June 17th, 2011

Discovery right hand


Have you all seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? Do you remember the scene where Indy's team of diggers is working to find the ark and they hit something. Sallah says to his friend, "Indy, here, we've hit stone!" Indy tells them to clear it off and suddenly many hands come to dig, to clear away the sand, to uncover what's been buried. "Come on, find the edges-"

That's how I feel these days.

In the midst of the daily routine...! What's this? And suddenly my whole attention leaps to that place. I want to know what's there. I want to uncover its structure, discover the edges, discern where its substance begins and where it ends. I want to pick up this strange thing and examine it in the light. I want to drag it into my lab and examine it under a microscope. I want to engage it in conversation and learn what it is, when it was, what became of it, and what I can do now that I know these things. I want to know the thing. And then I want to put that knowledge to use.

So, lately I've been continuing my Akkadian studies (up to chapter 5), reading some books on God's covenants in Scripture, and investigating hobby/career options in the spare time when I'm not working, sleeping, eating, enjoying fellowship, or serving. I've been feeling the usual emotions - excitement, slight regret for not having started earlier, contentment in the Lord, slight despair that my efforts might be a waste of time, great desire that I might finally gain mastery over some knowledge/skill area, zeal to see where the new interest will lead, obliviousness to the boldness of my queries, curiosity into possibilities, eagerness to apply new knowledge, and simple raw curiosity.
Minoan Doves

Activity: Field

Every now and then, I reflect on my hobbies and interests as a way to explore fields that I might be interested in pursuing for work. I've posted charts and reflections like this before (Work Map, Activity Inventory and Goal Setting, Curiosity, Perfectionism, Harmony). This time, I've categorized the hobbies and jobs according to ways that they use/transfer knowledge.

Activity: transcription (knowledge entry)
Fields: hematology, cataloging/metadata, court stenography, Braille transcription, record transcription, CW, translation
Requires: accuracy, precision, attention to detail

Activity: handling (knowledge use)
Fields: library materials processing, sailing, x-ray presentation, editing
Requires: adaptability, consistency

Activity: research (knowledge generation)
Fields: genealogy, maritime research, Bible study
Requires: knowledge of data and area, critical thinking, organization

Activity: information architecture (knowledge transfer - indirect)
Fields: web design, document design, usability, writing, drawing
Requires: organization, simplicity, logic, written communication skills

Activity: education (knowledge transfer - direct)
Fields: TA, Bible teaching, O&M instruction, documentation, software training
Requires: organization, simplicity, logic, encouragement, vocal communication skills

Currently, I'm working somewhere in the areas of knowledge generation and knowledge transfer. I spend a lot of time testing, debugging, creating files, and training.

Transcription type hobbies really appeal to me. I love the idea that knowledge can be represented by an alternate form in such a way that it maintains its original meaning. The representation might be in code (Braille, CW) or in a different medium (paper vs. digital in the case of historical records transcription). I think one reason that Akkadian fascinates me so much is that there are multiple levels of transcription type activities. First, the glyphs on the clay tablets must be drawn on paper, then they must be transliterated into Latin letters, and finally, they must be translated into a modern language such as English.

While I had fun making the list, it's pretty generic. It doesn't say anything about the environment of these activities (where are they located? what are the work cultures like? what are the actual tasks performed? with whom would one be working? what subjects of content are covered?).

Exploring new hobbies is always an adventure. Normally, I dive headfirst into an area as I try to determine whether/how I can fit it into my story. Usually, that search begins with Google and leads to email conversations with strangers. These, on occasion, lead to making new friends and finding myself in some fascinating places within my own neighborhood! So far, this kind of exploration has not led to any full-time jobs, even though that's always my initial thought in reaching out to new areas. I suppose it's my tendency to search for the outer edges/limits of a thing as I consider the possible ways that I could apply myself to it. (Or it may just be my overly-zealous personality!) At any rate, it gives me something fun and different to consider so I don't get too bored.