Blog

  • GHDO for October 10: Looking Inward

    October 10, 2020

    "Groundhog Day Do Over: Looking Inward" Can you believe it’s time for the October Review already? If you’re just tuning in, I’m doing a report every month on the same days as Groundhog Day Resolutions, but am not doing my usual goal tracking. Instead, I’m seeing what happens when I instead do freeform focus on a single area of interest. I figured that going off the rails for a year might lead to unexpected insights while also testing to see what habits have been ingrained over the last 12 years. (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • GHDO for September 9: Sloughing through the Month

    September 9, 2020

    "Groundhog Day Do Over: Sloughing through the Month" Monthly update time!

    It has been an unremarkable month that has felt busy but not very productive. In this report I’ll note some of the concerns I’ve had recently so I can address them in the month ahead. (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • Thinking with Whimsical Maps

    August 27, 2020

    Diagrams For the past year I’ve been working on a complicated Javascript project that includes, among other things, an “agent simulation engine” that allows students to program an “agent template” where they could:

    • name a property to store a value
    • read and write the named property
    • conditionally execute code based on the value of a property
    • generate any number of “agent instances” from the template and run the simulation

    This did not seem difficult at first, as we already had a simulation engine that was already built around these principles. I then ran right into the main problem: while we could easily write this kind of code ourselves in Javascript, the implicit requirement was that students could define the first three operations IN ANY ORDER within the context of our simulation engine. That meant I needed to write some kind of scripting language or sequencing method on top of it because the students don’t have access to Javascript, and we can’t generate compiled Javascript code from source in the browser due to hard security constraints.

    There are a lot of things happening in this simulation engine already, and I was having trouble “reasoning” about the system. Not only did I have to think of sequencing the simulation engine, but I also had to sequence the student script engine on top of this sequence. I was getting lost in the wheels within wheels within wheels. So I made a bunch of maps to get the systems out of my head and onto paper so I could reason by mentally visiting the system from different points of view. I used the web-based app Whimsical because it’s awesomely well-designed and lets me get really fussy about lining things up. (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • Jack Conte on “Working to Publish”

    August 25, 2020

    A few days ago I came across Work to Publish. It’s a video from Jack Conte, who is half of the musical duo Pomplamoose and co-founder of Patreon. He is super-cheerful and enthusiastic, and I’d been following him for years because his energy is really close to the kind of feeling I want to strive for in my work: engaging, welcoming, novel, and happily quirky.

    The link to the video is below, but briefly Conte’s insight is that finishing a project is fraught with anxiety. One would think that finishing a creative work would bring a sense of relief and accomplishment, but it actually doesn’t! That’s because finishing a creative work doesn’t really have a sense of finality in the way that, say, a sports match does. Conte calls it a “vocabulary problem”, because the work of being a creator isn’t to finish works as much as it is to PUBLISH. It’s a great video; check it out below!

    (more…)

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    Dave Seah
  • GHDO for August 8: Thoughts Sailing Across Still Water

    August 9, 2020

    "Groundhog Day Do Over: Brain Lake Stillness" Hey guys! It’s August 8, which means it’s time for another (NOT) Groundhog Day Resolutions Review.

    In last month’s report I described how extreme social isolation seemed to be one way I could get things done more consistently. I had even found precedent for this in the book The Creative Habit. Thus encouraged, I vowed to put **extra emphasis*** on enforcing my creative isolation to see if I could make better progress on the software work that has been dragging on.

    So how did the Creative Bubble work out? Pretty well…with an unexpected twist! (more…)

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    Dave Seah