The Idea of One’s Value

I was surfing some of the Tweets from a conference in my industry today and saw this quote or line from the key note: You’re either adding value or you’re taking up space.

I immediately had a strong negative reaction to this statement. There is an implication that one must add “value” to every situation and I’m sure the value being referenced is business/profit/productivity related. The thing I wonder is, even in business, does one need to constantly provide value in order to be valued?

As I get older and come into contact with it more often, this type of motivational nonsense seems more and more like, well nonsense. Personally I don’t think that adding value is an activity that can be constantly measured, nor do I think it is always active (as in adding, creating, etc.). One can provide value by doing or saying nothing in many instances, especially if they listen.

The idea that an individual must always be adding or creating value in the monetary sense is disturbing. I worry that this attitude is becoming far too prevalent throughout our lives and our children’s lives. The idea of rest or play or taking up space seems to be as important as anything, especially if one is in pursuit of long-term or sustainable goals. The frenetic pursuit of constant value seems to create an atmosphere where nothing is valuable and what actually is valuable is eroded consistently over time.

The Hazy Lens of the Past

On Flickr, I belong to a group called Growing Up Star Wars. It’s essentially a collection of old photos of kids in the 1970s wearing Star Wars clothing, playing with Star Wars toys, etc. Better yet, it is full of 70s furniture, clothing, hairstyles, and sensibilities. Another thing I love about it is that the quality of the photos is a little hazy. Imperfect. They feel like the past, just like black and white photos might.

It got me to thinking that my son who is now six, won’t look at old photos in the same way. His childhood is being documented by higher resolution and higher quality photography. Additionally, any blurry or imperfect shots can be discarded. Why keep a bad shot when I can just take hundreds more and get a better one?

How will he view the past? His will all be documented in crisp, bright, beautiful shots. Will it change his perception? Will he have more vivid memories of his childhood or will it allow him to just look back and have a more idyllic view of the past? Will he have any form of nostalgia, or will having access to the images of the past make it easier to discard that longing for yesterday? 

His last day of school is this week and it got me to remembering the feeling I used to have that last week. It built up and up over the week until you felt like you were going to explode. The excitement and anticipation were wonderful. You didn’t realize at the time that it was another step forward on your journey, you didn’t care. I’m sure he’ll have fond memories of days like he’ll have this week, but I wonder if the photos I take will alter his perceptions at all.

Stretching Forward and Backward into Eternity


Well, maybe not into eternity, but if you want to be overwhelmed by information stretching as far back as the New York Times has published AND be continually updated on what they’re publishing every second, look no further. I give you:

The TimesMachine: An archive of the New York Times from the 1850s through the 1920

There’s also a beta version that’s a little slower but offers some additional features here


Times Wire: A continuous stream of what is being spit out every second. Why look at Twitter when you could be overwhelmed by the variety of stories put out by the Times?



Despite the unfinished hotels, packs of stray dogs wandering the city, reports of water that sounds more like acid, and lack of manhole covers and snow in Sochii I’m kind of looking forward to the Winter Olympics. I’m sure NBC’s coverage and refusal to put hockey front and center will drive me nuts, but I’m still going to watch some of it. To commemorate it (and my the first Olympics my son might remember), I present an artifact from the first Olympic games I remember watching.