two black sheep, Sydney CBD

2 black sheep, Sydney CBD

Two black sheep coffee. Shop LG6, 580 George St, Sydney CBD. Now strictly, this isn’t a cafe (by my own usual working definition), as there’s nowhere to sit and drink your coffee. I’ve made an exception because it impressed me with its signage and social media involvement, and I’ve heard positive things about its coffee.

They have a range of food offerings (including brasserie bread), they roast their own coffee, and they have a decaf grinder. But that’s not really doing them justice: they’re very friendly, and they’re fast. Order a coffee, and even in the middle of breakfast season they’re onto it, and have everything ready with a smile.

The decaf is really pleasant. The first sip leaves something to be desired, but this one is easy drinking all the way to the last drop. If you’re near the George St cinemas, this is the pick of coffee.



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Silk coffee bar, Caringbah

silk cafe bar, caringbah

Single origin roasters coffee. 350 The Kingsway, Caringbah. News of this cafe was brought to me by a commenter on this site: they’ve been open around 3 weeks at the time of writing, and they’re certainly raising the bar for interior design and commitment to coffee quality in Caringbah.

Step inside this narrow, cafe and – past the fridge where is cooling the for-sale bottled water and the self-serve water – there’s seating all along the mirrored left-hand-side wall. Low tables and stools are the majority seating option – if you’d like to sit higher up then try the stools outside, or at the bench at the back of the cafe.

where the magic happens, silk, caringbah

In the food window are a choice of sandwiches, some brownies and raspberry breads: not a wide menu, as their focus is on tea and coffee.

The coffee is the good news. They know what they’re doing – there’s a separate grinder for decaf, even though they’re not selling a great deal of it – and the milk work is as silky as the name of the cafe would suggest.

decaf latte, silk, caringbah

If you’re looking for a place to sit comfortably, in pleasant surrounds, with good coffee, then this is one to add to the list. If you bring kids, then there’s even a blackboard wall and some chalk for them to play with!

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the paradox of content creation

A social media site called Path is out of closed beta. Different to twitter, which is all about sharing in public, this is about putting minimal text (and location and friend details) on a photo or a video, and sharing it with a closed list of people.

What prompted me to write a blog post was an article that I read on Gavin’s blog about creating remarkable content – it’s a checklist of nine different things to consider, including a carefully considered understanding of who you’re talking to, where they are on the path to doing what you want, and including a “tweetable moment” – a soundbite that people will want to share with their network.

On the one hand, this is great advice for people who are learning how to write content. Always think about the person to whom you’re writing – what will best speak to them?

But on the other hand, this takes away from the rough-and-ready nature of social media. The more these pieces of content are crafted, targeted and honed, the more we lose what made them great in the first place.

The longer I spend blogging (and it’s been over ten years now), the more I feel the constraints of the medium. Don’t write for too long. Keep the paragraphs just so. Think about where you link, and how it will work.

I’ve only rarely been blogging in a way that shared a great deal of personal information, but I think those moments are the most satisfying. I’m liking Path for its focus on the bare essentials of sharing what’s happening.

Do you read anything that is slick to the point of being impersonal? What do you like about reading it?

temple, cronulla

temple, cronulla

Golden Cobra Coffee. 6a/2-6 Cronulla Street, Cronulla. Just up the hill from the grave of the original Grind cafe (now a convenience store) is this place. I’ve often walked past, wondering what the coffee is like, but with a toddler in tow, it never seemed like the right moment.

cups and saucers just for kids - temple, cronulla

Imagine my surprise, when I finally walk in, to find it full of families with toddlers. Sure, “full” is a relative term: there are only 3 or 4 families that will fit with the small number of tables and chairs, but kids are well supplied. A range of tiny cups and saucers sits on a shelf at the back of the cafe, and the kids are drinking their babycinos out of them.

where the magic happens - temple, cronulla

The milkwork is really solid, and I wish I could talk about the coffee, but after I order my decaf latte, they remember that they’re not selling decaf anymore. A shame – this place looks so promising. Perhaps someone else would like to weigh in on the caffeinated coffee in the comments?

The hot chocolate (what I end up drinking) is good.

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facebook and conversations

The average facebook user in Australia spends five hours per month on the site (according to comScore). That’s five hours each month where you’ve moved your social life to interactions behind a screen.

The kind of people who do this are more likely to join groups, and get involved in group activities offline too (see this flowtown infographic), so in general we’re talking about people who were already spending time socialising in other ways.

And of course, it’s not just Australia.

The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo. ]

If you’ve moved some part of your social life onto facebook (or some other social networking site), then you have changed the way that you communicate. But have you thought about what you’ve changed, and whether you’re happy with those changes?

There are two kinds of converations that you can have on facebook: the kind of conversation that you might have over email, where you send someone a private message, and a new kind of conversation – the wall post.

Let’s leave to one side the idea that you’re moving some of your conversations to an email-style. Let’s ignore the privacy concerns with storing personal information, including the details of your “social graph” (the people you know, and the people they know), with a privately-held company that has a bad track record for privacy. Let’s ignore the cyberbullying risks.  Let’s ignore the problems of employers (and potential employers) knowing all aspects of your personal life.

Never mind the concerns raised by this slate article (thanks Nicole for the link) that the way that you present your life on facebook is skewed – you have a greater tendency to present an idealised life in your choice of photos and events you share. If you’re looking for your friends to click “Like”, then you’re going to frame even your bad news in a way that people can click “Like”.

Let’s just concentrate on the idea of the wall post and wall comment.

In the wall post, you write a message for someone that can be seen by everyone you know, in a public space that can be seen by anyone they know. If you have any sense of how to respect the privacy of other people, the kind of information you share in this context will be different to what you might share in an email, a phonecall, or a private conversation.

So the kind of information you’re sharing is less personal, and less detailed than it might be if you were using some other method to get in touch.

In terms of the breadth of people you contact in your limited time on facebook, you will tend to connect with the people who appear on your own news feed, thinking that it’s been a while since you’ve been in touch. So you stretch yourself more broadly than you might if you didn’t have the software helping you.

With only so much time, and much of the conversation happening in public, isn’t it inevitable that you’ll end up with more conversations, of a lesser quality, with a wider variety of people than you used to?

This was the question that I put to my own facebook friends via the wall, and – while I was disappointed not to have universal agreement – it was good to be able to think more broadly about this. (Let me know if you’d like your ideas credited here: for now, I’ll keep them anonymous in this forum)

There are benefits to facebook:

  • connecting with people from your past, especially when you’ve moved countries
  • sharing photos and videos with friends and family
  • providing opportunities for connection with people where a deep relationship exists already
  • can enhance the social skills of someone who has trouble socialising in person.
  • someone who is physically isolated from their friends can get some insights into what’s happening in the their lives
  • sometimes, real friendships can develop (especially those founded around some shared interest)

And down-sides

  • disagreements that were founded on tone-of-voice issues can get worse much more quickly, and can easily end in being de-friended
  • deep friendships are harder to build up online
  • the small-talk that goes with real-life conversation is bypassed: instead of asking how someone is going, anything that’s been posted on your wall is assumed.
  • it’s much harder to have a spiritual conversation, especially with someone who doesn’t share your belief system

What do you think? Is it fair to say that facebook is making us head towards less substantial conversations? Does that matter?

robocog, surry hills

robocog, surry hills

Robocog coffee. 249 Riley St, Surry Hills. A relative newcomer to the Surry Hills scene, this place nonetheless has their service patterns down pat, and the place is well decorated to become a local favourite. The name is a combination (presumably) of robot and bicycle cog, and the decor features both in suitable numbers. The various kitsch old robots are great to look at, and the hipper-than-average crowd do their best to ignore it.

indoor eating, robocog, surry hills

The theme is carried out all the way to the tips jar:

tips please, robocog, surry hills

And this little piece on the wall.

robocog, robocog, surry hills

The coffee, though, is really pleasant. Though the decaf is not ground-to-order, it has a fresh, lively taste. Great milk-work (and, despite a lack of child-friendliness in the seating and the attitudes of the patrons), they do a mean babycino.

decaf latte and babycino, robocog, surry hills

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