Tag evolution

The End of Territories (I).

With September just around the corner, I’ve decided to end the first chapter of Territories and focus my energies on its successor – “Territories 2.”

As alluded to in my last post, this new site will focus on both technology and design, and perhaps less on interpersonal / emotional aspects of my life (at least in comparison to Incubator and Territories I).

I’m excited about this next online chapter and look forward to the challenges ahead.


Generation Four.

What Next?

Now three weeks into this new journey, I’m starting to reclaim a sense of self on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and intellectual – and I am enjoying learning to be myself once again.

True to form, I’ve gone through and purged belongings that I no longer need and increased “security” around those that I still need / want.  My primary objective at this point is to refine the Immersion foundation defined earlier this year and use that as the basis for decision-making and activities in the months to come.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas that I have been thinking about:

Portfolio Consolidation: I am considering shutting down both Pixeldust and Ink microsites and consolidating the portfolios, which could very well result in the elimination of many older pieces whose quality lags behind more recent work.  While I think the current site design is sound, I also believe there is too much redundancy.  Strategy: Keep things simple, relevant and focus all attention on my best work.

Self-Promotion: I think the efforts that have gone into my core portfolio and the various microsites have resulted in a solid foundation to build from.  I’m pleased with the results, but I’m at a point where I’m less interested in promotion for promotion’s sake (career opportunities, etc.) and more interested in further expanding the portfolio.  Strategy: Get back to basics.

Research: I am at a point now where the types of books that I am reading are leaning away from self-improvement and towards other subjects: design, technical subjects and fiction.  It’s a direction that I’m becoming more comfortable with.  Strategy: Refocus research efforts on creative and technical topics, and focus more energies on fictional works.

Bionic 2.0: As mentioned earlier, one of the plateaus I’ve reached is the physical.  Now three years into a strength-building plan, I think I can move into new territories.  Strategy: Focus greater energy on core physiology and refine exercise plan.


Alone Together I: MDS Robot “Nexi”

One of the books that I am reading now is called “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” by Sherry Turkle.  The book is divided into two parts – the first focusing on the relationship dynamic between robots and people and the second on recent developments such as Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Over the past several years, I’ve realized (particularly in the workplace) that more and more people are turning towards technology and less to each other.  I am reading this book because I am just a victim to this unfortunate trend and I am at a point where I can’t afford to stay the course any longer.

This fact doesn’t lessen my interest in the subject as there is a great deal of psychology embedded within this topic that warrants understanding.

I’ll share more thoughts about this book as I progress further.  In the meantime, here is a video of a robot (not from this text) that exemplifies the lure of a robot as a potential replacement or stand-in for another human being:

[youtube width=440 height=278 style=”text-align:right”]aQS2zxmrrrA[/youtube]

AcD: City of Gold (Masters)

Advanced Concept Design, or AcD, is the title surrounding my newest portfolio.  The City of Gold series that I created this past weekend was expanded upon and further refined.  The result of which is the first entry into the AcD portfolio.

What is interesting is that these designs are all based upon a single rectangle in three dimensions.  The simplicity of the model allows for a greater focus in composition, palette exploration and image refinement.  I am very pleased with how these ultimately turned out and very encouraged for further work in this space.

Check out the entire collection on Ink.

Mental Evolution IV (“Discovery”)

After determining that what I was ultimately dealing with was a underlying belief of “learned helplessness” (pessimism), I decided to purchase Martin Seligman‘s book entitled “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.”  Within the first fifty pages of the book is a “test” that explores the degree of pessimism one possesses.  While the overall results were not surprising to me (“average” to “moderately pessimistic”), I found Seligman’s framework for understanding the degree of pessimism very interesting.

According to John Teasdale, Seligman’s colleague, the premise behind one’s degree of helplessness ultimately boils down to the manner in which one explains bad events; this is known as one’s explanatory style.  Seligman outlines three dimensions to one’s explanatory style:

  1. Permanence – How long does someone give up after failing?  Explanations that are more temporary in scope translates into increased resilience – i.e. “This failure is just a minor setback.  What’s next?”
  2. Pervasiveness – Does someone utilize universal or specific explanations for their failure(s)?  Those that employ a universal perspective for their failures give up on everything, while those that describe their failures using specifics can compartmentalize their failures in one area and progress naturally in others.
  3. Personalization – Does the individual blame themselves for their failures or the circumstances?  Those that internalize their failures tend to have a lower self-esteem than those who place blame on external circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the test is structured around these three dimensions.  Below is a more detailed view of my results:

Permanence – I have a tendency to think about bad things using extreme descriptors (always, never, etc.).  When good things happen, I tend to believe that these events are not long lasting, but they are also not necessarily fleeting.

Pervasiveness – I tend to believe that bad events have specific causes, and are thus not universal in breadth.  I also believe that good events enhance everything that I do.

Personalization – I fall in the middle of blaming myself and external circumstances for my failures.  However, when I believe that I cause good things to happen, my self-esteem is much higher than the average person.

Overall, when bad things occur, I’m moderately pessimistic and when good events occur, I am just the opposite.  If you guess that this is “average”, you are correct.  So, perhaps the problem of pessimism or “learned helplessness” isn’t to the degree that I had imagined – or is it?

When one experiences a stream of continuous failures, one’s ability to remain optimistic becomes more difficult.  While there are those that have “bulletproof” levels of optimism, I unfortunately do not currently fall in this category – at least not yet.

Crises that I can “plan” for (e.g. burglary, fire, etc.) are easier for me to maintain a high level of optimism than those that I cannot foresee.  Since there will be many challenges that will not display a “early warning signal”, my main challenge is to learn how to develop the skills necessary (i.e. an enhanced explanatory style) to ensure my optimism remains high independent of the crisis encountered.

Mental Evolution I (“Realization”)

[This is part one of multi-part series related to my experiences in searching for a new career opportunity.]

I read an article on CNN today which really hit home with me.  The article was about the rescue of two boys who were lost at sea for nearly two months – having recently been found by a tuna ship off the coast of Fiji.  The story is nothing short of a miracle.  While the concept of faith is perhaps an underlying factor in their survival, the final sentence of the article is a very powerful one:

“They’ve got a lot of gusto, a lot of strong mental spirit,” Fredricsen told the Morning Herald. “Physically they are very [distraught] but mentally they are very strong.”

When I attempted the summit of Mt.Rainier in 2007, the main reason I was unable to accomplish this goal had everything to do with a lack of mental toughness and very little to do with physical capability.  This was very surprising to me.  The fact that these boys’ survival was based primarily on their mental strength says a lot – not only about them but about me as well.

I am physically very strong.  Mentally, however, I think there is opportunity for improvement.  Of course, the degree of “weakness” depends upon a number of factors – and there are certain circumstances where I can be quite resilient when many others cannot.  In any event, this ability to adapt can be strengthened – and this identification is the first step towards a stronger “mental infrastructure.”

Using my personality type (INFP) as the basis for this journey is key.  Without going into elaborate detail about the aspects of this personality type, I was able to locate ten INFP-specific “rules” to achieve greater success and become mentally stronger.

In scanning this list, and looking back over the past year, it’s safe to say that my ability to “follow” these rules has varied depending upon the situation.  Fortunately, given the degree of personal introspection I’ve invested over the past two years (e.g. this blog), nearly all of these rules are ones that I employ on a daily basis.  But, there are two major exceptions:

  1. Express Your Feelings. Don’t let unexpressed emotions build up inside of you. If you have strong feelings, sort them out and express them, don’t let them build up inside you to the point where they become unmanageable!
  2. Assume the Best. Don’t distress yourself by assuming the worst. Remember that a positive attitude often creates positive situations.

The first one has been the most difficult for me – primarily because I tend to internalize everything I’m feeling before expressing those feelings.  In certain circumstances, this can be a positive but in many cases it causes me significant stress – particularly if those same feelings remain “hidden.”

The second is another area for improvement.  While my ability and desire to help others can be seen as having an optimistic outlook, I’ve found that this level of optimism is in contrast to what I sometimes feel in my personal and professional lives.  I need to take steps to employ a similar perspective independent of the situation.

While this CNN article prompted me to share these thoughts, they have been there for some time.  Given my experiences over the past several weeks, I’ve felt this lack of mental toughness to be something that I really need to pay close attention to.  When you strive for success on a daily basis, any and all barriers need to be managed accordingly – and increasing my mental strength is my primary barrier right now.

Press Release.

The following is a press release that was recently sent to my personal and professional network.  It calls attention to the launch of my personal branding web site as well as a new business venture focusing on information / graphic design.  I’m including this information here as the majority of future posts will center around these two creative endeavors.

The first is the formation of my personal “brand” via the web site www.adriandaniels.com. This is a project that I have been thinking about for nearly a decade and it was only after much thought that I decided to finally push forward with its release.

While www.adriandaniels.com is my primary site, it’s ultimately intended to serve as a jump point for three other portals:

Incubator: (This site!)  A non-fiction / experiential blog that is primarily focused on the generation of new ideas. Incubator incorporates personal and professional experiences and transforms them into formal essays and narratives.

Microcosms: A blog that allows for unrestricted exploration of new concepts in a “fictional” setting.

Pixeldust: A visual portal that shows how my art, design and photography portfolios have evolved over the past six years – and how they will continue to evolve and ultimately improve.

As these sites ultimately encapsulate my creative strengths, this web portfolio is something I collectively call a “Supercharged Creative Exploration”.

The second development that I am very excited about is the launch of a new information (graphic) design firm called Big Generator (www.biggenerator.com). For those of you who have seen examples of my work, you already have an understanding of what information design is all about – visuals that make complex information easier to understand and to use.

I made the decision to launch this part-time endeavor after considerable reflection into my strengths, interests, and values and combined this reflection with more than a decade of experience in graphic design and related disciplines (e.g. computer graphics, illustration, industrial design).

Ultimately, I am interested in doing what I can for my clients whether that need is strict “information design” or is classified under a general “graphic design” classification. In essence, I want to provide quality and effective visual solutions for my clients that simplify understanding and enhance and strengthen the customer experience.

PLANESCAPE Generation 3: “Regeneration”

As mentioned briefly in the BIONIC post, I have been working fairly consistently on defining the next generation of PLANESCAPE, which I call “Regen”.  Over the next several posts, I will share the details behind this new approach as well as its multiple “advancement subsystems”.  I believe this new framework will allow even more intellectual and interpersonal growth over the coming years, so I am excited to share this here!

Q: What is Regeneration (or “Regen”)?

“Regen” is the third major release of the Planescape advancement framework.  It is an evolution based upon personal and professional experiences over the past 3-4 years, extensive research and intense self-analysis.

Q: What was the catalyst for Regen?

It is difficult to pinpoint “one” main driver.

At some point in 2008 I came to the realization I was not taking care of myself.  Unfortunately, by the time I realized this, my overall self-confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low.  Recognizing this, I took steps to read more about the challenges I was facing and what I could do to better understand who I was, how to manage my thoughts, and advance to the next level of “life”.

I also came to a realization that I didn’t have a clear sense of my values.  In fact, up until this point, I really had not taken the time to identify values that were ultimately important to me.

Finally, I think came to the conclusion that things in my life were not “working” and I needed to make significant changes to make things better.

Q: How does Regen differ from previous Planescape “releases”?

When I first came up with the idea for Planescape, there was no real concept of an advancement “framework”.  Or if there was, the framework was quite simple – it consisted of dividing my life into short-term “phases”.  Each phase served as an entity for identifying and tracking goals for a 3-6 month time period.  It was a way for me to document my history and to learn from that history.  I call this “Version 1.0”.

Version 1.5 introduced the “Plane” concept.  At this point, I realized that the phases seemed to exhibit a natural “evolution” all on their own.  I wanted some way to capture this evolution while at the same time identify a long-term vision and align these phases within that vision.

Version 2.0 saw the introduction of numerous “foundational” elements.  It was at this time where I realized that having short and long-term goals was not enough to be successful.  In this version, I introduced “containers” for a formal self-esteem framework, standards and values, principles and “modules” for dealing with crises and even death.  This version also started to explictly define “areas of concentration” – i.e. what were the key things that interested me and that I wanted to pursue?

Version 3.0 (“Regen”) takes many of the ideas first explored in Version 2.0 and takes everything to the next level of refinement.  The main elements contained in this version include advancement “subsystems”, a “living rulebook” and value / strength / principle “inventories”.