Category Archives for: Self-assessment

Childhood and Media and This Recent Lonely Phase

18 June 2016

[todo: written without editing]

Recently, at least for the past two months, but perhaps up to the past two years, I’ve been living, communicating heavily through media. It can be seen through my recent writings. But more recently, perhaps only within the past month, or since my last post related to history, I stopped communicating. I bought a pair of headphones, and broke my link to the social world. It reverted my life mode to what feels identical to my childhood: no social life, relying on media and nature to keep me alive — music, biking, playing games. A life mode seemingly more primitive. It doesn’t ask questions about actions nor does it question decisions. It simply lives.

What’s been coming to mind often is the disbelief that I lived in such a way for so long. Is it normal? Or did I live a strangely unsocial childhood? Is it normal for American suburbia / caused by the environment?…

Not long ago I experienced the opposite: I didn’t want to take an action without others. I didn’t even want to wake up, or shower. Where’s the fun without doing things without others? So the contrast creates that disbelief.

“Is it normal?” Maybe in the culture of more rural areas, suburbia: less dense areas. It’s just so much more easier and resultingly happier to take actions with people in dense areas: to help the people spatially near. Perhaps even natural. If that’s true, then my childhood was indeed unnatural — that word more precise than abnormal.

“Did I live a strangely unsocial childhood?” Don’t all children wander around playfully with their toys? I do feel I spent a lot more time obsessively organizing things: my music library (during the time of just-post-Napster), my film library (during Netflix DVD-by-mail), and so on. Heck, I’ve just recently done this with my own writings.

I think what I felt strange about it was that I just feel I spent so much time with not-so-communicative-media (music) as opposed to communicating with people or more-communicative-media (documentary, writings). Of most priority, in general, the difference in time I spend with people during my time in Asia compared to my childhood feels infinite.

Every hour I could be thinking about the various people around me, what to do with them, whereas in America, I wouldn’t. It’s that spatial difference for me

In America I was okay doing things alone; I had my own narrow thought and directions. In Asia, I took into consideration the infinite factors of a society.
Perhaps my childhood wasn’t too unsocial, as I always wanted to play games with people all night.

But playing games and riding bikes was something I wanted to do, and not everyone else in society wanted. I rarely did things I didn’t care for: cooking, pro-sports, whatever other kids (and adults?) do (???). So those activities were still directional.

It wasn’t until I moved to the city that I actually tried other things, that I may not have cared for much, but because I could do it socially, without exclusivity, I did. I’d join any free event, art event, workshops, etc.. Somehow, denoting that an activity was an event lured me in. [todo: it wasn’t denoting an activity, rather, having the knowledge that one could join an event and it actually existing in a nearby time-space, as opposed to creating an activity in my hometown] I could have done the same things at home, with my friends and family, but now that there was information denoting what was going on, I joined. Actions to be taken were written in the form of a human language. The event-makers of cities shaped my actions for the limited times they had. They were the game-makers, social game-makers.
Back to the huge contrast between childhood and Asia:
To have people as the focus of my mind, what gets attention as opposed to not. To go to Humans of Taipei and critical theory from wanting to play a video game. It is a huge difference. In the past media kept me awake: music and games. Now, people keep me awake: any nearby relations. Perhaps the problem is that unlike the continuity, immortality of media, social relations can be lost, and losing them during the more Asian way of life leads to social death. | I socially died once I lost my social connections. I lost them because I became (habitually) stuck in a place (spatially) due to economic problems. | Thus, I must live in a social place (hostel, public space, a place close to a public space [in a city]), or make the place I live in social. Furthermore, I must not let the negative culture of the space resides in (capitalism, consumerism, etc.) drive me out. Then what?: the inevitable: fight it or create my own.

It is indeed natural to desire to do things socially, and other than the times in which I desired to ride bikes or play games with my friends, in retrospect it does seem my childhood was unnatural.

Perhaps it’s a matter of focus. Before, I focused on media, later on people, minds. During my time of travel I observed what people did, questioned why, like an anthropologist. Those people often focused on material things, most of all: media. It was clear while traveling that one can see the city-dwellers using their smartphones whilst riding public transportation as opposed to talking to the people nearby to gain wisdom. And it was only in those spaces (hostels especially, public spaces, etc.) — no institution, including the most recent one (NTU) — that life could be found. Here were people that [todo: self-note, writing session 2, after food break] focused on other people. Their goal was to go out with another person just to join or create an activity to do with even more people, often an event in which the focus are people. It’s about going out with an American traveler to showing her the neighborhoods I like in Taipei, allowing her to see its beauty, and together, with the night market vendors, engage in an activity. It’s about joining a local surfer for a lesson, surfing, and eating, and taking, and sleeping at the surf shop worker apartment. It’s about joining a volunteer for a volunteer building project, eating and meeting more volunteers, building together, and sleeping at a temple together. It’s the time of sharing experiences that mattered most. [hmmm, well that drifted off-topic… Well maybe not:]

Often times, more than one’s individual directions and desires. The social, shared experience would beat the individual directions, and the choice between going out with hostel-mates as opposed to making video games slanted greatly toward the social choice. Surely I would try to match my directions by making them social, but it wasn’t always possible. And when it didn’t exist in society, I changed motives. Instead of thinking about and making media, I changed to thinking about local people and making things with them. Should I have stuck to my directions / teach others to explore the directions with me?; just as I explored on my bike, trying to get friends to join me on my biking adventures? Is it a matter of becoming more narrow and specific that leads to less socialness? It seems explorers must learn to go about alone, or learn to teach. An explorer’s life or ethics should not be compared to others, because there is nothing it can be compared to: it is unique.

But my change from making media to desiring to change culture, to affect human behavior in more direct ways was a good one. It was good to have those social experiences, or else, well, I’d be stuck in the suburbs making trite games. So having an individual direction isn’t enough; it needs a social component. Or else, one is simply stuck in some isolated culture, an isolated state of mind. Rather, life is comprised of both, taking individual strides in unexplored directions and being open to the social lives around. Balancing them is something I still haven’t figured out. I’ve been to both extremes. Those extremes, are what I usually ascribe to the stereotype or culture of America and culture of Taiwan. American culture is to be narrow-minded, single-directioned. Taiwan culture is to be open-minded (cultures, minds, lives), without direction.

To work toward something is to have direction. To observe others is to not. One must work and observe. Attention must be able to sway from observing the world and working. One shouldn’t become dependent on them, especially the point of socially dying when not progressing in either direction. One must not be dependent on either work or people: both are temporal. Either one can fly in and out of life. One shouldn’t wake up to desire to work toward a project or to spend time with another person. There must be another reason. (How do imprisoned people live on? Is their livelihood even considered living?) No, no reason. Don’t attach reason to living. Life is not to be reduced to a set of ethics. Life is whatever the next day brings it. To have goals, desires for those goals, leads to same trap as anticipation does: it builds false optimistic ends. Never anticipate, never desire. By desiring better human behavior, better decision-making, better cultures, I’ve nearly destroyed myself.
Work, but expect nothing from it. Observe, but accept no truth from it.
But then, without desire, how can one wake up? That sounds like the life of a passion-less zombie. In the past I woke up because I either desired to do something (personal art, observing through media, observing reality, interacting with reality) or was simply content with being open to the world around me. To do something closer to the world around me was most satisfying. To do something narrow, further from the world around me, likely unsocial, was perhaps, less so. Though, I think I had a pretty good time with films in high school and books more recently. The answer to the question, how does one work and be open, is a difficult one.

Perhaps they are opposing modes of life. They simply cannot be done simultaneously, as one ever so desires. One must simultaneously desire both and balance them. Desire to work. Desire to listen. | Listening is education. Work is practice. Just as practice alters with education, work alters with listening. Avoid the extremes I ascribe to the stereotypical American and Taiwanese cultures. Avoid extremes in general. Work and listen. Listen and work. Desire both. Do both. When focused too much on one side, spend time on the other, and vice versa.

I think that’s it. In this recent past, being alone in my mind, I’ve finally went to that lonely childhood being, and it’s frighteningly different from my post-VA being: I went from one extreme to another. The problem is that I shouldn’t have ever been at either extreme. I focused too much in my own work recently, and too much on the world before that. I can never find the balance. Hopefully living with a few good people I will get closer.

[todo: end here / end of session 2]

[todo: lost a thought here?]

[todo: these were written during the first session, but I ended up focusing on the above point]
What’s also clear is how different my life is from post-VA to pre-SF. It seems I gradually became more social since I left my parent’s home in VA until I became dependent on being social to take actions in Taiwan, only to revert to independence now. I began with shared roommates in SF, then volunteer organizations and art organizations in NY, then work exchange and hostels in Asia. Spatially, things got closer too, to the point I slept with the people I am socially closest with…

It seems post-VA that I had the energy to keep trying to socially communicate my actions with people. I was searching for people, simultaneously changing myself in the course of searching. That constant searching itself kind of became my life mode. I’d search, find, settle for a few months, then move on. The point was that I kept being social; being a part of society, and that was markedly different from my VA life. Perhaps my social dependence began post-VA, or at least began developing.

[todo: can continue]

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A Study Plan

02 March 2016

Though entering an academic institution, especially an Asian one, is so bureaucratic that any sensible artist will be unwilling to complete it, there is one exercise that is useful: to express what one wants to study (in addition to one wants to do). This was written for the entrance to Asia’s academia:

#### Study Plan
A note: I did not find any guidelines for this writing, so I will proceed to write without restriction.

A disclaimer: Sometime ago I wrote my desired directions in life, then I fit it into relevant grants and institutions. Two writings encompass what I want to do and what I want to study which provide creative means toward desired social ends. I will reference them with “(m)” for MIT Media Lab graduate application and “(d)” for Taiwan Foundation for Democracy grant fellowship application. Though, I will try to avoid referencing them, and instead append them to the end of this writing.

Project Plan:
As I just mentioned, I’ve already written what I want to do in a grant application (see appendix 1) which asked for a “project plan”. What I want to do remains unchanged, only the methods of study differ. The school did not ask for it, but it is probably more useful to read it instead of my study plan.

Study Plan:
This study plan merely complements my project plan. Ideally I would simply anything that relates to what I want to do, in sync with time.

Perhaps what I want to study, or more precisely, what experiences in an academic space that I think could be beneficial to my desired plans, can be divided into these categories: theory, practice, reality, history, social relations, technology, and my social network.

##### Theory
Theorizing is something I naturally do, often while experiencing, and sometimes while reflecting after an experience. How I’ve communicated those theories in the past varied through various arts. I hope that will never stop.

Arguing (engaging in dialectic) with philosophers and theorists is a rare and optional part of my process of theorizing, that may occur after much experience. It is unnecessary, but in academia, it may be helpful to use the language of philosophers and theorists to communicate with people in academia. I think it would be nice to have conversations or even dialectics with people who are also interested, within the same space, leveraging the use of local or national cases as examples to the theories.

Though I feel I could participate in much of the conversation that relates to human geography, urban planning, critical theory, new media, media studies, and more, yet, as I mentioned in my autobiography, I am quite afraid of encountering a bourgeoisie worldview usual of academia from my past personal experiences; I’m not sure how to cure this: Perhaps living in different areas and communicating through digital means, as opposed to being in the same space is one way. I also am unsure how talking to people within the same social class could ever lead to more understanding other people compared to simply living nomadic ally, changing area, work, and social relations. Or more simply, I am unsure how solely communication through human language between people could ever provide useful data. That, I guess, is something I may need to learn too.

The first thing to study, especially at an academic institution, is the philosophy of social science. First the institution must try to persuade me into believing that their research, especially in the “social sciences”, done in academia is worthwhile, or even functional. I want to see their methods of research. I want to see what separates my past essay-style writings, in which I create pure theory from personal experiences in reality, from academic “research” writings, which I imagine are peer-reviewed, and determine if that difference is worth the effort, compared to simply writing (or communicating through other mediums).

Another thing to learn in the domain of research is how to obtain academic resources efficiently (Google Scholar?). How do researchers research (reality and primary sources?).

Ultimately, Are there people able to create anything meaningful, especially compared to a film documentary? How does that information lead to practical urban and social interventions? Or are most social philosophy journals privatized, forgotten, into some impractical abyss? I have no idea. I’ve never spent time reading scholarly journals in my life. But as a person interested in humans (not natural sciences), is it even useful compared to experience?

##### Practice [of the institution]
I simply desire to see the practice of people working within the field, so that I can judge the usefulness of the work myself [in my mind], and to compare it to my own personal practice [project plan].

##### Reality
Although I’ve traveled and lived in several areas in Taiwan, simply continuing to live in several areas in Taiwan is an important part of my plan because it allows me to freely experience the material (urban) and social (cultural) reality.

This brings about a stipulation: I cannot live in the space of an academic institution, and, hopefully I spend very little time there — for the simple reason: only a few culturally and economically privileged people live in or around academic institutions. Living in different city neighborhoods is good, but I will also need to spend much time outside of the city to maintain an up-to-date mind mapping of the country.

Perhaps to refresh my mind from the singular culture of Taiwan, I will desire to get out of Taiwan and experience a different, nearby society-nations (likely other islands in the Pacific and Southeast Asia) — to help me compare societies with Taiwan, and to let go of habits and ideas ingrained in Taiwan’s society.

This constant shift between societies allows me to constantly compare societies, forcing my mind to think simultaneously more specifically and more abstractly, and is crucial to critically understand any society, including Taiwan.

Contrary to reality and experience, I hope that the school will merely allow me space and time to communicate ideas with people, and to provide ideals and theories of other societies through academic readings, conversation, academic journals, film, and other relevant media.

##### History [and Culture]
To understand contemporary urban and social reality, I may need to dig into history. Some social questions and concerns that have a cultural history are: lack of police enforcement, privilege of academia and its students, privilege of government, a history of social movements, a history of social and urban interventions.

As for urban, I would simply like to learn how he built environment came to be, that is, who planned and who built everything, and why. Who is the Robert Moses of Taiwan? What percentage of do the government, academic planners, or those with abundant capital (individual to corporate) have in what is built?

##### [Local and National] Social Relations
Although I’ve already spent quite some time in Taiwan, I’ve always had a difficult time connecting with any sort social or urban (especially the exclusive ones: academic, government, and national) organizations. I don’t mind much as I am unwilling to join any top-down institution, yet, I still desire to understand the workings of contemporary policy, role of government (especially in urbanization), role of NGOs, role of private sector, and how nearly any political institution that is currently greatly influencing people’s actions; I still desire to understand the social relationships between each organization.

With this knowledge, organizations can be checked, at times down to the individual, and target them to take responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, this knowledge should be more readily available to the public, especially the civil society, through better media sources.

Here I want to answer the questions: Who is responsible for road safety, road maintenance, illegal housing, squatters, homeless people, bad urban planning, wasteful urbanization, public health, and so on. With this knowledge, then I can better determine if e-government tools can be created or used to guide people to take more civil actions.

##### [Design, Art, Civics, and] Technology
The final category of study comes closer to the Civic Media group from MIT Media Lab, which itself contains ideas from my design and technology past in New York. For more details see my study plan written for MIT Media Lab graduate application (appendix 2).

Though I will be busy with urban planning and theory, a large part of my personal history involves technology, in education and work. Although I plan to spend less time on creating products, one form of creativity I gravitate toward is using material, especially combined with technology, as a means of aiding social and especially urban ends.

I think it is always a good idea to play with current massively available technology (input devices [sensors], output devices, micro-controllers, etc.). This I believe was the gist of the creative process for new media art, and the core of Parson’s D&T and NYU’s ITP programs. Since my time in New York, I have always been associated with local public tech-oriented spaces (hackerspaces, fablabs, etc.) and artist co-living communities (communes, villages, etc.). I think I will always create some form of art, and this kind of new media in public spaces may fit as a means of social and urban solutions, placing information in the public, in reality, which could be really effective when the information contradicts the reality.

Here, the experience with the environment is re-imagined. How can information be obtained from the environment? What, if any, should that be? How can the environment be enhanced by technology to guide people into better behaved (sustainable, ethical, altruistic) acts?

Here, is the experience with people within their current space is re-imagined. What mobile or place-based technologies can be used to help people organize social events with civil ends? How can digital communication be organized to bring about civil actions?

If the other categories are more academic, then part of this category encompasses my non-academic side: it is playful (I love games), disruptive (think Situationists), and just creative (think Fluxus). During this mode of thought, I do not care for the urban or the society; It’s all silly old ideas; Instead, I ignore all old ideas and do what I want, re-using the environment as I wish, playing games on the streets.

##### My Social Network
I am a product of public spaces, so it is likely I will in the future work with NGOs in Taiwan, and continue to affiliate myself with public spaces in the city: DIY spaces (Fablabs, Hackerspaces), venues with DIY ethics (free spaces, art spaces, community spaces), and more general public spaces.

At NCKU specifically, I was happy to see that several departments (urban planning and creative industries included) were all within the same area: the northwestern bit of the large campus. This density of people and equipment is really what attracts me to the university, making it superior to even NTU.

This structure makes me feel that I could easily go to industrial design department’s workshop for rapid prototyping, walk to the urban planning department to talk about urban theories and design, walk to the architecture department to talk about experience within space, and then finally hang out in creative industries design, using it as the public space to communicate with anyone.

Furthermore, the campus is simply in the heart of the city, which is odd considering the size of it, but a blessing. The reason I chose Parson’s in my past is because it is in the heart of New York. This allows me to experience the city, maintaining social networks in the city, yet attend school.

Though the structure of NCKU as long as it is private, it is useless to most, and out of personal ethics, I will try to utilize spaces in the city, as opposed to the institution, as much as possible.

##### Of Categorization
Of course, all of this is merely a random categorization of my desires. In reality, I hope it’s a chaotic mess of experience and information.

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Possible Next Moves

11 December 2015

Possible next moves:
*. Secure a dwelling
– Taiwan it too effing hot during the summer, and too rainy during the winter. Housing is terrible in cities. Hostels are usually enuogh, but even they often lack a kitchen, or a the ability to host events. This can’t be skipped anymore.
– 1. test out the tent
— Is a tent good enough? Probably! But then it’s still missing electricity, wi-fi, ability to cook cheaply, ability to store cold things, and generally, regulate body temperature. Maybe the proximity of a / ability to have a cold shower (during the summer) is enough though? It’s worth trying, to be closer to nature; to begin with nothing, only accumulating enough to survive, selecting everything for a minimal lifestyle. Rainy days may become even more depressing. Can easily move to another place! — Think of that! Can simply move along the mountain or small towns, or even in people’s farms or backyards.
— As for consistently meeting people, if I were to use a tent, then I would rely on a public place, which means I would have to rely on the politics of that place. Perhaps it should be a very public place — a temple, public square, etc. as opposed to a closed space.
– 2. hostel vs personal place
— a hostel provides amenities (hopfully has a kitchen!) and a stream of diverse people.
— A personal place can double as a public place enabling me to freely host events in it, invite people, etc. It also enables accumulation of assets (opposes shared amenities), which may further decrease cost-of-living (rice cooker, tea leaves and containers for storing tea, etc.). To make-up for the lack of diverse people, CouchSurfing, AirBnB, and event-making is almost required for a normative, physical social life.
— both are rather immobile, though if I keep it minimal, it may be easy to move around places.

*. Make money. :(
– x/1. try grants toward civics
— very limited for individuals. Maybe fit civil projects under an existing organization, then apply.
— long-term limit to movement, and therefore nomadic ideas
– x/2. try scholarship for master’s in urban planning in a school in an urban area to buy time
— apply in late December to March
— also limits movement long-term
I wasted time with the above two. Skip to abuse capitalism. Fuck people, politics, and their institutions.
– 3. last resort: independently sell commodities (teach, rent, tea, crafts, short games, short films), as opposed to freelance design and programming, to buy time. Or, exploit capitalism and select more lucrative gigs (ghostwrite college applications for Asian students)
— selling Chai was successful, but limited by the town’s social limits. Maybe can sell illegally in Taipei? Maybe hit up a freelance gig in a target city.
– 4. give into the devil that is global capitalism and move to an affluent country and do social or labor work: farming in New Zealand and Australia (doubles as travel, can circle the islands via scooter), social work in New York or cities with sunny weather
– 5. give into the devil of past and remotely work while having more meaningful work within my locality. Hopefully remotely work for tools for organizing, self-education, and civic technology

1. Scooter or walk around Taiwan
— stop by civic organizations along the way
— write letters to organizations and people to incite action or take action
— focus actions toward impact, avoid non-practical fine art and philosophy
— try this with a tent at first. If that’s too demanding, then maybe have to first secure a dwelling to begin with a healthy body, then try this again until I am fit enough.
2. Create a social space, use hostel and street stall financial models for income. Create technology to the benefit of the people and their organizations.
x/3. Build a house in nature for myself, with very cheap land rent, to distance self from society’s problems. Use the experience to build minimalist shelters in the future (and maybe even minimalist gear).
— Past societies have done since time immemorial, maybe better to just use camping gear more often while traveling around Taiwan and other nearby countries.
— I think what I meant by the first line is: there is no point of using time for basic needs, when I could spend less time doing high-wage work, then spending the rest of the time toward my interests.
— It’s possible to live a simple life anywhere, it just requires more discipline against the convenience of contemporary culture of larger cities. Maybe temporarily hiding out at nearby small town is enough. One adapts to live simply, eating grains and vitamin, and living ascetically.
— Still, the point of experiencing the feeling of being entirely self-sufficient in nature exists.
— A middle way may be to live on 蘭嶼 (Orchid Island) for a period of time, initially living simply with a tent, water filter, and grains, but progressing toward self-sufficiency.
x/4. Teach in the most progressive and/or lenient environment.
— Maybe simply running periodic workshops from a public space is enough. Avoid teaching what global capitalism wants (English), brain drain into higher institutions, and exclusive progressive primary education. Education is free.
— I’ve become less interested since I’ve written this, favoring self-education through technology and exploration, likely because I’ve recently been hitting the e-books.
— Also, simply having a public space is providing an education, through an educational environment
5. Learn everything there is about Taiwan by constantly traveling and talking to people. Also reading a history book or two about it. Could start Humans of Taiwan for this again, using it as a platform to create a reality for the nation. Could extend to nearby countries to compare.
— Could try recording performances like Vincent Moon, or documenting human problems like Foucault
— I don’t think there’s much to capture that hasn’t been captured. It’s more about my perspective, like Humans of Taiwan, or Chris Marker film essays. It’s seeing the the world through my eyes, seeing cultural problems, what people do, and so on.
*. Always travel. Friends in cities and universities. Personal selection of Silk Road from Yunnan to Netherlands to Ireland. Central and South America.
*. Always think about design and technology, social organizing, civic engagement, and decision-making in general, to where it changes reality.
*. Can think of film and games too?

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The Distance between Communication and Reality

10 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

Some thoughts from this morning, which seem to be a continuation of Why did I read?, probably because I’m physically leaving this abode I’ve been dwelling in far too long.

The thoughts:
1. The amount of sense data gathered from real experiences is infinitely larger than those gathered from communication.
2. Therefore, it is impossible to communicate at the level that reality communicates.
3. I may have began reading because I wanted to talk, but in the act of talking, it seems much of the content was lost.
[todo: maybe missing some thoughts]

Thought 1:
1. The amount of sense data gathered from real experiences is infinitely larger than those gathered from communication.
2. Because of that I have always prioritized experience above communication.
[todo: could continue this thought]

Thought 2:
1. It is impossible to communicate at the level that reality communicates.
2. Because of that, it is not a good idea to communicate isolated from reality, especially for a long period of time, in which memory can fade and awareness may likely focus on communication (often distorted) in the form of media as opposed to reality (direct cinema, observational cinema, and cinema verite may be exceptions).
2.1. The distance between communication and reality is a reoccurring problem in decision-making: academia vs city, quantitative vs qualitative, instrumental rationality vs substantial rationality.
3. Because of that (2), one must learn to balance real experiences (reality) and communication, though submitting to the fact that their communication will always be distorted.
3.1 But is communication (perhaps an emphasis on media rather than everyday conversation) even needed (this was perhaps what I going to argue against in Communication and Rationality)? Beyond hard sciences, should one believe anything that is communicated (may have some post about skepticism)?
4. As the distance between communication and reality increases, the amount of distortion in communication increases.
5. In order to maintain a less distorted reality, one must maximize the amount of social time of having an experience.
5.1. In order to achieve a clearer communication, one must limit the communication to recent experiences.
5.2 These also work in the other direction. In order to picture reality while receiving communication, one must have more experience with reality.
[todo: could continue this thought]

Thought 3:
This thought has been moved to Why I Did What I Did.

Leave a comment | Categories: Communication, Critical Theory, Epistemology, Human Geography, Humanities, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Social Science, Rationality, Self-assessment, Thoughts

Free from Capitalism

05 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

[todo: incomplete and very important to complete]

Yesterday’s post, Why did I Read?, was a good question.

Yesterday night, I read about half of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber. It was reinvigorating. Why? Because it discarded much of modern reality, global capitalism. It talks of a society that exists outside of that infinitely complex system. And just outside of it, lies fresh air.

I’ve lived in cities for quite some time. When one lives in a city, capitalism pervades, even if one ignores money. It exists in the behavior of people and in the material of the urban environment.

If one is somewhat creative, then one likely has the a criticism of capitalism in one’s mind.

The desire for socio-political change may take creative forms, which simply depends on the past and current things in the mind. In the case of design, city experience — visual, traveling, talking, living — is far more useful than books.

When I live in a city, I tend go in directions all which are opposite of capitalism. The desired end of my creation is the to alter the behavior of people to act more natural. Examples of past means are: creating critical media — fine art, game, film, etc. –, creating a public space [place-based community] with DIY or anarchistic values, creating tools to aid the generation of healthy communities and neighborhoods, creating tools to limit conspicuous urbanization, and creating tools to direct people toward making positive and urban impacts.

When I live outside of a city, I try to philosophize it — understand it all. This lead to the reason I read:

The reason I began reading is because I wanted to talk about things that I experience in the world, from epistemology to the culture I’ve lived in and back.

I wanted to understand the city, and how social and political changes occur in it, so that I help could make those changes. But to understand it, one must understand human minds, politics, and, of course, capital.

This lead to my interest in critical theory, which covers everything, though in a very messy and outdated way, urban planning, urbanization, decision-making, action, and much continental philosophy.

Trying to philosophizing the entire thing is useless, but the random readings helped elaborate possible directions [, much like Graeber does in Fragments]. It was the organization of 27 years of life experience. The directions that came out, were quite good, they were similar to MIT Center of Civic Media, and many went beyond it.

But as I didn’t have the wealth to do these things, I had to write for grants or and apply for graduate school. I also had to plan how to get some money. And in the process, I had more house time, and kept reading.

Somewhere during my reading of David Harvey’s “Right to the City” I realized that much of capitalism’s problems don’t apply to me.

The problems mentioned in Harvey’s essay are the privatization of food, housing, healthcare, neoliberalism, and in the case of the US, nearly everything. Harvey’s solution is to socialize, or better, uncommodify it all. It’s a kind of communization.

But I live like a bum, keep my belongings in a backpack, sleep at friends’ places, use Taiwan’s excellent and low-cost healthcare, and work part-time jobs for capital. The jobs are my only hard connections to capitalism, as I sometimes need the capital to sustain, especially when the gift economy fails or when I just want to take a lone path in exploring (meaning not many social contacts for gift exchanges) away from institutions and society.

So why bother with the capitalistic city?
Why not just live on my own, or within a public space community in a city or a smaller community outside of it? Why not proceed in the direction that I desire, which is near parallel to the anarchistic directions sketched out by Graeber?

Because I lived in the city. I deeply care(d?) about the people in it. My friends, the people on my street, the people in my neighborhood, in my city, in my country. The point of all my work in the city and out of it is to help those people live better lives.

It just happens that they live under a capitalistic society.

So, what now? It is my responsibility to reverse capitalism? Should I remove them from the place they love too? Or is it okay to ignore those people and live in a separate society (the physical space may not matter that much, though rent is a difficult obstacle) like so many indigenous societies do?

These past few weeks I’ve also been reminded of the film Omoide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday, おもひでぽろぽろ), where the main character, after living in the city for her entire life decides to move to a rural area, to live.

[todo: stopped writing that night, publishing now, though incomplete, it’s a very important self-assessment. The thought started because Fragments reminded me that I didn’t need to live (and worry) under capitalism. I could live in a more anarchic way.]

Leave a comment | Categories: Community, Critical Theory, Ethics, Humanities, Life, Personal, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Rationality, Self-assessment, Thoughts

Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective

14 November 2015

talking to myself
to create a
statement objective

talking to myself:

To make MIT’s environment more playful, encouraging interaction to all departments. To move MIT’s physical entity to the city?

Well, that’s probably what will go through my mind once I’m there.

But for now, let’s try to figure out some objectives here.

Wait, let me peer into a past application for a moment…

Hmm, looks like public and games. I’m guessing I was at a downtime then, in my parent’s bedroom in India, and wrote it, thinking fondly of my more game and new media oriented New York former self, and thinking less about the world around me at the time. Perhaps, wanting to escape to my childhood, playful, with less focus on society, and its infinite responsibilities.

But now my objectives are less game-oriented. Though using sensors and materials for design is still awesome, but civics seems to be where it’s at. It’s about developing communities. Public spaces, public policies, shifting people to make better decisions, sharing, walking, experiencing people and nature, creating a livable environment for all. Creating a better city. And I thought I could facilitate that by designing things for the city, to encourage interaction to further develop communities, to make better decisions, to make a positive impact.

Another objective, created during my downtime in isolation, as opposed to the uptime I’m engaged in a social networks of a city, I also felt tools for knowledge and organization could be useful. But in this case, I was influenced by the need of money, hoping to get an iOS gig to pay off debt quickly, and not hate myself while doing it. Most of these ideas should be left to people in San Francisco trying to create morally good tools under the influence of high land value rent slavery. How the fuck can people mold silicon atoms to transfer information, but not think about why they pay so much to be in the place they are? Hmmm…back to this… Though the tools for knowledge are useful in self-education, it’s the tools for organization of peoples that’s more needed.

Yes. Urban Planning at the Media Lab. Paradoxical? Media doesn’t affect people as real experiences do. One doesn’t understand another’s life by experiencing the media of another. One understands only by being in their position, at that space and time, which is, impossible.

…Sidetrained. List three faculty / research groups.
Two I know from past Google’ing:
1. Civic Media (current interest)
– maybe the dude who’s making Action Path
2. Responsive Environments (was divided from Tangible Objects?, a past interest)
– maybe the dude who made ma-key ma-key [now under Lifelong Kindergaten]

[These three go together. 1 for civics, 2 for applying tech to civics in the physical environment.

Maybe 3 should be living mobile for a continuation of being civic while being outside]

For the third, I have to look at the list. I probably shouldn’t look as it may distract me from what I want. But eh, I couldn’t resist… It seems there’s a huge overlap between my current interest of community-building / town planning (the term urban development sounds city-exclusive): Changing Places, Civic Media, and Social Computing. There’s also a lot of overlap for my interest in games and new media: Tangible Objects, Playful Systems, and Lifelong Kindergarten (stemming from games for education). [In fact, the entire department could be graphed with many past thoughts and ideas.]

3. have to look at the list… Hrmm..
– Changing Places, and its projects fails to recognize that people will create places to work for themselves. For myself, I enjoy working outside. That already defeats many of it’s projects. It also seems to fail take into consideration people of low income, the advent of public wifi (hopefully Boston has? lol.), and just generally the bare minimum a human needs to live and work. It shouldn’t be about creating places. It’s about modifying what exists to make it livable. A portable enclosed space, air conditioner, and battery seems enough. Then it becomes a social issue, of how the space affects the people nearby.
– Human Dynamics. Though I’m interested in mapping cities, I’m not so interested I seem to have an instinctual dislike of gathering human data and using it. I prefer the complexity of infinite data coming and and going out. Perhaps this data could be used to design better cities, but that that takes the fun out of organizing the mess. Again, this seems to be too cold, like economics.
– …!

Ah! That reminds me. I have a personal statement on my website! Perfect. Well, there’s no groups for empowerment (rescuing people from slavery — whichever slavery that may be), and the experience of being in such an environment will make it difficult for me to think about these issues, but I would have to think of my past, my past experiences, and constantly watch video of the rest of the world, then create designs on what I feel would work in any place in the world.

My first objective mentions creativity from materials (material science?). This I agree. It’s the basis of new media, the fun of my past time in New York with interactive art and all. But most importantly, it’s about having the knowledge of existing materials, and then letting the mind create forms out of that, to affect people, socially, interactively. The problem with most of the groups is that it is all data driven. Not physical. Where’s the fun in that? Therefore, one of the material-heavy research groups is necessary, just for the sake of having materials in working memory, and hopefully come in use in creative times. And in this case, it seems Responsive environments is similar to Parson’s Design and Technology, in that it uses sensors and public space. That’s perfect, because I don’t have the knowledge for Tangible Objects. But shouldn’t I try?

My second objective is community development, city development, and, in the context of Taiwan, national development. Which is Civic Media.

Hmmm…sidetraining to more groups:
Macro Connections – mentions a previous thought: all products should have a face. Which is absolutely important in decision-making in a globalized industrial age. Especially in wasteful post-modern societies. I am spoiled with Taiwan’s resourcefulness. Nothing goes to waste here, well, nothing materially, of human effort, a lot. Though the statement, transforming data into knowledge is great, the projects seem very data-driven.

…More wandering about their projects… It seems maybe one project from each group is of interest. Such as Spotz from Living Mobile or You are Here! from Social Computing. I guess I shouldn’t look at the projects, and stick to their group’s statement. And for that, Scalable Cooperation seems nice, though, I’m not interested in Kickstarter and the like. Rather, just Action Path. But that’s a part of Civic Media.

Playable Systems is something done on the side for fun. So is Design Fiction. Both seem to fall under art, not research. Save that for free time.

Which leaves two, maybe, I’ve got quite lost in all this junk: Living Mobile and Lifelong Kindergarten. Living mobile for my nomadic life and of course to educate people while they work (or vice versa, or simultaneously), and, Lifelong Kindergarten.

Hmmm yeah, forget it all and stick to my statement.


Re-read these thoughts and put them inside [square brackets].

ideal objectives:
I want to continue living in Taiwan, manage a public space in a city, collaborate with organizations here, be a part of my neighborhood, city, and country; I want to be a part of the civic decisions that goes on it, make it better by giving people methods to make civic decisions and methods to take action beyond the recent social media leveraged protests, organize reality to help decision-making; help communities maintain themselves by being aware of local problems, encourage people to socialize and collaborate with neighbors, encourage sharing; further autonomy with self-service housing, workspaces, and work; etc. all those ideals.

development of tools as the method toward ideal objectives:
To complete these objectives: there should be tools to help organize people physically and stay up to date with those people digitally, to allow people make civic decisions and take action, to allow people to educate themselves under the circumstances of the current lifestyle,tools to teach community leaders how to organize, to enable community leaders to organize urban data, to match the right solver to the problem; There should be a better designed city to calm people from moving and find people nearby to work with. Simple ideas should exist to facilitate sharing. There should be tools to have local discussion, to corrode corruption; Thanks to Taiwan’s solidarity, the autonomy of the country can be furthered with successful examples of the uses of spaces — housing, education, work, play, and mixes; etc. all those ideal, tools.

a note:
I am mostly thinking of Taiwan here because I cannot think of the scale of America — in size, development, and wealth. I am ignoring these things in the hope that tools will increase self-learning within self-interest, and when within a community, of the interest of others, as it worked for me.

two paths:
Continue living and working toward these ideals in Taiwan, starting with a space, as I normally do, but with the guidance of MIT Media Lab. This is less directional, but is constantly executed in reality and more pragmatic (bottom-up, agile, etc.).

If it is impossible to attend MIT Media Lab remotely, then, because of the physical restriction, my objectives will be far more tool development oriented, more exclusive, and far more influenced by the people, work, and materials in the space. This is further from reality, and I will have to simulate my past social construction of the world to think about what tools would be needed.

For community-based civics, the first path is better. For exposure to materials, ideas, and people, the second.

I’m going to assume only the second path is possible due to policy limits of the institution and simulate a civic-oriented public space to think of a few projects:

1. I want to create a tool to allow people (likely advanced urban peoples) to be able to create geopoints of interests to begin a forum for discussion, replacing the neighborhood town hall meeting with constant discussion (note: it would be up to the privileged smartphone-carrying generation to then communicate with non-tech people). A Civic Media project, Action Path, seemed close on paper, but far in presentation.

1. Further tools to enable people to take civil actions where it is beyond their own control. Enable people to be able to directly give real and current information to the right organization i.e. sending a picture. Facilitate the process of grant writing. Micro-grant writing and giving? How do civic-oriented people make money?

2. Use simple ideas, sensors, and simple DIY objects in the city to enhance community life, further civic decision-making, and incite action. How does the physical and digital match? DIY polling machines? How can I hire someone near me for a task, gig, or job? How can someone leave a task in a physical space (Taiwan loves physical signs, and I do too)? Spread the idea of sharing material within a community (starts with signs), and create tools for it.
*. How to enable people to transform local areas into an Exploratorium filled with current knowledge, yet avoid over-development or tourism.

2. Give community leaders tools to create maps from data, scrape data, and create data, though, it’s possible that the existing tools are enough.

3. Be in conversation with the crowdsourcing people. The digital distribution of wealth is not in my domain until it affects a physical location, to which there should be consent of the local people. Besides, it generally needs more checks.

*. Improve my current self-education toolset of mobile applications. This includes reading, writing, watching, sources, curriculums, social, and experience. Think about the fastest ways to record an idea digitally and convey it. Think about how curriculums can be individually created and crowdsourced, using real local examples and digital media organized by those autodidacts. Gather the learned information [with consent] such as highlights and notes of an eBook, and video clips and its annotations, for future educational use.

development of tools as the method toward objectives:
The tools are simple. Mobile and web applications. Maybe it gets a little fancy with sensors in public places, or games. Perhaps it’s the execution and spreading of ideas that is more important.

priority problem of tools development:
Being outside of the city and inside a lab, I believe it’s quite difficult determine which tool is needed more, and which needs more development. When does a physical sign, a bulletin board, a mother sitting on a porch suffice, and when does it not? The priorities depend on the individual or organization. The norms of how people interact change by society and area.

more public space experience as a bonus objective:
During my life I’ve been lucky to stumble upon great people and great groups of people in certain spaces: a public room of my college, a progressive K-12 school in Zhongli (Taiwan), an NGO in Thailand, a cafe / performance venue in Kuala Lumpur, an outdoor restaurant in Nepal, a co-working civic space in Taizhong (Taiwan), Taipei Fablab, and countless hostels (or other shared living situations).

Though they are all great, in my mind, Babycastles is the epitome of a public space. It has the civic values, diversity, technical knowledge, and energy.

MIT Media seems to be the only academic department I know that comes close to my ideals and my directions (at this moment).

I’m sure MIT Media Lab is similar to all those spaces I love: consensus decision-making, messy physical space, messy digital notes, impromptu city meetups, calls, messages, pictures, poor food decisions, and the sort. But I’m also sure there’s lot to learn in doing it under an academic umbrella, with the rigor of the best.

the takeaway / reverse brain drain:
When the program is complete, I hope to muster all of my experience toward creating spaces around Taiwan, and perhaps later, less developed countries nearby, to help people help themselves.


a comparison of my direction (statement and method) and MIT Media Lab’s direction:
My history is filled with games, media (mostly film) studies, living in cities, traveling and volunteering. In order, it was technology, media,

Over my life, it seems my ideas align with MIT Media Labs, so much so that a map could be created.

my ideal space and MIT Media Lab’s space:

These ideals seemingly fall under a categorial imperative, and to my surprise, from my experience, people in less developed societies (or ethnic enclaves of American cities) also act upon it, and I find solace within them.

I believe the organization (including public spaces) must be in the city because it is impossible to understand the complexity of a city.

I prefer to complete these objectives by wandering the masses of stimuli of the city, ‘thinking fast’ in the space and time where they are needed, creating with the efficacy of a politically influenced artist, with much awareness of the people’s minds, without decor, without human language.

Therefore, physically attending MIT Media Lab is paradoxical, but the execution of ideals are limited by time and the knowledge of people around me, and I again run into the familiar feeling of seeking like-minded people to be productive.

If I were paid to live and do these things here, I would. I will apply to Taiwan’s schools but I believe for the same reasons Parson’s (The New School) design and technology (D&T) program didn’t work for me, neither will Taiwan’s schools: their classes with real organizations encourage top-down data-driven models, their D&T student body lacked diversity in income, and their space has less tools than their fine arts department, which was exclusive. I often cannot handle such difference in values.

Though their government is very lenient, lawless, and giving, I still have to work with language barrier, self-finance (English tutor or whatever else capitalism values here), and a somewhat traditional government.

I believe it’s possible to educate within public spaces, guide people toward my interests, which are likely in the people’s interest. I found the hard way, that keeping such a space or community alive is more than a full-time job, but worth pursuing.



As much as I want accomplish all those objectives, even after lengths of time of doing others kinds of work and travel, I seem to fall into a habitual trap of doing something from my past self, organizing things on a computer.

It’s wrong. I should be in Nepal searching villages who haven’t received aid, and help organize the examination and earthquake-proofing of housing, or something else direly needed local to my current position.

I want to keep my body in the developing world for everyday experiences to affect me, and to maintain a nearly-purely functional (according to my social reality at that time) lifestyle because this is an audience my mind can make sense of (in my mind).



[todo: read it all!]
civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/notes-on-monitory-democracy-and-a-networked-civil-society (todo: read it)


dusp.mit.edu/behavior-and-policies-2014 *****

statement objective:
“Statement Objective” for MIT Media Lab:
First, the questions, then some chit-chat.

The Questions:
Why you wish to attend graduate school:
To experience a great space (MIT Media Lab) again and apply it’s successful methods, ethics, and rigour to the ones I desire to create in Taiwan, and wherever else I may be. It’s also nice to experience all of the directions The Lab is going, so that when I am wondering about creatively and philosophically, within a social space or alone, I have some anchored directions to compare my own with.

What you would like to study:
[EDIT: My first research field interest, Civic Media group, has been removed, and many of the other group’s statements and projects have been moved around, altered, and or updated. Although unfortunate, I don’t think my statement requires much alteration. The groups that I have selected are the means to civil and social ends, of which pervade several groups within the lab.]

My most desired direction of work overlaps well with the Civic Media group’s statement: “…Transforming civic knowledge into civic action…” and “…experimenting with a variety of new civic media techniques, from technologies for protests and civil disobedience…”. I would like to re-experience current massively available technology (sensors, micro-controllers, etc.) and spend time playing with materials to have these things in working memory so that I (1) think of designs for civic tools. Ideally (more under Chit-Chat later) I prefer to consistently execute and innovate on direct social and urban interventions [/techniques?] to try to budge human behavior — in small steps toward collectively agreeable things like public safety, health, and sanitation — with a minimum amount of wealth. While experimenting, I would likely want to study anything related to that. The goal is to aid or enable people to make better decisions and actions and conversely to disorganize people from their habituated cultured actions to create more diverse social experiences, with the end being to improve society (non-material, culture) and urban (material),

I think as a kind of nomadic autodidact, creating (2) tools to facilitate self-education whilst physically moving will always naturally come to mind, and as a kind of people organizer so too will (3) tools to facilitate social organizing. These interests are auxiliary to the more civic-action-oriented interests, but it sure would be nice to have these groups around to interact with.

I think simply due to a long past of playing and even making games, I think as a counter my seriousness, (4) it would be nice to incept, design, and implement playful ideas again, even just for the sake of being actively making.

What you would precisely like study (optional reading, in case the above was too general):
The project that comes closest to my interests are the ideas (from the research paper) behind Action Path, not the actual product (from the powerpoint presentation), which seems to be far different. Here’s how I imagined it in an email to the creator of it: “I would love to subscribe to any changes in my neighborhood by the government, old-wealthy gangsters (Taiwan’s old private sector), and new-wealth gentrifiers. If the information is not transparent (very likely for all of Taiwan), then people (likely advanced urban peoples) should be able to create geopoints of interests to begin a forum for discussion (and then the new tech generation will hold a physical meeting for the old people).” Or perhaps there should be a small voting device that can be physically placed at locations, for the old generation and keeping votes within proximity.

Promise Tracker’s idea to “hold elected leaders accountable for political promises” is pretty good under a working representative democracy, but I feel the project’s actions are too lenient to make any meaningful political change. Promise Tracker’s method of gathering real data, tracking the status, and attracting attention, however, is a good one, and could be applied to any civic problem and institution. A kind of more abstract FixMyStreet, and better suited tool than creating a Facebook group. It would be more interesting as a simple tool for smaller self-governing communities, or neighborhoods, where it feels less like blaming a representative and more of a cooperative initiative with neighbors.

Perhaps my urge for more direct changes is from my experience in Taiwan, where law enforcement ideology is opposite of US: there is none. This allows people to take a lot more civil actions without worrying so much about laws and policies. Of course, this requires quite a good education and culture, but I also feel it creates a far more ideal social framework to design for.

A class from MIT Urban Planning department titled behavior and policies (dusp.mit.edu/behavior-and-policies-2014), though heavily referencing pop science books, is perhaps to the closest to my ideal direction of negating bad behavior. Though note, that class is limited to policy-making as its means of influencing, and transportation as its sole focus. I’m not interested in policy-making, I’m interesting in culture-making.

Though a part of my statement is to adopt better behaviors, especially the case in urban areas, the counterpart is to create tools to enhance simple communal life. Politically reworded: to reduce the adverse behavioral affects of capitalism and to increase the social organization of anarchic communal spaces.

Instead of what I want to study, it may help to list projects that I don’t care much about: projects that display crowd-sourced data-driven data, aggregate and order media, attempt to gather even more data from humans, projects that deals private housing, and projects that solely use data as the basis for its [instrumental] rationality. This is simply because I’m always skeptical about data and it’s oft pairing of top-down methodologies, especially of how urban material affects human minds and lives.

Despite my desire for reasonable behavior, I am a romantic and hope that everyone can walk and talk across the cities and countries they live in as opposed to gazing at data — People don’t change their behavior because data tells them, it’s because they’ve had certain life experiences, and then they become agents with the possibility to alter the culture people live in.

Any research experience:
Research requires too much time, so I’ve tend to skip to theory or practice and learn the hard way. This is a pretty consistent fault of my personality — think McCandless from Into the Wild —, and hence my interest in quicker solutions such as direct interventions and Banksy style art; I normally do not think systematically and I am not interested in writing about sociology into scientific journals; This may be another reason to attend a research graduate school: to experience research, especially at the top research institute. Though, I think I will always be skeptical.

Describe one or more accomplishments you are particularly proud of that suggest that you will succeed in your chosen area of research:
I’m particularly fond of my time in New York with the local game and new media scene which resulted in participating in game jams (includes Doodle Tangle prototype), making two games: Pinkies Up and Crystal Brawl, and spending time at Babycastles, an amazing public volunteer-based organization with what now seems incredible values and dreams, and set the bar for what a social organization can be and do.

The hope here is that my design and tech past will converge with my more civil-oriented motivations.

About the Quirkiness of my Application:
Though my application is playfully written, I confirm it is as accurate within the limits of the application form. Of Letters of Recommendation: I won’t ask friends for letters until I enter society and begin talking again so that one has the most recent references, but if needed, I can provide previous letters of recommendation written last year for The New School / Parson’s / Design and Technology program, which are written from my game friends in New York. Of Subjects Taken: I don’t remember much of college work and therefore did not list it. Much of my education during college came from films via the advent of Netflix. Of Financial Support: I currently have no money and how much I will have will depend on the future. It’s all true, though seemingly a joke.

Chit-Chat (extra reading):
What I Want and Why I Applied:
What I really desire is continue living in Taiwan, create a social organization here, not too far from what I feel MIT Center for Civic Media does, with less emphasis on the development of complex tools, and more on practice — using tools to create urban maps, using Action Path to geolocate discussions, using Promise Tracker to keep government in check, follow and use Taiwan’s kickstarter for civic projects, etc. — and for general community hall things for continuous local experience.

The Paradox (written during a more intense time):
I believe the organization (including public spaces) must be in the city because it is impossible to understand the complexity of a city outside of it.

I prefer to complete these objectives by wandering the masses of stimuli of the city, ‘thinking fast’ in the space and time where they are needed, creating with the efficacy of a politically influenced artist, with much awareness of the people’s minds, without decor, without human language.

Therefore, physically attending MIT Media Lab is paradoxical [because it is not in Taipei, and is private], yet the execution of ideals are limited by time and the knowledge of people around me, and I again run into the familiar feeling of seeking like-minded people to be productive.

Now and Next:
I took a break from Taipei and lodged myself in a nearby small town, to which I thought and wrote a lot, beginning with this application meandering to grants applications in which my statement sounds like the creation of a kind of ‘MIT social and urban innovation lab’ and back to this.

I’ve come to the conclusion that granting organizations, or anyone really, won’t fund wild individuals, so I’m just going to have to continue going around Taiwan on a scooter, hopping about social organizations, probably ending back in Taipei Fablab, which is where I will probably begin to organize again because that’s the most open organization I’ve run into here, and would help with obtaining grants.

I’ll also be applying to National Taiwan University’s urban planning program (Taiwan doesn’t have anything like the Media Lab) and scholarships for it, as a strategy to stick myself in Taipei, get funding, and gather local and national organization knowledge, at the cost of time.

Beyond Taiwan:
Though Taiwan is my ideal first area for creating such public spaces for these directions, it is not the limit. I’ve lived somewhat nomadically since college graduation and I try to make a positive social impact wherever I am. The hope is that after MIT I will be more efficient at creating impacts in the right directions in any human settlement.

My Online Portfolio:

Leave a comment | Categories: Civics, Conversation, Critical Theory, Organization, Personal, Philosophy, Self-assessment, Urban Philosophy

A Project Plan for an Urban Area

07 September 2015

First written to narrow down my interests for an application for MIT Media Lab, then formalized for the Democracy and Human Rights Service Fellowship by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, then rewritten for Open Society Fellowship, it is nearly entirely based on personal desires and ideals, and serves as a good snapshot of my desires and ideals at the time, which is quite different from two year ago.

written for OSF and TFD (newer):

2.1.1 My Perspective of Taiwan’s Issues:
Taiwan is a beautiful mess. The feeling of lack of government, enforcement, and social security continues. Even as the country unevenly advances to the most contemporary form of society, it still feels the people must survive on their own. It’s people have leveraged technology as exemplified in the prevalent use of technological knowledge to manufacture high quality products, accommodation and skill-share web services, social media as a primary source for national news, and social media to manage large-scale protests. The alacrity of their adaption to new technology and the strain of low income has resulted in a technological society with survival values.

Though the people have adapted, the government has not. Along with a little normative government ilk, Taiwan’s government has bare digital services for citizens, keeps non-harmful data private, and contains non-sensical policies that aren’t being enforced properly anyway. Thus, it is generally up to the people to manage themselves, which itself has become a common moral and ideology. Though I believe most of the people will be able to survive — have shelter, eat, obtain health services and an education — thanks to civil society, I believe their civic progress will remain scattered outcries without tools to help them direct conversation.

2.1.2 My Belief and Proposal:
I believe Taiwan’s civil society is active enough to adapt to civic tools, convert conversation to actions, and experiment with technology and methods of social actions, as a means of progress.

My proposal, defined by my personal background, is a civic technology center specialized in (1) the advocation and facilitation of civic technology, and (2) the creation of social and urban interventions.

1. It advocates the use of mobile digital tools, extracts and serves functional civic data in more meaningful forms, and helps organize the useful bits of the infinite civic dialog created through their peculiar digital communication mediums (BBS system and non-Facebook social media) to lead to more effective civic actions. Basically, a Taiwanese sister organization of MIT Center for Civic Media, without the development of technology — leave that to MIT.

2. It serves as a local community hall for the sake of constant personal civil experience, allotting time to solving local social and urban problems, and experimenting new forms of social intervention, urban intervention, and activism on a reoccurring basis.

written to narrow down thoughts for MIT Lab and then used for first draft of TFD (older):

In 2013, I volunteered, travelled and lived (any maybe protested) in Taiwan for periods of time. I had good experiences within the society of Taiwan, felt a strong sense of community and civil service, and decided that I will return, with intent to be a part of that positive force.

Past Thoughts:
The following Ideal Objectives and the Development towards them, were written in the past, but are fitting to see my mind:

Ideal Objectives:
I want to continue living in Taiwan, manage a public space in a city, collaborate with organizations here, be a part of my neighborhood, city, and country; I want to be a part of the civic decisions that goes on it, make it better by giving people methods to make civic decisions and methods to take action beyond the recent social media leveraged protests, organize reality to help decision-making; help communities maintain themselves by being aware of local problems, encourage people to socialize and collaborate with neighbors, encourage sharing; further autonomy with self-service housing, workspaces, and work; etc. all those ideals.

Development of tools as the method toward ideal objectives,:
To complete these objectives: there should be tools to help organize people physically and stay up to date with those people digitally, to allow people make civic decisions and take action, to allow people to educate themselves under the circumstances of the current lifestyle, tools to teach community leaders how to organize, to enable community leaders to organize urban data, to match the right solver to the problem; There should be a better designed city to calm people from moving and find people nearby to work with. Simple ideas should exist to facilitate sharing. There should be tools to have local discussion, to corrode corruption; Thanks to Taiwan’s solidarity, the autonomy of the country can be furthered with successful examples of the uses of spaces — housing, education, work, play, and mixes; etc. all those ideal, tools.

On Human Rights and Development:
From the few travels around Taiwan I am aware of social problems: rampant urban development projects, lack of policy, lack of care of policies, lack of enforcement (what do they do?), prostitution, lack of healthcare on the east coast, land conflicts with indigenous peoples, underpaid migrant workers, etc. I am also aware of current social processes: the accumulation of capital, consumerism, urbanization, globalization (migrant workers, language teachers), etc.

I am willing to make efforts toward many of these problems, but my focus is on organizing knowledge (awareness) and people (action), which reflects my experience in programming, design and technology, and knowledge in urban planning.

Outward Radiation of Work:
I have a very materialistic, urban-planning, anarchistic (direct democracy is okay!) philosophy that promotes autonomous societies, and so my Rough Outline of Actions radiates spatially outward, from a place to neighborhood to city to country.

Rough Outline of Actions:
0. See current organizations for experience and determine if any can be used as a public place.

1. Create a physical (and digital) public place. It may be possible to take over a current public space, such as TFD, FabLab or some kind of town hall. It must be accessible to a dense urban area, preferably in a working-class neighborhood.

2. Gather organizational information. Leveraging TFD contacts and my friends from the public realm (Hackerspaces, NTU landscape students, social spaces in Gongguan) quickly gather information about Taiwan’s hierarchy of organizations.

*. Hold workshops. There’s no time for teaching, but I think civic-oriented workshops may come to mind, as I have a need for creativity :) . Teach map-making, Wikipedia editing event, problem-solution design jams, protest tactics against government interventions, etc.

*. I will personally be able to detect local problems, social and material, have an experience (as opposed to relying purely on data, including news) and take action against them. For example, prevent automobile traffic from entering market streets, inform lack of walking and biking lanes for the working class, displace people in poor quality rooftop housing. The action could be from policy-making to direct intervention.

4. The public space also serves as a community hall for the neighborhood. It is a place for people to direct social problems to, and a physical (and digital) forum for discussion.

?. Neighborhood media. Social problems must disperse back to the neighborhood. I haven’t decided how (paper, digital, radio, etc.) yet.

5. Mapping of existing data. The first tool I believe that’s necessary are maps with data. Whatever the problem may be, the physical areas must be identified. In case the data is stuck in ugly government databases and websites, I can leverage friends from Hackerspaces to help here, or do it myself, putting it into a more modern mapping system, available for public use. There are several good existing technologies for this. Other organizations may benefit from learning how to do this. Maybe Taiwan has this, but I personally know of friends who are scraping data from poorly designed or outdated government websites because they are so bad.

6. Creation and mapping of new data. Next there must be a tool for people to create geopoints of interest to begin a forum of discussion, to centralize conversations.

Taiwanese citizens are often very civic-minded people. They talk about problems, but it is often through personal networks (LINE, Facebook, and BBS), private and unorganizable.

I realize that the stipulation of having a digital device will restrict access to residents, but I also believe it just has to be up to the younger generation to pass information to the non-digital users. (Maybe create a radio station for the non-digital?).

I am actually not sure if there is an existing technology for the first point. MIT’s Action Path is close to the idea, but still quite far in execution. But at the least, something can be done about the BBS.

7. Further tools to enable people to take civil actions where it is beyond their own control. Enable people to be able to directly give real and current information to the right organization i.e. sending a picture.

?. City media. Thanks to the political problems, I’m guessing there’s a non-corporate online media source already in place, but I wonder how that information can get to the non-digital audience, and furthermore, non-Chinese language audience.

*. Follow civic crowdsourcing. Can even try to pass the idea of campaigning for bike and motorcycle helmets, for public bike systems in dense urban areas, for laptops, for public libraries, etc.

8. What successful actions I take locally has a chance to propagate to other localities, and other cities. If they do not naturally propagate, then communication to organizations in other towns may be needed, but not forced.

Feasibility of tools:
All tools will use existing web and mobile applications. I highly doubt the need of designing anything new.

Direct interventions may not require tools at all, perhaps just a physical sign, or talking.

On Human Rights and Development again:
I notice that my outline is lacking in human rights. In a country where law enforcement is minimal, therefore rendering many laws useless, I believe working toward better self-governance, education, civil (and ecological) conduct, is better, especially in the case of Taiwan, where the ideology, form my experience, is quite well-natured. For example, if a migrant worker were to come to a clinic without health insurance, I believe it is up to the clinician to do the right thing, and from my experience, this is often positive. More likely the problem, I think, is the lack of resources in less developed areas, in this example, a professionally trained clinician with medicine in the area.

Comments Off on A Project Plan for an Urban Area | Categories: Design, Engineering, Organization, Personal, Self-assessment, Urban Philosophy

Organized Things I’ve Written

19 January 2014

[todo: rename philosophy to filosophy. Will it break anchors?]

This post started as a tool for gauging direction using past thoughts, but with some organization (to the discontent of WordPress’s organization), it now resembles a philosophical corpus of a child.

The asterisks (*) have nothing to do with the quality of the content or even the content of the post, rather, it is the importance of the idea to me, as a way of gauging future directions, spaces to explore, [spaces] worth exploring.

original post:
These are posts I felt either are aiming at ideals, are ongoing, or are worth thinking about some more, or pursuing. Nearly all of them were written during a period of isolation after a period of travel.

writings ordered by time (and difference in state of mind)

Final Philosophy 0

(posts between 2011/1/2 – 2014/3/22)
[todo: stopped re-reading (for idea extraction or judging quality by adding asterisks) somewhere in here]
[todo: maybe break this up into I, II, III…)
Why have a personal blog?
A thought about creative careers and the influence of money
Overcoming the internal conflicts of an artist

Film Socialisme
My Justification of Art in Video Games
a List of Game Ideas
What makes a game meaningful and how innovative mechanics aren’t enough

Home (between NY and SF pt. II):
The Choice between Career and Exploration
Inspired by Films (and everything else)

SF pt. II:
Designing Educational Games: The Indie Way
Universalism in Art*
Creative Programming**
Life and Technology

[todo: stopped here]
Creativity Derives from Nothing***
– Life and Education*
– Life and Technology**
– [todo: should finish travel observations series. Hong Kong and Seoul are published here.]
Creativity Derives from Nothing**
Flexibility and Immigration
Time and Value
Flexibility and Learning
a Self-assessment
Organized Things I’ve Written****
A Personal Statement for Design and Technology*
A Personal Statement for Game Design
A Critical Analysis of Super Smash Bros. Melee

Final Philosophy I

(posts between 2014/03/23 – 2014/8/3):
– in retrospect, because I was trying to write while thinking fast, the writings lack vocabulary or use other words to encompass other meanings. I think much of the content is still good, if not better, because they are a closer reflection of my experiences — in the duration of time between experience and thought (and writing), and in the distance between sensory experience and rationalizing.
– from An Attempt to Write Everything I Know and then on, I began writing some, blogging some, using and quoting my thoughts file to gain topics from very recent personal experiences, surprisingly similar to Montaigne. My thoughts file is endless, and it may be impossible to philosophize all of my experiences, but, for the time, I tried.
A Self-assessment II
The Effects of Weather*
Sleeping Problems*

A Foreigner Crashes at the Legislative Yuan’s Slumber Party**
– Nomadism, Culture, and The Playful Quest for Knowledge**
Lone Work and Depression

– The Apex of Mania and Creativity in Taipei*
– Creativity, External Stimuli, Cities, and Suburbs***
Taiwan and Japan: Active and Passive Lifestyles*
The Ideal Method of Learning**
Prose is Superfluous: Active Communication through Play and Art****
Books, Passive Media, and The Internet*
Island Nations and Globalization*
Okinawa is Inhospitable*
My Creative Process, Honing Theory, and Nomadism*
Methods of Sustaining Creativity in The Same Place*
Creativity and Exercise*
Two Phases in Life**
Lateral Thinking, External Stimuli, and Self-Control*
Learning via Empericism**
Game Philosophy
A Sequential List of Game Experiences that I Remember

Why I Love Tsai-Ming Liang’s Films*
Philosophy of Literature: What’s left?
Social Life as Lifetime
Extrovert and Introvert Learning
Hedonism and Wisdom
Hypomania and Creativity
Philosophy from Media versus Life; New York versus the World**
Inaction in a Bookshop in Taipei*
An Attempt to Write Everything I Know**

[todo: stopped reorganization here]
Autonomy of Taiwan***
The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal****
[todo: stopped cosmetic cleaning of blockquote tags (use cite tag, remove quotes) here]
Why read the Western philosophy canon?
Conciseness in Art**
The Obsolescence of Literature and the Future of Education
How and When to Write, and the Impossibility of a Solitary Life*
The Purpose of a Blog: A Medium for Essays and Self-Assessments
In Praise of Experimental Art Communities**

JRPGs Emulate Travel*

Final Philosophy II

– 2014/9/19 – 2015/1/22
Information Organization, Mediums, Creativity, and Experience*****
Information, Media, and Education***
No more writing****
Public Places***
A Design Strategy for Data****
A Liberal Arts Self Study Curriculum**
Life and Action*
A Few Design Ideas****
What makes a classic, classic?
Hippie Ethics**
The Ideal Public Space*****
Korea and the Apex of SPD**
A Project Plan for an Urban Area****
Happiness and Public Spaces***
My Education*
Wolf Children**
I Think of Dean Moriarty*
Teaching in Poor Places
Start from Nothing
The Ideal Household
The Ideal Neighborhood**
Social Life in Proximity**
The Most Powerful Forms of Art***
Searching for the Greatest Environment Ethics***
New York and Taiwan*****
Survival and Self-expression
Chaos and Organization*
Creativity as Organization from Chaos
Solitude and Depression
賈樟柯’s (Jia Zhangke) Trilogy***
The Limits of Digital Work
Epicureanism in the Suburbs*
The Distance between Humans******
Tools for Organizing***
Tools for Disorganizing**
Epicureanism and Media*
Mapping Grammar**
The Failures of Self-Expression as Charity***
Materials and Media**
Decision-making, Civics, and Technology****
Urban Planning for Solidarity***
DIY Ethics in Developing Countries***
Large and Small Communities
The Speed of Decision-making*
Oral Culture and the Speed of Decision-making****

Final Philosophy III

[todo: some of the posts may exist under a category but not listed here]
– The Ideology of Taiwan[*****]
– Space, Time, and People**
etching out autonomous ideals (Yilan, Taiwan 2015/7? – 2015/9?):
– Self-service Housing
– Self-service Work
– A Thought about Quality
– Awareness and Consciousness**
– The Speed of Ideas***[*]
– A Curriculum of Experience****
How the Material Came to Be[***** potential stars!]
The Revolution Will Not Be in the Bedroom***
– Tools for Autodidacts***
Is Continental Philosophy a Dead End?*
Will to Take Care of Locality**
A Project Plan for an Urban Area****
The Affects of Audio*
Why are [the] arts segregated?***
Working Memory and Community**
Working Memory and Creativity**
Material Organizations and Autonomy****

– pondering directions in Yilan, Taiwan, 2015/9/30 – 2015/12/6
Anchors, Famous Nomads, and The Ideal Nomadic Lifestyle***
Into the Wild
Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective***

Final Philosophy IV

criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality
– Yilan, Taiwan, 2015/11/18 – 2015/10/10:
Silicon Valley and Capitalism**
Talking to Myself During a Late Night from an Isolated Place**
Why did I Read?*****
Free from Capitalism****
Awareness and Communication*
Communication, Social Action, and Cities*[*]
Criticism of Innovative Urban Areas**
Communication and Rationality[*]
The Distance between Communication and Reality***
Why I Did What I Did***
I Can Almost See the Sun***
On Humanism***[*]

Final Philosophy V

towards sociology of space, human geography, and environmental psychology:
The Categorization of Knowledge***
Time and Space in Anthropology***
The Organization of the World*
Forms and Design**[***]
The Metropolis and Mental Life by Georg Simmel***[*]
The Practice of Life***[**]
An Interview with Chris Marker***[*]
The Constitution of Space by Martina Löw [draft]
Action and Determinism [draft]
Railroad Space and Railroad Time

Final Philosophy VI

(travel around Taiwan, see schools)
the values of women:
The Values of Good Women [draft]
Letters to Good Women I’ve Met [draft]
Critical Theory in Relationships [draft]
Girl Talk [draft, private]

culture (anarchy, psychology, ideologies) of Taiwan:
Action and Determinism [draft] (again)
Being Political and Not [draft]
Having an Experience and Not [draft]
Mental States and Determinism [draft]
Anarchy and Taiwan [draft]
A List of Ideologies in Taiwanese Culture [pre-draft][*****]
maybe a few more drafts

[todo: skipped many]

critical theory: inclusion / exclusion:
– at Gaoxiong and West Taiwan
A Study Plan*****
School vs City***
Creating Comfortable Spaces
The Way of Including****

media, dialectics, and action:
– at Xizhi
Thoughts, Highlights, Notes, and Dialectics with Media
Media and Action

politics and capitalism (a continuation of culture of Taiwan):
Language and Decision-making****
Capitalistic Behavior[*****]
The Ideal Work[*****]

urban planning, pattern languages:
– at Taida
Noisy Transportation Destroys [Social] Atmosphere***
Transportation Disrupts Sense of Space****
My Blog Contains a Pattern Language

The Boy and the Beast

meditations, being political in an apolitical society, ethics:
– at Taida in isolation
[a continuation of politics and capitalism, especially second part of Language and Decision-making and The Ideal Work]
On Stoicism***

Final Philosophy VII

history, historiography, what is worth reading, kinds of literature (book formats, publishers), the search for ideal societies in the past:
Translations of Laozi and Zuhangzi: A Translation Hell
Translations of Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans [Parallel Lives]
Notes on Translations of Ancient Literature
Lessons in Research of a Past Time
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas
In Search of a Past Time
Reading Political History
Why Academia is Insular[***] [draft, physical paper]

Education and Communication [draft, physical paper]

My Workflow for Written Expression

Final Philosophy VIII

meditations (continued), society and action:
Philosophy of Music
Childhood and Media and This Recent Lonely Phase****
Action, Attention, and Space*****
Book-shops and Learning**

Final Philosophy IX

[todo: many of the film reviews are old, re-listed here, some re-watched and re-reviewed]
possible ways to live in the current world, anime:
おおかみこどもの雨と雪 (~Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)
おもひでぽろぽろ (~Memories Drip-drop)
幻の光 (~Will-o’-the-wisp)
蛍火の杜へ (~Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light)
– [todo: maybe content doesn’t fit category]
歸途列車 (Last Train Home)
A Japanese Ideal
Creativity, What Society Needs, and What Society Wants[****]
Culture and [Social?] Development[****]
The Ideal Way to Experience***
Sense Deprivation
[note: skipped a few posts]
Film Lists, Watching Life, and Letting the Beauty Emerge

Final Philosophy X


Final Philosophy n

– this is placeholder, scroll up!

writings categorized by a vague direction

Experiential (Ways of Learning)

The Categorization of Knowledge*** (from Philosophy V)
Time and Space in Anthropology*** (from Philosophy V)
School vs City*** (from Philosophy VI)
The Way of Including**** (from Philosophy VI)
Language and Decision-making**** (from Philosophy VI)
The Ideal Work***** (from Philosophy VI)
– Why Academia is Insular[***] (from Philosophy VI)
The Ideal Way to Experience*** (from Philosophy IX)

Practical (Technology, Intervention)

Lost Survival Values and a Proposal (from Philosophy II)
DIY Ethics in Developing Countries*** (from Philosophy II)
Materials and Media** (from Philosophy II)
A Design Strategy for Data**** (from Philosophy II)
Decision-making, Civics, and Technology**** (from Philosophy II)
Tools for Organizing*** (from Philosophy II)
Tools for Disorganizing** (from Philosophy II)
– Tools for Autodidacts*** (from Philosophy III)
Mapping Grammar** (from Philosophy II)
Talking to Myself to Create a Statement Objective***
A Project Plan for an Urban Area**** (from Philosophy III)
A Study Plan***** (from Philosophy VI)

Ideal (Society)

The Ideal Environment (from pre-Philosophy)
The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal**** (from Philosophy I)
Searching for the Greatest Environment Ethics*** (from Philosophy II)
Anchors, Famous Nomads, and The Ideal Nomadic Lifestyle*** (from Philosophy III)
The Distance between Humans****** (from Philosophy II)
New York and Taiwan***** (from Philosophy II)
Will to Take Care of Locality** (from Philosophy III)
Urban Planning for Solidarity*** (from Philosophy II)
Large and Small Communities (from Philosophy II)

The Ideal Public Space***** (from Philosophy II)
The Ideal Neighborhood** (from Philosophy II)
The Ideal Work***** (from Philosophy VI)
– The Ideal City

– The Ideal Economy
– The Ideal Society

Natural (Autonomous Ideal)

The Home Fallacy or: Nomadism is Normal**** (from Early Philosophy I)
– Autonomy of Taiwan*** (from Philosophy I)
– Self-service Housing (from Philosophy III)
– Self-service Work (from Philosophy III)
Material Organizations and Autonomy**** (from Philosophy III)
Creating Comfortable Spaces (from Philosophy VI)

complete writings (auto-generated)

[todo: the plugin only allows to list by month and year or year, can’t select between two exact dates]

Complete pre-Philosophy

(beginning – 2014/7)

Complete Philosophy I

(2014/3 – 2014/8)

    Complete Philosophy II

    (2014/9 – 2015/1)

    Complete Philosophy III

    (2015/2 – 2015/12)

          Complete Philosophy IV, V, VI, VII…

          (2016/1 – 2016/12)

          Complete Philosophy post-2016

          (2017/1 – 2017/12)

                  notes, highlights, and writings from my knowledge and education text file(s)

                  writings from my thoughts text file(s)

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                  thoughts about this post

                  Over time, this page has been quite useful in gauging importance and directing thought, so I organized it a little more, and added it to the top menu. It probably totally subverts the utility of WordPress’s organization, but it’s all I’ve got as of now!

                  [todo: should really clean this up, clean and finish all drafts, continue using my thoughts files to extract personal ideas and build on them.]

                  I ended up organizing nearly everything I’ve blogged! Hurray! It’s not nearly as exhaustive as my thoughts.txt, but, the hope is, the things I wrote were things that I thought were, at least at the moment of blogging, important.

                  This layout turns out to work really well. I can easily read old writings, remember what I was thinking of, and if I want, etch the thought out further. It also makes it easier to organize, for example, an earlier post titled the The Home Fallacy, clearly has ideas of autonomous ideals. It’s also fun just to play around with it, like a book, skipping to chapters, getting ideas, and creating new paths.

                  This has indeed slowly become my philosophical corpus.

                  But let’s hope I don’t spend much time here.

                  Hmm, can this organization further be automated, so that while I’m outside, using my phone to write thoughts directly here, I will never need to sit down and organize again? WordPress’s organization is indeed terrible. Over time, I’ve nearly created an outline of knowledge in the WordPress’s categories. It’s useless. I guess the list of posts by date is all I’ve got. It sure sucks not being able to generate a list of posts, then edit it, say, adding *’s. I think it’s okay to separate [writings by] periods of time, but perhaps I should avoid re-ordering them by categories.

                  Yeah, forget the organization of words, stick to the organization of people (and material)!

                  Leave a comment | Categories: Essays, Experience, Organization, Personal, Self-assessment, Thoughts

                  A Self-assessment

                  15 December 2013

                  [note: this format was later used for my resume, which was updated, but private]

                  Taiwan, then New York?
                  The year I go back to work. Will I be able to balance work and life, America and Asia? Work on the streets, sleep on the streets. Vive l’amour.

                  December 2013
                  Break time.

                  September 2013 – November 2013
                  Study in Taiwan
                  Back to my travel’s first love. Learn Chinese. 加油!

                  July 2013 – September 2013
                  Travel East Asia
                  I quickly went through Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan to determine which is the best place to live and work. I spent around two weeks in Hong Kong and Japan, and the rest of the time in Seoul because I was working on Crystal Brawl. I still travelled, but developed East Asia is not nearly as social and fun as undeveloped South Asia. I talked to or tried talking to people from contemporary art institutions and universities, checking out the art scene from a public perspective, trying to push myself in to no avail. Despite their advances in development, I decided Taiwan is best.

                  June – July 2013
                  Living in India
                  Less work, more life.

                  May – June 2013
                  Travel in Nepal and northeast India
                  I escaped the heat of Gujarat, India and went to Nepal and northeast India with a childhood friend. I spent some more time living in small towns enjoying the relaxed nature of people of mountainous regions whilst making games when everyone slept.

                  February – April 2013
                  Living in India
                  The idea was to be a hermit independent game developer in India, rent-free and worry-free. The idea failed for several reasons realized afterwards. I cannot work alone; I must work with local people. Working alone leads to an unhealthy daily life, especially working on computers. It just didn’t make sense. I need to have a community of people to live and work regularly.

                  A friend from New York came for a month. We were slated to make a game, but we both came to the conclusion that making a game in India did not make sense and instead created a game development workshop and game jam at a nearby university.

                  August 2011 – February 2012
                  Travel in Taiwan and Indochina
                  An unhealthy amount of overconsumption in sights, food, and life. After volunteering at the school in Taiwan, I travelled around the island that is Taiwan (some via CouchSurfing), made a short film in Malaysia (see Roti Delivery), and pondered in Bangkok, deciding to give up work and do some proper traveling. I left my crap at a hostel and made a short motorcycle trip in northwest Thailand. Wanting to further distance myself from development, I seeked indigenous people in Laos, staying in their villages.

                  An overall psychologically menacing trip for a introverted personality who enjoys late night brainy work and despises conspicuous consumption. I constantly struggled to find value for my time. The language barrier of Southeast Asia undeniably blocked my desire to closely connect with lower class people on many occasions. But as usual, I don’t regret it.

                  August – September 2012
                  Volunteer at 達達美語補習班 (Dada School) in 中壢 (ZhongLi), 台湾 (Taiwan)
                  This was my first gig during travel. One of the things I wanted to do while traveling was to try things that I value more than private sector work, in this case, teaching. Perhaps it’s why I avoided to take a job at a psychologically abusive social game startup and instead chose to travel and ultimately live and work independently in India.

                  It was a work exchange at an independent school run by a fantastic couple: John and Ching. I assisted in teaching kids English by creating activities for younger students and having conversation with elder students. I also did general work: house chores, cooking, and babysitting. It felt like living with a great family rather than working. I wish I did more. Perhaps it was the heat (and lack of air conditioner), or the mosquitoes at night, or Ching’s delicious food that hindered me. I stayed until my visa nearly ran out.

                  March 2012 – July 2012?
                  Independent Game Developer in San Francisco
                  I went back without a job to see what San Francisco really offered me. I spent most of the time working on Pinkies Up, and staying open for collaboration. I concluded San Francisco is too gentrified and too business oriented, consisting of shallow business-card trading meetups and funding the next Instagram clone. The city lost its heart. The only exception: The MADE in Oakland and Creative Coders.

                  January – February 2012
                  Volunteer at Babycastles in Brooklyn, NY
                  Ahhh my first love. Amazing people doing amazing things. It was specifically what I was interested in, but had no idea a community for it existed. It was what I was looking for all along. At the time I was just beginning to create things myself (game prototypes), figuring out what games are, what it means to be an artist, and really delve into fine arts. The things these people accomplished on a daily basis was unbelievable. I merely helped setup and facilitate art game installations, and helped (or worsened) with organizational development. I regret leaving New York because of these people, and I will come back, despite disliking the city.

                  January – February 2012
                  Intern at zdLLdz in Brooklyn, NY
                  Interning with Zack. Woo! I assisted with a film shoot in the freezing cold and researched stereoscopy in film and games (read: ate pizza and watched dope movies). Still, it was inspiring to just be around Zack. Zack is the future, and the other interns are equally futuristic.

                  February – May 2011
                  QA and Release Engineer at Perfect World Entertainment in Foster City, CA
                  From suburb to city, I picked up a new job too quickly, perhaps afraid of financial risk. I oversaw day-to-day tasks for the engineering department. The department creates and manages websites and web servers for a bunch of shitty Asian MMORPGs. It was a cumbersome process in a large company. Unrealistic goals, overtime, hasty testing, shoving out *milestones*; The stereotyped horrifically inefficient software company. I knew and warned that I was going to leave within the first week, but I stuck to the job because I was still absorbing the experience, mainly related to living in San Francisco. I tried to help the company as much as I could but I came to the conclusion that my radical (in their perspective) input was meaningless in a large company, and my desire for something more meaningful, or at least more meaningful than managing websites for terribly bland MMORPGs, made me leave.

                  February – October 2010
                  Software Developer at Segin Systems in Virginia Beach, VA
                  My first “professional” job. I developed code for their flagship web based real estate software. Most of the time was spent implementing interfaces to scrape data from ancient third party title software databases to be sent via web services. The rest of the time was spent extending the superbly coded web site, written by the lead developer who made fine use of the .NET framework. An amazing first programming job as there were only two other developers, and most of the time was spent programming. I knew I was going to leave my hometown, but I thought it was best to have a little “experience” before doing so.

                  August 2005 – May 2009
                  Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
                  I wasted a lot of time. Only one class was okay, the one where our class was told to build a web forum with few restrictions. I did, however, value the time I watched artsy movies and spent with my friends, often playing games, almost solely Super Smash Bros. Melee.

                  2003 – Death
                  Temporary Manager at Village Motel in Chesapeake, VA
                  This is my Dad’s motel. Yep, I’m the second generation of the stereotype Indian immigrant hospitality-business owning family. It’s what paid for my raising, including college. A stable business to raise a family. It takes a surprising amount of civil engineering and hackery to maintain motels.

                  Playing games with friends, biking, exploring neighborhoods, eating, family vacations, family events (Indian marriages), fixing computers, fixing other things, staying up late, waking up late, always doing something.

                  Leave a comment | Categories: Personal, Self-assessment

                  Travels End: The Return of Unsocial Life

                  25 November 2013

                  [Old draft. Did not read. Looks like interesting personal history / thought.]

                  When I arrived in Taipei I was excited, to travel, to create, to learn Chinese, to socialize. It started with the normal intense feelings of travel where I’d consume everything and think at incredible speeds to continually have new experiences; Life is an adventure. I especially consumed Chinese as it was one of my goals, furthering my social life. I was extremely happy and extremely social. I’d go out with hostelmates, schoolmates, meet artists, and even talk to people on the street (Humans of Taiwan). I had several ideas I was excited to share and begin.

                  It worked well, for about two weeks. I felt a slow decline. I forced myself to continue. First, Humans of New York stopped, I was unable to talk to strangers again. Many weeks later, I don’t care to talk to strangers. I don’t care to talk to anyone really, anymore.

                  “Do I want to be a normal member of society, or should I be my hermit self, ignoring the world?”

                  “I ignored everyone in Hampton Roads, why should I spend time with people in Taipei? Unless it’s a small town feel.”

                  “Focus on art: film studio, humans, Vincent moon, etc. Stop going out for social situations. Explore instead.”

                  “Be social to keep speed to life.”

                  Transforming into my former hard-working self. Need to relax, stay outside, be social, work at a cafe or school, freelance art and programming.

                  No! Don’t be so anti-social. Talk to people on a daily basis. It’s how you keep track of time.

                  Get a scooter. Buses are a waste of time.

                  Teach at a nearby school, work at a nearby cafe, be social, stay outside, be creative as you were while traveling.

                  Be quick like the guy from Toronto.

                  Yesterday and Today, I feel great, relaxed. A direction was chosen. The problem of last week was indecision.

                  I still feel extremely restless every morning, but learning languages, talking to people, walking outside, eases it.

                  I can’t wait to find an apartment, get a scooter, make things. Still, I have to be careful of time. The other classmates have already found an apartment!

                  Today I felt on top of the world. No deadline. Nothing needed to be done. No stress. Worry free life. Is that what I need for art? Is that why India did not work? Was it too emotional for me? Consuming without creating?

                  Fuck. Wasted more time. Need to control myself. 8 hour workdays, including cafe and tutor

                  I need to control my time. That’s my greatest problem. Follow the plan.bless wanderlust.

                  Take time to sleep, think creatively, then make a move. But make decisions quick! Keep living.

                  Learning a language requires routine. There’s no way around it.

                  I have no idea of what life is. Should I care for the less fortunate? Innovate? Live happily in a third world country? It seems all I can do is live. Spend less time in indecision and do as much as I can, while still taking the time to design and plan.

                  Nap anywhere anytime. But try to stay up during the day, to do work with people.

                  Schedule yourself

                  Don’t worry about money. Freelance programming! Focus time on learning, work, and travel.

                  Plan less, do more? Need more projects! Need more life!

                  我不喜歡commuting in Taipei, or, I’m being indecisive again, as usual. I need to calm down, stay in my neighborhood, make stuff. Work more, walk less.

                  I’m missing out on so much life.

                  Create stickies of humans, Vincent moon, edward yang, babycastles, languages, and calavino at home and at my workplace.

                  Power generator, food cart, projector.

                  Keep exploring, keep taking on new projects, keep talking to people, keep enjoying life.

                  Consuming the things around me as opposed to something specific. Have to learn when to consume around and specific. Time self.

                  I didn’t do much today. My brain was slow. Social life stopped after 6pm. I slept in an air conditioned library and computered a little. I accomplished nothing. Caffeine withdrawal? At least when I have caffiene, I’m fighting for life, doing something. Without it, I have no social energy or interest.

                  I need to maintain one of he following to stay active: social life and excitement, caffiene, or exercise.

                  There was so much time in a day. What the fuck happened to it today? I need to consume more of the world around me. I was ignoring too much. If I ignore the world, I can always watch a film, but I failed to do that. I just went through the day, meaningless.

                  After taking a nap, one should do something social.

                  Difficult to live and create simultaneously. Study hard at night. All phrases, vocab, writing, listening.

                  I’m waking up without reason, creativity. I really miss that. I’m unable to balance life and work. It distracts me from my personal direction. My motivation.

                  Learning a language without a motivation is really difficult. I need reason to talk to people, not just for the sake of practicing.

                  Dont let anyone take you in the wrong direction. You don’t have to spend time learning chinese with classmates if it doesn’t motivate you. Learn it in your own way. It’s more fun, more serious, much more interesting, in my view. See the beauty in the world.

                  Being with people, I lose interest in people, and I lose creativity.

                  Remember, you don’t have to do anything. It’s up to you. It’s okay to sleep, explore, in fact, it’s necessary.

                  I should be social about things I love. That’s why babycastles worked. They were people with similar interests. I need to hang with people with similar interests, or, completely foreign people that no one knows.

                  Use 30 minutes of memrise in the morning and evening for each language. Watch some TV. No, that’s unsocial. Spend time with people. Get a professional or social job. Fuck the library.

                  Never overwork yourself.

                  school, very social

                  Half way through the class I made the decision that, although I failed to do what I set out to do — join or create a new media company — I would finish the Chinese class. Feeling that my classmates would do better by going to class and studying after school, I started to go back to class, and hang out with my classmates. Besides, they were my closest friends. My Taiwanese friends all have jobs.

                  I was social. I’d go to class. Hang out with the classmates after school, and often at night. Sometimes after class I’d go to the Language Corner, which is something a few people at school started to help people learn Chinese. I started going there because I realized I didn’t feel like talking to strangers, so I started talking to them.

                  With the class, after-class activity, and hanging out with the people at my hostel, my day was booked. I’d be social until I needed to sleep. I’d drink with hostel mates at the hostel, or a nearby bar. I didn’t mind spending time with people. In fact, I want to.

                  I made sure whatever I did was interactive. I doing things with people. That’s all that mattered. I felt that if I weren’t doing something with someone, then it was meaningless, as if the moment in time wouldn’t exist.

                  I moved to an apartment. This made me quite lonely.

                  Near the end of class I basically gave up on Chinese. I started using English, thinking in English, not caring for the class. The intrinsic motivation was completely gone. I wasn’t traveling, I didn’t want to talk, so why learn Chinese? It didn’t make sense. I need the urge to talk to Chinese-only speaking people to learn Chinese. This is why I don’t like school. But this is also my failure, as I was unable to retain motivation for three months, barely one.

                  I wasn’t fighting for time. I wasn’t maximizing my time in a country that I would never be in again. I didn’t have a project I was striving for. I wasn’t fighting to make every hour of my life count. I started to become lazy. Forgetting that I am in debt. I needed some kind of reality check, but it never came. I just decided to give up until class ended. After that, I’d have to do something. I’d have to get a job.

                  after school, alone

                  Was I social for the sake of learning a language? For the sake of traveling? So I don’t forget about other people? The Humans project? A normal social life?

                  Half way through class I felt I consumed all I could from Taipei. I’ve seen everything. Nothing excited me. So, I stuck to my classmates. I followed them. Zero creativity. I just followed. It was fun, socially normal. The problem was whenever I was alone, I had trouble be social with other people. I just wasn’t interested in the rest of the world anymore. I tried movies, but movies were still too far from life. It was a tough time. I didn’t feel like doing anything at times. I’d just “study” Chinese. I didn’t care for the Humans project. I didn’t care for making games. I didn’t care for art. A depression, for sure.

                  After the class ended, I stopped waking up on time. I lost circadian rhythm immediately. I lost social life. I didn’t contact anyone. I failed to use technology to maintain a social life. I failed to be creative. I failed to be social enough to new people.

                  A few depressing days followed in which I’d wake up late, not be social, not want to create my own direction, overeat, oversleep, plan a lot, but do nothing in reality. Everything is in my head. No actions are taken. Just thoughts. Over-thinking, over-planning, over-researching, indecision. Failing to “just do it”. Social interaction is how I track time. Without people’s feedback, I’m unable to see progress. I need people. I did absolutely nothing, or, I was radically changing, again.

                  I started to create my own path. More things to do. More in my own direction. I was okay with being alone. I could think quite clearly. I exercised. I still slept whenever I wanted, but I felt good. My former self. On top of the world in a different way. My own way. I didn’t consume anything. I did what I wanted.

                  Which life is better? A social conformist one or a loner creative? Why am I unable to balance the two? All I need to do is spend a few hours being social, and a few hours being myself, yet I fail and fall into extremes. As always. I’m too obsessive.

                  The solution? Have someone to schedule my life everyday. Or, create a timer and follow it. Somehow.

                  Or continue to be social during the day and do my personal work at night, when everyone is asleep.

                  Leave a comment | Categories: Experience, Personal, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Self-assessment, Taiwan, Travel

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