Languages Of Art

Every passion has it’s language; every language is itself an art. Whether an individual is crafting a simple letter or writing a thousand pages for a novel; whether she is singing a song straight from the heart; whether he is sculpting the muse from his dreams; or whether they are doing something entirely new and unique. There is a language that is held within every art, and everything is an art. Everything has a story to tell, and sometimes only the creator will know or understand that story, in whole or in part.

You can stare at a piece hanging before you, and even though you try, never understand. It is not your fault, nor the creators, nor even the piece itself; there is simply no way for you to understand it. Accept the beauty as it is, whether that comes from a true feeling of beauty in the piece or respect for the crafting of it. All things are beautiful, both the simplistic and the very intricately detailed.

Every individual will use them in his, or her, own ways. Some things may not be appealing to others, and that is okay; I know with certainty there are things that I cannot stand, but that does not make them wrong. The best way to learn the stories is to observe and ask, which is even more actionable.

Ask for the story; seek it out; it will likely be worth your time.

Persistence Of Value

I’ve had several discussions with people lately about various things, from community in my town, arts & tech in school, and also about what and how I ended up doing what I do. I may talk about those later, because they are interesting, but I’ve also noticed the idea of persistence popping up, even as an aside.

A quote of advice I received a few years ago, from someone much younger than me was, “You don’t wait for them to call you, you call them.” I sort of ignored it, probably due to person’s age as well as my assessment of their mental acuity,  though even in that moment I realized it was something I had never considered. Thinking over the recent conversations, it brought me back to that quote, but also recent changes I made. I’d now rephrase that as “Don’t wait for the actions of others to tend in your favor. Come back with a reason for them to act in a favorable way. Present your value, and if they do not see it, come back again and again with something different.”

I lived my life free from most needs, but it also means that stuff is normally easy to attain. Breaking through the walls where I need to, is different, I tend to relax and soften rather than tensing up and getting hard enough to break through. I’ve accomplished this in minor ways, but I plan on continuing further with it. Bring the value, and keep bringing it. Build and build, let the inertia continue to push you all the way. Persistence of value is the key.

My Life Spendings

I’ve been thinking about where I’ve spent my time in life. It’s something I do every year during the summer. I think about recent stuff, and sometimes look further back. I had never tried to do a full accounting of where my life was spent, and still don’t have one that is 100% complete or accurate. But just looking at the numbers is kind of amazing.

I’ve been alive 8400 days, roughly. And of those days I’ve spent quite a few doing just normal daily functions.

Normal Daily Functions

  • 2450 days sleeping (~7 hours a day)
  • 600 days eating (~100 minutes a day)
  • 650 in transit (~110 minutes a day)
  • 400 in the bathroom (showering, bio, etc.)

Work & Education

  • 750 days spent in the public education system (K-6, 10-12)
  • 135 as a home-school student (7-9)
  • 25 as a college student
  • 150 days spent doing development
  • 125 working normal paying jobs

entertainment

  • 275 days playing videogames (30 days of WoW, 20 on Final Fantasy 7-10, 12 on Pokemon) Most of it came on the weekends and summers between the age of 12-15.
  • 175 watching movies that I can account for in iTunes
  • 50 days of just watching Chuck, most of which is accounted for in iTunes.
  • 40 days of poker on sites like www.partypoker.fr, I used to spend quite a long time playing multiple tables simultaneously.

Social Media Stats

  • 200 days on Friendfeed (~4hr/day over the past 3.5 years. ~15k posts, 46k comments, 46k likes)
  • 90 days reading in Google Reader (267k items @ half-minute each)
  • 70 days on StumbleUpon sites (14k thumbs, 55k sites seen. 5k+11k not accounted for from a cleanup in July ’09)
  • 45 days spent sending instant messages
  • 30 days sending/reading email.
  • 20 days on Twitter (~20 minutes / day since August 2008, 7k tweets, 1.4k faves)

That adds up to quite a large portion of my life. I’ve spent 4100 days on every day functions, nearly half my life; nearly 1200 on work and education; about 550 days wasted on entertainment — countless more dollars. And on social media and communication, a little more than 450 days. That leaves roughly 2000 days of my life unaccounted for and not all of these numbers are mutually exclusive.

I’m not sure I would like a full break-down, even if I could get it. I have a good feeling about where I’ve spent those 2000 days, and I know I wouldn’t trade them. Those things unnaccounted, a quarter of my life, are most likely the times spent with family and friends, reading books, or just embracing the stillness of my surroundings. Life is short, but I’m glad that the time I’ve spent with the people I care about is such a large portion of it.

Here’s to a future of the same, and much more.

23 Years And Some Good Will

So another year has slipped past, not so uneventfully, as other recent ones. The past year, and particularly the past six months, I have been a bit more proactive than before. I haven’t seen too much from these efforts. Still, I apparently managed to pop up on a few radars and have become involved with several people and companies. This hasn’t been that bad, at all in many ways.

Ultimately, my life has become more hectic but also somewhat more enjoyable. Not always, but often enough. From my anecdotal experience, one thing is most apparent to me, you are rewarded for the good you do, but only when you least expect it. Take everything in stride; losses and sacrifice today does not always mean more loss tomorrow. With that in mind I decided a few days ago to work on projects that foster good will.

My idea of good will projects was to create experiences, relationships, and opportunities through helping others. I have a few deep observations/recommendations that I plan on writing up for some companies that I use frequently, but are lacking in more ways than one. I also wanted to work on a few small open-source projects, and get them out.

My first act of good will, and one that will continue, is to help with the development of Geochat. I have spent quite a bit of time on the site over the past few weeks, even though the activity on it has only been in short bursts and with only a few people. Hopefully that will change as Jorge and, occasionally, I add features and fix bugs. Everyone is welcome to come check it out.

After 23 years of life, here I am, not where I thought I’d be, but also content. I will continue doing what I do, and continue to expand my experiences and horizons. I’m not the best, probably never will be, but I can try to be my best. Good will projects and more openness are my plans for now on how to do that. So to those who are reading this, have a wonderful day, it’s my, and Holden‘s, birthday. Happy Birthday, Holden!

The site may go down temporarily, as I transferred the domain, and it hasn’t fully propagated.

Optimizing On Time

Time is irretrievable once it is gone. Your goal should be to reduce the time your users must spend. This doesn’t just mean increasing output on the backend, but maximizing data throughput on the interface.

We all take time for granted, and even those who don’t tend to focus on our individual time-costs. As creators, though, we should also look at the time-cost of our products because if you think about it the math shows that to be even more important. Time is a limited resource, variable to perception, but limited to roughly 24 hours available to every person.

To break down my point, if you can reduce the time a person has to spend with your product, that effect is multiplied for all your users. This multiplication effect makes it quickly achievable to save time, in the global sense, over a set of uses. You might lose an hour or two, but assuming frequent enough use, or enough users, there is a possibility for that time to be reclaimed. Humans are constantly working with technology and further progressing, to achieve this goal; even if it isn’t the direct goal.

Automation means that you can remove a users usage at some scale, possibly even fully. If a user does something every day, and it takes 2 minutes, that adds up to an hour over the course of a month. If you can remove the process completely, you just saved the person 12 hours a year.

For example, I started buying similar sets of clothes, black t’s and cargo pants. I only have to think about what to wear maybe once or twice a month. I saved about 90 seconds a day, in getting dressed. I removed the selection process, so that the choice became automatic.

At scale though, with lots of people using it, even a second, or a few milliseconds can add up. If you cut 0.1 second out of a loading time, that happens 5 times per user a day, you save them 15 seconds a month. If you implemented this in an hour, and it was only you, it would take you 20 years to reclaim that hour. If you had 100 users, it would only take 72 days. So even a very small scale, the global availability of time can be increased.

You can’t just tweak the backend though. Eventually, the time-cost won’t work out mathematically to spend more time trying to get more data across the same channels. You can still manage this by increase the capacity you present, if you do it logically, this is why designers are important. An engineer can get stuff done, but they aren’t always focused on the cost of time for a user. Designers should focus on the user-first, to help increase the fluidity, and thus remove hidden time-costs.

Another option for modifying the time-cost is in condensing the data, in a loss-less manner. Think about he way we use compressors to shrink the data we send over the wire. If we can shrink the details down without losing the context; still conveying the message. We can take huge steps in create a total time-value, vastly greater.

These are the goals that I feel should be focused on. And I do not disregard the fact that the tendencies are when time is saved, to spend it on even more information. This could be said to be good, or bad. I feel it’s negative, but that requires a additional capacity to prevent continued indulgence. That’s a topic for another time.