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Feedback session - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Feedback session
The Away Day was surprisingly fun. Lots of chances to talk to people and find out what they actually do, which of course means useful ideas to feed back to the web team for how to proactively improve our service to the different divisions of the university, rather than just reactively responding to short-term requests ...

... I said "proactively", didn't I? Without irony. Oops.

I have, however, discovered that I really enjoy getting people to discuss things. It's fascinating watching people develop ideas & think out loud, and it's great trying to draw people into the discussion when they don't think they have anything to contribute. And even more so when they obviously think it's all boring, but before they know it they're looking interested.

To be fair, at the beginning I thought it was going to be all boring. But then I realised that I was actually getting really excited about Making Things Work Better, and especially Making People Think More. The only problem is I talk too much; I need to get better at making other people talk more.

Also, there were a lot of "why does/doesn't your department do [whatever]" kind of questions, and as the only representative of the web team there (the other people from MISD work in totally different bits of the department) I spent a lot of time defending, explaining, and justifying the work we do. For all that I whinge about it while I'm doing it I do actually think it's worthwhile, and I really enjoyed being able to try to explain why. I don't think I did it as well as I could have done, but at least I tried. And people listened. Which was nice.

Now I just need to make the enthusiasm for doing my job last till Monday morning.

I also need to get more confidence in speaking in public. I'm much better now than I used to be, but I still get flustered when I feel like people Just Aren't Getting It. Part of the reason I'm so much more confident in writing is that I've spent years and years writing, just for myself, with nobody there to laugh at me when the words come out all weird. Clearly I need to do the same with speaking -- just talk to myself when nobody's listening. For some reason, though, it seems so much harder; I can imagine myself talking out loud but it's very hard to actually talk out loud when I'm on my own. Just to babble, the way I babble in writing, getting the hang of the way the words feel, playing with them until I can throw them up and catch them between my teeth with my eyes shut.

I feel like this is a lesson I keep coming back to (and maybe one day I'll actually do the homework) -- that there's a kind of mental block, an obstacle that I think I'm going to call a "Just-Do-It barrier", that's practically impossible to break the first time, and a little more manageable the second time, and little by little it gets progressively easier until presumably one day it's almost second nature, the way writing is to me now. I've found this with karate -- more so because it's a physical skill and I haven't the grounding in physical skills that I have in intellectual ones -- and I've found it with music, particularly recently when I've been trying to force myself to learn to improvise. I'm good at visualising and planning things in my head, but breaking the Just-Do-It barrier is a leap that all too often I just can't make.

* * *

On a slightly different tack... Do you ever get a kind of vertigo-like feeling accompanied by incoherent wishes along the lines of "I want to do everything! I want to be everything! And I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!"? Or is that just me?

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k425 From: k425 Date: September 3rd, 2004 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Or is that just me?

No, it's not just you!
hairyears From: hairyears Date: September 3rd, 2004 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)

The only problem is I talk too much; I need to get better at making other people talk more. The besetting sin of the true geek: Too Much Information. If they glaze over completely, talk for another minute or so and see if they can be rearranged into interesting postures and lewd tableaux.

But congratulations on becoming a Public Speaker! Working the audience, too... Very few speakers ever 'get' that, the art of observing the crowd response and modifying or reiterating their delivery. If you've got that, you don't need the Public Speaker's secret shame: private sessions of toe-curling embarrassment, hearing yourself again on the tape recorder. Or worse, video playback after rehearsing your talk/speech/sales pitch/masonic ritual/church Reading from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.

Images... I WANT MORE LIFE with j4 as Nexus6 in the Director's Cut. Er, no. Rutger Hauer did it better.

j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rutger Hauer


Sorry, where was I?

Oh, yes: not becoming a Public Speaker. When I said "speaking in public" I really didn't mean the sort of stand-up-and-lecture thing; just being able to do questions-from-the-floor and talking-with-other-people-listening without getting all flustered.

Actually, being able to finish a bloody sentence would be a good start.
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
stand-up-and-lecture is something I find very easy nowadays. I picked up how it works back in school, where we had to give a lot of presentations:
You do a bit of research, if necessary, on the topic in question, but you don't provide any conclusions at all, all you do is present headings and then point to someone in the audience and ask "and what do YOU think". Mostly, a discussion will ensue which is easy to nudge in the correct direction. Keeps the crowd focussed and afterwards they'll all tell you how great you did. (Of course, my teachers hated me for it, because I never did more than a general outline for the overhead projector.)
From: bibliogirl Date: September 3rd, 2004 10:29 am (UTC) (Link)
It definitely isn't just you. I wish for 10-day weeks, with 36-hour days, and 5-day weekends, and only needing to sleep 2 hours a night.
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You forgot to mention that working still mustn't take up more than 40 hours per week.
From: rmc28 Date: September 3rd, 2004 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Do you ever get a kind of vertigo-like feeling accompanied by incoherent wishes along the lines of "I want to do everything! I want to be everything! And I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!"?

All the time ...

I'm getting better at ignoring the inevitable guilt at not doing everything though :)
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not even guilt, a lot of the time, it's terror.

I want to live forever.
truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: September 3rd, 2004 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
On a slightly different tack... Do you ever get a kind of vertigo-like feeling accompanied by incoherent wishes along the lines of "I want to do everything! I want to be everything! And I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!"? Or is that just me?


Of course it's not just you; this is the primary reason I resent having to sleep. Too many precious hours frittered away lying down, unconscious.

And I don't have enough time to do the fun stuff, let alone the things I feel I "ought" to be doing. I could stop sleeping, quit work, and maybe, maybe, have enough time.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I resent having to sleep

God, me too. But at the same time, I like sleeping! I want to be able to be lazy as well as doing everything!

Didn't Thatcher used to manage on 5 hours sleep a night or something ludicrous? Maybe you can train yourself to need less sleep... though there's a risk that you'd end up like Thatcher. Hm.
arnhem From: arnhem Date: September 3rd, 2004 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The House of Sleep has a moderately unpleasant ending, not entirely unrelated to this idea.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, yes. Great book. But surely it's possible to train yourself to need slightly less sleep without turning into a psycho headcase? Sleeping smarter, rather than harder, or something? Power-napping? Buzzword buzzword buzzword?
truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: September 4th, 2004 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
The only thing I like about sleeping is that when I wake up, I am theoretically not tired any more (this is not always the case). If I could get rid of the tiredness factor, I would have no personal pleasure in sleeping. I'm sure there are important psychological reasons as well, but if we could only find a way to get around that as well...

I can manage OK on about 6 hours a night for a reasonable period of time; I feel fairly tired most of the time if I do, but that's too burdensome. Less than that in any given night is very tiring, however. I find it extremely hard to sleep more than about 9 hours without waking up and wanting to get up. Even when I'm very tired.

And I'm all for being lazy, but I prefer being lazy doing nothing useful that I enjoy, not being lazy and unconscious. I don't remember dreams, except on extremely rare occasions, so there's not even any memory of anything done while asleep for me; it's really just dead time.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to think this until it was pointed out that conquering sleep would simply bring death closer by that amount. You can't win, so why play?
addedentry From: addedentry Date: September 3rd, 2004 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, that was nihilistic.

I want to do everything ... so the things I never do don't matter, because everything's fabulous.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can't win, so why play?

Because even if you can't win you can BEAT OTHER PEOPLE.

Because it passes the time.
ewx From: ewx Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

"It would have passed an-(you can't quote that, you haven't even seen the play. --ed)

I want more hours in the day. More days in the week might help, but I'm not convinced; that'd just put more distance between the days, which would be the opposite of an improvement. More weeks in the year is just right out. More years to the life, I wouldn't say no but it's not what I'm really after right now.

truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: September 4th, 2004 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Bah, I also want to conquer death, so that makes that choice easy.
nja From: nja Date: September 3rd, 2004 11:40 am (UTC) (Link)
You're not going to be able to do everything, and some of the time we're all incapable of doing anything. That's life. I ought to be reading the Critique of Pure Reason or experiencing the majesty of Mahler, and instead I'm listening to a jazz album recorded when my mother was four months pregnant with me, and reading people's wibbling on the inertnet.

I get vertigo-like feelings, mainly when I'm wandering back across the park with an egg salad roll and there's a bird making an interesting sound in a tree and I look up and forget momentarily why I'm looking up because the trees are lovely and green even at this time of year. I nearly fell over yesterday looking at the leaves. You don't have to be doing Great Things all the time.

Most of life is going to pass us all by, so take pleasure in what you can grab as it whizzes past.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not even wanting to do Grate Things, it's wanting to do everything. At every level of life. It's not just that I want to be a mother and a teacher and a web-designer and a systems analyst or whatever you call it when you look at what people do and say "this is how you can make it all Work Better" and I want to run a second-hand bookshop and a sushi bar and a net-cafe in Dublin and I want to own a vineyard and run a sanctuary for badgers... it's not just that the list of things I will never have time to read frankly terrifies me... it's not just that there are so many places to visit, and so many things to see, and languages to learn, and different foods to eat, and music to listen to, and people to meet, and conversations to have until 4 in the morning over a million different varieties of coffee... it's even just the little things, the fact that I want to sit around pontificating about things on the internet and in pubs, and I want to read all the Saint books until I know them backwards, and I want to redesign my home page, and I want to sell all my superfluous stuff on eBay, and I want to tidy my room and paint the spare room and put shelves up in the library and cook nice food and, and, and, MORE LIFE.

And, as if all that moon-on-a-stick-coveting wasn't enough, I want somebody to share it all with. :-/
nja From: nja Date: September 3rd, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Infinite possibilities. Infinity makes everyone's head spin. You can't have infinity.

Incidentally, I'd be up for the badger sanctuary thing. I'll start collecting the badgers tomorrow. I'll start everything tomorrow.
j4 From: j4 Date: September 3rd, 2004 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want infinity!

A badger sanctuary would be cool. I'll start collecting today. Or at least I'll start something today. I read a book earlier. And watched a film. So I've done something.

We should go to Kew, where they have a human-sized badger sett.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: September 4th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a farm for sale up here.
It's on Badger Lane.
Got 400k spare?
j4 From: j4 Date: September 4th, 2004 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sadly not...
hairyears From: hairyears Date: September 4th, 2004 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oi! That was my idea for a day out!
j4 From: j4 Date: September 4th, 2004 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're not the only person who's suggested it in the past! Unsurprisingly, a lot of people have heard of it & thought of me in conjunction with it. And when I said "we should go..." that "we" wasn't intended to mean "AJN and I on a romantic badger date" or anything like that. It sounds like it would be a cool trip for a group of people. Maybe one day I'll get some people together & we (general "we") will go and see it. Or maybe I'll never get round to it. Or maybe I'll go on my own so that at least all my friends feel equally pissed-off because I didn't invite them.
brrm From: brrm Date: September 3rd, 2004 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want to be everything! And I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!

I keep thinking "So many cars, so little time." - quoted from friend of my parents', who was into old cars.
Unfortunately, he commited suicide.

I do feel that, though, and not just with respect to cars. In particular (and this 9-5 job lark is new-ish to me, I've been at the OII for about a year now), I find that so much of the time *not* spent at work is spent flopping.

I could probably do more interesting things with my weekends, though. Perhaps I should solicit suggestions. Live my life by LJ poll.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: September 4th, 2004 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I get that kick when speaking to an audience. It's a different type of verbal processing, and one that I'm much more confident in than being socially adequate and not talking too much or too little in small groups. I'd rather lead a discussion or give a talk to two hundred people than sit down with three or four people unless I know that they don't mind me being a clutz so I don't have to worry about it.
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