My name is Chris, and I’m a multitasker.

Yesterday I began a quest to stop multitasking.

Now, normally I look down my nose at this kind of self-help “life coaching” nonsense, so let me explain.

Have you heard about Ingress yet? It’s a massive multiplayer game developed by Google for your smartphone. As a player, you use your phone to claim territory for your team, but to do so you have to physically walk around the real world and interact with your smartphone near landmarks and works of public art. It’s a neat concept, a kind of cross between geocaching and RISK, and has the bonus of forcing the player to exercise.

The problem is that in the seven days I played Ingress, it took over all of my outdoor time. Any time I was on the move, whether commuting to work, going to a movie with my girlfriend, or just out for a stroll, I was staring at my phone and looking for the next Ingress portal to hack. At home, I would get alert notifications from the game–someone was attacking one of my portals! Time to recharge my resonators! [Read more...]

#PitchWars 2014: What’s the Deal with Mentee Bios?

Hi! If you’re reading this you’re probably considering competing in PitchWars 2014, so good for you and good luck!

In 2013, a few of us (meaning like almost 80 of us) did this totally unofficial blog-hop for mentee bios, which people seemed to enjoy–so of course we’re bringing it back this year.  If you’d care to join, it’s fun and easy. Here are some answers to questions you might be asking. [Read more...]

#PitchWars 2014: My Mentee Bio

CKBW[UPDATE: There's a full list of this year's mentee bios over at Dannie Morin's site.] 

It’s been less than a year since my first Pitch Wars, but the contest is back and so am I, with a new novel and a new blog bio. Last year’s bio is still up if you’d like to read it–it includes both a snarky Joe Biden and my very favorite GIF of all time, Taylor Lautner’s sassy left hand. Being that this is my second year, and my second bio, I went Google-surfing in search of inspiration…

…and landed on the contestant survey for The Bachelor (Girl Questionnaire). Which, two things: (1) Yes, that’s really what they call it, and (2) it’s surprisingly boring.

As a proud member of the LGBT community, it seems only appropriate that I respond to the Girl Questionnaire, with select modifications to make it appropriate for a would-be Pitch Wars mentee.

Have you ever applied for the show before? If so, when?

I entered Pitch Wars in November 2013 with an adult sci-fi novel, Andromedan Sons. I didn’t come away with a mentor, but I got some awesome feedback from the mentors I queried, and even from one I didn’t [I won't name anyone without permission]. I’m planning a revision of the book, but had to put that on the back burner while I wrote this year’s book:

Tsar Bomb is an adult thriller about a detective tracking a serial killer while carrying on a love affair with a ghost who may have been one of his victims. It’s complete, it’s a little over 80,000 words long, and you’ll get to know more if you’re one of my four chosen mentees–or if the concept sounds enticing and you tweet me. I’m always happy to talk about my book. [Read more...]

On Consent

I’m not sure if this needs a trigger warning, but I’m putting one here just in case.

 

We’ve been over this.

And yet lots of you still aren’t getting it. I read this article, about some shitbag who took advantage of a vulnerable young woman at a Keith Urban concert, and in the comment section I still find a bunch of men saying things like “we don’t know all the facts,” and “women are fickle,” and “she’s probably lying to defend her image.”

So yeah, misogyny and patriarchy and all that. We, the males (I am one, after all) are still failing. Miserably. But here’s the topper, and just because I’m quoting one crapface doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens more who posted variations on this argument:

“Have you honestly never gone from kissing someone to having sex without directing getting concrete consent? …the point being stands that sexual activity once begun is interpreted as acceptance if continued and ‘lead to believe’ until one party claims otherwise. With zero acknowledgement that the continuation of sexual activity should stop, and thus continued, how is one to know what is or is not wanted?”

Ugh. No.

Why is this so difficult for people? How is one to know? Well, one could ask. [Read more...]

Public Speech is Opt-In

In the years before the Internet, engaging in public debate and discussion required time and effort. One might print books or pamphlets, post flyers, speak into a bullhorn, or speak at some public forum. Each of these decisions, barring specific measures to preserve anonymity, carried certain risks of consequence–including, in many cases, prosecution, imprisonment, or execution. “We must all hang together,” Ben Franklin famously quipped at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

The advent of the Internet, and particularly social networks, has made public speech exponentially faster and more accessible. To enter public debate today requires only a web browser and a few taps at a keyboard or smartphone screen. Perhaps because of the speed and ease with which we can now communicate, many who choose to enter the public dialog fail to consider the potential consequences for their actions–but those consequences remain, and they can be severe.

When Justine Sacco, a PR exec with less than 200 followers, tweeted a racist HIV joke before a flight to Africa, she probably didn’t consider that she would rise to top the Trending Topics and ultimately lose her job. Online activist Suey Park seemed unprepared for the backlash against her #CancelColbert tweet, and the originator of the #YesAllWomen hashtag was so traumatized by the abuse she received that she now chooses anonymity.

I have argued before, in the wake of the “Twitter Block Scandal,” that choosing to use social media, and Twitter in particular, is a choice to be a public figure. In a post this week on Medium, Anil Dash presents a different view, arguing that modern concepts of “public” and “private” are antiquated and unsuited for the digital age, that social network users are exploited by the media and technology industries for profit, and that legislators and policy-makers are complicit in this exploitation. [Read more...]