The line between work and personal life in an online world

The White Rabbit Press Kanji posterThe more involved I get with my work over at White Rabbit Press, the more I find myself wondering where the line should be drawn between my online-work and my (non-work) online-life. Being responsible for marketing means that of course, I’m doing a lot online for the company. My goal is to spread the word about our products in order that we can further increase sales, and therefore invest even more in new / even better products that our customers are asking for / that we feel are a good idea.

The thing is, I’m finding myself feeling increasingly passionate about what we produce, as the feedback from left right and centre is virtually always extremely positive (I think this is due to a) the fact that so much effort went into making sure that the products were better than all the competition) b) the governing attitude towards customer service within the company). I don’t feel that reluctance to spread the word about my company’s goods / services that I have done in the past, when paid to promote something I didn’t entirely believe in.

I’ve been looking around (online) for examples of others in my situation that I might follow, and see that:

1) The vast majority of people don’t talk about their work at all. If I look through my Twitter friends list, I only know the occupations of a very small minority.

2) There are notable exceptions to this rule, where people have actually taken their company brand and made it a part of their personal brand. There’s a few people on my list working for a certain well-known digital business card company. Their online avatars contain their company logo, they often tweet about their products / company events, and when I meet them they (jokingly) tell me off for not having my digital business card with them.

Now I happen to like and respect these people a lot. I don’t feel in the slightest that they have sold themselves. I admire the marketing work that they are doing, and I don’t feel pressured in any way by them. I applaud their efforts and hope that they carry on as they have been doing (if that’s working for them, which I believe it is because there’s little chance I’ll ever forget about their product!)

Why is this, when usually I might feel antagonistic towards such marketing campaigns?

I think primarily it’s because I know these people in real life, and I know that they are amongst the kindest, most helpful, interesting people I know in Tokyo. I trust that they are good people. therefore I accept what they are doing without hesitation.

So what do I do? Well, I think it would be difficult for me to seperate my online work life and online non-work life entirely, as there is so much cross-over in real life. My employer is also my friend, his friends are my friends, we’re members of this pretty well connected gaijin community.

The company I work for sells materials to help you learn Japanese – many of my friends have an interest in learning Japanese, many already know of White Rabbit Press, many of them already own some of the products!

I think that ultimately, if my motives are good, if I remain true to myself and don’t put myself in situations whereby I feel obliged to sacrifice personal values for the sake of gain, then I can happily operate in both spheres simultaneously.

I think it’ll take a little getting used to and I’ll probably make some slips upon the way, but provided I remain a fundamentally ‘good’ person, everyone should benefit.

Joseph

p.s. I made a new Facebook page tonight for White Rabbit Press – want to help me in my efforts by joining it?!!!

Saying RAAAAAA to life

SistersA week between Mumbles…. how about that?! I think Twitter‘s to blame. I wonder what the global impact of Twitter has been upon blogging? If my performance is anything to go by it’s not insubstantial.

Is this a good thing? I’m inclined to think it is, and it isn’t.

The nature of Twitter means it can be done on the road, no need to sit down in front of the computer – thus providing us with more time to do stuff out there in real life.

However, it also means that there’s less motivation for us to think things through. Big decisions get compacted down to a single line of text, responded to in kind.

For me personally, whilst I am now posting here less regularly, I’m not thinking that this marks the demise of the blog. Far from it. Thanks to Twitter, blogs are far more likely to be read – if you write something of interest! (I’ll have to figure out how to do that 🙂


With only a few minutes to spare before I head off to do my regular bit of voluntary work at the town hall, this post will also be a little twitter-like.

The pace has really picked up. For the past couple of weeks I’ve had every day pretty much fully booked, going from work at 7pm to meet someone / attend an event – weekends have also been filled with ‘stuff’.

Work too has suddenly become a lot busier, with the departure of a colleague leading to a whole new area of responsibility – and a whole new area ripe for improvement. As I’m taught the new systems, I’m finding myself constantly looking for ways in which processes can be streamlined – as with many SMEs in Japan, there is so much room for improvement. I like to work in an environment where people say things like ‘Hey! That might work, let’s give it a try!” instead of what is often heard in Japan, “oh, you’d have to speak to so and so about that …but we’ve always done it like this so I don’t think it can be changed”. I’m fortunate in that there is a degree of the former in my workplace.

PigeonThe bird table / window ledge I made last week (of which this isn’t a picture, this is a pigeon that was unimpressed by the cherry blossom) is now sporting a wealth of vegetation, with lavender, parsley and assorted flowers now bringing a great splash of delicious green to our bedroom / winter workspace. The birds remain happy, devouring all the food I put out for them. It’s not uncommon for up to 14 sparrows to be seen fighting over the seed. I was going to live-stream some video from it yesterday, but it seems the birds realised that – and boycotted the event. I guess they’re not happy with being paid peanuts.

My efforts to create a large network of friends in Tokyo continues to be a great success. This week I was fortunate to attend a party at the Appliya offices – Appliya being a rising star amongst iPhone / iPod touch developers. It was inspiring to hear about their culture of creativity, and to meet so many individuals who are doing what their passion inspires them to do. (I also got an interview for the upcoming podcast with Genkii, who were all over the news earlier this week with their 3D virtual world for the iPhone).

I also met up with Karamoon, an online acquaintance of several years who, until now, I’d never met. He’s working hard to bring about a Tokyo BarCamp [@tokyobarcamp – this is a very exciting project and I’m sure will be a great success. I’d encourage others interested in technology in Tokyo to attend, especially those who’ve not been to a Barcamp before now.

Cherry BlossomYesterday *Twinkle* and I hosted a little cherry blossom party – unfortunately we were a week early so the cherry blossoms that fill the entire glass-doored wall to our East were yet to bloom (although as can be seen it’s only going to be a couple of days before they do). Yesterday also so saw the Himonya Park Cherry Blossom festival take place – all around the pond were groups eating and drinking on the traditional blue tarps. There was dancing, a display by the fire brigade, food stalls, drumming, and a plant sale.

International boat race - the German / Japanese teamOh, and an International Boat Race: England vs. Germany vs. Japan! Germany, represented by our good friend Daniel, won by a mile. Well, by about 300 metres. England (me) were second, and Japan (our neighbours) took a relaxing detour around the fountain.

Last night I attended the sayonara (goodbye) party of a good friend @papadimitriou, someone whom in a very short space of time I’ve found to be a great source of inspiration. Whilst at the party we remembered that we were supposed to be taking part in the weekly podcast Japan Tech Talk – kudos to our host Robert in Nagoya for dealing with the drunken rabble that called in! [photo courtesy Andrew Shuttleworth]

The podcast is coming on. I’ve uploaded the first mp3 file – it’s not an episode in itself, just a kind of promo – although it’s real purpose is actually to establish the feeds and entry in the iTunes podcast directory. I’ll let you know what it is when Apple are done reviewing it.

The live-streaming marathon all went very well. I’ll be posting a video review of that once I, er, well, hang on, I think we need a new section…


MAC / PC CORNER

…manage to edit the video.

Don’t tell my old MacBook, but it’s soon to be replaced.

I say ‘old’, but actually the only old bit about it is the motherboard – virtually every other part has been replaced at least once during the last 18 months. I’m replacing it as a) the small screen makes audio / video editing difficult, and b) it just doesn’t have the power I need for editing videos – the other morning I spent a good deal of time editing a multi-track video in Screenflow, only to lose all my work when my macbook ran out of memory and panicked. Even editing RAW files from my Nikon DSLR in Adobe Lightroom has been causing problems lately, with regular hangs when processing those that I uploaded to Flickr yesterday. With over 20,000 photos in my iPhoto09 library, loading that takes forever too (just since the upgrade from 08) – meaning I’m reluctant to look at my photos.

Macbook ProMy new baby will be a bit of beast: the 17″ Macbook pro. I’ll be going for the default 4GB of RAM etc. They claim the battery lasts up to 7 hours – I’ll be putting that to the test when it arrives next month. My current MacBook will be passed on to *Twinkle*. She doesn’t seem all that thrilled, even though I insist that it’s basically ‘new’ due to all the repairs it’s had!

We also have another new Mac in the family (inherited from my sister-in-law) – an old iBook G4 (1Ghz/640mb) with a broken DVD drive. Having bought an external DVD drive for it I’ve been able to install Leopard – it runs no problem, although admittedly we’re only using it for the internet and iTunes. I plan to use that as our live stream server when the birds are feeling co-operative.

This means we now have a spare Toshiba laptop …which has just found a new home following an accident my friend had yesterday with a cup of water and their own laptop.

Anyway, I’ve long wanted to get into video production, but without a powerful-enough computer for anything other than the simplest of edits it’s something I’ve held back on. I look forward to branching out into this field with the arrival of the new one.


Another field I’ll be branching out into is singing jazz.

Yes, I know, I can’t sing (I’ll be making a point of this in our podcast).

Yesterday, one of our cherry-blossom guests, a chap in his early 50s, spotted my Samson Condenser Mic and became interested in what I was doing. Turns out he has a ton of studio gear, and regularly produces CDs for local jazz bands. For some reason he asked me to go along to the next session and see what it was like – and then (following practice) to record a song myself!

I’ve often wanted to be a singer, despite not being able to sing. I’d like to take lessons – but it’s not enough of a priority at the moment.

Oh, one final thing – I’m currently listening to Miracle In The Andes. It’s a powerful story. Shocking, gripping, inspiring.

Anyway, I’d best be off. Since I started writing this post I’ve actually cancelled my voluntary work, need to focus.

Incidentally, we have beautiful blue skies in Tokyo today, it is just glorious.

tarra.

Firing on all cylinders

Streaming the marathon

My running the Tokyo quarter marathon whilst streaming live video seems to have caught people’s attention, with two major US websites now offering to promote it, and another Japan-based media organisation interested in interviewing me tomorrow.

I’m raising money for Oxfam Japan.

This has all come out of the blue. I think the idea was a joke at the office at first, but has refused to be forgotten since.

That’ll all be featured on http://www.iphoningjapan.com, although I’ll be cross-posting here,

Meanwhile, there’s been a storm of attention around http://www.japanpodshow.com, which hasn’t even started broadcasting yet. The number of emails and Twitter messages I’ve received wishing us at Pokya the best / offering to help out has been pretty overwhelming. Nope. No pressure.

Japan Podshow

Once again astonished by how, if you just make a move, take a step out of your comfort zone providence moves too.

I also took part in an hour-long live podcast tonight, talking about the iPhone, social networks in Japan and their impact on our lives. I have a way to go yet before I’m Andy Ihnatko.

I also took part in the Smart Phone showdown at the PInk Cow (Shibuya) – streaming the event live from two iphones whilst using a third to try and twitter that the stream location was going to change due to battery issues.

Friday I attended the third Tokyo CGM (consumer generated media) hosted by Danny Choo and Andrew Shuttleworth. What an experience that was. Imagine finally meeting a whole host of people whose stuff you’ve been reading for months (or years) but have never seen in the flesh. It was pretty incredible. I’d love to blog about that more, but will save it for the podcast.

The twitter network we have here in Tokyo (and of course beyond) has proved to be an invaluable tool, and I would thoroughly recommend to anyone setting up home in Japan (who is that way inclined) to use it’s amazing power to connect to others. A lot of good things have been coming my way through Twitter.

You can follow me

Anyway, I’ve got videos to edit so I’d best get on. Volunteer work at the local city hall tomorrow (work on their website) then hopefully getting much of the first podcast in the can (my second beautiful Samsung C01U USB Condenser mike arrived today, just 24 hours after ordering it online). In the evening I hope to visit the studios of the Tokyo Metpod, then a goodbye party near the company for a couple of colleagues.

Sleep is next year. Gripped by nervous excitement.

Joseph