Making some time to think

Loneliness, tenderness, high society, notoriety.
You fight for the throne and you travel alone
Unknown as you slowly sink
And there’s no time to think.

~ Bob Dylan

The lyrics above reflect Bob Dylan’s sentiments, after his Christian conversion, towards fame, youthful ambitions and rock and roll life style in the late 1970’s. For a folk singer-song writer the lyrics above reflect Bob Dylan’s sentiments, after his Christian conversion, towards fame, who analogized social conformity to being turned into a machine, the dramatic expression – that time is speeding up beyond our grasp – is totally fitting. Yesterday, I heard this sentiment from the other side of the aisle. The video is almost an hour and can be viewed here and more on his work is covered on the Relevant History blog.

David Levy, professor at the Information School at U Washington and former researcher for Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, explained his concern regarding the ‘more-faster-better’ culture in which we live. Unlike Dylan, Levy is no Luddite; he’s also maintains technophile tendencies. Levy, like I would guess many of us, is looking for balance. Leaving his lecture, I felt motivated to be leisurely and playful. At the same time, I wanted to get to my computer. Let me outlive Levy’s argument and then I’ll explain.

The thin line Levy is trying to define is one of balance; balance between two types of thought/learning. Explain these two types.

Routine/Repetitive
fast time 
linear
work
future/goal oriented
pragmatic
instrumental

VS.

Mature/creativeslow time


non-linear


leisure/play

present oriented

relationship

receptive

 

Levy’s primary thesis is that 1) our culture is driven by the first column to get work done more-faster-better and 2) by neglecting the mind-space possible in the second column, our culture does itself a disservice by stifling creativity and innovation.

His recommendations did involve ‘unplugging’ in part, but he also suggested that it is possible to use/design our technologies in a way that promotes mature, deep, and creative thinking. Deep creative thinking on the computer: that idea struck a chord with me.

As idealistic as it may seem, in part my experiences blogging have been exactly that, creative, present oriented and at the same time, inherently technological. First, I should say, I was raised with very low-tech family whose values promote a simple life, close to the earth, family, and God. As much as I am a total anomaly in my family’s eyes, I still do carry around with me these values. Although this was not the case initially, I have found a way to extract the similar pleasure from my work with gnovis.

I have used my time working for gnovis, as a blogger and staff member, to enjoy writing, play with ideas, think deeply about our work, the medium, our engagement with the blogging community.

We do have goals, but as much time as I spend thinking about gnovis (you have no idea… its basically all the time) I’m not necessarily work with a specific objective in sight. I don’t know what future career good blogging will reap. I do not do it to network with others who will future my goals. I do it because I like to.

When coming to grad school, I often said that I felt like a swimmer who was trying to reach a specific shore without spending time to reflect on the form of my body or stroke. With blogging, I’m still swimming, but the only thing I’m thinking about is the quality and comfort of each stroke timed perfectly with the pace of my legs kicking.