Monday, April 14, 2008

So I rant...but what do I really do...?

I am thinking that my rants....do not have a context in which they would be better understood...

What do I do?

Maybe we should start at the beginning. A condensed life story. No worries there will be no dramatic French perversions involved.

Born in Korea. This will negatively impact my life later. Went to Eugene, Oregon, US at the tender age of 13 months. This will lead to bouts of unexplained and abrupt melancholy later in my life due to the gawd awful weather I was exposed to at that tender age. Oregonites I apologize if this offends you. And yes its beautiful up there. But you have to admit...it gets depressing.

My first memory comes from that time...crawling through a tunnel and refusing to come out because I had ....a little accident. That will motivate me to have very good bowel control later in my childhood...my potty training was surprisingly easy on everyone involved.

The move to Cupertino, California coincided with my digital awakening. Played Spacewar on a mainframe where my dad worked. Started my education with PC games on a DEC Rainbow with Infocom games. Ventured into the electronic ether between with BBS's, MUDs, and later Usenet. Games from the beginning I will make the point were not just entertainment but had commentary that underlie it all. So for all those freaking idiots out there who say "I don't want politics/culture/education in my entertainment"...crawl into your desensitized ivory tower because games have always had a subtext that was consciously there...always. Zork, Hitchiker, Planetfall, Starcross

Bard's Tale, Wasteland, and Kareteka came next on the Apple families. Even then they were expensive and highly non-customizable. Which was frustrating to a person who had taken apart his father's workstations and pc's that he brought home from work at Digital Equipment Corporation. *sigh* Ken Olsen....you and your PC hating ways.

From sunny Cali to snowy Massachusetts. My dad, who was a computer engineer, was transferred to DEC HQ; working with Jim Gray and Gordon Bell on occasion. After DEC's spectacular implosion and fragmentation ( that Alpha chip....and the StrongARM...*sigh*) which coincidentally followed not long after I visited my dad's offices there, my dad rejoined a company he had been part of before I was born: Samsung.

We would move to Korea and I would attend Seoul International School where I would learn how corruption impairs performance, cheating is rampant in Korea even at international schools, how lack of investment in facilities and equipment impairs future profits, how a sick workplace culture can only exacerbrate bad management decisions, how ignorance is usually the most guarded and defended main characteristic of management ( its only those who aspire to be management who are voraciously learning). This I learned by watching the teachers and the administrators, involvement with them in student government, and just hearing it on the edges of conversations I would have with teachers.

I would become convinced that simply bringing in talent is not good enough but the need to have them have control of their own jobs, that professional isolation was death to innovation, and that there must always be an ethical/philisophical/cause that overarchs simply making money in order for your employees to stay and then in turn have the initiative to steer the ship into new horizons. Not abstract notions like "educating future world leaders" but rather ones that tied in with human resources, methodology or actual processes. I was watching organizations at work with global implications even then.

Was heavily on IRC then. On early versions of Unitel ( the Compuserve...er rather the Prodigy of Korea)...on the WELL...on Compuserve, Prodigy...and then finally on the Web through Netscape.

I remember the early Netscape iterations took a long time to initialize. Ahh...one blissful evening in 1994 on the John Hopkins University as part of the CTY summer programs...I loved CTY. I had been attending CTY summer schools since 1990 after having took the SAT. Even then I scored much higher on my verbal than the math...an anomaly among my Asian compatriots.

...it was those dances there where my musical tastes really sharpened from the Smiths to Depeche Mode to the Pixies to Yo La Tengo to Auchetecture and so on. It was there where I had my first earring. It was there I think I first truly fell lin love. It was there I think I really learned HOW TO LEARN. You must remember people always thought I was borderline Asperger. I internalized that often until I actually met people who made me feel that rush of having to think in more shortcut ways. To be more critical in looking at statements. To be comfortable being obsessive in what many would think is trivial.

Yes, my friends...I was a nerd. Geeks weren't even a memetic construction at the time. We were just nerds. People who were always looking at the essence between the concrete constructions of what is and what should be done and just tinkering with it. Going somewhere else with who we were supposed to aspire to be.

I thought I would be changing the world by now...then. I thought I knew how things would turn out to be. I thought work would be more efficient and the rewards more widespread. I didn't ask for the rocket cars. I didn't expect the space resorts. Gernsback wasn't the future I saw. But I saw the John Shirley future. The future of bounty and plenty in a slightly uneasy time.

All lies. For our generations. If we were at any other point in history other than following a baby boom generation. But like locusts they have devoured the harvest that was to last for years. We now have more than uneasiness, we have an age of open rage. The sky is not falling but it is ripping itself apart in many directions.

I did Model UN, I did the science fairs (made a highly dangerous exhibit "simulating" superconductivity one year with liquid nitrogen which was made with and overseen by my father's staff at the Samsung R&D lab in Suwon...and no one objected...I always get an evil grin at that). Watched my dad not invest in a venture by one of his subordinates at SDS which would later become Naver. Watch him regret that continually. Was an actor geek. Doing Method when I had nowhere near the capbability or the experience to do so. Never went for the lead but the character roles...the ones witht he best lines but not the story.

Went to college in Maine. Stephen King Maine. Snowy Snowy no nightlife Maine. French french Maine. Bates College...one of the triumuivirate of the Colby, Bowdoin axis. Newman Day and streaking. heh. Involvement in the political and cultural. From KASCON to the idiotic measures against Homosexual marriage to talking with Gish Jen to dealing with racial and gender incidents on campus. Being involved in impossible and complex relationships. One that would break my heart, scar me and then send me running to Boston and then back to Korea.

I think something broke then. Not just a heart. But an unspoken conviction of rightness I had with the world. That things turn out well in the end no matter what. They don't. You have to be cunning about all things. You have to think things through and work at it in all things. You have to find out as much as you can about the people around you, wo are important to what you are doing. You can't over react and internalize all the blame. But you can not shirk responsibility either. And if you do not have that empathatic connection do not pretend to do so.

and I am just talking about love here.

I think for now this will be enough about me. I will get back to looking doing games and web in a global business from a Korean standpoint. But maybe someday I'll continue this story with my misadventures in the Korean military service and how different the college experience in Korea was.

1 comment:

N.L. Belardes said...

This is great stuff... I wanted to read a whole book of your life story rant... n.l. (Small Places twitter page)