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Real Talk: Life Without The Web

Could you live without the web? How long could you totally unplug? Do you want to? Do you long for the days before email and social networking? Recently on Facebook a friend (thanks, Alex!) shared an article that she read over at Slate written by By James Sturm called Life Without The Web. It’s about the resolve of one man to sign off for four months to see how it changes his life — work, family, etc.

Real Talk: Life Without The Web

I think most of us can relate to James when he confessed, “The question I’ve been wrestling with lately is whether it’s all going by so fast because…of the way I’ve been living my life. Specifically, I’ve started to wonder whether that feeling might be connected to all the time I spend online. Too often I sit down to dash off a quick e-mail and before I know it an hour or more has gone by.” I found his perspective interesting, you may too — you can hop over here to read it and then pop back to leave your impressions below because I think as a community we could have a pretty neat discussion about it today if you’d like. I wonder if you can relate to any of his “issues” with being online a lot.

Perhaps you can relate to James on this point, “Over the last several years, the Internet has evolved from being a distraction to something that feels more sinister. Even when I am away from the computer I am aware that I AM AWAY FROM MY COMPUTER and am scheming about how to GET BACK ON THE COMPUTER.”

After reading the article and his resolve to completely sign offline for four months I came to this conclusion: Part of me understands James’ decision to go offline. I totally get it. But another part says it’s like anything else — it’s a self control thing, not an internet thing. If someone has an addiction to the internet they need to figure out why and how to change and then take the necessary steps. I don’t think that cold turkey will help long term because eventually he’ll be back online and then the pattern will most likely emerge all over again. I think it’s more important to learn balance and practice self control in everything we do — even healthy things can be bad for us if we over-indulge. If you remove a vice without first learning self control you will only replace the vice with something else like television and book reading. And what really is the difference – watching television and reading books can be done online so doing them offline doesn’t accomplish much.

So my questions are this: could you totally unplug for four months like James? Would you want to? Do you wish you could unplug completely long-term? Do you think self control plays a part in all of this and that the web can become an addiction turning an otherwise healthy activity into something unhealthy? How do you balance your life online with your life offline — any tips for other readers who may also be a bit frustrated by all of the time they spend plugged in?

(image: holly becker for decor8)

What are your thoughts?

Posted in real talk on April 15, 2010

Real Talk: DIY is not Duplicate It Yourself!

Hello friends! I think that today I’ll go light on the blogging because I’m ready for the weekend and feel more like relaxing vs. writing! But first, I thought I’d kick off my Real Talk column, which also was called Talk It Out, and well regardless of the column name it will be called Real Talk going forward and the column will appear once weekly on any given day — it really depends on the community and what issues you email me that you’d like to talk about here. I have always supported the online community but this afternoon I was shown that support in return in a business matter — and it made me think how it feels to be on the receiving end — when I felt helpless and someone came in to help. It was wonderful and that is one of many reasons why I’ve decided to get the Real Talk column up and running again on a weekly basis.

Heather Vallentyne Photography

The purpose of this column is for all of us to share our personal opinions on the chosen topic to offer advice, ideas, constructive feedback and anything else that we can do collectively to show support and friendship. Truth is, we all need each other — we are part of a circle. So to celebrate this spirit of independence but also interdependence, Real Talk is back!

Today my guest is Erika Firm who is the president and designer of Delphine fine stationery and design. Erika wants to talk about unethical requests that would lead to possible violation of copyright (copying hurts real people out there), requests that many of us experience regularly as small business owners — especially designers. Here is what Erika has to say on the topic, I hope you’ll chime in because together our voices can possibly get others thinking… and the intended goal here is to educate and offer support and even a possible solution or several.

Erika — take it away!

“Lately I’ve noticed more and more clients asking me to copy other people’s work (they see an invitation in a magazine and want me to duplicate it one to one, and I won’t). It’s my policy to refuse, and to explain copyright infringement. Friends and colleagues of mine in the wedding industry (not just other stationers) have also told me that they’re experiencing an increase in these sorts of unethical inquiries. I think part of the reason I’m seeing more of these unethical requests is that my business has grown and the studio gets more inquiries overall than ever before, so the number of “icky” inquiries is also growing. But perhaps it also has to do with the proliferation of DIY (which, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do love and support), and the proliferation of things like “inspiration boards” on blogs (which I also love, and post myself on my own blog). The DIY movement and things like inspiration boards are meant to foster creativity.”

“Because of my personal experiences (and thanks to many similar stories heard from friends and colleagues) I feel like there exists a disconnect between the artist/blogger/designer’s intent (to inspire) and some people’s inference that this inspirational content is free to simply be copied.”

“Perhaps some people feel like their homemade invitation (or cake or dress or bouquet or centerpiece or curtains or pillow…) that looks exactly like the original couldn’t possibly change anything in the world or hurt someone else. While I think that the vast majority of bloggers understand the difference between inspiration and copying, and act professionally and ethically, I’m not sure that many are doing an excellent job of pointing out the difference—and the real effect that copying has on the people behind the businesses that supply creative content and products—to readers. The simple fact is that when somebody decides to “duplicate it yourself” (instead of getting inspired to “do it yourself”) it hurts a real person.

What do you think we as a creative community can do to address this issue? I feel the frustration rising. I know there are hundreds and hundreds of examples of how copying has affected someone’s business, and there are lots of ways of addressing the issue after it’s already happened. How do we spread the word that there is a huge difference between being inspired by something and copying? Any ideas on how to do this?

- Erika Firm

(Images: Delphine product shot styled by Erica Firm, taken by Heather Vallentyne)

Posted in real talk on March 12, 2010

Talk It Out: Half Empty, Half Full

As I was out shopping for flower bulbs earlier and I started to think about my post yesterday and how so many of you connected with what I said, and how nice it was for me to hear that and to make the connection. And then I thought that perhaps you could use a little free space to just talk to me, one another, to the universe… just to vent I guess — to vent your frustrations and then to end your comment with a note like… I hate how isolated I feel working from home BUT I love that I can wear bunny slippers and have my dog lay on my feet all day.

tea cups

I will call this space the “Half Empty, Half Full” corner today. It’s where you can literally dump what makes your life, or job, or anything “half empty” but make sure that before you end your post you include your “half full” feelings, too.

Okay, so why don’t we get started. Who will go first? I can’t wait to see your half + half comments, this could potentially be a lot of fun!

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on January 28, 2010

Talk It Out

For today’s Talk It Out topic I would like to hear your thoughts on a subject that will no doubt be discussed frequently amongst your circle of friends and family during the last week of the year. Magazines and websites are already a-buzz… This topic is meant to encourage and support you — it’s on New Year’s Resolutions — and I thought for a moment we could put them into perspective. So today, let’s talk about yours, not the ones that you plan to make, but the ones that you made last December for 2009.

On my desk today...

on my desk

on my desk

Stop for a moment and think back… you don’t have to list them all, but it would be really helpful to you and to the rest of us reading if you could highlight the resolutions that you turned into a reality and with what results.

Also feel free to highlight those that you made that did not see the light of day and explain why you think they didn’t lift off and whether or not you are glad about that or not. And if not, will you add it into your 2010 list of resolutions? You can also list some of your goals for 2010, but try to focus more on what you accomplished this 2009 calendar year because I believe that putting all this in writing, publicly, helps to give the new year a more realistic approach as you begin exploring what will come in the months ahead. While I’m not one to live in the past, I do believe that it’s important to look back with a view to learn from our experiences. I’ll join in on the conversation as well… So let’s get started in the comments section below, shall we?

By the way, these photos were taken today on my desk, where I am working by candlelight with tea at my side, waiting for the snow to fall…

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on December 17, 2009

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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