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Archive for May, 2008

Self

Ignoring all other aspects, a huge problem with the communist ideology was probably the loss of the “self”. When everything is conceived as one entity the parts that make up the entity immediately loses all sense of self and becomes part of a bigger whole, like a colony of ants. That i suppose is the worst thing that can ever happen because your character is possibly the only thing you can call your very own. Ayn Rand paints a seriously gloomy picture of the world in The Fountainhead if the human population were made up of ant colonies (haven’t got to reading Atlas Shrugged yet). We all know the importance of a individualized style, especially for designers (and students of design).

So what happens when people work in a group to produce a work that requires lots of brainwork? Without a strong leader, I think it’s inevitable that one of two things happen; either you debate to an ultimatum and sour faces appear, leading to an early demise (of the group), or one (or more) has to give in. Groups may work when roles are clearly defined i suppose, either by strengths and weaknesses of individual members or by responsibilities or other types of role allocations. Otherwise, you have a ticking time bomb that is liable to detonate when stress levels rise.

But to work purely as an individual slows both productivity and efficiency, as well as a gradual narrowing of perspective as one loses the big picture. Friction between different opinions and constant critical appraisals between group members makes it easy to conceive of good ideas, and progression moves faster because of all the different brains working on the same problem.

To have completely submissive teammates is counter-productive as well. Productivity increases of course but in essence it’s merely the work of one person, albeit one with extra arms and legs. At the end it doesn’t make much difference if you worked on your own. It gets worse if everyone in the group is equally submissive.

To have a leader who is by far better, smarter, more experienced and more capable than the rest of the group may seem a workable answer, but if you have such a group the leader probably wants to leave that group for a better group, or the rest of the group prefer members on similar wavelengths, unless if the better individual is merely looking for extra arms and legs, which then restricts the ability of the rest of the group to grow.

Tolerance and compromising may seem to be the only win-win answer. And to sacrifice your (individuality) for the greater good (the eventual completion of the work on time) seems sensible.

Yeah but it makes one feel like shit. Argh.

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About Me

I added an about page, just for the heck of it. Link is on upper top right corner! May change if my mood changes..

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Medusa Tower

Ok, i know right now it looks like Medusa had a bad hair (snake) day, complete with flattened snakes. Believe me, I’m working on it.

I love Vray for Sketchup. Ever since I’ve installed the plugin last night I’ve been rendering non-stop and marveling at the remarkable lack of effort needed to achieve nice renderings. and conveniently ignoring work. whee.

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The last Hindu monarchy, in Nepal has been abolished and Nepal is now a republic.

It’s the first time in a few thousand years that there’s no more Hindu monarch reigning anywhere in the world.

Think of that!

Other than that, world (and local) news remains mostly grim.

good news, where art thou?

I often wonder if journalists just stay away from reporting good news because bad news is more readily available or sell more papers or good news comes in different, unreportable ways or what. One day i will sit down and think about where the hell did all the good news go.

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Fruitful discussions

Discussions in the studio, an illustration accompanying the earlier post that i forgot to include. Maybe will post more pictures of the studio later.

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How Fitting

Over a series of unrelated events today i came to the conclusion that people and things don’t change, only the perception changes. By perception i am referring to both our perception and also the perception of the people/objects that are being perceived. Yes i know objects can’t really “perceive”, but i mean that in a very liberal sense so please expand your semantic limits to accommodate the liberties that i am taking.

That by itself is of course a rather general statement that may seem “obvious as hell”, but i think that understanding that phenomenon is a key factor to a happy life. I have to admit that i don’t understand much yet and therefore suck at all sorts of interpersonal relationships. It may seem to be an interesting topic to explore but i am too tired now to think anymore about it.

It’s not only this incident, not by far, but the turning point in realizing this was after spending 5 hours in a very unfruitful discussion at the studio. At this stage in the project, with deadlines nearing and tempers flaring, it is almost impossible for anyone to get anything through to the same people they were discussing concepts enthusiastically with a month ago. It seems to me that at this stage, people only listen to what they want to hear, and what which does not want to be heard is ignored no matter how important it is. This creates a situation where the one with the fastest words and the loudest voice wins. It is a problem for me because i am not so good with spontaneity, preferring to think things through and not say anything until i have given the problem sufficient consideration. It makes for awkward situations when two members argue to a standstill and ask “What do you think Alex?”, hoping of course for me to take a side when i am still unsure that the topic at hand is worth arguing about. Then i answer: “I seriously think this is unnecessary discussion”, which of course doesn’t make anything better. To add salt to injury, all four members (including me) in the group do not speak English as their first language, causing huge problems in communication.

Make no mistake, this is an immensely good experience; especially when all four members also apply different methodologies in almost every aspect of the design process, right up to preferred software and presentation styles. But right now, it is just causing mega problems in communication and efficiency. When i look back to the early stages of the project, it seems that now we use 90% of discussion time to solve 10% of the problems when a month ago we used 10% of the time to solve 90% of the problems.

After that stressful afternoon i went home to discover, among other things, internet access (how magical) and a quote sitting in my igoogle page by French author Anais Nin that summarizes everything i learnt today. More importantly, it emphasizes my point perfectly because the same quote would not have had any effect on me yesterday, and don’t tell me that the quote “changed”… The quote: We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

How fitting.

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Mysterious Electives

My internet access was cut since Wednesday night, and will be cut till midnight Tuesday. So obviously, no forthcoming updates till then. I am now in the only McDonald’s in the city center of Ghent with a borrowed laptop to check my mail, but somehow Gmail doesn’t work so i am blogging. The internet bandwidth meter works in mysterious ways. In the evening i have 1175mb left, as an example, and at midnight i might have 2170mb all of a sudden, or none. The latter happened on Wednesday night, and even more mysterious, they have decided to block my account until midnight Tuesday. There is a bandwidth meter FAQ, but it’s in dutch so it’s gibberish to me. Johannes tried to explain it in English to me but he might as well have been talking in dutch for all the understanding it accorded me. It’s like living on the edge, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

-_-

Lame jokes aside, i have gotten tired of the daily headaches i have been experiencing so i have decided to kick my 5am bedtime habits once and for all, and sleep before 1am from now on. This is the third day; so far, so good, but of course it’s still too soon to say.

The final presentation for design studio is on the 4th of June, but for the first time there are so many things to do after that it doesn’t have any ring of finality about it. Mostly it’s things i have to do for Strathclyde – Academic Portfolio, some compliance document for some accreditation thingy, an essay, some booklet or i don’t know what, a couple of papers and presentations for the compulsory “electives” which is a seriously stupid term if you ask me. I mean, they even took the liberty to register those subjects for me.

That’s all for now.

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