Playing vs. working vs…?

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

byte_issue1.jpgEven on weekends, I’m sorry to report that I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, and generally what I’m doing could be classified as “work.”

But what is that exactly? Sure, the stuff I do for income is unmistakably work, but what about the time spent learning new, complex workflows in order to do the things I do? What about the time spent trying to bludgeon my machine into making a computer-generated light cast the sort of shadow that I’ve seen in the real world? What about the time I take looking “under the hood” to figure out how this particular web page does what it does, micro-googling snippets of javascript to try and parse what for me is the unparsable?

Of course, even from my earliest exposures to computers and their possibilities, the experience of learning by trying something and seeing if that works…and then trying something else and seeing if that works…the iterative process is one that can seem…depending on where you’re coming from…as falling into either the “work” or the “play” categories.

I’m not at all sure that it might not be something else entirely. Sometimes it has the unmistakable characteristics of non-productivity…as in, “I’m trying this, and trying, and…uh…trying…and I’m really just spinning my tires and making no progress at all.” Look up at the clock, another hour has passed. And sometimes (maybe the minority of times) it feels like that sort of ostensible wheel-spinning actually puts the rest of my brain in a good place to do the paying stuff. But it’s easy to tell yourself that’s what your doing and then look up to discover it’s 2 am and one really ought to call it a day.

There are definite tradeoffs into how you learn, how you work, how you play, and how you make the transition from one to the other throughout your waking hours, whenever those may be.

Can you tell where I stand amidst those transitions at this very moment?

Well, gotta get back to it. Or, maybe go to Trader Joe’s and pick up some milk. Or maybe…