Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Oct 19

You Live, You Learn (And Why Wouldn’t You Want To?)

I have been meaning to write this blog post for some time.  It’s probably good that I didn’t get to it before now, but I won’t be able to explain why until after i get right into it.

One of the crucial elements of who I am is that I like to learn. I rediscovered this a little over a year ago when I dove head-first back into reading. My focus was on science, and I loved nearly every word of every page.

I have since then devoured books by Nye, Sagan, Feynman, Hawking and more. I’ve dying to read more books by Mary Roach, and my eBook wait/hold list contains far more nonfiction titles than fiction.

But it’s not just books. I like podcasts that teach me new things. Blogs. TED talks. I go to events hosted by the historical society. It’s downright nerdy.

You might call me an epistemophiliac or epistemophile:

one who excessively strives for knowledge, or has a preoccupation with it

I want to know, and I want to know more.

In fact, I have said more than a time or two that I have little time for fiction because what’s happening around us in the real world is already so fascinating. I mean, teach me how and why something works — even if  I don’t necessarily care about the subject — and I will find it mildly interesting. Who knew I had an interest in astronomy or economics, for instance, before I delved into them? Now, I listen to podcasts (like these) on them on a weekly basis.

While not every subject will be riveting, I could certainly appreciate an engaging conversation about the science or history of most topics. Say, a sport. Teach me something, and I will try to take something away from it.

On the other end, I will often excitedly go on about something I recently learned and cannot keep to myself. I can only hope I’m a fraction as endearing as Carl Sagan with his childlike wonder.

It comes easily to me, to be honest. I may have forgotten how much I liked learning and may not have been super proactive about it, but I still liked it. That leads me to my main thought of this post:

I do not understand people who don’t enjoy learning, who aren’t curious about the world, who don’t want to add to their knowledge.

It’s not just that it’s a simple pleasure. It’s practical, pragmatic. Seeking knowledge helps you do more, save money, hold better conversations and feel more self-assured to name just a few benefits.

It might lead you to skills that are sellable and better jobs or more prestige. Although, those things are less of a concern for me. I may spend too much time learning things that are of no immediate use.

Because learning is fun. And it’s easier than ever, thanks to the Internet.

Maybe I can’t understand the way people don’t care for or actively dislike learning; although, I certainly don’t mind not allowing myself to understand this shortcoming of others. Forgive me that pretense. I am sure you can understand.

As a general rule, I don’t find people who don’t enjoy learning new things — and occasionally learning them from me — to be particularly interesting. I want to learn about the world and have discussions about ideas and things that are greater than gossip, your 9-to-5 job, or the weather. Sorrynotsorry.

Don’t get me wrong. I have surrounded by myself with people who enjoy learning or who, at the very least, appreciate my love of learning. It still just boggles my mind that anything doesn’t.

Now, the reason why waiting was a good idea? After my friend died, I enjoyed a lot of mindless/easy media. I consumed more comics than books on science. I pretty much stopped listening to podcasts because, when I did, I found myself tuning out. 30 minutes to an hour would pass, and I had no idea what I just listened to. I couldn’t make myself care.

I wouldn’t write this post passionately while I was in that stage. I hope I’ve done it justice this morning.

With that, I’ve got more Sagan to read.


Mar 28

What I Want From My Podcasts

Podcast listening has taken over my life. I mean, okay. Not literally. But I’ve more than doubled the number of podcasts that I subscribe to in recent weeks, and not all of the new additions were hits. A podcast has to hit all the right spots to be a hit with me

The Host

A good podcast host needs to embody several qualities:

  • Have a pleasing voice
  • Ask insightful questions
  • Guide the show along and keep pace

Rarely will I tune into a podcast more than once if I don’t enjoy the host’s voice and pretty much never at all if the host is distracted or unable to shape to lead the episode with the proper guidance.

Production Values

I don’t need intros and outros. Simpler is better. But sound production needs to be up to par. Sync up volume between the host and guest, for example, so the show doesn’t suddenly become louder or quieter when the person who is talking switches.

Time Block

For the life of me, I cannot understand why any podcast is over an hour long. Even when listening on double speed, this is painfully long. Furthermore, a few shows seem to be pretty inconsistent in terms of length. While one show may be only 30 minutes, another may be well over an hour. Not cool, guys. (Yes, I’m talking ’bout Planetary Radio).

Guests

Lexicon Valley hasn’t had many guests since the host switch in summer, and the quality has surely declined. It’s nearly unbearable to listen to the same single person speak week after week. If the podcast has multiples hosts, it’s easier to swallow, but I like guests.

I don’t have any hard and fast preferences regarding guests. Celebrities might be a perk (I enjoyed Aziz Ansari and Trevor Noah on Freakonomics, for example), but they’re not necessary. The guest simply needs to be interesting enough — and the host needs to make that apparent — if it’s an episode about the guest, or the guest needs to have authority and knowledge on the subject that the episode is on.

This brings me to my final point.

Education

Save for a single podcast (We Paid to See This), all of my subscriptions exist to teach me something about the world or, perhaps, myself. I want to learn. There’s an endless array of podcasts out there if you want to laugh, cry, listen to stories or simply be amused. And while I enjoy the water cooler talk of some podcasts, what I want is to talk away smarter.

So while some podcasts are fun and funny, they’re just not my thing. And I’m not their intended audience.

That’s why I’ve loved Freakonomics for over a year (in fact, I like the podcast better than the books!), subscribe to Lexicon Valley, listen to space policy episodes of Planetary Radio and tune in to Sex Out Loud.

Most of those podcasts manage to check off all the boxes, but none of them miss more than one (at least not consistently).

Oh! If you think you can recommend a podcast that I’d like based on this post, let me know in the comments!


Oct 26

The Internet Has Stalled

I remembered 5-10 years ago when I was apart of countless forums where web design was all the rage. To me, to everyone, it seemed like the future was limitless and that we could do anything we wanted. Back then, being able to successfully call an image or make a link was cause for excitement. And I was hooked. So I took a bite of the possibilities and hopped on the blog train before they weren’t considered anything different than journals. I had affiliates, I made fanlistings and cliques and joined webrings and, for the most part, still maintain much of that. I made my own forums on Delphi. I dived in head first.

Then I took some time to weed out what it was I really wanted to do. I stepped away from cartoon dolls and trying to have my own forums. I slowly weened the list of projects to the ones I cared about the most and, of course, this site was always at the top of that list. I spent hours working on content which was all the rage. I looked up HTML help and tricks and CSS guides and Javascripts and shortcuts and includes and colour charts. I commented and linked and associated with very similar people with very similar sites. At that time, Web2.0 was far in the distance, everything was graphic intensive (and, usually, beautiful) and everyone and their dog had a site. We were all still learning and making mistakes together.

Then, something happened. Maybe people grew up. Maybe we just got to a point where we could comfortably do what we wanted without learning much more or anything more. I know I’ve been there for a while. I could make new themes, add new content and continue doing things the way I’ve been doing them without learning anything new. It feels kind of stagnant. Back then, I learned basic HTML, I learned tables, then frames, then divs then increased my understanding of CSS and it seemed like progression was obvious and logical but now I don’t know where I’d go even if I wanted to. I suppose PHP is the future and I’d gleaned some information here and there, especially using WordPress, but it doesn’t thrill me the way learning something new used to.

There’s not really anyone else whose thrilled either. I definitely think we all fed off the excitement of the group and it encouraged us to do more, go bigger. It’s harder to keep up the frenzy when you’re alone in it. But there’s this general trend of folks getting on with their lives and the internet just doesn’t play as big a part of that anymore. There’s school and work and families and stuff I have somehow managed to avoid and now I’m a remnant of something that will probably never come back and I miss it.

Of course, there’s people left who are still trudging on but now that the internet has made the transition to 2.0, I find myself alienated by the new trends. There is no inspiration for me anywhere; I do not want to do what people are doing and, even if I did, what they’re doing doesn’t feel remarkable the way everything used to feel. I guess I’m just not a big fan of function over form.

Man, I write all these posts where I am nostalgic for the past, especially when it comes to the internet. I’m not that old; how does that even work?


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