an atypical manifesto

il manifesto, by

I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t been giving back to “the community,” nor have I even found time to read what “the community” is writing. engtech says:

“…blogging is a 10 to 50 hour a week commitment when you include reading and commenting on other blogs. Blogging takes away from other aspects of your life. Are you prepared to make that kind of commitment? Is anyone?

I’ve realized I don’t blog here. I journal. I’m leaving a trace. It’s time to explain my motivation:

An Atypical Manifesto

last updated: March 4, 2007 23:00 UTC

  1. Tell it like it is, politics and career be damned. Living in abject poverty with your morals intact is better than living in a mansion with slaves doing your bidding.
  2. Remember that, no matter how well you’ve researched your position, you’re still probably wrong. I prefer this variant of “the scientist’s credo.” It keeps you humble. Isaac Newton said: “A body of assertions is true if it forms a coherent whole and works both in the external world and in our minds.Phenomenology teaches that what we know of the world is perceived through our senses, and also that we cannot be sure our senses are not giving us false data.
  3. Eliminate dogmatism from your life. This is a variant of the previous rule. Basically, it’s OK to jump to conclusions – as long as you’re willing to accept that you could very well be wrong. Getting “stuck” in any given decision leads to inflexibility. And who has ever said that inflexibility is a good thing?
  4. Choosing a faith (or a lack thereof) does not give you the right to abandon morality. This is my response to the new Pope, and others who assert that the modern world has descended into moral relativism. A lack of dogma means that not everything is either black & white – not that everything is some shade of grey. Sartre put this succinctly: “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. We can never choose evil. We always choose the good, and nothing can be good for us without being good at all. Therefore, I am responsible for myself and for everyone else. I am creating a certain image of man of my own choosing. In choosing myself, I choose man.
  5. Learn as many new things as you can every day. Similarly, understand the price of choosing not to learn. I’ve occasionally thought that I’d journal what I learned every day here…but sometimes I can’t discuss what I’ve learned (work, privacy, etc.) I at least meditate on it every night before bed.
  6. Deal with everything, now. I’m not a hard-and-fast GTD adherent, but I do live by keeping my inbox empty, filing everything, and keeping my mind clear. Otherwise I end up incapable of handling anything. This is how I handle pressure, not by eliminating it, but by controlling its effect on me.
  7. Neither a hero nor a mundane be. I acknowledge that I’ve had more education, more opportunity, and have as a result achieved more than many others. But I don’t like being a hero — anonymity suits me just fine. (So does not having all of the responsibility on my shoulders.) But I’m not “just another face.” I never will be. Maybe I’m too American to give up that shred of ego…but maybe I’m also too Canadian (cosmopolitan?) to believe that my actions can change the world without the consensus of my peers.
  8. Think lots. Act less often, and surreptitiously. Basically, I mean to be careful, consider your actions, and understand the ripple effect. dys4iK proved this one to me with Futurama: “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.
  9. Your job should not define you, nor be your only passion. Exception: Artisans seem to make it work. The jury’s still out on this one, but my personal history shows it to be true. Love your job just enough to keep you from walking off, but not so much that when you need a break, you won’t let yourself take one. And take breaks. You deserve them.
  10. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Also, don’t wallow in self-pity. We die alone, without dignity, and it’s always ugly. But there’s beauty before then, and there are many things to be gained in conjunction with others. Even when you’re a dyed-in-the-wool introvert.
  11. Achieve something, even if it’s nothing “big.” I do a lot of things that I don’t feel are particularly special, but others apparently do. That’s why I’ve finally put up a link to music from my studio, why I’ve posted schematics I’ve reverse engineered, and why I still look for new projects and collaborations. Someone will probably find it useful; whether that’s true or not, it’s still worth doing. It feels good to accomplish things, no matter how small.
  12. Never settle. Everything in life is only for now – be a part of affecting where it will go.
  13. Finally, know your limits. And reinforce them with people who don’t respect them.

5 thoughts on “an atypical manifesto

  1. blogging is a 10 to 50 hour a week commitment when you include reading and commenting on other blogs.

    No, it’s not. This is just the new bullshit fad – the idea that a blog is a commercial thing that needs to be “taken care of” and “built into a community” and you need to take active steps to “draw in an audience.” The whole thing is dead wrong, and stupid to boot. To a sane person with an actual sense of life balance, the people who post this stuff make 14 year old MySpacers look sane in comparison.

    Blogs are not eyeball whoring for an audience. Your blog’s Alexa rank does not matter, and never will. The idea behind blogging was not to serve some commercial purpose, but rather a personal one. To be a place where each person could express themselves individually in whatever fashion they chose – popular or not. Not to be an attention whore trying to construct an inherently false fascade for the purpose of attracting the most eyeballs. We already have fake, plastic, over-produced, manufactured media whores – they’re called TV stars. And I will thank them and their mentality, their producers, their sponsors, and their peddled influence to stay the hell out of the blogosphere, one of the few remaining genuine places left in the world.

  2. Ben — too late :( Hence reverting to the term “journal.” It’s more accurate, anyway.

  3. While i agree with the general idea of #2, i disagree on the wording.

    We are not always wrong on a subject. While we may be right, there is ALWAYS someone who knows more about the subject than we do, and we must realise this. No matter how much you know about something, there are at least a few people that have forgotten more about the subject than you know.

    I think most people’s problem is that they are too caught up in their own ego to admit that they might be wrong.

    “True understanding does not pressure others. it does not insist ‘my way is the only right way’. Beware of arrogance and self-righteousness. For true understanding, one must give up attachment to your own opinions and ego”
    – mitsugi saotome

  4. yuckf00: two points. 1) You are correct. Someone always knows more, even if it’s just a part of it. Ego is an issue for me and many others. I wish I’d remembered to put this bit in, and will probably edit the post to include it shortly.

    2) History shows that many well-held beliefs are proven wrong in time; it’s best to understand some future finding may invalidate your current understanding of the world. This was kinda what I was getting at…which opens the door to understanding ego is a falsehood in a larger sense.

  5. When I started “blogging” on LJ, I was aware of this commercial aspect of blogging. I mean, I had just finished reading about a NY housewife’s experiences cooking all the recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I had even gone so far as to buy the resulting book.

    But his attempt to redefine blogging (which I consider to be a fairly general term) as referring only to commercial blogging, or blogging with a commercial purpose, just rubs me the wrong way.

    That said, I’m glad his “blog” is so relatively insignificant. Because it means his attempt at influencing blogging language is most likely going to fail.

    And, because I’m so “upset,” I’m also gonna throw in a jab. What does his entry have to do with engtech or Engineering Technology? It seems to me to be more about an attempt at “Engineering Language” or “Engineering the language of Technology.”

    Makes me want to go and rant on my “journal.”

    Bah. :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *