A Fulfilling Vacuum

We take sharing our creative work for granted nowadays—what happens when you intentionally choose not to?

I’ve a long, deep relationship with photography. It began 13 years ago in college, took a three year hiatus and then has been with me ever since. I began taking photos for myself with little interest to expose my photos to anyone other than friends and family. Then came Web 2.0—and my habits changed. I followed in the footsteps of many others from the internet-generation—I posted my photos on various sharing sites. At first it was just to have a place to display my photos. Then it was to see if anyone else liked them. Eventually I became equally interested in the pursuit of external validation/acknowledgement as I was with the actual process of taking photographs.

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My Last Three Months Blogging Under Fear

I was in a bar with Rob Dodson three months ago discussing all manner of topics. About two drinks in, the conversation turned to Rob’s last big spurt of blogging. He knew just how hard it is to keep a writing routine, so he made a deal with himself—he would blog for 60 days straight or he had to give $500 to a politician he was not fond of. This sounded like a great idea, especially after two stiff drinks. I decided to do the same, with slightly different parameters. Continue reading “My Last Three Months Blogging Under Fear”

Stepping Away from the Trough

Earl Butz was the US Secretary of Agriculture who shifted domestic policy to support large-scale farm production. As a man who grew up through the Great Depression, poverty and hunger no doubt influenced his view on food policy. People in his youth couldn’t afford to eat and his policy in many ways fixed that. When he was asked about the unintended consequences of this policy, he almost looked perplexed. Continue reading “Stepping Away from the Trough”

The Age of Immortality is Over

In the past, media and information was sparser, thus great works of art, music and literature shone brightly for great periods of time. In turn, a person’s relationship with media was cherished, deep, profound. This environment enabled art, media and literature to embed themselves not only into people, but into culture. Some of which still have an impact to this very day. Continue reading “The Age of Immortality is Over”

Design is Implicit Education

I played a lot of baseball in my youth. Through all the years I took the sport seriously, I had a pitching coach named Lefty. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was the best teacher I ever had. I remember at some point, he started helping me throw a slider. The slider is a tricky pitch. It’s the epitome of easy to learn, hard to master. The technique for throwing a slider isn’t hard to grasp, but it can be very easy to hang. After weeks of struggling with the slider on my own, Lefty was able to fix it with a single sentence. It amazes me to this day. Continue reading “Design is Implicit Education”

Open Source Projects Must be Bigger than the Languages They're Written In

When WordPress was first created, PHP was the obvious language to write it in. The language was pervasive, was all but ubiquitous on hosting servers and was considered a current language. That has changed. PHP is as ubiquitous as ever, but now showing its age. The next generation of developers aren’t flocking to PHP and most modern web apps are written in something else. So what is an open source project like WordPress to do? With a PHP codebase, you are effectively creating an interest barrier for many younger developers to contribute to your open source project. WordPress may be the biggest current example, but this conundrum is going to be a continual problem for other large open source projects. How do you keep an open source project modern and relevant when it’s built on top of an aging language?

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The Best Way is Through

My Grandmother was dying. She was in the hospital, being monitored before she was sent home with hospice care. Everyone in the room knew the end was not far away. My wife and I had driven to be there when we were told that she could pass at any time. Not long after we showed up, my Grandmother politely asked to be left alone so she could sleep. I knew that once I left the room, it would be the last time I saw her alive.

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Creating the Profound

I have been thinking a lot about my article, In Defense of Hard, which I wrote almost two years ago. I never have completely moved on from it—to this day, I try to find better ways to communicate the thoughts behind the article.Through all my thinking, I keep going back to the word profound and how few things being made today can be described as such. There is a exhaustive emphasis on simple or easy, but not profound. Continue reading “Creating the Profound”

Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important

The floppy disk has served as the representation of the save icon for decades. It’s widely accepted as a standard and well recognized. It is also a bad icon that we shouldn’t shy away from changing.

About a week ago, I started a Branch discussion on redesigning the Save icon. I never saw the Branch as the actual place where the icon would literally be designed, but I thought it would be a good hub for conversation. To my amazement, the thread took off and grew far beyond the bounds of that single discussion. As the days went by I found the meta-discussion more interesting than the discussion itself. A significant amount of people considered the exercise a waste of time for one pervasive reason. The icon, albeit antiquated, had become the de-facto for save and had transitioned into an abstract symbol. People know what it is, so why waste our time making something new? Continue reading “Why Redesigning the Save Icon is Important”

An Open Source Manufacturing Future

New technologies are increasingly enabling individuals to manufacture small-scale objects. How could ubiquitous fabrication complemented by a vibrant open source community change our relationship with everyday objects?

A few months ago, I listened to a talk by Chad Jennings where he discussed the upcoming shake-up around small scale manufacturing. This is due to the advancements in both 3D scanning and 3D printing. The things that can be accomplished with today’s 3D scanning/printing process is truly amazing and if the technology behind it follows the same trajectory as personal computing, these devices will be within consumers’ reach in the years to come. If that does come to be, what are the possibilities and implications of such a future? Continue reading “An Open Source Manufacturing Future”