Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back to Ann Arbor

These maps are not in anywhere near their final form and only have a little of the planned content in place, but thought I'd post a link to them anyway. They take advantage of some of the new Compendium 1.5 features, and are kind of a prototype for something I'm thinking about in the training/workshop area. I think there is tremendous potential for Compendium as a documentary/autobiographical tool and this is a first groping example.

  • I took the photos after visiting Lisa and Aron in Ann Arbor in August. It was the first time I'd been back since their wedding in 1989. My main intent was to use the photos in just such a Compendium form, to capture and hopefully evoke the feelings (nostalgia? it was more than that) I had in seeing those places that I inhabited so intensely 24-28 years ago
  • there are three kinds of maps -- 'maps' (showing approximate locations in Ann Arbor), 'stories' (template-driven explorations of the meanings of particular places), and catalogs.
  • the photo collage on the home page was generated from Picasa. What a cool tool.

This morning sat down to work on Phd stuff, and some ideas started percolating, but more was kind of overwhelmed by all the threads that are worth picking up on, that are all worth doing, but that all will take a lot of work and time. Such as:
  • finishing up the Maarten analysis and doing the Nick analysis
  • copying all my Wright/Mccarthy, Dewey, and Schon notes into my Compendium phd database and doing a careful job of annotating and tagging them (also to test out more 1.5.1 features, especially the new Tags interface)
  • writing up the central themes from my readings of the above over the past 5 months: aspects of experience, approaches to the Phd practical work I next need to do, the nature of artistry/aesthetics, the centrality of the medium used, the nature of experential learning, the connection between an artistic effort and its context, and the interweaving of practice/service and art
  • writing the chapter for Ale/Simon's book
  • spending more time on stuff like the Back to Ann Arbor maps (simultaneously pulled to spend all my time with them, tweaking bits of it endlessly, but also staying away from what should be the real work of it -- populating it with stories and memories, expanding the content -- why don't I do that?
  • doing the readings and exercises in the OU Doing Postgraduate Research book
  • noodling around with email and web browsing (i.e. wasting time)
  • reading more papers/articles/books
  • putting together my talk and materials for Mark's class on Tuesday (which are mostly together, I just need to revisit and make sure everything, all the images, etc., are there on my laptop)
As frequently in my life, I'm excited and interested in all the above, but their very multiplicity keeps me from getting started on almost any of them (so the wasting time one usually wins). Procrastination, my lifelong nemesis. I have mostly kept it at bay for the past 30 years or so, at least compared to its usual vanquishing of me as a child/adolescent, but it still keeps me from doing all I could do.

When Simon was here a couple of weekends ago, and we were talking about some of my new ideas for where to go with the practical work, and he said I did need to connect it clearly and directly with the observational stuff I did in the first year. It occurred to me this morning that a main point of connection I could draw, which is also a tighter focus for even the observational work, is to look at the setback moments -- where the practitioner is faced with some sort of dilemma or obstacle and has to quickly make sense, improvise, and act out of the linear progression they were on up to that moment, but keeping the coherence, purpose, and service intact -- how to pull together, act, and recover. That is common to almost any episode of practice. It's the aesthetics and ethics of the actions at those moment -- what form does the work take, and how does it relate to the purpose and participants -- that can be a central focus.

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