Are you wired to do Interactive work?

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 10.47.51 PMI taught piano for 10 years.  Loved it.  The kids would come tramping through my apartment on Saturdays and all kinds of wonderful (and not so wonderful notes) would be created in my space.

There was all kinds of kids.  Kids that were obsessive about learning, kids who just played for fun… and kids who laughed at my jokes (I really liked those…)

And there was a few occasions where I would get a new student who was.. how shall I put this…   not piano learning inclined.  The kid knew it, I knew it… but the tricky part was telling the parent it.

The conversation would go something like this…

Me:  “I need to talk to you about George.  He is a very talented, sweet, funny kid, but after X number of lessons, I can say that he is not wired for piano”.

Parent: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Piano takes a certain kind of natural skill set.  You need to look at the page.  Decode it.  Transfer that knowledge to your fingers and execute.  Not every kid is wired that way.  They are not naturally inclined to let that kind of information transfer through them.  But rest assured, they are wired for other great talents..”

Parent: “So.. you are saying, that my kid sucks at piano.”

Me: “No.  I’m saying, his time would be better spend learning something that is is naturally wired to do.  Like the guitar, the violin, or the circus.”

Never an easy conversation, but definitely a necessary one.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 10.45.01 PMINTERACTIVE

How does apply to the interactive space?  I was having a lovely dinner with my friend Sasha Boersma who is the coordinator at Centennial College for the IDM post graduate program which we also both teach in.  We got talking about, what it takes to succeed in the digital space.

They need to be wired a certain way… just like piano.  But, what is that exactly.

They need to be wired to hack.

Now.. hacking has a bad rep.  It brings up images of Guy Fawkes mask and illegal activity.  The hacking I’m talking about is the kind where you look at a problem and/or a situation and you thrive on the challenge to fix, change, solve, improve in new and different ways.

What are you talking about?  Let me give you an example.

I needed to get a flash game up on a webpage in order to distribute it to stakeholders in the same day.  Easy?  Not if you don’t own a website.  The broadcaster’s dev team was too busy to do it, internally we didn’t have access to the FTP site.  How are we going to post this?  There were no CLIENT resources available.  So.. what did I do?  Just uploaded it to my  personal site.  Yes… it says “” when I distribute it, but it was distributed.

Now was this solution revolutionary?   Hell no.  But it was the nth hack I did that day to keep the project moving.

In digital, you need to have a hacking mentality to get things done.

There are no textbook answers.  My students who expect a step by step guide on how to solve problems will be disappointed.  There is only your creative imagination and (never under estimate what you can google).  And the drive to figure things out.

There are many ways you approach a hack.

  1.  What is the most obvious solution?
  2. Can’t do the most obvious solution?  Ok..  Google an answer.
  3. 3 ideas come to my mind when looking stuff up.
  4. Explore those ideas with people on your team.
  5. Brainstorm more.
  6. Have a conversation with your muse/god/pet.
  7. Don’t give up.
  8. Ask a friend
  9. Don’t give up.
  10. This is fun.
  11. And… it can be solved.

You need to have that difficult question with yourself.  Are you wired for Interactive?  Are you actively hacking?

What have you hacked for me lately?


9 comments on “Are you wired to do Interactive work?”

  1. We used to call this “work arounds”. I like your word better as it better defines what we do today. Whatever it takes to get the job done.

  2. Laurinda says:

    Oh wow… I had forgotten about that term. Its true… hacking is just a work around but ending at the correct result regardless.

  3. Tara says:

    So very true! Being able to ‘jimmy rig’ something in this digital minefield – working around both client and software limitations has been the norm for me 🙂

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