(sorry about the brief hiatus; account problems, my fault, not typepad's)
Heidi Miller recently riffed off of a post on Kathy Sierra's always-useful Creating Passionate Users blog, a post basically on making things fun. Kathy's focus, on applications and customer experience, and Heidi's focus, on presentations (as highlighted by the hilarious David Pogue talk at TED) reminded me of some of the lectures I heard earning my degree, on the work of Allan Kaprow.
Kaprow (the inventor of the word "Happening" as a noun) was a proponent of the idea of a "life-like art." It's kind of a zen concept, "... lifelike art plays somewhere in and
between attention to physical process and attention to
It's the attention to interpretation that I think applies itself to Heidi and Kathy's ideas. David Pogue can easily talk passionately and entertainingly on bad software design, because he cares about it. It becomes fun for him. Ask him to give a lecture on the Indian martial art of Kaluripayat and he might not be quite as entertaining...but I suspect he would.
Why? Because like Heidi Miller, he can shift his passion from the subject of his talk to the delivery of the talk itself. Reading the audience, listening to the cadence of one's voice, polishing the grammar so that exactly the right emphasis is delivered at exactly the right time, these are all ways to make the act itself a game, a work of art (performance art, in fact).
Kaprow posited that it would be possible to live one's life as if it were a work of art--no, scratch the "as if", living life as art. I think there is a new breed of "life artist" at work in the GTD culture, ranging from people such as Merlin Mann to my friend Chris Brogan, who makes me look like a slacker with the number of projects he juggles. On the surface, these trends look like people trying to be more productive, make more money, do more in less time. And as anyone who fetishizes organization systems (mea culpa!) will tell you, it often is more of a scramble to try out this new toy and integrate it into our life than any actual improvement in production.
But that's just it--it's a toy. It's play. It's fun. More than that, it is the movement of bodies, ideas, projects through time--and that, my friend, is the textbook definition of a dance. These people are turning the everyday grind and the tedium of modern life into a dance, working on moving themselves and the things they touch more gracefully. I think Kaprow would approve, honestly.
Next week I will be turning my life into a dance, literally, attending a week-long artists' retreat in Oregon, WI with my wife. Not coincidentally, Kaprow's book, as well as another by Jeff Kelley ("Childsplay") will be the recommended reading. I intend to investigate the idea of the whole GTD movement as a new kind of lifelike dance.
And yes, the evolution will be blogivised...