(my stream of conscious poem at the end of eyeo festival this year. will clean it up / format it shortly) My talk was about failure and things going wrong. I told alot of stories, and ended with this. Some folks asked me to publish is, to I threw it up here.
what can go wrong?
memory leaks, compiler error, uninitialized variable, lighting, bad lighting, someone trips on a cable, plugged into the wrong socket, don't have the right adapters, projector is broken, missing flights, getting lost, loosing stuff, batteries run out, logic errors and syntax errors. It was working 20 minutes ago, I swear it was working 20 minutes ago. loose cable, broken cable. it's always the cables. wrong version of the software. sound card dies, graphics card dies, hard drive dies.
windows updates, window errors, blue screens, windows balloons that pop up with helpful "your virus software is out of date".
curator artist misalignment. bad timing, bad schedule, no reheasel, no breaks, not enough time. I just need another day.
220 v 110 v please don't unplug this! please don't unplug this! sleepy code, wrote it the night before, commented out something critical because you were debugging. d "versionitis" which one is the jewels? you updated that? I clobbered that.
credits can go wrong. mis credit, mis attribution, mistaken identity. One picture of theo watson with a pillow strapped to his head with the eyewriter listed describes him as the artists tempt. Dear photo editor, It's theo! It's theo with a pillow attached to his head by a belt !
someone bumps a camera. a projector cuts out. room is too dark, room is too bright. someone steps in front of the camera. Your complicated alignment procedure, which involved cardboard chekcboard patterns, that you are so proud of needs to be redone. 20 more pictures of you holding it at funky angles.
someone drops something. broken screen, stuck keys, key pressed don't come in.
forgot to hide the mouse cursor.
wireless interference, audio hum, signal intereference, shaky projector, shaky signal to the projectors.
blue screen of death, apple slow fade of death.
wrong default card. wrong settings, wrong understanding of the settings, error. windows has hit a critical error. The application has had an error and will shut down, quit unexpectedly, to send an error report click here. Who reads these error reports? What kind of job is it to sift through the collective misery of users.
is there a law for this? everything that can go wrong will. I know it's not moores law, but there's some sort of law. Proportion of bad things that can happen when you least expect it. ratio of fuck ups to connected objects. The square root of protocols divided by implementation length.
to all of this, and all of you, I have two words: embrace this. It is the price we pay for working on the edges of the recently possibly.
So John Underkoffler was right to call his talk a love letter, this is a love letter to those who are on the frontlines, and if you are not on the frontlines, an invitation to join us. What I say to students is the world is hungry for ideas. We need you. This is A love letter to those who are conquering quaternions, who are mastering matricies, who are decoupling and recoupling, who are soldering with their right hand, eating a sandwich with their left hand, on hold with digikey, to those who are writing code in taxis, who are pulling from git in the airport, whose hotel rooms and office rooms and bedrooms look like warzones, to those who are in the zone, out of the zone, trying to find the zone - to the countless hours of determination, will power, and ingenuity that go into working with this medium.
and so I say: go. press play. compile. turn on the power, turn off the lights, turn on the lights, open the curtain, open the doors, start the show, invite people, post the video, send the link, push the code to git, hit save, hit run, run with it. go with it. go.
what is the worst that can happen?
a world without heartbreak is a world without heart. all we need to do is keep pushing, and we'll get there.
I'll end with a story. My father, who's a storyteller, would go out to perform, and he is very superstitious. He'd ask me to say good luck to him three times, or in multiples of three. So I'd say:
good luck good luck good luck good luck good luck good luck good luck
and he'd run back to the porch and ask me to say two more good lucks.
So I just want to say, "good luck, good luck, good luck"