17 November 2011

creative endeavors

It recently occurred to me that all of my life can be broken up in moments of consumption, moments of creation, and moments of doing just plain nothing. I think that usually people create and produce for work and consume and relax for fun.

What's special about me is that I need to create to really feel alive, that I have a small limit of how much I can consume. I shop only for necessities; I don't watch TV, rarely read novels and watch only hand-picked movies. Most of my information-consumption is studying specific subjects (favorite reading source: Wikipedia). This often inspires my own creations. Well, mostly it rather inspires ideas, most of which I'll never execute.

It's really hard to relax without consuming anything. Sometimes (especially at night) I eat although I'm not very hungry; just for relaxing. Sometimes I read stuff (especially links on Facebook) that I won't even remember a second later, that's more relaxation than consumption. Doing sports or taking a walk seem to be the least consumtive ways to relax. Cooking can be a good creative/productive way to relax, but it requires that I am not too exhausted in the first place. Talking to a close friend is also a great way to relax and to clear my mind of a lot of things going around in there.

Here are some ways in which I could be creative for my own pleasure:
  • programming stuff
  • making music
  • drawing (architecture and inventions)
  • inventing stuff
  • building bicycles
  • 3D modeling stuff (again, architecture and inventions)
  • writing movie scripts
  • writing religious books
  • writing technical books 
  • doing stuff with languages
Last year, I took a basic class in hand drumming (Djembe playing) and that was fun (I also met great people there), but I didn't find it creative enuf. I thought that after having a basic sense of rhythm, I could experiment with tunes. A very kind person gave me a guitar, but I soon found that the level of practice required before any creativity can take place is way more that I'm willing to invest. In any case I feel that I now have made up for the lack of "trying out music" in my childhood and can move on to other topics now.

tower of bikes in my room

Since the first anniversary of me being in Berlin which coincided with my first paid vacation since graduating from UofT I have been thinking what I want to do with the next year of my life. But since all my vacation was filled with busy trips, I didn't really have time to think about it. At least I took note of the past year's highlights and lowlights and then came this week: spontaneous vacation without a planned trip! In the first days I did some remaining home improvements following my move (also this summer after just a little more than a year in my first place in Berlin). But then I quickly started looking for long-term projects in which to put my precious vacation time.

The result of my deliberations is that I want to start both drawing by hand and 3D modeling with SketchUp (see previous post). I have also decided that the realm of Architecture shall stay a topic of consumption, while my first drawings and 3D models shall be related to the planetary gear adventures. I would also really like to finish a first (or rather zeroth) version of my planetary gear calculator program, but since I find programming so hard, I am shying away from any further work until I find myself with a really large block of uninterrupted-by-work time to concentrate on this.

In the language department, I have decided to learn Dutch, just because it is so easy. In the consumption and inspiration department, I am planning a trip to Asia next fall, but I am uncertain, if I will use the chance to study more of the Chinese language. Practice a bit, certainly yes, but learning new words, it's oh-so-hard...

The future of Wikipedia and the next year for myself

It's been a couple of years that Wikipedia remains one of the world's most-read websites, but stagnates in growth and doesn't offer any really new and exciting features. One of things that I had expected to boost Wikipedia's evolution was a more easy-to-use (read: WYSIWYG) editor and more support for writing articles on specialized subjects. Writing an article about a movie or about a chemical compound or a person's biography are all fundamentally different things and although Wikipedia has subcultures for many specialized domains (and portals and mentors) the software and interface for all those domains remains the same. Since all the knowledge is in the community, not the software, Wikipedia is at a disadvantage compared to other places on the web.

As an aside compare how Facebook encodes their domain knowledge in software: there's only a limited number of romantic relationship types that one can choose and one can only select one single to be in a relationship with. That's a really easy user interface! (Of course, it discriminates against polyamorous people, but Wikipedia would of course offer such settings in a biography interface. ;-) 

A good example for a knowledge-sharing website with goals that overlap Wikipedia's is stackexchange.com which combines Q&A with Wikis and uses many encoded-in-software practices to shepherd its users into creating an ever-better site and ever-better community. Another example would be the Google Places semi-wiki which offer's shop addresses, opening hours, and reviews directly integrated into Google Maps.

But the example that currently takes most of my attention is Google SketchUp with its 3D Warehouse of reusable models. When I started dreaming to redesign some of my favorite subway stations on the computer, I just has wished that such a thing existed. Well, in fact, it existed already, I just didn't know about it. Well, now all I need is to install Windows on my computer (so I can run SketchUp) and also buy a computer mouse.

I just hope that I will have enuf time and calm (meaning not be too exhausted from work) to take up this new hobby!

PS: What I want is to create 3D models as complete as this drawing from London, but for stations in Berlin in Paris.
For the interested: More from London. And even more.

Here's a nice picture from Paris, too: