Tag immersion

Immersion: Progress Report.

 

Immersion: Mental Framework

In one of my earlier posts I called attention to a book by Martin Seligman entitled Learned Optimism.  In it, the author presents a useful framework for being successful (*) using the following analogy:

“A composer can have all the talent of a Mozart and a passionate desire to succeed, but if he believes he cannot compose music, he will come to nothing.  He will not try hard enough.  He will give up too soon when the elusive right melody takes too long to materialize.  Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure.  I believe that optimistic explanatory style is the key to persistence.”

He then goes on to list the three characteristics that determine success:

  1. Aptitude
  2. Motivation
  3. Optimism

Of course, this framework is missing the “X” factor; an encapsulation of circumstances and random events that can positively or negatively influence one’s “success” at any given point in time.  Independent of this, I’ve found the framework useful enough to incorporate into Immersion:

While the Immersion concept began nearly one year ago, the “mental” underpinnings became clear only recently – and ultimately through Seligman’s unique insight.

(*) – In the spirit of building/maintaining self-esteem, it has been said that one does not strive to be successful – she/he already is successful.  However, I believe the framework described above is valid regardless of one’s position.

The Green Zone.

Immersion: Operating Framework and “Post Digital” Concept

The concept of an operating framework is to organize your time and effort into specific areas of focus.  In theory, and with appropriate discipline, an operating framework can accelerate one’s development in one or multiple areas.  The very nature of writing down one’s goals (or visually representing them) can plant these ideas and objectives into one’s subconscious, and this becomes a very powerful motivator even if you aren’t explicitly thinking of the framework on a daily basis (you shouldn’t be).

For example, here is an example of a partial framework from 2007 (Plane 6 – “Foundation”):

(Click on the image to enlarge)

While I listed electronics and software development within this framework, I didn’t end up spending a lot of time in these specific areas.  And that’s where the evolution of an operating framework becomes relevant; where are you focusing your energy?  And if you aren’t spending your time in certain areas, is this necessarily a problem?

In the Immersion (Plane 10) framework shown below, there is now a clear separation of what I’ve focused on in the past and what I ultimately need to focus on in the future.  This is a radical shift given that I’ve typically had to justify and take on multiple, parallel tracks that had little relationship to one another – other than the fact that one path was for survival, and the other more aspirational.  By logically separating these skills from the “core”, they will eventually become dormant and by default, the skills that I want to develop will have developed due to this increased focus (i.e. a self-fulfilling prophecy).

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Layered above these “dormant” skills are multiple layers of activity – all leading to a radically advanced portfolio along with an increased level of interaction weighted more heavily in the real-world than in the digital realm. What’s truly important here is that this increased interaction ultimately stems from a broader range of experiences.  Not surprisingly, this has a dual purpose; the greater one’s experiences, the greater one’s ability to learn, identify challenges and design solutions to those challenges.  Experiences represent a designer’s playground.

Finally, one concept that perhaps serves as the basis for this framework is John Maeda’s concept of “post digital”:

[Post Digital] is a term that I created as a way to acknowledge a distinction between those that are passed their fascination with computers, and are now driven by the ideas instead of the technology.  […] the “post digital” generation refers to the growing few that have already been digital, and are now more interested in Being Human.

Ultimately, this is exactly what Immersion is all about – I’m less interested in the technology for technology’s sake.  Rather I am interested in using technology to increase idea generation to make people’s lives better.

Immersion: Core Objectives (Preview)

While I’m still working through the details of the Immersion strategy (estimated duration ~2 years), I am certain of the primary objectives which are listed here:

I’ll post further details of the Immersion strategy in the next several days.

What makes you happy?

Can you become happier through analysis of what makes you happy?  Can you gain greater understanding of other people’s happiness through similar analysis?  I think the answer to both questions is “yes.”

I recently purchased the second season of George Lucas’ The Clone Wars.  Overall, I’m completely thrilled – so much so that I am starting to think the series is better than the original trilogies.  As I progressed through each episode, I found my level of happiness directly linked to a few select scenes.  While I was happy watching every episode, I couldn’t stop but wonder why certain scenes were more “joy-provoking” than others.

Let me share a few examples to further explore this concept.

In the episode entitled “Cargo of Doom”, there is one scene where a bounty hunter named Cad Bane has jumped into a parked spaceship to flee from Anakin Skywalker.  Once Bane jumps into the spaceship, there is some brief animation as he turns on the ship’s power.  This is visible through the illumination of lights within the ship’s cockpit.  What really excited me was the sequence of lights that illuminated within the 1-2 second interval.  Instead of just showing a single illumination (i.e. the ship is now “on”), the animators took the time to show a purposeful sequence of illumination (spatial relationship and number) giving the sense of multiple subsystems and overall complexity.

Once the ship has taken off, and Anakin is forced to jump off the wing to avoid injury, the camera follows the ship briefly as the wings are lowered and the ship accelerates.  While difficult to convey here, the chosen camera angle illustrates the significance of the situation, the complexity and acceleration of the ship, and the sheer size difference between the ship, the hangar and humans on the ground.

So, what are the themes that comprise this scene? (i.e. why do I like this scene in particular?)

Themes: technology, complexity, purpose, attention to detail, “part of something larger”, perspective, power, energy, spatial relationship, design

In another episode (“Landing at Point Rain”), there is another scene that I simply love.  The Republic is taking heavy losses against the Separatists.  After much delay, Y-wing fighters are deployed to the planet to provide critical assistance.  The scene begins with a surprised Obi-Wan Kenobi followed quickly by a ground-level camera angle that shows the rapidly approaching Y-wing (a “fly-by”).  While the scene lasts all of two seconds (~60 frames of animation), the sheer power and acceleration of the spaceship combined with an equally powerful sound effect makes for a very immersive scene.

Themes: “feeling of being there”, magnitude, realism, sound, surprise, immersion, perspective, uniqueness, influence, control, sense of scale, speed

While I could describe other scenes that produced similar euphoria, I’d recommend renting or purchasing the series to witness this creative masterpiece for yourself.  What’s important here, however, is the opinion that one’s ability to describe the themes associated with feelings of joy and happiness can ultimately open up new opportunities for oneself and one’s connection with others.

To expand upon this latter point, when interacting with others – either as friends or as colleagues – you can learn about people by truly understanding the facets of the things that provide them with joy.  For example, the statement “I enjoy watching The Clone Wars” is one level of understanding, but as you’ve just seen, it’s simply scratching the surface.  Uncover the themes behind one’s enjoyment and you can learn a great deal.

Think about movies you’ve watched, books you’ve read, or places you’ve visited.  If you find yourself in a state of euphoria, ask yourself why.  What are the descriptors behind the event?  What do those descriptors say about you, and can you increase those feelings through additional exploration?

Immersion: Challenges & Opportunities

Portfolio Development: My portfolio has evolved fairly well over the past several years – particularly in the graphic design arena.  The evolution from where I began and where I am today shows a clear positive trajectory.  Recent digital illustration work using the Cintiq and Photoshop also show tremendous potential.  The opportunity here is two-fold.  First, when solid progress is being made, I tend to move on to another challenge without spending additional time to further develop / refine my existing skills.  In some strange way, the possibility for greater success deters me from moving forward.  Second, while the portfolio is looking increasingly professional, it is heavily weighted in graphic design and less so in other disciplines (e.g. 3D modeling, rendering).

Community Engagement: The past several years have focused heavily on portfolio development and the creation of my personal brand.  While there has been significant success in both fronts, the communication and level of engagement has been unidirectional.  My original belief of “build it and they will come” places heavy responsibility on external parties to not only learn about me, but to engage in further discussion.  There is an opportunity to change this unidirectional approach through increased engagement / participation on my end.

Process of Elimination: One of the challenges that I’ve faced with Big Generator is that it has lacked clear direction.  While it started out as a pure information design firm, it quickly expanded to become involved in brand strategy and other related offerings.  The opportunity is to refocus the company and establish a clear business strategy so that it can truly be successful over the long-term.

Out of Balance: One of my biggest challenges that I’ve been working to correct over the past two years involves a clear imbalance between my professional career thus far and the skills that are required to move beyond this realm of expertise.  While my efforts have shown true promise in correcting this “right brain / left brain” imbalance, there is still more work to be done.  The opportunity here is to take greater and more strategic steps to bridge this gap and clearly convey my strengths and potential as a design leader.

Emphasis on Innovation: Being creative for creative’s sake is beneficial, but leveraging creativity to solve real-world problems can be extremely powerful.  While my thoughts and designs are truly “mine”, the bulk of my efforts has been focused inward (self-development, strength building, creative exploration).  The opportunity is to shift gears and transfer more energy towards addressing real-world challenges and designing and creating with true purpose.

Mental Barriers: One of the keys to one’s success is the ability to maintain a high-level of optimism independent of the challenge faced.  With a realization that my optimism level is classified as “average”, there is a clear opportunity to employ constructive techniques to quickly move past barriers that would have normally impeded progress.  With the world moving at a faster pace, there is no better time to find ways to accelerate my ability to navigate through these challenges.

Mental Evolution III (“Lessons”)

January 1, 2011 marks the beginning of the tenth chapter (“Plane”) in the Planescape saga – a chapter I call “Immersion.”  While the details are still being mapped out, I am becoming enthusiastic about what this new framework entails.

In advance of sharing more details about Immersion, I think it’s worth sharing a few things that I’ve learned over the past year – particularly over the past sixty days – all of which will be incorporated into my larger advancement strategy.

  1. In the workplace, team chemistry is perhaps the most important thing to me.
  2. I have a much clearer sense for what I should ultimately strive for, and what I can leave behind.
  3. I have a better understanding of my strengths and skills, and also have the confidence to let some of those skills lay dormant as I develop new skills and further improve my strengths.
  4. I believe that if I am not happy, moving somewhere else will not necessarily change this.
  5. I am uncomfortable with a significant amount of uncertainty, but I have learned ways to accommodate where extreme uncertainty exists.
  6. I have learned what it feels like to be unemployed and the psychological effects of the job search.
  7. I have a better understanding of the types of companies that interest me – and those that do not.
  8. I know I need to centralize my development around design, technology and business.
  9. I need to be more careful and conscious of future decisions to increase my life satisfaction.
  10. The past several years of effort have ultimately paid off in terms of being able to tell a more accurate story of who I am and where I’m going.
  11. I am interested in leading design efforts with proper experience / education.
  12. I have learned that a continuous bombardment of failures can result in a sense of “learned helplessness” which can be corrected.
  13. I have a better sense of who to trust and when trust should be given.
  14. I have learned better decision-making skills given past failures.
  15. I do not wish to work at home or alone because it is psychologically very draining / alienating for me.
  16. I have a better understanding of what I want and do not want in my life.
  17. I have learned that I can become blocked when facing too many significant (life) decisions at once; thus, employing some type of partitioning strategy is necessary to make these decisions in confident, thoughtful and expedient manner.
  18. I may never be completely satisfied with my life, and maybe that is okay.
  19. My graphic design portfolio is fairly strong, but I need to spend more time developing the other sections of my portfolio (e.g. 3D).
  20. I would like to expend more time on entertainment design, but realize that it may always be a passion but not necessarily a career.
  21. A robust ID portfolio and MFA degree could open a lot of doors for me in the long-run.

The Visual Journey

As you may already be aware, this blog is one of several projects that I have been working on over the past several years.  The underlying goal has centered around building a foundation onto which I can layer in new creative projects and pursuits.  This is why I’ve branded my main web site and bundled these projects within a title I call “Supercharged Creative Exploration.”

The original home page design launched earlier this year showcased the three original projects – Incubator, Microcosms and Pixeldust.  Since that time, I’ve also included a few other projects to the list – including Ink.

Not surprisingly, one of my goals has involved designing a new home page that provides visitors with a complete inventory of these projects along with a modular format that is easy to update.

With this goal in mind, I’ve formulated a few graphic designs that do just this.  While the current design solves the current objective and is easy to update, I consider it an early version and will eventually be replaced.  Over the next several months, I plan on eventually migrating to one of the site designs show below: (or some derivation thereof)

If you visit the new site, you’ll also notice a new link – something that I call “The Visual Journey.”  This is a design that encapsulates who I am, what I am interested in, and some more information about the history of my professional career and my interests.  I think it will help people understand what motivates me and what I am passionate about.

Due to the nature of the design and purpose, I’ve left it in a PDF format.  It’s best read using the official Adobe Acrobat reader but aside from a few minor graphic inconsistencies on the title page, the Preview application available in Mac OS X should also work well.

The combination of this new design along with the Visual Journey supplement symbolizes the next chapter in my creative and intellectual journey – it’s a chapter I call “Immersion.”