Je me souviens
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December 2006
January 2007

2006-12-31 »

Okay, this is the very last entry from back when I was having my kidney vacation. My mindset has changed a bit since I wrote this in my notebook, but I'll paste it here anyway for posterity, and because the Crazy Pills were a pretty good source of unusual thinking.

Delirium 4: Isolation

(Written around September 1st, 2006)

Before, I wrote about my precious instability that comes from keeping all my options open, constantly re-evaluating which direction I'll choose, but using a generally convergent decision algorityhm such that it seems like I'm consistent.

Given my subsequent career adjustments, I think I can claim that I at least wasn't totally lying about the whole thing.

But two recent events outside of my control have reminded me how, despite my best efforts, I've been "stabilized" more by the system than I had realized. Luckily for me, fate was conspiring to unlock my PLL, so to speak, and I'm more free now than I had ever realized I wasn't.

The two particular events I'm speaking of are my kidney vacation and the theft of my laptop.

First the laptop. The whole way it was configured - Linux, ion, text files, mutt, and so on, was based on the way I did my work before - in other words, my prior career. I have a feeling that my new work will be a lot more cross-platform and a lot more high-level, involving a lot more modern tools (like .NET for example). And I probably won't be developing operating systems for a while... so why not rethink it all from scratch? I think maybe I'll get a Mac this time. (Update: I did.)

Secondly, my kidney vacation really got me thinking. No, no, not about the fagility of life and the meaninglessness of it all and that kind of fluff. Come on, it was a kidney vacation, not a kidney failure.

No, it just gave me a lot of time to think about things I never think about because I'm too busy. And because of the absurd coincidence of having my laptop stolen right before I entered the hospital, I was really disconnected from all that stuff, probably more than I have been for 10 years. I spent a lot of time just staring at the walls and thinking, and I rediscovered something very important - I still like doing that. As much as we can talk about zone time and the genius of obsession, sometimes just sitting and thinking about stuff is really what's needed.

I think the most important that came to me during this time is just how little actually matters toward the final results in the end. I alluded to them in Imbalance and The Genius of Obsession but it deserves its own statement outright. Designers - like I try to be - tend to obsess about every little detail of their design and implementation, and woe be you if you stand in their way. And this obsession with details is, I think, a critical part of the genius creative process itself.

But I believe it's caring about the details that matters. The details themselves, the vast, vast majority of them, actually don't matter at all. That's why so many different creative ingenious things are cereated so differently by so many different kinds of people and teams in so many different places. All youneed to assemble are the essential ingredients and put together the essential details.

But which details are the essential ones? Well... I'm out of the hospital now. Perhaps I'll never know.

Attribution: this note is at least partially inspired by Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, which has an excellent discussion of how evolution actually reduces complexity rather than increasing it as most people think. His theory is that in fact, only a small number of factors need to be optimized for the system to survive - the rest are mostly just random. The argument is quite clever and I believe it can apply to all sorts of other systems, like the genius-creative systems I've been discussing.

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