As much as I tried to thwart video-gaming in my household -- I was not successful. An upside to the pull of gaming was the impact it had on creative efforts to keep them both engaged. We traveled to the beach where games have always been verboten--hard to argue with the impracticality of lugging large computers onto a ferry or suggested family activities to offer alternatives to single-player games even while engaged with friends remotely.
But alas, here we are. Even old analogs like me can appreciate the skills both have accumulated while building their own consoles from scratch, the crossover skills in navigating highly technical computer tasks, and even the lingo has helped me in my crossover world into technical platforms in healthcare.
This is how I realized the similarity between the first-person shooter sub-genre of gaming and what we do in data analysis workshops. The truncated definition of first-person shooter below could be talking about a live interactive data analytics workshop right? Okay, okay, these sessions are light on death and gore but you can see the tangential application, right?
...in a first-person perspective, with the player experiencing the action through the eyes of the protagonist and controlling the player character in a three-dimensional space.
We have all been thrust into this loud data world. I don’t believe we can be in denial that it will impact everything we do. False interpretation of data is rampant. And if you by chance get something wrong--fear the pitchforks and tiki torches heading your way. How then can we differentiate our solitary work and connect with our colleagues?
I have been reading a great little book, Art & Fear; Observations on the Perils (and rewards) of Artmaking* by David Bayles & Ted Orland. What makes it great? It tells you the truth.
This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially—statistically speaking—there aren't any people like that. But while geniuses get made once-a-century or so, good art gets made all the time. Making art is a common and intimately human activity filled with all the perils (and rewards) that accompany any worthwhile effort. The difficulties art makers face are not remote and heroic, but universal and familiar--Introduction to Art & Fear (David Bayles and Ted Orland)
What we do as analysts, writers, or creatives is art. Make no mistake about it. And although this might sound harsh, nobody cares. But we can. I was empowered by rereading a few assumptions the book presents in an early chapter:
Artmaking involves skills that can be learned
"In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive."
Art is made by ordinary people
“It’s difficult to picture the Virgin Mary painting landscapes. Or Batman throwing pots."
Making art and viewing art are different at their core
“The sobering truth is that the disinterest of others hardly ever reflects a gulf in vision. In fact there’s generally no good reason why others should care about most of any one artists work. The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.”
Artmaking has been around longer than the art establishment
“Artist” has gradually become a form of identity which often carries with it as many drawbacks as benefits. Consider that if artist equals self, then when (inevitably) you make flawed art, you are a flawed person, and when (worse yet) you make no art, you are no person at all. It seems far healthier to sidestep that vicious spiral by accepting many paths to successful artmaking.
I like to differentiate teaching a skill from teaching how to connect with the larger zeitgeist. If you don’t know these things you might stop your important work. The other day I was informed that a fairly lucrative grant/fellowship was not going to be coming my way. In all honesty I knew it was a long shot but it didn’t stop me from imagining the difference this could make on the opportunities I would now have the breathing room to explore.
The feeling in the pit of my stomach launched a desire to write about it. Examine it on the page to see how I really felt and if it was indeed a barometer of my value. It brought me back to the little book about art & fear and helped me to reset. I occasionally need to remind myself of the writings of Seth Godin.
It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you–that Prince Charming has chosen another house–then you can actually get to work.
I wanted to share these thoughts with you in case you have had a recent disappointment. Funny how it doesn’t matter if it was the one thing out of a dozen things that actually went right--that went wrong. It tends to bubble up and bring the effervescence of doubt up to the surface.
You can’t lose out if you never engage. Get in the game...
In 2010, researchers at Leiden University showed that playing first-person shooter video games is associated with superior mental flexibility. Compared to non-players, players of such games were found to require a significantly shorter reaction time while switching between complex tasks, possibly because they are required to develop a more responsive mindset to rapidly react to fast-moving visual and auditory stimuli, and to shift back and forth between different sub-duties.--Colzato LS, et al. (Wikipedia)
Engaging Story with Place 12/10/21 1:00-2:00 pm ET
Highlights from a few keynote speeches being developed for first quarter 2022...click to register.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”