Where’s my life

This is just a general update intended to keep you all abreast of a couple of things.

First, in an effort to cut down on spamming the people who read my LiveJournal, I’ve reset which categories crosspost over there. My ITP category doesn’t anymore because I expect to be making five or six or ten rather long posts a week to that one, and if you just want to keep up with my life, well… you don’t care (at least not enough to read 2000 words) that I built a digital switch that makes an LED blink on and off. If you find yourself wanting to follow my ITP work it’s all at my big WordPress blog (http://blog.thomas-robertson.com/).

Second, school is going pretty incredibly awesome. I managed to get into Clay Shirky’s “Election 2008″ class. We’re analyzing the impact of social media on the election, and with only one class meeting behind us, things are shaping up to be incredibly insightful as well as challenging and fun.

Third, I probably mentioned this already, but there’s a standing invitation to crash at my place in Brooklyn if you want to visit. I’m within easy travel of both JFK and LGA airports, and EWK (Newark) isn’t all that hard to get to or from either. I’ve even got something more comfortable than the floor for you to sleep on as I just purchased and assembled a surprisingly comfortable piece of IKEA furniture that is a chair that folds out into a bed. It’s like a futon only it takes even less space.

Fourth, and most introspectively, I find myself running into a problem I haven’t really struggled with for nearly two years. Or, at least, not struggled with in quite this way: Arrogance. I suspect (and hope) that this is a temporary thing having to do with how extensive my technical background is, but one of the things I was looking forward to when planning to come to ITP was being challenged by other students. I was really excited to be around people smarter than me who could push my limits. Unfortunately, so far, I’ve been sort of the go-to guy for technical support. I’ve done web admin, I’ve built circuits, I program. All of this means that I’m good at the technical things that everyone else seems to be struggling with at the moment.

Of course I totally acknowledge that most of these people blow me out of the water when it comes to sheer creativity. When asked to design a “creative” electronics switch, people came up with everything from keyboard combination locks to salsa-dance-instructing systems. I had nothing really exciting. There are all these creative people here, but so far I’ve only seen them being creative in this sort of artistic realm. (I’m pretty sure that this is, again, a time issue, and that I’m going to find out there’s a lot more creativity there under the surface as the semester progresses.)

Anyway, fully realizing that I sound like something of a jerk, I’m starting to feel like I’m the top of the class. Like I’m the one everyone else has to catch up to. It’s not something I’m happy about feeling. I like to think I got past aspiring to be better than everyone else a few years ago. Clearly I haven’t completely, but the real kicker here is that while I don’t really care about being “better” than other students, it’s actually somewhat discouraging to feel like there’s no one on my level. This is an aggravating feeling since I know it’s not true. There are a lot of smart people here who are way above my level, they just don’t have the technical training that I sort of take for granted.

As I said, given time I fully expect this to work itself out, but I wanted to get it down now so I’d have it for later to come back and consider.

Fifth, I’ve just about finished prototyping my big summer project. I’m working on a streaming-media site that allows for social viewing of videos. The problem with trying to watch things online at the moment is that it’s hard to do so in groups. Coordinating viewing, especially at the micro level, is incredibly hard. Even if you manage to get five or six people to start a video at the same time, if anyone has to get up for anything coordinated pausing is virtually impossible. So I figured I’d design a system that allows one person to pause for everyone. It’s just about ready to go, and I’m pretty excited. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it.

With that, I’m off. I miss you all, but know that classes are awesome and despite my whole “arrogance” worry, school is rocking my world.



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