When I Grow-up...
I just read a really nice post on Fuel Your Creativity about social networks by Andy Jacobson where he described the positive impact his online social life has on his design work and how it related to his "Home Town". Good stuff. I really like the metaphor. The somewhat short and simple post and some of the comments left by folks got me thinkin' about the topic, and I thought I'd tap-down some of my own thoughts on the subject.
For me, while growing-up the world got bigger as I did, and then I reached a tipping point -- and as I moved around a bunch it began to get smaller. I realized that there are many more things we all have in common than there are differences. Sometimes it's tough to remember this during the day-to-day hustle-bustle though.
I think everybody can appreciate it when folks put the "real" them out there... it's honest and heartfelt, you know? It's like a well-written short story. It's like a timeless photo. It's the stuff that gets into your core right down to the human element.
I've always felt we all unknowingly weave our brief and seemingly random, thread-like lives into a "Human fabric." It's old and worn, and it gets ripped and tattered but it won't ever tear apart. It's the metaphor I've always visualized to describe the Human condition.
Them Miles I've Traveled
I've been surfing the web since the early Nineties... Waaay back when there was only one browser: Mosaic, and a 300 baud modem was fast. I started trying to build web 'pages' around that time too. Heck, I had a Zenith 286 laptop with 1 Megabyte of RAM and I was doing "page layout" and brochure pages as a freelancer so it kinda made sense. Really basic stuff. Besides, I thought it just might be "the next big thing!" In retrospect, I've cobbled together a decent career over the years and rubbed elbows with some really fantastic people, built some great relationships and friendships because of computers, the web -- and now with Social Media.
I grew up in a small (one square mile) town just outside NYC. It had a town center, and everyone pretty much knew everyone else and it really had a sense of community. I have a busy offline "real" life and I'm slowly building a really nice, enjoyable and complimentary online virtual life as well. I now live in New England very close to Needham where Andy grew up. Small world.
Like Andy -- and probably a lot of other folks -- I love the cool factor that all the Web 2.0 technology presented. I always felt that the "you have to eat your own dog food" analogy made a lot of sense. You really have to use it to be able to design it well, right? I've been signing up for just about every service I run across to see what it does, and how it does it, and to soak-in that "virtual goodness" -- that cool factor that makes even the toughest geeks get all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
It's Good To Be Home
Maybe it's the time of year. Thanksgiving and some quality time spent with the family? Maybe it's my recent trip back home for a High School Reunion. It's nice to be a thread in the fabric, however torn and tattered it may be.
For me, it's nice to be a part of something bigger than the everyday stuff. The rough and tumble, "I just gotta get through this week" stressful kinda stuff. The virtual world doesn't seem to have the same challenges, nagging issues or problems that can build-up and stick-around in my "real" life. I like the energy and enthusiasm of the design community, and it's nice to be able to tap into a flow of consistent creative inspiration. I'm always inspired to try and continue to learn, challenge myself and try to hone my skills... feeling like I'm a prt of something bigger helps me to try to always keep an optimistic outlook on things, and "keep on keeping on" when things get tough.
I like the "connectedness" of my virtual social life, and I like the fact that it's always there, active and churning, rumbling with life. An endless virtual stream of something new and exciting just around the corner.
When I Grow-up...
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Here's one from the "Stick to it, you can do it" Category... Way back in March of this year Smashing Mag started featuring stunning desktop wallpaper created by amazing artists and designers working on the web. I was hooked on Smashing since they rolled in the Fall of '06, and they really crank-out great articles, resources, how-to's, fonts, tools and all sorts of stuff that really does "make your life easier" if you work on the web (or if you geek-out just for fun, huh?).
In March I was so inspired by the amazing artwork that I took on a personal challenge to try and see if I could get Smashed too at some point — and I set out to try and make some decent desktop wallpapers whenever I had time. Finally, in November I submitted a wallpaper just to see if my stuff would rank, but that set wasn't chosen (the calendar was too difficult to see). No biggie I figured, and I churned-out another set for December just for chuckles, submitted them and went about my boring routine just as I always do and thought nothing of it...
Feelin' Pretty Good Now
I returned from a rare, and invigorating brief traveling jaunt and checked my email and deleted my typical SPAM messages (sorry: it's actually large enough, I don't need a mortgage or a mail-order bride, and I don't need an expensive watch, etc.) and then did my typical web surfing and feed reading. Then, I remembered I had submitted my wallpaper, and went to see if the fine folks at Smashing had posted for December with my fingers crossed and there I was, SLAM I got Smashed and it was a great feeling. Nice.
One Ant and One Giant Rubber Tree
Here's what made the grade, and I called it "Violet Night" because it sorta sounded good and seemed to make sense at the time. I dressed it up in some fancy phrases to make it seem like I actually had a concept when in fact I was really just messing around with Photoshop.
I think I can, I think I can!
I think I'll try to do something again next month since it's really kinda fun and I like rubbing pixels with some of the best on the web — makes me feel like I am somebody, really. Maybe I'll actually get some traffic and a few ad clicks on this stupid blog after all these years. That's another long-winded long-term goal, but I've stopped holding my breath waiting for a check from Google.
Check out all the fantastic stuff they've got at Smashing Magazine, and add them to your feeds — heck, why not try and submit your stuff? It's good for you and 100% natural without all the weird side effects, fast talk and fine print...