A General Update

I haven’t really used this space to send out personal updates as of yet, but that’s partly what I mean it for. In years past I kept a frequent blog about my travels and adventures, but since becoming boring that kind of tapered off. Tonight I’m feeling a little inspired.

I kept up with my nomadic tendencies by moving (somewhat blindly) back to San Francisco last month. The intention is mostly to surround myself with techies and the Bay’s zany brand of artistic expression while staying away from the Midwest’s bone-chilling winter. So far so good. I’m constantly surprised by all the times I hear guys at a bar intensely debating their new iPhone app or walk into a coffee shop at 2 in the afternoon to find it full of people on their laptops adorn with jQuery or facebook or name-your-startup stickers. I’ve already been to a few of silicon valley’s famously excessive dot com parties with flashy performances and dance clubs offering all-night open bar for hundreds of people. And only in San Francisco will you find friday night events taking place in some converted warehouse combining lectures on neuroscience and synesthesia with street art and house music until 2am. My favorite. I’m subletting a room in a nice apartment for the time being (pic, pic).

So far I have tended on reclusive productivity, trying to finish a couple long overdue freelance jobs that have been hovering about for quite some time. I also started working on some exciting startup ideas. Check out tweet-pulse.com for a little tease of one. Mysterious, I know. Others involve more heavily my ambitions for artificial intelligence, but I discover more and more how difficult that can be with no capital and no graduate degree. I’m contemplating graduate school, which would be the expected path, but I really prefer to learn by doing something practical. I would love for someone to pay me to work on something related to robotics while I hone my skills in more abstract machine learning techniques, but those opportunities are few and far between. They do exists – I had one interview for a job I would have loved – but it feels like 90% of the work these days is with web-related ventures.

I’ve had enough of that. In fact, I’m setting a guideline for my upcoming job search that I won’t look at companies which deal only in the web space because frankly I’m tired of that work. I’ve done it for the past seven years both freelancing and fully employed and it lost most of the appeal when it was no longer a theoretical challenge and only an implementation challenge. I like to work on problems that I go to bed thinking about and wake up having been enlightened by some other-dimensional thought pattern. Or perhaps to experiment with methods mysterious enough that the results surprise me.

Over the next 30 days I need to decide which of the three-sided fence I’ll hop over to. I know I would benefit from working with a company on a project larger than myself and with mentors more experienced that me, but I’m scared that I’ll find that work less than fulfilling. I also know I’ll miss, in some ways, being my own boss, which has been my natural state almost exclusively so far. Some of the biggest and most successful names in technology have gone their own way and found it better than any other, but I could just as likely find it longer and more strenuous. The third side of this curious tri-fence is graduate school. Oh what potential, oh what a loss of time. I welcome your counseling.

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