[Connor is a writer, organizer, and ghost that resides in Seattle, Washington. He enjoys coffee, books, and code.]
This has been a long ass year. A lot happened, and as a result I had to do a little bit of hunting through ticket stubs, tweets, and web history to see exactly what I got into. To the best of my knowledge, here is my “Best of 2019”.
The Knowledge Economy – Roberto Mangabeira Unger
I found this book via Twitter and bought it immediately because it looked like something I would be super interested in. I’ve read through it once and did not fully understand it, but I am currently giving it a second go. The thesis: Advanced business practices surrounding knowledge need to find ways to be more inclusive. I enjoy reading abstract stuff like this because it helps me balance some of the ideas that I have in my head, but also gives me additional perspectives for how I should position myself in business and on the internet. I’ll give you more thoughts as soon as I finish this second read-through. It’s on my “Best of” list, though, because it is a challenging read from an author who speaks optimistically about technology, humanity, and the internet.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work – Jason Fried & David Hansson
I heard about this book via the “Product Hunt” podcast. The creators of Basecamp write about problems in the workplace and how to design your office culture so that it moves at a calm pace. As a consultant, this is really useful for me. A lot of my job includes helping clients manage their tasks in a level-headed and sustainable way, and this book has short, digestible chapters that offer tips and tricks for de-stressing your workflow.
Exhalation – Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang writes emotionally tender sci-fi. He wrote the short story on which the movie “Arrival” was based. His second collection, “Exhalation”, is just as fun as his first. It includes a really long story about Tamagotchis if they were smarter. Ted Chiang also happens to live in Seattle, and I have not seen him walking around in his daily life, but I have seen him speak at Hugo House. Inspired by his work, I made a tiny web app that generates treatments for stories in his style.
The best way I can describe this podcast is “stories from the internet”. Hosts Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt investigate memes, web phenomena, and personal anecdotes in journalistic detail. The result is a surprisingly funny and generally informative show that gives me a lot of ideas for research and cocktail party conversation fodder. If you’re looking for a dose of tech savvy interestingness, I highly recommend introducing “Reply All” to your morning commute.
Akimbo w/ Seth Godin
This podcast contains poignant wisdom for the internet age – Seth states that his thesis comes from the idea that we are all responsible for the ideas that we choose to share. Seth shares ideas that encourages freelancers and entrepreneurs to race to the top, and not the bottom. Combining history, design thinking, and easy-to-digest strategy concepts, it blows my mind that I get to listen to such good advice for free.
Purple Hat – Sofi Tukker
I’ve had this song ON REPEAT since I encountered it on the Spotify “Metropolis” playlist. It’s melodic, dancy, and exciting – I know at some point I’ll get sick of it but for the time being I simply cannot get enough. It should be noted that 2019 is the year I really got into techno and EDM. I did not expect or want this – I always thought of myself as a “hip hop head” and never cared about house music. I don’t even know the difference between techno, house, trance, whatever. And I don’t want you to explain it to me. However, I’ve been listening to “Techno Bunker” and “Swag House” partly because on my morning commute through Amazon town, I can’t help but listen to music that sounds like computers that eat money.
I see myself in every Brooklyn 99 character. I’m as goofy as Jake, as organized as Amy, and as anal retentive / socially awkward as Captain Holt. Brooklyn 99 also became a nightly ritual in the Barton-Miller household. I would get home from work, eat dinner and chat, and then we’d settle in to watch two or three episodes.
Brooklyn 99 has a varied and well-tailored comedy pace. As a long time fan of 30 Rock, I really appreciate how each episode has a tightly knit storyline. The formula is rock solid and comforting – sometimes I can predict the outcome of an episode, but not always. The formula brings me back because I know generally how much emotional energy I am going to spend when I sit down to watch the show. [*chef’s kiss*].
Velvet Buzzsaw – Art dealers vs. ghosts in this thriller/comedy.
The Lighthouse – Willem Dafoe vs. Robert Pattinson are stranded on a rock.
Tampopo – A ramen western that explores… well… food eroticism.
Glitch is almost certainly my most visited site of 2019, beyond the usual suspects of Twitter and the Google Search page. It’s a development environment for learning how to code, and it’s super friendly and approachable for beginners like myself. AND IT’S FREE. Using Glitch I made a bunch of little web apps in an effort to teach myself computer programming, and it is going really well. Similar to how animators will put out short, shitty little examples for their portfolios, I am trying to do the same. “Done is better than perfect” as Cheyenne says, and I’m really happy with all these little experiments. You can check them out at cvbb.glitch.me.
I was at XOXO and talked to someone about Vine. I have been grieving since 2016 when the app died. With Vine, I felt like I was part of a vibrant community, and I would spend literally hours watching them. I even hopped on some meme trends, made a good bunch of videos, and made some acquaintances through the app. And then *snap* it was gone. My new friend at XOXO told me that maybe the answer was to try Tik Tok. I was skeptical, but I took his recommendation and realized that it was time for me to move on. Vine was never coming back, and Tik Tok was here, offering me a new (albeit different) alternative to feed my desire for micro-video content.
Tik Tok is g rad. Is this Chinese app spying on me? Yes. Nonetheless, Tik Tok has brought me great joy on my bus rides home from work, and in my late night hours when I am on the couch, eating snacks while Chey plays video games. At first it was really loud and obnoxious, but I have found the creators and accounts that I like (I enjoy personalities and unpretentious info-content) which continuously brings me back to the app. I’ve made a couple of videos, though not a lot – I think if I were sadder/more lonely I’d be motivated to make more Tik Toks (this is just how I operate) but I think I’ve made maybe two or three videos that are pretty good.
YouTube That I Accidentally Saw
Cheyenne watches a lot of YouTube, and sometimes I will wander in the room and end up sitting through a lot of it. As a results, I have encountered a handful of creators that I really enjoy, including:
- Joana Ceddia
- Try Guys
- Peaceful Cuisine
Publishing “Sustainable Loops”
I’m very proud of how well this book turned out! It has also served as a great conversation piece when I am courting potential clients. Perhaps the most heartwarming result of publishing this book is hearing from readers! A couple folks have reached out to me to show off their completed worksheets and their plans to redesign their personal and professional lives (including my mom, lol). Shout out to Chey for her excellent design work on the cover and interior. I hope I get to do a project like this again.
When tickets for XOXO went on sale, I immediately texted my friend Josh to ask if it was worth buying a ticket. “Membership to the Slack channel alone is worth the price of admission,” he told me. Boy oh boy was he right – XOXO Fest 2019 was possibly the best $500 I spent in 2019. It’s a conference for artists who live and work on the internet, and I met a ton of like-minded folks who serve as inspiration and community for my more compter-y ventures. The talks are all available on YouTube if you want to check ‘em out (link).
Leaving My Fashion Job
This was a great movie. As my friend Zac told me, “You don’t want to be on a winning horse in the wrong race.” As interesting as my job in fashion was, it ultimately wasn’t a good fit. Since leaving, I have been significantly happier. If you find yourself in an environment that doesn’t feel quite right, I encourage you to look for places that align with your values and interests. Not only will it help you build a better community, but it can possibly energize you in your extracurricular pursuits as well.
Moving in with Cheyenne
The bae and I snagged a beautiful apartment, and it’s been a lovely home for us and the catto. I am extremely grateful for how cozy the spot is, thanks to Cheyenne’s interior design sensibilities. We have a budding mug collection, a quick walk to grocery stores, and easy access to public transit. It looks like we’ll stay there at least another year, and then we’ll look to upgrade – Cheyenne hopes to build a chicken coop in a more rural setting. In the mean time, we’re set!
Going to Sweden
My first Trans-Atlantic trip! I spent a good two weeks in the Swedish countryside, enjoying Midsommar (in a not horror-film way). I already wrote about this at length in a blog post, but it was a big travel milestone for me and I am happy to have made the journey with my favorite person, Cheyenne. It was also very helpful that she speaks excellent Swedish – I tried doing a Duolingo crash course and ended up only retaining the names of animals.