The Mac Lab

Archive for April, 2012

Vincent and Semar’s Excellent Adventure (Week 31)

by on Apr.30, 2012, under Blog

Code is Poetry.
WordPress Motto

Imagine the first day of school next year. After finding their seats, the students are confronted with a teacher who simply smiles and points to the board.

On the board is login info and a directive to use a browser to find the Mac Lab Blog and follow the instructions found on the Week 1 post.

Once there, students are guided through the process of creating their own account on the blog. The final step involves logging in.

At login, several things happen at the same time:

  • +10 XP appears in the upper right corner of the browser
  • A progress bar/counter in the right sidebar registers the +10 XP
  • A generic Gravatar with the student’s name appears at the top of the sidebar

There’s more to it than that, but the main point is that each student will have his/her own account on the blog and the blog will keep track of his/her XP and virtual currency. No more switching to Google Docs.

But that’s not all.

(continue reading…)

317 Comments :, more...

Work It (Week 30)

by on Apr.23, 2012, under Blog

There’s no such thing as a creative type. As if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.
Milton Glaser

Then maybe I did it wrong.

I agree with everything in that Glaser quote except that last sentence. Sure, searching for fresh ideas then bringing them to life can be a long and difficult process but I always thought it was fun. As a kid, I picked fruit and vegetables during the summer months. That was work. The two summers after high school, I was a laborer for a construction company. That was work. I started my first business—Back Room Graphics—during my second year at college. That was fun!

So, are creative efforts fun or work? Like everything else, that depends on your personal perspective.

In all cases of perception, from the most basic to the most sophisticated, the meaning of the experience is recognized by the observer according to a horizon of expectation within which the experience will be expected to fall.
James Burke / The Day the Universe Changed

(continue reading…)

45 Comments :, , more...

Painful Processes (Week 29)

by on Apr.16, 2012, under Blog

Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.

…The feeling of frustration—the act of being stumped—is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer—before we probably even know the question—we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach.
Jonah Lehrer / Imagine: How Creativity Works 

I’ve heard many of you say: I don’t know what to do. Or: I can’t think of anything to do. My stock answer is: Go to Inspiration (our digital morgue file) for inspiration but how many times have I also suggested you try re-reading the 5 Stages of the Creative Process?

The real questions for the frustrated among you is: How many times have you actually revisited the Inspiration pages or re-read the 5 Stages of the Creative Process? Saturation and incubation are part of the process.

I’m not immune to feelings of frustration. Heck, I’ve wrestled with one problem since 1988. But I’ve worked in creative fields virtually all of my adult life and I know every problem contains its own solution, no matter how long it takes to find it. Or, as Richard Bach says:

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.

(continue reading…)

63 Comments :, , , more...

Now What? (Week 28)

by on Apr.09, 2012, under Blog

When institutions—families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example—focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they do considerable long-term damage.
Daniel Pink / Drive

We have 10 weeks until finals. Just 52 school days before summer begins. How will you use the time?

As much as I want to step in to provide direction, I’m going to listen to Dan Pink (and the researchers he cites) and give you room to exercise your own judgment. So talk it over with your classmates. Will it be business as usual or will you be making a little Mac Lab history of your own?

After a couple of short videos and a few additional words today, the week will be yours. Make the most of it.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Fantastic News (from last Friday): Regular blog readers will know that our school district has informed us that they cannot afford to purchase Adobe’s CS6 Master Collection for any of our schools. In response, I posted what was to be the first of many donor requests (0322 update) so that we might continue to explore the cutting edge of creative technologies. I also sent out a flurry of emails in search of a benefactor.

(continue reading…)

66 Comments :, more...

Learn it all.