Thursday, April 07, 2022

of data mirrors and a sense of belonging

part of the dataspejlet (data mirror) project at trapholt museum is small piece of personal embroidery. you actually download your data from facebook and your search history from google chrome and send it in to a model/algorithm that the museum has created for the project, and it returns a quadrant diagram with circles on it representing the words that appear most frequently. if you click on the numbered circles, the words change, so you can select the ones you wish to think of while you embroider and create your personal "data mirror." 

i think because the algorithm is surely set to danish, it has returned some weird words for me - like "lov" which is surely actually "love" in my posts and not "promise" if it were danish and the "ll" that's surely from "we'll" and "it'll" and other contractions. i have no idea what the placement of the circles on the quadrant means. 

the museum had kits available in set colors - you get two colors to use, plus white, which you should use for the words that appear a lot, but which you don't want to count in your stitched picture of your data. unfortunately, i didn't get my hands on a kit, not imagining that there were only a few available, but i suppose it makes sense since the artwork can only be the size it can be. i have felt more disappointed than is warranted that i didn't get a kit. i plan to work with the graphs on my own anyway and this way, i get to keep them. and decide to use as many colors as i wish.

and i am getting to participate in the woven part of the work, so i am still a part of the larger work. in my disappointment over not getting a kit, i realized, once again, that being part of a community is important to me. i wanted to see my stitched data mirror in dialogue with all the other stitched data mirrors - to have a visual depiction of how and where i fit in the scheme of things. to contribute to something beautiful that only becomes more beautiful in dialogue with everyone else's work. i feel genuinely sad that i don't get to be part of that. and it triggers that old familiar feeling of being on the outside (i really should get therapy for that).

i think i also wanted something beautiful to come of all that data i stupidly gave to facebook all those years. it was nice to think that something good would come it somehow, when they've used it for nothing but evil and nefarious purposes. 

my chrome history diagram is much less interesting since it's so full of work-related stuff like kitchens (in no less than four languages) and dashboards and the project management software asana - which i visit regularly. i wanted to submit my blog data, but their algorithm couldn't handle the amount of data. i don't think my google visits say that much about me as a private person, but they do say something about me as a work person. 

but i guess that whatever i make of it is for myself. and maybe that's ok. but i would have liked it to be part of something bigger. sigh.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

dataspejlet :: weaving community

i spent the weekend at the loom. our weaving group is part of an art project at trapholt museum. fiber artist astrid skibsted is working with trapholt on a project called dataspejlet. it's in two parts - one is woven and one is embroidered (i'll write more about it in another post). for the woven part, our weaving group was chosen to participate. we received all the yarn we needed in colors that were chosen for us and a warp that was ready to put on the loom. when i arrived at the museum on saturday, it was already nearly ready to start weaving. 

it's strange in a way to write about weaving, as it's something i learned in danish and therefore, i don't really know the terminology in english. so i don't know how to express the part of threading it and putting it into the comb. and on some level, i don't really want to even google it, as it's something that danish and i have together.  i realize it makes me sound like even more of a beginner than i even am (and after ten years, i still feel like a beginner), but that's just how it is. 

the last thing that needed doing was the fishing line along the sides. it's there for stability, but plastic fishing line is very different than the linen threads beside it, so we struggled a bit to get it right. luckily, there's a facebook group where everyone who is part of the weaving is helping one another and we learned that we needed more weight on the fishing line at the other end.  but on saturday, we didn't know that and we struggled with the fishing line and keeping it taut so it would lay nicely on the edge.

we were given a cream colored yarn to use as a test section. it's this very cool japanese yarn that's actually flat, rather than round. and it takes working with it a bit to get it right. and that fishing line teased us.

but on sunday, after following advice from others in the group, we put on more weight and we got weaving in earnest. our edges looked beautiful and i got to weave the whole first section. the whole pattern is prescribed and since we are quite a large group, everyone needs to have a chance. i did a small timelapse of my weaving. my phone was fastened to the loom and it slowly turned over the course of the timelapse.

as always, i feel like the loom teaches me lessons that i can't learn anywhere else. it's the most honest thing - you can't trick it or fool it or hide anything. it will show clearly any tricks you try to pull on it. it will always be totally honest with you - and show you clearly your mistakes. but when you correct them, it will also show you all its beauty. and when it does, there's really nothing like it. tiny threads, woven together, become something strong and beautiful. it rather takes my breath away. and to be part of a larger work that is the work of so many others gives a real sense of community. even solving frustrating problems is part of the story that we're weaving into the work and it will all be there in the threads when it's done. what a privilege to be part of it.

Friday, April 01, 2022

how we make decisions or how do we make decisions?

i started a new job nearly two months ago and two weeks ago, when i got the opportunity to return to my old job, i accepted it. i hadn't made the decision to leave lightly and when i made it, i felt it was the right decision. some very big things changed at the new workplace in the interim and when i got there, i discovered that it was very much not the right decision. i am privileged to be able to go back to my old job, where i know that i have great colleagues and where my work is appreciated and makes a difference.

i'm finishing up at the new job this week and trying my best to finish up all the projects i'm involved in. it's so disheartening to have the reasons that made me regret the new job underlined for me again today. the main person that i have to work with (not a co-worker, more the client) seems to be actively working against me. i've asked her multiple questions today and she hasn't answered any of them. i can't finish today's work without her answers. i even tried to book her for a quick teams meeting and she suggested a time tomorrow, even though she wants the article i'm working on today. it feels like she wants me to do a bad job so that she can be confirmed in her opinion that the agency i work for doesn't provide good work. 

i'm trying not to take it personally, but i really don't understand it.

* ~ * ~ *

and this stupid blow-by-blow timeline is boring the hell out of me. i should find a way to tell it in metaphor. or as a fairytale. if i did, it would undoubtedly involve a naive, well-meaning character who trusts too much and a dragon that turns out to be an ugly troll. and who will indulge in even more intense troll-like behavior the next day, though i didn't know that at the time i wrote the paragraphs above.

* ~ * ~ *

but it all has me thinking about decisions and how we make them. we make them with a combination of thought, cost-benefit analysis, and excitement with a bit of gut feeling thrown in. and in any decision, one of those will weigh a bit more than the others and be what tips the scales. in this case, i made a big list of pros and cons of each job, thought about it endlessly, discussed it with husband even more endlessly and then went with my gut, which told me to take the new job. but it seems my gut didn't know the whole story. 

but was it my gut? any decision is a complex thing. i got the new job through a headhunter who contacted me last summer. at that time, things were a bit rocky at my job, my boss was going down with stress and making himself and everyone else miserable and i'd spent that first year of covid doing a whole lot of things that were not what i was hired to do. and i'll admit, it's awfully flattering to be contacted by a headhunter. and i'm susceptible to that sort of flattery. it's always nice to be wanted. 

but was that it? i think it was part of it. the other part was some baggage created by the aforementioned stressed manager. he had done his best to convince me that he doubted my abilities, though how he knew what they were when he hadn't let me do any of the tasks i was hired for, i don't know. he even criticized me for how many tabs i kept open on my computer, as if that was any of his business. or as if it had any meaning whatsover. he actually wanted to use that fact to deny me the chance to actually start doing what i had been hired to do. he also spent half of my development talk waxing on and on about how awesome my colleague was. so yes, there was baggage. and despite him actually having left the company by the time i accepted the new job, it was still a big factor. carrying all that baggage around is hard work.

so what about my decision to go back to that job? that's a complex thing as well. it's partially the danish karen who was my main client at the new job and it's once again, a bit of flattery. it's flattering when your old boss calls and asks if you'd like to return. and if you're in the middle of something that wasn't what you expected it to be and you don't think it looks like you can actually do anything about making it better, it's that much more appealing. i'll admit that i was also missing my old team - we were close and it felt so comfortable and fun. i missed laughing and having a good time with them (hmm, i wonder if that's the most important factor in decision making? feeling like you belong?). and so i said yes.

and today, i started anew. and it really did feel like a fresh start. like i could leave the baggage of the old boss on the platform and start anew, on more secure footing and feeling like i was appreciated for what my new boss (who was the old boss' boss) knows that i can do. it also helps that i have a proper job description this time and that i find all the tasks in it to be right up my alley.

and so, it feels like the right decision. for a whole variety of reasons. and time will tell if they hold up. but for now, my gut tells me that they will.