February 1-9: Sochi, Sneckdowns, & Sheeran

I think the lowest number of tabs I hit on my computer this week was around 25. That’s unbelievable good for me. Below is this week’s collection of Mackenzie Musings. (Tara gets ultimate credit for that title, which is perfect, in my humble opinion.) The writing after each title is not a summary but rather just some thoughts that came to mind. Consider this a peek inside of my brain when I’m reading, watching, or listening to. Speaking of listening, here’s a collaborative playlist for the month of the February with some of my favorites. Feel free to add yours. 

Articles:

  • Sochi Olympics Luge – When I entered college, I was planning on pursuingScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 1.04.38 AM photojournalism & biostatistics. The former has 
    always been something that continues to interest me as I believe there is strong power in multimedia as a means for storytelling. This story offers both the spirit of the Olympics as well as a technical idea of how this year’s luge race will be different from those in years past. 
  • A Solution for Bad Teaching – Simply put, how do we restructure higher education professorships so that we value research, teaching, and both? While this article does not offer implementation solutions for universities, it asks us to reconsider the current format of professorships, recognizing that an excellent researcher seldom translates into an excellent professor.
  • Beats CEO on Why Delegating is the Key to Success – One of my new year’s resolutions is to learn to delegate better. Without a doubt I would say that one of my biggest weaknesses currently is delegating in a way that is beneficial for both my and the team’s wellbeing. In college I had this “do it all” mentality that was accompanied by very high standards. While I would say that neither of these lessened, I also have learned more and more to value the importance of mental health. It is thus impossible to do it all and stay not only sane, but also healthy.  A recent conversation with my manager about delegation was incredibly enlightening as we discussed the importance of not only delegating but also ensuring that teammates felt inspired and empowered. When such happens, you immediately go from having 24-hours in a day to 48 or 72 as the addition of brain power and energy from others offers more time to progress. While this was hardly a mindblowing thought, it immediately struck me and made me realize how SO much more could be accomplished and achieved through delegation. Here, the CEO of Beats, Ian Rogers eloquently and directly discusses the importance of delegating in a way that hits close to home.   “That’s how you have a productive organization,” Rogers says. “You have to have really clear roles that are aligned with your mission and are aligned with how you become successful, and then you just push, and push, and push, and let talented people do what they do.
  • Russia needs to answer for Rodnina’s honor at Sochi – Another piece about Russiabut one Bf_-emJCYAA9S9ethatexposes a detail,albeit not a small one, about the torch bearer from Russia.  While we can fault Russia (once again), I think we also must look at how the American media has failed to bring this story to light during the Olympics. 
  • Man Responsible for Olympic Ring Mishap Found Dead – Yes, this is a satire. Yes, this would be an incredibly sad story and it’s certainly not “funny” to poke fun at a country that is certainly not ahead of the curve when it comes to human rights. All that aside, my gullibleness came to light Saturday when I not only believed this, I also told my UberX driver and a couple of friends that this happened. One of my lowest moments in recent times but that’s okay. Give it a read and realize why we love sites like The Onion and the like.
  • Paying it Forward: Matchers, Givers, Takers –  “It’s perverse, but the more you fear missing out, the more you actually miss out. Then you are peripherally participating in a bunch of things and have no meaningful engagement in anything.”
  • Study: Shy Kids Know the Answer—They Just Won’t Say It Out Loud – Why we shouldn’t dismiss the quiet and reserved kids, because they probably do know the answer. After reading much of Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain during my senior year, I began to fully embrace my ambivertedness, including both the moments when I am incredibly quiet and introverted and also rather outgoing and extroverted. Most friends from high school would fully classify me as an introvert as I was rather quiet and went along with the masses. College turned that on its head and I was often in situations where I was the loudest one in a room full of extroverts.

I remember TAing for a class when the professor told me the story of a girl who never said anything in class but would always come up to him after class and engage in very deep conversation about the economics subject matter. He’d call on her in class every now and them but would immediately realized that she was incredibly uncomfortable with the spotlight on her. We value “participation” in  college where students would make sure that they spoke once more than the person to their left. But in doing so, we then put a value on quantity instead of quality and put the power in the hands of the talkative. How do we reverse this so that the introverted and shy can be on an equal playing field as the gregarious and outgoing?

  • What are Sneckdowns and how can they help us re-imagine parking and driving – Read here
  • Why are we Still on Facebook? – While this article points out reasons that we pull away from Facebook, for reasons of procrastination, security, or feelings that it is unnecessary, I’m hard pressed to think that there will be a mass exodus of Facebook users anytime soon. We thrive when we feel connected to other people, whether it be through images and shared statuses or in person. As we get more connected, we hit a saturation point that results in scrolling through people who we met years ago in high school English class or perhaps just yesterday. Regardless, we are scrolling and scrolling through hundreds of letters and photos, questioning the meaning of that last friend request. So what is that saturation point? Is it different for each one of us? Can Facebook help us determine that point or do they just want us to hit thousands upon thousands of friends (I think not).  DE9sZxrRZsM

Facebook is meant to connect people…as is MeetUp…and LinkedIn…and Google+. Yet all have very different ulterior motives. How Facebook seeks to transform the media and ad space will depend on whether they create shared meaningful and intellectual moments (through Paper and Instagram perhaps) in  a way that also offers companies the opportunity to sell and advertise in ways that do not encroach on the former. What if Facebook is able to take the Google Now approach and know which friends’ posts I want to see them before I even realize I want to see them? For example, I am headed down to NC in a couple of reasons for TEDxUNC, the UNC-Duke game, some entrepreneurship work, and to catch up with a number of friends. Knowing this, I would probably want to see photos from the TEDx organizers so that when I land and catch up with them, I have been recently prompted by something in my newsfeed from them to forge further conversation.

And even furthermore, how do we aim leverage the connections that exist through Facebook to create useful societal change? Zuckerberg even asks if connectivity is a human right. Is it? Food for thought.

  • Why is College Dating So Screwed Up – I’m hardly one to pick up a Cosmopolitan however this article circled wildly throughout my Facebook friends. I “pocketed” it and began to read it on the bus one morning, drawn in by the accuracy of much of the stories. The whole friends vs. potential lovers struggle is one that often comes up not only in college but beyond. And even after college, when you’re not surrounded by others of the same age with similar interests, it becomes even more pronounced. Now, the idea of going out and meeting people is not as easy as knocking on the door of your next door neighbors in a South campus high rise. The author here also brings up the idea of “caring less” than the guy or girl that you’re interested in. The fact that this notion is commonplace is absurd. By seemingly caring less, I’m apparently going to show that I am not at all committed in even the slightest of friendships, let alone relationships. Maybe. It’s fine. Sure. Ultimately, I believe that we lean on the idea of caring less only because we fear vulnerability, connection, and even commitment, all things that most of us actually crave. So how do we combat that? How do we break down those barriers, and instead lean into the discomfort of actually texting people back instead of playing mindgames? I wish I had a clear answer to that one…

Tunes & Art Stuff:

  • Tycho Interview (and Song) – I first became a fan of Tycho after GI-206_1500x3002_540_540Ministry of Supply used“A Walk” in their kickstarter video. I was hooked almost immediately and have since fallen in love with a similar band, Abakus. (Note – for those of you at TEDxUNC 2013, Abakus’ song ‘Rocket’ was the soundtrack to our intro video, and thus, also my life for the spring semester of 2013) All of that aside, both Tycho and Abakus have a way of taking electronic, instrumental music and spinning it into a way that feels both genuine, relaxing, and ultimately, refreshing. The closing question in this interview says it all: “one of the beauties of instrumental music is that it doesn’t define, it implies. I try to use the music as a framework for you to transpose your own emotions onto it, just like you’ve articulated it. The way I know that it doesn’t have any inherent emotion attached is that, even for me while working on it, I might be in a low point during a certain time developing the song, and the song really speaks to that, but then later I’ll be totally euphoric and working on it and it’ll play to that. It’s an amplifier, or like a wireframe that you can mold your own emotions around.”
  • Marian Hill, Lovit – Music Video – a jazzy song that is just so “Great Gatsby-y”

Randomings –

  • Misconceptions of Wikipedia – Another thank you to Tara for this one…Basically all your facts from Wikipedia and elsewhere are proven wrong. No, Marco Polo did not bring pasta from China to the US. No, the Twinkie does not have infinite shelf life (it’s only 45 days).  
  • Principle 6 Apparel – Be fashionable and supportive of human rights. Good work, American Apparel, Athlete Ally & All Out.04__

 

Quotes:

  • Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway. – Neil Gaiman, Coraline
  • “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

Photo Credits:

Luge -(Natacha Pisarenko/AP, Oliver Lang/AFP/Getty Images, Richard Heathcote/Getty Images, Matt Campbell/EPA)

Olympic Photo – Banksy

Globe Connectivity – Facebook

Tycho Cover – Tycho

James Blake/Principle 6- American Apparel