Straight to the castle

(I’ve been away. After classes, I just took a long break. But it’s okay; I’m coming round again.)

I’m watching The Labyrinth right now as a relaxing break from a busy day at work, and it’s just great. I watched this movie a million times when I was younger, and I didn’t realize just how entirely geeky Sarah is, which probably says more about what I consider normal than about anything else.

I’ve always had a favorite line from this movie: when Sarah is just getting started in the labyrinth, and the worm on the wall tells her there’s an opening where it looks like there isn’t, she starts walking to the left. The worm tells her never to go that way, and so she instead heads to the right. After she leaves, the worm says, “If she’d kept on going down that way, she’d have gone straight to that castle.” And if you haven’t seen the movie (!!), that’s her goal.

This sort of reminded me of another thought I had earlier today. I read LifeHacker, and I saw they posted about improvements to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. One such improvement was the addition of folders, which surprised me. “Google’s using folders? This from the company that produced Gmail, which moved away from folders? And also my partner ranted to me a little bit about how some blogs hyperlink words in their posts in counterintuitive ways. So, when is a new feature in an information system (usually intended to solve an information problem) a feature and when is it an obnoxious problem? What a line to tread!

I guess this happens in other areas: new fashion trends that become popular while some are just awkward. Probably others too, but that’s all I can think of right now. Well, maybe picking profitable stocks from those that never really return anything. I’m more into the information stuff though, so I’m curious about the adaptation that’s required of customers when buying in to a new way of accessing information, when they’re willing to do it and when they’re not. Microsoft seems to want to effect this by controlling the vast majority of the market. Firefox offers more flexibility in customizing one’s browser. Apparently some blogging software links words in a post that are also tags in the blog, though they look like hyperlinked words that one might expect to direct someone to a definition or the homepage of a product.

I’m sure there are lots and lots of people who’ll tell you they know how to tell the difference between a hit and a failure (before it’s been produced). They’ll even do it for a fee! But at this point I’m thinking that, though strong research is great, sometimes you hit on something and your design slakes largely unknown thirst, and sometimes you just miss. This makes me feel better about my decision to just throw as many potential solutions to a problem as I can and see what sticks. I respect perfectionism and I deeply understand the goals and the attendant processes that support them, but it’s not always a good method for creating something.

And I finished my book today, the day it was due. Remember? The Nothing That Is. What a great little book! I’m very accustomed to people who love math and logic to apply these principles to all of life and experience, which I don’t really agree with. But Kaplan seems to be a bit of a relativist who really likes math, and zero seems to be a great vehicle for expressing how the two perspectives are comfortable with each other. I remember reading a friend’s blog post some time ago, she said she wished she could enjoy reading theory for pleasure. I think this book is the extent to which I can derive such a high and consistent amount of pleasure out of intellectually stimulating material. Pithy theory will always be work, but work I struggle through and enjoy. This book though…really fun as well as rewarding.

Back to the movie, it was watching for the first time the masquerade ball scene that I developed a crush on David Bowie, a crush which persists to this day. Hottie.


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