#018: events are work • Metheny • envy

Welcome to the eighteenth edition of Ephemerata, a weekly-ish digest of links, ideas, learnings, and sounds that I think are worth sharing.

Subscribe

I’m doing this to stimulate discussion around what I find interesting, and also to share things before they disappear into the void of my journal.

Thanks to Reef for contributing to my Open Collective last week.

EVENTS ARE WORK

This year has marked the beginning of a shift in my approach: from doing virtually everything solo towards more collectivity and collaboration; the transition has barely begun and is still quite slow as I rewire myself to avoid what has become natural and automatic after over a decade’s practice. I have been thinking and learning about community for longer, but started taking concrete steps around May 9th with the creation of a forum and this newsletter, places with potential to become larger than me.

An important part of this shift has been to bring people together in the form of events, so I looked around me to see where I could contribute. remoteStorage is one of the primary technologies I use in my apps, so I began hosting monthly hangouts. Zero Data seems to be flying away from my nest and turning into a community project, so I started to facilitate some swap meets. I also enjoy getting to know Interintellect, which is a community of people that come together in self-organized group conversations (salons) about eclectic topics, and so I have strived to regularly host my own salons.

Although I have some prior experience with running events, I somehow didn’t anticipate how overwhelmed and fatigued I would eventually feel by doing so many of these. I remember thinking to myself: “it’s just conversations about stuff I’m immersed in, all I have to do is show up and do my thing, no big deal.” To give a sense of the work, from before to after: pre-event involves coordination with others, documenting and framing with text that others can understand, letting interested people know, making announcements at specific times before the event, calming any mental anguish about zero people possibly attending; the event itself involves mentally preparing and blocking out time in the day, being present and ideally taking notes on the conversation, remembering to hit the record button if that’s a thing, hopefully add something insightful to the discussion; post-event involves thanking and outreach, summarizing the notes, editing the recording, publishing in multiple relevant places and sharing that. What I thought of as one hour of spontaneous conversation implies about two days of preparation and two days of recapitulation, and as this happens about three times a month, it feels like three out of four weeks in each month are write-offs, with time and energy only for random unrelated things that need to get done and not much for making apps or advancing on projects.

In reflecting on how to remedy this imbalance, I think it makes sense (for now) to just keep doing the events. One form of stress comes from always feeling like I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing my ‘real work’ on projects, which went from receiving ‘All Available Daylight Hours’ to ‘Not Even One Iota’ for consecutive weeks—as someone used to having freedom over how I spend my time, this was hard to grapple with. But I thought recently: maybe it’s fine for my ‘primary commitment’ of app-making to be supplanted by something else for a while. Maybe this makes getting other people involved an imperative to progress. After years of working so hard on the same thing, perhaps it would be good to do something different for a while.

A friend rightly reminded me how new this is: a couple of months ago I wanted to be more social and collective, and now I’m putting it into action; it’s worth taking time to acknowledge this progress, maybe even celebrate. I’ve certainly been enjoying meeting new people and creating spaces where new things can be said. The skills and experience are both useful, but I’d still prefer to delegate so much more, so please reach out if you’d like to get involved in any of this: I could use a hand.

P.S. Mad respect to @boris for trying to do this kind of thing weekly with Fission Tech Talks.


A DAY OF ENVY

I spent most of my free time yesterday watching ContraPoints’ two-hour oeuvre on envy. This would have been plenty of food for thought for one day, but it was actually preparation for Maybe Gray’s Envy and Evil salon. Here are some of my favourite ideas:

[Humans often transform envy into contempt, making it seem flattering or socially acceptable.]

[Envy can signal what you want.]

[Social media makes us focus on the end result: ‘I want what they have’. It’s a fictitious possibility, but you can at least approach the other to understand what it takes.]

[Envy implies a lack of understanding of the self or the other.]


:heart:

If you’re enjoying this, consider contributing to my Open Collective. Virtually everything I create is public, accessible for free, and open-source. Your support helps me keep adding to the commons and making it available for everyone.

Contribute


SIX DEGREES OF WIKIPEDIA

This fun little utility finds the shortest paths between any two articles, for example: between Hey and Cheese.


MUSIC

All the following items can be accessed as a one-click playlist via Joybox without accounts or sign up—just open and play.

Playlist

Metheny, Music Master

It was comforting and enlightening to hear this interview between Pat Metheny and Rick Beato, discussing the career and discography of one of the world’s greatest jazz guitarists, with frequent plunges into music theory concepts demonstrated live. I was surprised to find out that he used to take ten pages of notes after every concert.

[You can go to college for four years to study harmony, or rhythm, but not melody.]

[Improvise using the structure of Happy Birthday as a way to approach thematic development.]

[I never play any two notes at the same volume.]


Bites

Over the last two weeks, I’ve repeatedly listened to Novelo from Joyce Moreno’s Hard Bossa (1999) (featured in #012). The modern jazz waltz feel stands out to me now, and I’m absorbing the harmonies and intricate voice-leading.


I had two favourites from Amon Tobin’s How Do You Live (2021): the titular track, noisy with a fat bass, badass drumming, and kaleidoscopic timbres; and This Living Hand, with a sort of scribbling or tickling turned into a rhythm. (via Brian Ginsburg)


Dorothy Ashby’s Afro-Harping (1968) reminds me of Alice Coltrane’s music, but maybe more chill. (via we fucking love music)


More music in the previous edition.


(I heart music)

I always love receiving music. Send me recommendations anytime, anywhere!


That’s all folks!

Feel free to reply and share any reflections you might have, or just say hello. Have a great week :slight_smile:

If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing on Twitter or WhatsApp or Email.

Haha. Thanks. Notice that have trailed off a lot lately!

I’d say over time you have things like mailing lists for inviting and templates / checklists for doing the organizing that makes it a bit smoother.

For me, nailing down the guests farther in advance / in bulk can help. I’m currently stalled on outreach to more speakers.

Can’t get around the personal energy part about needing to be present. I usually block off at least a couple of hours on Thursdays after the talks.

Thanks for hosting ZeroData, I guess last week? I have notes that I have to put up still.

Although I have some prior experience with running events, I somehow didn’t anticipate how overwhelmed and fatigued I would eventually feel by doing so many of these.

That’s funny, I felt exhausted just reading the previous paragraph and thinking about how much work that must be organizing so many different events across these different communities!!

I think I’ve felt a lot of this exhaustion in college, trying to organize events and bring communities together in computer science, for people interesting in learning to make games, and for muslims/arabs on campus. It was always draining because it’s the kind of thing you could always do more of. There’s always more people you can try to include or reach or make the events accessible for, or just make more events so more people can participate etc etc

Maybe this makes getting other people involved an imperative to progress.

I love this! Redefining all this as your main work, and as helping you push towards the goals you want. And this way hopefully you don’t feel the need to “catch up” when you’re done with organizing by doing other work. You can just rest after having done all this work!

I enjoyed reading this reflection, looking forward to your future events!

Sure, but there’s still going to be like three public events in October! I agree it’s hard to sustain that kind of rhythm though. Reminds me of a perhaps related dynamic around event planning that I have felt for a while which I call “Not possible in the summer because people are on vacation, and when they’re back there’s no time because everyone’s busy.” Have you ever felt a pressure like that? Is it too cynical?

Feel free to send it raw to me and I can try to tidy and post for you on the forum or just return it to you.

I didn’t know that. (Makes me want to encourage you to host your own salons, but that’s more events…). Would love to know how you dealt with the drain.

It turned into some public / private notes for myself that I need to yak shave publishing. I’m switching to using TiddlyWiki is the TLDR :wink:

I’m only responsible for one of them :wink: And my expectations around it mostly are around a public brainstorming event.

It goes to an interesting thought around sharing a “distribution” channel so interested people can discover events as a very specific thing.

I’m not sure I understand this, can you rephrase?

Letting people know about stuff / getting it in front of people that might be interested I find one of the largest challenges.

The Tools for Thought Rocks community I help run — I have offered that people can cross post events there — to share the distribution.

Me needing to remember to come here or to ZD chat or wherever to see what’s new is hard.

Maybe RTs on Twitter is still the easiest thing to do :wink:

Interesting, I think Fission’s doing better than average considering the quantity of events and kind of [‘alternative’] technology. The ghost of my music listings project came to me a week ago as I thought about automatically tweeting the scraped events from Zero Data, maybe including them in a monthly announcement / newsletter, maybe reading them Out Loud at actual events… The more various communities are involved, the better.

1 Like