Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly Update - Shu Ha Ri

Music: Portishead - Dummy
Released way back in 1994, Portishead's first album remains a work of musical genius today (at least for me). The album feels like a theatrical piece from beginning to end, and paints a vividly sad story throughout. I also love the mix of different characteristics like scratching, marching band drumming techniques, theremin and other weird sounds. Of course, everyone knows Glory Box, one of the three singles off the album. Check it out below:

I am moving closer and closer to mastering D3 (to the beginner extent that I had originally challenged myself to accomplish). I found another wonderful resource, C3.JS, which is basically a stylesheet for wonderful interactive D3 data visualizations. I will still be making custom visualizations, but I have been using some of these and also using the library as a learning tool for D3. It even helped me to understand how to make my visualizations responsive. Check out a thing I made here.

By the next weekly update, my goal is to have the Favourite Things book fully printed and bound, and have the D3 visualizations completed as well. I will still have to figure out the responsiveness and make all the story pages, but those are just grunt-work tasks. I'm most excited for the hand-binding of the book! It'll look so much better than the dumb saddle-stitching I did for the dummy version.

Hopefully I can make the book as clean as this mockup.

Random Thought:
My father is currently binge-watching Weeds on Netflix and I am dropping in and out from time to time. While I was watching a few episodes with him, I found it annoying that we had to sit through the "what happened on the last episode" sequence every time. I know they're not long, and you can use the picture-flip feature (that's what I've named it) to fast-forward, but this has got to be a common problem. Binge-watching television is a common activity (at least in Canada where it's too cold to do anything else), so there's got to be a better way. What if Netflix created an option to go into 'binge-watch mode'. In this mode, all of the little recap sequences would automatically disappear. I suppose that a similar argument could be made for title sequences, but I personally enjoy the good ones (see this previous post about them), and the title sequence for Weeds is different every time. On the other hand, if you've just watched seven episodes of a television show, there is no redeeming value ina recap sequence at the beginning of the eighth episode.

This article about design and the Japanese theory of Shu Ha Ri. In a nutshell, the article describes the process of mastering a skill (any skill, but specifically here it discusses design).

Shu involves copying the work of masters in your chosen field. A lot of people don't appreciate this concept because we are pretty much told from birth that we must be original and that there is no value in reproducing the work of others (without saying that there are moral implications as well). Yet, there actually is a lot of value to be gained from copying the work of skilled people. In this process, it is possible to attain skill through recreation and learning about the creation process in itself. This allows a student to hone their craft and sharpen their skills without letting more advanced things get in the way. Of course, the material produced in this section should not be sold or used for personal gain; it is only a learning tool.

Once a person has mastered Shu, they can move on to Ha which involves gaining a detached understanding of the basic skills that were mastered. The student can now move on to gain an understanding of the theories that go hand-in-hand with the basic skills. They can begin to create original work (in the case of design) and use their skills to move closer to mastering the subject.

The final step is Ri, which is the stage of complete mastering of a subject. At this stage, the student has become the teacher and is encouraged to help students who are still in the Shu stage.

There you go, it's that simple! (But not easy.)

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