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The Builder's High (randsinrepose.com)
199 points by guptaneil 1297 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite



This line is brilliant:

"This is a reminder not to let a digital world full of others’ moments deceive you into devaluing your own. Their moments are infinite – yours are finite and precious."

For some time now, I've been spending the majority of my day jumping between Reddit, HN, and YouTube. Any time that I'm not on the computer, from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed (with a few exceptions), I'm listening to podcasts. Basically never idle, and rarely truly living my life - just endlessly consuming information in an attempt to fill the void.

I used to be a builder, living the high described in the post almost every day, but I've lost it somewhere along the way.

Something I hope to change. This post was a big kick in the pants for me.


So funny, I just had this revelation. I haven't been producing anything for the last few years. Sure I read & study how to do a lot of varied things (taught by other people - usually on HN) - but personally my output is... underwhelming.

Great post, i'm gonna build shit.


Just curious - are you going to build something that will waste other people's time like you wasted yours?


>What’s the last thing you built when you got that high?

Decided to write a bot at 8pm. Had it done by 3am (scraping, posting, scheduling, and all). https://twitter.com/NEWS_XX14

I know that high well. For me, especially for short projects (a day or a week), it's a giddiness, a literal shaking with excitement. Now I wish I could maintain that for a year long project.


Success may be the difference between taking a year, and needing a year.


I completely agree with this idea. I also experience the "high" of completely a cool project, even if no one else ever sees it, just knowing if solved a problem in a cool or fun way, it just gives me a buzz. I think this is a universal feeling that woodworkers, artists, musicians, and other various artisans feel. In that way, the act of techno-creation is... I think, related to art.


Part of the reason we’re at the top of the food chain is that we are chemically rewarded when we are industrious – it is evolutionarily advantageous to be productive.

And we’re slowly and deviously being trained to forget this.

Good article, yet the author seems to be making the same mistake so many make - to assume that our present generations are being eroded away and forgetting how to be productive because the masses are hypnotized by social media and news on demand.

If you stop for a minute and look at what's being spread via social media and TV/Internet news, you quickly realize it's the exact same things that hunter-gatherers probably spend 99% of their downtime gossiping about too: this person said that thing; this guy slept with that girl; this guy has so many resources and isn't that so unfair to the rest of us; the guys in charge of tribal society have secretly been spying on all of us, isn't that scary... social media and online news isn't changing anything more than the mediums we gossip through and making said gossip more permanent and apparent and less ephemeral and transitory than it's previously been. But just because it's still there doesn't mean people are spending much time obsessing over the gossips of yesterday; just like those in tribal societies, the news of yesterday is quickly forgotten, and soon supplanted by the urgent, pressing news of TODAY.

I'm pretty sure in Archimedes's or Newton's days most people weren't sitting around removed from society on their parents' farms inventing calculus, or holed up in towers devising calculating machines and giant ship incendiary weapons... rather, they were going to the county dance, swilling home-brewed beer with the neighbors, and gossiping about the same things we gossip about today: wasn't it scandalous how Ellyn was behaving with the men at the dance? Isn't it a crime how much the poor are taxed by the local lord, while he lives in luxury? How unfair it is that the law applies so unevenly between peasant and lord! Can you believe that Brom and Beatrix are fighting again?

Despite the very long period of leisure that medieval peasants had during wintertime, not a whole lot of scientific or technological progress came out of the peasantry. While I agree there's little more satisfying than building something yourself, I'd differ with the article in suggesting that the masses of people today are in fact no different than the masses of people of times past - a minority produces new things, while the majority handles the day-to-day of maintaining what we've already got, and spends its leisure time consuming the output of those producers who've successfully managed to produce things others want and/or things useful to those others.


I don't know about other people, but I probably would much more productive all the bustle that the internet brings about, and I'm very much aware of the problem (and I try to improve).

On the other hand, the internet has exposed me to so many wonderful things and ideas that it was probably all worth it. I just try to be mindful what I put into my brain these days. It's really easy to tether over the edge and waste a whole lot of time.


My takeaway from this piece is that I should always be asking myself: "Am I creating, or consuming?"


Time to close HN and spin up the Python interpreter...


Part of the reason we’re at the top of the food chain is that we are chemically rewarded when we are industrious – it is evolutionarily advantageous to be productive.

[citation needed]


"What’s the last thing you built when you got that high?"

Just built a side table out of white oak.


I think this is great.

I suspect (like myself) many, many people are interested in the idea of setting aside time in their lives to spend creating, whether it's writing, cooking, building, crafting, photography, whatever.

I also think that (like myself) many people, especially in the age of the internet, blogs, twitter, facebook, etc, are essentially stopped in their tracks before they start, by a fear of (for lack of a better word) "publishing".

I wonder if we would be freed from our fear if we agree with ourselves to create, but without publishing. Write 500 or 1000 words per day, but don't publish it to your blog. Take a photo every day but don't post it to instagram.

The enemy of creativity is the inner censor ... and I wonder how many of us just need to be reminded that it's ok (indeed, arguably better) to create for nobody but ourselves.

(at least for the first 10,000 hours)


Couldn't agree more. I've been making a website pretty much just for personal use, that is kind of a timeline/personal journal. I write lots of random posts and thoughts and for every day, I write down a summary as well as record some basic statistics.

The data aspect of it, and being able to look back at these things later is great, but the best part for me is that it forces me to actually sit down and write everyday


Indeed I have found it much easier to write a daily journal than even a monthly blog.


> The enemy of creativity is the inner censor ... and I wonder how many of us just need to be reminded that it's ok (indeed, arguably better) to create for nobody but ourselves.

(at least for the first 10,000 hours)

That could get really lonely. I really fell off practicing instruments, which I in hindsight think has more to do with having no one to play with (less practice, less proficient, in turn think I have less to offer other people that play, get more discouraged from not being proficient enough, vicious cycle), than it has to do with me having terrible discipline. There was no reward in sight other than playing something at 10 more BPM.

And that 10,000 hours thing seems like a bandwagon. I don't see how it is useful at all to lump all skills into this one mold. If I wanted to play something like punk rock, I would not isolate myself practicing playing it for 10,000 hours before playing with others or publishing. A lot of those hours just practicing punk rock would gain me hardly anything at all.


Brilliant insight. Having successfully completed the building of something on Christmas day that has been my primary creative focus for nearly 10 years I am well placed to understand the high he talks about and know that there is none like it (I've a lot of experience with highs of all sorts.)

Something he doesn't address is the ennui of post-completion blues. I've suffered it for significant duration many times as an engineer and am in the middle of one now, primarily spending my time in other people's moments like right now. He provides the solution though; whether or not I feel like it it's time to start building the next thing. Thankfully I buffered a list when enthusiasm ran high. :-)


This really hit home with me. For a while now, whenever I've been coding, I've been more focused on learning new things instead of creating things. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I had project for a CS course that I didn't end up doing so well on, and I attribute that partly to me not having built something in a long time.

I'd like to change that this year. When he posed the question "What was the last thing you built that gave you that Builder's High?", I sure as hell couldn't remember much that I've built recently that gave me that feeling.


I like to separate my time in 3 parts: loop: 1/3 : Reading/researching/learning new concepts. 1/3 : Hands-on experiment with what I learned. 1/3 : Actual work, were I might apply what I've learnt in the last 2 phases.

The new knowledge gathered improves my throughput in the 3rd phase, making up for the 'lost time' doing research. That's of course a rough estimate and I don't have any numbers to back that up, aside from my own biased experience living it.

I find it's a good balance and having it formally listed out reminds me to actively switch from a phase to another every few weeks. I end up always applying newly learnt stuff, which is rewarding and motivating.


Absolutely agree. There are many reasons why I love to program, and number one on the list is "The sheer joy of making things"! http://henrikwarne.com/2012/06/02/why-i-love-coding/


The spectator is a dying animal. - Jim Morrison


I don't often feel inspired to start a programming project. It seems that I first have to start it, and then the inspiration and the drive comes.




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