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Baratunde Thurston

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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
  Last night I spoke to a room full of journalism school students at Columbia University. I am not a journalist, but I have journalistic tendencies and a set of experiences in storytelling and pseudo-reporting that the program directors uptown thought relevant to a group of people studying Journalism (with a capital J).  The video from the event may someday be available somewhere on the Internet.  Meanwhile, I wanted to dump some notes here and link out to a few examples and resources those in the room or in other rooms across this great planet might find useful. 
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

I joined Pivot TV as co-host of TakePart Live. This means that yes, I live in Los Angeles OMG. The announcement of this gig was a fun thing. Here's how my company Cultivated Wit told the world. And here's the Variety story, with my full name in a Variety headline for the first time ever.

For a flavor of the show, check out this clip from last night's episode.

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

Here's a link as well. 

In many ways, the goal of this talk was to focus and update my 2012 SXSW keynote about the importance of applying humor to many of our interactions in society: political, media, technological. I wanted this talk to hone in on the relationship I see between how we are currently building our future, what's missing, and make a compelling case for the unique humanizing value of humor to be integrated into that future design.

Shorter: jokes be funny and stuff.

For an entire enterprise devoted to the ideas expressed in this talk, check out my company, Cultivated Wit and especially our world of Comedy Hack Day.

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

So inspired by Cliven Bundy am I.

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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

I spent several days in DC this week. The primary purpose was to visit my alma mater, Sidwell Friends. More on that later, though. I also recorded some DIY commercials for Obamacare, because I finally have insurance. Vine and Instagram have the goods so far. Again, more on that later.

I'm writing now because I found myself overwhelmed with memories not frequently encountered. Walking through the halls of one's high school and middle school tend to do that. I found myself humming "Nobody bothers me," and the old commercial for Jhoon Rhee self defense kept playing on loop in my mind.

Now the song will be stuck in your head, which is the only way to get it out of mine.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Similar to this time last year, I'm leaving most of the social Internet behind for my winter vacation. I'm going off to an island, and I'm not bringing the noise (though I'll have plenty of funk) with me. In case you missed it, I wrote about this for Fast Company over the summer.

In terms of reaching me, what this means is I'm available via voice and SMS, assuming you have the numbers. If you don't have the numbers, then I'm not available at all until the ninth of January, 2014.

My chief of staff, Julia, is available starting Jan 2. Use the appropriate contact method to reach her.

And for Cultivated Wit business, my co-founder, Brian will be back online Jan 2 as well. Please don't undermine all I've sought to build whilst I'm away on holiday (like I'm British and whatnot). 

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Craigslist is an amazing marketplace, not just for goods and services (such as this used engagement ring (thanks Jessica Randazza for the link)), but for the creative textual expression hosted there. I was curious to see what sort of items had been posted related to Nelson Mandela when I came across this amazing assortment of characters.

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Such an important literary work deserves deeper analysis and investigation, so I posted it over on Rap Genius under the Poetry section. Hopefully scholars with more expertise can I can add even more valuable interpretation to this contribution. 

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

It's kind of a dream come true to be invited to talk with Marc Maron on his podcast. On April 9, I made a special trip to Los Angeles to spend several hours on the messy garage/studio where Maron interrogates his subjects. We talked and talked about all sorts of things. Twas much fun, and I got a free mug!!  Listen to the full interview. Learn new things!

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

A Conversation On Race w/@soledad_obrien, @baratunde, @TannerColby

Last week, I was part of an event I've wanted to pull off for over a year: a multiracial conversation about race with author Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black) and journalist Soledad O'Brien. In just over an hour we discussed our books, our differing childhoods, and our aligned beliefs about how to keep the country moving in a forwardly direction with regard to race and equity. There was plenty of wine and several hilarious as well as poignant moments. I recommend watching the entire video.

Togather is the platform we used to organize the event, and they came through like champs, hooking us up with the conveniently-located and sexily situated Subculture event space in downtown Manhattan (where my NoHo people at!?). They handled the ticket sales, green room snacks, and more. Tanner and I previewed the event on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show a few days before the event, and that discussion of interracial friendships drove a lot of listeners into the audience. 

You can order a two book bundle of How To Be Black and Some Of My Best Friends Are Black for a few more weeks, with proceeds benefitting Soledad's foundation. The funds help send girls of color to college and ensure their graduation  

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
Jamilah Lemieux, Baratunde Thurston (me), Kathleen Madigan, Keith Robinson
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am
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Monday, September 24, 2018 - 9:23am

I actually care what people think about me. It's part of being a human being. However, I've learned not to engage sincerely with people who just drop rhetorical grenades because they have more time than I do. So instead, I try to smother haters with love. Here's the email I got November 20, 2013 through my web form:

Name: REDACTED
Email Address: REDACTED@gmail.com
Subject: you're a douchbag
Select: Other
Message: Just felt the need to let you know you need to tone down your douchebag elitist attitude. I will not watch any twit episode that has you on it. 

REDACTED

I had just left a very productive and fun meeting. I was in a good mood. I decided to share this mood with my writer:

REDACTED thank you so much for your thoughtful, articulate, and considerate response to my TWIT appearance. It's people like you and comments like these that motivate me to strive for excellence and resonance in my work. I look forward to a future in which you and I can develop our relationship even further and maintain, nay EXPAND, the respectful tone you've established here. Thanks for setting the bar so high. Stay wonderful, my friend and may God or the Higher Consciousness or Science bless you. 

With utmost sincerity
Baratunde The Elitist Douchebag Thurston

Sent from your mom's Sky Pager

Twelve minutes later, I got this response:

hahaha alright man, you're cool... thank you for the well crafted response.

I apologize for sounding like such a troll...  I actually like what you do, and consider myself a fan, even more so now.

Keep it real,

REDACTED 

If you have hate mail you'd like me to respond to, post it in the comments. Let's make a game of it. Meanwhile, if you're a fan of someone's work, there are many items on the list of Ways To Express Your Fandom that come long before "Email the person you respect, and tell that person he or she is a douchebag. The threaten to boycott any appearance that person makes in an outlet you also respect."

Maybe send flowers or whiskey or just think positive thoughts to yourself.

Cheers!

Update 30 November 2013.

My friend Kate Darling recently posted a video related to this post. She's a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. She also works at the MIT Media Lab. So basically, she's super uninteresting and not smart at all ;) 

In this video, she explains how should-be reasonable people (including tenured professors) react with irrational hate at her decision to study the economics of online adult entertainment. Money quote: "If you try to please everyone around you you’ll never do anything meaningful."

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 7:30am

December 15, 2012 to January 8, 2013 I left all email and social media. It was 25 days of relative digital quiet, and I loved it. The experience was so profound, I wrote about it for Fast Company. The piece launches online this week, and is accompanied by related stories and Twitter activity around the hashtag #UNPLUG.

Here's a more digestible version I and my colleagues at Cultivated Wit made for Tapestry.

Update: here's an audio performance I posted to SoundCloud 

Oh, and they made me the cover of their July/August 2013 issue which hits newsstands June 25 and looks a little something like this:

Actually, the cover looks looks exactly like this.

Actually, the cover looks looks exactly like this.

Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 7:40am

This is a cool event (Moth StorySLAM) within another cool event (Afropunk). However, I've been told that it's sold out. The website, however, seems to want to accept your money, so maybe it's not sold out? I don't know. Take a risk, and tell me what happens! 

Cool event you can't see. Sorry!

Cool event you can't see. Sorry!

Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 9:30am
A photo taken with my smartphone in the NYC subway system. Photo credit goes to me and my ancestors and the scientists that developed my smartphone along with the underlying technological developments on which they innovated. Thanks history! 

A photo taken with my smartphone in the NYC subway system. Photo credit goes to me and my ancestors and the scientists that developed my smartphone along with the underlying technological developments on which they innovated. Thanks history! 

That's about all I have to say. This show makes me laugh out loud a lot, and Nick Kroll is ridiculous. It's because of his name.

Friday, July 17, 2015 - 9:00pm
Check out that baller illustration by Álvaro Domínguez!

Check out that baller illustration by Álvaro Domínguez!

No, I'm not recommending the show because it has the word "black" in its title. I discovered this show based on a friend recommendation. It's out of the UK. It's darkly satirical and deeply important as it paints a picture of the mildly distant future in which technology has had terrible effects on our society. I devoted my latest Fast Company column to it

“Black Mirror is the perfect show for our times. We’ve created a self-fulfilling technologyadoption engine where things are faster, more connected, more immersive—and, presumably, relentlessly better. Watch Black Mirror and be reminded that we apply the word progress to undergird what is more objectively change.
” — My words from elsewhere on the Internet. Yes I just quoted myself.

Here's a panel discussion with the show creator about the episode in question. Those of you in the UK can watch full episodes at 4oD

Baratunde Thurston is the CEO, co-founder, and hashtagger-in-chief of Cultivated Wit. He wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black and served for five years as director of digital for the satirical news outlet, The Onion.