Self-Ethnography: Friends

Since moving back to Columbus, I have faced a number of frustrations: finding a job, getting a job, transitioning from the freedom of grad school to corporate life, getting my own place, and something I didn’t think would be an issue… making friends.

I have no idea how to make friends outside of the school environment. This has been pretty frustrating over the last eight months. I’m not the bar fly type, so that’s out. And the people who I would want to hang out with are probably already having the board game & crepe nights that I envisioned having with my new set of Columbus peeps.

My dad mentioned to me the other day that I might need to focus more in making friends in town. I have a number of friends spread across the nation, and thanks to Twitter, email, Facebook, Skype, and texting, I can stay connected with them. But I’m not investing in my current location; I’m missing the time I could be spending with them.

Last night, around two in the morning, I woke up and realized this is, in fact, a design problem. How does a young professional make friends in a “new” city? Is this problem facilitated or aggravated by technology?

So here I go, documenting my self-ethnography.


It wouldn’t be right without documenting my assumptions, right? I am assuming that in order to meet people, I need to…

  • Leave the computer.
  • Leave the apartment.
  • Introduce myself with a smile.

Initial Attempts

I’ll admit I haven’t been too keen on going out to meet people. I seem like a people person, but I get my energy from backing into a corner and reading a book. Being social is something I work at. So first, I am addressing my initial assumptions: that I need to leave my computer and  apartment.

I have, since moving to Columbus, joined:

  • as a way to find people with similar interests.
  • Swing Columbus so I know once a week, I am guaranteed to leave my apartment for an evening.
  • Lifestyle Family Fitness to deal with my increased seasonal affective disorder this year. It hasn’t been unbearable, but this winter has certainly affected my mood, which will have an affect on my ability to make (and keep) friends.

I am also spending more time with family. I’m very family-oriented, so I was surprised at how difficult it’s been for me to transition back from grad school. I try to spend at least one night a week with my parents. I find that if I don’t, I unhinge the same way I do if I don’t get my physical activity through lindy hopping or going to a gym.


As yet, none, really. I have my local BFF Adrienne to call on Friday nights for our dinner date, which is awesome. I met her through one of my students from grad school. So that has nothing to do with my current efforts. Still, it’s nice to have someone to call.

My frustration comes from not having a crew of friends like I did in grad school… yet. I assume because these are events that I go to… and not necessarily the type of thing where you invite people to hang out on some other day of the week.

Maybe this is an impossible task. Maybe this sort of gathering of friends doesn’t happen in the adult non-school world. I have no way of knowing because I’ve never had to transition to this non-academic life before. I’m also wondering if maybe I’m not investing in my current location because I don’t know how long I will be in this city. What if I leave in three years?

So now I put the question to you: those of you transitioning, or have transitioned, what are you doing to invest in your current location?

Uh oh. Personal Identity?

It has just occurred to me that I never defined what I mean by personal identity. I am giving a status presentation on Tuesday at 7 PM, and it is Sunday at 7:45 PM. How many papers can I read about personal identity in order to form my own definition while also working on a presentation, attending class, and being an AI?

Hi. I’m Binaebi Akah, and I get sh!t done.* So don’t worry, I’ll figure it out. Just had to admit to the world that I kind of forgot to crystallize oh, I don’t know, a half of my project.


If you have any papers, names, etc, that could help, please send them along!

*I do this by going into homework-berserker-mode for a specified amount of time where I accomplish more than seems humanly possible and then pass out in bed for approximately the same amount of tme. You do not want to get in my way when I do this. You do, however, want to take video as I roar about town on my dirigible, my brass goggles glaring in the sunlight as my scarf whips behind me.

Long time, no post

Oh hai. It’s 1:30 AM on a Saturday night and I’m blogging after standing in the ceramics studio for six hours glazing my Jello Cupcake Steampunk Machine, which I’ve dubbed “The Lazarus.”

Before you shake your head at me, cut me some slack. I have wanted to blog for almost two weeks, now. I have not blogged thanks to my contracting the H1N1 flu, which essentially made me sleep for a week. I got the H1N1! Doesn’t that mean I get a little leeway? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. I didn’t go home this Thanksgiving break so I can catch up with the time I’ve missed due to being ill. So I wish I could say that I’ve accomplished a lot, but I feel like I haven’t. Not for capstone, anyway.

Capstone status update

  • I’ve created a spreadsheet of persons that I would like to contact for interviews. They all have some relation to Steampunk.
  • I’ve begun filling out the HSC forms so I can perform my interviews. Even with the guidelines, these forms don’t make sense. Thank goodness I have an example to look at.
  • I volunteered to do a five-minute presentation in capstone class talking about what I’ve accomplished this semester, and what I plan to do next semester. I feel this will help me crystallize my thoughts so I can focus on my paper a little better.
  • I have begun filling out some sections of my capstone paper. I’m still looking for exemplars outside of Steampunk, so if you have any ideas, comment.
  • I had a late-night pseudo-design session with Chad at Steak-n-Shake, where we talked about our capstones and the paper that is due in a couple weeks. The conclusion to that conversation was mainly that we don’t have time, aren’t sure what we’re doing, and that milkshakes are awesome.

Capstone To-do list

  • I’ve got to write my reflections about Halloween. Yes, still. Thank goodness I took video and have pictures to jog my memory. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet on this. I know once  begin writing, I’ll enjoy it.
  • I need to complete the HSC forms.
  • I need to start contacting people to interview.
    • Meaning I also need to write my participation request letter, etc. Sigh.
  • I need to work on my five-minute status presentation. I have a slide deck outlined, there just isn’t much content yet.

“So little to do, so much time! Strike that. …Reverse it.”

Willy Wonka was a wise man, really.

Mint Making a Mint by Selling Out

So I’m not happy about the news that is selling out to Intuit, the big bad of financial applications. See below for the email I wrote to Mint expressing my unhappiness.

We interaction designers here at Indiana University are not amused by the idea of selling out to Intuit.

As one of those interaction designers, I understand the matter from a business perspective, but as far as I’m concerned, your product is far superior and will surely suffer in Inuit’s hands.

I hope you will make it an option to NOT ALLOW Intuit to data mine my information. Personal finances are risky business; this is why I went with a smaller, free application that I felt we could trust.

The idea that a large corporation will now have access to the “data-mining opportunities present in the recorded info on 1.4 million users–a data set that’s got intrinsic value in its own right” that you,, has not investigated, is horrifying.

I’m going to stick it out for another couple of weeks to see how this plays out. But I don’t see our relationship going much further than that.

That said, I’ve heard is a good alternative.