Where do we find the time?

Jul 22 2008 Published by under General

When I was doing daily experiments on the BIT-101 lab, the one thing people would always ask me was, “Where do you find the time to do that?” I still get that in reference to working, raising a family, writing books, speaking at conferences, blogging, coming up with components and experiments, etc.

Well, here’s the answer:

This Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. I don’t know what the book is all about, but the video is quite awesome.

29 responses so far. Comments will be closed after post is one year old.

  • zwetan says:

    excellent video !

    thanks for sharing :)

  • Ronny Karam says:

    Thanks for sharing. Awesome video!

  • kp says:

    In reading over the post, I may have come off somewhat egocentric – “look at all the cool stuff I’m doing!” But that’s not how I meant it. I’m a major slacker compared to a lot of people I know. Go to any Flash conference and look at what people are doing just in this community. We’ve had, what – 4 or 5 incredible 3D engines pop up in the last year or two, I don’t know how many physics engines, tweening engines, application frameworks, component sets, etc., the vast majority of which are open source. This is the result of that “cognitive surplus” being put to use doing something other than watching Survivor or American Idol.

  • Mr.doob says:

    indeed! Thanks.

  • kp says:

    Another cool thing I got from the video was the viewpoint of television, the Internet, etc. not as these evil forces turning our collective minds to mush, but as reactions to social situations. We created tv and clung to it for decades for some reason. Something in us felt we needed it. Clay refers to it as a safety valve. But for many of us, the need for that valve is through and we can start to control that energy and put it to use. The web itself may be a sort of safety valve. Somewhere to blow all that massive creativity. Where would all the energy that was used to create all the content on Youtube go, if there wasn’t Youtube?

  • Iain says:

    Doesn’t hurt to stick the telly while you’re coding though!

  • Phil says:

    “Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.”

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • kp says:

    Phil, yes. I had a similar experience with my 5 year old daughter. Sometimes I’ll be looking at various Flash experimental things / generative art / video, etc. And she’ll be beside me watching, saying, “that’s cool” to each thing. The thing I noticed is if it’s a still image, she asks me to make it move. It it’s a video, she wants to know if she “can do it”, i.e. use the mouse and keyboard to interact with it.

  • “Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.” I enjoyed this speech, but wouldn’t get too ambitious with the cerebral heatsink metaphor. What about Bach? What about Debussy and Monet? I don’t think anyone would argue they’re not worth sitting still for. Consequently, there are books and television and film out there, which don’t have a mouse but can be worth sitting still for. I’m not saying it’s Gilligan’s Island or American Idol, but there is valid stuff out there beyond the edges. As counterpoint, there is plenty of dialogue and interaction on the internet that is as vacuous and meaningless as two teenagers at the Mall Food Court.

  • Macaca says:

    Being lazy has never been so good: “No, I’m not being lazy watching TV, I’m venting my cognitive surplus.”

  • kp says:

    Macaca: LOL. I gotta use that one. :)

  • Derek Tran says:

    I remember when I first got to use a computer at 8 years old or something I thought Quicktime was a program I could use to create videos to share with my family, so I sat and tried to make it do what I wanted it to do. Even without success, I had repeated attempts just sitting there trying for hours to figure it out. For a while, I preferred doing that over watching TV.
    Thats a testament to “Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.”

  • I liked the speech but I think the premise is that “tv is so lame that spending time on internet stuff is a more useful investment”. But, it doesn’t answer why internet is better than doing anything else. As simple as Gilligan’s Island was it’s part of our culture and arguably a piece of art. In the case of collaborative stuff on the web, I tend to think these have some value–but I don’t think the speech proved that. In fact, I think he’s assuming we believe there’s some value to this internet thing. I’m not saying there isn’t.

    Anyway, KP… how does this explain your investment in side projects? People ask me how I can invest time into my silly (largely unpaid) videos. I think it’s an amusing question because I’ve not once considered it.

  • kp says:

    Phillip, the point I took away from it is that interaction, contribution, creation, no matter how lame is better than being a simple spectator of comparable content, which I totally agree with. Quality plays a part, and how much time you spend plays a part.

  • [...] across a post on Kieth Peters’ blog called “Where do we find the time?” that linked to this clip. Well worth [...]

  • I just expended 10 minutes of my cognitive surplus on your blog. :)

  • kp says:

    Scott, could be worse. Could have expended it on Gilligan’s Island. :)

  • kp says:

    Man, been thinking a lot about this, particularly about the comments by Forrest and Phillip. For me, I think the truth it holds is not that TV is bad, or anything that is not interactive is inherently “better” than anything non-interactive, but that there is more “life” involved in doing anything that requires contribution or interaction, than simply soaking in media. That doesn’t mean that Phillip’s videos are of better quality than Debussy or Monet, but if he were going to spend 3 hours a night for the rest of his life doing one thing, it would be better for him to be making videos than listening to music, no matter the quality of either. I strongly agree with that.

    That seems like kind of a black and white argument, but when you look at the trillion hours a year spent watching tv, and the fact that a good percentage of the population will actually spend most of their waking, non-working hours parked in front of the tube absorbing content with no output at all, it really is pretty black and white.

  • I think we’re all pretty much on the same page. Creating is better than watching (at least it exercises a different part of the brain)–but you can’t do all of one. You need to watch as well. You can learn what other people are thinking.

    Looking at this topic as a generational evolution of what people do with their time, I do think with HDTV you have a marked improvement in the quality of the picture but not necessarily any improvement in quality of content. Similarly, you’ll see improvements in the internet and I believe a lot of this stuff we’re “creating” will just evaporate into giant vats of data storage that rarely get dusted off to view. For example, my videos… someone 100 years from now will hack into the software necessary to view the .flv file (it won’t be a nominal task) but they’ll watch it and wonder what it means. At least with a conventional film from a monolithic movie production house decades ago has the benefit of lots of cultural reflection (say, Citizen Kane–I mean, what HASN’T been said about that movie?). Compare that to all this out-of-context JUNK online (say, twitter just to take an extreme). Who can make sense of it? The point I was going toward is that 200 years from now people will have a clear historic record of things like the Hindenburg… less of the first shuttle disaster… less still of 911… and nothing of the billions of youtube vids. It’s almost like there will be an empty block from 1980 or 1990 on. I guess my point is that having few great producers and a few editors has a benefit over everyone creating. Now, if you can explain how I got to this point in my post please inform me.

    Oh, one last thing, you can do other stuff while watching. Not so much multitasking but you can think. You can think of new things to do… get inspired etc.

  • That was just a statement BTW, I wasn’t complaining about visiting your blog. I visit often. Thank you. come again. drive through. :)

  • Steve C says:

    I think this is a really great notion, I honestly do; but what always concerns me is that whatever great intentions there are, there are always layers of society that will exploit the personal self-fulfilling endeavour. I’ve been involved in several, “Hey Man, let’s make a record.” projects before and they can really bring the Satan out in some people, dig around Wikipedia and you’ll read what I have read. It always starts out being fun, but when it becomes business you can often be late with the knowledge.

    Best wishes.

  • Thank you for sharing. Really good stuff.

  • [...] usual, I was recently inspired by Sir Keith Peters and a post he made entitled ‘Where do I find the time?’. Keith’s post is in response to a question I have no doubt he gets asked a lot. If you’ve followed [...]

  • Y. Culiner says:

    What if I’m too lazy or unmotivated? What if after spending 9 hours of my day “producing” I feel like coming home and wanting to consume? Why is watching a sitcom and being entertained necessarily more a waste of time than adding my “lol” comment to a senseless video on YouTube? Is creating a slideshow with pictures of my cat sleeping necessarily more productive than watching a documentary on sleeping cats?

    While he did make some valid points, I could be spending those 10 minutes wacking off and producing…

  • kp says:

    Y, yeah, honestly I do think that adding an lol comment to a senseless video on YouTube is very slightly, marginally better than watching a sitcom. You’ve participated in a two-way communication, which is better than being a sponge.

  • Absolutely LOVE this concept.
    Thanks for sharing~ I’ve posted a link here from my blog.

  • Collin says:

    I agree with the concept that “Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.” But I think there is plenty of inclusion in television. When you’re asked to think about an issue raised by a documentary on Frontline, I would argue that your mind is included in the presentation of the media. Likewise when you hear a classic composition from Bach (or an Aphex Twin track for that matter), or “get” the joke presented by a sitcom, you are an active participant in the media.

    I’d like to see the estimated percentage of mind numbing (or time wasting) television, including ads exist, compared to the number of mind numbing and pointless comments (possibly like this one) in the interactive medias. I suspect when normalized, that they aren’t very different.

  • [...] sensei de Flash, autor de varios libros sobre ActionScript, conferencista, y un largo etc.) y me encontré con un articulo donde el cuenta de dónde saca tiempo para [...]