An insignificant review of 2012

i photoshop, therefore i am

i photoshop, therefore i am

To sum up my 2012 in one sentence would be; the year that things began to change, or transition. Transition is a better word, it implies controlled and positive change. After 16 years working for one organisation, the opportunity to leave was offered, and I took it. Before I left I was offered a new part-time role and with the rest of my time I am preparing some very exciting ventures.

2012 saw me become debt free. This has been a long-term goal, caused by long-term stupidity. My transition into next year will be to not be stupid!

TV

I don’t watch a great deal of (current) TV, but I do tend to watch series. 2012 finally saw me watch The Sopranos and The Wire. Two great series that kept throwing surprises. The Killing III was also good, with a really shocking ending.

Movies

Nothing really stood out for me this past year. I watched Prometheus, having waited over 30 years for Ridley to finally get around to making it. I liked it, in fact really liked it, however there was one major problem, and this has been something that has annoyed me with most films recently. The trailer of the movie told me pretty much the whole story. When it came to seeing the actual film, there was little left to make me wonder what going on, and engage me. I hope this is a trend that will soon disappear.

At the very end of the year I got to see The Avengers… brilliant, another fun flick from Mr Joss Whedon.

Books

Again I was catching up on the book front. I read the complete back catalogue of Chuck Palahniuk, and overall that was really good. One surprise was Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, it was lent to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps I was sci-fi deprived at the time, but I recommend it.

Music

I continued my descent into the world of John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats. I saw him perform with Anonymous 4 at The Barbican and that was quite amazing. I also caught Frank Turner at Oxford doing a great live show. I missed out on seeing Dead Can Dance, but the album made up a little for that.

Apps

Back in February I enjoyed taking part in FAWM, a social songwriter’s event where participants write 14.5 songs during the month of February. I took part and completed the challenge. But the writing was made significant.y easier by a wonderful app on the iPad and iPhone called Songwriter HD. This simple app allows you to jot ideas for lyrics and record bits via the microphone. It’s nice and simple, but perfect. Exactly what a good app should be.

UKPLC

I am not a royalist or a fan of the Olympics. With the year being dominated by the Queen’s jubilee and London 2012, it was difficult to avoid both of these events. However, it was nice to see a country, that 12 months before had been shocked by inner city riots, being proud. More importantly being proud without being arrogant.

2012 was a good year, although looking at what I have written above, I think I need to record things a little better. This was the first year in several where I haven’t kept a diary, perhaps I need to buy another Moleskine.

2013

So unto 2013 I go. I know there will be several more transitions ahead, many already in motion. But it is my story. Story is my word of focus on 2013, but that is another post.

Why did the freak buy a book?

In a very interesting post Michael Hyatt shares research on why customers of his company Thomas Nelson buy books. The research is really interesting and makes a lot of sense. The most interesting point is that price is actually low on the list… well last to be exact.

The problem is, his list just doesn’t resonate with me. I have never bought a book based on the list his research shows. In fact, if anything the over-riding factor as to when I buy a book is related to price. Can I afford this or not?

The author is the key

One thing Michael notes is that the author is not on this list. This is because the author, if well-known actually becomes the title. If someone is well-known and respected they become more important than the title. Although a good title and the rest of the list will still help, especially when deciding which one of their books someone will buy.

The celebrity cult

We live in a culture that is celebrity obsessed. I have tried to fight this. Honestly I have. I refuse to watch Pop Idol and other celebrity pop-culture shows. If an event is publicised because ‘x’ or ‘y’ is going to be there, I instantly turn off.

However, when I looked at the books I had bought, and why, I discovered something that chilled me to the bone. The main reason I bought books was because of the author! Give me a Seth Godin, Tim Ferris or Stephen Covey and I was there. Anything that had David Allen’s name on and it would be on my wish list.

Well that’s non-fiction and that makes sense, surely I would only buy books that were recommended by others and were the ‘right’ books to buy. But I was the same when it came to fiction.

Social media and the new celebrity

As for fiction I was the same, from Asimov to Iain M Banks and King to Herbert, I was hooked to the cult of what was widely regarded as pretty good. And there is the nub of the matter. To become widely regarded. Actually, the widely is step two. Step one is to become regarded.

Once you’ve discovered the most well-known in your particular genre and exhausted their catalogue, you need more. One way to find more is through the social net. The greatest gift Amazon has given us is the review. Okay, you need to weedle out the author’s girlfriend and the publisher’s niece, but once you’ve done that, you can discover authors who are actually quite good.

Why did the freak buy a book?

So why did I buy a book? Because you said it was good. Tell me, tell others, review.

Age doesn’t Matter

I have just finished reading the latest in the illustrious line of Sci-fi books by Iain M Banks. This one was called Matter and saw a return to the universe inhabited, and pretty much run, by the Culture, a primarily human amalgamation, amongst a universe of exotic aliens.

I had read somewhere that Mr Banks had feared, and perhaps still does, that he may have to stop writing Sci-fi. His reason being that as he gets older he won’t be able to come up with the creative ideas to keep fans of the genre happy.

On the evidence of Matter, I don’t think he has any fear for the next several aeons. Matter is packed, from beginning to end, with ideas on a grand scale. The ideas weave throughout the story, creating a perfect symbiosis.

So if you think that age dims the mind and you become less creative, think again. You’ll find no evidence in this latest release.

This weeks sever things to be thankful for:

  1. Iain M Banks
  2. Chinese cookery books
  3. Cold tablets
  4. Stephen Covey
  5. Frost / Nixon
  6. Thunderbird (the mail app, not a fictional vehicle)
  7. Microsoft and Adobe product activation

Generation A by Douglas Coupland

Well, although the X sounded cool, it is much nicer to be referred to as Generation A. So the new book by Douglas Coupland will be added to my reading list. Can he weave the magic with this sequel as he did with Generation X? I’ll let you know, or you can read it and let me know.

mood: excited