I’m a passionate person. I’m passionate about the people that matter to me, the ideas I believe in, the things that I enjoy. And I make no secret of this. Just read the About Me page on this blog and you will get what I mean. Or for that matter the Kernel For This Blog page.
For a while I had no idea what “moderate” meant, and I’ve spent years learning to temper my passion with patience. Now I do “in moderation”, but I still don’t do “moderate”. Too close to “mediocre” for my liking.
One of the things I really like about the web is that it lowers the cost to me of pursuing some of my passions. I can find out more about them, develop and enhance them. Enjoy them. Savour them, relish them, bask in them. Immerse in them, joyfully, lazily, fully. Share them with others.
Some of these passions are offbeat and strange. What people would call Long Tail. Which is why I find it bemusing that some would seek to disprove Long Tail altogether. Just because you haven’t found a way of making money from it, it does not mean it doesn’t exist. That’s like saying gravity doesn’t exist unless it has an associated “business model”. [What an appalling phrase. People make shoes, not money.]
Anyway, indulge me. Humour me. As I list some of my favourite sites, places where passionate people share their passions with others.
Let me start with someone who needs no introduction, whose illustration adorns the top of this post. Gapingvoid. Hugh Macleod. Someone who’s really passionate about everything he gets involved in; a wonderful amalgam of quiet soft-spoken and hyper-energetic full-on engaged. So I spend time with Hugh whenever I can. Count him as a friend. And one day soon a business partner as well, I hope. Think for yourself. What made Hugh start each of his “acts of futility“? Passion. Pure unbridled passion, without a business model in sight.
What strikes me particularly is the first thing you encounter on Peter’s site, where he says:
Like many solvers of cryptic puzzles, I want more people to enjoy them. In these pages, I try to tell you enough about cryptic puzzles for you to start having fun by solving them.
He wants more people to enjoy them. He has found something good, and he’d like to share it. Now that is part of what marks Peter out for me. Passionate people share the things they’re passionate about.
That’s what made reading Kathy Sierra such a joy, as she shared her beliefs and knowledge and wisdom in Creating Passionate Users. The illustration above is an example of the stuff she used to share with us. [Kathy, it’s time to start writing again. What can we do to encourage you? Start a twitter group?]
Yes, I’m fascinated by shoelaces. By the act of tying shoelaces. Something a five year old child learns to do simply and easily, and yet something that is not trivial to program a robot to do. [Who knows, it may become part of course 101 at the Singularity University.]
There are still many Deadheads around, the Grateful Dead continue to be a very popular performing band. As I’ve confessed many times, it was their attitude to taping and to bootlegs that opened my mind, not only to different models for the music industry, but also for opensource thinking as a whole. Given all that, just take a look at this: The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. Delve into it, go read something like The Annotated “Sugar Magnolia” or The Music Never Stopped (which I wrote about here). Here’s an excerpt from his notes, just focused on the phrase “jump like a Willys in four wheel drive”:
David Dodd is passionate. And enjoys sharing his passion with others. Others like you.
Passionate people don’t just act singly, they can operate in groups. As in the Wolfe Pack, an assembly of people who appreciate Nero Wolfe, the orchid-loving corpulent stay-at-home detective created by Rex Stout 75 years ago. Here’s an example of passion: Tony Auth’s letter to the Pack requesting membership:
Passion abounds on the Web, and here are some further examples of places I love:
- Muoi Khuntilanont’s Thai Food Recipes, where, amongst other things, Muoi brings you the recipes created by her along with her late husband Colonel Ian Khuntilanont-Philpott
- eggbaconchipsandbeans, where Russell Davies chronicles his attempts to find the best Great British Breakfast
- Blogden Nash, where John Brady details everything he can find out about Ogden Nash
- The Official Joni Mitchell site, where I can find out, for example, where the “pink hotel” in Big Yellow Taxi is likely to have been
- The Carnatic Music Krithi Audio Archive, where Shivkumar Kalyanaraman shares his passion with us, free of DRM or paywalls
- The Chilli King, where you can get all the information about chillies you never knew existed
- The Cloud Appreciation Society, where over 14,000 people share their love of fluffy things in the air
I could have written for hours about the things I am passionate about, things that others have invested time in so that I can indulge my passions. My thanks to all of you, wherever you are.
Sometimes the level of detail astounds me. Take for example chess. I’m not quite sure where my love for chess originated, but one thing is certain: it became a passion when I saw this game: Edward Lasker versus George Alan Thomas, “Fatal Attraction”, again something I’ve written about before. I’ve played out the first few moves and taken it to the point where, to me, the sheer joy and beauty of chess began to reveal itself:
What makes someone put in the time to take thousands of games and load them on to the Web so that others can go through the games move by move, using software that’s fit for purpose? Passion. Unbridled passion.
I couldn’t possibly write a post about passion without marking the passing of “Bearders”, Bill Frindall, who gave me, and people like me, decades of joy by sharing his passion for cricket freely and unreservedly. Thank you Bill.
Passion is an intrinsic part of the web. Passion is an intrinsic part of life. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. So, whatever your passion is, indulge it. Find others who feel similarly about it, because they’re they’re. If you need help finding them, comment here, or use human search on Twitter. [ If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @jobsworth there.]
Whatever you do, be passionate about it.