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Friday, 31 May 2013

A Fantastic Week.

I've got three posts happening, including this one. The other two are Like vs Respect, and a rant on child/staff interaction policy.

I've been a bit down lately.
OK, a lot down lately. And it's been stressing me out quite a bit.

But I was looking forward to this camp somewhat. I'd been told it was pretty good, and I knew there was caving. So I went into it at least a little positive, though still a bit down.

It exceeded expectations by many, many miles. Outstanding, even.

I had a fantastic group of girls that I helped lead, an amazing five days away on camp, a great place to be in, and some extraordinary other teachers and staff who were there with us.

The best camp, the best group. Yes, they're quite inter-related. The place and activities and food and all that was great too, but the people are what made it truly amazing.

From hanging out the back with the sore ankles and the asthmatics; to sprinting to the end of the rogaining activity to just make it in time; to getting my whole group through one of the caves; to finding out that my group won the rogaining; to a very bittersweet goodbye - they were absolutely amazing.

I'm going to remember those girls for quite a while, and I really hope that I'll see a few of them at next year's camp, or the leadership camp later in the year.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Silently screaming.

I got the name for this from a song that a friend recently wrote and put up on the YouTubes. Link here (when I'm not just on mobile :P ) And from what I'm feeling.

Lately, things feel like they've all been happening at once. And not in the good way. A few days ago, I figured out how to actually somewhat express what I felt. Because I'm not good at expressing the negative feelings; maybe because I don't understand them properly, maybe because I don't have the experience enough.
Anyway, this is what I came up with.
My soul is screaming.
Why? Because it's being tortured. It's been hurt before. It's cried before; been doing that for a while. But now, it's screaming. It's too much, all at the same time.

There isn't really an aspect of my life that isn't being somehow affected adversely right now. Family. Church. Youth group. Work. Music. Love. The little things. Each of them is broken, or degrading, or has had chunks torn out, just isn't there, or is sapping everything else. I'm not going to go into them individually. Partly because then I'd definitely never post this up. Partly because some of them aren't my stories to tell.

But right now, I'm struggling. I'm struggling to get through each day. That's my main prayer to God in the morning :P
I might look like I'm doing OK. But trust me, I'm good at acting. I don't even know when I am sometimes anymore. And I can actually read body language a bit now, so I act with that as well :P

Yeah. I need help. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't see any way out. Not of all of it. I just keep praying. If you could send the odd word up for me as well, I'd really appreciate it.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The different roles in a creative group.

Warning: long post ahead.

I've just finished reading Living With A Creative Mind. An amazing book, which you can check out here: At some point, I'll look into it a bit more in-depth. For now, however, I just want to look into one thing that they looked at.

In their chapter called Collaboration, they mention that they have repeatedly observed different roles emerging within collaborative groups. These are detailed below, exactly as written. (Taken from "Collaborating", Living With A Creative Mind, Jeff Crabtree and Julie Crabtree [Zebra Collective, Manly; 2011].)

The Technician
A problem-solver. Always says no at first, then thinks about how it can be done and provides the method and the details. Takes pride in the achievement of the impossible. May be frustrating to work with - they cannot be hurried. They work at their own pace. (Schematic thought, insulated sense, zoom focus, order space and safety action.)
 The Blue Sky Thinker
 Thinks of things no one else thinks of. A lot of suggestions and ideas will be totally impractical, impossible and unrelated, but perhaps one in every five or six is brilliant. You just need to be patient and not come down too heavily on the awful ideas. (Confronting attitude, fluid thought, wide angle focus, chaos space and risk action.)
The Glue
This person is the one who feels the pain of others and tries to empower everyone in the group. A peacemaker, a negotiator and the one who reminds everybody that they are better off stuck together than falling apart. Keeps everyone on track and sometimes may contribute nothing more than this. May not even see themselves as creative - but they are essential to the creative process. (Deflated ego, conforming attitude, skinless sense, order space and safety action.)
The Devil's Advocate
Always asks the questions no one wants to hear. Identifies where the group is going wrong and is fearless enough to put it out there. May appear difficult to please. Doesn't necessarily have the answers - just the questions. (Inflated ego, confronting attitude, schematic thought, order space and safety action.)
The Terrorist
Throws in a bomb. Blows up everything and changes the game. Destructive to old mindsets and habits. In the aftermath we discover how creatively potent this kind of person can be. (Inflated ego, confronting attitude, wide angle focus, chaos space, risk action and intense emotion.)
The Child
Everything is a game. The whole thing is just like a little kid playing in the garden, full of fun and frivolity. May frustrate others in the group. Willing to try anything. Can easily revert to childlike states of distress. (Fluid thought, skinless sense, wide angle focus, chaos space and intense emotion.)
The Face
The visible personification of success - a spokesman, a persona, someone the public and the media can identify. May have no other role. (Inflated ego and risk action.)
The Visionary
Can see the big picture. Capable of getting a huge idea - but may have absolutely no idea of how to realise it. (Inflated ego, fluid thought, wide angle focus, manic energy and risk action.)
The Joker
This person is always the naughty one; the comedian or the troublemaker. Says the things the rest of the group think privately but are too afraid to say out loud. Constantly breaches social conventions. (Inflated ego, confronting attitude, fluid thought, wide angle focus, risk action and intense emotion.)
The Purist
Is always standing up for ideological or artistic integrity. When others are willing to try anything, this person will always resist ideas that take the group away from what have been the core values. (Inflated ego, conforming attitude, schematic thought, zoom focus, order space and safety action.)
The Interpreter
Is able to communicate effectively with colleagues outside the creative group and speak on behalf of it. Acts as an intermediary, particularly with business holders and financiers. (Deflated ego, conforming attitude, schematic thought, insulated sense, wide angle focus, safety action and calm emotion.)
If you're still here, good job! That was a fair bit to get through. The bits in italics are to do with their nine dimensions of a creative mind; ego, attitude, thought, sense, focus, emotion, energy, space and action. If you want to find out more about those, again, their book is amazing, even just for that. Link up top.

I think that the roles given above are a really good summary of what can be found within a creative framework; and often, within most group settings. Now, as they also mention shortly afterwards, people can be more than one of those roles quite easily. I've been most of those roles at some point or another. Generally speaking, I'm some combination of the Child, the Visionary, and the Purist. But then I have bits from the Technician, the Glue, the Devil's Advocate, the Interpreter, the Blue Sky Thinker and even the Joker now and then.

But yeah, thought this would be good to put up for other to people to think about what sort of roles they fit, and what roles other people fit; and maybe making working in a group that little bit easier, because you understand a bit better how that works.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Beautiful Cage.

It's nice in here.
The people are happy.
There are great views, and good times.
There's hard work, too, but that's everywhere.
If you want to get something done, it needs work.
You make people smile and laugh.
You test them and grow them.

But it's a cage.
A beautiful cage; but that doesn't change what it is.
And to others, it might not be a cage; but it is to me.
Because I can't do what I need to do.
What I need to be truly me.
And it's a cage because I can't see any way out.
Not that won't hurt me, or them, or both.

And it scares me.
Because I don't know what this cage will do to me.
I've never been here before.
And I'm scared.
Of this beautiful cage.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Social Network.

Tonight, I watched The Social Network for the first time. Perhaps a bit sad given the hype around it and how long it's been out for, but that's the case. It was on TV. So I thought I'd watch it.

If you're not familiar with what the movie is about, it's about a guy called Mark Zuckerberg. Hang on, you're thinking. Isn't it supposed to be about Facebook? Perhaps. But it's not. It's about Zuckerberg. It's about him during the time that he made and grew and fought over Facebook, yes. But it's certainly about him. I'll expand a little on that; but first, I'll do a brief overview of the movie.

It starts with Mark getting dumped by his girlfriend. He then gets drunk and depressed, and, following a random comment from a roommate at uni about the photos of the people in the dorm, makes a site in the space of a few hours on which every female student at Harvard (his university) was paired with another randomly; the viewer would then decide which picture they liked better. The site got tens of thousands of hits in the first couple of hours it went live, and shut the Harvard internet down. Harvard subsequently removed the site, and he faced charges for violation of privacy.
Being impressed by his work, three other Harvard students came to him with an idea for a Harvard-exclusive social network, wanting him to make it; he said he'd do it. He then proceeded to formulate a social network under his own steam, with some help from Eduardo Saverin, a friend at Harvard. He eventually made the site live, calling it It grew rapidly, attracting the attention of the three students who had approached Mark originally. They were angry at Mark seemingly stealing their idea.
The site expanded to other universities nearby; Mark brought in a couple more roommates to help with the growing demand. It eventually hit Stanford and drew the attention of Sean Parker, the man behind Napster. Eduardo then attempted to set up several meetings with potential investors to attempt to get monetary input into the company; thus far, it was running off his. A meeting was also made with Sean Parker. The meetings with investors did not go well; Mark was disinterested, and projected a bad attitude to the investors. The meeting with Sean went better according to Mark; Eduardo was unimpressed. Sean did, however, suggest changing it to just "facebook". He also suggested that they move to California.
Facebook expands further, and garners a couple more interns; Mark wants to move to California. Eduardo is reluctant, but puts his money on the line. Eduardo stays in New York, trying to make more connections; Mark moves down with the rest of the team, and Sean moves in shortly after. Eduardo comes down for a visit; he is unimpressed by the influence Sean has had on Mark, and freezes his account. Sean connects Mark up with a large investor, who decides to put in half a million. Facebook goes international. Mark tells Eduardo about the investor; he agrees to come back to sign a contract. (Account is presumably unfrozen.) Contract is signed; Eduardo has 30%, Mark just over 50%, Sean 7%, various other employees the remainder.
Facebook is close to reaching a million. Eduardo gets called back for a "business meeting", and for the millionth user party. He instead gets more paperwork; his share has been reduced by 100 times - down to 0.3%. He is furious with Mark, and decides to sue him for everything. The three other students who originally approached Mark about the idea also sue on grounds of intellectual property theft. Sean is busted doing drugs at the party. Mark is unimpressed; perhaps "disillusioned" is a good word here as well.
He settles with both parties.
At the end of the movie, he is shown refreshing the page constantly of a friend request he has just made to the girl who dumped him at the start of the movie.

That wasn't particularly short, I know. Difficult to condense down without losing a lot. Hopefully, however, you get a bit of the storyline there. What you won't get so much, however, is who Mark Zuckerberg was.

Mark is portrayed in the movie (I obviously can't speak for how he is in real life) as an absolute genius. And a genius who couldn't be bothered wasting his time on people who were just slowing him down. The thing was; pretty much everyone did, according to him. He could be described as paranoid; naive; obsessive; indifferent; impulsive.
But the interesting thing, I think, is this; Mark never did anything, as such, to intentionally hurt people. He didn't care if he offended them; that was his fun, in a way, as is alluded to frequently. But every time he does something that hurts somebody, he doesn't realise that it will. He just didn't think about it. And he understands people, strangely enough - "I don't hate anybody. The "Winklevii" aren't suing me for intellectual property theft. They're suing me because for the first time in their lives, things didn't go exactly the way they were supposed to for them." I also just love that 'Winklevii' note. (Two of the three suing him were twins - the Winklevosses.)
But anyway. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, particularly given it's a Hollywood interpretation of a person. I just see a lot of parallels between him and me, I guess. We were raised quite differently, but apart from that - we're both very smart. Socially alienated. Somewhat naive to how the world works, and as such, can be considered impulsive. (Not me so much, but still.) Obsessive in regards to some things; these consume our attention, thus giving the appearance of indifference. And we're paranoid that what we obsess over, what we pour our skill and time into, won't work out.
But perhaps more crucially. At the end of the day, we crave a relationship. All through the movie, you see subtle signs of that - "But I don't want friends." "Can we just talk for a minute?" "Do you ever think about that girl?" *Click* *click* *click* *click*. Endlessly hoping, at the end of the day, for a miracle. Perhaps that's the real naivety; the real obsession; the true impulsiveness. I can't - and don't, by the way, in case you're wondering if he's paying me to write this or something - speak for Mark, but I get pretty blinkered when it comes to this sort of thing. Which can - which does - get annoying for me. Because other people waltz in, and they're fantastic. They're amazing. But they're not that person. And, yes. I am probably only writing this because I'm somewhat depressed, it's late at night/early in the morning, and I probably will have to end up answering awkward questions about this from people I don't kow that well, or don't want to talk about this with.

But what did I say? Impulsive. "Yes, it may be a long way down; but oh, what a glorious flight!" That one's not from this movie.

And yes; it was a good movie, if you were wondering.