Football, Yogurt and Live-Tweeting

Superbowl Ads Twitter

Yessss! The Superbowl is today!

I didn’t even know who was playing until someone at work asked if I wanted to join a pool this week. I asked who was playing and the guy told me while backing away.

Here’s a brief history of my personal interaction with this all-American event:

Superbowl XXXVII: A Personal Triumph

Until recently, I associated the Superbowl with pledging a sorority. The amazing sorority I wanted to join freshman year had a time-honored tradition in which each year’s pledges present a halftime “dance” at superbowl parties, at a house of upperclassmen guys. There was no effing way I was doing that. I participated as far as wearing the proper colors (Raiders’ black-and-silver) and allowing my face to be painted. I then successfully ducked out completely unnoticed as we were ascending the stairs toward the living room. Taking advantage of the cluster-fuck and drunkenness, I looped back around to the end of the procession line, so there wasn’t enough room for me in the living room. (This is my 1st time admitting this.)

Superbowl XLVII: Prime Reading (& Tweeting!) Time 

I never developed an interest in this game. Visiting my brother in college meant I was forced to attend a couple of Wisconsin football games in ridiculously freezing weather. There are photos of me eating yogurt and reading a book during these games.

Now, Superbowl feels like some kind of milestone in my 1st year back home in 4 years. I’m spending it at my parents’ house (unintentionally; I didn’t realize this weekend was Superbowl Sunday until 2 days ago).

Tonight, I’m excited for more than just yogurt and reading (as if that power combo wasn’t enough). Tonight the added bonus is Twitter. I have fallen in love with Twitter this year – especially during huge public events. I had a blast during the Presidential debates – another event I probably wouldn’t have cared that much about had I not been privy to hilarious real-time commentary offered by professional and amateur comedians.

Participating in a collective conversation with complete strangers is basically the most invigorating experience I’m capable of having these days.

Twitter provides the platform; Superbowl-like events set the topic.

My mom’s response to all this:

I hate that word ‘hashtag’. Isn’t it just this? (Crosses fingers in hashtag formation.)

Follow me tonight @steppenchik.

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IRONY: My Mom Clips Articles on Social Media

Digital Anthropology

My mom still clips articles and leaves them for me on my desk. It’s nice sometimes, especially if it’s a longer op-ed piece or something from the Sunday Times magazine, as I do enjoy longreads more in print than on screens. Otherwise, when she tells me she’ll save something interesting in today’s paper that she wants me to read, I tell her to not bother – I’ll find it online.

She took the time to grab a pair of scissors, and physically cut out an article to share with me – on social media.

But this week, she cut out and clipped the ultimate irony: an article about social media and the ways in which companies are using it to leverage their market research. It was already funny that she was still doing this for articles in general: obituaries of interesting writers or anthropologists, travel pieces on places I’ve visited or are planning to, etc. But this one took the proverbial cake. She took the time to grab a pair of scissors, and physically cut out an article to share with me – on social media.

I read it, and learned nothing new. It was written for people who do not use social media, but instead clip articles about it. My mother enjoyed it, and I think it helped her understand a little more about the field in which I work and am interested.

I just got a kick out of the message/medium combo.

BOOK REVIEW: I Live in The Future and Here’s How it Works

I Live in the Future and Here's How it Works by Nick BiltonI think I should have read more reviews of this book before reading it…as someone who uses the internet, and enjoys reading about it from time to time – this book was boring.

Read Only If You Think Internet = Scary

I had an internal conflict pretty much the entire time as to whether or not I should just quit and move on with my life. I kept thinking of this incredible article about not finishing books just for the sake of finishing them – but it turns out I’m too big of a pushover.

Highly recommended for “technochondriacs”, or anyone who feels like they’re too far behind in today’s digital revolution to understand any of it.

Sorta Like Reading 1984 in 1986

The fact that it was published in 2010 sort of gives it an excuse. The ideas and concepts it discusses have been discussed so much – with colleagues, friends, blogs, etc. – that nothing really felt that “futuristic”.

There were actually several “what if’s” that now exist: we really do receive totally personalized versions of the news through sites like Zite, Flipboard and others. Google really does deliver personalized results based on a person’s social circle, search history and geographic location. It’s pretty neat that Bilton was able to project so accurately these once-revolutionary ideas, but you just can’t read this book anymore if you’ve already had conversations and read articles about this stuff.

Bilton as a Blogger v. Author

Bilton is the lead tech writer for the NYTimes blog, Bits. He definitely knows his stuff – which is why it was frustrating to read sentences like “Look at Apple, the early computer company that has moved into music, music players, cell phones, and new electronic readers.” Ohhhh, that Apple? And this is a line that appears toward the very end of the book. It just felt a little bit too spoon-fed.

That said, it is easier to digest content online when it’s simple, straightforward and with a dash of humor. So maybe the style of the writing is better suited for a blog format, than a 266-page book. In the future (and here’s how it works), I will definitely refer to Bilton when when a new gadget or technology comes out and I want an early adapter’s opinion of it. So…there’s that.

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