Sunday, November 15, 2015

Art is more than the "finishing touch"

(I needed to write this blog after having listened to inspiring art activist
and Emmy Award winning documentary and filmmaker Deeyah Khan
who spoke at UNESCO on 13 November 2015

Art is the most deeply human form of expression we have. It connects us to ourselves, to what we are and feel as human beings. It creates a form of ambiguity in which we can - strangely enough - recognize ourselves. It produces a kind of "mist" that magically becomes a mirror, like a song that makes us "overflow" instantly because our soul resonates with it. Art cannot explain us, it just moves us. It is us.    

It would be a mistake to put art aside as mere entertainment, a sort of "frivolous thing". I do understand that we first need good health, a job, food and shelter to be able to enjoy art. But art is more than just enjoyment: it is also our unique way to express human life. Without art we would lose the creative muscle inside of us that enables us to explore our reality through the kaleidoscope of dance movements, chalk, wood, marble, paint, words or music notes. Our understanding of reality would become too direct if we discard the “art lens” through which we can access the hidden layers in our day-to-day reality.

Someone once told me that the two most important things in a house are the painting you hang on the wall and the sofa you put in front of it to enjoy it. That observation changed the way I look at homes, art and human life. It taught me that art is not the "finishing touch" but rather the "human touch" that we must place first. It creates the space in which basic things like identity and freedom can come alive and take shape. Why is this space so vital for us? Because although not everyone may have a comfortable sofa to sit on, there’s an artist in every person.
Twitter: @Oosterenvan

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Three reasons why I don't like Twitter’s “like” icon

Twitter: @Oosterenvan

When Twitter finally created its “like” icon recently (the little heart), at first I was very happy. Because for a year or so I was frustrated not to be able to thank tweeters by “liking” nice tweets like I do on Facebook. 

I did have the option however to give the sender a sort of “like” signal by favoriting the tweet via Twitter’s “favorite” icon (the little star). But I didn’t do that because I use the favorite icon for another specific purpose, namely to save potentially interesting tweets to read the links in it when I have time. My favorite tweets are just my tweets-to-read list, I don't know yet what I think about them.

And then suddenly Twitter gave us the long expected like icon! I immediately "liked" a tweet from a colleague that I had favorited earlier just because I liked it very much. I was already looking for a way to reward the sender but hadn’t found a solution yet. The tweet contained a selfie of the sender in his personal environment with an interesting thought about it. Typically a tweet I never would have favorited because there was no link in it to read later. And so finally I was able to happily thank him by sending him a well-deserved “like”. 

So far the good news about the like icon: it made it possible for me to quickly express my positive feelings about tweets to their senders. Now the bad news: when the like icon came out, the favorite icon disappeared. This caused the following three problems for me. 

First, I am no longer able to fill my tweets-to-read-list just by "mechanically" favoriting potentially interesting tweets without showing any judgement or emotional commitment. Worse: Twitter obliges me now to “like” all these potentially interesting tweets even though I might find out I don’t like them at all! 

Secondly, even if I do appreciate a tweet, I might not necessarily want to reward the sender by “liking” it. I like a lot of people, but don’t expect me to hug each one them each time I see them. Obliging me to do so makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Thirdly, even if I decide to “like” a tweet I appreciated after having read it, I still have to “unlike” it right away to clean up my reading list. The problem is that this gives the sender a very confusing message because it is shows as “minus one like”, as if I had changed my mind about it!

I want to conclude by a wish. I hope Twitter brings the favorite icon back or adds a “save tweet” option like Facebook has. This way I can quietly enjoy looking for information pearls without kissing and hugging the whole planet.