Friday, February 24

awareness > learning > familiarity > passion

it doesn't start with full-blown passion. before passion, before learning, before flirtation or interest, must come awareness. if you don't know this thing exists, if it doesn't figure as any significant part of your universe, then it's pretty hard to be passionate about it. yeah, sure you can dream. you can imagine your own object of passion... but that's not the real thing. if you haven't met the physical incarnation of your dream man yet, then your passion for him can't be real.

so what? well, reality wins here. and in reality, it is impossible to be acquainted with everything. so there's a balance of passion and apathy. Sherlock Holmes (one of my childhood idols) was passionate about anything that made him a better detective: biology, geography, psychology; he didn't care two cents about whether the earth went around the moon or vice versa. astrophysics just wasn't an important field to him. what was important to Dr. Watson? medicine. comfort. hobbies. society? I'd have to go back and investigate his backstory, but we can probably say he had no idea he'd soon become the faithful sidekick and chronicler of a brilliant sleuth--he hadn't ever met a brilliant sleuth before.

is it that simple, then? you meet your passion in the street one day and decide to ignore everything else?

what do you do you do if you haven't been introduced to your passion yet?

just keep asking questions. it'll find you. you will find it. but in the meantime you can't just sit around. plain awareness isn't going to flip the switch in your brain; a mere blip on your mental radar is not going to turn you on; there are a few more steps to go through.

you need to get closer. Kathy Sierra calls it "hi-resolution experience" and I like that metaphor. she says:
"Learning adds resolution to what you offer. And the change happens not within the product, but between the user's ears."
it's like upgrading your brain. changing the settings.

and learning isn't always easy, but it can be fun. it ought to be. Sierra has great ideas about learning experiences. user experiences. but the long hard road from novice to expert still isn't easy. it takes time. and there's where the true passion develops, sprouting along the way enthusiasm, loyalty, compelling stories.

getting closer to your passion means becoming more familiar--making those stories, that enthusiasm and drive, a part of you and becoming a part of it. give-and-take integration. assimilation. eventually, contribution.

and sometimes, a very real power to change the world.

Thursday, February 23

it's not over

never will be over.

this is a comforting thought. lately i've been pondering the fleeting nature of things. how temporary my life is right now. the almost melting winter snow, the latest in a series of crummy little apartments, the friends who just don't seem to care, the acquaintances who will disappear the moment i turn my back, the routines that will fade, the background music that will go out of style, the clothes i'll grow out of. everything is so temporal. so fragile.

but life goes on. and on. and on. and even when i graduate, i'll still be learning. my environment (if i'm lucky and pick the right one) will still be challenging and stimulating and very very worthwhile.

last evening the USU chapter of the Society for Technical Communication held its annual Alumni Panel. before the panel we took the panelists out for dinner. It was a great opportunity to get to know more about them, talk about things we're working on in class, projects and ambitions, questions and concerns. it was a brilliant and inspiring evening.

i am inches away from professional life.

it's a precarious place to be, but also full of hope. and hope for me is a potent concoction of fear, anger, and doubt. i don't know, i can't see, but i'm so so willing to find out. i've got the fear and doubt on my side.

right?

our panel talked a lot about confidence and job security. some things you can never be officially ready for, but you have to sell your confidence to learn all those things. some day you might lose your lovely job. it happens. you have to be able to sell your confidence to another slavemaster.

it is all slavery. on our panel we had a marketing director, a freelancer, a lecturer/researcher, a proposal coordinator, and a manager from IBM, and nobody disagreed about the slavery part. there are sacrifices. there are trade-offs. it's your professional soul at stake here. it's your life. you choose.

most insightful comments:
  • talk to people
  • you cannot hide greatness
  • find something you are truly passionate about
  • don't turn down any opportunities for new experiences (unless you have a good reason)
  • don't forget about work/life balance
  • it's not all about the money
sidenote: IBM sounds like a wonderfully attractive working environment. i think i will find out more about it.

Monday, February 20

fmit goes live

today is a day of celebration.

president's day, first of all, and no classes.

fatmanintweed.com is born, for real, with happy brilliant content. go look.

after a weekend of painful head breaking and CSS box model hack research, i finally solved a problem we were having with the template for the new English Department website. oddly enough, the solution was found in the same code i'd used for the fatmanintweed design. i should've thought of it before, really.

in case i haven't mentioned, i've redesigned the portfolio yet again. the design i've got now is more subtle, more classy, and will be more easily matched with the design i'd like for my print portfolio. i'm looking forward to fleshing both portfolios out and polishing them up.

and so life progresses. happily. with greenday in the background.

Saturday, February 11

oral fixation and the topoi of beauty

"Our products are beautiful and delicious, so people love to buy them."

in the last post, i listed a bunch of cool techno-art-stuff created by jonathan j. harris. among his other very prestigious endeavors, mr. harris is one of the creative powers behind oral fixation mints. the site is lovely, despite its funky left alignment, and the business seems to be successful. looking through it, i met not only an urge to spend money on designer mints, but also to analyze the rhetoric of beauty.

i'm not sure how deep or worthy such an an analysis would be, but i think i'm going to make it anyway.

i think the topoi of beauty is rhetorically effective only in its connection with pathos. i don't want to get into too much psychology here, but beautiful things mean more to us for some reason. google hands me, in response to the words beauty and meaning: pleasure. art. buddhism. meditation. flowers. aesthetics. nature. philosophy. matter. phenomenon.

so hand-done, high-class, designer mint tins?
persuasive?

well, yeah, even though in the back of my mind i'm saying too expensive, too frivolous, too.. designer. that and i really don't like mints that much (too minty). i probably wouldn't buy them, but they've certainly got me thinking about it.

hm. anyway, they certainly stand out. and that's pathos too. novelty.
so is the good cause oral fixation is pitching: free tibet.

pathos. batting your lovely lashes. pulling out the puppy-dog eyes. flattery. seems a cheap way of getting what you want... but it works, so who's to argue?

Monday, February 6

plaid subdue glinted zoology

i was surfing this morning in a sea of online sciencey magazines, and i discovered some pretty amazing demonstrations of programming coolness.

phylotaxis
a program displaying science news from all over the web in one lovely mesh of order and disorder.
wordcount
a ranking system for the most often used 86800 words in the English-speaking world, searchable by word and by rank. (the title of this entry is taken from my search of 'plaid')
understanding vorn
a program that scans and displays any image whose title starts with V, O, R, or N, updating every five minutes. (requires flash 6)

all three by jonathan j. harris, an artist.

it amazes me that such ideas have ways to manifest themselves.
now i really want to learn more scripting.