Internetland v. Print v. Self
Yesterday I announced Internetland v. Print. a solo art show which includes three startups and hundreds of original print works. It started yesterday and will continue through Fall 2014.
You can read more about it on my site.
The list of New Things I’m trying to pull-off is hard to stomach. Some of them are new to everyone, and some are just new to me:
- Defining startups as art
- Introducing scrolls as a unique media format
- Defining and presenting myself as an artist
- Designing and filling a large gallery space with prints and sculpture
- Pitching a respectable NYC art gallery (or in the case of failure booking a pop-up shop)
- Raising over $350k from sponsors
- Hacking and giving away 1,000 tablets
- Launching three startups in 5 months
And since I have no funding or savings I’ll be trying to pull this off while I do full-time client work and support my family.
In frequent moments of honesty and paranoia, I feel ridiculous and foolish, caught in a loop of my own ambition.
It’s difficult to come to peace with.
Alan Watts teaches
"I do this in the same way that some birds are eagles and some doves, some flowers lilies and some roses."
Brian Eno empathizes
"I like the thrill of being somewhere where nobody else has been. Even if it’s quite trivial. It’s only art. It’s not very important but nonetheless I like the feeling of standing looking at something that nobody else has ever seen before. "
Good thoughts that I’m working to internalize.
I’m incredibly excited about the show and the work I’ll be producing for it, but the further along the path I get, the more I recognize that this effort is just as much about the pursuit of my own identity as it is about the art itself.
One way or another, I hope it’ll be interesting for you folks.
Thinking a lot about hardware these days. Man this is beautiful.
(via ryoji ikeda | exhibitions)
“Take interest in the things you find interesting.
I know this sounds redundant, but think of it this way: 10 different people can pick up a copy of the New York Times, and none of them will read the same things or read them in the same order. Some people will gravitate towards politics and sports. Others will skip ahead to the Arts section, then Obituaries, etc.
But how often do we pay attention to how our eyes flitter across the page? How often do we take notice of the things we find interesting?”
He continues: “Pay attention to your level of interest when you’re doing your various kinds of work. What work makes you happiest? What work do you find the most frustrating? Take mental notes and slowly edit out the parts of your work that aren’t interesting and dedicate yourself entirely to the parts that make you happy, because, regardless of what they are, they are unique to you.
Not only will this kind of reduction make you happier, but it will also build your competitive edge.”
The Best Advice on Failure — Better Humans — Medium
This is me, quoting myself. I know that’s weird but hey.
This is a description of an approach I’ve been trying to adopt over the last year or so, mostly in response to how miserably I failed with Svpply.
CEOing Svpply was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. Assuming that I could both design and lead the company was essentially me throwing myself against a cultural expectation that I’d internalized and then breaking myself against it. I’ve started calling it the Zuckerberg syndrome, which is that if you can’t lead your company into a glorious future, you’re not worth much.
So by the end of the process I was so tired of doing things I was bad at that I essentially made an agreement with myself to start focusing on the work that I enjoyed.
I’ve been happy with the results, in the sense that it’s allowed me to focus my work down to few small, focused points.
For instance, I’ve come to peace with the fact that I have no interest in leading companies but am utterly fascinated by the act of launching them. So a lot of my career for the past year has been me (a) learning that about myself and (b) shaping my relationship with clients to the point where they don’t expect me to stick around for longer than a few months.
I am disappointed when people judge the value of a computer scientist’s work more by its economic effects than by its intellectual effects. I envy astronomers: People expect them to study stars because stars are beautiful and interesting.
/via Jack Rusher
The ocean waves, the universe peoples.
Ben Pieratt reminded me of this great Alan Watts quote. (via jez-burrows)
Track: Drake - Worst Behavior - NWTS album 2013
It’s business as usual to hear Mase referenced in rap lyrics.
Listen to this track and around the 2:40 mark you’ll hear Drake do the same without actually saying his name.
Easily one of my favorite hacks in recent memory. Such a master stroke.
It’s not uncommon to see blogs that recount someone’s every sneeze since 2007, or of a man who shoots exactly one second of video every day and strings the clips together in time-lapsed mashups. There is guy who secretly taped all of his conversations for three years and a woman who documents every morsel of food that she puts into her mouth. While some of these people aren’t consciously framing their activities as works of art, Wershler argues that what they’re doing is so close to the practices of sixties conceptualism that the connection between the two can’t be ignored.
The Writer as Meme Machine: How Has the Internet Altered Poetry? : The New Yorker
Man I love the internet.
Work versus Life. Greatness versus Family.
A few weeks ago ago I get an email from someone asking if I’d written anything on the topic of startups and family.
"We want to have a thriving family life, and a thriving creative life, but it seems like most really cool jobs in the tech/start up are almost comprehensive lifestyle and time eaters.. The more young single guys at an office, the more the plan of dinner as a family seems foreign and inconvenient"
Right around the same time, I saw this post by Bijan in which he asks:
What if Steve Jobs was happy and balanced? Could he have turned around Apple? What would have become to Pixar? Could he have it all?
I was a workaholic until I had my first son five years ago. In the sense that I worked as often and as hard as I could. My identity was tied in with my work, so I felt empty if I wasn’t pushing excellence.
I’ve gradually been shedding assumptions about work habits ever since. It’s shameful for me to think that it took parenthood to boot me out of it and I feel like an asshole for the time I lost with my wife before then.
To set the foundation of the thinking that I’ve grown into, I’ll share a quote with you that I find myself coming back to often:
I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to studypainting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain”
— John Adams in a letter to his wife, 1780
Which, in my head, I usually shorten to:
"I go to war that my son may be a politician, that his son may be a merchant, that his son may be an artist."
With that said:
Yes. I have faith that it’s possible to accomplish great things and also to be a great family man.
I’ve run this by a few people, and the inevitable response comes back “So you’re seriously saying you can do something other Great Men haven’t?”
The hubris is difficult to stomach.
But while it’s a temptation to put myself in the shadow of other’s Greatness, (as doing so removes the pressure of having to ask the question at all), whether or not Rockefeller or Curie or Jobs or Carnegie or Welles or Earhart or Buffet or King Jr. or Aurellius or any other historically Great Person could have been great while also being dedicated and present for their family is ultimately irrelevant to the question.
The question isn’t whether they could, the question is whether I can.
In which case the answer becomes Yes. Absolutely yes.
Because I have the internet,
because I have hipchat and ichat and an iPhone. Because I have email and Adobe and broadband and computers and information theory and the electrical grid and grocery stores and an education and western privilege and an audience of billions.
How many generations worth of effort did it take to get me in this garage sitting at this laptop doing meaningful work just a few doors down from where my kids are sleeping?
The John Adams quote reminds me of the sacrifice and effort that went into getting me where I am today, not just in a generic sense, but as an acknowledgment that I’m a member of a society where the arts, which include design and development, are at the pinnacle of where things are headed.
As artists, we are at the bleeding edge of a technological bell curve which is slowly spanning the entire population. We’ve been placed at the peak of a pyramid 10,000 years tall, and we act like we can’t call a truce with our inboxes for long enough to go spend meaningful time with our kids.
Go home early! Stay out late! Watch a movie! Read a book! Do whatever you need to do to fill your brain with the goods it needs to churn out the work you’re hired for.
"If I’d been born in my grandfather’s time, I’d have made my grandfather’s mistakes." — Frank Herbert
We’re all eating a fat slice of Sagan’s apple pie, to the point where it’s impossible to see down to the first set of shoulders we’re standing on. The amount of efficiency and opportunity baked into my life makes anything less than the pursuit of greatness in both my work and my personal life an insult to the people who got me here.
Anecdotally, (and as something you can show your boss if you need something like that), when I was running Svpply I showed up at the office at around 8 and worked till just before 5pm, at which point I got on the train for an hour+ commute to Westchester (north of the Bronx).
Nowadays, I work from 9am to 5:30pm at a card table in my garage. I’ll have occasional spurts of discipline where I work earlier in the morning before the kids wake up, but generally I’m working a ~45 hour work week.
As a brain-worker who spends as much time struggling with how to approach my work as I do actually pushing pixels, I find that when I give myself more hours the only thing that scales up is procrastination. There’s little difference in my productivity in a 80 or 40 hour work week.
One more aspect of this that I’ll mention is that, as a manager or CEO, especially of a startup, there’s only so many things you can do to control the success of your company. Market acceptance, competition’s activity, and the ebb and flow of trends are inherently beyond their grasp.
Employee work hours, however, are one thing a manager can control.
So they do.
If a boss is feeling insecure about how their company is performing, then leaning on their employees for more hours is one of the few ways that they can feel like they’re turning the cogs towards success.
Fight the good fight and don’t let pressure steer you clear of your values. If someone fires you because you’ve prioritized health and love in your life, then embrace the opportunity to start your own company or find a new one that isn’t going to degrade you.
Don’t buy into an assembly-line mentality when it’s clearly opposed to everything we’ve worked towards as a society. Treat yourself like an artist, John Adams would’ve wanted it that way.
during this time Steve bragged about being lazy. He was working like a maniac but he’d throw his head back with his eyes unfocused and croon, “I am just the laziest man in the world.” After about the tenth refrain I quietly translated this to mean that he was only active in response to inspiration, and so in this way, action was effortless, thus, he was lazy.
Ex dishes on sex life with Steve Jobs | New York Post
This reminds me of this great tweet from Jake Lodwick: "Just a friendly reminder: If you aren’t regularly getting into flow states, you’re not doing great work." I love the reversal here. Using flow as a canary for quality and fulfillment.
The question of the generation seems to be “How do I make my own money so I can stop doing this work for these people?”
We’re surrounded by quick-rich millionaires and acquihires and Karps with ridiculous lofts bought with no business model, and here we are stuck behind a desk doing pixel-perfect keynotes for clients with tight pockets and no clue.
Do I launch an app?
Do I launch a web service?
Should I kickstart something or what’s with indiegogo?
Photo apps are getting acquired a lot lately right?
Do you know any tech guys looking to join something?
Every designer, developer, VC and MBA I know is scheming, working, talking about or on the verge of going independent.
Client services feel like a sucker’s game when we’ve got direct access to every consumer on the market.
It’s Internetland or bust because everything else is a waste of time and talent.
People want big acts of storytelling and imagination,
Ad Age Magazine A-List: David Granger is Editor of the Year | Media - Advertising Age
Powerful countries with short histories and vast landmasses will struggle with perspective, boundaries
Twitter / alaindebotton: Powerful countries with short …
Just to be clear, I did not have incredible autonomy until afterward. I had signed most of my rights away in order to get syndicated, so I had no control over what happened to my own work, and I had no legal position to argue anything. I could not take the strip with me if I quit, or even prevent the syndicate from replacing me, so I was truly scared I was going to lose everything I cared about either way. I made a lot of impassioned arguments for why a work of art should reflect the ideas and beliefs of its creator, but the simple fact was that my contract made that issue irrelevant
Mental Floss Exclusive: Our Interview with Bill Watterson! | Mental Floss
Wow. Legal documents are the stuff of nightmares.
[Herbert] has said that the function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it. His comment on the work of Huxley and Orwell can equally well be applied to his own: “Neither Brave New World nor 1984 will prevent our becoming a planet under Big Brother’s thumb, but they make it a bit less likely. We’ve been sensitized to the possibility.
Frank Herbert By Timothy O’ReillySomething to aspire to.
Take away the right to say “fuck” and you take away the right to say “fuck the government.
Happy birthday, Lenny Bruce (via newspeedwayboogie)
(Source: Wikipedia, via newspeedwayboogie)