this week i’ve released a couple experiments. one is web app, one is a video essay. neither is perfect, and that’s hard for me to deal with. however, i know i have more to lose by agonizing over the quality of my work than by actually sharing it and moving on.
in this video, i challenge some of cory doctorow’s ideas about copyright, based on my amateur understanding of how the internet works. i am fully aware that i am likely wrong on a lot of points here, and if anything this video is my best attempt at putting my interests into words. i hope to get some feedback or to do further research on copyright so that i can speak more eloquently on the subject. but, in the interest of posting videos weekly, i felt compelled to settle and say ‘welp, this is good enough for now’. it exists and it’s not terrible, and i know it can be better.
secondly, this is an app that i made using glitch. it takes data from your most listened to song on spotify and makes guesses at your personality based on that song. it’s funny, not necessarily built out to its fullest, but it works. writing and learning code is hard, and the majority of the effort was figuring out how to get spotify data from individual users (‘authentication’ they call it). i managed to do it, and the app works for most of the people that try it out. i could have made it more expansive, deep, or user friendly, but again i hit the ‘good enough’ point and knew that i needed to move on to the next thing.
as a perfectionist and a performer, i am often uncomfortable with releasing half-baked work. but, i am putting my focus more on the process rather than the product, and i know by continuing to release my experiments into the world, i will get immediate feedback and learn ten times more than if i were to build private projects and theorize in private.
i have a vendetta against the personal website. i have one (it’s not this one) and i’m ready to get rid of it. i am told, for a business, you need to have a website. my question: do you really?
like, i understand for websites that sell products. you want to go to the site to investigate the brand, the products, and possibly purchase. but for many other folks, you visit the website once and never again. the page i go to the most is the company’s “about” page and then maybe their “pricing”. i rarely read their blogs or any of the body content on the site. maybe i’m alone in this, but i have a hunch i’m not.
considering my squarespace costs $18/mo and it does very little in terms of connecting me with an audience, i am planning to retire it. if anything, i am paying $18/mo for faux credibility. “oh he has a website, he must be legit” says the imaginary voice in my head. this is indeed a fantasy. you don’t need a website to be legit. you do, however, need an internet presence. and this can be done FOR FREE on facebook and instagram. you can even have a low cost blog (like this one) which yields much more engagement than a static site that serves as a $18/mo business card.
maybe one day i’ll hit the scale that i can afford a website. but as i am experimenting and trying to find out my niche, my customer base, and my services, i am not going to pay a recurring fee for a billboard that does nothing for me.
to continue on yesterday’s post on focused play, i also have made it a point to just dig deep into my google docs. what’s funny is that when i am bored i will just poke around in my folders, organizing the files until i suddenly come up with an idea that excites me. and, i realized recently that you can create tiny websites for free with a tool called google sites. i made a small “cool directory” that you can see here.
this small website was a solution to my project problem: i have so many projects that i’ve completed and/or am working on, i realized i needed a google sheet to keep track of them all. the website serves as a more palatable way to navigate the most recent videos and streams i’ve published.
this and yesterday’s mother’s day card are both small, but i think it is important to show off the little things along with the big projects, just because it validates what you’re doing, and provides some momentum for doing more. i hope that by learning one hundred little things, it will make building the big thing that much easier.
my strategy has been to just spend time playing with the tools on glitch in order to see what is possible and what i like. i have limited resources (i’m working primarily from a chromebook and an iphone) so glitch works out really well for me because it is based online. i’ve been having a good time trying things out, even though i don’t have a clear idea of where it will lead me.
i recently started streaming on twitch. this is a messy platform that reminds me of myspace, since it has a lot of room for interactive customization. in reading about twitch, i learned that there is a quieter side to the platform that is not entirely focused on gaming. some folks knit. others read. some draw. me? i’m seeing if i can collaboratively write a tv script via livestream.
it’s an experiment, and i don’t know how it’s going to pan out. i know i need my schedule to be consistent, and i know i have to work out some logistical problems with sharing what’s on my screen, but i love working on platforms that are still growing and figuring out what they are. because in a sense, so am i.
“curation” is a big buzzword on my mind right now – since we are drowning in information, curators of quality content are some of the most valuable fixtures we can find. my previous job was at a boutique that only brought in the best of finely made men’s clothing. jenny nicholson, funnily enough, curates “bad media” with her critiques. my friend lito is an invaluable resource to me, as he visits a ton of restaurants and curates a list of his favorites.
part of me just wants to make lists and share them (a google doc makes sense). i would love to have an easily navigable collection of lists somewhere of quality resources and content. i guess the best thing i have going for that need right now is are.na (link) which is kind of a minimalist, pinterest-like website where you can save your favorite internet things in a pleasing way.
as we curate, patterns emerge. the trick is starting and then refining the process. i love books, cafes, people, and walking. i am sure there is a way to somehow collect data and to make it pretty, which is what museums do, and what any good curator does as well. how will you share your collections, and how will you focus the themes of your finds?
i’m currently reading “the future of the internet and how to stop it” by harvard law professor jonathan zittrain. the chapter i am currently on defines generative systems, or things that people can build other things with. a lot of tools online are generative, though some or non-generative. jonathan suggests that generative systems push innovation a little bit better, and are more receptive to new ideas.
there are a delightful couple of pages in which zittrain tells us the difference between generative and non-generative products. legos are generative, while a dollhouse is not. a knife is generative, while a potato peeler is not. you get the gist – a generative tool allows for its user to do a lot of creative things with it. currently, i use a generative system called glitch (link). it’s a website that teaches its users how to code. it is full of tools and building blocks intended to build web apps. i’ve made some tiny vr environments, algorithms that write poems, and yesterday i toyed around with maps.
if you are lucky enough to find yourself in a generative situation, i encourage you to play. you’ll innovate and create something new just by having a good time, and by seeing what directions your new tools create.