Category: Greater and Lesser Culture

Community Manager’s Cookbook

Mennonite Community Cookbook

Recently some emails I’ve received, accompanied by taking responsibility for cooking most of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, have gotten me pondering the nature of community management. For obvious reasons, it’s something I think about a fair bit, but for the last while I’ve kind of burned out on the questions that typically float around the community management-o-sphere. What should the role entail, what companies need it, what tools should a community manager use, what role should the community manager play in brand management — that sort of thing.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about community management a lot more… anthropologically. Because it occurred to me, while buying ham and peeling potatoes, that I’ve learned as much that’s of value in how I do my job from my family background as I have from my professional background. As I’ve mentioned before, my family is Mennonite, which is as much a culture as it is a religion (and of course the values of one strongly shape the other). Many of the strongest connecting threads in Mennonite culture are, as far as I’m concerned, equally essential to good community management.

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Culture

Last week Andrew and I went to see the much anticipated Death Race. We’d even checked out the original in advance. (Oh yeah, it’s bad. And features a young, woman-beating Stallone. And a seductive David Carradine.)

It was as delightful as expected, with many deeply intellectual moments involving a shirtless Jason Statham, a jiggly Natalie Martinez, a lot of metal getting wrecked, bodies getting pulped, and things blowing up.

And some truly awful dialogue. Like, “WTF was that supposed to mean?” terrible, not just cheesy and delivered in a wooden fashion, as is to be expected.

Joan Allen also needs to fire her plastic surgeon. She’s getting that tight, squinty look of having had too much bad work done.

However, if you want to check your intellect at the door and exclaim “Awesome!” many times, this is the testosterone-fueled event for you. And me. 🙂

Saturday I spent up at my parents’ place, partly on baby-watching duty while my parents judged a fair, and while my profoundly hungover brother and friends played in a baseball tournament. (Chad also wore a sweet mullet wig most of the day. Just… cuz.) In exchange I got delicious Eggs Benedict for brunch, and a BBQ featuring potato sausage and more Cumbrae Farms steaks for dinner. (Alas, Gordie wasn’t there this time.) And I didn’t have to cook any of it. w00t!

Yesterday Andrew and I caught the last matinee of Avenue Q at the Elgin in Toronto. A thoroughly good time to be had. Catchy tunes, irreverence, profanity, and profound insights into the human condition… as explored by puppets.

I agree with Andrew that the first half was stronger than the second — more catchy tunes and fun and the pace moved more quickly. Which is to say Andrew and I are shallow and don’t like introspection, and so were uncomfortable with the issues presented in the second half. 🙂

And, of course, it was a dream come true to see The Internet is for Porn performed live. Heh. I did have to explain to Andrew what this “internet porn” is. He seemed intrigued…

The Toronto run ended last night, so you can’t go see it, least not in TO for the time being. However, it is a delightful and somewhat dirty romp if it comes to a venue near you. Leave the kids at home. Srsly.

And after the play, we went for Korean BBQ, as we are wont to do. Nom nom nom meaty. I was telling Dad about the concept on Saturday, and he was quite intrigued… until I mentioned it was in Toronto. Hopefully we get one in KW at some point. We have a place called Korean BBQ, but they cook the food, so no BBQs in the middle of the table, and what fun is that?

After Korean BBQ, since clearly that’s not enough food, we hunted down coffee and a crepe at a place called Cafe Crepe (I think) down the street. Quite tasty. Headed home after that, the coffee keeping us conscious, since a hardcore food coma set in once we got home. I was in bed by about 9:30pm. I know, I’m a wild woman.

And today I am chillin’ with the pupsters and doing laundry while Andrew is once again in Toronto, trying to salvage as much of the Film Fest as possible after getting cornholed sans lube by being in nearly the last box processed. Might I note that there was similar selection carnage two years ago when I couldn’t attend, too? Coincidence? I think not…

Oh, and this? Was my “not busy” weekend til some time in October…

Music makes us hypocrites

I went up to my parents’ place last weekend, so needless to say I required excellent music for the drive.

I had a fine seated booty dance going to George Michael’s Too Funky, when it occurred to me that the lyrics were… kinda sleazy, really. Did I care? Of course not.

Sherry and I have had this conversation before. We are feminists to the core, but both of us are in possession of our fair share of hip hop, where “shorty” is about the most flattering thing women are called. And really, how much of the average gal’s iTunes collection isn’t about promiscuous sex, drugs, booze, vapid and extravagant living, crazy behaviour, terrible relationships… the list goes on.

But, hell, put it to a good beat and I am all about that action.

This is, of course, not even remotely a new phenomenon. They might have been overreacting when the rock ‘n’ roll was born, but popular music lived up to its detractors’ low expectations pretty quickly, and by the 60s they weren’t really even bothering to couch lyrics in code anymore. Well, they did, but they were pretty open about many of the shenanigans of the time, too.

Of course, if a person did want to try and avoid all these negative messages in music, there is one alternative that has a good beat, and is much more positive.

But it ain’t pretty.

Movie watching

Let’s see…

Saw Dark Knight a second time with Sherry. Still excellent. Pondering whether the Riddler or the Penguin would be preferable for the next villain. (Andrew favours the latter; Sherry the former.)

Finally got around to watching Lars and the Real Girl the other night. What a wonderful movie. Sweet, quiet, funny, poignant, quirky. Big kudos to Ryan Gosling. (Though seriously dude, no more mustaches, please.) Plus, who doesn’t love small town characters? I totally want to be Mrs. Gruner when I grow up. And the sweaters! 🙂

Dan and I went to see The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor the other night. No, we weren’t expecting it to be good. We went for the CGI creatures! And we were not disappointed. Delightful cheese, sweeping vistas, plots holes that pretty much literally had trucks driven through them… good times. And seriously? The Yeti alone are worth the price of admission. Score! (Teehee.) Though they should have given Michelle Yeoh a chance to kick more ass. And there are some issues inherent in the definition of “kill” when you’re pitting two armies of the reanimated (and dessicated) dead against each other. I’m just sayin’…

Andrew’s cousin gave him Soylent Green for his birthday, so we watched that last night. I’d never seen it (though I did know what The Secret was). Not a bad movie, though certainly Heston-y. And fake blood in the 70s was really bad. We were pondering how watching the film would have been different NOT knowing the ending, but then afterward we watched the original trailer, and… cripes, if you couldn’t figure it out from THAT… We could have just watched that and saved ourselves two hours.

Not in service in your area

Shortly before I left for France, on Twitter I saw someone post several messages looking for a crisis counselor — someone who works with at-risk women. It was a man, so presumably it was for someone he knew who was in a precarious situation.

After repeated requestss, he seemed fairly frustrated at not getting a response. Then he started saying how the service (i.e. Twitter) should be better organized to meet needs/handle emergencies like that. My reaction, frankly, was, “Umm…”

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Quite so.

Sherry sent me this link the other day: Cat turns into woman in P/Harcourt – 5 killed as cultists clash, which is a bit mind-boggling, any way you slice it.

However, even better, I think, was a line from the blog post of Neil Gaiman’s where she’d seen it:

It must be very interesting (or, in turn, quite dangerous) to live in a place where myth is still a living thing.

Something Neil could have said himself, really. Though I suspect he knows a great deal more about the subject than many of us.

Utterly fascinating to ponder, in any case. Especially if we remove the arrogance our western level of civilization wraps us in and consider that we’re part of that statement as well.

I mean, really, just look at the Stanley Cup Championships… 🙂

Dirty laundry?

In a conversation I had the other day, we got onto the subject of mommybloggers at one point. I’m fairly ambivalent about this group, not being one of them, and with those I do follow, it’s more about the quality of writing than the specific topics a lot of the time.

The person I was talking to, however, was not a fan. Far from it. Particularly the higher profile ones. (It seems everyone’s either Heather Armstrong’s biggest fan or wants to see her drawn and quartered.) His vitriol, as I understood it, was content-centric, both in that their content lacked value, and that they had no business writing about a lot of what they were writing about in the first place. (And that they’d eventually reap what they sowed.) This person is no Luddite and is well aware of the internet landscape.

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Business is business

So yesterday Andrew and I headed down to Toronto. Andrew’s laptop needed a new battery, and we were booked to attend a workshop. Sounds pretty normal, no?

Indeed…

Well, the Apple Store at the Eaton’s Centre was normal, i.e. thronged with hipsters. Oy vey… I did, however, get to try out the MacBook Air keyboard, and my suspicions were confirmed: blech. It’s got the MacBook keyboard, of which I really am not fond. Plus, y’know, all its other first-gen shortcomings.

Anyway, after that, things got much more interesting. The workshop was at Come As You Are, arguably Toronto’s best sex shop (and certainly Canada’s best website for that line of business). The star of the show, as it were, was Buck Angel. (The splash page is safe for work, but not much past that is.) Buck Angel is the adult industry’s premiere transsexual (female-to-male) porn star.

Why would we pay money to go to something like that? Why not? Andrew and I are always up to broaden the horizons a little, and let’s face it, our day to day environments are fairly vanilla. There was a range of people types in attendance, though more lesbians than anything, if I had to categorize. (Interesting given that Buck noted his main customer base is gay men.)

Anyway, the workshop largely focused on the business side of the adult industry, which was really interesting. The internet has really been a boon to niche anything, and porn is no exception. (Though it’s traditionally been mainstream porn that’s pushed tech and other advances forward.) For niche adult markets, however, which don’t get much support from the mainstream industry, the net has allowed people like Buck to go do his own thing, and be successful, without initial mainstream support.

Now, if the presentation had been really… porny, it wouldn’t have interested me all that much, but business, especially online, now we’re talking. Especially since a lot of the discussion centred around marketing. I was fairly entertained at how valuable my skills would have been to that crowd, especially the handful of attendees either already working in the adult industry, or looking to start.

It was a good reminder, too, that my usual environment is still rarefied. I mean, hell, my Mom is more tech savvy than most of the people in attendance seemed. Buck did a great job at sharing what he’s learned in his four or five years in the business, but there’s so much grey behind a lot of the statements, and so much you can’t just be told.

I admit, I was sitting there thinking the adult industry needed porn-friendly business services, especially web and marketing. Everything from building websites and payment processing to promotion, distribution, bookkeeping, business cards, equipment rentals, talent contracting, etc.

Of course, while the mainstream industry has all kinds of money, it’s not very well spread around, and the indie “creatives” hardly have a pot to piss in, so more thought would have to be given to how to set up that business model. That and I’m not entrepreneur. And my mother would kill me. 🙂

One of the highlights of the workshop, aside from the creative business problems it posed, was the girl who was sitting beside me. She’d been in the mainstream industry about six years, and was looking to diversify her work and gain more control over her career. Good for her. She also had some great practical info. E.g. Buck kept using balloon porn as an example of a surprisingly popular niche, and eventually when someone asked flat out what the hell that was about, she schooled the group. Seriously interesting. Weird, but hey, sexuality is a very broad spectrum of tastes.

I admit, I was reticent about going to the workshop. I mean, I’m open-minded, but c’mon. However, I had a lot of fun and it was really educational. And it drove home that all business — any business — is just business. The keys to success are largely the same, no matter what the industry.

Plus, I had my curiosity satisfied. Gotta say, Buck’s head and shoulders above most other trans-folk I’ve met. At first you wouldn’t think he was anything other than some mildly biker-esque dude. Watch/listen to/interact with him for a while, you’d prolly start thinking he was a gay guy. But a guy all the way. There is nothing “traditionally” feminine about him. (And when he was a woman, he was a model, so dude was a pretty hot chick.) Except what’s in his pants. Fascinating. Even his hands are reasonably masculine. And Andrew said it was a good handshake, though the bone structure was a bit different.

Oh, yeah, and at the end Andrew was chatting away with him about digital video and using Macs for editing and such. It was funny and weirded me out at the same time — just two Mac geeks chatting — except that they were talking about equipment to make porn… and my family just bought my brother a digital video camera, and I just bought my brother and sister-in-law a MacBook. Mostly for managing pictures and video of my niece. Worlds colliding! Worlds colliding!

Anyway, plenty to talk about over dinner afterwards, which was at the magnificent Korean Grill House. Cuz really, after an evening like that, what else is there to eat but vast quantities of meat? 🙂

Relationship housekeeping

Feel like this should be a video, but I’m not that cutting edge yet, so…

I’ve been reading/viewing a few things lately about (or “around”, if you wanna be corporate), basically, who we are, and who we’re going to become as online citizens. There’s been plenty of ink spilled about how, these days, it IS possible for everyone to know you’re a dog online. (And, in fact, it’s pretty much impossible to hide the fact forever.) Some great food for thought on the sexual side of things from Violet Blue.

Personally and professionally, there are the aspects of wanting to have and trying to manage different “faces” to different groups online: Online Impression Management. Which, really, is just an extension of what we’ve always done. You don’t act/talk with your boss (usually) like you do with your friends, or your mom, etc. Granted, that, too, is changing, at least for some folks, to some degree. (As a side note, the best working environments I’ve been a part of have been the most single-faceted ones, where people are the most “real” together.)

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