The power of me

17 Mar 2005 - 12:06pm
422 reads
John Vaughan - ...

Okay, so we’ve had quite a time playing with the external images. Howzabout we turn the mirror around?

A few messages back, Jim Lefwich said:
“If you are in IxD, IA, UX or other fields, and feel as though you've taken some unique approaches, or faced particular struggles that you worked to overcome, or feel that your own life and *who you are and where you came from* is an important part of the soul you seek to imbue your design work with, I'd like to hear from you.”

I'd like to get this ball rolling because:

* I'm kinda self-absorbed myself (see "...the designer stereotype")
* I'd like to hear some stories from the rest of you, as well, because...
* I believe that we've a uniquely interesting group, by definition

jcvaughan: The 5-cent Tour

roots: Dad was career military, so we moved about every year and a half of my life up until I left for college. You become either gregarious or isolated - perhaps a bit of both: You view your own culture as an "outsider" who can be easily at home 'most anywhere on the planet. Adaptability is a given. It’s a virtual world.

My formative years included living & traveling in Europe, as well as the rural South, USA. Speak some languages. Lotsa museums. Was in Berlin a couple of months BEFORE The Wall. In Russia at height of Cold War. At Parris Island when we ramped up for Nam. Cultured redneck. Lots of dichotomy, but You don't get Traction without Friction. In any case, I like to say that I had 18 years in the USMC under my belt by the time I….

Entered college in '67 - *IN*teresting times. Made the transition from ROTC (military-funded scholarship) to SDS (political activism) in a couple of years. Searching… Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll. Searching… About 6 different majors (minored in Eclectic) – Eventually settled on History, which is essentially Context/squared. Searching… Experimental College and self-directed study. Searching…

After college was succession of menial jobs (US was in economic recession at that time), exploratory arts work and community activism. The “new media” opportunity of the moment was handheld video and cable TV (i.e. the “democratization” of The Media). Got a graduate degree in Educational Media (Instructional TV) in order to gain professional credibility in a vocation that did not yet exist. There’s a sentimental and ethical commitment to “education” (it is the heart of what we do), but – as a bureaucratic institution it sucks. Hung out around the Architecture Machine Group at MIT (later to be known as Negroponte’s “Media Lab”). Microcomputers hit the scene as the US government deregulates the Communication giants. The Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU gives me the 3 things I want at that point in my career: Fluency with the buzzwords in good currency, professional credibility (a diploma) and contacts in the emerging digital interactive arena. It’s 1981 and t
he Future Looks Bright (I gotta wear shades).

Guess I’ve provided more deep background than recent career history in explaining why I’m here (which is as it should be). Like most fuzzy generalists, I evolved into my future, driven by inherent, implacable desires (dum-dum-DUM) inexorably towards …. uh ….whatever it is that I’m doing now. I acknowledge and honor the contributions that schooling and job experience have made towards my career development. I believe that my life’s path was formed by coincidence & environment, shaped by my choices (conscious or un-), but my passion-goal was determined very early on.

A Summary of sorts:
Translator, Integrator, Contextualist, Adaptable, Pioneer (at least for now – It’s still early on the curve.) Oh, and Amusing, I hope. Thanks for your time.

Career Reference:

The New Media Emerges: The 70’s
Before We Called it the Web: The 80’s
Making IT Happen: 90’s to Now

Extra Credit / Anecdotal Evidence:

About age 13 we all took something called a “Vocational Aptitude Test” that was sort of a career compatibility indicator. My 3 top vocations were:
“Interior Decorator”
Appalling. (Apparently I’m an effete nitpicker who harangues people.) Bear in mind, I was living at this time on a Recruit Training Base in pre-integration South Carolina – the fathers of many of my classmates were Drill Instructors. But over time I realized that …. those 3 roles are EXACTLY what I’m doing now in IxD: “Queer Eye for the Website”. Ah, destiny.

In school I used to win the Science Fair with regularity. I soon realized that I won the awards – not because I was a brilliant scientist - but rather because I could “Give Good Presentation”. I would Explain Complex Stuff and Make It Interesting. My Insight: I wanna do this as a regular job description. And so it came to pass…eventually.

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