handle it in small doses, but I do enjoy reading the Ask the Pilot column.

San Francisco Chronicle – Like the NYT, but obviously with a Bay Area twist. It was between this or the L.A. Times, and the latter’s front page really sucks– it’s very generic and has little area-specific personality. (The LAT fashion blog, however, has better commentary than NYT’s.)

Mainichi Daily News – The English-language version of the Mainichi Shimbun got in serious shit last year for this one editor and his translated WaiWai column (basically a tabloid full of sick sex-related articles) which got into the “Most Popular This Week” box all the time, but they seemed to have fixed that problem. (Japan Times is probably more comprehensive, but I guess I’ve got brand loyalty– when I was in Japan I read the Mainichi Shimbun’s English version daily in my high school’s library as basically my only link to the U.S…)

Le Monde – I like this French newspaper better than the Sartre-founded (but now much less left-wing) Libération and conservative Le Figaro. It’s very much like the NYT in that it’s internationally popular and Paris-centric, and its editorial-full Opinions section is very strong.

People and their blogs

Charles Bremner – He is a Times (UK) correspondent in France and blogs thoughtfully (sometimes British tongue-in-cheek style) about French culture, politics and famous personalities. As a plus, his Anglo-French commenters are some of the most civil on the Internet. Well, that or he knows how to screen them.

Carmen Van Kerckhove – I don’t really think about being a minority in Stanford’s co-op community, but I have to sometimes: in some situations, even with friends, I get caught off-guard or feel uncomfortable. This blog helps me parse those unspoken issues. Racialicious is often a little intense for me, but Van Kerckhove’s own well-written blog concerns racism and discrimination in the primarily American workforce. She’s also got good interviews from diverse people in all kinds of careers.

Lisa Katayama (TokyoMango) – Like Peter Payne‘s blog about Japanese culture, with a less-otaku stance and from a Japanese-American point of view. By day, she’s a magazine writer who covers Japanese culture and Japan/U.S. tech crossover news; on this blog she shares fun trends in Japan that’ve caught her eye.

Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) – Ever since I got back from Paris I freely admit I’ve been super into admiring fashion and stylish people. This blog is just a bunch of quality street-level photos of people in world clock cities (Paris, Milan and New York) who have interesting looks. Possibly the simplest blog I read regularly, and also the most chic.

Trent Vanegas (Pink is the New Blog) – Reading this celeb gossip blog is my guilty pleasure. (See above. I like looking at good-looking people and am sometimes a voyeuse. There, I said it.) I like Trent because his blog’s got a warm personal touch: his posts are usually polite and supportive of their subjects (unlike his nastier counterpart Perez Hilton) and the photo collages he compiles are always adorned with pink stars and fun speech bubbles.

Penelope Trunk (Brazen Careerist) – She writes about young people and their careers (or lack thereof) while I’m about to become a recent college graduate in a recession. Her advice-giving style is easy to read, full of numbered lists and anecdotes, a style I’d like to use myself. She’s got strange relationships with feminism and Internet privacy that I can relate to. And her posts on blogging got me to keep working on this site.

Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics) – The blog of the authors of the most enjoyable and memorable academic-related book I’ve ever read. They’ve got the NYT behind them and a host of interesting people they’ve interviewed using readers’ questions. Most of their posts follow in the vein of the book– which is great, since Freakonomics II is long overdue.

A mix of everything

Wired – I still remember getting the very first issue of Wired as a supplement to Time when I was little. It looked so futuretech-cool. It still does, but now it’s got thirty times more thirtysomething geek factor; the magazine is easier to read for laypeople than the site proper. Some of the aforementioned bloggers write for it. (Unsurprisingly, the blogs section thrives online.)

Discover – Basically Wired for science and math geeks. The site could use a better layout designer (their site reads like a goddamn RSS feed), their articles are sometimes sloppily posted, and the fact that their “Blogs” are listed with the same treatment as “Articles” and “Departments” on the main page irks me. Otherwise the content is solid and the articles are easy to read.

Culinate – A 21st century member-oriented food site. Their recipes look mouthwatering; their articles and blogs cover a wide range of food topics both practical and enlightening. By the pleasing layout you can tell the site is Web-savvy, and by the farm imagery, “farmer’s markets” search box on the right, “Local Flavors” column and mentions of CSA boxes you can tell it’s committed to local organic food. All in all, a very NorCal site.

N.B.: A year ago I would’ve had more food-related blogs up here, but I soon realized I’m vegetarian and most of them involve meat. Chocolate & Zucchini is a beautiful French food blog but I only used its desserts; Vegan Lunch Box is long defunct thanks to the author’s son growing up (Lunch in a Box is a worthy bento-making successor, too bad she’s omnivorous); Wasted Food is great but sounds a bit too much like a textbook example of Stuff White People Like, and most vegetarian/vegan food blogs are a little too militantly activist for my taste.

Just doing link checks on these sites while preparing this post made me stumble across like ten different articles I’d like to write about. But they’ll have to wait until after finals. Holy shit, I am swamped. With life.

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with high internet connectivity, user productivity approaches zero

Since I am now anchored to one location and probably will stay that way for the next year or two, I think I’ll be turning my thoughts to digital global culture more often. The Internet has shaped a lot of who I am– I got my first AOL account at age six!– and only when I had to live without it did I realize how much of an impact it has on my life.

Living with the Internet makes everything much more convenient, but it also makes my life infinitely more complicated. In the span of fifteen minutes online, my curiosity and insatiable thirst for information led me from vegetarian recipe searching to a Wikipedia entry about a character from His Dark Materials. (Whoever can name all the connections I took to get there wins a prize.) Think about how much havoc I wreak on my work and sleep schedule when my house on campus has high-speed WiFi! I can hole myself up in my room for weeks and just pull a hikikomori on everyone.

This means I can’t work in my room, and I can’t work in the public spaces of my house because the social interaction is just as distracting. I also live at the top of a hill, so I’m discouraged from venturing out to study, but good *god* it’s almost finals week, I have to. (At least the weather’s a whole lot better than it was a month ago…)

I’ve found that I work best outside of my dorm, sans laptop, in a public place that isn’t too quiet— on campus, The Axe and Palm in Old Union does the trick. I usually can’t work with people talking in the background, but somehow I don’t mind random people talking. Maybe it’s because it’s an improvement from the background noise I get at home, which involves my family talking instead of random people. Or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of making embarrassingly loud noises (i.e. passing gas) in a pindrop-silent study hall. Either way, I don’t have to deal with the knowledge that I have a wealth of information at my fingertips. Seriously, the convenience of a WiFi-enabled laptop destroys me.

But hey, it could be worse– I could have an iPhone.


What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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