My grand project

Essays / Personal

I moved to Boston right after July 4th of this year and have had the opportunity to introduce myself to lots and lots of new faces.

I took for granted that Austin was a relatively smaller town and that I could go to just about any tech-related meetup and find at least one person that I knew.

So the question, “what do you do?” has had me stumped for a while now. When most people ask that, they really want to know “how much money do you make” or “can you even relate to my self-important world?”I’ve been doing web and software development of some sort or another for the past decade with an occasional foray into non-profit organizational work and things like dorkbot and robotic puppets. There are also many things I aspire to and am working towards. I looked at web stuff as bread and butter.

I no longer introduce myself as a web developer or Rails guy. Ballast. All of my current gigs involve art or robots or innovative software. It’s a good place. When I consciously made the decision not to pursue web stuff as a source of income the universe rewarded me by presenting just enough non-web opportunity to keep my income pipeline fuller than it’s ever been while keeping the stress level way down.

I’m happier when I’m doing work that’s more creatively fulfilling.

I’m also realizing that if I keep all of my creative work closed up in a box out of fear or relentless tinkering, then it’s as good as “never done.” Nothing is more unflattering than trying to convince someone of the value of a perpetual “closed beta.”

As a side effect, I find that the people I’m wanting to meet deal in the currency of provable accomplishments and not vaporware ideas. Nobody cares about the network of people I know (since nowadays, it’s super easy to reach anybody via social media tools). Spinning multiple plates badly is not attractive. They aren’t even interested in what I can do.

The only thing that matters is, “What have you done lately that’s remarkable?”

Cal Newport defines Grand Projects as:

any project that when explained to someone for the first time is likely to elicit a response of “wow!’”

Cal Newport

There is a huge difference in multitasking because you are disorganized and consciously multitasking so that you accomplish interesting grand projects.

Interesting people are often involved in multiple grand projects, but they really only can get one completed at a time.

So the better question is “What project are you working on right now that fires you up the most?”

I’d like to live a life of prolific creativity. I’d like to introduce myself with infectious enthusiasm over some project I can literally put into somebody’s hands. I’m working on a meta-grand project, then. I’m fired up about figuring out what creativity framework I need so that I and lots of other people can have a relentlessly creative output of accomplishment.

I won’t spend all of my time ruminating over the creative process rather than actually creating things. That’d just be procrastination. I am spending quality time doing research and building infrastructure that facilitates creative output. These ideas are to be field tested by me and eventually others.

I’ll probably blog about that research on occasion, but only when I have something provable to say or an artifact to share.

Most of the time, now, I want to talk about the projects that result from my creativity experiments.

I may, at some point in my life, call myself a technology artist or creativity expert. For now, I’m a guy making things.

This post is a response to the Holidailies writing prompt “Introduce Yourself.”