25 July 2020

What I do best is this

I’m finally going to write about what I do for work.

It’s taken me a little while to figure out what I wanted to focus on, for 2020-2025. I have this five-year plan. They always ask you that in interviews, right? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I just went back and thought about all those five-year milestone moments, when I’d reflect, and find out what it is that the journeys have taught me. ‘Say Hello to DK,’ ‘Experiments in N+1’, ‘Practicing the Unknown, Uncertain and Different,’ and ‘Design + Discovery’ have, so far, been five-year blocked themes. I am focusing on the next five years on another one, which I’ll talk about now.

Creativity + Innovation

Why this? These are just buzzwords, right? Actually we’ve come to a place where they can’t be, anymore. We need to be creative, and think, and think together, and think differently for real and not just blindly go with what we are told because now, disinformation is a problem too and enter all the things we don’t even know are coming and it’s going to be massively important to be able to think. Quality thinking. Which means, creatively. Not like ‘finger-painting!!! oooh!’ ‘creatively’, okay? I’m serious. That is not what I mean. That is not what I mean by ‘creativity’. That is not… okay, I’ll stop. Deep breath. I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about the capacity to actually imagine ways of being and doing and exploring. That kind of creativity. Street smart people know this. Emotionally intelligent people know this, too.

It isn’t something you just read and absorb and spit out the way that rote learning makes you do for other things even stuff with titles like ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’. I mean, you can’t really do it in a textbook course, or a classroom thing. You have to kind of… experience it. Or live it. You can’t just ‘say’. You have to ‘live’ creative.¬†Embody it. And that’s the thing I think we need to have more of, now, that’s really real learning for creativity and not just well-packaged ‘nice to have’ stuff for rich kids who want to ‘study abroad.’ End of that era, I think.

Actual creativity. Let’s talk about that. Let’s really dig deep. Because, this is not… easy for most people. They haven’t had the training, skills, tools, or opportunities. And if they have, then they self-cancel; they don’t let themselves have permission to explore. Why? Society, of course. They don’t want you to become an independent thinker, and so, you just go ahead and follow that straight line because you think it’s going to ‘work out.’ It isn’t.

Real actual creativity that is about exploration and not ‘an output’ is not taught in schools. Let’s be real. I’m being frank, here. That’s why I need to set up a five-year block of my life in order to get really serious about showing people how to ‘do creativity’. As in, verb. Action. You know what I’m saying, here? I wonder. Hm.

An architecture of quality

I was going to be an international engineer-architect. I really wanted to. I studied civil engineering and graduated summa cum laude on a full scholarship from N. C. State. I also got minors in Japanese, and International Studies. I just felt like seeing what else I could do alongside finding out how thermodynamics works and structures go together and bridges are built and formulas, texts, and tables. I loved E-school so, so much. The rigor and discipline of sitting down and actually getting to the end of a four or ten page calculation is something I put into practice, from those four years of study, and apply it even today, every day, in my writing work and design stuff, too. It felt good to box an answer and check the back of the book and find out 234.5mm or whatever the answer was was spot on. The comfort of certainty: math. At least, until I discovered QM, but that’s another story. In a life of moving, changing, and flux, having that stability and grounding to know that 234.5mm would stay that way forever for that particular problem in that particular textbook, well, that was good. Helpful, comforting, and giving me a plane to ground myself on while moving around from place to place to place. (See: my books. The Elopement, The Dive, and Breakfast and Cambodia.)

So, if you really want a thing you’re making to be good, and some of us care about that, about quality, then you need to be able to think clearly and arrive at a tight, focused concept.

That’s what I do. For work. At DK.

In case you were curious, I mean.

What I do best is this. Design for clarity of intent, and its natural precipitate… a very high-quality moment of !* a-ha *!… a special kind of magic that starts with you.


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