[thelist] "A Brief Rhapsody on Art and Engineering"

Steve Cook sck at biljettpoolen.se
Mon Sep 11 04:11:59 CDT 2000

> Thanks, Steve, for sharing that nugget with us.  I'm glad I'm not the
> only one to occasionally drift off into the philosophy of creativity
> ;)

You're welcome. I'm glad that several people out there enjoyed the piece as
much as I did.

> However, with your "one of the best descriptions of the start of the
> creative process" you really clicked my button.  Some evistas will be
> aware of my theatrical past which accounts for my instinctive reaction
> to DISAGREE with the thrust of your Rhapsody.  Indeed I have spent 15
> years developing an approach to creativity (and much else in life)
> which is founded precisely upon the AVOIDANCE of fore-thought.

Hmmm. I have a tendency to go with the gut feeling when I read pieces of
writing like that and jump in with my descriptions. Perhaps a little
forethought would help me avoid that :-) Seriously, I personally like to
combine a certain amount of forethought and a certain amount of "spur of the
moment" in a project. I was firmly of the avoid forethought school, but as a
project manager, I've come to see that there is an absolute need for
planning in larger projects to avoid projects that stretch forever, or where
several people are working towards different goals.

I would suggest that the important part here is the difference between
creativity and production. Certainly the creative process is at it's best
when unfettered by pre-planned notions. I think it is exactly this that
Roberts discusses in his Rhapsody. He advocates that the creative part of
the process should be free to fly where it will and that this exploration
should then be used as the guide to production. 

> So I was particularly surprised to see 'Zen' cited in support of a
> pre-conceptualising approach.  As I recall  (and it's >20 years since
> I read it) Pirsig's point was that Aristotle had led Western
> philosophy up the garden path of reason and, in the antithesis of Zen,
> the result is that 'we' tend to put thought before action (or the
> destination before the journey) and have great difficulty doing/being
> otherwise.

Ah, but is it not that Roberts and Pirsig are both talking about the same
(or at least a very similar) thing here? Roberts is against a form of
engineering design that is based more upon formal tools than objective. I
feel that both are kicking against reason as the underlying principle in

On the whole however, for me the Pirsig comparison was less about the
message and more about the wonderful feeling of the writing. The combination
of technical savvy and poetic attitude is so rare to find and so effective
when it is used. Call me an old techno hippy if you will, but it's rare to
be moved by a description of the design process :-)

> OTOH it was a very neat quote, with such obvious relevance to web dev
> that I'll be spending the rest of the weekend meditating on these 3
> questions:
> 1.  What similarity is there between artistic creativity and
> technological development, if any?
> 2.  Can creative methods developed by and for individuals be applied
> to team-working?
> 3.  Even freelance/one-stop web designers need to marshal such a
> variety of skills, might a team-working paradigm be the only one
> appropriate to web dev?
> Or maybe I'll just scan the cat again.

Excellent - I'd love to hear your further musings on these subjects - or see
your cat scan, whichever is appropriate :-)

> George Dillon


<tip type="linux kickstart">

Have you "knocked over" a startup script for your Linux installation? Having
trouble getting through the boot process to a root prompt?

You'll need to try and use either the rescue disk you created when you
installed (you did create one didn't you?) or the CD-Rom that you installed
from to do a kickstart boot. Boot from either floppy or CD (go into BIOS
setting to alter the boot order). Follow the prompts towards "Kickstart
boot" or "emergency boot" or "rescue boot" or something along those lines.

This process *should* get you to a shell prompt with a limited set of
commands and tools. 

>From here, you want to mount your harddrive again. Create a mount point e.g.
	mkdir /root
then mount the drive partition that contains your startup scripts. You can
try different partitions if you wish - it won't harm to mount the wrong one
and then unmount it again should you need. Just swap out hda7 for the
appropriate number.
	mount -t ext2 /dev/hda7 /root
Check to see whether you have mounted the correct disk. If so, you can run
any further commands that are on this disk (vi or emacs for instance) but
you'll need to call them directly from the location they are in, beraing in
mind that you have mounted your disk in a different place to usual. So vi
may be in /root/sbin/vi for instance.

Phew! From there, I hope you have either access to a backup of your startup
script, or can find what you need to do to put it right again. Once you have
made the relevant changes, you should be able to type exit until you close
down all your shells, which should start a reboot which should hopefully
work this time!

(Guess what I spent *my* weekend doing :-)


   WapWarp - http://wapwarp.com
 Wap-Dev - http://www.wap-dev.net
 Cookstour - http://cookstour.org

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