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The Time Has Come To Say Adieu

March 12, 2011

This project, like most of my experiments, has come to a close.

I’ve learned so much about blogging over the last two years (which I can get into, if you’d like, on my other blog–http://blairhickman.net–which is devoted to new media, tech and innovation), but here I’d like to reminisce on Type7. I’ve written about budding fashionistas in Soho and baristas’ opinions on the perfect cup. I went to one new coffee shop every day for a month. I wrote a post on the story behind Type7, included pictures of gurning and watched, for the next two years, as that post consistently garnered more hits than any other on this blog. Evidently, gurning is a world-class sport. And SEO doth not judge.

But unfortunately,  a “personal blog,” like this, is not sustainable. At least not for my purposes.

So I’m blogging now at http://blairhickman.net about new media, technology, solution journalism and whatever multimedia project I’m working on at the moment. It’s currently hosted on Tumblr, but as soon as Bank of America gets me my new super platinum credit card, I’m switching to self-hosted WordPress.

And, in close, here are some of my favorite posts from Type7. It’s been grand:

Online Explanatory Journalism: The Four Essentials

October 3, 2010

“Try doing a crossword puzzle wile trying to read a book. That’s what the Internet does to your brain.”

– Nicholas Carr, The Shallows.

First of all, consider this:

A 2007 study by UCLA Professor Gary Small revealed that frequent Web users have more overall brain activity than non-frequent web users. They rely on the section of the brain devoted to short-term memory and problem-solving. They are, in short, tired. If reading a book is like taking a nap, then using the Internet is like getting on a treadmill.

Honestly, I think most people can feel this without the study. That’s why people bemoan reading online, or strive to disconnect by 10 PM. And that’s why almost all of the below recommendations focus on layout and usability.

An explainer should be easy to navigate. For example, this is the New York Time’s version of an explainer for Park51, the proposed mosque to be built a few blocks from Ground Zero. It’s text heavy and expects the reader to slough through all of the pieces the Times has ever published on Park 51.It’s not memorable because it presents too much information–none of which is particularly novel or catchy–lacks emotion and narrative structure, and violates the basic tenets of web usability and design.

So, with that in mind, here are the four elements I recommend be included in each Explainer:

Read more…

What To Bring To Guatemala

August 31, 2010

Hint: not a rolling suitcase.

I’m blogging over on the Lost Girls today, about expectations, travel lows and the correct equipaje for a third world country. More to come on this blog about the trip. Retroactively, of course, ’cause that’s what makes the Internet so great.

Dispatches From the Road: Guatemala

San Marcos, Guatemala is a tiny town on the shores of Lake Atitlan, deep in the Western Guatemalan Highlands. Lush volcanoes and Mayan villages pepper the shore, and with clear views of both, San Marcos has become Guatemala’s epicenter of zen and spirituality. People come here to cook, to read, to study Spanish, to write, to do yoga and to be alone. Precisely what I thought I wanted to do  before $60,000 worth of grad school loans prevent me from ever doing that again.

Turns out, I suck at anticipating what I want. Or what I need. Or, really, deciding anything, at all, in advance.

READ MORE HERE!

FOTOkids: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Self-Expression

July 27, 2010

This morning, my yoga class was in an art gallery in the Meson Panza Verde, a luxury boutique hotel on the “quiet side of the fashionable 5th Avenue.”

(Which is worth a post itself and, while we’re on the subject, can we just talk about how much I love that Antigua’s streets revolve around Parque Central, in a numbered grid, organized by cardinal direction? Every time I get homesick, I just ask for directions. Course, then I say “What’s the cross street?” or “Is it on the Southeast or Northwest corner?” most people give me a blank stare and say “Just go thatway. Around the corner.” Evidently doesn’t translate.)

Anyway.

So this art gallery/ yoga studio has an exhibit called Nuevas Visiones, a stunning collection of photographs of Guatemalan life, taken by kids participating in FOTOkids.  Ex-Reuters photographer Nancy McGirr founded the NGO in 1991, showing 6 kids who lived by a garbage dump in Guatemala City how to use a camera. The goal was to break the cycle of poverty through education and self-expression, and today, they’ve expanded both geographically and topically, teaching ninos from the poorest barrios in Guatemala photography, graphic design, video and creative writing.

According to UNICEF and this brochure I picked up at the art gallery, 64% of  Guatemalan kids drop out of the first grade, and only 36% make it through 6th. And just last night, one of the guys at my house–an Aussie who came here for vacation and accidentally never left–told  me that the 6th and 7th graders he teaches at a private colegio generally have neither the motivation nor ambition to turn in all their work. His school doesn’t even have a library. And again, it’s private.

I haven’t done much digging into the matter (saving that for paid articles, sorry), but it’s still worth checking out the pictures. They’re stunning, if not regardless, then because of the cause.  Below are some of my favorites, but do check out their sitio de web. Prints are about $150 USD, or you can sponsor a year of one child’s educational expenses for $300 USD.

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Y Que Musica Escuchan en Guatemala?

July 24, 2010

And now, a selection of my host brother’s favorite music. He listens to a ton of American music, most of which I hadn’t even heard of yet, and–ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first–he loves Justin Bieber. Which made me love him. So, in return, I told him about E-40 and–Liz–Cut Copy! 

Stereo Love by Edward Maya

She Seen Me by Usher

Slide Show by TI

Shut It Down by Pitbull feat. Akon

And by Wisin y Yandel, the hottest Puerto Rican duo to hit the streets since Ricky Martin (what, am I off?), TE SIENTO and ABUSADORA!!

I totally should have been a DJ.

Julio 3M

July 23, 2010

Mi maestro de espanol con Raybans increible.  His name is Julio 3M:

Magico

Magnito

Maracillo.

Magnificent, magical and, since I can’t find Maracillo on Google, I’m assuming that’s actually his last name. He’s funny as hell and made it quite clear that I need to learn how to pronounce “pagina” (website), because otherwise it sounds like vagina. And then he laughed so hard he had to leave the room.

Yes, I’m Alive And Know How To Say “That’s Gross” In Spanish

July 23, 2010

Hola para ciudad de la Antigua!

For clarification, I am here: Antigua was the original capital of Guatemala, founded in 1543 and deserted 230 years later when an earthquake leveled the city.

At the time, I’m sure this sucked.

But fortunately for us, great civilizations in Central America seem to enjoy deserting their cities exactly as they stand. Antigua today is a stunning ciudad, an UNESCO World Heritage site and a haven for expats and small girls with a pathetic grasp of the language.

Nestled between three volcanoes–Agua, Acatenengo and Fuego–and filled with cobblestone streets, crumbling colonial ruins and pastel buildings with terra cotta roofs, flowers and vines spilling over courtyard walls, it’s like a fantasy. It’s winter here and rains every day, and I don’t even care. The city is so chic, in fact, that J. Crew shot their July catalog here. And for the record, I want these sunglasses:

For the past week, I’ve been at the Spanish Academy Antiguena–a small language school in the Northwest corner of the city that houses their students in the rough equivalent of the Bronx. I spent the majority of my days trying to speak Spanish and ultimately sounding like a 5 year-old with Autism. My teacher had more patience than God, as did my host family, who ate every meal with me despite the fact that the extent of my conversation was “Esta muy bueno.”

BUT I’m happy to report that after a week, my Spanish has improved, and I can even pick out when men are calling me a whorey gringa (which would happen even if I tramped around town in a potato sack) and mutter, under my breath of course, “Asqueroso.” i.e. gross. I have to thank spanishdict.com and my teacher, Julio3M, for this great achievement.

I sat down intending to write a super clever post, but the Internet here sucks, pictures say more than words, and I’m having too good of a time to sit in an Internet cafe all afternoon. And so I’ve decided this is mainly just to say: I’m alive and well, I’ll post pictures and videos to continue letting you know I’m alive and well, and more creative posts will appear every other Tuesday on The Lost Girls World!

Main drag, in the rain, cause surprise! It's winter here. Still beautiful.

I'm obsessed with the walls here.

More walls

I have no idea where I was and probably should not go there again alone. But the sun came out, so you know...whatevs.

The Arch of Santa Catalina, part of a monastery back in the 1700s when the original Antigua was still erect. Agua volcano in the back.

I like to call this one "I'm so fucking sick of making tortillas."