Category Archives: Arts
Last night, all of us involved in the Green my Apple campaign had a victory
dinner feast at the lovely Zeina’s house. Zeina is Lebanese, and put together an outstanding culinary adventure for us. There was baked Feta with chili pepper — my mouth waters as I type those words — tabouli on lettuce leaves, fava beans in lemon, cauliflower with sesame, savory vegetables rolled in a flat bread: outrageous, scrumptious, delicious.The company was as good as the food. Take eight story tellers and put them around a table and throw out a question like “What was your most embarassing moment” and you know you’re going to get good stuff.
Giona suggested I blog mine, a tale of pride taking a fall, from my first days as a Greenpeace activist.
In those days, if you were a door to door canvasser, as I was, you went out into your turf every night dreaming of being a campaigner. In these dreams, you were not in a mini-van heading into a suburban neighborhood with a clipboard. No, you were an eco-warrior in a survival suit, gunning the engine of your zodiac to cross the wake of a whaling ship. To make that dream happen in those days, you pretty much had to distinguish yourself as a volunteer.
Through a series of home-grown direct actions in Boston, I’d done that locally — and with one, a banner hanging off the roof of the Canadian Embassy in protest of the harp seal hunt, I’d managed to generate an image that got carried nationwide on Reuters. That caught the eye of Peter Dykstra and Mark Roberts at our national headquarters in Washington, who asked me to come down to DC to talk about a secret mission. Holy Hotcakes, Batman, a secret mission! My daydreams of heroism shot up, as did my cachet with the other canvassers.
The mission was this:
Jason Kottke wrote:
Film critic Jim Emerson compiled a list of 102 movies that you should see before you can consider yourself movie literate:
…they [are] the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They’re the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat “movie-literate.”
At the time I read about this I was evaluating TiddlyWiki and a couple other Getting Things Done task list applications. So I created a Moviegoers Film Literacy Checklist [Firefox or other standards-compliant browsers only. IE won’t work!] as a little excercise. (I know, I know — there are glaring omissions and some questionable inclusions here, and you’re welcome to lodge your despairing shrieks of outrage in the comments)
It took about 3 minutes to do this in Next Action. What a great app. It’s Ajax, so it takes a bit to load but quick after that. The Bulk upload feature allowed me to take the Kottke list, strip out his “I’ve seen this” asterisks, and paste it as ASCII straight into a form field. As long as your actions are on a single line each, hey presto, they become Action items all ready for that childishly gratifying moment when you click the Done button and they vanish, with a satisfying fade effect, into your completed file.
[Update: I went back to Emerson’s original list and grabbed the html from that, which had links to Roger Ebert’s reviews of the films and, more importantly, film version dates. (Real buffs will know that it was obviously the 1922 version of Nosferatu that belonged on the list, but let’s make sure there’s no room for doubt!] I much prefer IMDB for my film info, but the beauty of this was the ability to simply cut and paste that sucker and drop it in with but a minimum of tweak.]
To make and keep your personal list of movies you’ve seen, you can click the tick boxes from the dashboard or you can go to Actions and click the DONE button on all the movies you seen. Then click on File, Save As in your browser and save the file to a local disk. (There’s no automated save, no server save, you must save locally!!!) This is the hardest part of learning to use Next Action — it looks like a web page, but it’s designed to be a local file — personal, not groupware. You can save it to a server if you like, but it’s handier to keep it on a thumb drive or PDA.
OK, now seeing 102 movies may not be the kind of project management that GTD or Next Action were designed to handle, but yowser, it’s a great illustration of how easy this particular tool is to use. I’m recommending it to my team at work. (And if you want to use a clean copy for actual work, there’s a handy “Delete all Records” button behind the About link.) But I’m not sure when I’ll have time — I’ve got 22 films to bitTorrent and see.