Hello, 2017

It’s 2017. It has been for a while now—25 days to be exact—and there’s a lot of things I want to accomplish this year. So, is it too late to talk about new year resolutions? Oh well, I’m going for it. Here are my plans for 2017.

This year, I want to write more.

I call myself a writer, which I am, but I don’t write nearly as much as I should. I work an office job as a Technical Writer for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. Sitting and staring at a computer for that long is fairly tiring, believe it or not. So, when I get home from work, I don’t exactly feel like sitting behind my own computer to do more work, even if it is for my own benefit. All I want to do is hang out with friends or relax. Needless to say, one of the greatest challenges I faced last year was maintaining the proper work-life balance.

This year, I’ve agreed to set aside time specifically to force myself to write. Tuesday nights after work have officially been christened “personal writing time” on my google calendar*. This writing party starts at 5 pm and ends whenever I decide it ends. I’ll use this time to work on article ideas that have been rolling around in my head or simply to write for myself to organize my thoughts, like what I’m doing right now. This time will start out as one night a week, but can (and probably will) evolve into two or even three nights a week once I become more disciplined in the practice.

This year, I want to take it slow.

I started last year with Letters from an Internet Traveler, which forced me to read, watch, and listen my way across the web. This quickly became an overwhelming task to keep up with. I realized that I was consuming information as quickly as possible to keep up with the constant stream, rather than actually absorbing the information I was consuming. I had been overloading myself with information. So much so that I wrote an article about information overload, which—to my surprise—got quite a bit of attention. It even got picked up and republished by Quartz. But that’s beside the point.

This year, I’ve promised myself that I will consume at my own pace. I refuse to consume information to stay relevant. I will consume only what truly intrigues and engages my mind—preferably long form articles to improve my attention span and increase my propensity for delving deep into topics to gain a deeper understanding. In addition, I will be reading more books this year, non-fiction and fiction. I want to get lost in stories and use them as inspiration to tell stories of my own. I don’t have a definitive goal in terms of how many books I plan to read this year, but I guess I’ll shoot for 10. Don’t judge me, I’m more of an article reader than a book reader.

This year, I want to focus.

Last year I realized that I have a hard time focusing on one task at a time. Rather, I tend to divide my attention between tasks, which just delays each task or idea from being completed. It’s like a never-ending scatter-brained cycle. For this reason, half way through 2016, I decided to drop Letters from an Internet Traveler and put the majority of my energy into Digital Culturist. Even after doing this, I still found that it was difficult for me to focus on the main thing that will make Digital Culturist a great publication—the content. I tend to get very caught up in the minute details of publication, like the format, logo design, etc. I’ll spend hours trying to get the smallest things just right.

This year, I want to focus on the bigger picture of it all. I will focus on pushing Digital Culturist forward by creating and curating great content. If I do that, then everything else will fall into place, as it should. On a less career-oriented note, I want to focus more on being in the moment*. This year I will focus on absorbing life for what it is and being more appreciative of the small things. I want to enjoy myself more and think less about the future.

I’m looking forward to all the great things to come this year, but they’ll only happen if I make them happen.

Cheers to many more of these reflective posts.

*Shout out to my girlfriend for these resolutions.

Small-time Adventures in Independent Publishing

Back in October 2015, I started a Medium publication called Digital Culturist as a side project meant to explore my personal interests in the effects of technology on society, culture, and psychology.

More formally described, Digital Culturist is a tech/culture publication critiquing the digital age through the eyes of those who created it, publishing analytical, informed stories and essays focused on the Internet, technology, and how they affect human behavior, psychology, and social culture.

I must say that I had doubts about this project going anywhere relevant, but nevertheless, I thought it would be an interesting accomplishment to brag about to future employers.

And so began my adventures in independent publishing.

I started out by combing and curating Medium in search of stories that matched our theme in order to give my publication some meat. I found a few gracious contributors who were willing to consider my small-time Medium publication home to their stories, with some help from a fellow Medium pub editor I met in the POMQA Slack community. With this method, we picked up a few readers, but nothing too serious.

It wasn’t until we were able to get our hands on a specific story (“Stop Saying Technology is Causing Social Isolation”), which at the moment, was taking Medium by storm, that my tiny publication on the radar. We quickly racked up 300+ readers, which has grown into almost 700 readers over the past several months.

I’d say that’s a pretty significant jump for a side project that I had reservations about.

After a few months of focus on Letters from an Internet Traveler, my personal newsletter, I started to pick up on Digital Culturist again. In time with Medium’s revamp of their publication layout’s and abilities, I decided to take this project a bit more seriously.

In order to increase readership, I started to record new ways to increase engagement and other feasible ideas to make Digital Culturist a respectable Medium publication.

After much internal debate, I bought the digitalculturist.com domain and decided on making it an issue based publication. I also decided that facilitating new, original stories from various, relatively unheard voices would be the best way to go, rather than searching for and curating existing stories on Medium.

My thought process: “Why not embrace my current status in as the small fish in the big pond? What’s the worst that could happen?”

Today, I’m proud to say that I released Digital Culturist Issue #1 on Sunday, May 22. Edited and curated entirely by yours truly.

I believe the first issue was received quite well and was definitely surprised at how many submissions I received within the initial submission period.

Though I must admit, it wasn’t an easy task. I’m quickly learning that this is definitely a trial and error process; see what works, and for what doesn’t, try something else. I’ve been taking notes while observing the publishing and submission methods of other Medium-based and non-Medium-based publications.

With that said, I’m already gearing up for Issue #2.

Hopefully, the next couple of issues will create a buzz on the Medium-sphere and Digital Culturist will take off. Wishful thinking.

I know it’ll take more time than that. But I’m patient.

Letter #12: What’s the future of…?

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With each technological advancement we get a little closer to our idea of the future. The latest installment explores the near future of death, medicine, and sex.

Letters from an Internet Traveler is a newsletter for the curious, who who frequently indulge in conversation starters and ‘did you know’ moments—a few thought-provoking tidbits discovered on my travels across the Internet casually delivered to your inbox at least twice a month (maybe).

View past letters
Follow my letters on Medium

Letter #11: Stop being so reasonable.

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The latest installment from Letters from an Internet Traveler explores human reasoning and what is possible when you set it aside. Discover how to be more creative, how to live a better life, and how to develop new perspectives just by giving up the notion of reason. Not everything we do/say needs to have a meaning, reason, or purpose. Sometimes the most beautiful things can be created from nothing.

Letters from an Internet Traveler is a newsletter for the curious, who who frequently indulge in conversation starters and ‘did you know’ moments—a few thought-provoking tidbits discovered on my travels across the Internet casually delivered to your inbox at least twice a month (maybe).

View past letters
Follow my letters on Medium

The Creativist Limbo

The past couple weeks have been a bit difficult for me to manage. With thoughts constantly bouncing around my head, it’s always a struggle to organize and prioretize them.

Needless to say I’ve been focusing on the wrong things lately.

For the past couple of weeks, my focus has been out of wack. I find myself getting hung up on the superficial aspects of the projects I’m working on. As a perfectionist, it’s hard to settle, even if it’s settling on the small things like logos, appearance, design, and consistency—you know, the stuff that are not my expertise; the little things that probably won’t make much of a difference until my thing picks up some speed. Right now, my thing is barely rolling.

Why does this happen? I ask myself that question quite a bit. It seems like it happens periodically and it feels sort of like a creativist limbo—like I’m stuck in the thought of a perfect world. I guess it’s a human thing to do, to get distracted and go a bit off course, especially considering the overwhelming context of todays information age. It probably also has to do with my perfectionist characteristics.

Nevertheless, I’ve spent the better part of this week trying to get back on track with the help of a podcast called Note to Self. They hosted a project in the beginning of February called Infomagical. It’s a chance for those who are overhwhelmed with information to cut it off and unwind from the constant bombardment of digital stimuli. I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I’d give it a try. I’m on the last day (day 5), and so far it’s been quite an enlightening experience. It’s given me time to think about my goals and how I should prioretize them.

I’m happy to say that I’m pulling myself back on track and focusing on the one thing I need to do in order to grow as a writer—writing and sharing ideas.

Hopefully my mind will stay on track for a while, because I really need to start building up my experience for future endeavors.

Wish me luck.