a.k.a A Practical Guide to Creative Decision-making
Yesterday, I spent the morning banging my virtual noggin against the back-end of WordPress. It was a vain effort to make the website more SEO friendly. They don’t call it vanity publishing for nothing.
I got to lunchtime and my frustration had turned me into a terse, sarcastic, viper. Sure, I’m like that normally, but I was taking it out on my poor wife who has a million better things to do than to listen to the rantings of an old windbag. She deserves far better.
Click ahead to skip the ranting of a sarcastic, middle-aged windbag. Otherwise, read on …
Me: I’m not going to do this website upgrade that you told me to do.
Her: Sure, but other people just won’t be able to find your stories.
Me: They’ll still be able to find them. They just go to the tab labeled ‘Stories’, and all the stories are listed there. They can then click on any of the story names and be taken to that story.
Her: But that’s so … 90’s.
Her: But you wanted it to be an ‘interactive’ website remember?
Me: Yes, but it is already. Just click here and you jump to a different section.
Her: Well, if you want it to be a truly ‘interactive’ website, you need to at least show people you can create a sub-menu.
Me: Define ‘interactive’
Her: You want it to be an interactive showcase, no?
Me: Define ‘interactive’
Her: Interactive means something that will cut through to people that might fund interactive projects.
Me: The only interactivity I want at the moment is the basic stuff that you already see: Click here to go to a ‘Practical Tip’. Click there to jump to another story. That’s it.
Her: Well … you won’t be getting any interactive funding for doing that.
Me: But I need to get my story out first!!
Her: OK. That’s what I would do, so I support your decision.
What it got down to was this:
I opted for the latter then, but for the most part, it was a sub-conscious decision.
The conversation with my wife forced me to articulate what was previously a sub-conscious thought up until now:
I think any decision about ‘interactivity’ should be informed by a deep understanding of the story and material that one is working with. Interaction is only worthwhile if there are meaningful choices and responses. If one doesn’t know one’s story – its themes, its characters, and so on – one can’t make meaningful decisions about interactivity.
Ta-dah! And once again, I have reinvented the Web 2.0 wheel.
What the above obviates is the nature of creativity. So often, creativity is conceived as what we choose to do. But it is also very much informed by what we choose not to do.
In anything we do, we make omissions; sometimes conscious, frequently sub-conscious, and all too often omissions of expediency. However, as a ‘creative’, it is important to examine these sub-conscious decisions as well as those that we make for the sake of expediency.
So too, in making any decision, there is an opportunity cost that could have been spent doing something else.
The above has it’s analog in the corporate world. Entrepreneur Tony Hsieh realized during the trials and ‘near-death’ tribulations of building Zappos,  that corporate culture is very much about making the hard sacrifices that sets one apart from other businesses. There’s almost no point (or meaning) in making easy sacrifices.
His thinking gave rise to the aphorism in corporate culture textbooks, for example:
“If you do not develop your corporate culture, it will develop itself. Corporate culture doesn’t happen by accident, and if it does, you’re taking a risk.” (Attributed to Monique Winston, CEO, Optima Lender Services)]
Clearly, I am making an expedient decision to not bother with hacking away at WordPress – a task that I freely admit, I abhor. But, I am making a more important design decision too.
By making the above omission – to spend less time optimizing my project for search engines – I have given my story primacy over popularity. Once I have that story, I will make better decisions about the nature of interactivity that will best serve my story and themes – and that assumes I decide to take the step into interactivity at all.
Sure. There is a cost. It will be harder to optimize my website at a later date, and will get harder for each piece of content I insert. I know that. But I make this decision consciously.
Today, I’m making a sacrifice of popularity, so that in the months or years to come, the material itself will better prosper.
 Insert synonym here: rear end, backside, posterior, behind, tail end, bottom, anus, rectum, buns, butt, ass, butt-cheeks, arse, etc.
 I repeat here a theme on this website that appears ad nauseum: I defy many Asian stereotypes. A natural affinity with computers is, sadly, not one of the traits I share with my hackneyed trope.
 “… And we afford a special welcome to all Luddites who visit this website”: SEO = Search Engine Optimisation; i.e. findable by search engines.
 Note my passive-aggressive inversion that my website is somehow my wife’s responsibility. Passive-aggression is emotional judo, where the perpetrator always ends up pinning themselves to the mat.
 This is passive-aggressive-speak for “So what if I’ve only had 40 hits on my website, of which a mere 5 have made it through to the ‘Stories’ page?”
 In a 90’s interactive fashion.
 As you can see, my wife is a 10th dan at emotional judo.
 BTW: I highly recommend their game ‘Choice of Broadsides’.
 One of the people I refer to a lot these days. He is a rare example of a sensitive introvert who founded a billion dollar web enterprise. There are probably more sensitive introverts, but you know what these introverts are like at blowing their own trumpet. 😉
 I’m not sure if Monique Winston’s quote came first, or Tony Hsieh’s, but the point is that Tony Hsieh has been quoted a lot in the context of corporate culture, and textbooks on this subject resonate a lot with what he has said.
 Which means in six months time I will be whinging to my wife about how hard it is to optimize my site.