Week Notes 1827 – Bad Week for Art

weeknotes

I’m falling into a few old patterns of not being able to apply a good filter on things I want to be working on. This is especially problematic at a place where opportunities come really fast and constantly. How do you say no to awesome, shiny bobbles that are in high supply at MIT?

I used to really be disappointed that Media Lab people rarely showed up at Dorkbot-Boston events. I’m beginning to understand why. There is just too much to do here & it’s hard to break away!

One amazing thing MIT offers is an Art Loan Program where items from the MIT collection are available for students to take home or to their offices. There’s a lottery system, though, and a few weeks ago, Lauren and I picked out 3 great pieces and crossed our fingers. Sadly, we weren’t selected, so no art for us.

I also half-way participated in art hack day – boston this past weekend. The organizers were friendly and helpful; they arranged for great food and did their best to provide a comfortable hacking environment. They went out of their way to connect teams with resources needed to complete their projects, and the end result was a set of wonderful ideas.It ultimately didn’t work for me, though. I started really gung-ho, but unfortunately felt the need to bail out (disappointing myself and likely my teammates). I was trying to decide why exactly this wasn’t fun for me. I think there was a lack of the kind of energy that works for me. I’m used to hackathons with, I don’t know, a bit more intensity, maybe? I actually think the cavernous space we were working in had a lot to do with it… teams were spread out and there was a weird, draining vibe. Lighting?

I think the biggest issue for me, though, was a general lack of enthusiasm (on my part) for the project I was working on that made me stop and say, “Why, exactly, am I giving up my weekend for this.” A few things:

  • there was a political theme (important issues, but the NPO types in the room needed to get their agendas into projects)
  • I overestimated what I could accomplish, as a sole programmer on a team, in the weekend.
  • I was working on a not-very-game-changing idea.
  • I fell back to my deafult “let’s make a game in unity” mode — not learning or growing or exploring.

I think there was one moment, in particular, though, that really turned me off. I was sitting beginning work on the hack when the non-hackers on the team started conceptualizing more and more features for the project with the assumption that “the programmer would just do it.”

I was allowing myself to be a plumber and not an artist, yet again.

I think the more interesting projects came from people that had a clear understanding of what they wanted to work on in the weekend. They brought the tools and materials specific to their projects. For future hackathons, I’ll be pretty firm on not working on projects that don’t 100% fire me up and will come with up with 1 or more solid ideas ahead of time.

I was also working on an installation for 99fridays, but I shelved it as not ready. I’m actually really glad I didn’t try to finish for this event… It was way too somber a piece and wouldn’t have been a good fit. However, I’m now jazzed about new directions for making it work for the next one.

(Also, had fun at Trivia Night w/ Kathleen, Nicole, Arun & Lauren… we didn’t do too well, but enjoyed the buffalo wings… it’s hard to compete against people that look up all the answers on smart phones.)

Wondering

  • still wondering about tools and infrastructure

Tinkering

  • still putzing with gtd systems & note capturing systems
  • Working on a shadow puppet interaction for 99fridays
  • looking at mindnode->scrivener workflow

Building

  • organized first personal robots group meeting
  • deployed “fixit” app that remotely patched tablets in Georgia
  • worked with Angela to submit a CHI paper based on Ethiopia / Tablet work

Learning

  • different levels of rigor for engineering, design, and science papers