08-24-15:Felicia Day Knows 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'
While Felicia Day is busily entertaining readers with hilarious stories about her youth in a prose that's engagingly honest and raw, another storyline emerges. the home-schooled youth, the early-adopting gamer girl, the girl genius in college at the age of 16, the violin prodigy, all of these stories create a framework for what's underneath 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)' — a crisp vision of how computer technology can transform our lives.
Day's autobiography is just as fun to read as you'd expect. If you're a fan of her online persona, her many appearances in a variety of television series, her online series The Guild or her new entertainment juggernaut Geek & Sundry, you'll find a lot to love here. If you've never experienced any of the above, the book will make you want to do so. The book is written with a clarity and unconscious style that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading pretty much any sort of book.
Day is an accomplished storyteller and prose stylist. She writes with just enough net-friendliness to mine the oddity of the online world while she manages to come off as the enthusiastic girl-next-door. Day really loves her world, and knows how to reveal; both inner and outer realities to the reader by bringing the world to the reader. We both want to and are able to get every supposedly geeky thing she does. We want to cheer her on to the success we already know she has achieved.
But just under all the fun is a revealing portrait of how technology is changing the human community by changing the manner via which humans communicate. From the get-go, Internet provides the unknowingly-isolated Day with a means to be with others like herself. (She's unknowingly isolated because she's being raised well and home-schooled by a loving if quirky family.) She makes friends and hangs out in the place where, as she says, "nobody knows your name" — but the anonymity of the Internet is neither a plus nor a minus, it just is. The virtual identities she beuilds for the Internet help her sculpt her own sense of self.
'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)' is very funny and, as the best humor is, very smart. Felicia Day seem to revel in her own shortcomings, which don't seem to shortcomingly, as it were, when put in the perspective of her story. And her story offers a fine vision of how technology is hanging our visions of ourselves. Read 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)' for fun, and to find out about Felicia Day, and after you're done, you'll notice you have a rather different perspective on your own life, on and offline.
06-02-15: A 2015 Interview with Felicia Day
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"I think you have to be attention curators for audience in every way."
Felicia Day showed up early for our conversation at KUSP; fortunately I was even earlier. She's an accomplished speaker, of course, who has probably been interviewed more times than I've interviewed authors, but she was fresh and funny and spontaneous as we sat down to talk about her book, 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'.
For me, our conversation (and the book itself, to a degree) was a very weird experience in dualism. I'm immersed in her account of the birth of the Internet but internally her timeline with my own experience. At one point in our interview, she mentioned Usenet, the collections of newsgroups (you might call them "bbs's" or some other term) where I stepped aboard in the mid 1980's. it was an instant trip down memory lane, to a time when one wag who called himself KIBO suggested that soon everyone in the world would have his own newsgroup.
It's hard not to get swept up by Day's positive enthusiasm for online work and life. For all that she speaks authoritatively of stalkers and GamerGate, her overall take is that the Internet is a transformative technology that offers us a truly new opportunity to create our own identity. Weird is an important perspective here; the idea being that the technology enables us to bring to the forefront aspects of our personality that might otherwise not come to fruition in the light of an in-person, human community. We now have a variety of types of human communities and means of communication at our disposal. We have choices never before available, and in Felicia Day, a exemplar of how to choose wisely.