The Analog & The Digital

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I spent the past four days at a conference for makers who incorporate art and technology into their work. I would describe it as a wonderful, meaningful, and transformative experience, but even those grandiose words don’t fully describe how I feel about the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned. I know I will be quietly ruminating on what I’ve taken away from this event for a very long time, but one speaker’s advice has been echoing through my head, and I keep returning to it:

It’s better to think about why you want than what you want.

Huh. I sat with that for quite awhile. The question kept returning to my mind: why am I doing this? Why am I taking my work in this direction? And eventually I realized that the heart of it all is: I want to tell amazing stories.


Why that, exactly?

I think ultimately, it’s because I want to be known and understood, and I want to know and understand everyone else as best as I possibly can. Because usually when I understand other people, I feel less frustrated and alone, and I am much, much more patient with the world and with myself. And when I am able to be patient, I am able to be kind. This is what is important to me; it is why I am doing what I am doing.

We all have stories, and we tell them with our movements and our gestures, our silences and our words, both written and spoken. If language is something that lives and dies, evolves and changes, then I want the ways in which we communicate to evolve as well. The reason I care about books, art, and technology is because I care about communication, documentation, and story-telling. And despite the often perceived impossibility of it all, I want to embrace new mediums without abandoning or neglecting the hugely import and unique qualities of traditional forms.

I don’t think this is an either/or situation: traditional print vs. new media. They both have important advantages, and they both have limitations. I want to know and understand each of their successes and their constraints. I want to know how they can function together to communicate information in the best. possible. way.

So I’ve stopped thinking so much about what I want, I’ve begun to understand why I want, and now I’m left with the question of: how? How can we communicate, document, and tell our stories as truthfully and effectively as possible? I don’t have the answers, and besides that, I know the answers will change. But I’m going to keep experimenting, and in some ways I’ll fail, and in some ways I’ll succeed. And that’s alright, because this—this murky, confusing space between old and new, past and future—this is exactly where I want to be.


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