Primer: What does “heem” mean?
1) Heem Everyone, Even Myself
2) Here Everyone Enjoys Men
3) [see more]
Heem is the “MMA” enjoyers “general” thread (thread to host discussion of a specific topic that is kept alive by perpetual creation) on 4chan’s sports discussion board “/sp/”. That’s all we need to know for the function of this post. Who is Spammy’s favourite WMMA fighter? I’m not revealing that. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to broach on the character and lore surrounding Heem to any degree without being sucked into a non-sequitur tempest by my own interest and fascination with the tangled make-up of would-be wack packers and skitzocows.
At Heem there is a regular emergent community activity called “picks”. Posters will select who they think will win for each “main card” fight for an upcoming event, and at any stage where the master of ceremony (“picksbro”), at points a skilled regular or sometimes a volunteer in their absence, makes a post in the thread asking for picks, they will reply to him with their selections. Identifying yourself upon being added to the board is made easier by the image you include on your picks-post, as well as the flag of the country 4chan determines you to be from via ip address. There are no material stakes in this competition, and thanks to the Anonymous nature and culture of 4chan, where tripfags are hated for their narcissism, there really aren’t even bragging rights to be had. It’s very pure, in this way.
While I have volunteered and performed the role of “picksbro” myself at times in the distant past, I never did it much. It is in fact very laborious, not least for the scale of the operation - indeed the general picks involve probing for, administrating and presenting a quantity of submissions that regularly tends toward 100 from and for a chaotic packed venue. However, owing to the entropy of Heem (it’s not a single group, it’s a lifestyle), there are splinter groups on other platforms. Anyone here in the heem whatsapp? Including a Discord group (itself fractured, at this point) with the inspired name “Heemcord”. This is where the real constitution of my “heem-work” happened.
Becoming a Resident Artisan
Now, I enjoy being involved in many pies, and offering my time and material contribution where I might feel the impulse. This is not out of some principled sense of charity or being a catalyst for the cultivation of community, rather just because it feeds my ego. It also provides a way of vectoring creative energy into my entirely empty socialization silos, if not by way of opening discussion then by feeling assured my peers will respect these contributions, and, like many people, I just enjoy doing things, being productive.
As such, under direction of this impulse, I became for a time the primary artisan, by way of performing picks duty, of this sub-community splinter-community called “Heemcord”. It is very different to the “greater” heem. On Discord of course, everyone has an ID. It’s smaller in membership, but, counteracting this potential negative is the inherent responsiveness of “instant messaging” versus a traditional (perhaps antiquated) internet forum/board. The potential negative of the size actually becomes a positive, if you were interested in, say, taking picks for this more exclusive group and had reservations about how onerous the mission can be. You are now in mental possession of the entire gestalt of this operation.
Full archive link: “Heemcord Picks” gallery
Working from the basics of picks-taking described above, how do we go about achieving a complete picks product through Discord? The truth is that for a while, I did not place much effort into building upon the basic principles. The basic operations were mostly augmented by the innate differences of the platform:
Collection: To start with things were simple, and I just put down picks in-time and directly. Later, as submissions became more consistent, with a more elaborate set-up and the creation of a picks-channel to passively accrue them, I’d make sure to paste them into a blank paint image, to work from later - arguably this is mostly important because deceptive individuals can edit their messages in retrospect, and claim victory when they actually lost very badly.
Avatar ID: With everyone having an identifying handle and profile image, we can use these alongside the pick-set to differentiate people. This becomes problematic down the line because these people would change their avatar, their handle and multiple people would even delete and make new accounts. I don’t think I am being paranoid to say, given we are dealing with societal rejects, they probably intentionally seized on the potential of this issue to enjoy deceiving those who need to identify people - both by the action and in misdirecting attempts for clarification.
Special Picks: Thanks to the enhanced intimacy, pause, I would occasionally include extra specifics given in picks (e.g. methods of victory). These never affected how things would be scored however. It was also probably easier to chase up incomplete/broken picks, but I don’t really remember.
Monthly: You think these aren’t tiring to put together, still? I only ever did numbered big-time UFC pay-per-view events. I was going to branch out to big events for other organizations (Rizin) and other things at times, but better limit the scope than burn yourself out. Later on I had some rough ideas for a pan-event picks graphic to cover smaller fight cards, taking one or two notable fights from each for a more protracted and perpetual competition, but I’m not sure it would have worked out given many users would only wake from a heem-slumber for big events - we would possibly have a poor participation.
Of course the purity had to remain - perfect picks or you lose - and other things: the “goof image” (an image stamped over picks that were now losers, after each fight) were crowdsourced from the mob. I probably would have included a leaderboard from the jump, though of course it would naturally be easy to have an oral history, pause, of winners given the rarity of someone winning. Either way the first few events bore no winners.
Version 1 - 1.8 (UFC 229 - UFC 238)
Let’s take a closer look at the serial periods of Heemcord picks. Please refer to the gallery linked above as we inspect the picks.
The first period is very primordial and effortless, eventually developing as the need for a leaderboard arises and before long I get a little more playful with presentation. By the end of this period, there’s a regular “mural” of fighters on the card or other references and “an effort was made” to ape the UFC broadcast graphics in some elements, mostly through colours. Perhaps I never should have increased the effort I put into picks, because this is by far the longest and most consistent period, in spite of its low quality. As a community “event” it’s really only the consistency that matters, not silly artifice.
It looks like we start our written record in 2018 with, naturally, the biggest event of all-time: UFC 229 - McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov. I have no doubt the zeitgeist of this event helped achieve the threshold energy to begin picks-taking. The resulting product or “poster” for this is utilitarian. There’s a high resolution photograph of each fighter as the background for either side of the image, the relevant picks aligning to each side, for some immediately apparent gamesmanship. This broad grouping structure would be in all posters until their extinction.
There are other interesting details. The “meme pick” asterisk makes a few appearances. This seems to be where someone, possibly coerced by myself - thus my owing them a token - if I remember correctly, had picked against the grain. Before a late addition of a couple people picking Jared Cannonier against David Branch at UFC 230, for instance, the only two Cannonier pickers are marked as “meme picks”. Very interesting, especially since Cannonier ended up winning that fight convincingly. In this way we see my dictatorial ways vindicated, and the life of that nights picks would be extended even without the late additions.
By UFC 232 we’re pretty much ticking over in the first period’s effort-gear. The ruleset is vaguely ratified under the leaderboard, and the “mural” has appeared to fill in extra space. Someone made a single pick as a joke on this card, picking the aging BJ Penn to win his non-main-card bout, which results in immediate “goofing”.
The “mural” aspect gets pretty good over the next few events. Paying homage to the weaboo ways and immigrant origin of Israel Adesanya, we get “Exchange Student Interim” and a Kanji glyph - I don’t recall what it means, probably “fight”. Then, heading to brazil, some billed fighters visit featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo’s establishment “Famous Burger”. As we reach the last poster for this era, there’s some mocking of UFC’s “pride month” propaganda, a subtle reference to an obscure and shocking meme about Tony Ferguson and this is most importantly all packaged as a reference to legendary artist and Mark Hunt fanatic HASSY Nishikawa, as a not-so-subtle homosexual romance unfolds in Chicago - where the event took place.
This period for picks ends in summer 2019. My versioning-style headers here in this blog post imply a more strict adherence to an annual phase, but who cares? It’s interesting to see how they progress over the months initially here, but there’s really not much to it. It’s also worth noting that I switched from GIMP to Photoshop at some point, but I can’t say I recall when. There is not much core difference between the two, in my usage, but it probably took time to get used to the differences in the interface.
Version 1.9 (UFC 239 - UFC 245)
Marking an escalation in effort, the next incarnation features much enhanced elegance, and is also structured more discretely, still retaining a “template” style that can be re-used with relative ease. Not wanting to lose room for the “mural” fun, I made sure to create plenty of space to work with by expanding the whole thing outward horizontally. It has a somewhat extreme aspect, with information arranged horizontally at the top and bottom, the spacious middle and far ground should fit the picks and extra embellishments - it is a sandbox.
Most of the effort really went into making things look nice. It had always looked a bit nasty and ugly, and now I was already starting to become very much overzealous in my desires to turn these picks into something to be personally proud of. However, we do see the functional addition of a nations leaderboard. This was probably added because the sparsity of point-getting made for very little movement on the individual leaderboard - so why not just add another one? There’s also a small crown placed on the current record holder and a fake-multiplier for anyone on a streak (or just starting one before losing it, usually), so their picks can be easily located for those with poor predictive abilities who seek inspiration.
I dedicated the lower of the image to the line-up of the main card people were picking from, and while I wanted to include odds to add context, I ultimately decided to just screen-grab the line-up from the UFC website and re-arrange it a little - assembling this piece by piece was too much work for something that didn’t really matter. This addition was, of course, inspired by something I saw in the work of a top-quality picks-maker for heem at large. He is, or was, known as “calendar”, after his other contribution to the Heem general - a slick monthly calendar that shows information and posters of upcoming events. He would include the line-up when he did picks, and even created a mascot/logo. I should make visual reference to some of his work now:
Returning to my picks, after seeing “calendar” at work within Photoshop, I am reminded that the size of the canvas, requiring a multitude of hi-rez raster images alongside increasing usage of vectors and more text, meant very poor performance in Photoshop. The days of just throwing things onto a big canvas should have been over sooner, long before I did break things up, but eventually these issues would inform the “mezzanine” style and federated make-up that we see in the final incarnation, which will also tend more heavily into vectors in an effort to completely ditch these exhausting and heavy raster pieces. I am exhausted just contemplating here.
I remember also starting to have trouble with the avatars/profile pictures and the arrangement thereof in the “sandbox”. People changing usernames and avatars meant I would just go at the task of inputting the picks and arranging with avatars head-first, without much order, tackling ID/other issues manually as I came to them - and since I was just screencapping them, ostensibly to save me time inputting handles, I had to pray I wouldn’t run into someone who was playing a computer game, where the frame around their avatar and name would be purple. Eventually I realized how much time I was torching, and stockpiled screen snippings and then raw images pulled from Discord web version, named by most-cited ancestor handle (people would change their handle, but always be referred to by as something decided by a kind of organic consensus).
With the increased effort came increased fatigue. I skipped UFC 240, mostly out of not being at all interested in Holloway vs Edgar and I was busy putting together something else entirely for UFC 243 - though I did quickly generate a 2 minute picks-image, featuring nothing but intentionally stretched and poorly placed images of the main event fighters. Very funny, but also sad. These missteps mean there’s actually only 5 completed “posters” in this era, less than the exponentially effortful final incarnation. Very interesting.
Final Format Analysis
Version 2.0 (UFC 246 - UFC 251)
Finally we reach the ultimate implementation of picks, the most recent and well-realized. Really I don’t know why I felt the need to go above-and-beyond on this, especially without even dipping a toe into automating things or trying out a data-style approach. Presumably it felt like the routine was taking up so much time that it might as well take up even more time and be really good (superficially), and I was too stubborn to go down the correct road first. That sounds silly, but it also sounds right.
With the main concern being streamlining the process of making them and increasing performance, the first step was breaking things down. I broke things up as follows, and also stipulated the inclusion of another idea I was very excited about:
Banner: An identifying banner, with room for information such as rules or card details.
Picks Battery: Picks, this time with an actual arrangement complete with vector frames. Above left and below right battery are some decor/info for the main event combatant representing them (really just a headshot and name with a figure for number of picks).
Fun Zone: Depending on the space left, and thus the number of pickers and likely time spent arranging the graphic, there is space to be filled with some extra element/decoration or to bring out the background more. I went a bit overboard with this at times, and it’s really just part of the main picks-zone.
Leaderboard: Something I failed to consider as a factor in how we got to this “version”, is that the leaderboard was getting overcrowded - many people gain 1 point at some point and stay perpetually in the third place. Naturally this, along with the nation leaderboard had to be broken out.
Chatlog Highlights: Here some screencaps taken from within the group(s, splintered further by this point,) on the night of the event (usually taken later by perusing the log) are assembled. While I’m not sure how much others really took a look at this, I enjoy it a lot - it’s really a great idea. I suppose this was to easily add extra community tethers as the project increased in artifice.
How will they be assembled? With extreme verticality - thereby assuming a more traditional “poster” aspect - they can easily be stacked after being generated individually. This makes for a great look on the phone, which is something I considered in going this route. Beside the profound longness, the scale and resolution means it is very much intended to be magnified and scrolled on a computer screen, but on a phone it looks great even zoomed out.
I can’t say much else came to mind structurally or functionally at this point. I was very much, maybe foolishly so, concerned with making it look “cool” more than anything. Let us now have a closer look at each of these “parts” and consider ways of improving the workflow - usefully and finally, now that I’ve stopped doing picks and no work is being performed.
The banner is very simple in construction, with a large logo and QR code link to the archive, the only parts that change with event, bar one special excursion in the logo, is the small event marker, a joke subtitle to go with that marker and the list of main card line-up - complete with odds pulled from “mmamania”.
This would of course go at the top and over the top of the main composition - extremely simple and easy to put together. I guess you could do some automation with the event marker mirroring file-name and a script to scrape the line-up/odds from somewhere. It’s not much work at all as it is though.
Here some interesting changes have taken place, changes that ease the mind on matter of organizing picks. Where before they looked messy and non-uniform, we have no created order. This usage of vectors would eventually be one of the keys to later efforts to streamline things before I stopped doing picks.
Superficially, we can see some interesting embellishments. Often the “fighter headshots” are stylized in tandem with a broader theme that is mostly evoked by colour scheme and subtle background images. These are made possible by collecting some of the high rez UFC photography/assets you can pull from their website or partners websites - these readily alpha-treated assets were used in earlier posters too - though sometimes it’s hard to find exactly the correct or contemporaneous images due to lazy webmasters or something like this. The picks themselves also include some enhanced markers for “+1 point”, faux-multipliers and the previously mentioned “crown” alongside a raised highlight for winners.
On the more functional topic of the vector frames, I assembled a different, but very similar, vector frame for left and right hand positions, with space for an avatar image and a name and a large white-space for picks-listing. This provides an easily expandable and reducible framework on either side. Often I’d keep a quick running total for how many picks either side and expand/reduce either side accordingly, before filling in the content. Plus, if and when tracking the status of picks live, it’s easy to create red overlay frames, or similar, to denote broken picks as they become broken.
The spreadsheet I started maintaining to use for this contained also a catalogue of user info outside of, and aiding in, tracking picks themselves. The user info included a direct link to avatar from raw discord link and a back-up as well as a “core handle” and aliases for users who thought it was respectable to be constantly shapeshifting. You can now enjoy imagining how useful this is to have after months or even years of manually corralling this stuff.
I will take a closer look at the spreadsheet/data aspect and after reviewing the further pieces of the greater puzzle.
Though somewhat nebulous in existence, the “Fun Zone” is the de-facto replacement for the antique “murals”. There’s not too much to say here - this was mostly a matter of filling in space and having some fun in the midst of a laborious task. Initially I’d done a couple “fighter highlights”, where fun was made of some notable fighter from outside of top billed fight, complete with fake sponsorship and some vector decoration.
Some of this could be seen as a waste of time, and I probably shouldn’t have publicly posted and tagged the stylized graphic of the caveman-resembler on Instagram - during black history month, this could be taken the wrong way. Sometimes it’s not about race, some people just look like cavemen or at least genetically malformed in some specifically evocative way. That’s quite interesting to consider, but I doubt the guy even saw it.
Before the “caveman” likening, I generated a sort of “feeder”-aligned version of Alexa Grasso, who had notably missed weight. There’s also some COVID-19 references in other posters and some weaboo design ethics enforced for Mr. Adesanya. This is something important to touch on further, I think.
Why do so many black men have a fervent passion for certain popular anime cartoons? Especially Dragon Ball Z, which I’m not sure I’ve heard Israel reference. While not uncommon for people to have tertiary awareness of many of these popular “anime” programs that were piped into the cartoons channel they watched as a kid, a specific visible/audible proclivity and renown for DBZ and Naruto seems to arise in this specific racial (“socio-economical”) grouping of people.
I’m not the only one to observe this, I’m sure. Look around and you can hear famed weaboo and all around black-nerd creative director of Wu Tang speak briefly on the matter. With some tenuous reasoning provided, RZA in fact does seem to articulate an academic hypothesis relating to the black mans ability to self-insert and cultivate allegory around the shows - this perhaps explains their almost innate and detailed knowledge of the characters or story arcs of these shows.
The most evil guy in the universe is a creepy super-white man and his lackeys (Freeza) [sic] and only through inner enlightenment (Malcolm X, MLK, Goku) can the black man (Saiyans) persevere against them. Sounds like the journey of the black man in America to me!
Commenter “PB4”, on above inline linked article, brought up some interesting additions while trying to condense the matter 9 years ago. He or She seems to liken Goku to Malcolm X or MLK - where both men espouse the need for inner enlightenment and one of them to a point of self-segregation. At the same time he seems to link Frieza to the white man. That’s crossing the line a bit really, and “PB4” seems to be, contrary to the idealism of the cartoon, using the story to ratify his discriminatory thoughts to the point of crypto-radicalization, his desire for racial combat has become very evident.
First of all Frieza isn’t a white man he is an alien. Second of all, Friezas army was made up of many other races not just one. So you cant just say that frieza represented white people. Frieza really represented a super nation led by a bad man.
Replying to “PB4” 7 years ago, “DamnDanMan” calls out the hateful narrative. He cites the multicultural mosaic, the diversity, of Friezas army, and thus nation or coalition at large, as an indication of Frieza being anti-racist. This serves only to dismantle the narrative of opposition along racial lines, the real death knell to whatever “PB4” is trying to say is the fact that Frieza is not white, he’s an alien. As a plus, the phrase “super nation” is summoned, which speaks to the corrupt globalist power Frieza wields and cultivates.
It’s worth noting here, despite it being placed with the leaderboard fragment, the appearance of a regular character. The disembodied Brendan Schaub A.I. was a very simple way to execute a gag using the reliable and fertile soil of Mr. Schaub’s existence. While you might say the “Schaubian” thought realm is simply an organic, or Rogan-seeded, growth unto itself, some, including me, will say it is likely the single most impactful cultural movement that germinated from Heem.
The leaderboard is a little ridiculous, probably over-produced considering purpose - but I like how it turned out. One of the most pure and effective manifestations of my own autism, it builds a (in many ways unsuccessful) perspective integrating design for the main leaderboard and quickly consumes the rest of the space provided through an expansive global map. Across the map, countries with points on the board are labelled along with their flag and points totals. The flag is just some SVG I managed to pull off of a website somewhere, after scanning creative commons aligned libraries/repositories, I decided to just steal something from a corporate website - it was the perfect form, how could I not.
There’s a variety of little touches happening in this section that can be pointed out. There’s tracking of community-wide success (as a whole) in embellished labels both integrated into the section’s title and overlaying the map. The ruleset, which was expanded to allow a free wildcard in the event of a draw or no-contest, follows the curvature of the circular element that the globe map rests in. There’s instances of Gold/Silver/Bronze colouring as appropriate in parts of the section, and avatars/flags are more convincingly integrated into the individual leaderboard for particularly winning users, the expanded space allows clearer information showing where users’ points are from and streak records.
Avoiding going too far in wasting time on details, especially variable ones, of which there are already too many, most time overall was spent outside of the small focused efforts. That is, it was spent on collating the thing into an attractive and cool-looking whole. This pays off because, where most of the rest of the image is arrayed data or lists placed in a sandbox, the alternative approach in going large-scale top-down jumps out immediately. It’s a section that makes you want to investigate what the hell is going on in the image, I think.
What “HEEM” really stands for: “Here, enjoying every moment.”
…in other words, just have fun! :)
This component was something I thought was a very exciting idea, and I like it a lot. It extends the value of the images, adding some community context for the time/event and also preserves some of the potent humor and culture of our niche and exclusive community that would otherwise be forgotten. I think there may even be an instance of someone posting a photo from an actual event here. It’s really all about creating a snapshot and eventual almanac of heemcord lore - complimentarily codifying and archiving the various reasons bookies hate some members of our community, and love most of them.
Being a “britfag”, there would often be times I’d sleep through an event, or wake up early to see the main event. In these cases, and often even if I was enjoying the event live, I would simply collate messages “in post”, on a big blank PNG canvas in paint. Very simple, and easy to simply overlay them on the discord-flavoured background of the component. To make things easier and less biased to my own personal inclinations, I’d make sure to document posts that garnered the most “reactions”, and related subsequent messages thereof. Along with “OC”, gambling receipts, miscellaneous predictions and more nuanced pickings - such as people complaining about delays in picks logistics - that a machine wouldn’t be able to parse, it’s very easy to trawl through and end up with a surplus of posts to choose from.
They’re mostly arranged in a chronological order from left to right. There’s not much else to say. This was a very good idea, easy to execute and very enjoyable to look back on - I should be celebrated for it. I am celebrated for it, I have so many good ideas.
Definitively after, and thus unfortunately not easily reconciled into, the redesign, I began to tabulate picks, picks history and user info into a spreadsheet file on Google sheets. This was quite time consuming, involving a lot of REGEX-ing when it comes to usernames/aliases, formulas binding data across events to a pan-event scoreboard page and limiting data input to drop-down selections - so you can mark a fight winner and consequently have the style of a pick change according to whether it was correct. This was somewhat tricky, as I am not a frequent data handler - definitely not a certified one.
It’s actually quite interesting to consider “spreadsheet” software, superficially, as an outsider with some knowledge of other realms of data or programming - Python, web-centric languages plus MySQL, etc. They involve a kind of scripting that is far enough removed and limited enough as to not necessarily be traditional “scripting”, I suppose it’s really just mathematical formulae with some extra functions to “treat” data - hence the common name for the syntax just being “formula”. With this said, there are evidently possibilities, and likely features so extendible, outside of my brain-grade that smart people have utilized very interestingly. I guess the most exotic are mostly applicable to Excel, with its “VBA” and being desktop-borne making its extensibility innate.
While ideally I should have started doing this prior to redesigning to graphic, and based the entire project around using a spreadsheet and generating a graphic format, I actually decided to do it by running into the consequential fatigue (or laziness) this would have prevented/circumvented. I saw it as a means to very officially and consistently record the data, ultimately the only thing that matters in the “picks” activity, while the time-consuming endeavour of image-making began to slip out of phase and collapse as events came and went along with interest in the sport and motivation.
I came to this method later and had to, and did, put extra effort into trying to consolidate both the vanity artistic path with the data-path (see previous mention of Adobe Extend Script), but ultimately the vanity/image path came to seem too extravagant. Given the “vanity” path was the main motivator to even work on this, and the fact I could now just hand over the spreadsheet quite easily to someone else, I ultimately committed motive-suicide by cognitive dissonance. The computer-mindset of separation in this case has defeated instead of enhance humanity by joy-sucking.
Breaking Things Down != Building Things Up
While relatively expansive looks at overproducing of the final version’s component parts are fresh in the mind, it’s worth considering what we just saw myself, who clearly was not executively lucid (thinking), do. It forms arguably the most important conclusion I can get for looking back at my work here. To refresh the mind: my main goals moving from the relatively developed picks (“v1.9”) to the big-league version (“v2.0”) were both concerned with removing the annoyance of performance issues and to speed things up and make a more streamlined process or pipeline. These are to be achieved by dissembling the product, specifically the “informational” and relatively dense bars/elements from the pick arrangement sandbox, to sort-of modularize it.
However, after I broke things down, I immediately and mindlessly, probably fueled by vanity, fell into the unneeded ease-of-expansion compliment that also came from modularizing, and began re-inflating the whole process by seizing on this - you could even argue more continuous effort, nevermind initial thinking/design, went into each component part of the nu-picks than went into the entirety of even recent past images. I agree with myself that the evolved leaderboard looks really cool, but it is completely unnecessary. My actions deviate from my initial goal to a somewhat concerning degree now that I am looking back, some might says this is a case of “perfectionism”, but to me a more useful diagnosis is a compound problem of low self-esteem and mania.
Had I just exclusively modularized it, I could well have ended up with something just as cool looking eventually, but after a decent period of refinement of the “cranking out” assembly line. Making things more sustainable - even without the presence of mind to take a full on data-man approach instead of an artistic approach with the spreadsheet/scripting - would have saved time, the immediately apparent and inherent benefit of not going the manic route, but the most important thing to glean is that I likely would have continued to create picks images regardless of community health or interest in the sport (burning out on these images may also have contributed to declining interest - maybe even community health by way of my presence or lack thereof). This is most unfortunate because it’s where my next, less negative, but equally important/constructive, conclusion comes in.
Before that, it’s important to multiply this conclusion by realizing that this “feature creep”-aligned issue is something that, off the top of my head, I believe happens to me a lot. In this case of course we can coin the new phrase, “feature seep”. Where having dismantled something, hoping to streamline and optimize, the circumstances/conditions of the project (e.g. it is a one man operation and/or is already simple enough that things can become too “comfortably” modular) mean that new gaps/space that come naturally with disassembly, allow features to seep in between working and re-assembly. We are flooding the picks submarine in our efforts to modify it as it continues to float in my psyche, rather than a more professional and incorporated - retard-proof - dry-dock.
A Valuable Grindstone
I learned and progressed a lot in my skills, productivity and thinking with this project, and this absolutely and obviously stems from the regularity of it. While sometimes working late, at one point delivering 2 posters in one go to cover previous months arrears, I did stick to it. The nature of the project, with the supporting through-line of function and the mostly rigid structure (abstractly) made it easier to keep to, held open the gates to progress/growth and even makes it especially useful to look back over, as each instance fulfills the same purpose in function and not much more. This isolates the “aesthetic” and creative developments by nature - although there was obviously some modulation in “effort” or “investment” that muddies this.
Some examples of products that were byproducts obtained by crafting at this grindstone include a refinement of my eye for making things nice-looking, the opening and awareness of new avenues like scripting or data-approach to enhance/hybridize with such “artistic” work and of course general knowledge and ability in utilizing the various software and services that make the top-of-the-line picks generation possible - tools useful everywhere, and always valuable to be adept with. Here now of course, I’m also able to develop some analytical skills with plenty of compatible material to work from.
In absence of this grindstone of course, while I still try to actively create by routine dedication of a little time daily on short-scale projects and miscellanea, I really do need to find something to replace it. This involves not only something regular to work on, but a relatively restricted/codified application of work and also, very importantly, the sharing of the work as finished product. I really don’t know what else can fill this role. A lot of the staying power that maintained the presence of this grindstone (the existence to begin with) was the community, and it’s rare I will be amongst community and not dedicate to some regular contribution of “OC” like this.
Clubbed to Life
The last conclusion that is specific to this endeavour is to acknowledge the benefits of participating in active and willing community, who are incorporated into a “product” (for lack of a better term), where contribution, energy and feedback reinforce what is readily intended to serve function and fun based on their own data and participation. Before even putting vector to canvas you already have a fairly well fabricated skeleton alongside social motivation, and you will be able to apply the best meat and skin only to satisfy the community and massage your own ego.
Consider: there’s little that can be less interesting than contriving an image onto a typical canvas (take this as figuratively as you like) just because it looks nice or to ape or translate some “style” or “vibe”. Abiogenesis is impossible. Immediately this is remedied with some added function to the thinly constituted purpose, but next up would definitely be community - it simply enhances an endeavour in every way, where even in failing you are obligated to share anyway, and receive feedback or perhaps even a dose of social reality in that you are probably being hard on yourself, and still fulfilling purpose/fostering community, things like this.
The mantle of responsibility that is taken on in offering to serve community also helps to motivate. When I look back I am impressed with what I did, perhaps not ubiquitously in quality, and while the peak period of production - where the best work was done - was perhaps somewhat slight, and I stopped working right as things were getting very interesting, it’s the longevity that is satisfying, and this ultimately derives from the community tethers. Community, longevity and function are all here feeding into each other, and there’s not much waste in the process. Indeed, while time is being given away for free, immensely valuable skills are being learned and refined that will pay dividends in continued life.
In a more general conclusion that I could probably take from most things I work on, while I always know that looking top down and planning things out is the way to go, I will constantly turn an intermediate draft or sketch into a full-thing or at least a fully realized component. Because why not? How do I know how to measure/meter the effort being put into this “version” or “step”? I will succumb to the wild west of independent executive control and turn myself, my product and my environment into an amorphous turgid glob, structure and pieces become subsumed into the ever inflating time-eating symbiote - never able to see forest for each whole-focus-occupying tree.
I imagine if I had the presence of mind, which should rather be hammered into reflex, I would have gone through algorithmic or spreadsheet/data based route to start with and would still be making these things, with added ease. I know I am guilty, because, while not a master, I’ve used bits of Python at least since this time and have “been known” that automating things is relatively simple - that is to say you don’t need to be a master scripter, not when you’re looking to spawn and displace various rectangles.
Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns.
Often what you would conveniently perceive as a protracted, so-called and coveted “flow state” is just tunnel vision in disguise when we, even briefly, take a macroscopic look. Worse still it’s perhaps a neurologically powered aversion to assessing time spent, and like an obsessive-compulsive who feels satisfied when tracking paving stones with their feet a certain way, it feels right, but it isn’t - it’s stupid. I’m not sure I am articulating this well, but it’s all about having a top-down awareness, even if compelled to work bottom up, and build the two-way eight-lane highways before tracing down dead-end one-way routes in the road-plan.
There’s not much to this one, but I think it will always be worth adding. That is: be hasty. Sometimes I’m good at this, especially if a deadline is approaching and there’s enough work done or enough of a recognized process to just tear through - a contextually limited re-heat. On the whole though I’m very liable to slipping into a more contemplative pace, and investing too much time (at to low an actual-work/time rate) in very lowly-productive ways. We need to raise the resting background urgency, and enhance ability to enter insane pace, because we are always slowly dying.
After following the sport of “MMA” for over 5 years, I have determined that watching “MMA” is passively, and in some cases actively, homosexual - normal people should look into Boxing and Kickboxing instead.
The many conceptually illustrative post-clip-art paintings in the conclusion section that break up my over-worded paragraphs are by “Leon Zernitsky” and are used without permission.
Thanks for reading my word salad, if you did. While the blog is mainly for personal reference, I am grateful for external readership and hope it was interesting.