On Changing Paths (66 of 90)

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sipping cappuccino, sitting in my local Panera and trying to clear my head.

There is a calm-ness to this day that I recognize, even though my head is swirling with thoughts that turn my stomach. Mistakes and mis-steps I’ve made which, in the grand scheme of things, matter so very little I wonder why I care.

Of course, wondering about why I care doesn’t change the reality that I do.

The real source of angst, though, seems to be rooted in two very clear ideas: a proliferation of social software that has taken computing into a broader realm and my immersion in said technology development for the past two decades (12 as a professional).

It all feels very old to me now. I find myself arguing points with people who have just discovered these technologies – who are just interacting with these technologies – in the same way we argued these points more than a decade ago.

And I find no joy in the world of technology anymore. Not as I’ve known it.

I understand, for the first time, why people walk away from things.

***

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something.

This is, I am guessing, a figure that social scientists dispute although I suspect that the underlying idea behind his point is true. That there is a threshold that one crosses, with practice, that takes you from an amateur to an expert.

My parents bought me my first computer in 1984. Let’s assume that was on my birthday, which puts my computer useage dating back 27 years. Let’s put my useage at 15 hours a week, which if you know me you understand how much of an understatement that is.

But let’s do the math:

27 years x 52 weeks = 1,404 weeks of computer use x 15 hours per week = 21,060 hours of computer time.

This doesn’t take into account, though, that my job from 1999-2006 was full-time online: writing, tinkering, reading about, interacting with. That number is likely far higher.

And these days, I have a series of computers running in various locations, which means I’m never far from either the computer or the culture of it.

Which is to suggest that for what I do, there is very little left for me to gain by following the same path I’ve been. There are surely other avenues and venues that I should be exploring with this technology.

***

Which then makes me wonder what avenue I should head down next. I’ve spent more than a decade professionally on these topics – the convergence of technology, society, entertainment and politics – that it’s difficult for me to imagine doing anything else.

I don’t yet know where to look. I have a sense – something related to storytelling, something related to technology – but nothing concrete. Or nothing in concrete enough for to really spell out at the moment.

And, of course, there is still work to be completed. The Cult of Me needs finishing. Making Digital needs finishing. Dungeons + Dreamers needs finishing. All things I hope to have completed by summer’s end – although not all of this is in my control.

Still, the project list will not grow anymore. I have decided to put a moratorium on my projects so that I can wind up this part of my professional life, consider my options and then move forward.

***

All of this, though, isn’t related to my job or my students or my life in Muncie. Something I’m sure that those in geo-located areas will ask.

This is something, for me, more profound. An evolution in where I’m heading as a storyteller. Which is, at the moment, nowhere quickly. There are too many side projects un-related to that life.

I’ll be working the details out this summer. I’m sure there will be thoughts posted here. But for now, it’s enough to know that this part of my life is coming to an end. A wonderful, amazing, fun chapter in my life.

But one that needs to be closed.