Daily Thoughts 149: Swiftly Geeking

How often have you brought up Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in conversation to make a point? Yes, I am that much of a geek. I don’t claim any great knowledge. Bits of flotsam and jetsam wash up on the wrinkled shores of my gray matter and are offered up to reluctant passersby. I might offer an oddly amusing (at least to me) quote from a movie. Just as easily, I may offer my opinion on some topic with which I have only a passing acquaintance. And if something sparkly catches my eye, I’m quick to jump on the computer to learn more.

On some occasions, this fascination turns into an obsession as if I had discovered a key to a lost treasure and intend to take off on a quest to rediscover the secret temple. A few of these mature into fully developed whale hunts that may last for decades, such as my persistent focus on writing.

Attending the San José State University School of Information has certainly washed up plenty of material for me to work with in the years ahead. From coding, games, design, and library advocacy, to globalization and human rights, going back to school has been great. I’d rather not have to take on the cost, and I could do without the grades or the deadlines and sometimes I find assignments too narrow and lacking in creativity. Mostly, however, it has kept me moving forward with a regular diet of new material I may not have discovered otherwise. Attending school again has been a bit like a storm hitting my mental beaches, leaving behind a trove of unanticipated discoveries.

Planning for Surprise

Classes end in less than two weeks and I don’t want to fall into patterns that narrow my vision. I need to create opportunities for surprise. For the unanticipated. I plan to continue learning, of course, but the danger is that I only focus on those areas of particular interest. I can’t keep polishing the same treasures—I need to get back out there and see what the latest storms have brought up!

Illustration and design are areas I plan to focus on in the weeks ahead. Both are key elements of my massive reboot to relaunch my novels and in the web and coding projects.

Even better, I need to visit other beaches. I need to explore things that I wouldn’t ordinarily pursue or things about which I know very little. It might be anything. I might take other courses. I want to learn to speak and read in other languages. Explore history. Improve my knowledge of science.

I want to play music.

I want surprises and I want to have fun.

Storm

Storms rolled through today with a destructive force that uprooted trees, downed power lines, and damaged structures. I left work and quickly turned around and went back because traffic was backed up every way out of work. A co-worker described power lines and downed trees. I ended up taking a long way home after waiting at work and ended up seeing lots of signs storm damage. I ended up posting late because the power went out. Surprise!

Daily Thoughts 148: It’s Good to be Alive

Author's selfieIt’s been a weird 24 hours. Around this time yesterday, my chest started to hurt. A burning sort of pain. I don’t recall ever really having heartburn, but that’s what came to mind. I also recalled that sometimes it was difficult to tell if chest pain was due to heartburn or a heart attack. When the pain continued, I did what so many of us do—I went online to find out whether I should worry or not. It didn’t help me rule out one or the other. Plus videos on YouTube of people thinking that it was heartburn only to discover it was a heart attack, didn’t make me more confident that I knew what was going on. Given the uncertainty and potential stakes, I called up my folks for a trip to the emergency room to get checked out.

It was busy! They got me back and triaged pretty quickly. ECG, blood draw, vitals all got checked. When a team didn’t descend to whisk me off right after it seemed likely that there wasn’t any immediate cause for concern, but they still wanted to check out things and run another blood test before I left.

So we waited. We got there a bit after 9 PM or so, and got home around 6 AM. I tried dozing at points but never really did sleep. Eventually, they did get me back to a room, monitored, and blood checked again. The doc examined me, the blood test came back fine, and I was released.

I’m glad it turned out fine. It was worth checking.

Movies and TV

A couple new trailers hit online. Excited about both, though I want to reread the Dark Tower books. I don’t plan on seeing that one in the theater.

I’m mostly caught up on these series. I haven’t finished Iron Fist yet. The weakest, clearly, but since it fills in some aspects of the storyline I’m still watching it. I’d thought they were waiting to do a Punisher series, but I guess not.

Daily Thoughts 147: Doctor Who

Author's selfieLondon UFO Crash. I’ve begun a rewatch of Doctor Who, starting with season 1 from 2005. I don’t have much time to watch as I’m trying to finish up my final projects for school, but it’s one of the things I can watch while taking breaks.

Fun

Doctor Who is fun. My kind of fun. Smart, clever—brilliant! Back in high school, while working on a school paper, a friend of mine drew a set of sketches of ‘most likely to…” for the paper. He drew me popping out of the TARDIS as ‘most likely to be the next Doctor.’ Don’t I wish! That would be fantastic. It’s fun going back and watching it again.

Quantum Uncertainty

Detective Barry Holliday, Doc to the few who knew him, took interesting jobs. Unusual corporate work.

Nothing illegal. Interesting. This latest assignment involved corporate espionage, very hush, hush, corporate secrets stuff. High tech. Just how high tech, he didn’t know.

Not until the whole job goes very wrong and Doc faces one of the weirdest situations in his career.

🚀

Detective Barry Holliday, Doc to his friends, what few he had, crouched to tighten the cuffs on the perp. He didn’t like being so close to the guy, one Phillip Norton, who smelled of too few showers and too much weed with a beer aftershave. He stood up confident that the guy couldn’t slip out of the cuffs.

“Come on, man, those hurt!”

Doc shrugged. He turned his attention back to the desk, a large dark glass and black metal affair littered with computer parts. Three monitors acted as the centerpiece of the unit. Doc sat down in front of the screens.

“What’d you do with the data you stole from Q-Prime?”

“That’s what this is about? Man, how’d you find me?”

Doc brushed a fingertip across the screens. They came to life. Red lasers flicked on from a small device in front of the monitors and created a keyboard pattern on the glass desktop. But the keys were all laid out in a different order than normal. Doc looked back at the guy.

“What’s this?” He gestured to the keys.

“A keyboard. What does it look like?”

“Don’t get smart. Why are the keys in the wrong places?”

“It’s a modified Dvorak layout. More efficient, you see?”

“Right.” Doc studied the layout. Vowels on the home row. This was going to take time. Fortunately, the guy hadn’t had time to lock the computers down. It was all open and available. Doc reached out and dragged open the guy’s file system. Tons of stuff but when he checked the recent activity logs he found the files he wanted under Armageddon. File sizes and count matched what Q-Prime had given him. He pulled out a jump drive and stuck it in a USB port on the monitor. A quick grab, drag and dump and the files were being moved over to the drive. No need to use that weird keyboard at all.

“Man,” the perp said. “You can’t give that back to them!”

Doc spun the chair around. “Look, I’ve already called the cops. They’re going to be here soon. I’m turning you over to them. You were pretty clever getting out of Q-Prime, I’m still not sure how you managed that –”

“I beamed out.”

“Beamed?”

Phillip nodded enthusiastically, a move that sent his greasy brown hair flying around his face.  He twitched his head to shake it back away. Phillip had to have brains to get into Q-Prime and managed to get out again with this data, but he didn’t look like it.

“Right, dude. That’s what this is all about. They’ve developed technology that can transport anything somewhere else. I got in, copied the data and set it to erase after I left. Then I beamed back here. The computer wiped and they lost everything.”

The files were still copying. It was a lot of information. Doc looked back at Phillip. “You lost me there. Are you talking about teleporting or something? Like in science fiction?”

“Yes! Exactly! Dude, think about what they could do with that sort of technology?” Phillips bloodshot eyes widened. He leaned forward as far as the cuffs allowed. “It’s the end of everything.”

“Sounds to me like the end of rush hour traffic, what’s so bad about that?”

Phillip slumped. “Dude, you don’t get it. Shipping industry, gone. Manufacturing, gone. Transportation, gone. Medical, gone. Agriculture, gone. Pretty much everything will be gone. And then when they turn it into a weapon we’ll all be gone too.”

“You’re crazy, kid. But that’s not my problem. I just do the job.” Doc heard sirens outside. The files finished. Perfect timing. He pulled his drive and slipped it into his pocket. “I turn you over to the cops and give Q-Prime back their property. That’s it.”

Phillip thrashed against the cuffs. “No! Seriously, you don’t understand!”

“Yeah, right, kid. I’ll be seeing you.”

Doc walked around the chair, planning to go out and meet the cops. He’d hang around until he saw the kid tucked safely away into the back of a squad car and then he’d be on his way. Another job done. You had to love these industrial espionage cases.

The first shot took Phillip in the throat, knocking his chair over backward and spraying blood across the hardwood floors. The crack of the chair followed by the whack of Phillip’s head against the floor were both louder than the shot. A silencer then. Someone didn’t want the cops outside to know that they were shooting. The fact that the shooter took out Phillip first gave Doc a chance to hide behind the desk, not that the furniture and computer equipment provided much shelter. Still, anything was better than nothing.

Doc drew his weapon and fired off one shot at the ceiling. There wasn’t a second floor and the shot would alert the cops to be cautious at least. He tried to peek out and was rewarded by the monitor above his head exploding into sparks, smoke, and flying glass. Doc ducked lower. A second shot hit the computer behind him. He smelled electronics burning with a hot ozone scent. Time to move.

He darted towards the kitchen and the hallway down towards the bedrooms. Bullets hit the wall beside him but none caught him. He made it to the hallway and kept going. If the shooter caught up to him now he didn’t have any cover. He reached the bedroom and kicked the door shut. Phillip had about as much sense of cleanliness in here as he did out in the other room. The room stunk of stale beer, weed, and moldy food. It lacked any furniture except a futon on the floor with black blankets wadded into a pile. It didn’t even have a dresser he could shove in front of the door.

On the other hand, he could see through a small slit in the curtains that the windows weren’t barred so that was something. He holstered his gun and went to the window. He reached through the curtains and dragged the window open.

“Freeze! Don’t move! Hands above your head!”

Cops. Doc lifted his hands and folded them on his head but looked back. The door knob turned. Stay and get shot in the back or go out and risk being shot by the police. Not a good choice. He dove forward through the screen. He hit on his back, not too hard, and heard shouts all around. Hands grabbed him and flipped him over onto his stomach.

“Shooter inside!” Doc shouted.

That got their attention. He found himself hauled up and hustled along the alley. Someone slapped cuffs on his wrists as they went. They took up shelter behind a squad car and Doc finally got to see who he was with. Young cops. Rookie cops with nervous eyes. Sandoval and Hicks, according to their uniforms. Sandoval was young, blond and a woman with a very pretty face. She looked very pale. Hicks was a bigger teddy bear sort of guy with baby fat still in his cheeks. He looked almost panicked.

“I’m Barry Holliday. I’m the private detective that called you. There’s a shooter inside, he already killed Phillip Norton, the guy you’re here to arrest.”

“Yeah, buddy, just sit tight. We’ll handle this,” Sandoval said.

He didn’t have any other choice so he waited until the other cops came out, his identification was checked and verified. With nothing to hold him on they cut him loose. Doc thanked them and headed home with the data from Phillip’s computer.

🚀

Home was a downtown apartment. Nothing fancy. A small bedroom with a bed and unpainted pine dresser. The main living room slash kitchen and dining room looked bigger than it was simply because he didn’t have a lot of stuff. He’d never been a fan of a lot of stuff. He had an over-sized blue denim bean bag chair, a lamp with a flexible gooseneck and a wood TV tray set up under the window. A wood chair, painted green, sat beside the tray. That was it for furniture. He hadn’t hung any paintings. The kitchen counters sat bare and empty except for the dish rack with his single bowl, plate, glass, spoon, fork and knife. They didn’t even get used that often since he usually ate out. Doc came through the door, locked it behind him and pulled off his coat.

He took out the USB drive and his tablet before hanging the coat on a hook on the back of the door. He walked over to the bean bag chair and lifted it up and flipped it over to fluff it up. Then he dropped into it and closed his eyes as he sank into its comforting depths. Some days he didn’t even leave the bean bag to sleep. He turned on the tablet and plugged in the USB drive. The files came up.

He opened his email program and picked one of the smaller files at random. He attached it and sent it with an invoice to Q-Prime. As soon as their money showed up in the escrow account he’d established then he’d release the rest of the files. He felt bad about Phillip dying. Someone hadn’t wanted him to talk.

Teleportation, Phillip had said. Doc scanned the other files and opened one of the documentation files. It was full of technobabble but as best Doc could make out Phillip had been telling the truth.  Q-Prime had developed a way to transport material from one spot to another. It could operate on scales from single atoms to large objects. He didn’t understand all of the details but it had something to do with changing the space-time coordinates of the target. Basically, they told the object that it wasn’t here but was actually there. They called it quantum bit-shifting. It didn’t sound like beaming the way he’d thought of it watching the old Star Trek shows. They weren’t talking about converting matter into energy and back but in the end, he didn’t see that it made any difference. You went poof in one place and appeared in another.

Doc didn’t want to think about it too much. He’d done his job. Yeah, he could see Phillip’s point about something like shipping, assuming that building the device wasn’t too difficult and it didn’t sound like it was from what he’d read. But that wouldn’t mean the end of everything. What worried him more were the military applications. What if you could ‘beam’ a warhead inside a target? High-yield explosive just appears inside a nuclear reactor. Ka-Boom! No warning. No way to trace who was responsible. If a terrorist group got hold of these files they could hold the world at ransom.

Not his problem. He’d been hired to recover the files. He’d done that. Doc shut the computer down, sat it aside and leaned back. He closed his eyes and folded his hands across his middle. He could use some rest.

🚀

He’d hardly closed his eyes when the bean bag vanished. He dropped onto a hard surface and lights blinded him. He heard voices and the hum of equipment. He lifted a hand to block the light. It came from two bright fluorescent tubes above his head. He blinked and looked around finding himself in a small room with concrete block walls. The air felt cold and dry.

“It worked,” some said. A woman. Young, by the sound of her voice.

“I told you. Phillip said it would.” A young guy with a scratchy smoker’s voice.

Doc flipped over in a crouch. His hand went to his gun—

🚀

He fell. He barely registered the sensation of falling before he hit the ground. He didn’t have time to do anything to break his fall and he hit hard on his elbow and side. Not enough to knock his wind out but hard. He lifted his head and found he was still in the same room. This time he saw his captors. Two twenty-somethings standing behind a bank of computers and equipment on the other side of the room. Doc reached for his gun. Fast. Faster than most people could draw.

His hand hit an empty holster. The gun sat on the table in front of the man.

“Don’t bother, Holliday,” the guy said. “Just chill out.”

The guy wore an expensive suit. Clean-shaven. He looked like a young Wall Street sort of guy. The woman with him looked more like a computer geek. She wore a black business dress but her hair was carelessly pulled back into a ponytail. Pretty in a slightly curvy overweight geek fashion. Her auburn hair had darker and lighter streaks.

Doc rocked back on his heels. “You’ve got the Q-Prime tech.”

The guy nodded. “That’s right. Phillip came through for us. But it isn’t without problems. We need the latest data from the company.”

Doc shook his head. “Can’t help you. I already turned it over.”

🚀

Falling. It didn’t surprise him as much this time. He slapped the floor when he hit but lay still. Let them think he’d been hurt. They’d teleported, beamed him, quantum bit-shifted, whatever they wanted to call it up to the ceiling and then let him fall.

He heard the woman’s heels click on the floor.

“Stop,” the guy said.

“He looks hurt.”

“He didn’t fall that hard. And he slapped the floor. He’s faking.”

🚀

Falling again. Doc took the fall and didn’t bother faking an injury. He rolled and popped up into a sprinter’s position. He pushed off. One stride, two, nearly there—

🚀

Fall. Hit. And rolled forward, still with the momentum of his brief sprint. Doc collided with the back of the computer equipment. He grabbed a fistful of cords and yanked.

“Shit!”

Doc heard keys rattle. The girl gasped. Doc stood up and shoved the monitors at the guy who gasped and jumped back as the monitors shattered. Doc grabbed his gun. He had it pointed square at the guy’s chest.

“Name. Now.”

“Whoa! Okay! Shit.” The guy lifted his hands. “Martin Donaldson.”

Doc looked at the girl. “You?”

Tears welled in her eyes. “We didn’t want to hurt you—”

“Name!”

She jumped. “Kasey Linton.”

Doc kept the gun steady. “Get over to the wall. Hands on the wall. Legs spread. Don’t piss me off.”

They hesitated.

“Now!”

“Okay! Fuck!” Martin went to the wall. He slapped his palms against it. “Holliday, you’ve got to—”

“Shut up.”

Kasey leaned into the wall. Her shoulders shook. Doc went around the computers. Some of the equipment still looked to be on. He saw a couple power strips and hit the switches. The computers went dark. He went over to the two standing against the wall. Martin flinched when Doc frisked. He didn’t have a weapon. Neither did Kasey. But he did take cell phones off them and pocketed them both. He stepped back.

“Sit down facing the wall. Cross-legged. Hands folded on your heads.”

Martin got down. So did Kasey.

“Good. Now you’re going to answer some questions. How did you get the machine working so quickly?”

“It isn’t that hard once you understand it,” Kasey said. “I had to write some targeting routines. That’s why we wanted their research. They’ve had longer to develop the implementation.”

“So anyone with the resources could build one of these?”

“Right,” Martin said. “Q-Prime is going to deal with the highest bidder and whoever that is will control everything. Get it? Phillip came to us. He told us what was happening. I had the funds and between him and Kasey, they got it working. We were going to make it available to everyone. It’s the only way it’ll work. Balance of power, you know?”

Doc lowered his gun but didn’t put it away. He glanced at the material on the desk that wasn’t covered by the shattered monitors. He didn’t understand the papers but he recognized the Q-Prime logo.

“Why’d you kill Phillip? To cut him out of the deal?”

“We didn’t kill him,” Martin said.

“We didn’t,” Kasey added. She sobbed. “I loved Phillip.”

He believed them. “Any ideas who did kill him?”

“It was Q-Prime that killed him. They didn’t want him talking about their technology.”

Doc didn’t rise to the bait. “If every nutcase on the planet has access to this technology then no one is safe.”

“Wrong.” Kasey looked back. “We’re safe because no one is safe. Who would use it, knowing that any survivors will have access to the same technology to retaliate?”

“Plenty.” Doc sat down in a chair. “How many copies of the research are out there right now?”

“Don’t tell him,” Martin said.

Doc nodded. “So only yours and what I’ve got. Why didn’t you and Phillip just destroy the data? Then no one would have it.”

“You can’t destroy knowledge like that,” Kasey said. “I understand it. So do the researchers at Q-Prime. It’d take time to develop a new working model but not that much time. Months.”

“Which is why we have to go public with the technology now rather than later,” Martin said.

“It isn’t just the technology.” Kasey twisted around. “This is a fundamental discovery about how our universe works. Knowledge like this needs to be shared. Q-Prime won’t share it.”

To his left was a closed green metal door. Doc twitched his head at it while keeping the gun on them. “Where does that go? Where am I?”

Kasey answered. “You’re at the University. This is Lab 3, one of the rooms in the basement. That just goes out into the hallway. We convinced labs to give us the room for the semester.”

Doc eased over towards the door. “I’m leaving now. I suggest you stay put until the cops get here.”

“Cops!” Martin started to lower his hands.

“Up!” Doc snapped. “Do it!”

“Jeez, okay. Why are you calling the cops?”

“You stole the data with Phillip. You kidnapped me with your device. I don’t even know if being teleported is safe. I think you’re going to be facing charges.”

“Shit,” Martin said. “You can’t do that.”

“Watch me.” Doc opened the door. As they had said, the door opened onto a concrete hallway. An exit sign glowed green at the end.

🚀

When the cops arrived they found the equipment back on. Martin and Kasey were gone. Doc checked his account balance using the campus Wi-Fi and found the money deposited as contracted. He created a compressed archive of the files and sent it to Q-Prime. Then he deleted the files. He’d fulfilled his contract. All the rest of that stuff, what was going to happen with this technology, this new knowledge that the researchers had developed, that was out of his hands.

It always had been. The world might change but he couldn’t stop the changes, he could only adapt and move on.

🚀

3,274  WORDS

Author’s Note

This story is the 98th short story release, written in November 2009.

If you’re interested in longer works, feel free to check out my novels through the links in the sidebar or on the Books page. Next up is my story, Quantum Uncertainty.


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This story by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Daily Thoughts 146: First Lines, Stories, and the Future

Author's selfieTomorrow I’m posting Quantum Uncertainty, a story I wrote a couple years ago. It’s a near-future science fiction detective story. I’m posting the first line for today’s post. Check back tomorrow for the story. I plan to have it up in the morning, assuming I don’t run out of time.

Free Stories

For the last couple years, I’ve posted stories for free on the website each week. I plan to continue that (hopefully with more consistency). I am, however, running out of stories to post. While I’ve been going to school full time and working full time, I haven’t written as many stories. I do plan to change that, restart my writing challenge, and get more stories written. I’d like to have a new story written each week.

After I write the story I’ll figure out what I want to do with it. Do I want to submit it to a magazine market like Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine? Or Analog? Do I just plan to put it on the website? I’ll take each story as it comes, but I’d like to keep sharing at least one story each week.

I also want to develop and build Drive-By Stories.

Aside from writing and sharing more stories, I also plan to read more stories. I want to learn and study, do some deliberate practice.

It isn’t 30 stories in 30 days, but a story each week is a good, obtainable goal. It’ll still mean at least 52 stories a year from now. Along with my drawing challenge, massive reboot, and various other projects, I think writing awesome stories is a good way to get back in the habit. I plan to have fun!

Future?

The basic concept right now is to use CC licenses for fiction released online, while also making books. Stories, for instance, I’ll collect into various collections and publish as books with some additional content. I’m not planning to do individual stories through retail channels. I’m willing to reconsider that if there’s interest. Mostly, I’ll be adding e-book formats to my shared stories as I update them with CC licenses and cover art. My goal is to make it easy for readers to find and read my work, and to support my work if they want.

 

Daily Thoughts 145: Retirement and Staying Put

Author's selfieTwo co-workers, fixtures in my library world, are retiring. Actually, one just did and another leaves in a few weeks. This has, understandably, initiated a great deal of conversation. Surprise is a common reaction to the announcement. Sometimes even disbelief that such a seismic change as struck, the intensity varying by distance from the epicenter.

Longevity

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in their Employee Tenure in 2016 report that the median number of years employees had been with their current employer was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 in 2014. The rest of the release breaks it out into more detail. Older employees tended to have been with their employer longer. Public service employees stayed longer than private sector employees.

I don’t have numbers on this from work, though I suspect it’s higher than the national average. We have employees that have worked 40+ years, 30+ years, and those like me that are in the 20-30 year timeframe. The percentage of employees working for the library more than 5 years is likely fairly high. Pay grade also has an effect on turnover. We have many employees that have changed positions while staying with the library. I have moved through multiple positions from supervisor, to manager, coordinator, and now district manager.

Motivation

Motives for remaining with the same employer likely vary considerably. I take a great deal of satisfaction from my job. I also have quite a number of years until I reach even an early retirement age. There are many benefits in staying with the same employer. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Fundamentally, I enjoy my job. I have plenty of outside interests that I also find rewarding. I appreciate the stability that comes with the position. Does that mean that I’d never look at other options? No. I’m certain that there could be other employers, other positions, that would also be rewarding and engaging. Such opportunities would also likely mean relocating, which would have to be considered carefully. I don’t want to disrupt my family’s lives without a good reason.

Daily Thoughts 143: Sunshine and Studies

Author's selfieBack to the library today. Not a bad thing! Except catching up on things that piled up with a couple days off. The next few weeks I have a few days here and there to give me more time to wrap up my classes for this semester. Just about two weeks left now! Hard to believe sometimes that I’m nearly done (except the portfolio this fall).

Heading to bed early tonight. Tomorrow I’m heading out to the coast to help out with some training.

Daily Thoughts 142: Alien Day! LV-426

Author's selfieI took off a couple days to work on projects for my MLIS class. I also took some breaks to play Heroes of the Storm. Yesterday they released the new update, including mega bundles of heroes for logging into the game, and a new cinematic.

Loads of fun!

Alien Day

I love the Alien franchise. It’s had its ups and downs, of course, what series doesn’t? I still enjoy them. Even my least favorite movies of the franchise have moments that I love.

I tuned in for the live Alien Day event on YouTube. It was fun, but the Alien: Covenant | Prologue: The Crossing was the best part.

Daily Thoughts 141: Driven to Create

Author's selfieI find my schedule shifts when I’m off work. It shifts by a couple hours. I go to bed later and get up later. I usually try to keep my schedule consistent but it has slipped a bit the last couple days. It makes me wonder what it would end up as if I didn’t need to be at work at a regular time. Not that I’m likely to find out anytime soon!

Drive

Drive cover artI’ve been listening to Drive by Daniel H. Pink the past couple days. It’s an interesting look at motivation. I’m also reading A Whole New Mind on my Kindle.

The research on intrinsic motivation is perhaps more recognized now. I’ve been in discussions in which the topic is brought up with familiarity (such as the issues with incentivizing reading in a library program). I’ve always been much more motivated by intrinsic drives—except when I wasn’t. This morning, as I listened, I realized that a big part of issues I had in the past stemmed from putting pressure on my writing and other projects that didn’t need to be there.

Get off the day job.

That was the goal in the Game, a writer’s simulation I participated in as part of a master class with other professional writers back in October 2009. The whole thing was set up for the old style of writing proposals, submitting those to publishers, getting a contract, and managing infrequent (sometimes delayed) payments from multiple projects to stitch together a living. The object was simple. Track everything, sell pitches, and make enough to quit the day job.

Except that isn’t everyone’s goal. In fact, as I’ve come to appreciate, there is much about working in the library that I value. I’m excited by my library career these days. The opportunities aren’t limited to the job. I have plenty of library-related projects I plan to pursue outside of my regular position. Those projects stem from intrinsic motivation. In nearly every class that

In nearly every class that I’ve taken since going back to school for my MLIS, I’ve purchased additional books related to the topics taught so that I can further my learning in the areas I find particularly interesting. Big data, data visualization, data analysis, design, web and app development, programming languages, and the future of the librarian profession. Daniel H. Pink is an example of that trend. We had a few chapters from A Whole New Mind assigned, but I’m reading the entire book. And now Drive.

I have dozens of more books to read. Plus, I’m working on other lessons from Code School, Lynda.com, Microsoft Imagine Academy, and more.

While continuing my other studies and projects in writing and illustration.

It all comes together. A number of the projects I want to tackle are simply not possible within the current structure of the library. No matter. If it’s something that I want to do, I’ll go ahead and do it.


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This post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.