August 13, 2004

why a guitar?

In addition to being a really pretty piece of inlay work, this guitar in my new header design carries meaning on a few different levels.

It's my own guitar, which I am continuing to learn to play and express myself through. This is not a bad metaphor for a blog, which also is a very personal instrument that demands time, practice, and creativity to become a source of authentic personal expression. The question, "Am I good enough to do this in public?" applies to both endeavors.

It's an acknowledgement that despite the advertised tagline of mobility, media, ubicomp and life, music and musicians have become among the more frequent topics on this site.

Significantly, the guitar represents a blending of four major creative practices: science, engineering, art, and design. The late Rich Gold used to say that bringing these four disciplines together was extraordinarily hard, because while scientists and artists share much common ground in their search for truth and beauty in the world, scientists and engineers have difficulty working together as they hold completely different worldviews and priorities; engineers and designers similarly collaborate well together, but designers and artists are often like oil and water. Rich was one of those rare individuals who could stand in that four way intersection and bring those diverse people together. I believe that the field of ubicomp requires just the same sort of integrated renaissance-style thinking that inspires the creation of fine instruments and similar artifacts that are functional, expressive, purposeful and beautiful.

Finally, the guitar is a social machine. You can certainly play alone to great effect, but playing with other people is where the real game begins. Playing in harmony, unison, counterpoint; trading licks and building on each others' riffs; learning the subtle cues and give/take that underlie great improvisational jams; working together to find the groove that leads to something greater than the sum of the individuals' talent -- which sounds a lot like...well, you know where I'm going with this, right?

Anyway, that's why the guitar's up there.

Posted by Gene at August 13, 2004 11:57 PM | TrackBack

Love the new design. That is one kickin' guitar, too! This is a great simultaneously self-reflective and meta-blog post, by the way. I'm not a frequent commenter, but I'm a frequent visitor - I think your blog has great 'voice' - and is an overall great read.

Posted by: amy at September 3, 2004 10:29 AM
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