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Transom » Jonathan Harris
"All we have in life is our time. People struggle after success. They hunger for fame, fortune, and power. But in all of these things, the same question exists — what will you do with your time? How do you want to spend your days? As Annie Dillard reminds us, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.

This fall, in a toilet stall in Burlington, Vermont, I saw this scrawled on the wall:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. The world needs more people who have come alive.”

If you’re doing something you love, you won’t care what the world thinks, because you’ll love the process anyway. This is one of those truths that we know, but which we can’t seem to stop forgetting.

In America, success is a word we hear a lot. What does it mean? Is it money, power, fame, love? I like how Bob Dylan defines it: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”

We have these brief lives, and our only real choice is how we will fill them. Your attention is precious. Don’t squander it. Don’t throw it away. Don’t let companies and products steal it from you. Don’t let advertisers trick you into lusting after things you don’t need. Don’t let the media convince you to covet the lives of celebrities. Own your attention — it’s all you really have.

In the tradeoff between timeliness and timelessness, choose the latter. The zeitgeist rewards timeliness, but your soul rewards timelessness. Work on things that will last.

Inside each of us is a little ten-year-old child, curious and pure, acting on impulse, not yet caring what other people think. Remember what you were doing at ten, and try to get back to doing that thing, incorporating everything you’ve learned along the way.

When I was ten, I was writing words and drawing pictures.

Maybe that’s the path out of the stuckness."

[Some anonymous (and smart) reactions from (mostly) private Twitter:

A: "Read that Harris essay. It just made me feel bad for him. Poor guy–can someone give him a hug? It's very introspective, smart, & forthright, but it seems like he wants to figure out people by observing them rather than being with them. And while it's pretty to think the answers for out there are inside, the risk is diving too deep, losing contact, & sinking inside yourself."

B: "I thoroughly approve of the ending of Jonathan's Harris's piece but still somehow felt like a loser after reading it"

C (responding to B): "I thought "same shit, different day." It's where I'm at with life/work advice from dudes hanging on Branson's island. although I agree w his thesis, and I like his work so much, just tired of the genre."

B (responding to C): yeah. I'm also tired of creative ennui from people with no constraints and money problems. Maybe they need some of those. I don't even know where/what Branson's Island is, i'm that un-privileged." ]

[Alternate URL: ]
jonathanharris  time  timeliness  timelessness  design  block  creativeblock  writer'sblock  creativity  success  attention  life  living  curiosity  impulse  impulsivity  making  fame  fortune  power  anniedillard  bobdylan  being  well-being  2014  privilege  writersblock 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Eyeo2012 - Jonathan Harris on Vimeo
"Jonathan talks about some major turning points in his life — things he used to believe that he no longer believes, painful moments that ended up being doorways into something else, highs and lows, and other ways in which life’s topography determines one's art. He relates all this against the backdrop of a desire to humanize the Web and evolve the art of storytelling, touching on insights and principles picked up along the way."
travel  change  painting  landscape  art  web  stories  narrative  datacollection  data  visualization  datavisualization  storytelling  bhutan  life  owls  meaningmaking  meaning  experience  jonathanharris  2012  eyeo2012  eyeo  tools  toolmaking  facebook  twitter  carljung  software  behavior  cowbird  purpose  healers  dealers 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Cowbird · And now comes good sailing
[Jonathan Harris tells three stories about his fourth grade teacher, Baz

1. What make a great teacher?
2. How to engage your audience
3. On death]
relationships  creativity  living  cv  self  audience  mystery  uncertainty  vulnerability  weakness  baz  wisdom  teaching  writing  2012  cowbird  jonathanharris 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Hatching a New Way to Tell Stories | To the best of our KNOWLEDGE
"Fast and agile like a bird, slow and ruminant like a cow. Jonathan Harris says his new project is designed to be a narrative alternative to the data mayhem that fills the web.

Unlike his much-lauded past project, We Feel Fine, Harris says Cowbird is not about cataloguing diverse, fragmentary statements. He wants it to be a place where people can go deeply into the "ecstatic truth" of human life."
jonathanharris  cowbird  2011  interviews  storytelling  onlinetoolkit 
december 2011 by robertogreco
AIGA | Video: Jonathan Harris [Cold + Bold]
"Combining elements of computer science, architecture, statistics, storytelling and design, Jonathan Harris’s online projects create large-scale living portraits of the human world—portraits that both simplify and complicate our understanding of it. Jonathan discusses his recent work and poses intriguing questions about what kind of space the digital world is becoming and what that world is doing to us as individuals."

[I find myself on a Jonathan Harris binge about once a year. This time sparked by an article: . Hadn't seen this video before.]

[The passage he reads in the video was originally posted here: ]
design  art  jonathanharris  storytelling  coding  coldness  2010  thewhy  purpose  meaning  meaningfulness  human  digital  life  empathy  programming  depression  glvo  relationships  feelings  emotions  rationality  determinism  problemsolving  detachment  expression  web  internet  abstraction  humanity  control  learning  resistance  resistanceofthemedium  process  cold+bold  identity  individuality  diversity  outcomes  scale  sociopaths  jaronlanier  culture  behavior  introspection  self-reflection  time  computation  howwework 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Never-Ending Story | design mind
Harris: "I think that’s something stories can do—prepare their way of finding meaning in this madness and bringing some order to the chaos.

…creating a space that’s more about slowing down and contemplating and being introspective is a prerequisite for getting people to tell stories that have impact.

…Cow Bird is basically a storytelling platform that people can use to tell stories online using photos, sound maps, timelines, videos, and casts of characters. It’s geared towards long-form narrative…when many different people tell stories, the system automatically finds connections between them and weaves them together into a kind of meta-story…The platform automatically analyzes all the text in your memory, figures out your cast of characters, and connects it to previous stories.

…one of the pieces of this system I’ve been building is that to tell the story you have to dedicate it to somebody, which creates a gift economy of stories."

[via via @bobulate]
design  art  writing  storytelling  jonathanharris  cowbird  slow  slowness  multimedia  thisishuge  gamechanging  2011  interviews  classideas  curating  curation  twitter  facebook  longform  meaning  meaningmaking  meaningfulness  self-expression  internet  web  stories  social  socialsoftware  metastory  relationships  connectivism  narrative  memory  memories  soundscapes  soundmaps  timelines  video  gifteconomy 
august 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - Jonathan Harris : Today
"When Jonathan Harris ( ) turned 30, he began a simple ritual of taking one photo a day and posting it to his website before going to sleep, along with a short story. He called this project, 'Today'.

This is a short film about Jonathan's project, made a few weeks after he stopped it, by his friend, Scott Thrift:

Jonathan's 'Today' project is viewable here: "
storytelling  jonathanharris  memory  photography  time  life  documentary  2011  today  aging  classideas  experience  sensemaking  privacy  space  growth 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . You really couldn't say
"Cats are like a witness," he said. "There are cats everywhere, hiding in the shadows and staring out at you. In my life it seems that every time I do a dodgy thing there has been a cat. If you could see the whole biosphere, cats would be like surveillance."
cats  jonathanharris  surveillance  isuspectedsuch 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Network Realism: William Gibson and new forms of Fiction |
"the world becomes increasingly Gibsonian—Bigendian—when you’re reading the books. [examples]…

So, if Gibson was originally writing “on top of Firefox”, he’s now writing on top of Twitter…

Gibson’s been talking a lot lately about atemporality, this idea that we live in a sort of endless digital now. In “Zero History” we have an echo of “No Future”: everything compressed into the present…

Network Realism is writing that is of and about the network. It’s realism because it’s so close to our present reality. A realism that posits an increasingly 1:1 relationship between Fiction and the World. A realtime link. And it’s networked because it lives in a place that’s that’s enabled by, and only recently made possible by, our technological connectedness. …

Future scholars of Network Realism will have to decide if information visualisation and in particular projects like We Feel Fine fit into this definition. I suspect not, because I want to keep this to literature, and capital-A Authors, but I suspect there’s a connection. Perhaps in data griotism or whatever we end up calling that."
datagriotism  networkrealism  williamgibson  atemporality  2010  fiction  zerohistory  jonathanharris  robinsloan  writing  twitter  networks  nearnearfuture  adjacentfuture  digitalnow  realtime  technologicalconnectedness  wefeelfine  literature  scifi  sciencefiction  network  networked  via:preoccupations  jamesbridle 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . A better home
"As I looked around at the faces, they looked like they all really believed it — that they really believed there was a father up there, waiting to welcome them home, and I couldn't decide what I thought of that. Part of me thought how sad it was that they have been brainwashed into thinking the point of this life is just to prepare for the life that comes next. I thought what a marvelous tool Christianity can be for keeping people tame and under control, because here were all of these people gleefully singing along and bobbing their heads to the fact that they will soon die and go to a better place than here, and that this expectation of a better life might keep them from really living this one. This seemed amazingly sad to me. But then another part of me felt that they were the wise ones to accept death so happily, regardless of where they got the idea."
jonathanharris  christianity  religion  belief  life  death  living  happiness  wisdom 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . The fading light
""It seems like anytime I go on a trip with someone, we end up breaking up right afterwards," I said. "But for me, I don't think it's because the excitement is gone. For me I think it's something different. It's like, there are these gaps between everyone. Every couple, every set of siblings, every parent and child, every group of friends, and you don't really know how big or small the gap is, because there's all this fog in the gap so you can't see into it. You start to imagine a bridge in the gap, hiding in the fog, and you're pretty sure it's there and if you ever really needed to you could go across the bridge. But when you take a trip with someone, and spend so much time together, all that fog blows away, and you can finally see the gap for what it is. Sometimes the gap is much smaller than you thought it was, and you grow a lot closer. Sometimes it's much bigger than you thought, and then you grow apart or break up."…"
jonathanharris  relationships  ecstatictruth  writing  work  travel  experience  fiction  nonfiction  journalism  wernerherzog  documentary 
august 2010 by robertogreco
hrrrthrrr [First quote from this page, reminds me of the following three.]
[via Sebastian who also sends this along: ]

"Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: Be intensely yourself. Don’t try to be outstanding; don’t try to be a success; don’t try to do pictures for others to look at - just please yourself." –Ralph Steiner

"If only everyone could learn to look more like themselves." —Jonathan Harris

"I asked him what was the secret to being a great teacher, and he said, “Well, you’ve gotta bring yourself to class every day. Your whole self. Your problems, your opinions, your stories—all of it. When you’re a full person, your students see you as an equal, and they trust you like they trust each other." —Jonathan Harris quoting his fourth grade teacher Ronald Bazarini

"A genius is the one most like himself." —Thelonious Monk
ralphsteiner  identity  authenticity  creativity  success  advice  jonathanharris  theloniousmonk  ronaldbazarini  via:cervus 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 26, 2009 [Los Angeles]
"Day three in Los(t) Angeles, still squinting at the too bright light, and still feeling, like the city itself, too scattered, too manicured, too perfect, too flawed, too impossible, too something. I see the well-primped young girls from far away, hoping to land a role. I see the well-preserved middle-aged women, hoping to land a man. I see the well-dressed suntanned men in collared shirts, sitting at streetside cafes like little Napoleons, smoking cigars and clutching their phones, hoping to make a deal. I see the dreamers, trying to get their dreams into someone else's screenplay. I see the normal people wearing baseball hats and sunglasses, trying to look more like celebrities, and the celebrities dressed the same way, trying to look more like normal people. If only everyone could learn to look more like themselves."
jonathanharris  truth  posturing  appearance  losangeles  2009  honesty  identity 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . World Building in a Crazy World
"This series of vignettes is based on a talk I gave on October 27, 2009, at UCLA, as part of the Mobile Media Lecture Series, organized by Casey Reas. It’s mostly about the current state of the digital world (as I see it), and some thoughts about what that world's future could be." [But it's not just about world building, it applies to all creative acts.]
jonathanharris  creativity  philosophy  culture  design  digital  learning  media  society  internet  art  writing  advice  ideas  building  glvo 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . World Building in a Crazy World . Ideas
"City ideas have to do with a particular moment in time, a scene, a movement, other people’s work, what critics say, or what’s happening in the zeitgeist. City ideas tend to be slick, sexy, smart, and savvy, like the people who live in cities. City ideas are often incremental improvements—small steps forward, usually in response to what your neighbor is doing or what you just read in the paper. City ideas, like cities, are fashionable. But fashions change quickly, so city ideas live and die on short cycles.

The opposite of city ideas are “natural ideas”, which account for the big leaps forward and often appear to come from nowhere. These ideas come from nature, solitude, and meditation. They’re less concerned with how the world is, and more with how the world could and should be."
philosophy  meaning  meaningfulness  memes  cities  fashion  nature  solitude  meditation  jonathanharris 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . World Building in a Crazy World . Baz
"I asked him what was the secret to being a great teacher, and he said, “Well, you’ve gotta bring yourself to class every day. Your whole self. Your problems, your opinions, your stories—all of it. When you’re a full person, your students see you as an equal, and they trust you like they trust each other.”" …

"“I was trying to impress the audience with smart answers to life’s big questions,” he said. “It was all hype. But then I realized I didn’t have the answers to life’s big questions, and instead of writing plays that pretended to, I had to write plays that simply asked the right questions. I had to bring the audience up on stage with me, include them in the answering.”"
jonathanharris  storytelling  teaching  schools  relationships  ronaldbazarini  writing  questions  questioning 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Clouds and coins [Read the whole thing.]
"[I]t was the best class I ever had anywhere at any age. It was basically a grab bag of things that people should know, but things that people often never end up learning… The class was a crash course in things that are usually picked up slowly and by accident, like lost coins, over the course of your life. This class was so memorable because it was so little like school, and so much like life. School is basically a way of keeping people occupied — a theatrical set piece designed to take up time and spit out consenting consumers.

Any adult knows that what he really knows he did not learn in school. The gradual accumulation of experience is really how we learn. But unlike school, life is unpredictable, so it would be dangerous to leave the teaching of life to life. Just think how much would get left out of the curriculum, and how hard it would be to standardize tests!"
jonathanharris  education  learning  life  wisdom  unschooling  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  videogames  metaphor  standardizedtesting  schools  schooling  teaching  parenting  east  west  westernworld  easternworld  passivity  accepance  understanding  experience  experientiallearning  emptiness  heroes  identity  knowledge  mortality  replacability  children  making  seeing  building  unpredictability  curriculum  lcproject 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Sep 1, 2009
"Childhood drawings from 1989, labeled (in Mom's handwriting) "Favorite stuffed animals", photographed with matching subjects 20 years later. Clockwise from bottom left: "Fish", with matching fish; "Dog", with matching dog; "Bear", with matching bear; and "Bunny", with matching bunny mysteriously absent. Something terrible must have happened to Bunny."
drawings  children  plush  glvo  jonathanharris 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 21, 2009 [Sisters, OR]
"Sometimes I think about moving to a new town. I mean, leaving behind my old life and opening up shop in some new place, if not for the rest of my life then at least for a long time and in earnest. Big cities make this daydream easier to imagine and small towns harder — because, just as all happy families are alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, Tolstoy might agree that all big cities are alike, but every small town is strange in its own way. … I wondered what it would be like to move here, for the people in that coffee shop suddenly to become my friends, my potential future spouses, my future kids' teachers, my drinking buddies, my neighbors. Until you commit to a place, you can inhabit the anonymous nether-regions of ghostliness, floating into and out of coffee shops and communities without any compulsion to talk, tell stories, charm, make nice, or make friends. … I wonder how you finally learn to settle, and what that takes."
jonathanharris  place  sisters  oregon  smalltowns  cities  tolstoy  belonging  families  urban  urbanism  cv  glvo  meaning  strangers 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 27, 2009 [Los Angeles]
"These days, new things become old things so quickly, and novelty so easily disintegrates into triviality. With new ideas (especially beautiful ones), you want to spread them far and wide like gospel, so all can share the joy, but at the same time you want to keep them private and preserve their beauty so you can do something with them before they become trite."
ideas  time  triviality  enthusiasm  sharing  privacy  preservation  jonathanharris  losangeles 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 25, 2009 [Los Angeles]
"By anybody's count, I was having what one might call a Very Good Time. But as the day bore on, the tug of nature grew stronger and stronger on my heart, and all I could think about was getting back up into the mountains. I guess you could call my ailment escapism, but I wonder whether that tired quasi-Buddhist maxim of needing to learn to exist happily in any setting isn't at least a little bit bullshit. Places exert a stabilizing or stultifying energy upon us, and the force of that energy seems proportional to our sensitivity. Life is short, places abound, and some of us are sensitive, so why not find places that provide the kind of energy we need?"

Also: "I prefer the housekeeping philosophy of keeping only those things that provide essential utility or essential nostalgia. It can make for a sparse house, depending on your sentimentality."
jonathanharris  place  nature  losangeles  oregon  buddhism  energy  utility  minimalism  nostalgia  memory  homes 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero — Text Playlist
"I do a bit of that myself, but I keep what I perceive to be a more valuable, important morgue file: one made of the best writing on the web I come across. I take this list and revisit and reread it every 4 to 8 weeks. You could almost consider it a playlist of text: it’s very select (I artificially limit it to 10-15 articles), I typically read them all in one sitting, and the order and pacing is very purposeful. Most revolve around what it’s like to be making things in 2010, and a lot of the people that I respect the most have pieces in it. It’s almost a pep talk in text form. I visit it when I’m down, when I’m lazy, when I’m feeling the inertia take over."
frankchimero  textplaylist  via:lukeneff  mustread  toread  writing  lists  motivation  meditation  inspiration  creativity  blogs  blogging  art  sistercorita  vonnegut  merlinmann  mairakalman  robinsloan  thewire  lizdanzico  jonathanharris  rands  kurtvonnegut  coritakent 
july 2010 by robertogreco
TED | Talks | Jonathan Harris: The Web's secret stories (video)
"Here he presents "We Feel Fine," a project that scours blogs to collect the planet's emoti(c)ons, and the "Yahoo! Time Capsule," which preserves images, quotes and thoughts snapped up in 2006. And he premieres "Universe""
jonathanharris  art  visualization  news  interface  interaction  statistics  video  observation  design  data 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Dreaming in Code
"Jonathan Harris distills the Web’s infinite avalanche of thoughts, facts, and feelings into exquisitely framed portraits of humanity."
art  design  interaction  programming  internet  online  jonathanharris  webdesign  news  photography  human  world  global  webdev 
june 2007 by robertogreco
International Networks Archive \\ Remapping Our World
"The following six maps deal with an array of major current world issues, from the serious to the seriously frivolous. They were developed for the INA by Jonathan Harris of Flaming Toast Productions."
mapping  maps  geography  global  information  data  design  graphics  illustration  infographics  politics  world  visualization  transportation  statistics  visual  reference  international  economics  images  jonathanharris 
august 2006 by robertogreco
Phylotaxis / for Seed by Jonathan Harris
""Phylotaxis", created for Seed by artist Jonathan Harris, illustrates the delicate balance between science and culture in our world."
science  visual  news  culture  images  web  internet  interface  online  graphics  jonathanharris 
december 2005 by robertogreco

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