I had another blog post in mind, but I couldn't find the quote I was looking for, so this will do.

Once again, Jack Baty provides the inspiration. Perhaps because this upcoming meetup is on the top of my mental stack for the moment. Not to worry, we're not going to exhaust the set of possible things to talk about during the meetup.

They all depend on a pile of custom templates, scripts, and sloppily-documented setup. They work, but what if they don't? I'm not always in the mood for fixing things that break when I touch them wrong.

This resonated with me, because I have two ideas I want to implement in the marmot, and I've been finding ways to not do it because I'm not looking forward to the futzing part. And that feeling of "not looking forward," is part of a deeper feeling that is one of, if not "failure," then perhaps just "inadequacy."

Now, it'd be easy to get the wrong idea. I love Tinderbox, and I love blogging, ergo I love blogging with Tinderbox. But there is the attraction of the seemingly limitless toolset at my disposal within the app. And I should be able to figure this stuff out. But it does take a certain kind of mental energy to summon the courage to "break stuff."

And I've broken the marmot before.

"I've always wanted to learn to play the piano."

No, in fact, you didn't. If you did, you'd have done so. These superficial, unfulfilled desires seem to be a part of our "imagined" self.

Things that you genuinely want to do are the things that you spend your time on. I've probably spent more than 10,000 hours taking pictures. I can't find it now, but there was this curve that described the interior experience many people have when undertaking a new thing. They learn a bunch of new stuff early on and are filled with a profound sense of competence and confidence, which they are all too eager to share with anyone who'll listen.

If they stick with the thing, they eventually learn that they don't know nearly what they thought they knew, and that their practice of the thing is really not very good.

This is the valley of depression. "I suck."

But if they stick with it, the gradually learn more and get better and if they're really committed, 10,000 hours later, they don't suck.

I don't call myself a photographer because I feel as though that establishes a set of expectations in someone that I probably can't, or don't want to, meet. I ran into a neighbor the other day who was the past president of the photography club. We chatted for a while and I offered this disclaimer when I gave him the link to my flickr account. He texted me back later and kindly said, "I'd say you are a Photographer." Nice of him to say so, but the nature of ignorance is that we don't know what we don't know, and what I don't know about photography could fill volumes.

That said, I'm happy to think that sometimes I don't suck.

I've been fascinated by computers, and by programming, since the Apple II. I had a bad experience at the Naval Academy in a freshman course, "Calculus With Computers." Two five-hour D's will do that to you. But ever since the advent of personal computing, I've had this attraction to computing or programming. But I suck at it. It's hard.

Part of the problem with mastering it has been the dynamic nature of the field. If we were all still using Apple IIs, I'd probably be a whiz. The principles are all the same, mostly. But the implementations differ, and in programming, details matter. And I'm not very good at mastering details.

When I've broken the marmot, it's often because of a detail. Sometimes it was because I fundamentally misunderstood something, but mostly it's a detail. Especially in html, but often in action code and export code.

Now, I know that the way to master those details is to just work with them a lot. Break the marmot and fix it, over and over again. And there are plenty of resources for help. I have emailed Mark Bernstein many times, and more than once sent him either the marmot or its predecessor, Groundhog Day, and had him resuscitate it. So there should be little fear in undertaking an effort like this.

But there's this little feeling of failure, or inadequacy, when it breaks or doesn't work the way I thought it would. That's a personal problem. And part of the energy budget must go to overcoming this internal friction or inertia. (Pick an analogy already, Rogers!)

But, I want to kind of illustrate or demonstrate how wonderful Tinderbox is for creating and maintain a weblog, so I guess I'm just going to have to go ahead and break stuff. I know there are people who will help me put it back together. And if I do this often enough, maybe I'll master those details one day and it'll be less like futzing and more like dancing.

I should probably stop there, but I'll make another comparison to photography. It's not the camera, it's the person behind the camera. Gear-heads love the artifact. I've been shooting with one brand of camera for 16 years, and that's because details matter. And different camera manufacturers implement those details in different ways. It's easier to stay within one brand of camera so you can pay attention to what you're seeing instead of operating the camera.

But if you just like to play with cameras, that's cool. No judgment from me. But I'm not sure it's photography. Photography may provide the context, or the justification; but the reward isn't the image, it's playing with the gear. And that's fine too. People experience joy in many different ways, and tools offer tactile experiences, visual appeal, novel features that can offer joy in their discovery. I get that. There's a reason I own an absurd number of cameras, all but two of which are from Olympus or its successor OM Digital Solutions. I like playing with the gear too.

But I like taking pictures more.

And I guess I'd say I like blogging more than I like playing with Tinderbox. But blogging gives me the reason to play with Tinderbox too. If I can master Tinderbox through blogging, then maybe I'll use Tinderbox for more than just blogging. A virtuous cycle.

Anyway, Blogging With Tinderbox. Check it out.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:04 Tuesday, 20 February 2024