I got my mojo back after all that moving and illness. I can get out and do stuff and talk to people without feeling my brain is in the cloud and I don’t have any data left to download it. So I don’t write all that much and when I do it all seems important and goes on the big blog, or on the German blog, and everything that’s left on here is anti cult activism. I can’t have it look like that’s taking up my entire life, so here is what is really taking up my life.
Here is a thing: I am still not sure where I am going with my new identity, so in a way, it was good that I had an enforced break from setting down targets and plans to reach them. There is nothing worse than sacrificing everything for something that wasn’t worth it in the end (yes, that is a reference to my wasted years.) So I am very careful in setting targets, because once they are set, I will commit.
It would also be a waste of time to set small goals, because if I get the big ones right, I can hit small goals just by running about working on the big ones, and it won’t even feel like work. Like losing weight, which I am having to acknowledge is going to be a theme, and meeting good people.
So yesterday was some kind of county fair, or state fair; not, as you might imagine it, in a fairground, but in the entire town centre. German doesn’t have a word for that, of course, so they call it MVTag, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (yes, all that is the name of the state) convention.
(Tag means day but also meeting, as in the Hansetag, which was the regular get-together of the representatives from the member cities of the Hanseatic League and its only form of governing itself. But that shall no doubt be mentioned in a later post.)
I wasn’t entirely sure why I headed into town for that. I was interested in the design market, but not that interested. Making things and travelling around markets to sell them is not really something I want to spend my time doing. So I spent a bit of time there (bought some tweed earrings, because wool.)
Then it got more interesting. The design market was in the old monastery, which is next to the main University building. So I walked around there, talked to a guy from Fraunhofer about the robotics they are developing for large industries. I was interested in the problems they are facing, so we talked about that. Getting people not not be so scared of using them seemed to be a theme.
Moved on, there were the Baltic research institutes, the university, a team of engineers going into schools with (smaller) robotics to get kids into STEM. They had a Lego NXT at their stand, among other things, so I talked to the engineer there, mentioning that we still have one of those, so I will probably donate it, seeing that we haven’t done anything with it in about a decade.
Then we talked about what I’m doing, which is currently looking at making art out of wool. I had thought about how to connect it with my other interests, technology and emotion. So I asked him if he thought I could find students at the Uni who would work with me on this.
I’ve already started on the base for a work, using the yarn I started spinning outside of the small museum last week. It’s very fine, so I am knitting pieces on the machine whenever I have spun some more yarn, starting off wide and ending in a glove, which I will felt with a stuffed rubber glove in it and a plastic cutting board, so it keeps its shape.
I plan to make a series of hands that convey emotions and which can be hung. Because every piece is knitted by hand, they will also contain patterns I will design. So it’s more obviously ‘art’.
The theme, very broadly, is fear of technology. The spinning wheel is technology. People will be able to interact with me while I spin, touch the pieces, feel the texture of the wool, we can think about how textile technology has changed human lives. Steam mills, ending with the clothes we wear now. With the distance we have now from what we wear. Then we can interact with the pieces through a different type of technology, and especially social technology, which could be used to do so many good things. To bring people together. Hashtags are new to most here. We are all afraid. Can we lose our fear by interacting with something right in front of us?
So that is where I am with that right now.
Another interesting conversation was with a representative from the Kompetenzzentrum Digital 4.0, a new local offering and one I have already researched and attempted to contact. I had just written a blog post that morning so I thought it couldn’t hurt to speak to someone actually in an organisation thinking about “Digitalisierung” (tl;dr can’t have a digitalisation without people also getting better at sharing their work online. The more people get comfortable with and good at sharing online – not just broadcasting but actually forming working relationships and using them -, the better we can all do the work we need to do.)
It was hard going, and I wasn’t expecting anything else. For one thing, I haven’t tried this in a while, so I was just testing where I would end up if I talk about needing to do this stuff with fully renewed conviction. I got unstuck when I sneered at ‘content marketing’ – in my defence, I hadn’t heard anyone use those words in a while. What my reply should have been, rather than just being dismissive of the entire concept, was ‘before you think about what to write, you need to have some idea what the audience will be interested in. And before you can think of audience, you need to have the experience that you build your audience yourself by what you say and how you present yourself online.
You can only have faith that people aren’t dumb and trust that people are not terrible by opening yourself up and being not dumb and not terrible yourself. And that needs leadership from a fearless person who knows stuff.
We need to trust that we can have a positive impact. And someone already in a position of influence should be encouraged to use it to have a positive impact, also online. Of course, the problem is that they are all so used to be listened to, and that around here, hierarchies are as stiff and hard as an old boot.
But we have to try.
If we don’t, we will always have content management by committee and even more dumb content online that doesn’t speak to anyone’s intelligence or humanity, so doesn’t engage, and doesn’t do anything to help us do the things we’re trying to do. And then social media can truly be ignored.
So that was a good conversation too, in the end, because I learned something.
After that I ended up giving CPR to a doll, luckily I still have all my first aid skills from school days, and having another quick chat with the director of the clinic where I was treated. I seem to run into him. We’re still planning on starting a support group, another thing I care deeply about, but which will not take a lot of time or energy, because all the resources are readily available. We also had an interesting chat about medical professionals and social media, and I thought about that blog post I wrote after my stay in the clinic. I see lots of medical students posting on instagram from the clinic, I don’t know where they are going with this or who is talking to them about handling social media as medical professionals, it would be interesting to get involved in those conversations. Not because I have any solutions, just so that we can be more conscious about what we’re doing.
Then I ended up sitting with some women who were spinning and making new contacts there – again, I won’t be able to visit any of those groups, because I don’t have a car and don’t plan to buy one. It was a very conscious decision for good bicycles and great helmets, because the spinning is part of what I want to do, but I don’t want to spend all my time on it. I still need other things too. As long as I can find a local source of fleece when I need it, I’m good.
Then I watched a bit of the royal wedding, and then, to make up for it, I watched Drums in the Night by Bertolt Brecht. A play which ends in ‘Everyone can only do what they need and what they first of all are able to. We can’t do more. We are not superhuman!’