A quick “off-hand” post.
My Facebook network is giving me a lot of joy. Been reconnecting with some long-lost friends, meeting new and fascinating people, organising impromptu meetings with people at cafés and brewpubs…
Yes, I’m a social animal.
Glad to know the Skype team is working on this issue.
As always, responsiveness is key. In the ‘Net age, we expect to be advised of any issue which comes up. Instant PSA.
Not only is there a problem when we try to log in but the client doesn’t stay logged in.
Just posted a message about my Caffè in Gamba, a new café in Montreal.
Because this café’s website isn’t online yet, I would need to repeat the info. The café is located in a new building at 5263 Park Ave., between Fairmount and Bernard. It’s first claim for fame is that it’s the first place in Montreal to have Intelligentsia coffee on its regular coffee menu. But I think it’ll become much more than this.
Owner J.F. Leduc is surprisingly soft-spoken for a passionate coffee lover. But I think he prefers it if the coffee “can speak for itself” instead of him having to hype coffee enjoyment out of existence. In fact, he has a bit of the same humble attitude you would notice in an actual barista in Northern Italy. They know what they like but they remember that they’re in the service industry! 🙂
I think Leduc can become a key player in the broader movement to make Montreal a real coffee destination.
Granted, I tend to be overly enthusiastic about such things. And I’ve been disappointed in the past. But I have a good vibe, especially after I got a chance to chat it up with Leduc.
I also notice something bigger, happening in town. There’s a number of Montrealers who really care about coffee. And Montreal’s ready for a new phase in its coffee history.
Veritas, in Old Montreal, is home to Anthony Benda, whom I consider the best barista in Montreal. They sell the Epic blend from Vancouver roaster 49th Parallel. My hope is that Veritas can help people understand the beauty that is West Coast style espresso in a culinary context.
Gamba has a different role, in my opinion. It may become a local hangout and certainly has the potential to educate people about the pleasures of espresso drinking. But my feeling is that it may spread other aspects of café culture and/or be part of something more specific to Montreal.
I’ll certainly go back to Caffè in Gamba in the near future and, as soon as they have their site up, I’ll link to it from this blog as well as other online venues.
In the meantime, maybe somebody can help J.F. set up his wireless router? 😉
Case in point, here is the “slidecast” of a presentation I gave during a session at the Spirit of Inquiry conference, in May.
The audio is available here:
The presentation file is available here:
Slidecasting could become quite interesting and it could go really well with the approach I was discussing during that session.
Full disclosure. I do surveys. On the phone. For a marketing research firm.
No, no! Not a telemarketing firm! A research firm which uses survey results to improve the quality of the service offered by a client. Huge difference.
No, you most likely have not hung up on me. Very few people have done so and the readership of this blog is not such that it would be even remotely likely that you, dear reader, could be one of those few respondents who did hang up on me.
Why do I do it? Well, yes, it’s a job. A summer job, to be precise. But I could be doing (and have been doing) any number of other jobs. Yet, as an ethnographer, I felt compelled to give surveys a try. And I’m glad I did.
I actually did phone surveys as a summer job in 2005. Did it for the very reason that, while teaching ethnographic topics, I had been comparing ethnography with surveys even though I had never done surveys myself. Doing surveys on the phone seemed like a great way to learn more about those methods while getting an income at the same time. It worked like a charm.
Seems like I’m not the only one to think along those lines as I know at least two other anthropologists who are working at phone survey centres.
How do I like it? It’s really not so bad. The call centre where I work has a relatively nice atmosphere. More specifically, the supervisor and monitor provide exactly the type of supervision we need. Lots of positive feedback. Negative feedback is always given in a thoughtful manner. Both are very understanding and trusting with people who are serious at what they do. And there’s actually a notion of teamwork instead of competition.
I also learn a lot about myself. Not completely new things. Validation of what I thought of myself.
One is voice. My voice happens to be a valuable tool. Oh, I did notice this before. When I was in high school, some people kept telling me that I should become a news anchor or radio announcer because of my voice. The fact that I still had more of a European accent probably counted but it also had to do with actual voice quality. People thought I had a radio voice.
As shallow as it sounds, I do like my speaking voice. Not that it’s “the best voice ever” or that people stop me to tell me about my voice. But I do like the way I sound, overall. My voice used to be more pleasing than it is now. My GERD has had some detrimental effects on my voice. Especially my singing voice. But my voice is still pleasing enough that I receive positive feedback about it, on occasion.
The thing about my voice isn’t that it’s so good. But it’s a versatile voice and I do use it as a tool. It seems that I can adapt it to different situations, which is very useful.
Given my interests in acoustic anthropology, it should be no surprise that I think about voice fairly frequently. After all, I’m an audio guy. Like Steven Feld in Music Grooves, I wonder about the voice work of those women working for erotic phone lines. It would, in fact, be fascinating to do an ethnographic study of those workers, with a focus on voice work.
As anyone can guess, voice can also be quite important in teaching. I’m as much of an auditory learner as one can be. So, while teaching, I tend to use my voice for effect instead of other tools. It seems to work rather well with some people but I need to enhance my other teaching methods.
The other main thing doing phone surveys has taught me about myself is how empathetic I can get. Again, I knew this beforehand. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time watching a comedy about someone getting in all sorts of bad situations (“cringe” movies and such). I literally feel for them. When I watched The Sixth Sense, I felt the bullet enter my body.
Oh, sure. We’re all like that. But I get the feeling that my empathy levels are a bit extreme, at times.
Hannah Arendt would probably have said some negative things about this “personality trait” of mine. But I’ve learned to accept it.
What does this have to do with doing surveys on the phone? Quite a bit, actually. There are projects on which I can be very productive, mostly because of empathy. People hear that I care. Because I do care. A few other projects, I’m almost unable to do because of empathy. I need to get the feeling that those surveys can actually help improve the service people get. And I loathe being annoying to people.
On almost every survey I do at my current workplace, I can be very empathetic and it works very well. But I just worked on a project which was clearly annoying to respondents and it made me shrivel. The effect was quite intense. I had to take a long walk on my way back from work because I had realised something important about myself.
Hence this blog entry.