Going for thirty

In my long quest for productivity, I have downloaded an app called coach.me.

It lets you set goals and then track progress day by day. I set myself the goal of thirty days consecutive writing on this blog.

So far I am on day 9. I have started writing streaks before, and around about day 10 it feels like that Marilyn Monroe movie “The 7 year itch”. The excitement is gone and the grind is real. This app certainly helps, though.

This is nine, tomorrow is ten. And on we go.

Every 10 seconds

Google randomly displays the masters of fine art on my screen, switching every ten seconds or so. A Monet just flashed by, now its someone named Joseph Léon Righini.

All of this is staggeringly good art. None of it is given much attention by me during the day. But it is there for me to see whenever I want it. A mountain peak – an Everest – of fine art to aim for every 10 seconds. This would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago. I remember growing up we had a massive Encyclopaedia Brittanica in our house for reference.

Why does this matter? I think it matters because it means that the problem of our time – the problem of this revolution we are experiencing – is not one of scarcity or of access to information, or to inspiration. The internet has given us access to more information than we could possibly want – be it art, science, history or cat videos.

Instead the problem is one of contribution. The nagging question in our heads should be “When am I going to show up?”

I don’t mean show up in Google’s algorithm, I mean show up to the party and contribute. Care enough to try, to fail and to show your work.

What is it for?

Designers will tell you over and over – if you are creating something, the question that should come up most often is “what is this for?”

This applies to all creative pursuits whether it is writing a paragraph, cooking a meal, or fitting a bathroom sink. Any choice you make needs to have an answer if it is to work and avoid a clumsy creation.

So what’s this blog post for? It’s for expressing myself, for practicing my writing and for spreading ideas that I think will matter. And for community – for finding people like us who do things like this.

Happy Wednesday chimps.

The price of art

Art is subjective. But to my mind, as an artist the price you place on a piece of art is reliant on three major drivers – marketing, reputation and purpose.

Marketing – this boils down to the things that can be defined and measured and tracked. Who is the piece of art aimed at? What is the minimum viable audience? Who is expecting your message as something anticipated, personal and relevant? The clearer this is in your head as an artist, the easier it is to price your work.

Reputation – this is linked to perseverance and track record. The idea of showing up and consistently shipping what you say you will ship is important when you need to put a price on your work. With each promise you keep, your reputation is solidified and this gains you a most valuable form of currency in the internet age – attention. Wit attention comes pricing power.

Purpose – Are you trying to change the culture, and by how much? A couple of examples run through my head:

  • Your purpose may be not ambitious enough – As an artist, you are well known as a ‘reproducer of the masters’. All you ever do with your art skills is reproduce Van Gogh paintings for tourists to buy as cheap mementos. In order to remain relevant to your chosen market (and it is a choice) you have to keep on churning out the sunflowers and keep the pricing at a level defined by the going rate for copies of others’ paintings. It’s not changing the culture, it might make you a living, but the prices remain low and the labor required very high. In essence you are a factory selling a commodity.
  • Your purpose may be too ambitious – a performance artist wants to rid the world of human trafficking through the clarity and poignancy of her message. Dancing and reciting her viscous poetry on the street corner, she ends up shouting at passers by who do not give her much attention or currency. Her stated purpose was too broad and difficult to achieve. Her market is not refined enough. Her price bottoms out.

What makes you pay a particular price for art?

Getting bored and having energy

Is getting bored a good thing?

In the age of Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and Fortnite it’s easy to let the system take control. If you allow them, these streaming, entertaining, dopamine tripping platforms will keep you glued to your seats all day. They won’t let you get bored.

This thing is, getting bored serves a function. As far as I can tell, the whole purpose and spiritual breakthrough of Yoga is to cope with boredom and through this to reflect on life. No time for that in a video game.

Some other activities where boredom is there to be overcome:

Taking a walk with no phone in hand. Just walk.

Listening to an album from start to finish. Just listen

Running for 30 minutes straight. Just run.

When were you last bored?

Searching for the culture

If you are stuck browsing the internet through the bubbled lens of Twitter or Facebook. It all seems like evidence of people living the way you would like them to live, but it all seems so far away.

If this is you, it might be interesting to search for a someone near to you who is in sync with your point of view and then go and interact with that person face to face.

In terms of audiophiles, it is easy to surround yourself with the videos and images of instagram showing hugely expensive systems, all set up perfectly. However real life is a lot more messy. There are normal everyday people behind that industry, trying to make their music sound the best they can. Find a hifi store, a vinyl market, a local audio visual consultant and interact with them.

They might even need something you have to give, and away you go. You’re part of the community now, and away from the bubbles.

A great reading list

In case you missed it – check out this excellent website dedicated to all of Seth Godin’s book recommendations over the last decade (hint – he makes great recommendations!)

As a Godin junkie, this is incredible. I am just getting used to my re-found Kindle too, so this is perfect timing!

I enjoy particularly the filtering options. So useful and makes the whole site more manageable.

A reboot reblog

I have fallen off the bandwagon in a big way in terms of regular blog posts, so to get back on the bandwagon (what is a “bandwagon” anyways?) I am going to reblog a Godin post about intention. Do everything with intention and you are in control of your live.

Something done unintentionally, is essentially done by someone or something else. And that amounts to slavery. Check out the post related to intentional media consumption.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/03/whats-on-tonight.html

Media – an African perspective

Seth’s latest is about the most succinct and important post I have read this year. Give it a read:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/02/nextstep.html

What interests me is the perspective that Seth has on the issues he raises – namely he is American and is at the heart of the most developed, sophisticated economy in the world – and the media he is exposed to is a reflection of that. On the other hand, I live in Africa.

In many ways, we Africans are leapfrogging Americans and Europeans in terms of consuming media – we are keen to use technology. We get the latest TV shows, movies and sports from all over the world. Premier league soccer games are passionately followed even in the poorest slums in Nairobi. We have access to Twitter, Facebook and the internet. Mobile telephones have been taken up far quicker here than they were in the developed world – so there is a case to be made that the surplus of the internet and the ‘race to the bottom’ trends Seth speaks of are likely accelerating quicker here than in the USA.

There is also huge scarcity in Africa – however rather than an artificial scarcity controlled by the FCC or its local equivalent, African scarcity is driven largely by poverty. Unfortunately poverty combines very neatly with any media agenda that is pushing us to think short term – to care about now and not later. I think Africa’s environmental degradation and lack of investment in culture or education is in part a reflection of this. Scarcity is in conflict with the ubiquitous internet. I am still getting my head around how this plays out locally in terms of media consumption. The pace of change and media consumption is slower because of scarcity. Access is restricted. Africans cannot contribute as much to their own media and culture because of poverty. We are influenced by other continents far more than we should be. Just ask a local if he’d watch South African or English soccer. My bet is England any day of the week because of the exposure it has gotten through the TV networks.

Despite these differences between geographies, Seth’s ending point is still completely true the world over: “We’ve been willing participants in this daily race for our attention and our emotions. But we don’t have to be.”

Every now and then we must get out and do something other than consume.

 

Thursday Reblog

How did Bernie Madoff do it? How did he steal twenty billion dollars from people who should have known better? It doesn’t matter if you went to university or not–you can still be played as a chump. To pull off a significant deception, you generally need two things: A deceiver and a crowd of people open…

via Chump (Don’t get played) — Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect

This applies as much to politics as it does to high end audio.

Don’t fall for gimmicks – don’t be a chump.