Growth.

So far this year, I have done the following:

I feel smarter, more confident in my craft, and much healthier. Doing “the right thing” has become addictive for me. I’m a little bummed out that I have to skip my work out tomorrow morning so I won’t be body-dead for kung fu that evening.

It’s weird to watch myself type that last sentence out and mean it. My mental image of myself lags behind my reality a little. All this self-improvement is so uncharacteristic that I’ve been doing research on self-manipulation and behavioral psychology, trying to work out if I’ve been using some operant conditioning technique that I haven’t even noticed.

I haven’t found any answers, but the research itself has been fascinating. And it’s given me a really cool idea that may become my next bullet point. I’ve just got a couple more things to learn.

Three Points + Two Questions.

  1. I am a reasonably skilled developer, especially with javascript. It is increasingly easy to make a web product with little but javascript.
  2. I have some experience (and considerable interest) in product design. I don’t think I have that much of a disadvantage compared to other designers my age, many of whom are just getting out of college.
  3. With services like Square and Stripe, I can painlessly (and legally) accept payments over the internet.

With a little business knowledge, and considerable luck, I could conceivably develop a product and sell it globally. All on my own.

Guys, I didn’t even finish community college. I don’t consider myself to be all that gifted. I’m just some dude from San Francisco who learned all this stuff while goofing off at said community college.

When I realized this, I had two questions. First, how crazy is a world that allows this kind of opportunity? And second, why aren’t I taking advantage of it yet?

Techno-Ghoul.

I have a problem with automatic restroom sinks.

The point of motion activated controls is that instead of physically activating a mechanism, you just kind of hold your hands in the way you would if the process you’re activating had already begun. You pretend you’re about to wash your hands, and then voilá! you are washing your hands. In theory.

I am for some reason incapable of activating motion sensors. I try the standard hand movement, but the faucet doesn’t seem to notice. My next tactic is usually to swirl my hands beneath the sink in rough concentric spheres, trying to come into contact with the apparently elusive field of vision of the sink. I move quickly, I move slowly, I try different hand shapes as if to interact with imaginary knobs and levers, hoping that by pure force of will I can make the sink turn on.

Eventually I give up, and someone else activates the sink, washes their hands, and walks away before the flow of water stops, and I can piggy-back on their immunity to my hand-washing curse.

But as I’m finally washing my hands in the suddenly empty bathroom, I can’t help feeling that the disconnect is on my end. Maybe my physicality itself is in question. I look up at the mirror and see myself staring back, but were I able to see as the sink’s tiny electronic eye does, would the bathroom seem eerily abandoned?

Bear with me here:

Traditional vampire-spotting lore is characterized by limitations the world imposes on them. They’re invisible in mirrors, they must be invited indoors, and they can’t cross running water. These traditional ways of visualizing and organizing space are either broken or repellent for vampires, for whatever reason.

My question is this: could it be that technology’s new ways of visualizing and organizing the world around us have given us an unintended means to notice some new horrors? I appear in mirrors, but I’m immune to motion detectors. What kind of specter am I?

Equal to the Love I Make.

My business cards say, “Liam Campbell, Front-end Developer”. That’s a fair assessment of what I do, and it sounds pretty cool, especially for a 21 year-old kid with no degree. And it’s an important job. If I may erect a flimsy metaphor, it’s like being an engineer working on a building. I get the facade and the floor plan, but I decide where the beams go, and ultimately the success of the design is up to my implementation of it. However, I don’t get to deal with the architecture work. Maybe I patch a few holes and push a few pixels, but in the end I’m a craftsman, not an artist.

Which is contrary to what I started out intending to do. I’ve been designing web pages since before I ever heard the words “web design”. In high school I was the weird kid who really liked Helvetica and meticulously arranged my Powerpoints. The code was an important piece of it, but certainly a means to an end. However, when I finally got a job working in tech, they couldn’t see any of my designs. They all lived on defunct free hosting sites, or had been for old blogs I had written, then grown terribly embarrassed of. Nobody knew if I could design anything, but they could see me code, so they had me do that.

And then at some point, for some reason, I stopped doing any design at all. I stopped doing really much of anything on the web at all that wasn’t for work. Until recently, I didn’t even have a facebook account, just a lonely twitter feed spouting irreverent banalities. I’ve always billed myself as a “web enthusiast”, but I wasn’t a part of the web anymore. In high school, I was constantly working on some grandiose project, or contributing to some community I was moon-eyed over. I was prolific, even if my execution hadn’t caught up yet. What happened to that kid? I want to give him a job.

Which brings us to a freshly designed blog, with dead links going to a portfolio that doesn’t exist yet. Over the next few months, I’m going to kickstart my output. I’m never going to get what I want without putting something into the world first. I have to cast many nets. I have to get lost and overshoot and give myself the opportunity to get really fantastically distracted. I have some cool stuff to build. I just have to dust off the tool box, and start building.