Crawling out

When I daydream, it's sometimes about answering this job interview question: "Tell me, what is your weakest personality trait?"

Upon reviewing my project-management career, I realize that my answer should be: "I believe people will do what they say they will do." Of course, real PMs never form such an assumption. That's why they produce unending meetings with infinite interrogations.

Today I ponder a different answer to the weakest-trait question. I think one of my biggest problems is that I assume everyone else thinks the way I do. I refer you to the "tweet-out" Lawrence Lessig gave me recently. He had tweeted asking whether someone could fix the hum that dominated his keynote speech at New Zealand's 2011 NetHui opening. It was a truly annoying hum and made listening nearly impossible. Not being able to listen to Lessig would be bad. Lessig ist lässig.

Since he provided links to the original video and a good recording of his audio, I knew exactly what to do. I gave him what he wanted two or three hours later. But I sweated it. I hallucinated that several hundred of Lessig's 150,000 Twitter followers were doing the same thing I was. I had to be first and best. Seems I was not only first, I was only.

As I waited for the new video to render, I searched the appropriate hashtags. I was certain I would find that someone else had already provided a solution. Instead, I found a handful of retweets. No solutions, just retweets. The "me, too" flavor of those retweets didn't last two seconds. I knew they were sincere and genuine attempts to further the plea for help. Then reality sank in: apparently nobody else following Lessig that day had the technology or skill.

Now that realization was a mini-epiphany. Why would that not be obvious to me? Because what is obvious to me is that I'm not an extraordinarily skillful person, and it feels like almost everyone else is more skilled than I am. I can't draw a straight line. I can't explain the difference between subtractive and additive colors (or how their complementary colors would pair). I constantly violate rules of perspective, vanishing point, and proportion in my photographs (I'm always t hi s fa r off the r ule of thir ds).

In spite of my ineptitude, I still like having tools that help spread information: internet access, cameras, video-editing software and such. I expect others to have the same or similar, but you don't, do you? Self-expression these days is terribly inexpensive and relatively easy, even if you don't have an Apple computer. Try it. You don't have to like it.